What To Do First After Moving Into Your New Home

moving into your new homeIf you have purchased a new home and are going to move in soon, what are the first few things that you will need to do upon moving into your new home? Moving can be very stressful, but having a checklist can make your move effortless.

Here are 6 easy steps that can eliminate any frustration and help you feel safe and secure:

Change Your Address
You will need to change your address for all magazine subscriptions, bills and other services. You can update your mailing address online or visit your local post office to find out what needs to be done.

Set Up The Utilities
When you move into a new home, you may get all of the contact information from the previous home owner or real estate agent for the utility companies. Be sure to change the services into your name before you move in, such as gas, cable, electricity, internet, telephone, sewer and water.

Change The Locks
You have no way of knowing who the old home owners gave a copy of the key to, so having the locks changed is something that you should do right away when you move into your new property.

Have The Carpets Cleaned
Get your life in the new house off to a fresh start by having the carpets steam cleaned before you move your furniture in. You could either rent a steam cleaner or pay a carpet cleaning service, but either way this will make the house feel really clean and new.

Figure Out Your Breaker Box
Another important first step to owning your new home is to figure out which breakers control each part of your home.
Knowing how the breaker box works will ensure that you can flip the right switch when you need to. You might need to ask someone to help you by standing in another part of the house and letting you know which lights come on or off when you flick the switches.

Check Your Smoke Alarms
The smoke alarms and CO monitors in your home might not have been checked recently, so make sure that they are functioning properly. Depending on how old they are, you might need to change the batteries. This is an important maintenance task for your own safety.
These are just a few of the important first steps that you should take when you first move into your brand new home.
For more information about buying a new home, feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 29th 2013

mortgage rates this weekLast week brought a mixed bag of economic news, but most notably, average mortgage rates fell.
New home sales surpassed expectations and consumer sentiment rose for July; these readings among others suggest that the economy continued to improve and that consumer confidence in the economy improved as well.

Monday: Existing home sales in June were reported at 5.08 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. While this fell short of expectations of 5.25 million existing homes sold, the expectation was based on the original reading of 5.18 million existing homes sold for May; this was later revised to 5.14 million homes existing homes sold in May.

Tuesday: FHFA reported that May prices for homes with mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac remained consistent with April’s reading of a 7.30 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Home prices rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April’s revised reading of 0.50 percent.

Wednesday: The U.S. Census Bureau revealed that June sales of new homes came in at 497,000, which surpassed both expectations of 483,000 new homes sold and May’s reading of 449,000 new homes sold.

Thursday: Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 3.31 percent with 0.8 percent in discount points.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 3.39 percent with discount points of 0.8 percent as compared to last week’s report of 3.41 percent. Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point from 3.17 percent to 3.16 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.

In other economic news, June’s report for Durable Goods Orders nearly doubled to 4.20 percent over expectations of 2.30 percent.
Friday: Consumer Sentiment for July rose to 85.1 as compared to expectations of 84.0 and June’s reading of 83.90 percent. That consumers continued gaining confidence in the economy could indicate that more would-be home buyers will become active homebuyers seeking to buy amidst a short inventory of available homes.

This Week’s Busy Economic Calendar
Readings for several significant economic and housing related indicators will be released this week.

Pending Home Sales are due out today; Tuesday brings the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the Consumer Confidence Index.

Wednesday’s news includes the ADP report (useful for tracking private sector job growth) and an FOMC statement after its meeting ends. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also scheduled to give a press conference Wednesday. As always, any remarks concerning projected changes to the Fed’s quantitative easing program (QE) could impact financial markets and mortgage rates. On Thursday, construction spending data will be released in addition to Freddie Mac’s weekly report on average mortgage rates. Friday’s news includes several employment-related reports. The monthly Non-Farm Payrolls and Unemployment report will be released; collectively these two reports are frequently called the Jobs Report. Data on personal income and consumer spending will round out the week’s economic news.

Five Tips To Protect Your Home From Burglars When You Are Away

protect your homeAny family would feel violated after coming home to a ransacked house. Burglars look for specific things when choosing a home to break into, and many homeowners are unknowingly inviting criminals through the front door.

Below are five ways you can avoid drawing the eyes of thieves and deter your home from becoming a target.

Beware Of Selling To Strangers

    If you’re wanting to sell items on Craigslist or another internet-based classified ad website, attempt conducting your transactions outside of the home.

    If you must meet at home, screen the person over the telephone to ensure that they are truly interested in the item you’re selling. Thieves have been known to make appointments just to check out your home.

    Be Careful If You Tweet About It

    Not all of your friends protect their social media information, or may not have the most virtuous acquaintances. If you share your upcoming vacation or big event, then a mischievous friend of a friend will know the perfect time to forcefully check out your home.

    Learn how to limit your social media posts to only your trusted contacts.

    Mind Your Trash

    Be careful when it comes to taking out the garbage, especially around holidays. Criminals will drive around nice neighborhoods and specifically look for empty boxes of high-price items. Then all they have to do is wait for you to leave the house before they force their way in and nab the goods.

    Break down boxes and conceal them in garbage bags or trashcans.

    Prepare For Your Vacation

    Make sure when you leave on vacation that you put a few lights on timers and have someone collect your mail. A home that is obviously vacant is every burglar’s dream.

    And if you’re on an extended holiday, ensure you also hire someone to take care of the lawn – overgrown grass is a no-one-is-home indicator.

    Secure The Safe

    Just because you put your valuables in a safe doesn’t mean they’re secure. If the safe isn’t installed in a wall or bolted to the floor, then a burglar can just carry it through your front door. They can figure out how to break into it later.

    Make the additional time investment to ensure your safe can’t walk out the door.

    With a little common sense and by following the advice above, you’ll reduce the risk of your home being targeted by burglars. If you would like more information about keeping your home secure, please call your trusted real estate professional today.

    Home Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level Since January 2006

    new home constructionThe National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose in July.

    Home builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose six points to a reading of 57. NAHB reports that this was the third consecutive rise in the HMI and its highest reading since January 2006.

    Three components used in compiling the HMI reading include current sales, which gained five points for a reading of 60. Confidence in prospective buyer traffic rose from 40 to 45, and sales expectations for the next six months rose from a reading of 60 to 67.

    HMI: All Regions Post Gains
    Regional data reflected gains in builder confidence for all U.S. geographic regions. Regional data is based on a three-month rolling average of builder confidence in each region.

    The Northeast gained four points for a reading of 40; the Midwest gained eight points for a reading of 54. The South gained five points for a reading of 50, and the West gained three points for a reading of 51.

    Readings of more than 50 indicate that more builders view conditions as good than poor. NAHB Economist David Crowe indicated that growing confidence is driven by factors including lower prices for building materials and more buyers vying for fewer available homes. A shortage of building space and available existing homes is improving markets for new homes.

    Housing Starts Decline In June
    In spite of growing home builder confidence, housing starts for June fell to their lowest level in nearly a year. Regional weather conditions contributed to the dip in housing starts, which surpassed June 2012 housing starts by 10.40 percent.

    June’s housing starts fell to 836,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, and fell shy of economist’s expectation of 950,000 housing starts. Expectations were based on May’s original tally of 914,000 housing starts, which was revised upward to 928,000 on Wednesday.
    Building permits for single family homes moved up by 0.60 percent to a rate of 624,000; this is the highest rate since May, 2008. A significant backlog of unused permits contributed to June’s lower number of building permits issued.

    Economists are confident that the housing market continues its recovery, but may face obstacles if the government changes the mortgage interest tax deduction.

    Another concern involves the pending “tapering” of the Fed’s quantitative easing program (QE). The QE program, which involves the Fed’s purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) was designed to support mortgage markets and also helps to keep mortgage rates low.

    For specific details on local home building activity , please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

    Three Common Home Financing Problems And How To Avoid Them

    home financing tipsGetting the best mortgage financing for your new home can sometimes be a complicated process and, unfortunately, things can go wrong. Using a licensed and trusted mortgage loan specialist can help alleviate many of these challenges.

    There are certain mistakes that many homebuyers make when applying for their mortgages that can seriously damage their chances of being approved. If you are aware of the most common mortgage issues, you will be better able to prevent them when applying for your own mortgage.

    Make sure that you keep the following tips in mind when applying for a mortgage:

    Making Large Purchases Before Closing On The Mortgage

    Many homebuyers think that they are in the clear once the mortgage deal is approved and they move forward on another large purchase such as a car or home furnishings. However, it is best to hold off on all major purchases until the mortgage is finalized, as additional debt will change your “debt-to-income ratio” which could mean that you no longer qualify for the loan.

    Many lenders pull your credit information right before funding, so avoid any big-ticket items until you have signed on the dotted line.

    Switching Jobs During The Mortgage Loan Process

    When deciding whether or not to approve your loan, the lender will look at your salary and your job stability. If you make a career move during the process of applying for the loan, this could make your income seem unstable and could cause the bank to decline your loan.

    Stay in your job through your home closing date to reassure the bank that you have a stable income; you can always switch careers later.

    Having No Credit Card

    You might think that the fact that you have gotten by without a credit card for this long would be a positive thing in the mind of lenders. However, having no credit history at all makes lenders nervous, as they don’t know how you will handle credit when you have it.

    Instead, get a credit card that you repay in full every month, which will help to show them you can manage your credit responsibly.

    These are just a few examples of major mistakes that home buyers make when applying for a mortgage. If you can avoid these issues, you will find it much easier to buy a home.

    As always, call your trusted home mortgage financing professional today to discuss your personal situation and get the best advice on your upcoming home purchase!

    What Are the Hot Home Decor Trends for 2013?

    hot home decor trends 2013Just like fashion designs and hair styles, home decor trends are constantly changing and evolving. Each new season brings a new must-have feature for your home.

    In order to keep your home looking fresh and chic, what are the hot trends for 2013 that you can incorporate into your decor?
    Here are a few ideas:

    Bright Paint Colors
    Vibrant (and even neon) hues are very popular in fashion at the moment and they also look really chic on your walls. If you are looking for a way to freshen up a dull room, a bright pop of color can really do the trick.

    It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you keep the rest of the room neutral and use the bright color as an accent.

    Original Artwork
    Decorating your home with unique and original works of art from funky local artists is a hot trend this year. You could find such pieces at a local art fair or on online craft auction websites.
    You could also check out a local art school or university art program in your area, where you can buy some student artwork at cheap prices.

    1920s Inspired Designs
    With the Roaring 20s being revitalized on the silver screen in the show Boardwalk Empire and the film The Great Gatsby, designs from the 1920s are becoming more popular. Why not incorporate some gorgeous Art Deco furniture or decoration into your home?
    Check out auctions to find authentic vintage pieces for cheap prices.

    Simple Wood
    Another hot trend for 2013 is unfinished exposed wood furniture, with a very natural texture and feel. These simple wood pieces give your home a natural beauty that compliments any color. It works well with neutral accents to give the home a very peaceful and welcoming atmosphere.

    Stripes and Graphic Prints
    Crisp patterns, graphic prints and stripes are popular at the moment in everything from fabrics to wallpaper to furniture. If you really want to make your home décor look cutting edge, incorporate some of these eye-popping graphic designs into your décor.
    These are just a few of the hottest home décor trends of the year 2013. Which ones will you incorporate into the décor of your home?
    For more information about buying or updating your home, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today!

    What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 22, 2013

    mortgage-rate-watchLast week’s economic news was a mixed bag with retail sales and housing starts coming in lower than expected, but home builder confidence in housing markets increased.

    Weekly jobless claims fell, and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate, saying that falling gold prices were an indication of increasing confidence in the economy, but that it was “way too soon” to say when the Fed’s quantitative easing program would be reduced.

    Monday: Retail sales for June came in lower than expected at 0.4 percent. Economists estimated a reading of 0.9 percent based on May’s reading of 0.5 percent.

    Tuesday: June’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in as expected at 0.5 percent against May’s reading of 0.1 percent. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July gained five points for a reading of 57, which exceeded expectations of a reading of 52. Builders cited a short supply of existing homes and falling materials prices as factors contributing to June’s stronger reading.

    Wednesday: Housing starts in June fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 836,000 against expectations of 950,000 and May’s revised reading of 928,000. Regional weather and a surplus of unused building permits were seen as contributing to fewer housing starts in June; analysts did not see the dip in housing starts as a sign of softening housing markets.

    Thursday: Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate as noted above and was careful to emphasize that economic data received after the last FOMC meeting indicated that it is “way too soon” for the Fed to change its monthly volume of Treasury bonds and MBS purchases. This is good news for mortgage markets, and possibly for mortgage rates, which fell this week.

    Freddie Mac reported that average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 14 basis points to 4.37 percent; average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 12 basis points to 3.41 percent; these rates include average discount points of 0.7 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 ARM was 3.17 percent with discount points of 0.6 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an affordable alternative to rising fixed mortgage rates.

    Friday: No significant economic news noted.

    What’s Coming Up
    This week’s schedule includes Existing Home Sales on Monday; on Tuesday, the FHFA releases its Home Prices report. New Home Sales will be released on Wednesday; Thursday brings weekly jobless claims and the Durable Goods report. The week will finish with the Consumer Sentiment report on Friday.

    Can That Killer Home Theater Add Value To Your Home?

    awesome home theaterMany home owners dream of having a home theater – an entire room of the home dedicated to enjoying television and film. These rooms are usually equipped with a large flat screen television or projector, comfortable seats, mood lighting and perhaps even a bar or a snack fridge.

    They are very comfortable and the perfect place to relax after a hard day. They are also lots of fun for entertaining, as you will be able to watch the big game or the hottest new release with your friends in style.

    However, will spending the money on renovating your home to create a theater room be a smart investment? Does this type of home improvement add a lot of value to the property, or will it turn off potential buyers?

    Buyers Interested In Tech-Equipped Homes

    These days luxury home buyers are becoming much more tech-savvy and they are demanding more networked or ‘smart’ homes than ever before. They are looking for a house which is outfitted with the latest in technology, so a modern home theater will be a desirable selling point. If you are targeting your home to this luxury market, the home theater could give you an edge over the competition.

    It is difficult to determine the amount that the home value is affected when you add a high tech home theater, but most real estate professionals will agree that when there are many houses for sale at any given time, the one with an impressive home theater room will be more likely to sell first.

    Don’t Take Over Valuable Home Space

    The only situation in which the home theater could detract from the value of the home is if it overpowers a medium sized or smaller home that just barely had enough space in the first place. If your home cannot spare the extra room, taking up a lot of space with a home theater will mean fewer bedrooms or living spaces and a potential decrease in value.

    However, you might be able to get around this problem with clever solutions that allow you to conceal the home theater unless it is being used. You could hide the large screen behind specially designed cabinets and set up the furniture so that the room can be a living space when not in use as a theater.

    Remember that a home theater system is something that will generally only increase the value of your home for certain buyers, as opposed to something like a bathroom renovation or a garage which will be valuable to almost every buyer.

    To find out more about upgrades that affect the value of your home, contact your trusted home financing professional today.

    FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed May Curb Economic Support Program Before Year End

    FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed May Curb Economic Support Program Before Year EndFOMC Minutes Suggest QE Tapering by Year-End

    The minutes for June’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that committee members are mostly in agreement that the current quantitative easing program (QE) should begin winding down by year end, but the committee minutes are very clear concerning the committee’s intention to monitor inflation and ongoing economic and financial developments before taking action to reduce the current rate of QE.

    The Fed currently purchases $85 billion monthly in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Investors fear that if the Fed rolls back QE too soon or too fast, it could cause long term interest rates such as mortgage rates to rise faster.

    The Fed minutes indicate that factors the Fed will continue monitoring before making changes to QE include:

    • Labor market conditions
    • Indicators of inflationary pressures
    • Readings on financial developments

    FOMC members also agreed that the Fed would not sell MBS it has accumulated after the economic support program ceases. When the Fed ceases QE, demand for mortgage-backed securities is expected to fall. If the Fed were to sell off MBS holdings in addition to stopping QE, MBS prices could fall sharply. In general, when MBS prices fall, mortgage rates rise.

    The FOMC minutes indicate that the Fed intends to maintain the Federal Funds rate at 0.000 to 0.250 percent “for a considerable time after the monthly asset purchases cease.” To be clear, the minutes do not reveal any specific dates for starting to wind down the program.

    Concerns over financial conditions in Europe highlight the Fed’s intention to monitor global economic developments were discussed. Potential “spillover” of negative sentiments in response to Europe’s economic woes to U.S. financial markets were seen as a potential threat to the U.S. economic recovery.

    Committee members found that although the economy showed moderate improvement since its last meeting, the national unemployment rate remains high at 7.60 percent. Members also noted that the numbers of long-term unemployed and those working part time jobs but wanting full time jobs remain higher than average. These conditions traditionally keep consumers from buying homes.

    Housing: Upside-Down Mortgages Decreasing

    Due to rapid increases in home values, the committee noted that fewer homeowners were under water on their mortgage loans. This is good news as homeowners can rebuild household wealth as their home equity increases. Having home equity also provides homeowners with the flexibility to sell or refinance their homes.

    While housing is driving the economic recovery, high unemployment will likely keep the Fed from changing its QE policy in the short term.

    Now may be a very good time to take advantage of still historically low mortgage interest rates before they rise. If you have specific questions on purchasing or refinancing your home mortgage loan and how these changes may affect you, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

    Is It Possible That Your Gender May Influence Your Home Mortgage Approval?

    mortgage approval underwritingIf you are applying for a joint mortgage on your property with your spouse or partner, the name that goes first could have more of an impact than you might think.

    A 2010 study by the Woodstock Institute showed that mortgage lenders were inclined to show favoritism when men were the lead borrowers on joint applications. The study was undertaken within the Chicago area and it tracked joint applications for refinancing as well as home purchases. Over 250,000 applications were studied in the year 2010.

    Surprisingly, the study showed that home purchase applications that listed the female partner as the primary borrower were 24 percent less likely to be approved.

    When it came to mortgage refinancing, the application would be 39 percent less likely to be approved if a woman was in the primary position. The study was controlled in order to account for the size of the loan and the borrower’s income.

    What Does This Mean?

    The researchers at Woodstock are still carrying out more studies and analyzing their findings, but they say the results so far are quite troubling. They theorize that the discrimination might be totally unconscious and a symptom of wider discrimination against women.

    Many lenders have declined to comment, but Terry Francisco, President of Bank of America, claimed that there was no policy in the mortgage underwriting process that would differentiate based on the order of the applicants names in the documents.

    The findings are not complete enough at the moment to draw any conclusions. Additional data will be collected, such as age, credit scores, property values and much more in order to provide a more full and complete picture.

    Increase Your Chances of Getting Approved

    Regardless of the findings of this study, there are a number of ways that you can make your mortgage application more likely to be approved no matter what your gender. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

    • Don’t change jobs right before applying. Lenders want to see financial stability, so it is better if you have been with the same employer for as long as possible.
    • Repay your other debts, including your store cards, credit cards, overdrafts and more.
    • Check your credit report. If there are any errors that are making your credit score lower than it should be, you may be able to correct them.
    • Avoid making any large purchases on your credit cards while you are applying for a mortgage. When the lender looks at your credit, this could affect their calculations of your debt to income ratio.

    To find out more about getting the best home mortgage approval to buy or refinance your property, please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.