Top 5 Ways To Pick A High Quality Real Estate Agent

mortgage-preapproval2Your real estate agent can be the difference between a successful home buy and a bad purchase. Take a look at the characteristics of a good real estate agent and how you should vet your next partner in real estate.

Patience

Does the real estate agent immediately tell you to give up your rights to audit a home for a quicker sale? You may want to move on. The best real estate agents realize how big of a commitment a home is, and they are willing to walk you through the process at whatever pace you are comfortable with.

Localized Knowledge

There are major differences in the buying process between cities. You need a real estate agent with a knowledge of local ordinances, building and zoning laws and culture. This will save you a great deal of money, believe it or not.

Negotiation Skills

You will go through a number of negotiations with opposing parties during the course of buying or selling a house. You can take them on yourself, but they can be difficult considering that you will likely be facing a real estate agent on the other end. It is usually advisable to have a professional with similar experience on your side. Pick a real estate agent who is not afraid to fight for you at the closing table.

Connections

The best deals in any real estate market may not be public knowledge. You may not even be able to get into certain neighborhoods or business districts unless you know somebody. Your agent should be able to help you in this regard. Pick an agent who is established in your marketplace and well connected.

Other Clients’ Experiences

No real estate agent worth his or her salt will have a problem showing you testimonials and reviews of clients that they have served in the past. You may ask to speak to other clients of that real estate agent if you would like to know their experience buying or selling their home.

Sometimes the best indicator of success is the stories of other people who have been in your shoes. Also, look at the ratings, reviews and testimonials of your agent on their website or other review sites. These are great resources to learn about other clients’ experience.

Another key partner in your home buying experience is your trusted home mortgage professional. Be sure to make contact if you are ready to get pre-approved for a new home loan or find our about options to refinance your current property.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 14th, 2019

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, readings on inflation and core inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-tome jobless claims were also released. If the government shutdown continues, it is expected to impact release dates for readings from federal government agencies.

Federal Reserve Watches and Waits on Interest Rates as Inflation Slows

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will “wait and see” about raising the target federal funds rate this year. Chairman Powell spoke at a discussion hosed by the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. Mr. Powell clarified the Fed’s estimate of two rate hikes during 2019 and said that the predicted two rate hikes would occur based on “a very strong economic outlook for 2019.”

Faltering financial markets and slower rates of home price growth caused the Fed to dial back it’s bullish outlook and instead emphasize that Fed monetary policy is flexible and could be adjusted quickly adjusted as changing economic conditions merit.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell six basis points to 4.45 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages fell 10 basis points to 3.89 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate e mortgages was 15 basis points lower at 3.85 percent Discount rates averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, points for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent and discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.30 percent.

First-time jobless claims fell by 15,000 claims to 216,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 227,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 231,000 new claims filed.

December’s Consumer Price Index was – 0.10 percent lower than for November, which matched expectations based on November’s positive inflation rate reading of + 0.10 percent. Slowing inflation could indicate slower economic growth; a consistent pattern of sluggish inflation may cause the Fed to hold steady on raising its key interest rate.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on the National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The Consumer Sentiment Index is also scheduled for release. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims will be released on schedule.

How Tech Can Change the Real Estate Process

home security of the future is hereVirtual reality, artificial intelligence and drone video are just a few of the ways that technology is changing the real estate industry. If you are in the market for a property, understanding these new processes can help you in many ways.

Using Artificial Intelligence

Doing business with an AI-infused process helps you more quickly identify properties that meet your standards. AI also reduces human error in the closing process. Agents using AI can get you more information about properties more quickly, and they can also cut the fat out of the close, possibly saving you money.

Using Virtual Reality

Taking a virtual reality tour of a property can save you a lot of gas, time and effort. You no longer have to physically be at a location to understand its potential – you can see everything that you need to see online. Of course you can follow up in person, but you save huge amounts of time by visiting only the properties that have impressed you online.

Organizing Big Data

Buyers and sellers have access to more information than ever – information that was once only available to full time professionals in the industry. Dealing with it can be quite overwhelming, but you must in order to be a sophisticated investor. In many cases, your agent serves as your information filter, keeping you from becoming distracted by false or misleading information.

Remote Transactions

A growing number of real estate transactions are being done without ever meeting the other party involved. The entire process can be conducted online from search to close, if need be. Buyers and sellers can save a great deal of money through reduced overhead with remote transactions. Biometrics help to maintain the security of the transaction.

The technologies above are just a few of the new things that are changing the real estate process for the better. Keep your ear to the street, because the landscape is always changing.

As soon as you are interested in looking for a new home, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to secure your financing and get your pre-approval ready.

4 Reasons Why Home Ownership Is Better Than Renting

buying-a-fixer-upper-homeAre you trying to decide if you should rent or buy? There are many reasons why home ownership is better than renting. Here are just a few to consider when you’re making your decision.

1. Stability For Your Family

When you own your home, the life of your family will be more stable. If you have children, this is a an even more valuable benefit. Your kids will be able to settle down into the routine of school and extracurricular activities. They’ll be able to make lifelong friends in the neighborhood. You and your spouse will be able to feel a strong sense of community and belonging.

2. Personalization

Owning a home is better than renting because you can personalize and customize your living environment. In many rentals, you can’t even paint the walls if you want to.

When you own, you not only can paint walls whatever color you want; you can knock them down if you like! You spend so much time at home, being able to make stamp your personality on it is a huge benefit!

3. Peace And Quiet

When compared to renting an apartment, there is a lot more peace and quiet in your own home. In an apartment, walls are shared. Often, there isn’t a lot of insulation inside the walls, either. It’s likely you’ll be able to hear your neighbors, their kids or their barking dogs. When you own your home, you’ll be able to enjoy the peace and quiet you deserve.

4. Outdoor Property

When you own your home, you may have access to outdoor space in addition to your house. That property is yours to do as you wish. You could make an outdoor living area, plant a garden, install a pool or erect a badminton set. The outdoor property around your house certainly adds to the satisfaction of owning your home.

It’s likely that these four benefits will give you some reasons to pursue home ownership. Chances are you’ll never want to go back to renting again!

When you’re ready to begin the search for your next home, contact a trusted mortgage professional in your area to get your financing pre-approved!

FOMC Raises Key Rate, Forecasts 2 Rate Hikes in 2019

home prices risingDuring its post-meeting statement, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced that its target range for the Fed’s key interest rate would increase one quarter percent to 2.25 to 2.50 percent. While this rate hike was not expected by the Executive branch, it met analyst expectations.

FOMC said in its customary post-meeting statement that members expect to make two interest rate hikes in 2019 as compared to three rate hikes in 2018 and the Committee’s original forecast of three rate hikes in 2019. Given current economic conditions, the Fed forecasted only one rate hike for 2020.

Hawks And Doves: Federal Reserve Leaders Differ On Interest Rate Projections

Six FOMC members indicated support for three rate hikes in 2019 and the FOMC statement cited a need for future interest rate hikes while some economists expected that no mention of potential rate hikes would be included in the statement. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, “Policy at this point does not need to be accommodative. It can move to neutral.”

FOMC’s statement cited “cross currents” impacting the economy, but expects “solid growth next year, declining unemployment a healthy economy.” The Fed specifically listed strengths in labor markets, household spending and a healthy economy influenced the committee’s decision to raise the Fed’s benchmark interest rate range.

Recent volatility in global affairs and the economy prompted FOMC to say that they would be reviewing ongoing global economic and financial developments and assess their implications for the global economic outlook.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell: “Fed Is About To Embark On A Delicate Balancing Act“

Chairman Powell said that current economic conditions have helped the Fed meet its dual mandate of maintaining maximum employment and stable economic growth, for which the Fed has set a benchmark of two percent annual growth for inflation. Current inflation is lower than expected and unemployment is near record lows. The Fed faces balancing interest rate increases with closely monitoring economic “cross currents”.

Chairman Powell said the Fed expects the median rate of economic growth to slow to 2.30 percent in 2019 as compared to 2018’s rate of 3.00 percent. The National Unemployment rate is expected to fall from its current rate of 3.70 percent to 3.50 percent by the end of 2019. Mr. Powell said that no course of action is predetermined and that Fed leaders will monitor economic and global developments on an ongoing basis.

What is the Multifamily Market in 2019 Looking Like?

best-coop-lenders-234x300A growing supply of housing, volatility in the marketplace and risks in the development process all affected the multifamily market in 2018. In 2019, these three factors will continue to move the needle.

The Housing Supply

Markets like Boston, Seattle and Nashville are growing supply faster than demand. From 2015 to 2017, developers were building like crazy and landlords were enjoying rent increases of 5-7% year over year. They built too much, and the peak has showed itself. Only top markets like Atlanta and Charlotte can justify their cost of living increases. The rest will likely see slower growth and possibly losses in rent values and occupancy rates.

Market Volatility

Secondary markets are experiencing problems in their local economies, which is driving away the multifamily market. Fewer jobs means less security. Most multifamily clients are looking for stability, and they move into and out of markets based on that. Experts are predicting a consolidation of these families into larger markets.

Interest Rates

The volatility in the market has been accompanied by higher interest rates, which makes money harder to borrow. The seller’s market has held out for so long that a turnaround was almost inevitable, and most experts agree that the current trend is more than just a short term hiccup. We are looking at a real market correction.

The Effect

These three variables come together to create a multifamily market that is looking better for buyers than it has in a long time. Entrants into the market who have been waiting for a price dip began to see it in the latter part of 2018. All signs point to this price trend continuing into 2019.

Just as important as price is location. Although multifamily units will probably be in high supply in secondary markets, these units will be more difficult to fill. What you may see is a consolidation towards markets like Atlanta and Charlotte from multifamily buyers as well as renters.

You may also see speculators who choose to purchase in secondary markets and wait for a turnaround. In both cases, you can probably expect a more balanced overall landscape that will eventually stabilize into market values that are anywhere from 10 to 35% off peak.

Talk with your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss the financing opportunities in 2019 for your local market.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 31st, 2018

board-of-the-federal-reserveLast week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices, National Association of Realtors® on pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

The Commerce Department’s reading on sales of new homes was delayed due to the federal government’s shutdown.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Lowest in Two Years

Home price growth was nearly nil with October’s month-to-month reading of 0.40 percent; The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed a year-over-year home price growth rate of 5.50 percent, which matched September’s year-over-year reading. Las Vegas, Nevada led home price growth in the 20-city index with a year-over-year increase of 12,80 percent; San Francisco, California had home price growth of 7,90 percent and Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by 7.70 percent year-over-year in October.

While San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon dominated the top three spots in the 20-City Home Price Index in recent years, the latest home price growth rates indicate that the West Coast may be easing off on its rapid home price gains. High-cost metro areas risk reaching a tipping point when there are few properties available with very high prices and buyers competing.

,Affordability and slim choice of available homes can cause would-be buyers to sideline themselves while they await more options and lower prices. Rising mortgage rates caused concern among buyers concerned with affordability and qualifying for mortgage loans under strict lender requirements.

Pending Home Sales Improve, But Remain in Negative Territory

Future home sales slipped in November, but less so than they did in October. Pending sales registered in negative territory with a reading of -0.70 percent in November as compared to October’s reading of -2.60 percent.

Analysts and real estate pros view pending sales as an indication of future completed sales and mortgage activity; falling numbers for pending home sales suggest slowing home sales that could impact housing markets. Pending sales are considered sales for which purchase contracts have been signed, but that have not closed.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower averaged fixed mortgage rates with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by seven basis points at 4.55 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 4.01 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 4.00 percent. Falling mortgage rates could induce discouraged home buyers to look for homes again.

First-time jobless claims dropped by 1000 claims to 216,000 new claims filed. Analysts predicted a reading of 217,000 mew claims filed, which was unchanged from the prior week’s reading.

What‘s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time unemployment claims are also scheduled. Please note that some scheduled readings could be delayed due to the federal government shut-down.

How The Title Search Works

buying-a-new-home-checklistA title search is an early warning system for buyers and lenders. It reveals flaws the owner must resolve prior to a closing or refinance request. This allows the owner to clear any clouds on the title so that the process can move forward. Also, it protects the buyer or lender from assuming an obligation they aren’t responsible for.

Title Search

A chain of title exists in the public records. It shows the history of property title transfer from each previous owner to the next. Unfortunately, these searches are labor intensive and require a specialist called a title examiner.

The search may take the title examiner back to a time when property laws were much different. Technically, only 40-60 years are required, but this could leave a cloud of title on older properties. So, title examiners typically go back to the original owner.

Tax Search

The second step involves a search of tax records to ensure there are no unpaid taxes that could result in a tax lien on the property. The local municipality could hold buyers responsible if the taxes aren’t paid prior to the closing.

Inspection

If the title insurance is for a refinance loan, the lender often orders an inspection. The inspector examines the property to investigate whether there are any encroachments or other defects that affect the title. They also verify the lot size, note unrecorded easements and the mark location of improvements.

Judgments

Judgment decrees, liens and unpaid federal taxes entail a claim on the property that supersedes a lender’s or buyer’s rights. Therefore, If discovered judgments create a cloud on the title, the current owner must resolve them before the transfer of title to the buyer.

Closing

The lender or buyer and seller can proceed with the closing after all defects have been cleared. However, the title company won’t issue a commitment to insure the property if clouds remain on the title.

Understanding how the title process works can make the closing process easier and might make buyers a little more patient while waiting for the title commitment to arrive.

Your trusted mortgage professional will be there to guide you through the process and help you communicate effectively with your lender. This partnership can be a key element to a successful transaction.

5 Home Design Trends To Watch Out In 2019

hot home decor trends 2013Home design trends continue to change at supersonic speeds. With New Year right around the corner, the home design world is focusing on trends that will probably reign big in 2019.

So, as you make your annual resolutions or consider revamping your home, it’s worth knowing them. After all, we all adore coming back to a place that makes us happy and helps us disconnect from tough days at work.

It’s wise to be aware of temporary fads in design, but don’t be shy to try some new home designs and decor in 2019. In this post, we explore five trends to watch out for in 2019.

Nature Luxury

Blending outdoors with indoors continues to trend and is not stopping soon. Today, the idea enjoys a boost from state-of-the-art accessories made from natural elements to complete the appearance. Natural fibers, wood and rattan are getting indoors, helping to blur the lines.

Classic Terrazzo Comeback

Terrazzo, a hard stone with chips of granite, glass, marble and quartz reigns with its speckle signatures. Terrazzo was popular in the 80s but making a comeback in 2019. Because of its versatility, terrazzo is preferably used on countertops and not floors. This comeback will likely take away from marble’s more recent popularity.

Colored Kitchens

Though white remains a classic color for most kitchen designs, homeowners are injecting vibrant colors and shying away from bland hues. Rich colors, including wood tones and neutrals like mahogany, blues and grays are making their way into kitchens giving them a fresh, warm and unique feel.

Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest play key roles exposing homeowners to the endless possibilities and fun of rich colors, encouraging them to be risk takers when it comes to color.

Blue Hues

Blues are gaining popularity in interior dress ups. Most paint companies prefer shades of blue as their top choice in 2019. Blueprint is often seen as warmer than denim and softer than navy. Blue is perfect for reflecting the pool. The coloration is also popping up in home accessories like artwork, pillows and throws.

Florals

Though tropical palm prints remained popular this year, people aren’t tired of the look quite yet. In fact, eye-catching, oversized florals will probably dominate throughout 2019, with more complex interpretations expected.

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

Why a Buyer Needs An Independent Inspection at Closing

final-walkthrough-checklist-real-estateMany sellers hire inspectors and appraisers to value their home prior to placing it on the market. It’s important for buyers to hire their own inspector to get an independent opinion. If a buyer orders an inspection before the sale goes through, the seller may have to resolve any issues that arise. If you forego the inspection, you inherit any problems that come with the house.

Importance Of Inspections

Homes aren’t always well cared for and it’s relatively easy for an unethical owner to paint over a water stain rather than fix a leaky faucet. Clunky furnaces and loud A/C units are symptoms of equipment the owner hasn’t maintained, but it isn’t the only issue that can arise. From hidden mold to lead pipes, there are hundreds of things that could be wrong that a layman wouldn’t notice in a walk-through.

Buyers should include a clause in the written offer that makes the sale conditional on an inspection. This gives you the freedom to walk away if the report comes back negative. Alternately, you can lower the offer price or ask the seller to pay for repairs.

Inspection Process

There’s no uniform process for conducting an inspection. Generally, it includes a report of the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical system, flooring, ceilings, roofing, drainage, foundation and basement, where applicable.

Most states don’t offer a licensing process for inspectors. This means that you might not get a comprehensive opinion on other issues, including termites, lead, rodents, asbestos or methane gas. You can ask for the inspector’s opinion, then hire someone who specializes in the areas of concern.

For example, if the inspector suspects a rodent issue, you can ask a pest control company to inspect the property and provide an estimate to resolve any issue.

What’s Not Covered

The inspector is looking for serious issues, so don’t expect every scratch and ding to appear on the report. If you’d like a greater deal of control over the process, you may be to request to walk through the property during the inspection. However, most sellers are reluctant to allow this for a variety of reasons and it may increase your inspection fee.

Ordering an independent inspection gives buyers important insight into defects in the home they are about to purchase. Foregoing an inspection to save a few hundred dollars could end up costing you a lot more if issues come up after you move in.

Your trusted mortgage professional works with inspectors and appraisers on a regular basis. When the time comes to schedule an inspection, be sure to ask for a referral.