What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 6, 2013

 

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week May 6 2013

May 6, 2013 by Leave a Comment

Mortgage rates fell last week and approached or reached record low levels.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) fell from 3.40 percent to 3.35 percent. Average rates for a 15-year FRM moved from 2.61percent to 2.56 percent.

Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) fell to 2.56 from last week’s average of 2.58 percent Discount points for last week’s mortgage rates ranged from 0.7percent for 30 and 15 year FRM loans to 0.5 percent for a 5/1 ARM.

Rock-bottom mortgage rates can offset the impact of rising home prices.

Last Week Was A Strong Showing For The US Economy

Last week’s economic news provided further indications of economic recovery, with housing related reports contributing to overall confidence in a stronger economy.

Highlights of last week’s news include:

Monday: Pending home sales moved up to 1.50 percent in March from February’s -1.07 percent. This reading also surpassed Wall Street’s forecast of 0.90 percent for March.

Tuesday: The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for February reported that the national average home price had increased by 9.3 percent year-over-year between February 2012 and February 2013. By comparison, the average national home price between January 2012 and January 2013 increased by 8.1 percent year-over-year. Rising home prices are contributing to the economic recovery, but in some areas demand for homes exceeds supply, which also contributes to rising home prices.

Wednesday: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) issued its scheduled statement after its meeting concluded. Committee members noted signs of an improving economy, and cited housing markets as a leading contributor to the recovery. The FOMC statement also indicated that economic conditions were not sufficiently improved for the FOMC to change or cease the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy. The Fed’s goal for its current quantitative easing program is keeping long-term interest rates including mortgage rates low.

Thursday: The weekly Jobless Claims Report brought better-than-expected news with new jobless claims coming in at 324,000, less than the expected reading of 345,000 new jobless claims and also higher than the previous report’s reading of 342,000 new jobless claims.

Friday: The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its monthly “Jobs Report,” which consists of the Non-farm Payrolls Report and the national Unemployment Rate. Again new jobs added exceeded expectations for April with 165,000 jobs added against expectations of 135,000 new jobs added. April’s reading also surpassed the March reading of 138,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent as compared to a consensus of 7.6 percent and last month’s reading of 7.6 percent. To put this reading in perspective, the FOMC has targeted an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent as a benchmark for adjusting its current policies including quantitative easing.

What To Look For This Week

This week’s economic events include latest Jobless Claims report on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if this week’s reading will be lower than last week’s reading of 324,000 new jobless claims.

On Friday, the Federal Budget will be released; this could influence financial markets depending on what programs and services are cut or reduced.

Can The Right Color Help Sell Your Home Faster?

 

How To Choose The Right Paint Colors For Selling Your Home

May 3, 2013 by Leave a Comment

When it comes to selling your home , you’ve probably thought of the most common staging tricks, such as clearing out the clutter to make your rooms look bigger and bringing in more light to brighten things up.

However, have you considered that the colors in your house might affect whether buyers are interested?

First impressions are everything when you are selling a house, so think about how the colors you choose will likely influence your potential buyers. A new coat of paint could be a simple and effective way to make your house more appealing.

Here are a few additional tips:

Choose Mellow, Neutral Shades

When a potential buyer is looking at your house, they want to be able to imagine themselves living there. If your walls are painted in lime green or hot pink, it can be difficult for a buyer to relate the house to their own tastes.

Instead, use neutral colors, such as cream, olive, beige and ivory. Then the walls become a blank canvas where prospective buyers can project their own style preferences.

Create the Illusion of Space

In order to make a space within your home feel larger, you can use a very light neutral color such as white, tan or pale grey. This will reflect more light and give the impression of a more expansive interior.

You can also try painting the moldings the same color as the walls, which will make the ceilings look higher.

Dont Forget About Exterior Color

It’s easy to focus on the interior of a house and forget about the outside, but the front of the house is the first thing potential buyers will see. Curb appeal can be a huge factor in their decision.

Caution: Lead-Based Paint

One important word of caution regarding the paint in your home is the issue of lead-based paint.

Lead-based paint was most common in homes built or painted prior to 1978. If your home falls in that age category, it may require further testing to ensure that the paint covering your walls is free of lead.

Color has a psychological effect on people, whether they are aware of it or not. You’ll be amazed at the difference the right colors can make in selling or improving your home.

If you would like more home staging and selling tips, please contact your trusted real estate professional today!

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Post Highest Growth Rates Since 2006

 

Case-Shiller Posts Highest Gains Since 2006

May 1, 2013 by Leave a Comment

Housing markets continue to improve according to the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Indices released April 30 for February’s data.

The Indices consist of a 10-City Composite Index and a 20-City Composite Index with housing markets for each city reported based on a three-month rolling average of home prices.

Case Shiller Posts Highest Growth Rates Since 2006

The data released yesterday comprised the Indices’ highest growth rates since May 2006.

For the 12 months between February 2012 and February 2013, the 10-City Composite Index reports that average home prices posted a gain of 8.6 percent and average home prices for the 20-City Composite Index grew by 9.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

All 20 cities posted a year-over-year gain for at least two consecutive months.

The 10-City Composite Index grew by 0.4 percent between January and February, while the 20-City Composite Index grew by 0.3 percent for the same time period.

16 of the 20 cities reported rising annual growth rates for home sales between January and February 2013, while four cities including Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix saw decreases between -0.1 and -0.4 percent in annual home prices between January and February 2013 readings.

Longer-term readings provide a more positive light, as with the example for Phoenix, Arizona.

The month-to-month reading of annual home prices indicated a decrease, but the reading for Phoenix year over year indicates a + 23.0 percent increase in average home prices.

Ten Metro Areas Gain Double Digits Over Past Year

10 cities posted double-digit year-over-year growth rates; they include Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa.

San Diego and Tampa have joined the double-digit cities in February with average home prices increasing for each city of just over 10 percent.

Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta posted the highest year-over-year gains in average home prices.

Three older cities, New York, Boston and Chicago posted the lowest year-over-year rates in average home price readings.

Atlanta and Dallas achieved the highest annual growth rates since the inception of the 10-City Composite (1991) and the 20-City Composite (2001).

Improving Housing Markets Seen As Beacon Of Economic Recovery

Improving housing markets are considered a leading indicator of overall economic recovery as home ownership typically increases wealth and leads to more spending.

Economists note that while current news for housing markets is good, average home prices remain at 2003 levels, which can be very good for new home buyers.

Shortages of available homes in some areas and news that apartment construction is increasing can impact availability and ultimately, the sale of single-family homes.

Should You Fix And Flip Or Buy And Hold Your Investment Real Estate?

Strategies For Investing In Real Estate
 

When you make an investment in real estate, it’s important to consider your options for turning a profit even before you write an offer.

It might be best to rent out the property to cover your mortgage and build equity providing the home cash-flows with solid rents and demand.

Or, you could fix up the home and flip it so that you can sell it quickly for a larger amount than you invested.

Both strategies may be appealing options, so here are some important factors to consider before making your decision.

Flipping May Lead To Short Term Profits

Flipping a house can be tricky, so you will want to have enough experience to know what you are doing, or work with an experienced advisor who can guide you around the most common pitfalls.

If you are thinking about fixing and flipping a house, you will need to have enough capital to invest in the property so you can make the required improvements and repairs.

Many people find themselves short of working capital after closing on the new purchase.

It is important to factor in carrying costs, or monthly mortgage payments while fixing the home, into your overall budget.

Do your research so you’ll know what renovations will have the most impact on the value of your real estate.

You will also need to know if the market in the area will support your new price point.

Make sure your flip property is in a very buyer-friendly community for your best chances of a positive return.

Renting Is The Buy And Hold Strategy For Investment Real Estate

Flipping a house gives you quick cash, but renting it out instead may give you monthly cash flow and a potentially larger long-term profit if the property appreciates over time.

If you don’t mind being a landlord and you have the time to screen for reliable renters, then renting out the property might be a better option for you.

This option also means that you will have the home later on in case you want to live in it.

Of course, don’t forget to factor in additional upkeep costs, such as repairs, utilities and property taxes.

Seek Professional Counsel

Investment real estate has consistently been considered a solid way to get your money working for you.

Whether you rent out or flip your investment property will depend on whether you are interested in a long-term investment or a short-term project.

A great next step while you are planning your investment real estate purchase would be seeking the advice of a qualified, licensed real estate professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week: March 4th, 2013

 

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week

March 4, 2013 by Leave a Comment

U.S. Budget Stalemate, Italian Elections Stir Concerns

Mortgage rates were lower last week as investors sought safety in bonds in the wake of US legislators’ failure to agree on budget cutbacks, and after Italy’s elections failed to reveal a leader committed to continuing economic reform.

When bond prices including Mortgage Backed Securities rise, mortgage rates typically fall.

While the March 1st deadline for passing budget cutbacks for the U.S. government passed without a resolution, emergency legislation passed last year will keep the government running until March 27.

If a budget is not passed by then, the federal government could face shutdown.

As it stands, $85 billion in cuts are scheduled over the next seven months, but this represents only about 2 percent of the federal budget.

Investor concerns are likely to rise if the March 27 deadline approaches without a resolution.

Italian Elections Influence Investor Sentiment

On Monday, Italian elections were held, but the results did not reveal a leader dedicated to continuing economic reforms necessary for stabilizing Italy’s economy.

Another round of elections may be required to determine Italy’s new leader.

There is deep conflict in Italy as citizens do not agree with the need for economic austerity measures.

As the Eurozone’s third largest economy, Italy’s division on future economic reforms raises two concerns for investors.

First, without a clear reform leader established in last week’s elections, Investors fear that austerity measures may be relaxed and increase Italy’s debt risk.

A less likely risk is that Italy may leave the EU if it cannot resolve its need for economic reforms with its citizens’ wishes.

Upcoming Economic Releases

The coming week’s scheduled economic releases include:

  • Ongoing developments regarding the U.S. budget and aftermath of the Italian elections are expected to continue influencing U.S. financial markets.
  • On Tuesday ISM Services Index for February will be released. Wednesday’s news includes the Fed’s Beige Book Report for March and Factory Orders for January.
  • Thursday’s scheduled economic news releases include Productivity and Trade Balance reports. Friday finishes the week’s economic news with the Employment report, which includes job and unemployment data for February.

As spring approaches, demand for homes typically increases, which in turn may drive up home prices and mortgage rates.

Consider getting pre-approved for a mortgage and looking for your new home sooner than later.

5 Important Tips To Save Money On Your Tax Bill

Tax Saving Tips For 2012 Tax ReturnMarch 1, 2013 by

April 15th seems a long way off, but it will be here before you know it.

Now is the perfect time to start getting your paperwork in order.

Owning real estate can make a big difference on your tax return, so make sure that you’re taking advantage of all the deductions you’re entitled to.

We’ve outlined a few below:

Mortgage Interest

Unless you paid cash for your purchase, you probably took out a loan to buy your home.

Mortgage interest is one of the best tax deductions available, so be sure to hang on to that 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement from your lender.

You can almost always deduct the entire amount of interest paid per calendar year.

Real Estate Taxes

Depending on where your property is located, you are likely paying real estate tax, either to the state or to a local governing authority.

Taxes based on property value are generally deductible as well. You may have an escrow account to hold these funds during the year, so be sure that you only deduct the amount of taxes you actually paid.

Home Equity Line of Credit

You may deduct home equity line of credit (HELOC) debt interest as long as you are legally liable to pay the interest, the interest is paid in the tax year, and the debt is secured by your home.

The home equity debt has a limit of up to $100,000 ($50,000 if married filing separately).

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Depending on how your loan is structured, you may have mortgage insurance. With the recently passed American Tax Relief Act of 2012, all mortgage insurance premiums are tax deductible for the 2012 and 2013 tax year. There are some qualifications, so check with your tax advisor.

Mortgage Interest on Land

If you purchased land with the intent to build, the interest you have paid may qualify as deductible mortgage interest as long as the structure becomes your qualified residence within a 24-month period.

This deductibility of bare land mortgage interest is a tricky one. You can see the IRS explanation here.

Your home could be one of your greatest resources for reducing your tax liability. Most times these deductions are itemized on a Schedule A (Form 1040) when you prepare your taxes.

A great next step is to call a qualified tax planning professional. Please feel free to contact us if you would like a referral.

Existing Home Sales Rise As Home Inventory Shrinks

Existing Home Sales Numbers ReleasedFebruary 28, 2013 by

Home sales rose for the 11th consecutive month according to the National Association of REALTORS® Existing Home Sales Report for January.

This is the first time this has occurred since the period between July of 2005 and May of 2006.

National Average Home Price Up Over 12% Annually

The national average home price in January was $173,600, which is 12.3 percent higher than for January 2012.

Calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, Existing Home Sales data is compiled using completed sales of single family homes, condominium units and co-ops.

January’s existing home sales rose by 0.4 percent to 4.92 million sales nationally as compared to December’s revised annual rate of 4.90 million sales nationally.

National sales of existing homes increased by 9.1 percent as compared to January 2012.

Regional Home Sales Support Housing Recovery

Regional home sales for January suggest more good news for housing markets. Seasonally- adjusted annual home sales rose in all regions of the U.S. except in the West, while median home prices rose for all regions.

Northeast: Home sales were up by 4.8 percent in January to 650,000 sales, which is 12.1 percent more homes sold than for January 2012. The median home price rose by 2.4 percent from January 2012 to $230,500.

Midwest: Annual home sales in January increased by 3.6 percent to 1.16 million; this is 17.2 percent higher than for January 2012. The median home price in the Midwest rose to $131,800, an increase of 8.6 percent as compared to January 2012.

South: Home sales were up by 1 percent to 1.96 million sales in January; this represents a 14.0 percent increase in annual sales as compared to one year ago. The average home price for the South was $152,100, an increase of 13.4 percent over January 2012.

West: Home sales fell by 5.7 percent to an annual rate of $1.15 million. This represents a 5.7 percent decrease in sales from one year ago. The median home price in January was $239,800 and was 26.6 percent above the region’s median sale price for January 2012.

A falling inventory of homes for sale may be holding back buyers; the inventory of homes for sale fell to a 4.2 month supply from December’s 4.5 month supply of homes. A 6-month supply of homes is considered average.

Home Prices May Rise Quickly

While the spring home buying season will likely see more homes come on the market , economists caution that home prices could rise faster than expected due to increasing demand. A seller’s market could be in the making.

Mortgage rates also appear to be rising; now may be your best time for gaining the advantage of relatively low home prices and mortgage rates.

Is Downsizing The Next Big Trend In Homes?

 

Z Glass Micro Dwelling by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

February 27, 2013 by

The real estate market has started to recover from the downturn over the last few years in many areas of the country, and more people are thinking about buying a new place to live.

With this new energy in home buying, an interesting trend seems to be developing.

Instead of going for larger homes, which was an overwhelming trend in years past, many people are choosing micro-dwellings.

What is a micro-dwelling?

There are a number of different styles of micro dwellings being built. This is a relatively new concept for homes in the United States and individual creativity abounds in this space.

The most common factor in micro-dwellings are their size. They tend to be less than 500 square feet of living space.

Some densely populated metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York City are planning apartments as small as approximately 300 square feet!

Think this shrinking of real estate space applies only to multi-family dwellings?

Think again. You can also find tiny single-family homes — some of which are even portable.

If you’re still not convinced, read on to discover a few of the factors drawing buyers to smaller living spaces.

A lower price tag – The cost of these homes can be significantly less than that of standard homes, which means you may not have a large mortgage over your head for the next 30 years.

More free time – A smaller house means less cleaning. Who isn’t on board with that idea?

Less clutter – If your home is less than 500 square feet, you have to get rid of everything you don’t absolutely need.

Mobility – Many of these tiny homes are equipped with wheels or built-on trailers, so moving is no longer the stressful and expensive undertaking it used to be. Simply close the door and go!

Smaller is greener – It makes sense that if your home is smaller, you will automatically reduce your energy consumption, which means more money in your pocket every month and a smaller carbon footprint.

Micro-living might not be for everyone. It does offer an option for those who are just starting out, those who love to travel, or those nearing retirement.

Fed Considers Future of Quantitative Easing

Fed-Minutes-Released-252

February 26, 2013 by

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released minutes from its January meeting last Wednesday, as it generally does three weeks following the most recent meeting.

The FOMC is a committee within the Federal Reserve System tasked with overseeing the purchase and sale of US Treasury securities by the Fed.

The Federal Reserve makes key decisions regarding interest rates and looks to this committee for advice on how and when to take action.

The Future Of Quantitative Easing

One of the main topices that Fed leaders discussed was the future of its ongoing program of quantitative easing (QE).

Currently, the Fed plans to continue its monthly purchase of treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) with the objective of keeping the inflation rate at or below 2 percent.

The Fed plans to phase out quantitative easing when the national unemployment rate reaches 6.5 percent.

Fed leaders opposed to current quantitative easing brought up concerns about risk exposure to the Fed as it continues acquiring large quantities of bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

Other concerns included the potential for negative impact on financial markets if the Fed sustains its current policy of quantitative easing.

The Risk Of Inflation Creates Pause

Inflationary risks were also cited as a reason for re-evaluating the current policy for quantitative easing.

As the fed continues to purchase more and more mortgage-backed securities to keep interest rates down, a higher potential risk for inflationary pressure results.

Rising inflation rates would cause mortgage rates to worsen.

FOMC members concerned about current policy for quantitative easing suggested that the Fed should prepare to vary the timing of its purchases according to economic conditions rather than committing to scheduled purchases of specific amounts of bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

The next Federal Open Market Committee meeting is scheduled for March 19-20, 2013.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week: February 25th, 2013

What's Ahead This WeekFebruary 25, 2013 by

A quiet past week in economic news caused mortgage rates to worsen slightly.

This week, however, will be packed with economic reports which may have an impact on interest rates going forward.

Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by 3 basis points from 3.53 percent to 3.56 percent with borrowers paying 0.8 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged from last week at 2.77 percent with borrowers paying 0.8 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

In other economic news, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for January fell slightly to 0.0 percent as compared to Wall Street expectations of 0.1 percent and December’s reading of 0.1 percent.

The Core CPI, which measures consumer prices exclusive of volatile food and energy sectors, was 0.3 percent for January and surpassed analyst expectations of 0.2 percent and December’s reading of 0.1 percent.

Inflation Remains Low

These readings remain well below the 2.5 percent inflation level cited by the Fed as cause for concern.

According to the Department of Commerce, Housing Starts for January fell to 890,000 from December’s 954,000 and below Wall Street projections of 910,000.

These seasonally adjusted and annualized numbers are obtained from a sample of 844 builders selected from 17,000 newly permitted building sites.

Falling construction rates could further affect low supplies of homes reported in some areas; as demand for homes increase, home prices and mortgage rates can be expected to rise.

Full Economic Calendar This Week

This week’s economic news schedule is full; Treasury auctions are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. New Home Sales will be released Tuesday.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday’s news includes the Pending Home Sales Index and Durable Orders.

Thursday’s news includes the preliminary GDP report for Q4 2012, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, and weekly jobless claims.

Friday brings Personal Income and Core Personal Expenditures (CPE).

Consumer Sentiment, the ISM Index and Construction Spending round out the week’s economic news.