What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 15, 2013

Mortgage RatesThe Fed’s release of the minutes for the June FOMC meeting was the most noteworthy economic event last week; the minutes repeated the Fed’s recent statement concerning the wind-down of its current monetary easing policy.

The minutes indicated that about half of meeting participants wanted to end the quantitative easing (QE) policy by year end, while “many others” preferred to end the program in 2014.

This split suggests that days are numbered for the Fed’s monthly purchase of $85 billion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The minutes also revealed that the Fed would not be selling off MBS as QE is ended. This would likely prevent additional potential for mortgage rates to increase as demand for bonds would decline when the Fed stops its monthly purchases.

Mortgage Rates Typically Rise When Bond And MBS Prices Fall

U.S. financial markets showed little reaction to the Fed minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a quick gain of about 40 points that quickly retreated. The Wall Street Journal interprets the lackluster response to the Fed minutes as investors growing accustomed to the eventual end of the QE program; it’s also possible that the markets interpreted the FOMC minutes as “old news,” as the minutes contained information included in the Fed statement given after June’s FOMC meeting.

The FOMC minutes reported that details of tapering the QE program will be given by Chairman Ben Bernanke during his customary press conference after the Fed presents the FOMC meeting statement. The minutes also asserted that the Fed will closely monitor economic and financial developments as part of their decision-making for ending QE.

The minutes stated that the current Federal Funds rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent will remain in place for some time after QE is ended.

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved to 4.51 percent from last week’s 4.29 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.53 percent from 3.39 percent. Discount points for both types of loans rose from 0.70 percent to 0.80 percent.

Rising mortgage rates suggest that borrowers may soon return to adjustable rate mortgages or hybrids such as the 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which was reported at an average rate of 3.26 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent.

What’s Coming Up

On Monday, retail sales for June will be released. This is an important indicator for the general economy. Tuesday’s news includes NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for July.

On Wednesday, Housing Starts for June will be released. Thursday’s news includes weekly Jobless Claims and Leading Economic Indicators. No economic news is scheduled for Friday.

Go Green By Faking It With Artificial Grass

home improvement tipsThe summer heat is starting to take its toll on you and your thirsty lawn. Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars every summer striving to grow healthy grass and keep it green.

If you’re sick of trying to maintain a manicured lawn, then you can go green another way. Install artificial turf.

The Grass is Always Greener

Today’s artificial grass is made out of polypropylene, nylon, or polyethylene threads that are sewn into a mesh backing that allows for water drainage. This is then usually laid on top of compacted gravel and tied down at the perimeter.

Modern artificial lawns can mimic many varietals of grass and some even have a thatch layer to give it a more realistic look.

Sick Of Maintenance

Homeowners have many reasons for wanting to be free of their demanding lawns, such as high summer water bills and the constant use of pesticides. With a fake lawn, you won’t have to water, which is especially good for high-heat areas, you won’t have to mow and you can quit worrying about how the weather will affect it.

Considering The Costs

While installing artificial grass can cost a bit up front, it’ll be maintenance free for the next 15 to 20 years. You won’t have to worry about water bills, purchasing grass seed, buying fertilizer or getting gas for the lawnmower, which can add up to a couple hundred dollars every year.

Potential Drawbacks

While a maintenance-free yard does have some appeal, there are a few drawbacks to take into consideration. Fake lawns don’t absorb pet waste, so you have to hose them off regularly.

They can also heat up in direct sunlight. Planting shade trees will help with this issue. And, artificial lawns cannot be recycled, which is an issue that the industry is looking to remedy.

Saving water and reducing the use of pesticides is great for the environment. However, you have to like the look of artificial grass and make sure you’re ready for the investment.

If you’ve been considering going green by switching to year-round green grass, talk with a local installer for grass options and cost comparisons.

7 Smart Tips To Painting Your Own Home This Summer

painting your homeWinter may have taken a toll on your home’s exterior this year. You’ve been noticing the cracking paint for months, but you don’t want to shell out the big bucks to hire a professional painter.

Don’t fret! With the weather warming and the nice summer weekends, it’s the perfect time to tackle that project of painting your home.

While this might seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you have a multi-story home, it’s not. It just takes the right tools and a bit of hard work. Below are step-by-step instructions to having the outside of your house looking shiny and new.

Test For Lead

Homes built before 1978 could have used lead paint, so be careful if you have an older home. They make kits that test for lead paint. If your home tests positive, then ensure you take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your neighbors safe.

Scrub It Up

You need to wash the exterior of your home before painting. Mildew thrives under new paint, so kill it with a solution of water and phosphate-free cleaner.

Scrape And Sand

Take a scraper to your home’s exterior to remove any peeling paint. Spraying water under the paint as you scrape helps speed up the process. Then sand down any rough spots, so that you have a smooth canvas.

Apply The Primer

Paint on the primer immediately after you’ve prepped the wood. This will provide and even base for your topcoat of paint.

Buy Some Caulk

You’ll need to caulk all the joints to prevent water penetration and air leakage. Plus, caulk does a great job of filling in blemishes in your siding.

Pick Out Your Paint

Choose a water-based latex paint. It’s easier than applying oil-based paints. However, if your home already has an oil-based paint, you’ll have to stay with it. Once you’ve selected your favorite paint color, just grab a brush or rent a sprayer to start painting your home.

Maintain your exterior.

Be sure to check your home annually for any potential problems. Replace cracked caulk, remove mildew and patch any peeling paint before it spreads.

Utilize the beautiful summer weekends to get started on painting your home. Understand that this process normally takes two weekends, so be patient. Plus, by not hiring a professional, you’ll save a significant sum of money and have bragging rights when you receive compliments on the condition of your home.

Free Yourself From Your Mortgage With This Simple Plan

free yourself from your mortgageWhat if you could accelerate the mortgage payment on your home so that you own your property several years earlier than your 15 or 30 year term?

Making your final mortgage payment and owning your house is an incredibly good feeling and there is a simple way that you can bring about that rewarding day much sooner.

By making one extra mortgage payment every year, you will be able to pay off your mortgage years earlier without putting a lot of stress on your present day finances. Although it might not seem like a lot, just one extra payment per year can help you to significantly reduce the length of your mortgage.

For example, if you have a 30 year mortgage with a fixed rate, it could be possible to pay off your loan in 25 years instead of 30 when you make an extra payment per year. You will also very likely be able to save thousands of dollars over the years in interest charges.

How to Fit the Extra Payment Into Your Budget
If you think that your budget is too tight to squeeze in the extra yearly payment, it’s time to start thinking about what adjustments you can make. With a bit of clever budgeting, you can find the extra cash needed.

First of all, break the extra payment down by dividing it by 12. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is $1600, you will need to save an extra $133 per month to be able to make a full extra payment every year. Or, you could think of it as $33 per week or $4.75 per day.

Surely you can survive on $4.75 per day less than you are spending right now, right?
There are many ways that you could find this extra money. It’s the difference between eating at a restaurant or cooking at home once or twice per week, bringing home-brewed coffee to work in a thermos rather than going to the expensive coffee shop, or cancelling a cable TV package that you never watch. Take a look at your budget so that you can determine where you can cut your expenses.

Once you make your goal of an extra payment every year, not only will you see that the savings program was easier than you thought it would be, but you might decide to accelerate even more so that it will be even sooner when you have the satisfaction of owning your home.

For more information about the optimal plan for the mortgage on your home, feel free to contact me by phone or email.

5 Important Tips To Help Smooth Your Move When You Have Teens In The Home

teens around the house movingYou’ve got a new job offer across the country and you are planning to pack your things, buy a home and make the big move.

However, when you tell your 17 year old daughter your plans, she lets out a mournful wail and cries that it is not fair. How can you possibly take her away from all of her friends, her favorite hangout spots and the cute boy she just started seeing?

Moving is a difficult transition and it is often even more traumatic for teenagers. The teenage years are an important stage where young adults establish their individuality and independence and during this time their social circle is extremely important to them.

Being removed from that against their will can make any teen feel sad, confused, angry and resentful. Also, fitting into a new social scene in a different location can be a challenge for a teen that might be singled out as the “new kid”.
How can you help your teen during this transition so that the experience will be easier on them?

5 Tips To Help Your Teen Move More Smoothly
Here are some tips that will make the experience of moving a little bit easier on your teenager:
Give them as much notice as possible so that they have time to adjust to the idea of moving. They will feel like they have enough time to say goodbye to their friends and close a chapter of their lives.

Try to schedule the move around the school calendar, as moving in the summer is much less disruptive to your teen’s life than relocating in the middle of the school year.

Make sure that they have ample time to spend with their close friends before they leave and once you arrive, understand that they might go through a grieving process of missing their old pals.

When you get to your new home, make sure that your teen has plenty of ways to keep in touch with their old friends, such as an internet connection and a cell phone plan.

Encourage your teen to get involved in the community of your new hometown, like joining sports clubs or attending events. This can help them to make new friends.

Moving to a new city is always exciting but offers challenges like this one for families. For more advice on moving to a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

How To Improve Your Credit Score For Better Financing Terms

credit repair pointers

Imagine that you’ve found the perfect home and are ready to apply for financing. Your home loan approval amount comes back lower than you would have expected and at an interest rate significantly above what you have heard is available on the market.

This could be because you have an average to poor credit score.

Mortgage lenders base interest rates on many things, but your credit score plays a large part. Anything between 720 and 850 will typically qualify for better interest rates. A mediocre score is usually between 660 and 719, and a low score is 659 and under.

If you have a lower score than you’d like, below are a few traits for you to follow of people who possess higher credit scores and secure the best home financing.

They don’t max out their cards.

It’s better to keep a low revolving balance on a few cards than to spend every dime allotted on one. The ratio of credit card balance to your credit limit is called credit utilization. The higher your credit utilization, the larger affect it can have one your credit score.

They make payments on time.

This is very likely the most important tip for your credit health. If you miss a payment on a term loan, credit card account or monthly home bill, then you could be turned over to collections, which will affect your score negatively. You will almost surely be reported as late to the credit bureaus, which will in turn drop your credit score precipitously. Absolutely make all of your payments before their due date.

They stay with one card.

Don’t close and open credit card accounts frequently. Each time you make a change to your line of credit, it affects your score. Even if you don’t want to be tempted to use a credit card, keep the account open and leave the card at home. According to the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), high credit achievers have accounts that are usually at least 11 years old.

Excellent credit could qualify you for a better interest rate, which might save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. So stay on top of your monthly credit bills and keep a low balance on just a few cards to watch your score steadily increase.

If you’re ready to learn more about your ability to purchase a home, call your trusted home financing professional today.

Fixing Up An Historic Home : The Three Rs

Fix up an historic homeIf you enjoy both history and fixing things, then you may have trouble driving by historic homes for sale without feeling the urge to buy and fix one up.

Before you do, however, you should know the three R’s of fixing historic homes — Restoration, Renovation, and Repair.

Restoration
“Restoration” is the process of returning a home to its original state. Restoring historic homes often requires city and state permission. It’s essential that you check to see whether your home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP); or, whether it’s located in a historic district. If either is true, there may be a specific set of rules to follow while renovating.

Restoration can be an expensive endeavor. For a home to keep its historic value, the materials used must match the home’s original materials, including furnishings. This can be costly because of antique value.

Renovation
Renovating is less complicated and less restrictive as compared to restoring. However, via a renovation, a home often becomes a more “modern” living space, which can lower the home’s historic value. Be sure that your home is not listed in the NRHP or located in an historic district before beginning renovations.

Depending on size of the project(s), renovations can be expensive, too. However, it’s easier to find great deals on modern appliances as compared to the antique appliances required for a restoration.

Repair
Repairs are often less intensive than a restoration or renovation. For repair, be sure to use materials which fit the home’s character, which may include plaster walls and wooden floors, for example. Matching original materials is not important in the home repair process..

The cost of a repair project will depend on the size and volume of required repairs.

The differences between a restoration, renovation and repair of an historic home may be minor, but those small differences will change your costs, your timeline and your procedural red tape. Speak with an qualified architect if you’re unsure of your obligations as the owner of a historic home.