Nov 09

What Does A Home’s Energy Rating Imply?

Depositphotos 5892794 MYour home’s energy rating is an evaluation of your home’s overall energy efficiency. If your house’s rating is high, it means your potential for energy loss is also high. Bringing your rating numbers down means that your home is becoming more energy efficient.

Your home’s energy rating is based on several things. When your energy company does a home energy audit, they are looking for ways that your home or its components are wasting energy. A low rating means that a home is more energy efficient than one with a higher number. For example, if a home is rated at 70 on the HERS Index, it is approximately 30% more energy efficient than a home built in 2006. There are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining a home’s energy rating.

Here are several things you can do to bring your numbers within an acceptable range.

Energy Efficient Appliances

All new appliances manufactured within the United States must now carry an energy rating label that states its efficiency and how much energy is required for it operate. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that, in order to save as much energy as possible, appliances are to be manufactured to certain specifications that will allow them to be operated using as little energy as possible.

HVAC System

One of the biggest energy drains in your home is your HVAC system. With regular maintenance and prompt repairs, your heating and cooling system can operate at maximum efficiency for many years to come. Changing the filters every month and keeping the ductwork and vents properly cleaned can also help your HVAC system to function efficiently and may reduce any type of energy waste.

Insulation, Windows, And Doors

Other areas where energy can be lost is through the roof and the windows and doors. Adding more insulation to your attic may prevent energy from being lost through the roof. It can help to keep your home cooler during the summer months and warmer during the winter months. Replacing older windows with newer, more energy efficient windows can dramatically reduce energy loss and improve your home’s energy rating. The same is true for older doors that may have worn weatherstripping.

The government offers rebates on your federal taxes for each home improvement you make that improves your home’s energy rating. If you are interested in learning more about energy ratings, contact your local utility company to have an energy audit performed. They will provide you with the answers you’re looking for.

Whether you are in the market for a new energy efficient home or refinancing your current property, your trusted mortgage professional is available to discuss your best financing options.

Nov 08

How To Cut A Great Deal On A New Home Construction

builder-confidence-is-upSavvy home buyers often get great deals on new home constructions by asking for deals and discounts and doing some up-front research.

Home builders often dislike offering steep discounts in sales prices because they want everyone in the community to feel like they bought their property at a fair price. Maintaining sales prices also helps with future home appraisal values. It helps all of the buyers in a neighborhood to keep sales prices consistent and growing.

Fortunately, you can still get great discounts that can reduce the cost of your new home.

Ask the builder if they can do the following:

Settle Closing Costs

Closing costs vary depending on your state. On average, the costs can be as high as $10,000. In Colorado, for example, a standard closing is about 3 percent of the selling price.

It’s important to note that closing costs vary widely and can be structured in many ways. Make sure to consult a trusted mortgage finance professional to get the best information on your situation. But if the builder pays the bill, that money remains in your pocket. Isn’t it a great discount?

Buy Down Your Interest Rate

Although interest rates are low, if a builder is willing to buy down your rate further as part of the closing, it would reduce the amount you pay monthly in interest on your mortgage payment. That makes it manageable in the long run. Once again, your mortgage professional can give you the best details on this idea.

Offer Free Upgrades

Most homes have standard built in appliances. To get high-end appliances, home buyers normally have to pay for upgrades. Ask your builder if you can get the upgraded home appliances or other upgrades without paying extra. It’s a great strategy to move into an improved new home.

Additional Discounts

To sweeten the deal, home builders can throw in additional discounts such as automated garage doors, landscaping, finished basements and window coverings. These discounts are worth asking about.

Although these strategies are great, there are some situations that make it more difficult to get sales concessions. Therefore, as you negotiate, keep the following in mind:

If business is going great, deals become more unlikely as builders have little motivation to give discounts.

You may not end up with the perfect home you want since you may be buying a home that’s near completion or already built.

The best home locations may be taken because properties in prime lots are usually the first to sell.

Knowledgeable buyers are most capable to cut great deals. Therefore, research new construction homes in your preferred neighborhood, visit some homes and compare what deals you can get. Above all, don’t hesitate to ask questions of your trusted real estate and mortgage professionals.

Nov 07

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows to 20-Month Low

buying real estateHome price growth slowed to its lowest rate in 20 months according to the 20-City Home Price Index issued by Case-Shiller. After years of dismal readings, Las Vegas, Nevada led the cities included in the index.

Top three cities for August included Las Vegas, Nevada where year-over-year home prices grew by 13.90 percent. San Francisco, California saw home prices increase by 10.60 percent year-over-year and Seattle, Washington home prices rose by 9.60 percent year-over-year. August’s 20-City Home Price Index overall reading fell below six percent for the first time in a year.

Cooling Home Price Growth Helps Balance Housing Markets

Cooling home prices have been forecast for months, but August’s reading indicated that home prices have peaked and that current home price growth rates may ease pressure on overheated real estate markets, where high home prices, limited inventories of homes for sale and rising mortgage rates have limited buying opportunities. Home price growth remained above current rates of wage growth and inflation, but slower appreciation of home values will help balance the housing market from an extreme sellers’ market to more moderate market conditions.

Rising Mortgage Rates Not Sole Cause of Easing Home Prices

Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan recently said that rising mortgage rates were not the only cause of slowing growth of home prices. Mr. Kaplan said that multiple factors including rising building costs, labor shortages and rising mortgage rates combined to ease record demand for home; Mr. Kaplan said that the Fed is closely monitoring the economy and housing markets and mentioned that he had previously forecast slower housing markets as 2019 approaches.

Recent stock market sell-offs boosted the 10-year Treasury note price, but this momentum appears to be settling. Fixed mortgage rates are connected to yields on 10-year Treasury notes. Yields rise as note prices decline. Mortgage rates rise as the 10-year Treasury yield rises. While nothing is set in stone, this situation indicates that mortgage rates could continue to rise.

Rising mortgage rates and strict mortgage lending requirements have barred home buyers concerned with affordability and less than perfect credit profiles. As prospective home buyers abandon their home searches, demand for homes should ease and may further reduce gains in home prices.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

Nov 06

Real Estate Crowdfunding Investment Is Trending

home-sales-increase-in-two-regionsAlthough the real estate market is currently booming, the last housing bubble burst remains relatively fresh in investors’ minds and that has many taking a long look at crowdfunding.

One of the lessons that came out of the burst and ensuing Great Recession was that investors were blind to where their money went. If you watched the Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” then you at least understand Hollywood’s hyperbolic explanation of the subprime mortgage crisis. You may be asking: what does this have to do with real estate crowdfunding real investing? Well, everything.

Among the key reasons that the financial collapse occurred was the fact that investors had no clue what was in the AAA collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Most people didn’t know what was in them and others simply did not care. At the end of the day, Americans lost massive amounts of wealth because they were not hands-on about investing.

That’s a primary reason why real estate crowdfunding platforms are trending. Crowdfunded real estate investments tend to be more of an open book. Consider the transparency differences between crowdfunding and a real estate investment trust (REIT).

Transparency: Crowdfunding Or REIT

Let’s assume that you are not particularly keen on buying an investment property and becoming a landlord. Although renting yourself has its benefits, it can also be labor intensive at times. That being said, wealth-building alternatives such as REITs and crowdfunding present opportunities that require less effort.

REITs tend to be the more hands-off than crowdfunding. That’s because REITs are generally traded funds. Dating back to 1971, the FTSE Nareit REIT index reportedly yielded a return of 9.72 percent. Some REIT investments do quite well in specific sectors such as self-storage and office space among others.

But REITs can be widely diversified, and some have non-real estate assets embedded in them. An REIT with hundreds of moving parts can be onerous to track. That makes them feel a lot like the CDOs. This is not to imply that REITs are a scam like those CDOs. It’s just that crowdfunding investments are more clear.

When investors opt for crowdfunded real estate investments, it falls on their shoulders to select specific properties for their portfolio. Unlike an REIT in which you just buy in and someone else manages the entire fund, crowdfund investors pick real estate options one at a time. In many ways, it is like becoming a landlord, just with someone else doing the legwork. At the end of the day, there’s less need for transparency because you picked all the assets yourself.

Why Consider Real Estate Crowdfunding?

Besides not having to do the heavy lifting, real estate crowdfunding generally avoids much of the volatility of the market-driven REITs and stocks. Everyday people are not investing the market per se, just the select properties you feel confident about. Also, the IRS reportedly allows investors to deduct depreciation.

But what makes real estate crowdfunding increasingly popular is that it allows people to invest directly into tangible properties without having to take on landlord responsibilities. Simply put, you know what you are buying.

Checking your credit and becoming pre-approved are important first steps for most home purchases. It is important to discuss other factors, including seasoning of funds, when considering options like crowdfunding. These are all steps your trusted home mortgage professional can help you navigate.

Nov 05

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 5th, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic news included readings for Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, Commerce Department readings on construction spending and the University of Michigan’s reading on consumer confidence. Labor sector reports on jobs growth and the national unemployment rate were posted along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Lowest in 20 Months; Construction Spending Falls

Home price growth hit its lowest pace in 20 months according to Case=Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index for August. Home prices grew by 5.80 percent year-over-year as compared to July’s growth rate of 6.00 percent.

Analysts said that slowing growth of home prices could signal that home prices have reached their peak; Inventories of homes for sale are near the six-month inventory reading considered a normal inventory of homes for sale.

Sales have slowed in recent months due to rapidly rising home prices, high demand for homes and slim inventories of available homes. Increasing supplies of homes for sale are a sign that housing markets are balancing to accommodate prospective buyers.

Construction spending was flat in September at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $133 trillion. Analysts expected 0.20 percent growth in construction spending based on August’s growth rate of 0.80 percent. The slowdown in spending was likely due to seasonal dips in construction activity as winter approaches.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged three basis points lower at 4.83 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.23 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were 10 basis points lower at 4.04 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 214,000 new claims filed; analysts expected 212,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s first-time claims 216,000 new claims filed. Reported. The Commerce Department reported 250,000 public and private sector jobs added in October. ADP added 227,000 private sector jobs in October. The national unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.70 percent.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Confidence Index reported an index reading of 137.90 in October as compared to September’s reading of 135.30 and an expected reading of 136.40.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the post-meeting statement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Nov 02

Could Fed Interest Rate Hike Help Home Buyers?

board-of-the-federal-reserveNews of the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates appears to have caused unnecessary panic among people poised to purchase a first home or a larger one for a growing family.

Headlines and news reports that talk about interest rates being at their highest since 2014 can be alarming. Announcements from the Fed that rates would increase four times in 2018 and again in 2019 seems downright scary. After all, isn’t it logical that increased interest rates mean that monthly mortgage payment could be substantially higher?

As it turns out, neither the click-bait headlines about dramatic rate increases or higher monthly premiums are real-life concerns. A thoughtful look at interest rates and rational thinking about homeownership indicates that today’s market could be an excellent time to buy.

Interest Rates Are Not Frighteningly High

Americans have largely come to recognize that the media thrives on scare tactics to get you to tune in or click a link. Stating that interest rates are the highest since 2014 is a fair statement, on its face. But the reality behind the numbers is entirely different if you take a long look at historical rates.

Homebuyers that stepped into the market as the economy began to surge in 2017 did a fine job of positioning themselves. That’s because they took full advantage of tremendously low rates while moving into a stable jobs environment. It’s important to keep in mind that low Fed standards of 1.5 percent had already increased from the historic low.25 percent set in 2008 to stimulate the horrific economy.

As the Great Recession hit, unemployment started its climb to 10 percent in 2009 and things were generally bad. Wonderfully low interest rates were of little use when people were out of work and those who were employed lacked job stability. The Fed’s goal was to gradually increase rates as the economy steadily recovered. The common wisdom was to raise rates to 3 percent by 2020.

But if you look back over rate data from the 1970s until the Great Recession, rates tended to be at 5 percent or higher. The Fed’s reported intentions would likely leave potential homebuyers in a better position than most over the 40-50 years. That’s because the country is in the midst of an economic surge that appears to have legs.

Fed’s Hike Won’t Deter Many Buyers

The Chicken Little’s of the housing sector may be crying the sky is falling, but nothing could be further from the truth. The modest increases planned by the Fed do not substantially change a potential homeowner’s buying power.

For those with a specific monthly mortgage payment window, the rate increase could slightly change the listing price options moving forward. On the other side of the coin, rate hikes tend to flatten or at least slow asking prices. While buyers cull together a down payment, home prices may be slowing. That could prove very beneficial in terms of securing a dream home.

The basic point about the Federal Reserve raising rates is that this should not necessarily be viewed as a negative. The Fed reportedly had a long-term plan that followed alongside our economic recovery. If you compare the current rates against wage increases, low unemployment, and a juggernaut economy, home buyers are in the driver’s seat right now.

Whether you are interested in buying a new property or refinancing your current property, contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about the current financing options available.

Nov 01

3 Budgeting Tips to Help Make Your New Mortgage Payments Easier

calculatorBuying a new home is an exciting time, but excitement can easily turn to stress if there isn’t enough money to pay the monthly mortgage bill. The added expense can take some time to get used to, but there are ways to make the payments easier, especially in those first few months when money is the tightest.

Prioritize The Mortgage Bill And Pay It Immediately

This may seem like a counterintuitive tip for anybody looking for help making mortgage payments, but it is easily the best one and the one that provides the most trouble for homeowners.

Late mortgage payments come with hefty fees that make it harder and harder to pay the next mortgage bill in full and on time. It’s a slippery slope that can end in foreclosure if the mortgage bills go unpaid for too long.

Don’t Get Carried Away With Household Spending

What’s the first thing most couples do after finally purchasing their first home? If they moved in from a smaller apartment, filling in the empty space will probably be at the top of their list.

Spending sprees are all too common after moving into a new home. There are extra rooms that need to be furnished and extra space that needs to be filled in with a larger television or another sofa.

These purchases will severely limit the mortgage budget and could lead to late payments right from the start for anybody who gets carried away. Put a budget in place for new furniture and stick to it so that there is always money for the mortgage.

Limit Spending In The First Few Months

The biggest change for anybody moving into a new home may be the extra expenses they aren’t used to paying. Water, power, heat, air conditioning, internet and cable are all things that could be included when renting and once those bills start coming in, it can be alarming.

It doesn’t matter how careful they are, budgeting can take a huge hit if new homeowners are expecting to pay the same as they were in their previous home. Always wait the first few months before making any purchases to get used to the new monthly bills that will be waiting.

Making successful mortgage payments starts with getting a mortgage you can actually afford. Make sure you consult with a trusted mortgage professional who will be able to help you find the best deal and get a mortgage that won’t break the bank each month.

Oct 31

5 Reasons To Sell Your Home This Fall

Real Estate and MortgageThough the real estate business never stops, most people associate its busy periods of the year with the spring and summer seasons. And while this is true to a large extent, those who think that selling a home in the fall is a bad decision are sorely mistaken.

Just as families want to get into new homes before the school year starts, which makes spring and summer busy seasons, there’s also an urgency to get into new homes prior to the holiday season. It’s one of the reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to list your home in the fall season.

Here’s a look at five more reasons why it’s smart to list your home in the fall:

1. Demand Is Still There

It’s a seller’s market out there, which means that there’s still high demand for quality homes. So don’t think that buyers have put their searches on hold until next spring, because they’re still out there. You’ll take advantage of this continuous demand by listing in the fall.

2. You Can Enjoy The Summer

You can enjoy next summer, that is. Yes, while sellers that list in the spring and summer are constantly cleaning, tidying up and exiting the home for showings, you can get out ahead of the game this fall so you can spend next summer enjoying your next home.

3. Buyers Are Serious

In the spring and summer months, it’s not unusual to get a lot of traffic from people who are thinking about buying. While any kind of activity is usually a positive, these types of would-be buyers aren’t exactly the strongest prospects to make an offer. With how busy the fall season is for many families, you’re likely to get showings with buyers who are serious, and thereby more likely to make an offer if they like what they see.

4. You Can Enhance Your Curb Appeal

Fall is characterized by cooler temperatures and changing colors. The former can really help green up your lawn, while the latter can make your house stand out if there are trees on the property. Aside from your home, the fall foliage can also enhance the appeal of your entire neighborhood.

5. There’s Fewer Home Sellers

A final reason to list in the fall is that you’ll have less competition on the market. That is, there are fewer available homes. If your home is attractive and sought after, you can potentially create a bidding war among interested buyers, which can help you net more off the sale.

Your trusted real estate professional can give you all the tips and tricks to prepare for a successful fall listing.

Oct 30

NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Market Ticks Up in October

builder confidence is upHome builder confidence in national housing market conditions rose one index point for a reading of 68 in October. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders are confident about market conditions. Rolling three-month averages showed mixed results. The Northeastern region gained three points for an index reading of 57; the Midwestern region lost two index points with a reading of 57 and the Southern region posted a gain of one point with a reading of 70. The Western region held steady at 74.

Readings for sub-categories of the Housing Market index showed a one-point gain to 74 for current market conditions, Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months also gained one point for a reading of 75 index points. Builder confidence in buyer traffic rose four points to 53. This was remarkable as historical readings for buyer traffic rarely rose above the benchmark reading of 50.

Demand for Homes Rises

The National Association of Home Builders reported that demand for homes increased regardless of high home prices, rising mortgage rates and low inventories of available homes. Labor shortages and high cost of buildable lots continued to weigh on builder confidence. Analyst predictions that home prices have peaked did not impact October’s builder confidence readings.

Home Builders Look Toward Affordable Housing

When the current housing boom started, builders concentrated on building high-end homes as cash buyers and investors fueled demand. Home prices rose quickly as inventories of homes for sale dwindled; first-time and moderate-income home buyers were sidelined as affordable homes were quickly snapped up. Strict mortgage qualification requirements presented challenges to buyers with credit problems. Consumers struggle with home price growth that exceeds inflation and wage increases.

As analysts report that home prices may have hit their peak the highest reading for builder confidence in recent months was 74 in December 2017. Slowing increases in home prices have signaled builders that favorable housing market conditions may have reached a tipping point. If another recession occurs, those who bought their homes at the top of the market and who have little equity are most at risk. Analysts cited high priced coastal areas as ripe for this risk. Meanwhile, builders are looking to create more affordable housing in response to signals of slowing growth in residential real estate markets.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about about the market trends specific to your area and how those conditions may impact your financing options.

Oct 29

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 29th, 2018

care-sunt-cartierele-unde-gasesti-cele-mai-ieftine-garsoniereLast week’s economic news included readings on sales of new homes and pending home sales. A reading on consumer sentiment was also released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Sales of New Homes Slide to Near 2 – Year Low

According to Commerce Department readings on new home sales, the pace of sales slipped close to a two-year low in September; new homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 553,000 sales.

September’s reading was 5.50 percent lower than for August and was 13.20 percent lower year-over-year. Analysts expected a reading of 620,000 sales; August’s reading showed an annual pace of 585,000 new homes sold.

Real estate pros reported a 7.10-month supply of available homes, which was a six-year high. A six-month supply of homes for sale is considered a normal inventory in many markets.

Home prices had a median of $320,000 in September, which was 3.50 percent lower year-over-year. Strong demand for homes coupled with limited supplies have caused home prices to rise and buyers to compete with cash-buyers and ever escalating home prices. Rising mortgage rates and few choices of available homes have sidelined moderate and first-time buyers.

Pending Home Sales Rise in September

The National Association of Realtors® reported rising pending home sales, which provided hope for lagging home sales. Pending sales are sales for which a purchase contract is signed but the sale has not yet closed. Pending home sales had an index reading of 104.6 in September as compared to 104.1 in August. No change from August’s reading was expected in September. The pending sales index pending home sales index was one percent lower year-over-year.

Pending sales rose 4.40 percent in the West; The Midwest posted a gain of 1.20 percent and the South posted a negative reading of – 0.40 percent. The South posted a negative reading of -1.40 percent in pending home sales.

Pending home sales are considered a predictor of completed sales and new mortgages.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 4.86 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose three basis points to 4.29 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was four basis points higher at 4.14 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose last week to 215,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected no change from the prior week’s reading of 210,000 new claims filed. The University of Michigan reported a dip in its consumer sentiment index for October. September’s reading was adjusted from and index reading of 99 to 100.1. October’s reading was 99. Lower consumer sentiment was based on stagnant wage growth according to analysts.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, Labor sector reports on private and public sector employment and the national unemployment rate.

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