Last week brought several indicators of a strengthening economy. New home sales, private and federal employment and mortgage rates rose.
The Department of Commerce released construction spending numbers for October with mixed results. Although public projects fueled an 0.80 percent increase in month-to-month construction spending, residential construction fell by 0.60 percent.
Analysts had expected an increase of 0.50 percent and also noted that the negative effect of the government shutdown was a “blip.” October’s reading for construction spending was the highest since 2004.
CoreLogic released data that home prices rose by 0.20 percent, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 12.50 percent for home prices. Pending home sales were suggested that November sales are expected to hold steady as compared to October, and projected year-over-year sales for November at 12.20 percent.
Slower growth in home prices was attributed to higher mortgage rates and a fear of a housing bubble in the West, where demand for homes far exceeds the number of available homes.
Not wanting to buy at the top of the current housing market, some potential buyers may be waiting for the talk of another housing bubble to subside before buying. Robert Shiller, co-author of the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, noted that home buyers may not be “psychologically ready” for another housing bubble.
New home sales for October were higher than expectations of 419,000 homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. October’s reading of 444,000 new home sales was 21.60 percent higher than September’s reading of 354,000 new homes sold. The national median home price fell by 4.50 percent to $245,800 in October; this was the lowest month-to-month reading since November 2012.
The number of available homes fell to a 4.90 month supply in October. This may cause buyers to put their home searches on hold as they wait out the winter months and hope for supplies of available homes to increase.
U.S. Employment Improving, Mortgage Rates Rise
ADP a private-sector provider of payroll services reported 215,000 new jobs added in November as compared to October’s reading of 184,000 jobs added. Weekly jobless claims supported the ADP reading as new jobless claims fell to 298,000 against expectations of 325,000 new claims and a prior reading of 321,000 new claims.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics brought more good news with its Non-Farm Payrolls report and Unemployment Rate for November. Non-Farm payrolls added 203,000 jobs in November against expectations of 180,000 jobs added and October’s reading of 200,000 jobs added.
The National Unemployment rate dipped to 7.00 percent in November against expectations of a 7.20 percent reading and October’s reading of 7.30 percent. The Federal Reserve has set a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as an indicator of economic recovery.
Last week’s strong economic news boosted mortgage rates; Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by 17 basis points to 4.46 percent with discount points lower at 0.50 percent.
The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also gained 17 basis points at 3.47 percent with discount points at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by 5 basis points to 2.99 percent with discount points at 0.4 percent.
What’s Coming Up
This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales, Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac’s report of average mortgage rates.
As the temperature drops and we don more layers, it can be startling to realize how cold it’s actually gotten.
So before the snow starts piling up at your door, you’ll want to get yourself prepared for winter and the harsh conditions it can bring.
Below are a few cold weather safety tips to keep you and your home secure from Frosty’s frigid touch.
Keep The Cold Out
If you haven’t already winterized your home, then now is a good time to do it. Add extra insulation in your attic and walls, if possible. Caulk around windows and doorframes to keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
Prepare An Emergency Kit
In case your power goes out, you want to be sure you’re prepared to brave the cold weather for a few days. You’ll want a backup heat source, such as a generator or wood-burning fireplace.
You’ll also need at least a three-day supply of water, non-perishable food items, flashlights with extra batteries, battery-powered cell phone chargers and a medical kit that includes prescriptions.
Be Cautious When Warming Your Home
Make sure you’ve replaced the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. While turning on your heater will probably be fine, you should take extra precautions since it probably hasn’t been fired up for months.
Also, be extremely careful with space heaters. Make sure they’re away from anything flammable, and always turn them off before you go to sleep.
Care For Your Pipes
Frozen pipes are costly to fix. Your pipes can freeze and cause water damage when they thaw. And, not being able to access clean water can be major inconvenience.
To prevent frozen water, keep your home at a constant temperature day and night. If the power goes out, turn your faucets on to get a small trickle and open up all the cabinets to circulate warm air around the pipes.
Don’t let a snow or ice storm catch you unprepared! From survival storage to heating your home, the better you equip your house now to handle the cold weather, the less you’ll have to worry about when the power goes out.
Utilize the safety tips above to get your family and your home ready for whatever winter might blow at it. For more around the home tips or how to stay warm in a new home this winter, contact your trusted real estate professional.
Every holiday season when you get out the decorations, there always seems to be a period of organization where you need to untangle lights, sort out the broken ornaments and just get all of the trimmings in order.
Next year, skip the hassle of sifting through everything. The year-to-year holiday storage strategies below will help make next December’s decorating easy.
Hide Paper Up High
Utilize a space that is always vacant — the ceiling of your closet. Attach two strings of wire from the front wall above your closet door to the back wall. Make them parallel to each other and about two feet apart. Then you can slide your wrapping paper tubes across the two wires. No more crinkled or torn paper!
Bag Your Lights
The hassle of untangling holiday lights every year can become a dreaded tradition. A smart solution is to invest in inexpensive gallon-sized sealable bags. Label what each bag’s lights are for, such as the tree, mantel or outdoors.
Wrap individual strands around your arm and them place them inside the appropriate bag. Put all bags in one holiday storage container.
Recycle Wrapping For Your Breakables
After you’ve ripped off the wrapping and gotten to the goods, don’t just throw your pretty paper out. Reuse it! Run it through the shredder to create fun filling for the boxes that hold your ornaments and breakable decorations.
Get Crafty With Labels
Instead of writing straight onto the holiday storage bins, tape or glue festive envelopes to the side. Then you can write a list of everything in that box and put it in the envelope.
For those who like everything clean and organized, this means that if you switch out anything in the box, you don’t have to mark it out on the side — just change the paper inside the envelope.
Display Holiday Cards Creatively
Receiving holiday cards is a great way to keep in touch with distant family and friends. Instead of throwing the cards away each January, use a hole punch to create two holes in the sides of the card.
Then insert jump rings to make little picture memory books that you can display on the coffee table every year. For more around the home tips or if you are looking to buy a home with plenty of storage space, contact your trusted real estate professional.
Any real estate agent will tell you that it’s harder to sell your home in the winter. The days are colder and shorter, leaving less time to show your home to potential buyers.
The good news is that most of the buyers who are looking at houses in the winter aren’t just killing time. They’re serious enough about finding their new home to go house hunting at a time that most people would rather stay inside.
There Are A Few Things You Can Do To Make A Good Impression On Home Buyers This Winter:
Make sure all walkways are safe. Spread out ice melt or sand to provide traction during snowy weather. Shoveling the snow on the driveway and sidewalks will make your real estate appear more inviting and well-maintained. Be sure to place a mat for visitors to wipe their feet on.
Warm up the house. Buyers will remember the house that was pleasantly warm on a frigid day. In addition, you will be able to demonstrate to the buyer that your furnace is in good working order.
For a welcoming scent, bake cookies the day of the showing. Some people are sensitive to the fragrances in air fresheners and perfumes, so skip spraying those when expecting someone to look at your house.
Serve snacks in the kitchen. Give the buyer a reason to linger in your home by leaving a light snack in the kitchen. If the weather is cold, consider providing chili or soup in a crockpot to keep it warm with festive disposable bowls. Or, to keep it simple, you can provide coffee or hot chocolate and cookies. Be sure to talk with your real estate agent before leaving these snacks so he or she knows they’re for the buyers.
Make your house appear warm and inviting. Turn all the lights in the house on; place warm-toned throws and decorator pillows around the living room. Put on some soothing classical or jazz music; keep the volume low enough that buyers can talk quietly to each other.
You can make your home seem more inviting this winter by using these proven techniques.
Are you ready to sell your home? Call your trusted real estate professional today.
According to the S&P Case-Shiller 10-and 20-City Housing Market Indices for September, home prices grew at an average of 13.30 percent year-over-year and achieved the highest growth rate for home prices since February 2006.
On a month-to month basis, home prices are slowing in most areas with 19 cities included in the S&P 20-City Housing Market Index showing lower rates of growth in home prices. September’s average month-to-month growth rate was 1.0 percent for the 20-City HMI as compared to 0.90 percent in August, and 1.90 percent posted earlier in 2013.
Home prices increased by 0.70 percent in September for the combined 20-City and 10-City Housing Market Indices tracked by Case-Shiller.
Rapidly Rising Home Prices In The West: Another Housing Bubble On Tap?
Home prices continued rising in the West, with Las Vegas leading the pack with a 29.10 percent gain year-over-year although average home price in Las Vegas, Nevada remains 46 percent than its peak in February of 2006.
California also showed double-digit year-over-year growth for home prices with San Francisco at 25.70 percent, Los Angeles at 21.80 percent and San Diego posting 20.90 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.
Rapidly increasing home prices in the West are largely due to demand exceeding supply, but buyers may be sitting on the sidelines due to concerns over another housing bubble in the making.
Buyers in this scenario are aware of increasing home prices, but aren’t buying now to avoid higher prices later. Instead they are waiting to see what happens with current home prices and housing market conditions in the longer term.
Chicago, Illinois posted its highest year-over-year growth rate since 2005 while Cleveland, Ohio posted a growth rate of 5.00 percent for September as compared to a month-to-month growth rate of 3.70 percent.
This was the second lowest month-to-month growth rate for home prices, with New York City posting a month-to-month home price growth rate of 4.00 percent from August to September.
FHFA Reports Slight Gain In Home Prices
The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported stronger gains in home prices for properties financed with mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In September, home prices reported by FHFA rose by 0.30 percent as compared to August’s growth rate of 0.40 percent.
On a year-over-year basis, FHFA reported a gain of 8.40 percent between the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2013. Adjusted for inflation, home prices as reported by FHFA have risen approximately 7.20 percent. FHFA noted that home prices are growing at a rate far above the rate of 1.20 percent reported for other “goods and services.”
Lower numbers of foreclosed homes are seen as a boost for home prices in general; as mortgage lenders tend to offer foreclosed homes for sale at low prices in order to reduce inventories of real estate owned.