What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – 03-03-14

mixed-market-signalsLast week’s economic news was mixed, with new home sales increasing and weekly jobless claims higher than expected.

Case-Shiller and FHFA home price reports reflected slower growth in home prices. Mortgage rates moved higher for the third consecutive week.

Weakness in the jobs sector and harsh winter weather were seen as factors contributing to economic events, but sales of new homes jumped unexpectedly to their highest since 2008.

Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Slower Growth for Home Prices
The Case-Shiller composite home price index for December reported that home prices declined by 0.10 percent in December, which was the second consecutive monthly decline.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, home prices rose 0.80 percent in December as compared to November’s reading of 0.90 percent. Year-over-year, home prices grew at a rate of 13.40 percent, their fastest pace since 2005.

The momentum of year-over-year home prices declined in December as compared to November’s year-over-year reading of 13.70 percent. 11 of 20 cities included in the Case-Shiller composite index declined.

Analysts said that low inventories of available homes, higher mortgage rates and severe winter weather contributed to slower growth in home prices.

FHFA’s quarterly House Price Index for the fourth quarter of 2013 posted its tenth consecutive gain in quarterly home prices. Seasonally adjusted home prices rose by 0.80 percent from November to December 2013.

FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices increased by 7.70 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013. Adjusted for inflation, the agency reported a year-over-year increase of 7.0 percent.

FHFA House Price Index data is based on sales information for homes with mortgages held or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Fixed Mortgage Rates, New and Pending Home Sales Rise
Freddie Mac reported that average rates for fixed-rate mortgages rose last week, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising 4 basis points to 4.37 percent.

The rate for a 15-year mortgage also increased by 4 basis points to 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by 3 basis points to 3.05 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.7 0 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Weekly jobless claims also rose to 348,000 against projections for 335,000 new jobless claims. The four-week average for new jobless claims remained steady at 338,250.

The Department of Labor noted that weekly readings are more volatile than the four -week average reading. Poor winter weather and a softer labor market were cited as possible causes for the jump in new claims.

New home sales provided unexpected good news; they jumped by 9.60 percent in January, to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 468,000 sales against expected sales of 405,000.

December’s reading was upwardly revised from 414,000 to 427,000 new homes sold.

January’s reading was the largest increase in new home sales since July 2008, and there may be more positive housing news ahead as builders said that some of the sales lost during winter months may be recouped during spring.

Pending home sales increased by 0.10 percent in January to an index reading of 95 as compared to December’s reading of 94.9, which was the lowest reading since November 2011.

What‘s Coming Up
This week’s scheduled economic news includes construction spending, the Federal Reserve’s beige book report, weekly jobless claims, and Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates.

Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment reports for February.

Smart Ways To Create Equity Within Your Home

increasing-home-equity-valueHome equity is the difference between what your home can sell for and what you owe on it. Generally, the longer you own your home, the more equity you build.

This is money you can use before you sell your home through a home equity loan. Just keep in mind that a home equity loan is secured with your home. If you can’t make the payments, you can lose your home.

Use Your Home Equity In Smart Ways:
Remodel Your Home – If you’ve wanted to add on a family room or modernize your kitchen, consider using your home’s equity to fund the project. Home improvements usually increase your home’s marketability and value.

Make Needed Major Repairs – Your home’s equity can be a funding source for major repairs like plumbing problems and re-roofs. Once again, this is an improvement for your home that will help keep its value up.

Buy Another Property – Real estate is still a safe investment. You can use your home equity to buy a second property when home values are down. When the market recovers, you can sell the investment property for a profit. This also works if you have to move out of town and are still trying to sell your home. If you can afford the payments, use your home’s equity to purchase your new home until the current one sells.

Pay For Unexpected Medical Expenses Or Job Loss – You never know when a medical emergency or job loss will leave you in debt. A home equity loan can give you the money you need to get through this difficult time.

It’s easy to build equity in your home when you find the right deal. Let me help you find your perfect home and negotiate a great price and terms for you. Contact your mortgage professional today.

What Are The Requirements To Sell A Home Using An FHA Loan?

Before an owner can market a property to buyers that want to use a FHA loan, he will want to familiarize himself with the FHA’s standards. FHA won’t insure loans on just any property.

While their standards aren’t as stringent as they used to be, a home needs to be in relatively good condition to qualify for FHA financing.

Location And Lotselling your home with fha financing

To qualify for FHA financing, the property has to be located on a road or easement that lets the owner freely enter and exit.

The access also has to be paved with a surface that will work all year a long dirt driveway that washes out in spring won’t qualify.

The FHA also wants the lot to be safe and free of pollution, radiation and other hazards. For that matter, it also needs to provide adequate drainage to keep water away from the house.

Property Exterior

The FHA’s requirements for making a loan start with the home’s roof. To pass muster, the house must have a watertight roof with some future life left. In addition, if the roof has three or more layers of old shingles, they must all be torn off as part of the replacement process.

The property’s exterior has to be free of chipped or damaged paint if the home has any risk of having lead paint. Its foundation should also be free of signs of exterior (and interior) damage. It also needs full exterior walls.

Property Interior

The property’s interior also needs to be inspected. FHA standards require that the home’s major systems be in good working order.

Bedrooms should have egress routes for fire safety and the attic and basement should be free of signs of water or mold damage.

The bottom line is that the FHA wants to make loans on homes that borrowers can occupy. This doesn’t mean that a home has to be in perfect condition to be sold to an FHA mortgage-using borrower. It just needs to be a place that they can live.

What Is A Mortgage Pre-Approval?

mortgage-preapprovalWhen you are purchasing a home, your broker may recommend you obtain a mortgage pre-approval before you find the home of your dreams.

There are some benefits to being pre-approved before you find a home, but oftentimes, people confuse pre-qualifications with pre-approvals.

So the question many buyers have is what exactly is a mortgage pre-approval?

In a nutshell, it’s when the lender provides you (the buyer) with a letter stating that your mortgage will be granted up to a specific dollar amount.

What Do I Need For Pre-Approval?

In order to obtain a pre-approval for your home purchase, you will have to provide your lender all of the same information you would need to show for qualifying for a mortgage.

This means providing tax returns, bank statements and other documents that prove your net worth, how much you have saved for your down payment and your current obligations.

What Conditions Are Attached To A Pre-Approval?

Generally speaking, a pre-approval does have some caveats attached to it. Typically, you can expect to see some of the following clauses in a pre-approval letter:

  • Interest Rate Changes – a pre-approval is done based on current interest rates. When rates increase, your borrowing power may decrease.
  • Property Passes Inspection – your lender will require the property you ultimately purchase to come in with a proper appraisal and meet all inspection requirements.
  • Credit Check Requirements – regardless of whether it’s been a week or six months since you were pre-approved, your lender will require a new credit report. Changes in your credit report could negate the pre-approval.
  • Changes In Jobs/Assets – after a pre-approval is received, a change in your employment status or any assets may result in the pre-approval becoming worthless.

Getting pre-approved for a home mortgage may allow you more negotiation power with sellers and may help streamline the entire loan process.

It is important however to keep in mind there are still things that may have a negative impact on actually getting the loan.

It is important to make sure you keep in contact with the lender, especially if interest rates increase or your employment status changes after you are pre-approved.

Questions First-Time Home Buyers Should Ask

first-time-home-buyersNationwide, mortgage rates are low and home prices remain relatively low, too. This combination, plus rising rents, is pushing renters in some cities toward first-time homeownership.

Buying your first home can be exciting, but you should also do your research to make sure that you ask the proper questions of the process, and make the best choices for yourself and your household.

For example, recommended questions for first-time buyers to ask home sellers include :

What major repairs have been made to your home?
Although standard disclosure forms are supposed to provide information regarding past damage and renovation to the property, there are occasionally repairs that are omitted or otherwise forgotten. Be proactive and ask pointed questions about the roof, the foundation, and the electrical system. Some home issue have a way of resurfacing many years later and it’s best to know in advance. •

To which school district does the home belong?
As a first-time homebuyer, you may or may not have school-aged children. However, in many areas, public school rankings positively (or negatively) affect home values. Ask your real estate agent for school district data. Consider asking the seller for feedback, too.

Is this a “distressed” property, and what does that mean to me?
For many home buyers, the allure of a foreclosed home or a home in short sale can be large. Prices are discounted as compared to comparable real estate — sometimes by as much as 20%. However, many distressed properties are sold as-is,” with little room for negotiation. This means that homes may be defective or, worse, uninhabitable. Ask your real estate agent for help with distressed homes and their suitability to your home buying needs.

After asking the above questions, and other questions, too, it’s important to remember that buying a home can be an emotional decision; and one that requires using your “brain” as much as your “heart”. Try to keep emotions in check so that you don’t overpay for a home that’s unsuitable, for example.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 02-24-2014

mortgage-rates-this-weekLast week’s economic data supported recent reports indicating that housing markets are slowing, The National Association of Home builders/Wells Fargo Home Builders Index (HBI) dropped by 10 points to a reading of 46 for February.

Home builder confidence dropped to its lowest reading in nine months, and fell below the benchmark of 50, which indicates that more builders are pessimistic about current market conditions than not.

Severe weather was blamed for the lower builder confidence reading, which fell below the expected reading of 56.

Regional readings of builder confidence were also lower:

Northeast: Builder confidence fell from 41 to 33 points. This suggests that weather is a major concern as this area has experienced a series of nasty winter storms.

South: The HBI reading fell from 50 in January to 46 in February and was the smallest decline among the four regions. Fewer index points lost in the South appears to support builder’s concerns about bad weather in other regions.

Midwest: Builder confidence dropped from 59 points to a reading of 50.

West: Builder confidence fell by 14 points to February’s reading of 57. Desirable areas in the West had been leading the nation in home price appreciation. February’s reading may signal an easing of buyer enthusiasm as rapidly rising home prices have reduced affordable options for first-time and moderate income buyers. Builders also cited concerns over labor and supplies as reasons for lower confidence readings.

Housing Starts Lower, Mortgage Rates Higher
On Wednesday, Housing Starts for January were released. Although analysts predicted a figure of 945,000 housing starts as compared to an upwardly adjusted 1.05 million housing starts in December, only 880,000 housing starts were reported for January.

The Department of Commerce also cited extreme winter weather as a cause for the drop in housing starts, which reached their fastest pace since 2008 in November. There is some good news. Economists said that housing starts delayed during winter could begin during spring.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, average mortgage rates rose across the board. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan rose by 5 basis points to 4.33 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.35 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage moved up by three basis points to an average rate of 3.08 percent. Discount points for all three products were unchanged with readings of 0.70 for 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that weekly jobless claims came in at 336,000 against expectations of 335,000 new jobless claims. The prior week’s reading was for 339,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that job growth may be slowing after last year’s growth, but also noted that winter weather had slowed hiring in labor sectors such as construction and manufacturing.

Existing home sales fell by 5.10 percent in January according to the National Association of REALTORS®, which reported a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of home sales at 4.62 million sales against expectations of 4.65 million and December’s reading of 4.87 million sales of pre-owned homes. The national average home price rose to $188,900, which was 10.70 percent higher year-over-year.

January’s inventory of available existing homes was 1.9 million homes; this represented a 4.90 month supply of existing homes for sale. Real estate pros prefer to see at least a six month inventory of available homes for sale.

What’s Ahead
Next week brings a series of economic reports and opportunities for good news. The Case Shiller Home Price Indices, FHFA Home Price Index will be released. Consumer Confidence and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment report along with New and Pending Home Sales reports round out next week’s scheduled news.

What To Consider When Buying A Fixer-Upper

buying-a-fixer-upper-homeIn your imagination it seems like a great idea – you purchase an older run-down property and you have the chance to fix it up and turn it into the home of your dreams.

To Renovate, Or Not To Renovate

However, the renovation project that is simply a quick montage in your imagination will actually take several months or years and thousands of dollars in real life.

The concept of renovating a “fixer-upper” property is exciting, but the reality is a lot of work and investment. How can you make sure that you are making the right choice for you?

One of the main advantages of buying a fixer-upper property is that you will usually be able to get the property for a much cheaper price. But is it worth it for the amount of time and money you will need to invest in the property?

Here Are Some Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself When Making Your Decision:

  • Do you (or your friends and family members) have the skills to be able to perform most of the renovations yourself? If you do the labor yourself, you will be able to save thousands of dollars that you would have spent hiring contractors, which will make the renovation a much more profitable project.
  • Are you comfortable with the idea of living in a construction zone, perhaps for several months or more? There will be dust and noise everywhere and you might have to cope without a kitchen or a shower for a while.
  • Make sure that you have a thorough inspection of the home performed so that you can see whether the home has a sturdy foundation, good wiring and plumbing, etc. If your inspection reveals any structural issues or water damage, you might be in for more than you bargained for. You need to start with a house that has “good bones”.
  • If the home has serious structural, plumbing or wiring problems you should stay away – these repairs are very expensive but “invisible”, so you are unlikely to recoup your costs when you sell the home.
  • Add up the estimated costs for renovating the property along with the cost of the home – does it still work out to be a better deal or would you be better off buying a new property.
  • What is your strategy for financing the renovations? If your only option is putting it on the credit card, you might want to think twice because this is a very high interest option.

Buying a fixer-upper property can be a great investment and can give you the opportunity to transform a run-down old house into the property of your dreams. However, make sure you that you consider the choice carefully before making your decision.

For more information about home mortgage advice and how to get approved to buy a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

How A Mortgage Pre-Approval Can Help You Get A Better Deal On Your Home Purchase

how-a-mortgage-pre-approval-can-benefit-youOftentimes, when you are searching for a new home, it may seem obtaining a pre-approval for your mortgage loan is a waste of time and energy. However, there are some significant benefits to a pre-approval which should not be overlooked.

In many cases, buyers can use a pre-approval for leverage when negotiating with sellers and may wind up buying a home for far less than what the listed price is.

Knowing Your Limitations

One significant benefit of a mortgage pre-approval is knowing exactly how much money you will be able to borrow. This means you will be looking at homes you know you can afford.

Whether you are working on your own or you’ve sought the assistance of a real estate broker, there will be no question in your mind how much money you can spend.

Approaching A Seller

When someone is attempting to sell a home, chances are they are either buying a new home or they are relocating. This means they may be facing certain time constraints which can be difficult when they list their home.

When sellers are faced with multiple offers, chances are the potential buyer who has a pre-approval will often be the offer that is accepted, even if it’s slightly lower than other buyers.

Benefits For The Seller

It may seem the seller has nothing to gain if they are taking less money for their home simply because you have a pre-approval. However, this is typically not the case.

Keep in mind the usual process is the buyer makes an offer, they search for a loan and they may eventually get turned down for a mortgage. This means the seller has to start the process all over again; typically 30 to 60 days after they received the first offer.

A pre-approval can give you a great deal of negotiating power simply because your lender has already validated your credit information, your employment, debt and income.

This means when you begin negotiating with a seller, the time from signing a purchase and sale agreement to closing your loan is typically significantly shortened.

Can I Have A Co-Signer For My Mortgage?

getting-a-cosigner-for-your-mortgageLike credit cards or car loans, some mortgages allow borrowers to have co-signers on the loan with them, enhancing their loan application.

However, a co-signer on a mortgage loan doesn’t have the same impact that it might on another loan. Furthermore, it poses serious drawbacks for the co-signer.

What Is A Mortgage CoSigner?

A mortgage co-signer is a person that isn’t an owner-occupant of the house. However, the co-signer is on the hook for the loan.

Typically, a co-signer is a family member or close friend that wants to help the primary borrower qualify for a mortgage.

To that end, he signs the loan documents along with the primary borrower, taking full responsibility for them.

When a co-signer applies for a mortgage, the lender considers the co-signer’s income and savings along with the borrower’s.

For instance, if a borrower only has $3,000 per month in income but wants to have a mortgage that, when added up with his other payments, works out to a total debt load of $1,800 per month, a lender might not be willing to make the loan.

If the borrower adds a co-signer with $3,000 per month in income and no debt, the lender looks at the $1,800 in payments against the combined income of $6,000, and is much more likely to approve it.

CoSigner Limitations

Co-signers can add income, but they can’t mitigate credit problems.

Typically, the lender will look at the least qualified borrower’s credit score when deciding whether or not to make the loan.

This means that a co-signer might not be able to help a borrower who has adequate income but doesn’t have adequate credit.

There Are Risks In CoSigning For A Mortgage

Co-signing arrangements carry risks for both the borrower and the co-signer.

The co-signer gets all of the downsides of debt without the benefits. He doesn’t get to use or own the house, but he’s responsible for it if the mortgage goes unpaid.

The co-signer’s credit could be ruined and he could be sued (in some states) if the borrower doesn’t pay and he doesn’t step in.

For the borrower, having a co-signer may an additional level of pressure to make payments since defaulting on the loan will hurt him and his co-signer.

3 Important Credit Considerations Before You Apply For A Mortgage

credit-considerations-buying-a-homeBefore applying for a mortgage, borrowers need to build a plan for how they are going to manage their credit both going into the mortgage process and as they navigate through it.

Lenders like to know that borrowers have a strong likelihood of repaying the loans they take out and, as such, look carefully at an applicant’s credit.

Here are three must-dos that can help an applicant turn into a home owner.

PreChecking Credit Reports

Before even starting the home loan application process, borrowers are well served to check their own credit reports and see what appears. If everything is correct, their credit score can help them understand what type of loans are open to them and what they might cost.

When errors come up, pre-checking gives the applicant time to have the errors corrected before applying for a loan.

When an applicant has credit issues, knowing gives him time to fix them. He can pay down balances, add new lines to his report or take other action in advance of applying.

Manage The Debt To Income Ratio

Mortgage lenders calculate a borrower’s ability to borrow based on the debt-to-income ratio. They add up the proposed mortgage payment and the other debt payments and divide them into his monthly gross income.

If he has too much debt or not enough income he won’t get the loan he wants.

To manage this, borrowers have two choices.

One is to earn more by taking on a second job. The other is to have lower payments.

Paying down credit cards can be a quick way to solve this problem.

Avoid Taking On New Debt

When an applicant takes on more debt while applying for a home loan, it can cause three problems:

  1. The inquiry can drop his credit score.
  2. The payments can change his DTI.
  3. The lender might not feel good about a borrower taking on more debt.

Getting a mortgage can be tough. The key is to understand what lenders want to see and give it to them.

If you need help understanding credit and how to prepare for your mortgage transaction, contact your trusted mortgage professional.