Your home is your castle, your own little piece of the American dream. But lately, your little corner of the world has been feeling cramped and you find yourself eyeing those larger homes. Is it time to pull up stakes and move on from your starter home?
If you’ve added to your family in recent years, you may have more bodies than bedrooms. A two-bedroom home may have been a great idea when it was just you and your spouse, but with two kids, you’re starting to have turf wars over the play area.
Overflowing With Stuff
From an overflowing toy chest to closets packed so tightly with shoes and coats you risk an avalanche every time you open the door, your home just doesn’t have the space to keep all your things. You may have even had to move some things off-site, spending money to rent storage space to keep that antique dresser your grandmother left you or the set of state spoons you carefully collected during your college years.
No Rest For The Weary
You’d love to spend an afternoon soaking in the tub, but before the warmth of the water can take you away, there’s a banging on the door of the only bathroom in the house and a chorus of “hurry up” invading your quiet time. And the man cave you dreamed of? Those visions of a big screen television were shattered by the realization you needed somewhere for the kids to sleep.
No Room For Extras
When you first moved in, the two-car garage doubled as your woodworking shop. Now, the equipment has been sent to storage to make room for the family’s second car. You’d love to take up organic gardening, but your tiny yard barely has room for a grill and a lawn chair. You’d love to host your friends visiting from out of state, but there is hardly room for their luggage, much less them.
Changes In Career
You may have opted for a starter home when you first entered the market because you had a smaller income. Now, thanks to changes in careers or promotions at work, you can afford a home with greater square footage and room for your growing family that will provide the space you need for many years of happy memories.
Home prices across the country are starting to rise. Contact your local real estate agent today and take advantage of the opportunity to give your family the most space at the best price now.
December home prices rose by 0.10 percent according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The composite report tracks home prices in 20 U.S. cities. December’s results boosted home prices by 4.50 percent year-over-year, which is approximately double the inflation rate for 2014. Analysts note that the overall reading was less significant than individual readings for the 20 cities included in the report.
Regional Home Prices Suggest Disparity in Housing Recovery
The top three month-to-month home price increases for cities surveyed were led by Miami, Florida with an increase of 0.70 percent, Home prices rose by 0.50 percent in Denver, Colorado, and by 0.50 percent in San Francisco, California.
Chicago, Illinois posted a month-to-month loss of -0.90 percent; Cleveland, Ohio followed with a loss of -0.50 percent, and Las Vegas, Nevada and Minneapolis, Minnesota were tied with monthly losses of -0.30 percent for home prices.
Winter weather conditions and the holidays can dampen demand for homes; it’s worthwhile to note that three of the cities posting the largest month-to-month losses are located in cold winter climates.
Month-to-month readings for home prices are typically more volatile; the corresponding year-over-year readings provide a more accurate reading of real estate trends in specific cities. Nine cities posted month-to-month gains for home prices, while six cities posted lower home prices from November to December.
San Francisco Leads Year-over-Year Home Price Growth
San Francisco, California led year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 9.30 percent. Home prices grew by 8.40 percent in Miami, Florida. Denver, Colorado home prices grew by 8.10 percent year-over-year in December.
The three cities showing the least amount of home price growth year-over-year were Chicago, Illinois with a reading of 1.30 percent, Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. were tied with year-over-year readings of 1.30 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.
Home prices are growing more slowly in the North and Midwest regions, while home prices continue to grow fastest in the Southeast and Western regions.
Home prices in the cities surveyed have increased by 29 percent since the March 2012 low, but remain 16 percent below their July 2006 peak. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index measures home prices using a three-month rolling average, while other home price reports base their readings on monthly sales. Case-Shiller’s year-over-year reading of 4.50 percent for December of 2015 closely approached CoreLogic’s reading of 5.00 percent home price growth year-over-year.
While increasing home prices are good news for homeowners, higher home prices represent an obstacle for moderate income and first time home buyers, who are also impacted by strict mortgage credit standards. As the peak home buying season approaches, increased demand for homes could drive home prices higher.
Last week’s housing related reports included the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index for February, The Commerce Department’s report on Housing Starts for January and Freddie Mac’s weekly report on average mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of January’s FOMC meeting, which indicated that FOMC members are in no hurry to raise the target federal funds rate. The details:
Home Builder Confidence, Housing Starts Impacted by Winter Weather
The NAHB Housing Market Index for February fell from January’s reading of 57 to 55. Analysts expected a reading of 59. This was the lowest reading since October, but February’s reading remains above the benchmark of 50. Readings exceeding 50 indicate that more home builders are confident about housing market conditions than not.
According to the NAHB, harsh weather contributed to lower builder confidence in February. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that low mortgage rates, increasing affordability and improving job markets are helping home buyers.
The NAHB Housing Market Index is calculated based on three components. Builder confidence dropped by one point to a reading of 61 for current housing market conditions. Not surprisingly, the winter weather caused buyer foot traffic to drop five points to a reading of 39. A gauge of housing market conditions in the next six months was unchanged.
Regional readings showed declines in three of four regions: The Northeast saw a one-point drop to 46; the Midwest and South dropped by two points to readings of 54 and 57. The Western region gained two points for a reading of 68.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported that January’s Housing Starts dropped from 1.09 million in December to 1.07 million in January; the reading for January matched analysts’ expectations.
Weekly jobless claims provided some good news; they dropped from the prior week’s reading of 304,000 new claims to 283,000 new claims. The expected reading was 290,000 new jobless claims.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Points Unchanged
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by seven basis points to 3.76 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by six basis points to 3.05 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.97 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.6 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Next week’s scheduled economic news includes several reports related to housing. New and existing home sales reports will be released along with the Case-Shiller Composite Housing Market reports. FHFA will release its House Price Index Report and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to testify before Congress. Reports on Consumer Sentiment and Consumer Confidence are also scheduled along with weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates.
Many buyers anticipate the day they drive to their new home. Then it happens: the movers pull up. It’s time to move everything in. This can be a daunting task, but following a few steps will break down the work and careful planning will maximize space in the years ahead.
Clear Your Space
Go through each room to make sure the seller removed all belongings. Contact the real estate agent if the seller did not do this. Check the condition of all surfaces to determine how much preparation may be required.
Place Boxes In Correct Rooms
Boxes should be marked by room and either carry a label detailing what’s inside or be matched to a list showing what’s inside. Put each box in the correct room.
Place Boxes In Order Of Need
In each room, place boxes that will not be immediately needed against the far wall. Place boxes needed sooner in front of or on top of those boxes.
Eliminate Excess Items
If this wasn’t done while packing, buyers should stop any unwanted belongings from being taken into the house.
Create A Strategy
Unpacking does not have to be done in one day. Create a strategy for unpacking in three steps: immediate, secondary, and long-term needs.
Unpack what you need in the next couple of days. This will include bedding, toiletries, basic cooking equipment, and a few changes of clothing.
In the first week, unpack secondary items. Each day, unpack these items for one or two rooms. In the bedroom, for example, unpack your clothing and accessories. In the kitchen, unpack the rest of what you use for everyday cooking and eating. Do the same for other rooms.
By the end of the first month, decide what you are going to do with items you don’t use every day. Use extra closets, cupboards, basement or storage rooms, outdoor sheds, and the like. Remember where you put things so you can find them later.
Organize as You Go
Put items away in an organized fashion. Don’t just haphazardly unpack and toss things. It’s better to unpack more slowly and take time to put things away thoughtfully.
Call your real estate agent for moving-in tips and lists to track belongings. Take your time with unpacking and you will create a home where you can find things easily, maintain livable spaces, and enjoy a spacious environment.
Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting held January 27 and 28 were released on Wednesday. According to the minute’s transcript, it appears that Fed policymakers are in no hurry to raise the target federal funds rate. Members said that raising rates too soon could swamp the strengthening economy and expressed concerns that changing the committee’s current “patient” stance on rising rates could cause more harm than good to current economic conditions.
FOMC members discussed the Fed’s use of the word “patient” in its guidance, and said that dropping the word could incorrectly suggest that the Fed is planning to act sooner than later on raising the Fed’s target interest rates, and could result in “undesirably tight” financial conditions. While a majority of members agreed on protecting current economic conditions by raising rates too soon, member viewpoints varied on which conditions would support the first rate hike.
Target Inflation Rate of Two Percent “Most Consistent” with Fed’s Statutory Mandate
According to the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate supplied by Congress, the Fed seeks to provide maximum employment, price stability and moderate long-term interest rates. The Fed established a target inflation rate of 2.00percent as a benchmark for economic health, but inflation has remained consistently below the target rate according to the annualized index reading for personal consumption expenditures.
FOMC members did not set a target rate for annual unemployment; FOMC members cited unpredictable “non-monetary factors that affect the structure and dynamics of the labor market” as reasons why it’s impossible establish an accurate target percentage rate for national unemployment. The minutes caution that these factors are sufficiently unpredictable that they may cause the Fed to revise or reverse its policies concerning national unemployment readings.
Committee members noted that short-term fluctuations in the federal funds rate could be expected. The minutes indicated that in general, day-to-day fluctuations outside of the Fed’s target range were not surprising as historical data indicated that such changes had “few if any implications for overall financial conditions or the aggregate economy.”
FOMC members agreed that the economy had expanded at a solid pace, but noted that inflation had fallen due to rapid decreases in fuel prices.
Fed/FOMC Chair Janet Yellen did not hold a post-meeting press conference at the conclusion of January’s FOMC meeting; she is scheduled to hold a press conference at the conclusion of the next FOMC meeting on March 18, 2015.