What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 1, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013  by Leave a Comment

The past week was active for economic news and mortgage rates. The aftermath of the Fed’s indication that it may start dialing back its multi-billion dollar monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage backed securities has sent mortgage rates to record highs.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, this may be one last chance for finding the best deal on mortgage rates; meanwhile, home prices continue trending up as well.

Here’s the scoop on last week’s activity affecting real estate markets:

Tuesday’s Case-Shiller Composite Indices for April demonstrate the momentum of recovery in many housing markets. As of April, national home prices had increased by 12.10 percent as compared to April 2012. April’s reading also exceeded March’s reading of 10.10 percent year-over-year.

FHFA released its home prices report for April and noted that the average price for homes with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac increased by 7.40 percent, which slightly surpassed the March reading of 7.20 percent.

The Department of Commerce released New Home Sales for May and reported 476,000 new homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This exceeded expectations of 453,000 new home sales and also surpassed April’s reading of 454,000 new homes sold.

Wednesday brought the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report for the first quarter of 2013. The GDP grew by 1.80 percent against expectations of 2.40 percent and the previous quarter’s growth, also 2.40 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) brought the days of bargain basement mortgage rates to a halt as average mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved from last week’s 3.93 percent to 4.46 percent. Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.04 percent 3.50 percent. This was the largest weekly jump in mortgage rates in 26 years.

Home buyers may also consider a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which provides an average 5 year fixed rate of 2.74 percent.  The fixed mortgage rate converts to an adjustable rate after five years.

The National Association of REALTORS ® reported that Pending Home Sales in May rose by +6.70 percent to their highest level in 6 years.

Last week ended on a positive note with the Consumer Sentiment Index for June beating expectations of 83.0 and coming in at 84.1. May’s reading was 82.1; higher consumer confidence is likely driving demand for available homes.

Whats Ahead This Week

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes Construction Spending due on Monday and the ADP private sector jobs report is set for Wednesday.

Thursday the financial markets are closed as we celebrate the July 4th holiday.

Friday brings the Department of Labor’s Non-farm Payrolls Report and the National Unemployment Rate. If the unemployment rate stays steady at 7.60 percent, this may reduce fears that the Fed will start reducing its monetary easing program any time soon, which should help to slow the recent increases in mortgage rates.

What Does The Future Hold For The Security System In Your Home?

What Does The Future Hold For Home Security Systems

June 7, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Imagine walking into your home and turning off the alarm, locking your doors, opening the windows and starting your coffee maker, all with a few taps of your finger on your smart phone?

What if you had a home security camera that you could monitor from anywhere and a motion sensor that would send you an email when your kids come home from school? What if you could open your blinds or unlock your home for a visitor, even from halfway around the world?

The technology that powers our home security systems is getting more and more sophisticated and in the future, our homes will be more responsive than we could ever imagine.

Rather than a simple line of defense that keeps out burglars, it will be a completely integrated and custom designed automated system that responds intelligently to your needs.

Here are a few of the upcoming technology innovations:

Smart Home Technology

At the moment, prototypes are being developed for integrated home security systems that have individual Internet protocols that can address everything from a fridge to a window to a door.  Even your home appliances, like your refrigerator, air conditioning systems and lighting systems may be able to be managed remotely through a smart phone.

This connectivity essentially gives everything in your house an Internet address, so that you can control them and monitor them digitally. Once the system is linked up it can be controlled remotely by Blackberry, Apple or Android.

The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year showcased a number of smart phone apps and devices designed to control everything within your home so that you can master the household with the click of a button.

The Future Is Still On Its Way

Although the technology is being developed, there is still a long way to go until we all live in automated houses like on The Jetsons. One underlying and yet unsolved issue is the security systems inability to function in a power outage or with bandwidth and connectivity challenges.

There are also many different conflicting operating systems, setups, standards and approaches that will need to be worked out before the dream of a fully automated home can become a reality.

Even so, the technological advances being made in home security and management systems are impressive and exciting to learn more about.

Simple Ideas To Create An Outdoor Living Space For Your Home

Create an Outdoor Living Space for Your Home

May 29, 2013  by Leave a Comment

As the weather gets warmer, the desire to get outside and enjoy the fresh air begins to take hold. Having a place to entertain or just unwind can add a new dimension and enjoyment to your home.

First, you have to decide what type of space you want to create. Whether you want to have an outdoor living room, a vacation-like spot or a place to meditate and enjoy nature, how you extend your living space is limited only by your imagination — and possibly your budget.

Start with your vision and make a list of the things you want to have there. Then go for it!

Choose a Theme

  • Vacation spot – Decorate with bright colors for a festive, tropical look.
  • Zen garden – Add a water feature, such as a fountain, for a calming effect.
  • Nature hideaway – Surround a patio or porch with plants and trees to bring nature closer to your home.

Find Elements to Enhance Your Space

  • Furniture – If your outdoor zone isn’t completely under cover, then make sure to choose all-weather furniture. Comfortable seating is key, so add pillows or cushions for extra luxury.
  • Lighting – String lighting throughout the trees, under umbrellas or around fencing to create atmosphere. It also helps to make sure you can see where you’re going once the sun goes down.
  • Outdoor kitchen – Bring the food with you! Keep it simple with a BBQ grill or add other elements like a refrigerator, sink and food prep area. And, don’t forget the beverages!
  • Fireplace – Extend your outdoor evenings into the fall by adding a fireplace for friends and family to gather around.
  • Borders – Define the borders of the area to increase privacy and separate the space from the rest of the yard or neighbors.

Your home is an extension of your personality. Creating an outdoor oasis can give you an opportunity to find your inner child, Zen master, or beach bum!

Make it as simple or elaborate as you desire, and open it up to friends, or keep it all to yourself. Follow these simple tips and create a wonderfully relaxing place right at your home for the summer.

Existing Home Sales Numbers Highest Since 2009

Existing Home Sales Numbers Highest Since 2009

May 28, 2013  by Leave a Comment

The National Association of REALTORS reported that sales of existing homes in April reached 4.97 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

Although this reading fell short of Wall Street’s expectations of 5.00 million existing homes sold, it surpassed the March 2013 upwardly revised reading of 4.94 million existing home sales. This represents a 0.60 percent increase from March to April, and a 9.70 increase year-over-year.

Low Mortgage Rates Contribute To High Sales Levels 

Low mortgage rates and pent-up demand for homes are driving sales of existing homes, which reached their highest level since November 2009.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS, indicated that housing market momentum is overcoming obstacles: “The robust housing market recovery is occurring in spite of tight access to credit and limited inventory. Without these frictions, existing home sales would be well above the five million unit pace.”

Inventories of homes for sale are gradually increasing; at the end of April, the total inventory of existing homes had increased by 11.9 percent to 2.16 million existing homes for sale. This represents a 5.20 month supply of available homes in April as compared to a 4.7 month supply of homes in March 2013. Listed inventory is 13.60 percent below April 2012, when there was a 6.60 month supply of homes available.

Average Home Sales Prices Up 14 Months In A Row

The national average price for all housing types was $192,800, and increase of 11.0 percent over April 2012. This represents the fourteenth consecutive month of rising average home prices; the last time this occurred was between April 2005 and May 2006.

Homes sold through foreclosure or short sales fell by three percent to 18 percent of existing homes sold in April.  Of these sales, 11.0 percent were foreclosure sales and 7.0 percent were short sales. Foreclosure sales averaged 16.0 percent below market value and short sales averaged 14.0 percent below market value.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, provided more positive news for U.S. housing markets as of March 2013. Average home prices for homes mortgaged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased by 7.20 percent year-over-year, and were up by 1.20 percent from February 2013. FHFA also reported that home prices had risen by 6.70 percent in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the same period in 2012.

New Home Sales Show Rising Trend As Well

In related news, the Department of Commerce reports that New Home Sales are up by 2.30 percent from March to 454,000 units on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.  This handily exceeds Wall Street’s consensus of 430,000 new homes sold in April, and is also higher than March’s reading of 444,000 new homes sold.

Buyers are turning to new homes due to pent-up demand in housing markets caused by low inventories of existing homes and low mortgage rates. It’s also likely that with home prices rising, would-be buyers are acting on indications that record low rates and home prices are expected to increase.

Rising home prices suggest that as demand increases, mortgage rates may not be far behind. Buyers in the  market today can still gain the advantage of historically low mortgage rates.

Benefits Of Owning A Green Home You May Not Have Considered

Benefits of Owning a Green Home

May 17, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Going green is not just a new trend; it is a way of life that benefits not only the environment, but also your health — and your pocketbook.

Green living cuts down on carbon emissions and creates a healthier environment both inside and outside of a home. While green structures sometimes cost more initially, the money (and environment) saved in the long run is well worth the investment.

Health Benefits

Owning a green home has significant health benefits. Many conventional buildings are not properly ventilated and indoor air quality is often more polluted than the air outside.

Poor air quality is bad for your health and can aggravate asthma and allergies. Certified green properties tend to have excellent airflow and ventilation. They also use toxin-free materials in building and may have fewer problems with mold and mildew.

Environmental Benefits

Homes are responsible for a significant portion of the carbon emissions on earth. A green home has a smaller carbon footprint since it is built with better insulation and fitted with energy-efficient appliances.

Green structures are built from sustainable or recycled materials that are meant to lower the impact on the environment. Proper green buildings also take advantage of natural lighting and airflow to reduce the use of electricity to light and to help warm and cool their interiors.

Financial Benefits

Green buildings are constructed to use less energy, which means you should pay less in energy costs. Ventilation systems in green structures are better insulated to reduce air leakage.

Builders also install fixtures that conserve water and are energy efficient. The initial cost might be slightly higher, but the monthly bills can be cut almost in half in many cases.

There are even more financial, environmental and health benefits to owning a green property. Living in a green home can allow you to save yourself money and help the earth, all while living in a healthy environment.

If you’re looking to purchase a new house, consider a green property. If you have any questions on current green properties available in the local market, please call your trusted real estate professional right away.

How To Have the Best Garage Sale Ever At Your Home

 

How To Have The Best Garage Sale Ever

April 25, 2013 by Leave a Comment

It’s getting close to that time of year again — time to have a garage sale at your home!

Here are a few tips to help you have your most successful garage sale ever.

Advertise Your Sale In Local Newspapers And Online

Many of the habitual Saturday morning garage sale patrons use the paper to plan their treasure hunts.

They do this to make sure they hit all of the sales in certain neighborhoods.

In the ad, mention your home address, date and time of your garage sale and any big or popular items you’ll be selling.

Open Your Sale Early

It’s best to open early, such as around seven in the morning a sales tend to taper off in the afternoon.

Don’t disappoint early shoppers who are typically your best buyers.

They have a busy schedule and a lot of stops to hit.

Open on time or even a few minutes before the time you advertised.

Make Plenty Of Signs To Guide Customers In

If your yard is difficult to see or is not on a main road, be sure to post signs pointing the way.

If allowed, attach a few balloons to it which will catch the attention of passing motorists.

Have Everything Labeled With Reasonable Prices

You’ll get some customers who try to haggle, but for most customers, not knowing the prices is a quick way to have them moving on to another sale.

Keep in mind that these shoppers are looking for a bargain and price accordingly.

You can individually label each item, or use an easily readable color-coded chart.

For instance, a blue sticker means 25 cents, red stickers mean 50 cents and yellow stickers mean $1.

Offer Specials At Different Points During The Garage Sale

You can offer a 2-for-1 sale or a twenty percent off special.

At the end of the day, you may want to have an unadvertised special such as fill a bag for $1 to get rid of as much as possible.

It’s always a good idea to have a “free box” for items that are already low-priced and don’t move during the first half of the sale.

Donate Leftovers

Make your life easier and do something for others by donating any items that don’t sell.

If you plan carefully, you can schedule a pick up by your local charitable organization at the end of your garage sale.

Garage sales are a great way to get the clutter and unused collection of items out of your house while recycling them at the same time.

Using these tips, you’re well on your way to having your best garage sale ever.

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

 

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 21 2013

April 22, 2013 by Leave a Comment

Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.41 percent as compared to last week’s 3.43 percent and 3.90 percent year-over-year.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.64 percent as compared to last week’s 2.65 percent and 3.13 percent year-over-year.

Falling mortgage rates were attributed to reduced consumer spending.

Last week’s economic news includes the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), with a reading of 42 for March.

This is four points below investor expectations and two points below February’s results.

A reading of 50 or above indicates that more of the builders surveyed have a positive outlook.

March results were impacted by builder concerns over tight builder credit, a lack of available lots and increasing construction costs.

Housing Starts Increased In March

More good news for housing arrived Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Commerce issued its monthly Housing Starts report.

Housing starts for March came in higher than anticipated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million, against a consensus of 933,000 and also beat February’s reported 968,000 housing starts.

Housing starts rose by 7 percent over February, and rose 47 percent over March 2012, the highest year-to-year increase since 1992.

The Federal Reserve issued its Beige Book Report which is compiled from reports by the 12 districts of the Federal Reserve.

5 districts reported moderate economic growth, 5 districts reported modest growth, and 2 reported slight economic growth.

Based on the data contained in the Beige Book Report, economists are not expecting the Fed to make changes to its current quantitative easing (QE) program of purchasing $85 billion monthly in bonds and MBS; this may help mortgage rates remain steady; when MBS prices fall, mortgage rates typically rise.

Whats Coming Up Next

The National Association of REALTORS® releases its Existing Home Sales report for March today.

The consensus is for 5.03 million homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, and against February’s 4.98 million existing homes sold.

Tuesday brings more housing news with the FHFA Home Price Index for February; FHFA is the federal agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Department of Commerce releases its New Home Sales for March on Tuesday.

The consensus is 421,000 new homes sold against February’s reading of 411,000 new homes sold.

Thursday’s Weekly Jobless claims are expected to come in at 351,000 as compared to last week’s 352,000.

Employment is a key factor in terms of consumers buying homes and qualifying for mortgage loans

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

 

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates - April 15 2013April 15, 2013 by Leave a Comment

Mortgage rates saw little change last week amidst mixed economic news.

Treasury auctions held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday saw weak demand; this could have been caused by the FOMC minutes that were released on Wednesday.

The minutes indicated that some FOMC members supported ending the current quantitative easing (QE) program within a few months.

The Fed is currently purchasing $85 billion monthly in bonds and Mortgage Backed Securities.

If the QE program is ended, demands for bonds and MBS will decline, which usually raises mortgage rates.

Employment Numbers Show Promise For Housing Market

Thursday’s jobless claims offered some positive news.

Jobless claims fell to 346,000, which is well below Wall Street’s estimate of 365,000 jobless claims and the prior week’s report of 385,000 jobless claims.

As more people find work, more families become able to buy homes.

Demand for homes will boost the housing market, which is already expanding in many areas.

While higher home prices are good for the economy, higher mortgage rates may be likely to follow.

This potentially presents a “double-edged sword” to home buyers with little financial flexibility.

Slower Retail Sales Largely Due To Autos

Retail Sales, which represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy, moved from February’s level of 1.1 percent to -0.4 percent in March.

Expectations were for 0.0 percent change.

The Retail Sales report exclusive of the volatile automotive sector was nearly identical except for the February’s reading of 1.0 percent.

These reports suggest that while the economy is improving in some areas, it has a way to go before it has truly recovered.

Whats Coming Up Next?

This week, investors will be paying attention to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the closely-related Core CPI, which is nearly identical except for its excludes the more volatile food and energy sectors.

These reports will be released on Tuesday for March, with little change expected for the CPI and no change expected for the Core CPI as compared to February.

The CPI is considered an important indicator of inflation.

Unexpected changes in inflationary growth can cause rapid and volatile responses in the financial markets.

Wednesday brings the Fed’s Beige Book, which presents key economic data for each of the Fed’s 12 regions.

Investors watch the Beige Book for signs of the Fed’s position on economic policy during the upcoming FOMC meeting.

Jobless claims will be released Thursday with the expectation of 350,000 claims filed as compared to last week’s 346,000 jobless claims.

6 Essential Spring Cleaning Chores to Make Your Home Shine

 

Spring Cleaning Tips For April 2013

April 12, 2013 by Leave a Comment

If the thought of cleaning your home this spring doesn’t bring a smile to your face, you’re not alone.

To help you get going now, here is a short list of the 6 essential spring-cleaning chores.

1. Store winter clothes.

It’s time to pack away your winter clothes.

Coats, sweaters, and bulkier clothing need to be inspected, cleaned and packed away.

Store your clothes somewhere clean, cool, dark and dry.

2. Wash window treatments.

You’ll be surprised at the huge amount of dirt and grime that a thorough window cleaning removes.

Wash blinds, launder curtains that are machine washable and send drapes to the dry cleaners.

While you’re at it, dust the window casing, wash your windowsills and clean any window hardware.

3. Clean carpets and upholstery.

You need to deep clean your fabrics that have absorbed a winter’s worth of dust and germs.

Shampoo your carpets and clean cloth furniture.

Open windows to speed the drying process, which can take a day or more.

4. Wash woodwork, walls, baseboards and cabinets.

Even if the walls of your home don’t look like they need cleaning, they do.

Just enough dust clings to vertical surfaces to warrant a seasonal bath.

Using a sponge and dish-washing soap, wash the surface in sections to make sure you don’t miss a spot.

5. Clean light and ceiling fixtures.

To clean your light fixtures, remove the light bulb and fixture if possible.

Wash the glass fixtures in soap and water. Wipe the light bulbs with a rag.

If the fixture cannot be removed from the ceiling, use a damp cloth to wipe it off and then dry the fixtures.

The easiest way to clean your ceiling fans is to use a vacuum with a soft nozzle attachment.

6. Check your coils.

Caked-on dust can cause your refrigerator to overheat, so take the time to clean the condenser coil.

It’s usually found behind the toe grille.

Clean it with a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment.

Put on your favorite music and start your spring cleaning today. It’ll be done before you know it.

Then you can relax and enjoy your sparkling clean home.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home and need more cleaning tips to help smooth the sales process, call your favorite licensed real estate professional today!