Last week’s economic reports included reports on new and existing home sales and FHFA’s monthly home price index for properties associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. The details:
New Home Sales Surge, Existing Home Sales Drop
According to the Department of Commerce, new home sales rose in January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 539,000 which exceeded the expected rate of 455,000 sales and the revised figure of 500,000 sales of new homes in December 2014. This was a 7.80 percent increase over December’s figure and was the first time since 2008 that new home sales met or exceeded the benchmark of 500,000 sales for two consecutive months.
Sales of new homes were close to 25 percent higher than for January 2015, and analysts said that more jobs and relatively low mortgage rates could boost the traditionally busy spring and summer home buying season.
The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose by 1.20 percent in February to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million sales against expectations of 4.94 million sales of previously owned homes. Extreme winter weather was cited as a cause for the decline in sales.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that the average price for pre-owned homes rose to $202,600, which represents a 7.50 percent increase year-over-year. Wages are rising at an average of 2.00 percent annually and rents are rising at an average of 3.50 percent annually. This is creating affordability issues for renters and would-be homebuyers as their incomes are not keeping pace with escalating housing and rental prices. The share of first-time home buyers rose by 1.00 percent in February, but analysts said that historically the market share for first-time buyers averages about 40.00 percent.
FHFA: Home Price Index Falls by 0.30 Percent
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices for sales of homes associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages fell by 0.30 percent year-over-year in January to an increase of 5.10 percent year-over-year as compared to January 2014’year-over-year increase of 5.40 percent.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall
Mortgage rates fell last week. Freddie Mac reported average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell by none basis points with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 3.69 percent and the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaging 2.97 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by five basis points to an average of 2.92 percent. Discount points also fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent.
Weekly jobless claims fell to 282,000 new claims against an expected reading of 290,000 new claims and the previous week’s reading of 291,000 new jobless claims. This reading supports reports of expanding labor markets that may give would-be home buyers the confidence to buy homes.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, Non-Farm Payrolls and the National Unemployment Rate along with regularly scheduled releases on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.
If you are a homeowner, you should always be thinking about ways that you can boost the resale value of your home. Whether you are planning on putting the home on the market, or simply want to be prepared for the future, there are upgrades that can make your property more desirable. Give your home the attention it deserves and you’ll be prepared for whatever may come down the line.
Go Solar With A Home Solar Installation
There’s no doubt that solar power is big in today’s housing market. It’s an excellent resource that will save you money on your utility bills. You could even find yourself in a situation where the power company is actually buying energy from you. It’s also a move that is environmentally-friendly. If you feel a responsibility to the world around you, you will have the peace of mind that comes with reducing your carbon footprint. As energy becomes scarce, solar power is something you can count on. Future buyers will benefit as well.
Install An HVAC System That Does It All
When it comes to your heating and cooling, install a system that will meet all of your needs. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year at the touch of a button. Choose an energy saver model that uses the most feasible type of energy source in order to trim costs. When you have a modern system with automation capability, you should see a difference in your utility bills. You’ll also have a huge selling feature to show off when prospective buyers come knocking at your door.
Make the Most of Your Existing Space
Take the space that you have and make sure that you utilize it to its full potential. Whether you create an attic bedroom or a finished basement, making better use of your space will increase your home’s appeal. When it’s time to sell, buyers want to see possibilities and appreciate it more when the work has already been done for them. Give them options and let them make the space their own.
Turn to the Experts for Advice
Call your real estate professional today to further assist you with questions and solutions when considering the resale value of your home. You’ll be able to tap into a vast store of knowledge about what works and what doesn’t before investing in any upgrades.
Your home may be one of your largest assets, and you certainly want to take steps to get the highest price possible for it when you list it on the market to sell. In addition, you may have plans to purchase a new home or to take other similar steps when list your home, so you may need to your house to sell quickly. Staging your home is a great way to present it in the best possible light for potential buyers to see. While there are dozens of staging tips and ideas that you may use, there are a few that are rather simple and affordable for most to complete.
Give Each Room a Single Purpose
If your home is like most, there may be several rooms that have multiple uses. For example, you may have a work desk placed in the master bedroom, or a section of the living room may be designated as a kids’ play area. While this may be functional for how your family lives, it can confuse buyers. Buyers need to be able to walk into a room and imagine their own family living in the area. They may not have a need or use for a desk in the master bedroom, and this can confuse the use of the space. In addition, it also can make a room look smaller and more cramped than it is.
De-Clutter Your Rooms
In addition to defining a single use for each room in your home, you should also de-clutter your rooms. Depending how long you have lived in your home and how significant your periodic spring cleaning sessions have been, this can be a major undertaking. As a good rule of thumb, items that have not been used in more than six months may need to be donated or tossed away. The exception to this rule is seasonal items, like winter coats, pool toys or holiday décor. Keep in mind that buyers will open cabinets, drawers and closets, so your cleaning session should be thorough and not superficial.
Pack Away Personal Belongings
A final step to take is to pack away personal belongings. Everything from religious symbols like crosses to a family photo over the mantel should be packed in boxes. Your goal is to make your home look like any family could live there rather than to make it look like your home. Only decorative items that have a broad or universal appeal should remain.
When a home is properly staged, it may feel as though your home is not your own and even as though you are camping out in your own home. Keep in mind that staging can help you to sell your home as quickly as possible and to get the highest bid possible. Therefore, your effort is well worthwhile.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.30 percent in January, and were 5.10 percent higher as compared to home prices in January 2014.
FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and its home price report is based on sales of homes financed by mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Month- to- Month FHFA Home Prices Mixed
Month to month home price data was mixed for January. Home prices ranged from -0.40 percent in the Middle and South Atlantic census divisions to +2.30 percent in the East South Central census division.
Month-to month readings are considered more volatile than year-over-year home price readings. Year-over-year readings for all nine U.S. census divisions were positive and ranged from a 1.70 percent increase in the Middle Atlantic division to an increase of 8.20 percent in the Pacific division. This suggests that overall, home prices are gaining, but slowly.
Commerce Department: New Home Sales Hit 7-Year Peak
In an unrelated report, the Commerce Department reported that February sales of new homes reached a seven-year peak with 539,000 sales of new homes expected on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This was significantly higher than the expected reading of 455,000 new home sales and was also higher than the revised reading of 500,000 new home sales in January.
Analysts said that this positive reading may indicate a robust sales for the peak spring and summer home buying season. The reading for new home sales in February was nearly 25 percent higher than for February 2014.
In spite of this good news, analysts cautioned that the new home sales numbers are often volatile, and future revisions could result in lower sales figures for new homes.
With jobs increasing and mortgage rates remaining relatively low, more homebuyers may enter the market and boost home sales. Tight mortgage lending standards remain an obstacle for would-be buyers with less than stellar credit scores.
A fire can rage through your home at a moment’s notice, and it can cause a significant amount of damage in a very short period of time. Damage from the flames, intense heat, smoke and soot can cause tens of thousands of dollars or more in some cases, and a severe fire event can result in a total loss for the homeowner. More than that, a fire can create a serious health and safety risk for you and your loved ones inside the home. If you are concerned about how safe your home is from a fire, consider a few important points.
Do You Have Fire Extinguishers On All Floors?
When a small fire breaks out, you may only have a few seconds to respond. You simply do not have time to rush around the house in search of a fire extinguisher. Instead, you should know immediately where it is at and how to use it. More than that, you should have one available on all floors of your home. While you may want to reach for a fire extinguisher to put out a small flame, you should still yell for others in the home to vacate while you use the fire extinguisher.
Do You Have Smoke Alarms in Ideal Locations?
Fires can break out during all hours of the day and night. When you are awake, you may easily be able to smell smoke from a nearby room. However, when you are asleep or when the smoke is in a removed area of the home, it can be more difficult to observe the signs of a fire until it is too late. Placing a loud smoke alarm in all bedrooms in your home is a wise idea. You will also need one in living areas of the home. If your home is larger in size, you may consider investing in additional smoke alarms.
When Was the Last Time You Replaced the Batteries in Your Smoke Detectors?
It is not enough to simply have the smoke detectors mounted to your walls or ceiling. Instead, you need to make sure that they are loud and that they work well. If you have a hearing impaired person in the home, you should invest in detectors with a visible strobe light to alert them to a danger. Batteries generally should be replaced every few months, and you may consider replacing the batteries each time you replace the filters for your HVAC system. Keep in mind that it is better to replace the batteries before they lose power than to be without the function of an alarm in your home when you need it.
Even a small fire can be a dangerous and costly event. By focusing on these factors in your home, you can most easily prepare for a fire, and you will be able to take immediate action in the event a fire develops in your home.