What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 17th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 17th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation and retail sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Retail Sales Grow, Inflation Unchanged in November

November retail sales grew by 0.20 percent in November as compared to expectations of 0.10 percent and October’s reading of 1.10 percent growth. Core retail sales, which exclude automotive sales, grew by 0.20 percent and met expectations. Analysts said online stores pushed retail sales growth in November.

Inflation held steady in November as expected. Inflation grew by 0.30 percent in October. Core inflation, which excludes volatile fuel and food sectors, rose by 0.20 percent, which matched October’s reading. Lower fuel prices contributed to the higher Core Price Index reading.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week, which caused an uptick in demand for homes. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by 12 basis points and averaged 4.63 percent. Mortgage rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped 14 basis points and averaged 4.07 percent.

Rates s for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 4.06 percent and were three basis points lower than the prior week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Last week’s average mortgage rates were the lowest in three months and prompted would-be be home buyers to enter the market.

First-time Jobless claims fell to 206,000 new claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected 226,000 new claims to be filed. The surge in unemployment claims during the prior week was connected to an early Thanksgiving holiday.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Sales of previously owned homes will be reported.

The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will issue its post-meeting statement along with economic projections for 2019. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with a monthly report on consumer sentiment.

Should You Buy A Fixer Upper Or Move-In Ready Home?

Should You Buy A Fixer Upper Or Move-In Ready HomeThere’s a lot to be said for buying a move-in ready home. All you have to do is put your things away and start living your life. On the other hand, buying a fixer upper has its advantages, too. You can get a great bargain on a fixer upper home. So which one should you choose?

Here are some things to consider.

You Can Easily Afford To Buy What You Want

If money is no object, then a move-in ready home is the best choice. You’ll be able to get exactly the home you want with little or no effort decorating it the way you want. If you’re the kind of person who can hire an interior decorator, then you’ll likely want to spend time decorating, not reconstructing.

You Like A Challenge

If you think of owning a home as an adventure rather than a convenience, consider buying a fixer upper. You’ll have lots of interesting challenges, like figuring out where to buy those non-standard replacement windows, how to reinforce a floor for a tile installation and much more.

You’re Older And Just Want To Settle Down

Renovating a fixer upper requires energy and strength. If you’re older or you tire easily, buying a move-in ready home might be a better strategy. A fixer upper might be too much to handle if you attempt all the work without professional help.

Money Is Tight

If you feel you would be strapped financially to buy a move-in ready home with all the bells and whistles, consider a fixer upper. You’ll be able to easily handle the mortgage payment. You’ll be able to renovate on your own schedule, according to when you can afford new building materials.

You’re Looking For An Investment

If you’re looking to get fast equity out of your home purchase, a fixer upper is definitely a smart move. Once you complete the renovations you could refinance on the higher value and bank the profits.

As you can see, fixer uppers and move in ready homes are both good values, depending on your own situation. Hopefully this list of pros and cons will help you make the right choice for your lifestyle.

Call your trusted real estate professional to go over the options of fixer-upper properties and move-in ready homes available in your local market. They are always the best avenue to find your perfect new home fit.

3 Things You Need To Know About Divorce And Homeownership

3 Things You Need To Know About Divorce And HomeownershipDivorce can be an incredibly emotional and financially stressful time. Questions about what happens to assets and the family home add to the anxiety. Each state has divorce laws that differ and that can complicates decision-making.

For example, marital assets are distributed differently in community property states from equitable distribution ones. The idea of 50-50 splits may be a myth because judges have the discretion to deviate from even percentages. That being said, these are three things you should know about homeownership when contemplating divorce.

Who Gets The House?

This often ranks as the biggest question among divorcing spouses. Many years ago, it was assumed that the wife automatically gets the marital home. But laws have changed, and same-sex marriages don’t bring a difference in gender to the process.

These days, marital homes are generally subject to either community property divisions or equitable distribution. That means the court will either split it 50-50 or weight the equity in one person’s favor for a specific reason.

In divorces that include minor children, the parent who enjoys primary custody may be given an opportunity to remain in the home. This is often done by spouses agreeing to that solution. It’s also not uncommon for a court to order the home to be sold after children reach the age of majority.  

Risks Of Co-Ownership After Divorce

Continuing to maintain joint ownership after divorce presents certain risks. In all likelihood, there will be a mortgage attached to the property and failure to make timely payments by either party puts both credit histories at risk. If one person falls on hard financial times, a court-ordered liquidation may be necessary. On the other hand, the other owner may have to foot all the bills to protect their credit rating.

Another risk associated with joint ownership is that the person living in the home may not adequately maintain it. Homeowners are all too familiar with ongoing maintenance and repairs. The home could end up losing value due to negligence. Although joint ownership has its child-rearing and potential value appreciation benefits, it can be risky.

When A Home Is Not A Marital Asset

Although states take different approaches to divide assets in a divorce, not everything is included in the so-called “marriage.” There are a number of items that are usually considered separate and apart from the marriage such as personal items, tools of a trade, pre-marital assets, and most importantly inheritance.

It is not uncommon for people to inherit a family home from parents or other loved ones. That property may not constitute a marital asset unless steps are taken to merge it.

For instance, putting a spouse’s name on the deed or leveraging its equity for a joint purpose may be considered co-mingling it with marital assets. However, if it remains separate and apart from the marriage, chances are that it will not be on the table for distribution during the divorce.   

Homeownership and equity are handled differently from state to state. It’s important to speak with a legal professional about your unique situation. 

If you are in need of assistance to sell your current property or buy a new property, your trusted real estate professional is ready to help.

How To Keep Your Pets Safe During Your Home Sale

How To Keep Your Pets Safe During Your Home SaleIf you have pet, you probably wonder what you can do to keep them safe after you decide to put your home up for sale. With all the disruption going on during a home sale, it’s all too easy for pets to get lost, frightened or even injured. Learn how to keep your beloved pets safe during your home sale.

Provide An Oasis During Repair Work

Most home sellers make a few repairs before allowing agents to show the home for sale. In some cases, repairs can be extensive, leading to a lot of construction materials, tools and strange new items in the home. This can be frightening for pets as they watch their once familiar setting undergo changes.

Make sure your pet has someplace to get away. They should have their own oasis where everything is still the same. It may be their doghouse, a spot in the corner in your bedroom, or a basement, as long as they can escape to familiar surroundings.

Keep Routines

Pets are creatures of habit. They can easily become disoriented or frightened when their routine is disrupted, as is so often the case during a home sale. Meals may be sporadic, food and water dishes may get moved around the room, and regular walk times can be overlooked.

To keep your pets safe from stress, try to keep their routines as unchanged as possible, including small things like those quiet moments when they like to sit on your lap at the end of the day or during your morning coffee.

Take Them With You During Showings

Your real estate agent advises that you and your family leave the home during showings. But you should bring your pets with you, too. Leaving pets behind in the garage, barn, basement or behind a closed door really isn’t a great idea. Curious homebuyers could inadvertently come upon your pet, giving both parties a shock. A startled pet might even run off or lash out.

Instead, keep a pet carrier in the car for use when you and your family have to leave for showings. You’ll keep the whole family together and your homebuyers can freely explore your entire property.

These pet safety tips will ensure that your pet will get through the home sale process as smoothly as possible. It’s really just a matter of providing a little oasis, maintaining routines, and avoiding buyer and pet interactions.

Your trusted real estate agent can offer advice about pets and other important criteria for a successful house showing. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are thinking about putting your home on the market.

Complete These Repairs Before You List Your Home

Complete These Repairs Before You List Your HomeThere are several things to do when you prepare to list your home for sale. One of the projects you’ll need to do is complete certain repairs. Your home should be in the best possible condition before your real estate agent shows it to potential buyers.

While your home doesn’t need to be perfect, here is a list of repairs you should strive to get done before you open your home to showings.

Front Steps And Deck Issues

The front entrance and back deck should be in good shape for curb appeal and safety. Replace or repair wooden steps that pose a danger or feel unstable. Hammer down any nails on the deck that have popped up over the years. Reinforce loose railings and hand rails. Refinish decking that has dried, cracked or peeling paint.

Sticking Or Noisy Hinges and Sliders

Buyers will likely be opening doors, drawers, windows and cupboards. Don’t let them be disappointed. Go through your home and identify doors, windows and drawers that don’t open and close smoothly. Lubricate hinges, drawer sliders or window sashes as necessary. Tighten loose screws on door hinges to ensure the door swings easily.

Cracked Or Broken Window Panes

Windows in disrepair often signal that the home hasn’t been well-maintained. Replace or repair cracked or broken windows or window glass that’s clouded over from loss of insulation.

Stained Carpets

Buyers’ eyes may be instantly be drawn visible stains on your carpet. Have carpets professionally cleaned with added stain removal services. Camouflage any stains that won’t come out with an area rug or a piece of furniture. Alternatively, consider replacing carpets that are in extremely poor condition.

Broken Tiles And Peeling Flooring

Flooring in poor condition often ruins the look of the room and is a safety hazard. Replace chipped or cracked floor tiles. Repair any corners where the flooring has begun to peel up.

Electrical Issues

Go through your home and make sure all the sockets, outlets and wall switches are in proper working order. Have a certified electrical technician do the work; otherwise the work may not be approved on home inspection report.

First impressions are extremely important when it comes to selling your home. Don’t assume that buyers will be able to look past needed repairs. Instead, take care of these issues before your agent shows your home.

Your trusted real estate agent can help you prioritize the home repairs that really matter to buyers. Schedule a consultation today!

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 10th, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 10th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on construction spending and Labor Department readings on private and public jobs growth. The Consumer Sentiment Index was released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Construction Spending Slows in October

Residential construction slowed in last month as public works projects increased. Private sector construction spending fell by -0.10 percent as compared to expected growth of 0.30 percent and last month’s negative reading of -0.10 percent.

Construction spending for October was $1.309 billion on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to September’s revised reading of $1.311 billion. Overall construction spending was 4.90 percent year-over-year.

Homebuilders continued to be wary of tariffs on building materials and cited high labor costs and a shortage of buildable lots. Winter weather also slows construction in many areas of the U.S.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 4.75 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages were four basis points lower at 4.21 percent on average.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged five basis points lower at 4.07 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. 5/1 adjustable rates had average discount points of 0/30 percent.

First-tome jobless claims were lower last week with 231,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 224,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 236,000 new jobless claims filed.

Labor Department: Slower Jobs Growth in Public, Private Sectors

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported fewer jobs added to Non-Farm Payrolls in November. 155,0000 public and private sector jobs were added as compared to expectations of 190,000 jobs added and October’s reading of 237,000 new jobs added. ADP reported 179,000 private sector jobs added in November as compared to 225,000 jobs added in October. The national unemployment held steady at 3.70 percent.

Consumer sentiment was unchanged in November with an index reading of 97.50 according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation, retail sales and weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

 

Guide to Quartz, Granite and Laminate Countertops

Guide to Quartz, Granite and Laminate CountertopsIt can be confusing choosing the right countertop material for your kitchen. Here is a list of some common countertop materials along with their pros and cons. Knowing the differences will help you choose the right material to serve your needs. 

Quartz Countertops

Quartz is available in different colors and can have a luxurious appearance because it is a manufactured product. It is durable, which means it will not chip or crack as easily as natural stones. Quartz countertops have a non-porous surface which makes it easy to maintain by being stain resistant and it not harboring bacteria or viruses. Some may decide to stay away from Quartz since the price tag will be similar to natural stones while having a more contemporary look and not being as heat resistant as natural stones.

Granite Countertops

Granite is a natural stone product. It is most often chosen for its ability to deliver a luxurious look to any kitchen. Granite is able to withstand hard use and will not scratch even when cutting directly on it with a sharp knife. It is heat resistant, which means placing a hot pot from the stove onto the counter will not damage the stone. However, since Granite is porous, it can absorb liquids such as wine, juice, or oil that will create a permanent stain. The key to avoiding such stains is maintenance, the Granite countertop will need to be sealed once a year or depending on usage to cover the pores. A poorly sealed surface can also harbour bacteria in the pores. 

Laminate Countertops

One of the biggest advantages of laminate countertops is that it can look like a natural stone countertop at only a fraction of the price. Laminate does not require any special products or maintenance such as sealing; it can withstand everyday use, and be replaced at a low cost. On the other hand, you need to be cautious with laminate. These countertops can be easily cut or scratched and they are not resistant to heat, placing a hot pot directly onto it can lead to a burn mark or discoloration. 

With many countertop materials to choose from, it can be difficult to make a decision. Some of the more important questions to consider are porous or non-porous, durability, and price. At the end of the day you should chose something that fits your needs. 

If you are in the market for a new home, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

Newest Home Pricing Data Shows Homes Becoming More Attainable Across The Country

Newest Home Pricing Data Shows Homes Becoming More Attainable Across The CountryCase-Shiller’s 20-city home price index for September reported the lowest pace of year-over-year home price growth in almost two years. Lower home prices balanced housing markets between sellers and buyers, but home prices continued to grow approximately two times faster than wage growth.

Case-Shiller’s 20 city home price index for September posted a home price growth rate of 5.20 percent as compared to August’s year-over-year growth rate of 5.70 percent. While analysts expected slower rates of home price growth, they weren’t expecting the steep declines seen in September’s report.

David Blitzer, Chairman and CEO of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said “Home prices plus data on house sales and construction confirm the slowdown in housing.”

Las Vegas Holds on to Top Spot in Home Price Growth

Las Vegas, Nevada had the highest pace of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 13.50 percent; San Francisco, California posted a year-over-year home price growth rate of 9.90 percent. Seattle, Washington held third place in year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 8.40 percent.

Las Vegas home prices, while leading the 20-City Home Price Index, remained 20 percent lower than their peak. Nine cities saw home prices decline in September as compared to August; Seattle, Washington posted a negative home price growth reading of -1.30 percent from August to September.

The National Association of Home Builders reported the third consecutive quarterly decline in the number of Americans expecting to buy homes within the next twelve months. As demand for homes declines, home prices are expected to fall as inventories of available homes rise.

These conditions will soften the impact of strong buyer competition and skyrocketing home prices common in recent years, but home prices remain unaffordable in many areas.

Home Buyers Deal with High Home Prices

Home buyers are finding ways to adjust their home searches to get around affordability issues. A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders indicated 61 percent of home buyers would continue looking for a home they could afford.

40 percent of buyers said they would expand their search areas and 23 percent of responding home buyers said they would look for homes older or smaller than they originally planned to buy.

As always, contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss the latest activity in your local market.

5 Home Renovations That Really Raise Values

5 Home Renovations That Really Raise ValuesThere are many home renovation projects that can increase the comfort and visual appeal of a dwelling. Owners who plan to sell their home in the future, however, prefer to focus on projects that will return a healthy profit at closing. Here are 5 renovation projects that positively impact a home’s resale value.

Conversions

It’s easy for real estate agents to convince buyers to bid higher on properties with more bedrooms. Redesign the attic to easily add an extra bedroom without committing to a major construction project. This strategy works well for smaller homes or those in neighborhoods with multiple homes for sale. Converting a basement into a bonus room or den is another way to use extra storage spaces to increase property value.

Floors

Outdated, stained, or damaged flooring repels potential buyers. High-quality, stain-resistant carpets in neutral colors are the best options for those looking to sell. Other alternatives include hardwood floors and easy-to-clean laminates. Avoid shag carpets, bright colors, or unusual patterns so the property appeals to a wide variety of potential buyers.

Kitchens

For real estate agents, kitchens rank high on the list of value-building remodeling projects. Most home shoppers base their decision on the condition of the kitchen. Update stale or out-of-fashion paint, install new cabinet doors, refresh countertops, and replace old appliances to encourage a higher sale price. Renovators with limited funds should focus the majority of their dollars on kitchen projects.

Bathrooms

After the kitchen, bathrooms have the greatest impact on home values. As long as the plumbing is in working condition, bathroom renovations don’t require a large investment to add value to the home. Refurbish dingy sinks and bathtubs, refresh existing grout, and update fixtures for a quick boost before putting a home up for sale.

Landscape

The exterior of a home is just as important as the inside. Investing in landscaping increases curb appeal and can make a home more interesting to certain buyers. For example, adding a dog run in the backyard is an excellent perk for pet parents. In neighborhoods with older residents, a small deck or hot tub can be an eye-catching extra.

Strategic use of home renovations can improve living conditions and increase property values. Your trusted real estate can guide you through the process of prioritzing which improvements will geet you the best bang for your buck in your area.

NAHB Reports Lowest Builder Confidence Reading Since 2014

NAHB Reports Lowest Builder Confidence Reading Since 2014Obstacles facing home builders have caught up with high builder confidence according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for November. Builder confidence dropped eight points to an index reading of 60, which was the largest month-to-month drop in builder confidence since 2014. November’s decline in builder confidence was greater than the largest month-to-month decline during the housing crisis.

Housing Market Index readings over 50 are considered positive, but analysts said that long-standing headwinds caught up with home builders’ outlook on housing market conditions and sub-categories used to comprise the overall Housing Market Index reading.

Obstacles Impacted November Home Builder Confidence in Housing Market

Builders have long cited shortages of buildable lots, rising materials costs and labor shortages, but builder sentiment appeared strong until November. Recent tariffs on building materials and rising mortgage rates further added to builder concerns. Buyer traffic indicated that would-be home buyers may be waiting for home prices and mortgage rates to fall. Less demand for homes would increase inventories of homes for sale and potentially reduce extreme buyer competition that caused rapid price gains in high-demand metro areas.

Components of November’s NAHB HMI also declined in November. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell seven points to an index reading of 67. Builder confidence in housing market conditions within the next six months dropped ten points to 65. The reading for buyer traffic in housing developments dropped eight points to 45. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed the HMI index reading of 50.

NAHB Housing Market Index: Things to Know

Housing and mortgage industry pros view the HMI as an early indicator of construction pace and for measuring supplies of homes for sale. The National Association of Home Builders HMI is based on survey of NAHB members; the sample size varies according to the number of responses received from builders each month. Analysts noted that November’s reading was impacted by fewer builder responses in November; 315 responses were received in November as compared to 360 builder responses in October. Fewer responses increase the volatility of index readings.

Approaching winter weather typically reduces home construction and plans for new construction; 2018 has seen natural disasters and catastrophic wildfires that destroyed many homes. While these factors did not impact November’s home builder confidence, readings they will likely affect home builder confidence readings in the coming months.

Your trusted real estate agent can help you navigate the sales trends in your area.