What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 24, 2017

Last week’s economic news included releases from the National Association of Home Builders and releases from the Commerce Department on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips; Builder Sentiment Remains Strong

Higher lumber costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders as contributing to lower readings for the group’s monthly Housing Market Index. July’s reading was two points lower than May’s index reading. The original May reading of 67 was adjusted to 66.

Builders said that a steep tariff on Canadian lumber has raised building costs, but sentiment remains high as high demand for homes coupled with short supplies of homes for sale set the stage for new home construction. Builder confidence in market conditions for newly-built homes remained strong as any NAHB Index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have a positive outlook on market conditions.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase in June

Housing starts increased in June to 1.215 starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 1.163 million housing starts based on 1.122 million housing starts reported in May. Building permits were issued at a higher rate in June, with the annual rate of 1.254 million permits issued as compared to May’s rate of 1.168 million permits issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Single-family housing starts rose 6.30 percent as compared to May’s reading, which suggested that builders are focusing on building new homes for sale rather than concentrating on multi-family rental projects. If this trend continues, new construction of single-family homes would help ease severe shortages of homes for sale.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling seven basis points to 3.96 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower to 3.23 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was seven basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reached their second-lowest post-recession level last week with a reading of 233,000 first-time claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 245,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 248,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

Economic releases set for this week include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports, and the post-meeting statement of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with data on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.

Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent Plants

Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent PlantsIt can be difficult to deal with water restrictions if you’re a bit of a green thumb and don’t want your beautiful plants to go to waste. Fortunately, there are plenty of succulents out there that can be quite striking and will still be able to store the water they need to survive. If you’re looking for some low-maintenance plants that thrive in the dry season, here are a few succulents that will do the trick.

The Christmas Cactus

Known as the Christmas Cactus, this plant can be a great way to get the beautiful flowers of summer without all of the water consumption that’s usually required. While the flowers will come out in the fall, you’ll want to ensure that you fertilize this plant during the summer months and leave it in a low-light spot where it won’t dry out too quickly.

A South African Succulent

Crassula ovate, commonly known as a jade plant, hails from South Africa and has the vibrant, glossy look of a plant that gets watered all the time. Fortunately, you can allow the soil to dry completely before you water it again since overwatering this type of plant will kill it. It’s easy to tell if your jade plant needs water. Once the leaves start to lose their shine, it’s time to get out the watering can.

The Snake Plant

If you’ve seen this type of succulent before, you’ll likely recognize it from its name, which accurately characterizes the long, thin and pointy leaves that jut out from its roots. While this plant will want to indulge in a little bit of light, you can leave it for a long time without having to water it. Just ensure the soil is dry before you pour!

Plant A Pincushion

When people think of cacti, it’s the pincushion variety of cactus that most often comes to mind with its short, pointed frame and multiple clusters. In addition to being easy to take care of and loving the sun, you should let this pint-sized plant dry out completely before giving it another drink. Much like the Christmas Cactus, it will also need to be fertilized in the summer.

It may seem impossible to maintain a garden under water restrictions, but there are plenty of unique succulents out there that can add a lot of variety to your home. If you’re currently in the market for a new home for all your plants, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

Squad Goals: 4 Steps to Throwing a Patio Party Your Friends Never Forget

Squad Goals: 4 Steps to Throwing a Patio Party Your Friends Never ForgetSummer may be the season for swimsuits and beachside barbecues, but it’s also a great time to get your friends together for a party in your own backyard. Whether you’re ready to show off your new home or are just looking for a good reason to celebrate the season, here are some ways to ensure your party is one that will make the summertime memorable.

Choose Dollar Store Decorations

When it comes to throwing the best party, nothing will work to create an atmosphere like the decorations! Instead of heading to the party store, though, take a trip to the dollar store where you’ll be able to find a variety of fun stuff for an inexpensive price. Any fun theme is likely to work but ensure that you stick with a color pattern that won’t overwhelm your guests.

Prep The Food Options

Planning the food for a big patio party can sometimes be difficult, but by determining a theme and getting prepared ahead of time, you should have a good handle on the offerings. Whether you opt for a Mexican theme with tacos and nacho chips or a barbecue with beer and brisket, preparing what you want to serve ahead of time will make the party itself more manageable. It’s even better if you can prepare a few items in advance to make the day run a little smoother.

Pick The Right Tunes

Putting the music on full blast might seem like the right move, but this can irritate your guests and impact conversation. In addition to making sure that the music is at an appropriate volume, it’s also good to offer up a playlist of classics your guests will know. If chit-chat is at a standstill, a few great songs will get them into the partying mood.

Mix It Up

Many people have a variety of different friends they share interests with, but it can sometimes be hard to get them all in the same place together. Fortunately, a fun party is the ideal time to get people talking and make your crowd mix! There’s no assurance that everyone will become friends, but there’s bound to be some fun conversation.

Throwing a great summer party might seem like a lot of work, but by picking the right tunes and sticking to a theme, you’ll have a party your friends will remember. And if you’re in need of a great new home to celebrate in, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

NAHB: Builder Confidence in Market Conditions Dips in July

According to the National Association of Home Builders, July builder sentiment dipped to an index reading of 64 as compared to June’s revised reading of 66, the original reading was 67. Analysts expected the reading for July to increase to 68. Builders cited increasing lumber prices as a concern affecting builders’ outlook on housing market conditions for new single-family homes. Any reading over 50 for the NAHB Housing Market Index indicates that more builders than fewer are positive about housing market conditions, but July’s reading was the lowest in eight months. NAHB said that home builder confidence in market condition “remains strong.”

Three month rolling averages were mixed. The Northwestern region gained one point for an index reading of 47, the Midwest gained one point to a reading of 66 and the Southern region dropped three points to a reading of 66. The Western region had the highest level of builder confidence but lost one point for a reading of 75.

Shortages of homes for sale and buildable lots have impacted builder confidence for several months. As the number of available homes dwindles, demand and home prices have risen. Real estate pros view building more home as the only solution for easing the shortage of homes for sale Lower readings on builder confidence in market conditions could indicate slowing in the construction of new homes.

Lumber Tariff Raises  New Home Prices, Could Cost Jobs

While home builder confidence jumped in the aftermath of the election, builders said that a tariff on Canadian lumber is affecting home prices and construction jobs. In a statement released with July’s Housing Market Index readings, NAHB said that the lumber tariff tacked on an average of  $1236 to the average home price. NAHB leaders also said that as materials costs continue to rise, affordability will become an issue and that construction layoffs could potentially exceed 8000 jobs.

NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald said about the lumber tariff, this is hurting housing affordability even as consumer interest in the new-home market remains strong” While current interest in new homes is healthy, home builders will have to manage costs to keep home prices affordable and competitive.

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here’s What You Need to Know

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here's What You Need to KnowOutside of the significant financial responsibility of delving into home ownership, there can also be a lot of other risks involved that you may not have thought about before investing in a home. You’ll need to protect your home against theft or burglary, and homeowner’s insurance to protect your home and belongings. But there are other less common occurrences you may not have thought about. If you happen to be living in an area that’s at high risk of fire, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Defining “High Risk”

It’s easy to be swept away by a beautiful home and forget about what the natural landscape around it consists of. Many homes across the United States are built in areas close to trees and shrubs, which can be dangerous in times of high temperatures, so it’s important to do your research. While hot spots can occur in many different areas, California and the southwest region are particularly vulnerable in times of drought.

What It Means For Your Mortgage

Nearly all homes can be adversely affected by a fire so it’s important to realize that buying in a high-risk area will not impact your ability to get a mortgage. It can, however, impact some of the costs associated with investing in your home. While homeowner’s insurance is a requirement of buying a home and it will generally cover you in the incidence of a fire, it can be a bit pricier. Fortunately, you may be able to guard against some of the additional costs by purchasing a home with materials that are more fire resistant.

In The Event Of Fire

If the worst happens and your home incurs damage from a fire, you’ll want to assess the extent of the damage before making a decision on how to proceed. For a home that is minimally impacted, you may want to use insurance to repair the property. However, if the property is significantly or completely destroyed, a payout may be required in order to pay off the mortgage. Before purchasing a home in a fire-prone area it’s best to be aware of all aspects of your insurance policy so you can be prepared.

It’s a more significant risk to buy a home in a fire-prone area, but you can be prepared for the worst by knowing your options. If you’re currently considering purchasing a new home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 17, 2017

Inflation Rate Stays Flat in June

Inflation was flat in June, but achieved a 0.00 percent reading as compared to May’s – 0.10 percent reading. Analysts expected a June reading of +0.10 percent reading month-to-month. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has established a benchmark reading of 2.00 percent inflation year-over-year as an indication of economic recovery. In recent months, the Fed has increased its target federal funds rate at each meeting of the FOMC. A slowdown in inflation and other economic indicators may cause the Fed to halt rate increases until conditions improve.

Fed Chair Testifies before House Financial Services Panel

During testimony last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen addressed questions about Federal Reserve board members’ interaction with Wall Street. Ms. Yellen explained that the Fed values clear communications with Wall Street as a productive relationship. Chair Yellen also noted that the Fed may taper off on interest rate increases soon; she said that further rate increases may not be warranted at present.

Stating that “monetary policy is not a preset course,” Chair Yellen said that the Fed is aware of problems associated with forecasting higher than actual inflation gains, but also said that the Fed believes that inflation will achieve the 2.00 percent annual goal established by the Fed.

Ms. Yellen hinted that her tenure as Fed Chair may be reaching its conclusion; she did not answer media inquiries about whether she would stay on if asked. She said she was concentrating on current issues instead of focusing on potential developments.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Lower

Mortgage rates rose again last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage exceeded four percent for the first time since May with an average rate of 4.03 percent. Fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.29 percent. Average mortgage rates for 15 and 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose seven basis points over last week’s average rates. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate also rose seven basis points to 3.28 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

247,000 new jobless claims were filed last week as compared to expectations of 245,000 new claims filed and last week’s reading of 250,000 new claims. First-time jobless claims stayed below 300,000for 123 consecutive weeks. This run is the longest since the 1970s.  Analysts said that low jobless claims indicate a very low rate of layoffs.

Consumer sentiment dropped by two index points from 95.10 to 93.10 percent. Rising mortgage rates and concerns about current events likely contributed to wavering consumer sentiment.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include NAHB Housing Market Indices, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Selling Your Home This Summer? Here’s Why You’ll Want to Recruit the Neighbors to Help

Selling Your Home This Summer? Here's Why You'll Want to Recruit the Neighbors to HelpWith the power of social media, it’s easier than ever to use Twitter and Facebook and your own home website to sell your home online. However, there are a lot of different buyers on the market and that means it’s important to keep all your options open when it comes to marketing your home. If you’re wondering how you can harness the power of your neighbors to get the word out, here are some tips you may want to consider.

It’s Extra Marketing

If you have a good relationship with the people in your area, it’s possible that they’ll be happy to get the word out for you and assist you in the sale of your home. Whether they happen to have friends who might be interested in a property in the area or are willing to otherwise point out your place, a positive relationship can lead to opportunities that may come from the most unexpected places!

Selling The Home’s Reliability

In all likelihood, your neighbors will be well aware of situations adversely impacting the community or any past situations that have affected your home, whether there’s been a break in or a roofing issue. It’s often the case that potential buyers will consult with your neighbors to hear more about your home’s history. Since you won’t want an interested party to hear any bad news from your neighbor, it’s important to be upfront and discuss any adjustments or renovations you’ve made with your neighbors so you can be on the same page if an issue comes up.

Keeping Them In The Loop

In the sanctity of your own home, it can be easy to forget about the neighbors just next door. But don’t forget that the stream of people coming to look at your home can have an impact on those who live around you. Instead of neglecting to prepare your neighbors for additional visitors, go door-to-door and bring some baked goods or other treats to inform them of upcoming open houses. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, they might be happy to push some interested parties in your direction.

There are many ways to market a home sale, but it’s important not to forget about how your neighbors can assist you in getting your home off the market and sold. If you’re currently preparing to sell your home, contact your local real estate professional for more tips and advice.

Upgrade My Life, Alexa: 4 Great Reasons to Invest in a Home Smart Assistant

Upgrade My Life, Alexa: 4 Great Reasons to Invest in a Home Smart AssistantIn an age of rapidly changing technology, doing things like programming in temperature changes and monitoring your home security from afar are becoming common. Fortunately, having a smarter home is even easier these days with Alexa, which was created by Amazon in 2014 as a smart home assistant. If you’re looking for an instant home upgrade that will utilize the smartest technology on the market, here’s why Alexa might be a great option for you.

Hands-Free Convenience

Whether you’re doing laundry or cutting up vegetables, being able to do a lot of tasks around the home hands-free can be a great benefit. Fortunately, with Alexa, users can use their voice to get things done whether it’s activating an app, turning on their music or even getting the weather report. 

Control The Temperature

Having to set up the temperature in your home so it goes down at night and heats up throughout the day can be a challenge, particularly since the outside temperature is always changing. Fortunately, Alexa allows you to make adjustments to the temperature wherever you are. Whether you want to increase, decrease or set the temperature, the command is as easy as: “Alexa, set the temperature to 67.”

Adjusting The Lights

In addition to the temperature, Alexa also gives you the ability to adjust the lights in your home using a variety of different commands. Whether you want to turn the lights on or off, dim the lights or even adjust their color temperature, you just need to call Alexa’s name. Conveniently, you can even create groups of lights that will turn on at a specific command!

Making Simple Purchases

Whether you want to order take-out for dinner from places like Domino’s or purchase home necessities that you’re running low on, all you need to do is engage Alexa with the appropriate command. While some users have encountered early issues using Alexa to order products, it tends to work well for household items that you order frequently.

There are many home upgrades available on the market, but Amazon’s Alexa is a great choice for those who want a product that’s easy to use and technologically adaptable. And when you’re ready to upgrade to a more tech-friendly home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

3 Home Renovation Lessons That You Won’t Want to Learn the Hard (or Expensive!) Way

3 Home Renovation Lessons That You Won't Want to Learn the Hard (or Expensive!) WayMost people make a number of home upgrades when the time comes to put their home on the market. This can include minor fix-ups or significant improvements that come with a high cost. However, it’s important to determine what will improve the value of your home and what renovations you can ignore before you move forward with any updates. If you’re wondering how to plan for your renovations, here are three things to ponder before getting started.

Make (And Stick!) To A Budget

If there’s a certain offer price you’re looking for in your home, it’s important to go into home renovations with a clear head and decide beforehand how much you’re willing to spend. You certainly won’t be able to do everything, but by doing the little fix ups, adding a coat of paint and removing some outdated design features, you can likely spend less for a lot more value. The only thing to keep in mind is that once you’ve decided on a budget, you should aim to stay within it.

Choose Complementary Improvements

From year to year, what’s popular in the design market changes and it can be tempting to try and test out the trends in the hopes of garnering a higher price. However, simply because something is trendy does not mean that it’s going to flatter the aesthetic of your home. Instead of choosing improvements that are trendy but out of place, opt for changes that will complement the home you have and add value at the same time.

Re-Consider The Extra Room

Many homeowners in recent years have been strong believers in quantity over quality, and this means many have invested in renovations to add an additional bedroom or a den. It might seem like an extra room is ideal no matter what, but if you’re cutting into your kitchen, living room or extra space, it can completely change the aesthetic of your home. With open floor plans becoming more popular, you may want to stick with fewer rooms that will garner more interest.

There are so many renovations that can instantly improve the value of your home, but it’s important to determine what will complement your home and how much you want to spend before committing to anything. If you’re planning on putting your home on the market in the near future, contact your local real estate professionals for more information.

Can I Qualify for a Mortgage After Declaring Bankruptcy? Yes — and Here’s How

Can I Qualify for a Mortgage After Declaring Bankruptcy? Yes -- and Here's HowIt may feel like a daunting task to consider buying a home after you’ve declared bankruptcy, and there’s no doubt that it’s an uphill battle. Fortunately, while you’ll have hard work ahead, there are things you can do in order to make your dream of home ownership a possibility. Whether you’ve just declared bankruptcy or some time has passed, here are some things you should consider before getting into the market.

Wait It Out

It might not be what you want to hear, but you’ll have to wait before you purchase a home following bankruptcy. Since lenders will not want to take the risk on someone that has proven to have poor financial habits, they will require a waiting period in order for the credit risk you pose to improve. While this may seem like a long time, take the opportunity to improve your financial habits so you can be amply prepared when the time comes.

Build Up Your Credit

In order to own a home, you’ll need to develop some solid financial habits, and that means getting on top of your finances even in times when it feels like you have no leverage. Ensure you get a copy of your credit report and, if you notice any errors, reach out to the credit bureau for corrections. It’s also a good idea to consider applying for a secured credit card and ensure that you pay all of your bills on time. While it might feel like a lengthy task, developing good habits will have a positive impact on your credit over time.

Prepare For Your Payment

When it comes to a poor credit history, you’ll need to pull out every stop you can to convince lenders that you’re a solid financial bet. Write up a budget for yourself and save a sizable sum for your down payment each month. It’s possible that 10 or 15% down will do, but a 20% down payment will help you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) and will go further in convincing lenders of your reliability.

It’s more than a little disheartening to have to deal with bankruptcy, but by waiting it out and developing good financial habits in the interim, you’ll be well on your way to buying a home. If you’re currently preparing to purchase, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.