Archives for July 2018

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

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates 07-31-18Last week’s economic readings included reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes, mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

New Home Sales Slide; Pre-owned Home Sales Meet Expectations

Commerce Department reported lower sales of new homes in June. Sales were expected to reach 666,000 sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, but the actual reading slipped by 5.30 percent to a pace of 631,000 new home sales. Analysts cited higher building costs, home prices and mortgage rates sidelined some buyers.

Concerns over inadequate inventories of available homes also impacted sales of newly-built homes. New homes sold at a rate 6.90 percent higher year-over-year, but analysts cautioned that home price appreciation and demand may be at or near their peak.

The National Association of Realtors® reported an annual pace of 5.38 million sales of previously-owned homes for June, which matched analysts’ expectations. May’s reading was 5.41 million sales of pre-owned homes.

Analysts caution that Commerce Department readings are subject to adjustment due to the relatively small number of home sales used to represent all sales of pre-owned homes.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week with incremental increases in average mortgage rates. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were two basis points higher at 4.54 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.02 percent and were two basis points higher.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were one basis point higher and averaged 3.87 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 217,000 claims filed; this reading fell short of the expected reading of 219,000 new claims but was higher than the 208,000 new claims reported for the prior week.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and readings on pending home sales and construction spending. Labor reports including public and private sector jobs growth and the national unemployment rate will also be released.

Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be published.

 

Top Real Estate Predictions You Should Know About

Top Real Estate Predictions You Should Know AboutWhether you are a homeowner looking to get the maximum return on investment, a buyer interested in fair market value or an industry insider grappling with the moving parts of the real estate industry, these are some trends and predictions you should know about.

Lower Home Supply Causing Significant Value Growth

Indicators point to a U.S. economy that has settled into a nice growth period. Unemployment rates have touched some record lows, wages appear to be on the rise and Millennials are entering high earning and home-buying years. Couple these factors with the fact that last year’s tax reform laws will likely put more money back in everyday Americans’ pockets and homes could be a hot commodity, so to speak.

Home supply — on the other hand — does not appear ready to meet the rising demand of buyers. Experts are predicting that rising demand will collide with the housing shortfall and prices will ramp up in 2019.

Home Values Could Rise Another 5 Percent By Year’s End

Some real estate insiders are pointing to National Association of REALTORS information that the number of available homes for sale has dropped for 35 consecutive months. The volume of sales is down because there simply are not enough homes being put on the market. Coupled with the uptick in the economy, sellers are in the driver’s seat right now and they are demanding top dollar for their homes.

That being said, it may be in the best interest of first-time homebuyers to get into the market sooner rather than later. The improved wages from the surging economy may not be able to keep pace with a potential 5-percent increase in property values by the end of 2019. It looks like a buy now or pay later real estate market.

It’s Not A Housing Bubble And Won’t Burst

The housing market has been on a tear over the last three years. Property values have appreciated fairly consistently for 35 straight months. Such data mirrors that of the housing market right before the crash. While some experts are calling for another housing bubble to burst due to an unforeseen flaw in the system, tough legislation and oversight are in place. It’s only human nature to be cautious when conditions appear similar to those leading up to a bad outcome.

This time around, rising home prices appear to be based on solid economic factors. Either contractors are going to start massive home-construction builds all over the country or the shortage will continue to drive prices up. While experts say we are not in a so-called housing bubble, the market may level off down the road to get in tune with consumer affordability.

If you are in the market for a new home, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your financing pre-approval!

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage Ready

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage Ready

The garage is often the last thing on seller’s minds when it comes to home staging. It is prudent to make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are perfect for showings. Make sure that you don’t neglect your garage when getting your home ready to sell.

A good-looking garage can be a great selling point. Has your garage become a greasy, junk-filled space that you don’t like to visit? If so, then buyers won’t want to see it either. Fortunately, it is easy to get your garage in top shape before your showings. Up the appeal of your garage with these easy tricks.

Get Rid Clutter

The first step to getting your garage in tip-top shape is to remove all of the clutter. The garage often becomes a storage place for random things. Purge everything that you don’t need. Getting rid of junk can help make moving easier and more comfortable, as well. Divide your stuff into piles: trash, donate and keep. Get rid of all garbage. Recycle broken items. You can give things that you don’t need anymore to Goodwill or another charity.

Organize

Buyers love organized homes, and this goes for the garage too. Organizing your garage can also help make your move easier. Install a pegboard on your wall. Pegboards are inexpensive, and they can make a garage look neat and clean. You can use ceiling space to hang items. Ceiling-mounted racks are easy to install and not too pricey. Buyers will appreciate the extra storage space as well.

Paint the Floor

Is your garage floor stained with rust or oil? A dirty garage floor can turn buyers off. You can brighten up your garage and make the concrete look brand new with a couple of coats of epoxy garage floor paint. It isn’t very costly or time-consuming to refinish your garage floor. This is a project that most people can do in a spare weekend.

Add Light

Most garages don’t have windows. As a result, they tend to be dark and dreary. The first step in adding light to your garage is to replace any light bulbs that aren’t working. If your garage still looks dark, consider installing additional lighting. You can replace your standard bulb with a multi-directional LED fixture if you only have one lighting fixture in your garage. These are kind of pricey but they don’t require expensive rewiring. They simply screw into your existing socket and offer about four times more lighting compared to a traditional 60-watt bulb.  

It can be tedious work preparing to sell your home. One of the best things you can do to ease the transition between selling your old home and purchasing your new home is to make sure that you have your financing pre-approved. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get the process underway!

 

Check Out This Great Next Gen Kitchen Technology

Check Out This Great Next Gen Kitchen TechnologyThere’s perhaps no better indicator that we are living in the technology age than Smart gadgets infiltrating the kitchen. Whether they are little conveniences or big-ticket items, the chef in every home can benefit from the devices that help improve cooking, storage and food preparation. These are some of the next generation kitchen items that are making life a little easier and homes a tad more valuable.

Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge Provides Constant Contact

This big-ticket Samsung line has definitely taken refrigeration to the next level. It features a touchscreen that you can connect to with handheld devices to connect with your unit. One of the key features is that it enjoys an embedded camera and you can literally look at what is on your shelves while shopping for the evening meal. The days of being one ingredient short are over.

But beyond the shopping aid, the Family Hub lets you know when food is expiring, provides recipe suggestions, plays music and can utilize an Internet of Things method of ordering items for you. The Smart fridge has all the bells and whistles that can help improve your quality of life.

Smart Ovens Are Trending

Star Trek: Next Generation fans may recall Capt. Jean-Luc Picard ordering tea by simply saying “Earl Grey, hot.” The days of voice-activated meals may be closer than you think.

The latest lines of Smart ovens are integrating WiFi and connecting to recipe apps as well as that friendly home bot Alexa. Amazon reported that Alexa will be integrated into the kitchen and laundry room going forward. Several lines of Smart ovens on the market are already set up for tech-oriented homes. This Smart kitchen trend is likely to be popular with Millennial homebuyers who are flooding the real estate market.

Tech-Savvy Toaster Ovens Rule

The sometimes-forgotten toaster oven could be making a comeback in a huge way. Some of the new lines, such as Breville’s Smart Oven and Smart Oven Pro could double for a full-sized unit. Reviews on the brand tout the device’s ability to cook a 13-inch pizza or 14-pound turkey.

But the next generation aspect of these Smart ovens are things such as the “air fry” capabilities. It also features 13 pre-programmable cooking options including dehydrate. Those college dorm room days of crumb-filled toaster ovens heating up pre-cooked frozen foods are last generation.

Futuristic PancakeBot Amazes

Tech buffs often see 3-D printers as the device that could make the largest difference in terms of machinery and even ending hunger. The 3-D technology has been put to use making amazing and artistic pancakes of all shapes and sizes. You simply program it with a computer image to create the pancake design you desire, pour in the batter and serve.

The next generation of Smart kitchens are shifting the way home cooks function. In terms of property values, integrating Smart technologies appear to be highly sought after and can be a difference-maker in home sales.

If high-tech kitchen gadgets are on your list of must-haves, contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss financing options.

3 Generations Top Housing Market Trends

3 Generations Top Housing Market TrendsHistorians like to say that those who do not learn the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them. In the real estate industry, the chances of that happening are slim because agents and other professionals follow market trends closely.

That being said, a careful examination of 2017 market trends and other factors can help highlight where the housing market is headed. Consider these top trends when deciding about whether to buy or sell a property.

Millennials Scooping Up Homes

According to resources such as Zillow, the low inventory and emergence of Millennials in the home-buying market helped break records last year. Millennials comprised upwards of 34 percent of the market and about two-thirds of them were reportedly first-time home buyers.

Given the shortage of entry-level homes for this demographic, 2018 and 2019 should have them in the driver’s seat in terms of buying trends. Although home prices are expected to rise in the single digits during the foreseeable future, the second wave of Millennial home buyers are likely to take a big bite of listed properties.

As this group moves into their mid-30s, expectations are that last year’s 34 percent turns into about 43 percent of homes purchased. Millennials appear to be setting the pace.

Gen Z Home Buyers Expect Smarter Homes

Consider those born between 1995 and 2001 are adults or on the cusp of becoming adults. The front end of Generation Z is graduating college and looking for starter homes. This group is bound and determined to be different and they were basically weaned on technology.

Tech-friendly kitchens, lights and home-integrated devices have been trending and this demographic is likely to make them a priority when buying a home. Homeowners who are considering updating to a so-called “Smart Home” could be rewarded with resale value once Gen Z enters their collective mid-30s. Smart homes are trending and could go vertical with Gen Z buyers.

Generation X Returns From Great Recession

The housing crisis of 2007-09 put upwards of 10 million Americans out of their homes. Forced into foreclosure and bankruptcy, the financial aftermath of that catastrophe is coming to an end.

Those that filed for bankruptcy during the crash are in position to put their rebuilt credit to work. According to reports, approximately 1.5 million people could become eligible to re-enter the housing market in 2019.

A large portion of these potential returning homebuyers fall into the Gen X age group. They are likely to be savvier than the first time out. Many of these 50-somethings are expected to be frugal and cautious value buyers that could target properties that are traditionally considered starter homes. Regardless of how the trend plays out, Gen X is coming to a housing market near you.

If these emerging trends indicate anything, it’s that the shortage of homes on the market will only get tighter. Several large emerging demographics and returning buyers are going to speed an already fast-selling market. The trending idea may be to buy a home in today’s market and save money.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional for a pre-approval and get started looking for the house of your dreams!

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 23rd, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 7-23-18Last week’s scheduled economic releases included readings from the National Association of Home Builders and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released

NAHB Housing Market Index Unchanged in July

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index held steady in July despite concerns connected with tariffs on building materials. Analysts said that high demand for homes continued to fuel builder confidence in housing market conditions, but some analysts said that housing market conditions may be at or near peak.

Builder confidence in current market conditions was unchanged with a reading of 74; confidence in housing market conditions within the next six months rose two points to 75. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single- family developments also rose two points to 52. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than not.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts, Building Permits Fall

June housing starts fell according to the Commerce Department with 1.173 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Housing starts were 12.30 percent lower than downwardly-revised readings for May. Building permits issued also fell in June. 1.273 million permits were issued on a year-over-year basis as compared to May’s reading of 1.301 million permits issued year-over-year. Builders faced difficulty in producing homes at attractive pricing due to increased costs of building materials.

Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family developments rose two points to an index reading of 52 in June. Summer months typically see more home buyer traffic due to school vacations providing a transitional period for families seeking new homes.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported mixed and minimal movement in mortgage rates last week. Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were one basis point lower at 4.52 percent; rates for a15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.00 percent which was two basis points lower. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 3.87 percent.  Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 207,000 claims filed, which was lower than the expected reading of 224,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 215,000 new claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on sales of new and pre-owned homes, housing vacancies and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

 

Home Buying: Repair Requests After A Home Inspection

Home Buying Repair Requests After A Home InspectionThe perfect home has been found, the one in the right neighborhood with the right amount of bedrooms and bathrooms. The home inspection is complete, but a few issues have been found. At this point, a home buyer has decisions to make. 

What Repair Requests Can Be Made After a Home Inspection?

Structural defects found during a home inspection are the responsibility of the seller and must be fixed. In addition, Realtor.com states that the following must also be repaired by the seller:

  • Water penetration such as mold or wet basement/crawlspace
  • Any code and safety violations like unstable decking or missing handrails

Cosmetic issues like bold paint choices or peeling paint, nail holes, and other normal wear-and-tear are the responsibility of the buyer, not seller.

Additional Repairs To Request 

Home buyers do have the option of requesting repairs they believe are the seller’s responsibility. These often go beyond obvious structural issues like a sinking foundation or mold in the basement.

Additional repairs that home buyers may request include but are not limited to:

  • Replacing pipes with leaks
  • Replacing galvanized pipes due to lead contaminant, low water pressure, and leaks
  • Upgrading electrical wiring in a home built before 1960
  • Fixing cracked window(s)
  • Installing new HVAC and/or water heater

Sellers may be willing to replace old sewer lines known as “tar paper” pipes. These “tar paper” pipes are called Orangeburg sewer pipes and often found in older homes. On average, this older type of sewer pipe has a 50-year life span. However, as it ages, it can begin to disintegrate with tree roots penetrating the material. A home buyer can hire a plumbing professional who specializes in sewer pipes to inspect the system as part of the overall home inspection.

There may be additional issues that the seller is not required to fix, but that leave the buyer unhappy. When this happens, it can be possible for the buyer to request a repair credit be added to the final contract. Typically, this works best when the repair or issue has a potential cost of more than $500. 

Qualified Home Inspection

Repair requests made by the home buyer, whether major or minor, usually are more credible when done in conjunction with a qualified home inspection. Not every state requires home inspectors to have specific certifications or even licensing, so it’s essential to work with real estate agent to select a qualified professional. A qualified and independent home inspector is the buyer’s responsibility. This inspector should have established credentials and belong to trade association, versus a friend or family member that “knows houses”. 

Home buying can be an overwhelming experience, but knowing which repairs to request the seller to fix after the home inspection, is one less item to worry about. Timely and open communication with your trusted mortgage professional throughout the process can help to ensure a smooth and successful home buying experience.

Surprising Things That Can Derail A Closing

Surprising Things That Can Derail A ClosingOnce you and the seller have negotiated an offer and you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage, you might think that you are in the clear as far as your closing goes. However, that is not always the case. Many surprising things can put a halt to closing. Some may ultimately stop the closing altogether while others could simply cause a delay.

Here are a few unexpected things that can derail a real estate closing:

A Job Promotion 

While you might know that changing employers is one way to interfere with the closing, another deal-breaker can be switching positions with your current employer. If you are a salaried employee and switch to a non-salary commission job, for instance, you could be looking at a problem when it comes to closing on a house.

Whenever you have any change in employment, even if it is with the same employer, most lenders will require a two-year history. A new job title could be a problem at closing — even if the new position pays more money. In some cases, the lender might not be able to include the income from your new job. If so, you could quickly end up not being qualified for the loan.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid any change in employment until after closing even if it is with the same company. Talk with your mortgage finance professional regarding your personal circumstances before making any employment changes.

Last-Minute Requests for Documents

It is easy to assume that lenders will already have all the documents that they need by closing, but that is not necessarily the case. Lenders can become overwhelmed with work, especially during a hot real estate market. Lenders will sometimes realize that they need more information last-minute.

They might ask for a canceled check, copies of your rental agreement, current pay stubs or other items. If you don’t have the documentation handy, it could cause your closing to be delayed or even completely canceled if you can’t produce the requested information.

To avoid this situation, make sure that you consistently communicate with your lender throughout the loan process. 

A Delayed Transfer 

You will most likely need cash at closing. If you are relying on your bank to transfer funds right before closing, then you might be shocked if the transfer falls through at the last minute. Bugs in the bank’s system or other issues could affect the transmission.

Therefore, make sure you time your transfer to reach you or your closing agent a couple of days before closing. 

Closing on a mortgage is something that you don’t want to derail. Avoiding the above mistakes will help ensure a hassle-free closing transaction. 

From pre-approval to closing, remember that you can count on your trusted mortgage professional to remain committed to your success throughout the entire home buying process. 

Backyard Farming: Fad Or The New Future

Backyard Farming: Fad Or The New Future

While a kitchen herb garden or pot-grown tomatoes may be commonplace in both suburban backyards and on urban condo patios, an increasingly large number of homeowners look to backyard farming as a way to relieve some of the stresses of modern life. Other benefits include cutting grocery bills, living a more sustainable life, and teaching children about food.

The New Food Landscape 

Do new trends signal a return to simpler times, or are they a pushback against higher food prices and loss of control over the food supply? Is it a lasting change that will spread across the country or a trendy, elitist phenomenon?

The answers may not be simple, but a huge increase in the popularity of farmers’ markets and community gardens leads some analysts to predict that a major change in attitude as well as lifestyle is taking place in American neighborhoods.

There is evidence that family health and nutrition improve when access to gardens and fresh food is made easier. It is as true in affluent neighborhoods as it is in disadvantaged communities.

In cities as diverse as Seattle, Boston and Fort Worth, Texas, community groups and activist neighborhoods have developed community gardens. Some of the more innovative offer food free for the taking to anyone in need. Seattle boasts more than one edible park, meant to help eliminate the city’s food deserts. Numerous community gardens throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex encourage pick-your-own plots that are open to all.

Growing Food for Personal Consumption

For homeowners who want to grow their own fresh produce and salad greens, the way forward is not always as easy. Zoning stipulations and HOA regulations sometimes specify that food plants are unauthorized landscaping elements. The times, however, have begun to change in many communities. 

New subdivisions in some cities offer community gardens for homeowners that are every bit as popular as community pools and clubhouses. They exist in million-dollar neighborhoods as well as more modest surroundings. Other cities allow some types of food gardens while discouraging plants like corn. Still others allow edible plants only behind a backyard fence.

The Future Of A Backyard Farm

The movement goes beyond growing edible plants, however. Keeping chickens and even goats is allowed by some municipalities, and urban farmers experience success with soil-free growing methods, including aquaponics, hydroponics and aeroponics.

While these alternative methods are usually found under roof, some aquaponics systems — which incorporate growing fish and plants together in a closed loop system — thrive in simple outdoor hoop-house structures. The growth of food-based “cottage businesses” is also worth watching. 

In short, as huge farms disappear from the scene, smaller home-based farms may take their place, not only in the Midwest, but in cities large and small from coast to coast.

If you are in the market for a new home with a garden-friendly yard, contact your trusted mortgage professional to get pre-approved today!

 

5 Critical Tips For Buying In A Seller’s Market

5 Critical Tips For Buying In A Seller's MarketThis summer, quality homes are being scooped up almost as fast as they’re being listed – and for top price. Yes, it’s a seller’s market out there, which is great news if you’re planning to list your home. For those looking for a home, the competitiveness can be frustrating and aggravating.

Frustrating as it may be, there’s plenty of reason for buyers to stick it out until their offer is accepted. For starters, interest rates are still fairly low. And secondly, there are great homes out there if you act fast enough.

How can you successfully get that dream home in a seller’s market? Here are some top tips:

Stay Dedicated

Make sure that you and your Realtor are on the same page with your must-haves for your new home. Then, make sure you check for new listings daily. If any look good, make an appointment to see it that day. Don’t wait, or it will likely be gone. It can be tempting to make an offer based on listing photos alone, but be very wary of doing this. Go out and see it – and do it quickly.

Start With Your Best Offer

With some good properties gone in a matter of hours, this is no time to nickle and dime a seller. What’s more is that the seller will be unlikely to even entertain the offer and counter it. The best practice in competitive times is to start with your very best offer on the property and give the seller something to seriously consider. Chances are your offer isn’t the only one they’ll be receiving. You want it to make an impression.

Include A Personal Note

Even though they’re essentially getting rid of their property, sellers often like to work with a buyer who is going to appreciate and care for the home they’re purchasing. That’s where a personal note included with your offer to the seller can come in handy. In your note, talk about the things you love about the home and how you know it will be the perfect fit for you and your family. You can even up the ante and include a family photo. 

Make A Significant Earnest Money Deposit

Generally speaking, the larger your earnest money deposit, the more serious of a buyer you are. In a seller’s market, you will want to look for any competitive advantage over the others that are likely to make an offer on a particular property. A big deposit can serve as that advantage.

Stay Patient

Like we said in the opening, a seller’s market can be frustrating for buyers – so try to stay patient. The right home is out there for you, and good things come to those who wait. 

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your pre-approval today.