What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 1st, 2019

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller on home price growth, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The Conference Board issued its monthly reading on consumer confidence. Pending home sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices: Price Growth Slows in January

S&P Case-Shiller Indices reported the slowest rate of home price growth in six years. January readings suggested that home price growth slowed due to easing demand. Affordability concerns sidelined buyers; participation of first-time home buyers remained lower than average.

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index charted its third month-to-month decline in home price growth; the National Home Price Index fell to 4.30 percent during the three months ending in January as compared to 4.60 percent growth for the three month period ending in October 2018.

Las Vegas, Nevada led the 20-City Home Price Index with year-over-year home price growth of 10.50 percent. Phoenix, Arizona held second place with 7.50 percent home price growth. Third place was tied by Minneapolis, Minnesota, Charlotte, North Caroline and Tampa, Florida with 5.10 percent growth. This tie suggested that home prices were leveling out, and west coast cities were notably absent from the top three spots after home prices rocketed to historic levels in recent years.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Issued

Commerce Department readings for housing starts and building permits issued were lower in February. Housing starts posted on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.162 million starts. Analysts expected 1.201 million starts based on February’s reading of 1.273 million housing starts. Single-family housing starts fell 17 percent in March.

Regional readings for housing starts were mixed: The Northeast reading was 30 percent lower; the Southern region posted 7 percent fewer starts in February and housing starts in the West fell 19 percent. The Midwest posted a positive year-over-year growth rate of 27 percent for housing starts.

Fewer building permits were issued in February with 1.295 million permits issued as compared to February’s reading of 1.317 million permits issued. While some of the slowdowns in housing starts and building permits were likely related to winter weather, real estate and mortgage lending pros continued to count on home builders to provide more homes to ease housing shortages in many cities and metro areas.

Pending home sales were lower in February; the National Association of Realtors® said pending sales were 1.00 percent lower in February, and those pending sales had declined nearly 5.00 percent year-over-year. Pending sales represent home sales for which purchase offers have been signed, but not completed.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, said a shortage of available homes in the West coupled with rapidly rising home prices contributed to lower pending sales numbers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Average mortgage rates fell to their lowest readings in ten years last week. Freddie Mac reported that rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 22 basis points lower at 4.06 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages fell 14 basis points to 3.57 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.75 percent and were 9 basis points lower.

Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Lower mortgage rates are expected to prevail as the Fed announced its decision not to raise the target federal funds rate range in 2019.

Consumer confidence fell to an index reading of 124.1 in February as compared to 131.4 in January. Analysts expected an index reading of 133, which indicates that consumers have less confidence in current economic conditions.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on retail sales, construction spending and labor sector reports on jobs and national unemployment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released.

14 Remodeling Projects That Increase the Value of Your Home

calculatorYour home is likely your largest investment. Beyond repairs and regular maintenance to keep it clean, comfortable, and safe, there are a number of projects that can increase the resale value of your property. These renovations top the list of changes you can make that positively impact your home’s value.

Kitchen

With the right strategy, your kitchen remodel could return up to 92.9% of your construction investment. The trick is to not overdo it. You don’t need to gut and rebuild the entire room. Instead, make strategic upgrades that increase the comfort and usability of the room.

Paint wooden cabinets or install new doors and fixtures.
Install track lighting or LED features.
Refresh or change countertops.
Refurbish flooring and spruce up walls with warm, neutral colors that are easy to clean.
Invest in new appliances right before you put your home on the market to catch the eye of potential buyers and pull them in.

Odd Spaces

Older homes with distinctive architecture stand out from the crowd of cookie-cutter residences. However, these unique buildings often hide a lot of unused space. Make the most of every inch of your home to entice buyers to place a bid.

Convert a basement into a bonus room.
Turn the space underneath a staircase into a storage closet.
Divide oversized dining rooms to create a small home office.
Most buyers aren’t looking for a long-term project. Instead of pointing out the potential of your property, make it easy to see by getting creative with odd spaces.

Increase Energy Efficiency

The average monthly utility bill can easily cost a homeowner $200 per month. Help potential buyers lower their monthly costs by installing energy-efficient options throughout the home.

Install a solar water heater.
Change the windows to more energy-efficient models.
Add extra insulation to outer rooms and around doors and windows.
Use LED lighting outdoors and throughout the home.
You may be able to get some help paying for your earth-friendly upgrades with state and federal incentives.

Bathrooms

After the kitchen, bathrooms are the most scrutinized feature of homes for sale. Once again, a little goes a long way in these rooms.

Update fixtures with shiny metals for a modern look.
Change out the toilet seat.
Fix up the shower tiles and head.
These projects don’t take a lot of time. However, they can offer a big payoff when you decide to sell your home.

If you are looking for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

4 Ways To Get Your Home Loan Closed Faster

consumer1You’ve finally found the perfect home for your family. Now the only thing standing between you and domestic bliss is the loan process. Use these techniques to shorten the amount of time between placing your bid and getting the final approval on your new home mortgage.

Perfect Your Credit Rating

Your credit score is a measure of your financial responsibility. Lenders look closely at your creditworthiness in their attempt to decide your loan’s risk. Before you start shopping, take some time to clean up your credit history.

Some credit habits that help shorten your loan approval period include:

At least one year of on-time payments for utilities, loans, and other regular obligations.
A low debt-to-income ratio.
A credit utilization rate of 20% or less.
Lenders spend less time researching your financial history when your credit report is clear, which means you spend less time waiting to move in.

Practice Patience

Driven by the excitement of their new home purchase, many buyers spend the closing period investing in new furniture and appliances for their potential home. However, it’s better to wait until the final paperwork goes through before committing to new lines of credit.

Even after applications are filed, lenders still monitor your credit usage. Suddenly spending large amounts of money can cause red flags that delay your loan processing. Practice a little restraint and wait until you’re sure the process is complete before indulging in a spending spree.

Stabilize Yourself

Your ability to repay is a big part of your creditworthiness. A long and solid work history is your best ally in the fight for quality loan products. Establish at least one year of solid work history before starting the loan application process. Hold off on any career changes until you’re comfortably moved into your new residence.

Open The Lines Of Communication

Stay in touch with your trusted home mortgage professional to ensure a smooth loan process. If you move or change your phone number, be sure to update your information right away. While most institutions are very professional about keeping loan applicants updated, don’t be afraid to call and ask about the status of your account. If you feel you haven’t heard back in a timely manner, send a short email or leave a voicemail to ensure you haven’t missed any important requests.

These tips help you spend less time waiting and more time enjoying your new home purchase.

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First Home

fotolia 3663046 XSHunting for your new home can be a confusing process. There are countless factors you need to take into account to ensure your new location fits your family’s lifestyle and preferences. In their excitement, first-time home buyers can easily overlook some essential points about their potential property.

When you’re searching for your new residence, ask these questions to get exactly what you’re looking for.

Am I Financially Ready For A New Home Purchase?

It takes more than money to find the right home. Your credit rating is an important factor in your ability to secure enough funding to finance your dream. Check out your credit score before you buy to make sure you won’t have to settle for less.

Some of the things you have the greatest control over include:

Payment history
Credit utilization ratio
Debt-to-income ratio
Even with a large down payment, having a questionable credit history can endanger your chances of qualifying for mortgage loans. Spend some time shining up your credit report for the best results. Getting a pre-approved home loan is a great way to find out how much house you can afford before you start shopping.

Is This The Right Neighborhood For Me?

No matter how beautiful the structure itself is, your house won’t seem like a home unless you’re comfortable with the surrounding neighborhood. Take a walk around your potential block to assess the area and compare it to your needs.

For families with children, are there high-quality schools in the area?
Do your neighbors’ homes seem well-kept?
What amenities (dry cleaner, grocery stores, parks, etc) do you want in your community?
How do the roads and sidewalks look?
Before committing to a purchase, visit the home at different times of the day to get an idea of what you might have to live with.

Am I Ready To Settle Down?

Align your home purchase with your future goals. If you know you’re planning to move out-of-state in the next several years, take that into account when shopping for a home. Will you be able to sell quickly enough before you leave? Or do you plan to retain ownership of the home and rent it out while you’re away?

Think about the directions your life might take in the next 5 to 10 years. By looking ahead, you can make a better plan for the best home you can afford which will accommodate you and your family in the years to come.

Buying your first home is a major decision. Knowing your goals, desires, and abilities before agreeing to a purchase a home will make you the most comfortable moving forward.

One of the best partners in your home purchase process will be your trusted mortgage professional. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are considering a new home purchase to start the pre-approval process.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2019

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Federal Reserve Federal Open Market Committee and a press conference by Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Sales of pre-owned homes in February were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Unchanged Despite Headwinds

Home builders remained confident about housing market conditions in March. The NAHB Housing Market Index posted a reading of 62, which matched February’s reading and fell one point short of expectations. NAHB Index readings above 50 represent a positive outlook on housing market conditions.

Home builders continued to face obstacles including high materials costs and lack of buildable lots and labor. Analysts said builders focused on building larger homes, which were not affordable for many prospective buyers.

FOMC: Fed Puts Brakes on Interest Rate Hikes

Monetary policymakers reversed course on raising the target range for federal funds and voted not to raise the current rate range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. FOMC members cited global economic concerns including Brexit and wavering economic conditions in China.

While the U.S. Labor sector was strong with ongoing jobs and wage growth and low national unemployment, FOMC members said that the Fed could be “patient” about raising rates and did not expect to raise rates in 2019. Slowing economic growth and inflation were reasons for holding interest rates steady.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell described the current economy as “good” and said that the Fed would gradually roll back its accommodative purchase of treasury bonds. This news was likely to cause yields on 10-year Treasury notes to fall; this would cause mortgage rates to fall due to their connection with 10-year Treasury notes.

Pre-Owned Home Sales Hit 11 Month High in February

The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.50 million sales of pre-owned homes on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. February sales reading fell short of 5.12 million sales expected but were higher than the rate of 4.93 million sales in January.

February’s reading was 11.80 percent higher than January’s sales. The sales pace was 1.80 percent lower year-over-year, but the median sale price of preowned homes was $249,500., which was 3.60 percent higher year-over-year.

First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales; this falls short of the typical 40 percent participation rate for first-time buyers. Affordability and strict mortgage qualification requirements continued to challenge first-time and moderate-income buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed rate mortgages. 30-year fixed mortgage rates were three basis points lower and averaged 4.28 percent; Mortgage rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.71 percent and were five basis points lower on average. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 221,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 225,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new claims filed.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on housing starts and building permits issued, new and pending home sales and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should Know

buying real estateThe success of your real estate ventures depends on your ability to navigate the financial world. Learn these terms to make it easier to understand what’s going on with your real estate investments.

Cash Flow

Contrary to popular belief, cash flow isn’t just the amount of liquid assets you have available. Your cash and unused lines of credit are an essential indicator of your ability to complete projects and pay the cost of ongoing operations. However, these factors don’t tell the whole financial story.

Your actual cash flow is the difference between your gross income and your financial obligations. You can have a large cash reserve but still have a negative cash flow if you aren’t making enough to cover your obligations.

Gross Yield

When evaluating potential properties, it’s helpful to understand the gross yield. To calculate gross yield, divide the annual income you expect the property to produce by the property’s price. This number comes in handy for comparing properties and narrowing down your options.

Amortization

Lending institutions offer a variety of loan structures to fit your goals and financial standing. An amortized loan features a set amount of interest. This amount is integrated into each monthly payment. That means that borrowers are paying on the loan’s principal and paying down their interest liabilities from the very first payment.

Amortization is an excellent way to quickly build equity. This enables real estate investors to use existing properties to fund other projects without having to sell off their holdings.

Carrying Costs

Flippers and other short-term real estate investors need to keep a close eye on their carrying costs. These are all the expenses incurred after the initial purchase and before the property is sold for profit. Carrying costs include mortgage and interest payments, utility bills, taxes, and insurance.

The best way to limit carrying costs is to flip your property as quickly as possible. However, sudden changes in the market, illness, and other unexpected factors can prolong your need to make monthly payments. In this event, investors should carefully monitor their cash flow to ensure they don’t end up losing their entire investment.

Double Close

Wholesale home buyers often already have an exit strategy before signing on new properties. In this case, a double closing allows the wholesaler to purchase the property and sell it to a new buyer in a single transaction. This is also sometimes called a back-to-back closing.

Knowing these terms will make it easier for you to manage the financial details of your real estate investments as well as partnering with a trusted and skilled home mortgage professional.

What Makes Up A PITI Mortgage Payment?

calculator-imageMany mortgage payments are made up of four parts, called PITI. PITI is an acronym that stands for principal, interest, tax, and insurance. It’s important to understand PITI because it is the real number you need to use in order to find out how much mortgage you can afford to pay each month.

One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make is using only the principal plus interest figure to calculate how much they’ll be paying every month for their mortgage. Then, when the lender comes back and denies them, the prospective buyer is confused. Knowing and understanding PITI will put you back in the driver’s seat with your home buying goal.

Principal

The principal part of your mortgage payment represents the amount of money that you borrow over the terms of the loan. For instance, if you borrow $100,000 and you have 20 years to pay them back, the principal that you’ll pay each month equals $100,000 divided by 20.

Interest

The interest portion of your mortgage payment is the percentage rate that your lender is charging you to borrow from them. Another way of looking at the interest is to think of it as the cost of borrowing money. Interest will be spread out over the length of the loan, just like the principal payment.

Tax

The tax portion of your monthly mortgage payment pays for real estate and/or property taxes. Real estate taxes are assessed by the local government where the properties located. The tax rate is determined by the government and is not influenced by your personal credit score.

Insurance

The insurance part of your monthly mortgage payment pays for homeowner’s insurance and/or private mortgage insurance. If you put less than 20% down on your home purchase, you’re required to have private mortgage insurance. This amount can add considerably to your monthly mortgage payment, so it’s worth it to try to hit that 20% threshold.

Otherwise, you have to wait until your loan to value ratio is 80/20. After that, you can request to drop the private mortgage insurance, but the homeowner’s insurance will still be part of your monthly payment.

Now that you understand what makes up a PITI mortgage payment, you’ll be better prepared to plan for your monthly budget that includes a mortgage payment.

Whether you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to learn about your current financing options.

Sound Advice From Successful Home Sellers

consumer1The real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do some of your own research. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees. Keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile to do some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a sign that an agent is trying to win over your business. Most agents are in tune with the current market and should be able to guide you toward the most appropriate market price.

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by doing some research and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success.

As you are preparing to sell your home, be sure that you are also readying yourself for your next home purchase by making an appointment with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss your current financing options.

5 Options To Consider When Your Appraisal Comes In Low

calculatorYikes! You are set on buying the home that you picked out and the appraisal comes back at a lower amount than the amount needed for the home loan to be approved. What do you do? After you calm down your significant other and then take three deep breaths, here are some options to consider.

Request A New Appraisal

Appraisals are only one person’s professional opinion. There are rules that must be followed when making an appraisal; however, there is still some flexibility in how to apply the rules. Check the comparables (also called “comps”) that the appraiser used as the basis for setting the appraised value.

There usually have to be at least three houses that are a similar size, similar age, have a similar condition, and are located in a similar neighborhood. If the home that you want to buy just had major renovation with a lot of work done on it, the appraiser may have missed this and should add more to the appraisal for the home having a better condition than the comparables.

Check to determine if any of the comparables are wrong. For example, if the appraiser uses a home that is in poor condition that may cause the appraisal to be too low. When there is another choice of a home in a better condition, which is more similar to the one being sold, the appraisal might be higher.

If you find problems with how the appraisal was done, request a review from your lender and see if they will allow you to pay for a second appraisal. Getting a new appraisal with a higher value is the easiest way to fix this problem.

If that does not work, then you can try these other options:

Negotiate With The Lender

Some lenders may cooperate with a loan restructuring if you qualify for a program with a higher loan-to-value (LTV). This may also require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your loan amount exceeds 80% of the appraised value of the home. Working with your trusted mortgage professional can lead to unexpected options to get your home purchase completed.

Negotiate With The Seller

Trouble may come up if an appraiser cannot find comps that meet the selling price of the home. This may be caused by the home having unique qualities, a market that does not have other homes like it, or possibly that the sale price is more than the home is actually worth. If the price of the home is actually too high based on the appraisal, the seller might lower the sales price in order to keep the transaction together.

Increase Your Down Payment

If the amount of the difference is small and you can cover it, you can still proceed by taking a lower amount for the loan and adding money to your down payment to make up the difference.

Find Another Home To Buy

Your purchase offer should be subject to obtaining financing. If the appraisal comes in low and that prevents you from obtaining financing at the original sales price, you likely will be able to cancel the purchase agreement without penalty and search for a new home.

Your trusted home mortgage professional is well-versed in these types of issues and ready and willing to assist you with your successful home purchase transaction.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 18th, 2019

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included readings on retail sales, inflation and construction spending. New home sales Consumer sentiment readings were posted along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Retail Sales Increase after Lowest Reading in 10 Years

Retail sales rose by 0.20 percent in January; analysts expected an increase of 0.10 percent based on December’s negative revised reading of -1.60 percent. Home centers and internet retailers led in overall sales; retail sales without the automotive sector were higher with an 0.90 percent increase in January, which exceeded expectations of an 0.40 percent increase.

December had a negative reading of –2.10 percent. Auto dealers had fewer sales to car rental firms and other business customers; the reading for retail sales excluding automotive sales rose 0.90 percent as compared to expectations of 0.40 percent more sales and December’s reading.

Inflation rose 0.20 percent in February, which matched expectations after a flat reading in January. Core inflation, which excludes readings for volatile food and fuel sectors, rose 0.10 percent, which fell short of 0.20 percent in January.

Construction Spending Rises as New Home Sales Fall

Commerce Department readings for construction spending rose 1.30 percent in January as compared to December’s negative reading of -0.80 percent. The end of the government shutdown likely helped return construction spending return to positive territory, but real estate and mortgage pros said that building more homes is the only solution to persistent shortages coupled with high demand for homes by would-be buyers.

Slim inventories and home prices rising in excess of wages and inflation are factors contributing to fewer eligible buyers. New home sales fell in January, which is not unusual for winter sales. 607,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in January; 652,000 new home sales were reported in December, but analysts expected a lower reading of 616,000 sales for January.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week with rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaging ten basis points lower at 4.31 percent. !5-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.76 percent after falling seven basis points. 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.84 percent and were three basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims rose to 239,000 new claims last week; 223,000 claims were filed the prior week and analysts expected 225,000 new claims. Last week’s first-time jobless claims were the highest in ten years, but analysts said that layoffs haven’t risen significantly, which signals healthy labor markets.

The University of Michigan reported higher consumer confidence in March with an index reading of 97.80. The expected reading was 95.0 based on February’s index reading of 93.80. Increased consumer confidence in economic conditions suggests that more families will enter the housing market. Analysts said rising consumer confidence resulted from the resolution of the government shutdown.

What’s Ahead

Economic readings scheduled this week include reports on homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions, sales of pre-owned homes and Commerce departments on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve’s scheduled announcement will be followed by Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be issued.