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.

5 Important Tips To Help Smooth Your Move When You Have Teens In The Home

5 Important Tips To Help Smooth Your Move With Teens

June 27, 2013  by Leave a Comment

You’ve got a new job offer across the country and you are planning to pack your things, buy a home and make the big move.

However, when you tell your 17 year old daughter your plans, she lets out a mournful wail and cries that it is not fair. How can you possibly take her away from all of her friends, her favorite hangout spots and the cute boy she just started seeing?

Moving is a difficult transition and it is often even more traumatic for teenagers. The teenage years are an important stage where young adults establish their individuality and independence and during this time their social circle is extremely important to them.

Being removed from that against their will can make any teen feel sad, confused, angry and resentful. Also, fitting into a new social scene in a different location can be a challenge for a teen that might be singled out as the “new kid”.

How can you help your teen during this transition so that the experience will be easier on them?

5 Tips To Help Your Teen Move More Smoothly

Here are some tips that will make the experience of moving a little bit easier on your teenager:

  • Give them as much notice as possible so that they have time to adjust to the idea of moving. They will feel like they have enough time to say goodbye to their friends and close a chapter of their lives.
  • Try to schedule the move around the school calendar, as moving in the summer is much less disruptive to your teen’s life than relocating in the middle of the school year.
  • Make sure that they have ample time to spend with their close friends before they leave and once you arrive, understand that they might go through a grieving process of missing their old pals.
  • When you get to your new home, make sure that your teen has plenty of ways to keep in touch with their old friends, such as an internet connection and a cell phone plan.
  • Encourage your teen to get involved in the community of your new hometown, like joining sports clubs or attending events. This can help them to make new friends.

Moving to a new city is always exciting but offers challenges like this one for families. For more advice on moving to a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

3 Clever But Simple Ways To Get Your Home Mortgage Paid Faster

3 Clever But Simple Ways to Get Your Home Mortgage Paid Faster

June 25, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Paying off the mortgage on your home faster means that you will not only have the satisfaction of owning your own home sooner, you will also have the benefit of paying much less in interest over the years.

The faster you pay off your mortgage, the more money you can save, so here are some tips to accelerate your payment schedule.

Pay Your Mortgage Every Other Week (Bi-Weekly)

Did you know that if you take your monthly mortgage payment and divide it in half and then pay it every two weeks that you will end up making a full extra month of payments every year? This is called a bi-weekly payment program which has been around for a long time, and it’s still a good idea today!

You likely won’t notice the difference since the extra half payments occur in long months with bigger paychecks, but over the years this will end up saving you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Make a Bigger Monthly Payment

Similar to the bi-weekly payment plan above, you can accomplish the goal by dividing your principal and interest portion of your payment by 12 and then adding that amount to your regular monthly payment.  You will be paying that extra payment every year, but spacing it out over each monthly payment.

Most homeowners using this tactic can shorten their term by up to seven years.

Put Any Windfall Toward the Mortgage

Was your tax rebate larger than you expected? Have you received an inheritance from your great aunt Thelma? Have you won a cash prize in a contest?

Put any unexpected chunks of cash straight toward your mortgage instead of spending them. This won’t affect your budget at all, because you were never expecting or counting on that money in the first place. But once again, it can make a huge difference in the overall amount of interest that you pay on your mortgage loan.

However, keep in mind your particular situation. Spending every last penny paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible might not be the best option for you if you have no emergency savings fund or if you have a credit card languishing with high interest debt.

It is usually more important to deal with these pressing financial issues before attempting to save money on your mortgage.

One great way to start your research on how to pay your home off faster is to talk with your trusted mortgage professional.  They can answer your questions and point you in the best direction for your situation.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 24, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013  by Leave a Comment

Comments by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke after Wednesday’s FOMC meeting caused havoc in financial markets as investors anticipated the potential effects of any rollback of the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing (QE). Chairman Bernanke said that the Fed may begin reducing its $85 billion monthly purchase of Treasury securities and MBS toward the end of this year.

The chairman made it clear that any decision concerning QE would be based on careful review of current and developing economic conditions. QE is intended to keep long-term interest rates low; any reduction of the QE securities purchases could cause mortgage rates to rise.

Economic News Bodes Well For Housing

The week’s other economic news included more good news for housing. The NAHB/WF Housing Market Index for June came in ahead of expectations at 52, which surpassed the expected reading of 45 and May’s reading of 44. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders surveyed believe that housing market conditions are positive.

Tuesday was busy for economic news. The Consumer Price Index for May rose from April’s reading of –0.40 percent to +0.10 percent in May, which was below expectations of +0.20 percent.

The Department of Commerce released its Housing Starts Report for May; the reading for May missed expectations of 953,000 housing starts and came in at 914,000 which exceeded April’s 856,000 housing starts. Increasing the number of available homes could help steady recently increasing home prices, but existing homes remain in short supply in many areas.

Fed Expects Moderate Improvement Continuing For Economy

Wednesday’s news involved the Fed’s FOMC meeting and press conference. The Fed stated after the meeting that it expects moderate improvement in economic condition and noted that housing, which was a primary cause of the economic downturn, is now leading the economy’s recovery.

Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.98 percent with 0.7 percent discount points to 3.93 percent with borrowers paying 0.8 percent in discount points.  The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.10 percent to 3.04 percent with 0.7 percent in discount points for both weeks. Investor response to the Fed’s mention of possibly reducing its QE program is likely to send mortgage rates up next week.

The National Association of REALTORS® released its Existing Home Sales report for May. Existing home sales came in at 5.18 million and beat projections of 5.00 million and April’s sales of 4.97 million existing homes.

Increasing sales of existing homes is good news as demand has exceeded supplies of existing homes in recent months. High demand drives up home prices and impacts affordability along with rising mortgage rates.

What’s Ahead For This Week

Next week’s scheduled news includes a number of housing related reports, FHFA Home Prices, the Case-Shiller Home Prices Report and New Home Sales are set for release Tuesday.

The Gross Domestic Product Report comes out on Wednesday. On Thursday, data for weekly jobless claims, consumer spending and pending home sales will be released.

Friday brings the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index and the Consumer Sentiment Index.

The data released in these reports will continue to inform the Fed’s decision-making with regard to bond purchasing and interest rate policy. It’s possible though, following the aggressive market sell-off activity from last week, that we may see a softening in long-term rates over the course of this week.

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!

Increasing May Jobs Report Shows Strengthening Economy

Increasing May Jobs Report Shows Strengthening Economy

June 11, 2013  by Leave a Comment

The U.S. Department of Labor released its Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment Rate reports Friday showing 175,000 jobs were added in May, which surpassed expectations of 164,000 new jobs and April’s reading of 149,000 jobs added. The jobs added in May were largely from the private sector.

However, the national unemployment rate for May was 7.60 percent, one-tenth of a percent higher than expectations and the April reading of 7.50 percent. The rise was attributed to more people entering the workforce as opposed to people losing jobs.

420,000 workers joined the workforce in May, which pushed the civilian participation rate in the labor market to 63.4 percent; the highest participation rate since October 2012. A rising participation rate suggests that more workers believe they can find jobs and have joined or returned to the labor market.

Economists Pleased With Increasing Jobs In Difficult Environment

Economists were pleased to see jobs increasing against an environment of higher taxes, a soft global economy and budget cutbacks in the U.S. government.

A lingering issue for U.S. labor markets is the number of people looking for full time work, but who are unable to find full-time employment. When these workers are added to the ranks of the unemployed who are actively seeking work, the actual unemployment rate almost doubles to 13.8 percent for May.

The national unemployment rate is based on workers who are actively seeking work. Many U.S. workers stopped looking for work after years of unemployment.

Fed May Review Quantitative Easing Program Soon

These reports don’t provide a clear indication of what the Federal Reserve may do regarding its current monetary policy; the Fed is currently purchasing $85 billion a month in U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This effort is intended to keep long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, lower.

The Fed has indicated that it will review its quantitative easing (QE) policy relative to improvements in the economy. In recent months, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve (FOMC) has discussed lowering or eliminating its QE efforts, but so far is maintaining its current level of QE and maintaining the federal funds rate at 0.250 percent.

While housing markets are improving, the jobs sector is moving at a slower pace. This suggests that home prices could rise even faster if more consumers had sufficient income for buying a home.