What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 5, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included readings on home prices, pending home sales and construction spending. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released along with labor-sector readings on Non-Farm Payrolls, ADP employment and National Unemployment.

CaseShiller: Three Western Cities Hold Top Three Places for Home Price Growth

According to Case-Shiller’s June edition of its 20-City Home Price Index, the top three spots were again held by Seattle, Washington, Portland Oregon and Dallas, Texas. Seattle home prices outstripped Portland, Oregon with a reading of 13.40 percent home price growth on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Portland, Oregon home prices grew by a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year rate of 8.20 percent while Dallas, Texas held third place with its year-over-year reading of 7.70 percent growth.

 David Blitzer, CEO and Managing Director of S&P’s Index Committee, said that he sees no indications that home prices will cool anytime soon. Strong labor markets and economic growth are encouraging home buyers while low inventories of homes for sale coupled with high demand continued to fuel home price growth.

Construction spending dipped in July by -0.60 percent as compared to expected growth of + 0.60 percent and June’s reading of 1.30 percent growth in spending. Real estate pros said that building more homes is the only way to ease demand for homes, but builders cited labor and lot shortages along with rising materials costs as obstacles to building more homes faster.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates remain relatively low; Freddie Mac reported average mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell four basis points to 3.82 percent; interest rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were four basis points lower at 3.12 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points lower at 3.14 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

First-time jobless claims rose by 1000 claims to 236,000. Analysts had expected no change from the prior week’s reading of 235,000 new jobless claims.

ADP payrolls rose to 237,000 new jobs reported for August as compared to 201,000 new private-sector jobs reported in July. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 156,000 new public and private sector jobs in August; Based on the ADP report and the expected reading of 170,000 new public and private-sector jobs, revision of the Non-Farm Payrolls report appears likely.

The National Unemployment rate ticked up from July’s reading of 4.30 percent to 4.40 percent in August. Low readings for unemployment indicate that layoffs are not significantly contributing to unemployment.

Whats Ahead

No financial reports will be issued Monday in observance of the Labor Day Holiday. The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report will be released along with reports on productivity and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Is It Possible to Get a Mortgage With Less-than-Perfect Credit? Yes – and Here’s How

Is It Possible to Get a Mortgage With Less-than-Perfect Credit? Yes – and Here's HowAre you thinking about buying a new house? Whether you’re a first-time or experienced buyer, if your credit score isn’t looking too hot it can affect how much mortgage financing you receive – or whether you’re approved at all! But don’t fret. It’s still possible to get a mortgage approved, even with credit issues. Below we’ll share a few ways that you can get a mortgage loan even if your credit is less than perfect.

Consider An FHA-Guaranteed Mortgage

For many individuals with credit issues, the Federal Housing Administration’s guaranteed loan programs are a good choice. In essence, the FHA guarantees your mortgage with select lenders, which allows them to worry less about the risk of lending to someone with past credit problems. It’s worth noting that FHA programs do come with some additional costs attached. Mortgage insurance may be assessed, which helps to protect the mortgage lender in case you default. And there may or may not be an additional monthly premium cost as well.

Do Everything You Can To Improve Your Credit Score

Before taking the next step and applying for a mortgage, you’ll want to ensure your FICO credit score is as high as possible. Call or visit the website of one of the major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. You’ll want to review any outstanding issues on the report and eliminate anything that shouldn’t be there. For example, in the past, you may have had a credit card or small loan that went into collections yet is still in the report even though you paid it. Contact the credit agency to challenge anything that shouldn’t be on your report.

Don’t Stretch Beyond Your Means

If and when you’re approved for a mortgage, it’s critical to remember not to reach beyond your ability to pay the mortgage payments each month. Yes, it might seem like an excellent idea to get a larger or more luxurious house if a larger mortgage is offered to you. However, don’t forget that you’ll need to manage payments each month for many years and it’s tough to predict the future.

Try not to worry if you have a low credit or FICO score and you’re interested in buying a home. A great first step would be to contact your local real estate professional.

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning Bid

Real Estate Negotiations: 3 Tricks That You Can Use to Ensure Yours Is the Winning BidYou’ve toured through a number of listings, attended all the open houses and have found your potential new dream home. Now the hard part begins, especially if you’re working against other buyers who are keen on getting the same home as you. Let’s take a look at three tricks that you can use to make sure the bid you submit on a home is the one that wins.

Don’t Start With A Lowball Offer

First, it’s important to note that the offer itself needs to be a fair one. If you approach a home seller with a low offer, you’ll likely discover that they’re not too interested in accepting it. Even worse, if your offer is too low, you risk the seller feeling insulted. And that might prevent you from being able to counter with a higher price to be more competitive. Instead, consider bidding on the low end of a reasonable, fair price range as your starting bid. That way the seller knows that you’re serious and is more willing to entertain the conversation.

Let A Real Estate Agent Handle It

If you want to make an offer that a seller can’t refuse, you’ll want to work with a real estate agent. An experienced agent that has helped dozens of buyers with the purchasing process will have critical knowledge that will be useful in making the right bid. Plus, if you end up receiving a counter-offer from the seller, an agent can assist you with understanding the terms and touching up your bid to get the deal done.

Keep Your Cool And Be Ready For The Counter

Speaking of counter-offers, you’ll want to ensure that you keep an open mind when it comes to negotiating with the home seller. Unless your offer is close to or over the listing price, the seller is likely to counter your opening bid. This is normal and is a sign that they’re interested, so from here it’s your job to ensure that you sweeten the deal just enough that they’re willing to close.

These are just a few of the ways that you can ensure that the bid you make on a home is the one the seller accepts. For more tips and insight into buying a house in your area, contact your local real estate professional today. We look forward to connecting!

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: National Home Prices Reach Pre-Recession Level

According to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index for June, Seattle, Washington continued to lead home price growth for the tenth consecutive month with a June reading of 13.40 percent growth year-over-year. Portland Oregon held second place for home price growth in the 20-City Home Price Index in June but trailed Seattle by 5.20 percent with 8.20 percent year-over-year home price growth. Dallas Texas held third place with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 7.70 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index increased by 5.70 percent year-over-year and was unchanged from May’s reading.

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index reported a reading of 5.80 percent home price growth in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent.

Wage Growth, Strong Economic Indicators Drive Demand for Homes

Case-Shiller’s month-to-month home price data also reflected continued growth. 14 cities reported higher home prices in June after seasonal adjustment. Home prices rose 0.40 percent month-to-month nationally; the 20-city index rose by 0.10 percent month-over-month after seasonal adjustment.

Shortages of homes for sale continue to drive up home prices as sales of pre-owned homes outpace new home sales. Builders haven’t kept up with demand due to ongoing labor and lot shortages and rising materials costs. There was an estimated 4.20 months’ supply of homes for sale in June; the average level is a six-month supply. Low mortgage rates continue to encourage first-time and current buyers to enter the market.

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director, and CEO of S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee said that although home prices are rising steadily, wage growth and overall economic growth were driving demand for homes in June. Mr. Blitzer said that current economic trends indicated home price growth was not expected to reverse anytime soon.

Itching to Start a Project? Don’t Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator’s Remorse

Itching to Start a Project? Don't Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator's RemorseTake a look around your home. Do you feel that burning desire to renovate or upgrade certain areas? Perhaps it’s the kitchen countertops or the décor in the master bedroom. Whatever the case, if you’re itching to take on a home renovation project you’ll want to ensure it’s one that makes your life better – not worse! Let’s take a look at four tips that will help you to avoid experiencing “renovator’s remorse.”

Ask Yourself: Will This Project Add Value?

If you’re renovating to build equity in your home, you’ll want to determine if the project is worth undertaking. There are many renovations that might seem to make the home more appealing, but in truth add next to no value that can be realized later when you sell. Be sure to choose those projects which will bump the home’s value by a significant amount.

Start With A Realistic Budget

Ask any friend or neighbor that has renovated their home and you’ll discover that costs can quickly spiral out of control if you’re not careful. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to start with a realistic budget that incorporates some additional room for last-minute tweaks or changes. Once you have the project scoped out, take a trip to your local building supply store and chat with the professionals. They’ll be able to help you understand what the actual costs of your renovation will be and they can point out things that you may have forgotten.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Even the most skilled carpenters and tradespeople make mistakes, so you should rest assured that it can happen to you. Even if you have to go over your plans twice or three times, it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re going to do before getting started. As the saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Spending the necessary time preparing your work will go a long way in saving you time and money later.

Don’t Start If You Can’t Finish

The last piece of advice is to finish any home project that you start. A half-finished renovation project can degrade your quality of life significantly. And the longer it takes to get done, the less motivated you will be to finish it. Stay on task and get the job done as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about the home selling process or listing your home for sale, contact your local professional real estate agent.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 28, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes, Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released, along with coverage of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Home Sales Lower in July

According to the Commerce Department, new home sales fell to a seven-month low in July; 571,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in July.  This reading fell short of the expected sales rate of 608,000 new home sales and June’s reading of 630,000 sales. This was unwelcome news for home builders, who have been under pressure to build more homes.  pronounced shortage of available homes coupled with high buyer demand has pressured builders to increase their rate of housing starts. A sudden dip in new home sales could impact builders’ production rates if slow sales persist.

Buyer demand may be waning as home prices have continued to climb. July’s national average home price rose to $313700, which was 6.30 percent year over year. The National Association of Realtors® said the current inventory of available homes rose to 5.70 months. This was the highest reading in highest reading in several months. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of homes for sale an average reading. Regardless of record high demand for homes and low inventories, rapidly rising home prices reduce the pool of potential buyers due to affordability.

Sales of previously owned homes also fell in July. The National Association of Realtors® reported that pre-owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.44 million sales. Analysts predicted a rate of 5.50 million sales based on June’s reading of 5.51 million sales.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported mixed mortgage rates results, but mortgage types surveyed were little changed. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell three basis points to 3.86 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was unchanged at 3.16 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

First-time jobless claims rose to 234,000, which fell short of the expected reading of 238,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 232,000 new claims.

Fed Chair Defends DoddFrank Act

Fed Chair Janet Yellen defended Dodd-Frank mortgage legislation passed after the financial crisis. The legislation established credit standards for mortgage lenders to eliminate irresponsible lending practices. Speaking at the Federal Reserve’s annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Chair Yellen’s comments responded to recent indications by the administration and banking officials that the Dodd-Frank Act should be repealed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices. Pending home sales, construction spending and inflation reports will be released in addition to weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Several labor reports will also be released including ADP Payrolls, Non-Farm Payrolls, and the national unemployment rate will also be released. 

Staging Small Spaces: How to Highlight Your Outdoor Areas Even If They’re Not That Big

Staging Small Spaces: How to Highlight Your Outdoor Areas Even If They're Not That BigIf you’re planning on selling your home, you’ve probably already started to consider how you’re going to stage it. Staging is one of the most important parts of the selling process. The way you present your home is key to leaving a positive impression on a potential buyer. Let’s explore a few ways that you can stage smaller outdoor spaces to make them feel like they’re much more than they are.

Go With Smaller Furniture Options

If you’re trying to stage a small patio, deck or yard area, you’ll want to stick with smaller furnishings. Yes, that means packing up the enormous hammock or chaise lounge that you love to lazy around on. Remember, perspective is going to matter as potential buyers have never seen your outdoor spaces before. So any large furniture sitting in a small space is going to appear to be that much bigger.

One great idea is to use furniture that you can see through, as it will give the illusion that the area around it is much larger. Consider options like open-backed or Adirondack chairs which let light pass through.

Use Glass To Create A Spacious Illusion

Keeping visibility in mind, the second trick you’ll want to leverage is to use as much glass as possible. Glass-top tables and other transparent items which let light through are an excellent way to highlight a small space. And don’t forget – keep any glass spotlessly clean! The last thing you want is to be showing off a pile of greasy fingerprints.

Take Your Plants Vertical

Another excellent tactic for making the most of smaller spaces is to grow any plants vertically. If you have the room for it, a plant wall can really shine as it adds a pop of green and other colors to the area. If not, just stick with slender plants that grow straight up. Try to avoid plants that tend to spread out wide as they grow. If they look like they’re taking up a lot of space, any potential buyers touring through will have the impression that your outdoor areas are smaller than they are.

There you have it – three easy tips for staging your small, intimate outdoor spaces. When you’re ready to list and sell your home, contact your local real estate professionals.

Trying to Sell Your Home As a Fixer-Upper? Highlight These Key Areas to Attract Eager Buyers

Trying to Sell Your Home As a Fixer-Upper? Highlight These Key Areas to Attract Eager BuyersAre you going to sell your house in the near future? If it’s a bit of a ‘fixer-upper’ – meaning that it’s in need of some renovation work – you may find some challenges in marketing it to potential buyers. Reducing the listing price is one option available to you, but there are other ways to highlight this kind of home. Let’s have a look at three key areas that you’ll want to focus on when trying to sell a home in less than perfect condition.

Push The Customization Angle

First, try to keep in mind that most potential buyers who are on the market for a fixer-upper are likely to be interested in customizing the home. Be sure to highlight any key areas that are ripe for change. Is the décor in your kitchen a little dated? No problem – it’s a chance for your buyer to build the kitchen they’ve always dreamed of. Is the basement unfinished? There’s a perfect opportunity for a keen buyer to create a basement suite which they can then rent out to a new tenant.

Highlight The Surrounding Community

It’s a good idea to jot down a list of all of the benefits of living in your community. How are the schools? Is the area well-served by public transit? Are there any amenities like a community center worth mentioning? Is the neighborhood considered family-friendly? What are the neighbors like? Are there hospitals or other medical services nearby? What about running trails, area hikes or dog parks? Many buyers care more about their quality of life than they do about the condition of the house itself. If the community is in better shape than your home, spend more time highlighting how great it is to live in the area.

Promote The Overall Property Or Land Value

Finally, don’t overlook the value of the property that the house is sitting on. Buying real estate is a financial investment that will appreciate in value over time. While the house might get old and dated, the land will always retain value. Be sure to point out any positive land value trends to potential buyers.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can promote a fixer-upper home. For more information or to get your house on the market, contact your local professional real estate team. We’re happy to assist.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can Afford

The Quick and Easy Guide to Determining How Big of a Mortgage Your Family Can AffordAre you shopping around for a new house or apartment? One of the key considerations you will need to make is figuring out how much you want to invest in your new home. Below you’ll find our quick and easy guide to determining just how much “house” you can afford. Let’s get started!

Start By Making A Proper Budget

The first thing you’ll want to do is sit down and get a full budget put together. The easiest way to get the process started is to begin with two lists: income and expenses. For the income list, write down the amount of money your family brings in each month after taxes. If you have side income sources or extra income that tends to fluctuate over time, use the average amount for the past six months.

For the expenses list, write down all the spending that you do each month. Start with the major, stable items like rent, utilities and the like. Then work your way through to discretionary spending like dining out and other sources of entertainment. If it helps, go through your bank and credit card statements to ensure that you are not missing anything.

Once you have an accurate budget, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to pay toward your mortgage payments each month.

Figure Out How Much You Can Put Down

Next, you’ll need to think about how much cash you want to pay as a down payment on your home. The larger the down payment you can afford, the smaller amount of mortgage financing you’ll need. While it might seem like a good idea to put as much as you can down, there are some things to consider. Any money you put against your down payment is going to be unavailable to you, which reduces your financial options. You’ll also lose the opportunity to invest it, which means missing out on potential returns over time.

Determine How Much House You Actually Need

Finally, give some thought as to how large or luxurious a home you want to buy. For example, if you have a small family and don’t need a large four- or five-bedroom house, you can instead opt for a smaller but more luxurious home. Conversely, if space is a priority, you may want to forego the high-end options to ensure you have enough room.

When you’re ready to explore your options, we’re ready to help. Contact your trusted real estate professional at your convenience. We’re committed to helping you purchase the home of your dreams.

Wrapping It All Up: Don’t Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New Home

Wrapping It All Up: Don't Forget These Important Tasks After Closing on Your New HomeThe negotiations are over. The seller has accepted your bid and the paperwork has been signed. Shortly, you’ll be handed the keys to your new home and you can start moving in. But of course, the work doesn’t end after the real estate closing process. In fact, it’s just beginning! In today’s article, we’ll share a few essential tasks that you’ll want to get to work on after the closing process is over.

Backup And Copy All Of The Paperwork

If you haven’t bought a house before, you’ll soon discover that there is a lot of paperwork involved in getting the deal done. From title deeds to tax documentation, the sheer number of forms that need to be read through and signed may seem endless. Once the closing process wraps up, it’s a good idea to make copies of all of the paperwork. Store these backups in a safe place where they can be referred to later if needed.

Change All Of The Locks

Next, you’ll want to change all of the exterior locks on the house. It might seem a bit overkill, but securing your home is important. Re-keying the locks is a one-time cost that can end up paying significant dividends should anyone attempt to break in. It’s also a chance to upgrade to stronger, more secure deadbolts. If you have a home alarm system or any keypad-style locks, be sure to change the codes on those as well.

Inspect The Water Heater

While it was almost certainly checked during the home inspection, take the time to have a quick look at the water heater. You’ll want to check the temperature setting to ensure it’s reasonable. Don’t forget that maintaining a high hot water temperature can be expensive over the long-term.

Give The Gutters A Quick Check

Finally, it’s worth getting out the ladder to give all of the gutters a quick inspection. Clogged gutters can end up causing significant roof damage if left unchecked. You’ll want to ensure that both the horizontal gutters and the vertical drains are clear of leaves, twigs and other debris. As long as rainwater can drain out smoothly, you’re all set. Note that safety should be your priority here. If you don’t have a suitable ladder or you aren’t comfortable with heights, consider paying a professional.

The closing process is always an exciting time. If you’re in the market for a new home or would like to know more about real estate opportunities in the local area, contact your local real estate professional.