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.

How To Improve Your Credit Score For Better Financing Terms

How To Improve Your Credit Score For Better Financing Terms

June 28, 2013  by Leave a Comment

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

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

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

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

They don’t max out their cards.

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

They make payments on time.

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

They stay with one card.

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

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

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

The Federal Open Market Committee Holds Steady With Mortgage Backed Security Investments

The Federal Open Market Committee Holds Steady With Mortgage Backed Security Investments

June 21, 2013  by Leave a Comment

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve decided to continue its current policy of quantitative easing (QE) based on current economic conditions. The Fed currently purchases $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $45 billion in Treasury securities monthly.

Objectives for the QE program include:

  • Keeping long term interest rates, including mortgage rates, low
  • Supporting mortgage markets
  • Easing broader financial conditions

FOMC repeated its position of evaluating QE policy based on inflation, the unemployment rate and economic developments.

Members of the FOMC determined that keeping the federal funds rate between 0.00 and 0.25 percent until the following conditions are met:

  • National unemployment rate reaches 6.50 percent
  • Inflation is expected not to exceed 2.50 percent within the next one to two years
  • Longer term inflation expectations are “well-anchored.”

Committee members agreed to consistently review labor market conditions, inflationary pressures and expected rates of inflation and other financial developments for determining their course of action on QE.

In its post-meeting statement, FOMC asserted that any changes to current QE policy would be taken in consideration of longer range goals for maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

Fed Chairman Gives Press Conference

After the FOMC statement, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke held a press conference which provided details about the future of QE and how the Fed will “normalize” its monetary policy. Chairman Bernanke noted that as QE is reduced and eventually stopped, the Fed will not be selling its MBS holdings.

This is important, as demand for MBS is connected to how mortgage rates perform. If the market is flooded with MBS, demand would slow, and prices would fall. When MBS prices fall, mortgage rates typically rise.

According to Chairman Bernanke, the FOMC does not see any immediate reason for changing its purchase of Treasury securities and MBS in the near term, but will continue to monitor conditions. Using the analogy of driving a car, the chairman indicated that the Fed’s intent regarding QE and the federal funds rate would be better compared to easing up on the accelerator rather than putting on the brakes.

Chairman Bernanke also characterized benchmarks cited in connection with increasing the federal funds rate as “thresholds, and not triggers.” This suggests that even if national unemployment and inflation reach Fed targets, that other economic conditions occurring at that time could cause the Fed to alter its plan for raising the federal funds rate.

The Fed chairman said that during Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, 14 of 19 participants did not expect changes to the federal funds rate until 2015, and one member didn’t expect a change until 2016.

Three Tips To Get Optimal Financing On Your Second Home Purchase

Three Tips To Get The Best Financing On Your Second Home

June 20, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Are you buying a property as your second home? Perhaps you are looking for a small cottage or apartment where you can escape to for your vacations, or maybe you want to have another home closer to your relatives?

Maybe you want to rent out your second property and make a steady income from your investment. Whatever the reason, a second piece of real estate can be a fantastic investment. However, sometimes getting a mortgage on your second home can present a challenge.

Generally, a mortgage lender will have tougher standards for vacation home — or second home — loans than primary home loans. This is because usually when you are buying a second home your finances will be stretched thinner and you will have less money to spare due to already paying a mortgage on your primary home.

This additional risk may mean that your second home mortgage can be more difficult to close and likely could carry a higher interest rate.

Here are three tips to keep in mind that will help you to get the best mortgage on your second property:

Build up a decent amount of savings.

Your mortgage lender will want to be able to see that you have a large amount of savings in reserve so that you will have enough to pay for the mortgage even if you were to lose your job or other income source.

Pay off any credit card or installment debt.

Many lenders will be hesitant to approve your second home mortgage if they see that you have a lot of debt on your credit card. They will want to see that you have a low debt to income ratio so that you will be able to pay back the loan.

Use your primary home as a resource.

If you have always made your payments on time and you are well on your way through paying off your first house, you may have equity to borrow against for some or all of your second home purchase. Be careful here though.  There is a little known IRS regulation that requires the second home be financed under it’s own home loan within 90 days of closing to get the best tax advantages.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind in order to make getting a mortgage for your second property as easy as possible.

To find out more about investing in a second home or vacation property, contact your trusted real estate professional today.

RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report Shows 28% Decrease From May 2012

RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report Shows 28 Percent Decline From May 2012

June 18, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Foreclosure actions increased by 2.0 percent in May from April’s 75 month low point for foreclosure activity according to RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released June 11. However, the good news is that May 2013 foreclosure filings were still 28 percent below May 2012 filings.

RealtyTrac reports that approximately one in 885 homes were in some stage of foreclosure in May. This does not mean that 1 in 885 homes was lost to foreclosure, but it does indicate that documents related to some phase of foreclosure (Notice of Default, Notice of Trustee Sale, and Bank Reposession) were filed.

Actual lender repossessions (REO) increased by 11 percent in May, but were down by 29 percent as compared to May 2012. 33 states reported increases in REOs with North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin having the highest numbers of REO properties added.

Judicial Foreclosure States Lagging In Clearing Foreclosure Inventory

Foreclosure starts were up by 4 percent in May, but were 33 percent lower than for May of 2012. States using judicial foreclosure proceedings were 5 of the top 6 states for foreclosure filings. The state of Nevada, which uses non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, was second after Florida and ahead of Ohio, South Carolina and Illinois.

In general, judicial foreclosure proceedings take longer to complete than non-judicial foreclosures. This results in homes being unavailable for sale for longer periods of time. Lenders are required to complete the foreclosure process and in some cases, they must await expiration of a redemption period before a foreclosed home can be repaired and sold.

In states using non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, the time between the initial foreclosure filing and the foreclosure sale can be as little as three to four months. Quickly turning over foreclosed homes is helpful for improving regional housing markets and making more homes available for purchase. Economists have recently cited low inventories of homes as holding back housing markets in some areas.

Bank Owned Properties Provide Buying Opportunities

Lender-owned properties provide potential opportunities for first-time buyers and others seeking affordable homes. Mortgage lenders tend to offer attractive sale terms on REO properties, as their objective is to move these homes out of their inventories as quickly as possible.

Some foreclosure properties are also lacking current maintenance and are often sold as-is. DIY enthusiasts can buy and renovate foreclosed homes for owner occupancy or investment.

It’s a good idea to discuss your interest in the opportunities available for financing a lender-owned home with your trusted mortgage professional.

Why It’s Critically Important To Have A Home Inspection

Why It's Critically Important To Have A Home Inspection

June 13, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Many home buyers have found the perfect house, signed on the dotted line and may think they’ve watched enough home improvement shows to know if the home they’re getting is in good shape. Unfortunately, some buyers make the mistake of skipping a home inspection in order to save a little cash.

Even if a home has already stolen your heart and you’re ready to pay for it as-is, you need to bite the bullet and hire a home inspector to let you know what repairs and financial repercussions await you.

Why You Should Hire A Home Inspector

You might know a thing or two about home remodeling and repairs. However, most people are not experts on the inner workings of a home. That is why it’s important to hire a professional to search for potential furnace issues, electrical wiring mishaps, plumbing weaknesses or roofing deterioration to name a few.

While a home might look like it’s in perfect condition on the surface, there could be major issues hiding beneath its façade. That’s why it really is imperative for your safety that you hire an inspector to scrutinize the bones of your home. Understanding any imperfections may also help you budget for immediate and future repairs.

When to Schedule the Home Inspection

Once you’ve signed a purchase contract, you’ll want to schedule a home inspection before the inspection period has ended. Even though you’ve signed the offer, an inspector could just find something that you just cannot live with or afford to fix.

While you would normally schedule an inspection after you’ve signed a contract, it’s important to have an inspector or two picked out beforehand. Ask your real estate professional or friends and family for referrals and then contact the inspectors for pricing and a list of what they will and will not cover at the inspection.

Once again, remember that the cheapest price may not be the best deal on home inspections.  Have a good understanding of what, and who, you are investing in.

Even if you do know a lot about the structure, plumbing and wiring of houses, don’t let your ego get the better of you. It’s important to shell out the additional money to hire an inspector and cover your assets. You’d hate to end up with a home that needs major renovations and not have known about it.

For more information on hiring a professional for your home inspection or for a referral, please call today!

Case-Shiller Reports Energetic Annual Home Price Gains Nationally

Case-Shiller Reports Energetic Annual Home Price Gains Nationally

May 30, 2013  by Leave a Comment

The most recent S&P/Case-Shiller Index showed all three composites posting double-digit increases over the last four quarters.  The national composite, which is the broadest based index, showed an increase of 10.2% annually. The 20-City composite posted even stronger annual growth at 10.9%.

Click Here To Download The Full Report

The Case-Shiller Index measures changes in home prices by tracking same-home sales using 10-City, 20-City and national housing markets; and the change in sales price from sale-to-sale. Detached, single-family residences are used in the Case-Shiller Index methodology and data is for closed purchase transactions only.

12 Of 20 Metro Markets Notch Double-Digit Annual Growth

Between March 2012 and March 2013, home values rose in all 20 Case-Shiller Index markets. Phoenix, Arizona (+22.5%) once again was leading the national price recovery, quite possibly due to its precipitous fall during the onset of the housing crisis.

Another notable gainer was San Francisco (+22.2%), followed by Las Vegas, Nevada (+20.6%)  On the weaker end were Boston (+6.7%), Cleveland (+4.8%) and New York (+2.6%), but it is important to note that even these smaller numbers still represent significant gains across the board.

There were a total of 12 year-over-year double digit gainers in home value which included those mentioned above as well as Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Portland, San Diego, Seattle and Tampa.

All 20 Metro Markets Show Positive Growth For 3 Consecutive Months

In another very strong supporting point for the housing recovery, all 20 metro markets measured showed positive home price growth for at least 3 consecutive months.  This consistency in growth contributes to an overall indication of strength in the housing sector rebound.

The only potential back-pedaling in the report came from noting that higher than normal multi-family housing numbers, large numbers of homes still in the foreclosure process, and significant investor activity may demonstrate that the housing recovery is not yet complete.

This latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report seems to indicate that the housing market continues to show positive growth.

Now may very likely be the best time to move forward with your next real estate transaction.  A positive next step is to call your local, trusted mortgage professional for advice today.

Simple Tips To Help Your Flowerbeds Flourish This Spring

Simple Tips To Help Your Flowers Flourish This Spring

May 22, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Flowerbeds can be a very attractive addition to any home — if you have the time to set up and maintain them. Flowerbeds don’t necessarily require a profusion of costly flowers that need to be fertilized, mulched, covered during severe weather, and possibly re-planted on a yearly basis.

So put on your green thumb and brave the outdoors this spring. With the tips below, you’ll keep your flowerbeds filled and your house looking cheery without a huge money or time commitment.

Weed Eradication

Before you even start picking out roses and tulips, take care of the weeds. Gardens get weeds because there are already pesky roots hiding below the surface.

Dig up the soil and weeds before you plant. It will save you hours of maintenance in the long run and keep your flowers healthy.

Perennial Wildflowers

Wildflower mixes native to your area are often a good choice if you want an array of flowers, but don’t have the time or the motivation to take care of them.

These flowers can grow back easily every year and are well adapted to the climate and soil conditions in your area. Native wildflowers may need little more than watering and the occasional weeding.

Decorative Rock

Filling the beds with attractive decorative rock provides low maintenance curb appeal to your home. Several colors of decorative rock are available and can be chosen to off-set the color of your house.

Planters may also be placed amongst the rocks to add live plants to your flower beds, and those plants can easily be moved inside before the weather gets too cold for them.

Low-Growing Shrubs

For low-maintenance ground cover in your flowerbeds, plant low-growing shrubs, such as various strains of boxwood or juniper.

The main issue with this option is that the shrubs take a while to grow and fill in. But once established, the only maintenance required is the occasional trimming of overgrown branches.

Vacant flowerbeds detract from the overall look of your house and contribute to an air of neglect. Attractive fillers do not have to be either expensive or difficult to put into place.

If you’d like additional tips on how to spruce up the outside your home, please call your trusted real estate professional for advice!

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 20, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 20, 2013May 20, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Last week was jam-packed with economic news; here are some highlights with emphasis on housing and mortgage related news:

Monday: Retail sales for April increased to -0.1 percent from the March reading of -0.5 percent and also surpassed Wall Street’s downward forecast of -0.6 percent. Retail sales are important to economic recovery as sales of goods and services represent approximately 70 percent of the U.S. economy.

Tuesday: The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its Small Business Optimism Index for April with encouraging results. April’s index rose by 2.6 points to 92.1. A reading of 90.7 indicates economic recovery. This index is based on a survey of 1873 NFIB member businesses.

Wednesday: The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May matched investor expectations with a reading of 44. At three points above the March reading of 41, this report suggests that builders are slowly gaining confidence in national housing markets.

Thursday: The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts fell by 16.5 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual level of 853,000 from 1.02 million housing starts in March. This reading fell short of investors’ consensus of 965,000 housing starts, however, this decrease was caused by the volatile apartment construction sector.

Friday: Consumer sentiment for May surpassed investor expectations of +0.3 percent and came in at +0.6 percent. As consumer sentiment improves, it’s likely that more consumers will buy homes.

Rising Interest Rates Show Strengthening Economy

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.42 percent to 3.51 percent with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

15-year fixed rate mortgages rose from 2.61 percent last week to 2.69 percent this week with borrowers paying 0.70 in discount points and all of their closing costs.

This news is consistent with a strengthening economy, but is narrowing opportunities for home buyers seeking both affordable home prices and low mortgage rates.

Federal Open Market Committee Minutes To Be Released This Week

Looking ahead, economic news for this week includes the Existing Home Sales report for April with an expectation of 5.00 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis against the March tally of 4.93 million homes sold.

Also set for release on Wednesday are the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Minutes for the meeting held April 30 and May 1. The FOMC meetings typically include discussions of the Federal Reserve’s current policy on quantitative easing (QE) which consists of the Fed buying $85 billion per month in MBS and treasury bonds.

When the QE program ends, mortgage rates will likely increase as bond prices decline due to lesser demand.

Thursday brings the weekly Jobless Claims Report along with New Home Sales for April. The consensus for new homes sold is 430,000 as compared to the March reading of 417,000 new homes sold.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will release its Home Price Index for March on Thursday.

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.