Last week’s scheduled economic reports included the Case-Shiller 20 and 20-City Index reports, pending home sales data released by the National Association of Realtors® and the scheduled post-meeting statement of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee.
Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growing at Normal Pace
The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price index for May reported that year-over-year home prices grew by 4.40 percent year-over-year. S & P Index Committee Chair David M Blitzer said that home prices are increasing gradually by four to five percent a year as compared to double-digit percentages seen in 2013. Mr. Blitzer said that home price growth is expected to slow in the next couple of years as home prices have been growing at approximately twice the rate of wage growth and inflation, a situation that is not seen as sustainable.
Denver, Colorado led the cities included in the 20-City Index with a 10 percent year-over-year growth rate for home prices. San Francisco, California followed closely with a year-over-year gain of 9.70 percent and Dallas Texas posted a year-over-year gain of 8.40 percent.
Fastest month-to-month home price growth in May was tied by Boston, Massachusetts, Cleveland, Ohio and Las Vegas, Nevada with each posting a monthly gain of 1.50 percent. May home prices remain about 13 percent below a 2006 housing bubble peak.
Pending Home Sales Down From Nine-Year Peak
According to the National Association of Realtors®, pending home sales dropped by 1.80 percent in June as compared to May’s reading. The index reading for June home sales was 110.3 as compared to May’s index reading of 112.3. This indicates that upcoming closings could slow; June’s reading represented the first decrease in pending home sales in six months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, cited would-be buyers’ decisions about whether to hold out for more homes available or to buy sooner than later will affect future readings for pending home sales.
Fed Not Ready to Raise Rates, Mortgage Rates Fall
The Fed’s FOMC statement at the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday clearly indicated that Fed policymakers remain concerned about economic conditions and are not prepared to raise the federal funds rate yet. The FOMC statement did not provide any prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.25 percent, but the Fed continues to watch employment figures and the inflation rate.
Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week, likely on news of the Fed’s decision not to raise rates. Average mortgage rates fell across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropping by six basis points to 3.98 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.17 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.95 percent. Average discount points remained the same for fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
This week’s economic calendar includes reports on consumer spending, core inflation and consumer spending. July readings on Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.
Selling a childhood home can be emotionally stressful and even traumatizing. This is more than a house; it is a home where years and even decades of memories have been made and where lives have been lived. While selling a childhood home may be difficult to do, there are a few steps that can be taken to reduce the emotional turmoil that may be felt during this process.
Create A Final Memory
When a family has lived in a home for many years, it may feel almost as though the home has become a part of the family in a way. One way to deal with the emotional stress of saying goodbye to the home is to create a final memory with family in the home. This may be to host a family dinner that enables everyone to walk through the home one final time and to reminisce together about the past.
Take Pictures Of The Space
Whether a final family get-together is planned for the home or not, taking pictures of the home before vacating it can be beneficial. These pictures can help to preserve the memories of the space itself, and close-up pictures of special features of the home that hold significance can be taken. Creating an album of these pictures may be ideal in some cases.
Preserve Memories Of The Home
With a childhood home, there is a good chance that there are hundreds of pictures that have been taken inside the home and in the yard, and there may also be videos of home movies. While some will want to take new pictures of the home before leaving, another idea is to preserve the images of the home that have been taken over the years. This can celebrate the historical significance that the home played with the family over time.
Bring Traditions Into A New Home
While it is important to make final memories and to preserve memories, it is also important to move on. Letting go of one home means that it is time to start new traditions in a new home, and families can begin doing this with a special get-together. After all, while a home is important for a family, it is the family that truly makes the property a home.
It doesn’t matter if a family lived in the home for a few years or for several decades, saying goodbye to a childhood home is rarely easy to do. Contact a real estate professional to begin the selling process.
The stage was set in high suspense for FOMC’s post-meeting announcement on Wednesday. As fall approaches, analysts and the media are looking for any sign of when and how much the Fed will raise its target federal funds rate. According to CNBC, some analysts were projecting two interest rate hikes before year end, but the truth of the matter remains unknown until the Federal Open Market Committee announces its intentions.
Meanwhile, reports of what Fed rate hikes will mean for consumers were released prior to the FOMC statement. Real estate analyst Mark Hanson said that a rate hike would “crush” housing markets, which continue to improve slowly in spite of the current 0.00 to 0.25 percent federal funds rate.
Last Friday’s report on June sales of new homes shows unpredictable progress in housing. Analysts estimated that new home sales would reach 550,000 units based on May’s reading of 517,000 new homes sold. June’s reading came in at 482,000 units sold.
FOMC Statement: Current Federal Funds Rate “Remains Appropriate”
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserved announced as part of its post-meeting statement that it would not immediately increase the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement cited concerns over the inflation rate, which remains below the Fed’s goal of 2.00 percent. According to the statement, the FOMC will not move to raise the federal funds rate until the committee is “reasonably confident” that inflation will achieve the committee’s goal of 2.00 percent over the medium term.
No prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate were given. The FOMC statement repeated language included in previous statements indicating that committee members anticipate that economic events could further postpone increases in the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement asserted that committee members continue to monitor domestic and global financial and economic developments as part of the decision-making process for raising the target federal funds rate.
FOMC members agreed that policy accommodation may be required “for some time” after the committee’s dual mandate of maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation have been achieved. This suggests that FOMC members are not in a hurry to boost rates when economic uncertainty remains.
In terms of housing markets, the Fed’s decision not to raise rates likely caused a sigh of relief as rate increase would have caused consumer interest rates including mortgage rates to rise.
If you are looking to buy a home, you may want to consider shopping for a loan first. Having your financing squared away ahead of time can make it easier to be taken seriously by buyers and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application.
What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?
A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly debt payments compared to the amount of gross income that a person earns each month. Your gross monthly income is typically the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. If a person’s monthly gross income is $2,000 a month and they have a monthly debt payments of $1000 each month, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. The lower the DTI the better. 43 percent is in most cases the highest DTI that potential borrowers can have and still get approved for a mortgage.
What Debt Do Lenders Look At?
The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower’s DTI. For example, utilities, cable, phone and health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI. What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit. In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.
What Is Considered Income?
Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Wage income is considered as part of a borrower’s monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage, however, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years. In addition, those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security should make sure and include those figures in their monthly income as well when applying for a loan.
How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?
Many lenders prefer to only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or lower. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.
A borrower’s DTI ratio can be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by either increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.
In an ideal situation, a seller will have ample time to prepare a home to list for sale. This may include time to make necessary repairs, to thoroughly clean the home from top to bottom and to properly stage it. However, in those cases when time is not available to complete all of these steps, there are a few necessary steps that should be followed to get the home in show-ready condition in a very short period of time.
De-Clutter As Much As Possible
De-cluttering the home is an important step in staging, and this is because it can make the home look cleaner and can show off the square footage in the home. When time for staging is limited, it may be necessary to simply hide items away in closets, cabinets and drawers. Ideally, however, these items will be boxed up, and this is because some home buyers will open closet doors and cabinets to view these areas, and it is not ideal to have them appear to be cluttered and chaotic.
Remove All Personal Effects From The Property
A key step in staging a home relates to removing all of the family’s personal items and making the home seem neutral, and the purpose for this is so that a buyer can see himself or herself living in the home. Ideally, all personal effects, including your family pictures, will be removed from the property. When it is not possible to remove everything from the property, these personal items should be boxed up at the minimum or stored in an out-of-sight location in the home.
Focus On The Kitchen And Bathrooms
When time is truly limited, it may not be possible to thoroughly clean the home as well as de-clutter and de-personalize the home. Therefore, in a crunch, it is best to focus on cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms thoroughly and giving the other areas of the home a once-over cleaning. If more time is available, focusing on cleaning baseboards, ceiling fans and other features that may not be cleaned on a regular basis but that are visible to buyers can be helpful.
Many sellers will have several weeks to stage a home before listing it, but this is not always the case. In a situation with limited time to stage the home, the seller often must make critical decisions about what absolutely must be done and what is less important, and this can vary from homeowner to homeowner. Those who have questions about staging their home can reach out to their trusted real estate professional for assistance.