Last week’s economic reports included several readings related to housing The Wells Fargo/National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, the Commerce Department’s releases on Housing Starts and Building Permits, and the National Association of Realtors® report on Existing Home Sales supplied mixed news on recent developments in housing. Freddie Mac and the Labor Department released their usual reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims. The details:
NAHB: Builder Confidence Slips, But Remains Positive
The Wells Fargo/ National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its Housing Market Index report for April. Although April’s reading was two points lower at 54, any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than not. April’s reading on builder confidence was the 11th consecutive index reading over 50.
According to NAHB, builder confidence in present housing market conditions dropped by two points to a reading of 59, while builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 64. Builder expectations for buyer foot traffic dropped by one point to 39. The lower readings for buyer traffic could be related to more home shoppers starting their home search online.
Building Permits, Housing Starts Show Improvement
The Commerce Department reported that building permits for April were higher at 1.14 million as compared to the March reading of 944,000 permits issued in March. Analysts expected a reading of 1.03 million permits issued, This was the highest reading for building permits since mid-2008.
Housing starts rose by a noteworthy 20 percent to a reading of 1.14 million in April, but analysts cautioned that this reading was inconsistent with the more moderate pace of improvement in overall housing markets. The Commerce Department reported that starts of single family homes rose by 17.60 percent to a reading of 666,000 starts. This was the highest rate of single-family starts since early 2008, but analysts noted that April’s high reading for housing starts could reflect delayed starts that were impacted by winter weather.
Existing Home Sales Fall Due to Rising Home Prices
The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes dropped as home prices increased. A tight supply of available homes and higher home prices slowed the sales pace of existing home sales. April sales of existing homes fell from the March level of 5.21 million sales to 5.04 million sales; analysts had forecasted a higher sales volume of 5.24 million existing homes sold.
Rising home prices pose challenges to first-time and moderate income home buyers, and strict mortgage standards can make it tough for those with less than stellar credit scores to qualify for mortgages. Rising home prices are good news for homeowners as bidding wars have been reported in high-demand areas.
Mortgage Rates Lower, Jobless Claims Up
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates were slightly lower. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.84 percent. Discount points rose from 0.60 to 0.70 percent. Mortgage rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.05 percent with average discount points of 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.88 percent; discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent.
Weekly jobless claims rose to 274,000 new claims filed. This reading exceeded expectations of 269,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 264,000 new claims. Analysts said that although this was a four-week high for new unemployment claims, layoff s remain low. Year-over-year, new jobless claims were 16 percent lower. New jobless claims remain close to a 15-year low and layoffs hit their lowest level on record. This news could build prospective home buyer confidence as job security plays a major rrole in most decisions to buy a home.
This week’s housing related reports include the S&P Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indexes and the FHFA Home Price Index. New and Pending Home Sales reports and the usual mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims reports are also scheduled.
In many areas, the spring months mean warmer temperatures, more sunshine and plenty of beneficial rainfall that your yard may thrive with. These are prime growing conditions for your lawn, but they can also make lawn maintenance a challenge. By following these helpful tips, you can take better care of your yard during the rainy spring season.
Re-Seed or Re-Sod Carefully
The spring months are one of the best times of the year to re-seed or re-sod your lawn. If you have bare spots in your yard, these spots can turn into giant mud puddles during a heavy rainstorm that can be a true eyesore. New grass seed and fresh sod both require ample water to grow, so you can take advantage of the rain to grow new grass in your bare areas.
Mow When Possible
The sunshine, warm temperatures and ample rain can all make your grass grow quickly, and it can also make your weeds grow even faster. Mowing your lawn frequently will help you to keep the weeds from spreading seeds throughout the yard and creating an even greater problem. It can be difficult to find a time when the grass is dry enough to mow at certain times, so you may need to make mowing a priority during dry spells. This will also help you to keep your yard looking neat and tidy during the peak growing season.
Fertilize As Needed
Fertilizing the yard can also be beneficial during the warm weather season. Fertilization now can give you lush, green grass for many months to come. It can also be beneficial for you by helping to get rid of weeds that may be cropping up. Fertilizer needs water, so fertilizing before a light rain storm is a smart idea.
Avoid Walking On It
Grass can easily become damaged when you walk across it after a rain storm. It can tear the blades from the roots and create a trampled upon look that is not desirable. You can minimize damage to your yard by not walking on it until the ground has dried out again.
Taking care of your lawn may be a top priority year-round, but your focus may be drawn to it after the chilly winter months transition into warmer, wetter spring months. By following these tips, you can take better care of your yard throughout the spring and beyond.
When many people think about investing in property, they think about purchasing income-producing real estate such as a residential property or an office building with tenants. There are indeed many benefits associated with investing in income-producing property. For example, these properties may produce rent that can offset your ownership expenses. However, buying raw land can also be an excellent long-term investment strategy.
By learning more about the benefits of investing in raw land, you may be ready to start searching for real estate to invest in soon.
Minimal Ownership Expenses
Raw land will not have as many ownership expenses as land. This property may not produce rental income for you, but you also will not have to maintain or repair a building or pay for property insurance. Property taxes and a mortgage payment may be lower as well. Typically, your main expense will be the mortgage payment, and this may be far less than what a mortgage payment on developed land may be.
You essentially will be able to pay for the property outright to have no expenses or to leverage your investment and make affordable mortgage payments to pay for your investment.
Significant Potential Gain
There is a significant potential for long-term financial gain with your purchase of raw land. Consider that you can adjust the zoning or subdivide the property as desired. You can also wait for urban sprawl to reach the area to drive up demand and value for the property. It can be difficult to predict when the property value will increase. However, when you select a property in an area that seems to be growing, you may expect there to be some demand for that property in the coming years. Many who have invested in raw land may realize a significant gain when they make plans to hold onto the property for several years or longer before selling it.
Before you make any financial investment, it is important that you consider the amount of time that you wish to hold the investment before seeing a return on it. With raw land, you generally need to anticipate hanging onto the asset for several years or even decades before seeing a financial gain.
Keep in mind that land is a limited resource, and there is increasing demand for it as populations rise in many areas. With this in mind, you can generally expect most property values to eventually rise over time.
While some home buyers only want to live in a brand new home and will custom build a home to their specifications, others are drawn to the historic character and charm of a classic home. Older homes may have incredible architectural detail and special features that you simply do not want to change. However, there are some essential features that should be upgraded as soon as possible after you take ownership of your classic home.
The Electrical Panel
Many older homes were built at a time when electricity use was at a minimum, but the reliance on electricity has increased over the years. Older homes may commonly have an electrical panel with 50 amps or less, but your current needs may require you to have a panel with at least 200 amps. It may be good to have an electrician inspect the electrical panel as well as the wiring in the home to determine if an upgrade is needed in your new home.
Re-Plumbing the Pipes
A quick plumbing inspection will tell you if the home has copper, steel or other materials used with piping. The best material is copper because it is resistant to leaking, corrosion and rusting. Steel pipes generally should be replaced with copper as soon as possible. Other materials, such as cast iron, may be acceptable to keep in place. However, sections may need to be replaced if the pipes are more than 50 years old.
Firestops in the Structure
The good news about the structure of older homes is that older homes generally are better built than newer homes. However, most lack the critical feature of a firestop. A firestop essentially can minimize how fire travels through a home. Adding firestops to an older home can improve safety for the home’s occupants in the event of a fire and can minimize fire damage.
It is understandable that you may want to retain the historic character and charm of your older home. These may have been the features that you fell in love with when you bought it. However, you also want to ensure that the home has modern features that will make it comfortable and safe for you and your family to live in. These are all important improvements that you will want to make now that ultimately could improve your experience throughout the entire time you live in your home.
All real estate transactions come with at least some negotiations, and some transactions are heavily negotiated from start to finish. As a home buyer, you understandably want to negotiate the best overall deal possible while successfully reaching your goal of closing on the home you have fallen in love with. To be truly successful with this process, it is important that you understand how to negotiate with the seller and the seller’s real estate agent.
Understand The Seller’s Position
In order to be successful with negotiations, you will need to understand the motivations and desires of the other party. A seller may have an emotional attachment to his or her home, but he or she also may have a desire or need to move. Some may have a firm bottom line for a price that they can accept or concessions that they are able to pay for out of pocket. While some may be unreasonable, most are willing to compromise and negotiate provided that your offer is feasible for their financial situation.
Define Your True Requirements
Just as a seller will have a hard and fast bottom line, you also may have specific requirements that you need to meet. This may be a firm closing date, the need to have some of your closing costs paid or a firm sales price that you do not want to exceed. While negotiations inevitably may have you asking for slightly more than what you truly need, it is important to define for yourself what your true requirements are and to remain focused on these when negotiating.
Be Willing To Compromise
When offers and counter-offers are flying back and forth between a buyer and seller, it is easy to feel stressed and even challenged by the other party. While there are times when a seller’s counter-offer may be unreasonable, most are reasonable and fair within limits. You may decide to submit a counter-offer as well, but some compromise will show the other party that you are willing to work with them.
From negotiating a sales price to asking the seller to make some repairs to the home after the inspection has been completed, there may be different times during the process when you need to negotiate. Consider these tips to help you more successfully negotiate with the seller and seller’s agent. A skilled real estate agent can also be instrumental with representing you during negotiations, and you can seek assistance from an agent today.