What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 23, 2017

Economic news was impacted by the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday and the Presidential Inauguration on Friday. Readings released included reports on inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were released as scheduled.

Home Builder Confidence Dips as Inflation Ticks Upward

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped from December’s reading of 69 to 67. Ongoing challenges including a short supply of lots for development and inability to hire skilled labor were cited, but builders were also confident that market conditions will improve due to a pro-construction stance in the new administration’s policies.

Inflation rose by 0.10 percent to 0.30 percent in December against expectations that inflation would rise by 0.20 percent. November’s reading was also 0.20 percent. The Federal Reserve has long cited a goal for inflation to reach an annual rate of 2.00 percent; incremental month-to-month increases in inflation will help achieve the Fed’s benchmark. Core Consumer Price Index readings do not include volatile food and energy sectors and held steady with a reading of 0.20 percent, which matched expectations and November’s reading.

Housing Starts Increase as Building Permits Slip

According to the Commerce Department, housing starts rose to 1.226 million against an expected reading of 1.200 million housing starts and November’s reading of 1.292 million starts. Building new homes is a priority for home builders as housing markets have been hampered by a lack of available homes. High demand has driven up home prices in many areas and has caused a great deal of competition in highly desirable metro areas. This has permitted investors and other cash buyers to prevail in home sales where multiple offers were made.

Building permits were lower in December with a reading of 1.210 million permits issued as compared to 1.212 million permits issued in November. Winter weather and holidays likely contributed to the dip in permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Consecutive Week

Mortgage rates fell last week for the third consecutive week. 30-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.21 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.23 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged three basis points lower at 3.34 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable mortgage rate was two basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; average discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims fell sharply from 249,000 to 234,000 claims. Analysts had expected a reading of 245,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that layoffs reached their lowest level since the 1970’s. Job security is an important consideration for prospective home buyers; stronger job markets will likely positively impact housing markets.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and existing home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released as usual.

Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your Space

Living the Simple Life: How to Minimize Your Clutter and Maximize Your SpaceMany people look at a smaller living space and think that there are a lot of limitations imposed. However, a more miniature home can offer up the opportunity to be inventive with design and get creative about your abode. Whether you live in small apartment now or are thinking of downsizing in the future, here are some ideal ways to make the most of your pint-sized pad.

Invest In Multi-Functional Pieces

It may be nice to have a stylish bar cart or a hefty china cabinet for your space, but there are certain kinds of home items that only serve one function and this is not necessarily useful with limited capacity. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, try purchasing items like a folding table tray that can serve as a coffee table or a bookcase that can hold dishes, books and other household items. This will enable you to maximize the space you have and create a uniquely modern design aesthetic.

Maintain An Organized Space

Every home has a little bit of clutter, but nothing will fill up a comfy space like having a lot of knick-knacks all over the place. Instead of making your home look smaller, ensure that you have vertical storage or closet space that can be effectively used for items that might often be left out. An organized space will not only make for a cleaner, more effortless looking apartment, it will give the allusion that you’ve got a few more square feet than you actually do.

Stick With Neutral Colors

It can be tempting to go with a bright color for an accent wall, but this can actually work against your space and make it look a lot smaller. Instead of something vibrant and eye-catching, stick with a neutral palette and go for shades like white, light grey and light brown so they can naturally expand your space. You can still choose to accent with bright colors, but you may want to leave them to your pillows or a vase so that they don’t take over your space.

It might seem like there are many limitations imposed with a smaller living space, but with so many people downsizing there are a variety of great design possibilities for a less sizeable home. If you’re currently staging your home and are planning to put it on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Home Builder Index Dips in January

January’s National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dipped two points from December’s revised reading of 69 to 67;  the index reading forecast for January was also 69.Analysts said that January’s reading was the second highest (after December 2016) since the peak of the housing bubble in 2005. January’s dip in builder sentiment was attributed to easing of builder enthusiasm, which spiked right after the U.S. presidential election. To put January’s home builder confidence reading in context, NAHB says that any index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have confidence in housing market conditions.

NAHB SubIndex Readings for January

Three sub-index readings are used in compiling the NAHB Housing Market Index reading. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell three points to 72; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months fell two points to 76. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments dropped one point to 51.

Builders surveyed continued to cite the cost of new lots for development and the lack of skilled labor as obstacles to higher builder confidence.

After releasing January’s index readings, the NAHB said that while January’s readings were lower than those for December, a majority of builders have expressed confidence that the new administration will reduce regulatory pressure on home builders. NAHB also cited home builder concerns over mortgage rates, which rose nearly a percentage point in November and December before falling. Despite ongoing concerns, builder sentiment has steadily improved over time. On average, builder confidence averaged a reading of 61 in 2016 against 2015’s average reading of 59 and the 2014 average reading of 52.

Builder Outlook Seen as Key to Easing Home Shortage

Real estate and mortgage pros have consistently said that building more homes is necessary to ease the ongoing shortage of available homes. NAHB’s Housing Market Index is closely followed as a benchmark of home builder confidence. Higher builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions is viewed as a potential indicator of home building activity, but housing starts have not been uniformly allied with builder confidence.

Shortages available homes creates high demand creates concerns for potential buyers seeking affordable homes. Rapidly rising home price, particularly in high demand metro areas, have sidelined buyers who cannot compete against buyers making cash offers on homes with rapidly escalating prices. 

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here’s How to Calculate It

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here's How to Calculate ItMany people are aware of the financial commitment that is involved when investing in a home, but what that amounts to is different for every person. From what you can afford to what a lender will allow, there are plenty of details involved in determining the right home for you. If you’re not quite sure what the right price is, here’s how to approach home ownership and determine your debt-to-income.

Calculating Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

You may not know what your DTI ratio is, but it has a lot to with how much home you can afford. In order to calculate this amount, add together all the debts you owe each month and divide them by your monthly pre-tax income. For example, if your credit card is $150 and your rent is $900, your debt amount would be $1050. Divide this amount by your income, say $2500, to get 0.42. This means your DTI ratio is 0.42 or 42%.

What Your DTI Means

While a DTI in the high 20s or low 30s is good, anything that hovers above 43 percent may serve as a red flag to the lender. The lower your DTI ratio is, the more likely it is that a lender will approve your mortgage application since you’ll have the disposable income to deal with financial hurdles. If your dream home has you hovering close to this amount, it may be a sign that it’s a bit out of reach.

How Do You Want To Live?

It’s quite common to be taken over when you find your dream home and decide to commit. However, buying a home is a huge financial commitment, and if you’re buying more than you can afford it may drain your well-being over time. Instead of diving in, determine other expenses that are likely to come up in the next few years, whether it’s travel, a child or a new car. It’s important to have the home you want and budget when buying it, but you’ll still need to financial wiggle room in case something comes up.

There are a lot of factors involved in determining how much house you can afford, but by calculating your DTI ratio and being aware of your spending plans, you’ll be well on your way to an ideal price range.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 17, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included readings on job openings, retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates.

Job Openings Hold Steady in November; Quits and Hires Increase

According to the Labor Department, job openings held steady with a reading of 5.50 million openings in November, which matched October’s reading. Hires and quits showed more activity, which analysts deemed a healthy sign for the economy. Workers typically hold on to their current jobs in times of economic uncertainty, while they may be more comfortable with changing jobs in a strong economy. Increased “churn” in terms of quits and hires suggests that workers are gaining confidence in economic conditions and are more willing to change jobs. There were 1.3 unemployed workers for each job opening, which was lower than October’s reading of 1.4 unemployed workers for each job opening.

Retail Sales Higher in December

Retail sales grew by 0.60 percent in December, although analysts had expected o.80 percent growth. November’s reading showed 0.20 percent growth. Retail sales not including the automotive sector grew by 0.20 percent. Analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent based on November’s reading of 0.30 percent growth. Year-end promotions and incentives offered by auto dealers likely contributed to December’s increase in retail sales.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by eight basis points to 4.12 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged seven basis points lower at 3.37 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were 10 basis points lower at an average of 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged   0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.

New jobless claims were lower than expected last week with a reading of 247,000 new jobless claims. 258,000 new claims were expected based on the prior week’s reading of 237,000 new claims filed. New jobless claims were lower than 300,000 new claims for the 97th consecutive week. The rise in new claims last week was attributed to delays in filing for benefits between Christmas and New Year holidays.

Consumer sentiment dipped in January to an index reading of 98.1 as compared to December’s reading of 98.2 and the expected reading of 98.8.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits will be released. Consumer Price Index readings are scheduled along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Understanding the Reverse Mortgage and How to Use It to Pay Off a Regular Mortgage

Understanding the Reverse Mortgage and How to Use It to Pay Off a Regular MortgageThere are a variety of mortgage products out there that serve the needs of different homeowners, but for the uninitiated it can be hard to know what will work best for them. If you happen to be close to retirement and are looking at options that will be more financially beneficial for you, here are the details on a reverse mortgage and how this product can work for you.

The Details On A Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage may be one of the lesser-known products available on the market, but it was created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) following the 2008 recession. While this type of mortgage is only available to homeowners who are 62 or older, it offers a way for people to tap into the equity of their home so that they are not required to pay monthly mortgage payments. There are limitations imposed on this product, but this can be useful for many homeowners.

What’s Required To Apply?

In order to utilize this mortgage product, the homeowner must have paid off their property entirely or have a significant amount of equity in their current home. As people who want to use a reverse mortgage will have to go through a credit check, they will have to be able to prove that they have the ability to pay for all the fees associated with home ownership. This can include common expenses like insurance, property tax and any other applicable charges that come with a monthly mortgage payment.

How You Can Use It

A reverse mortgage can be confusing to understand, but for those who want to receive monthly payments, get a lump sum payment from their equity or even access a line of credit, it can be a means of tapping into additional funds. While this means that the overall loan balance of the mortgage can increase over time due to interest and insurance not being paid consistently, these expenses will be taken care of once the owner has passed away when the property can be sold or the loan balance is paid.

A reverse mortgage can be a beneficial product for many homeowners, but it’s important to be aware of the associated costs involved to determine if this product is beneficial for you. 

Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here’s Why a Home Should Be Your Priority

Buying Real Estate vs. Buying Stocks: Here's Why a Home Should Be Your PriorityOnce you’re done with debt and you’ve started to save, it’s commonly the case that you’ll start hearing about the risks and rewards of investing in stocks or real estate. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many people to know what type of investment is going to work better for them down the road. If you’re currently considering what you should put your money into, here are some reasons you may want to turn to real estate.

It’s Something You Can See

While investing in the stock market will give you the ability to invest as little or as much as you want, a home will take a monthly payment and a down payment in order to make the deal. Fortunately, this means that you’ll be investing money every month into something that belongs to you and that you can see. A home is not only something you can invest in all the time, it will enable you to avoid putting money into rent that you’ll never get back.

Saving Money On Tax Breaks

There may be a certain amount of volatility with any market investment, but when it comes to buying a home you also have the benefit of tax breaks that are designed specifically for homeowners. In addition to the ability to deduct interest on your main residence if you’ve lived in your property for a minimum of two of the last five years, you’ll also be able to sell it tax-free. Investing in a home certainly takes savings, but there are many available tax benefits that can save money.

A Sense Of Security

Many people want to invest in a home because it offers up a piece of something that they can really own. However, another appealing aspect of having a home is that you’ll be removed from the day-to-day rumblings of the stock market. Investing can make people more than a little weary, even if they’re knowledgeable about the markets, and this can cause people to sell off and lose money when the going gets tough.

Investing in real estate and the stock market both involve some degree of financial risk, but you might not be aware that there are several added benefits of buying a home. From the tax break incentives to the sense of security, real estate can often be the better financial route to take. If you’re currently considering a home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

The Pros and Cons of ‘Mortgage Before Marriage’ for Young Couples

The Pros and Cons of There was a time when a higher percentage of people were married before they committed to buying a home together, but it’s a lot more common to co-habit and invest in a home together. If you’re considering the commitment of a mortgage without being married, here are some things to be aware of before you start searching the market.

Relationship Status Won’t Affect Your Rates

It might seem like there are greater risks involved if two individuals purchasing a property are not legally bound, but it actually makes no difference to the mortgage lender. If two people are buying a home together, the lender is going to be assessing their credibility based on their individual credit reports and financial history, not on their relationship to each other. While it may seem like co-habiting will have an impact, the proof as far as lenders are concerned is in the numbers.

What’s Your Credit History?

Most people are aware of their credit history, whether they’ve had financial hiccups in the past or are still paying off a significant amount of debt. However, it is more difficult for some to know the financial background of their partner, and this can be more common when it comes to co-habiting. Because the lender will be looking at both credit scores, if you or your partner have had financial issues in the past, it can have an adverse impact on your application. While you may have a nearly perfect credit history, if your partner does not this can make mortgage approval more difficult.

In The Event Of Separation

Home ownership can involve significant hurdles after a divorce, but there will still be some legal and financial issues to wade through if you’ve never been married. Since it’s likely that you won’t want to continue to co-habit, there’s the possibility that one party will have to buy the other out, which can be a sizeable financial burden. While this type of situation may never come to fruition, it’s important to be aware of what might occur so you can be prepared.

There can be a lot of complexities involved in co-habiting whether you’re married or not, but it’s important to have an awareness of your partner’s financial history and be prepared for financial hurdles.

Considering a Spring Home Sale? Learn How to Appraise Your Selling Chances Like a Pro

Considering a Spring Home Sale? Learn How to Appraise Your Selling Chances Like a ProThe springtime is known to be one of the best times to put your home up for sale. However, if you’re not necessarily planning on engaging a real estate agent, it’s important to be prepared for all of the hard work involved in putting your home up for sale. Whether you’re new to the market or you’ve never sold a home on your own before, here are some questions to ask yourself so you’re prepared for selling in the coming season.

Do You Know The Market?

The neighborhood you live in and the buying market you’re dealing with are important factors in how your home is going to sell, so you’ll need to know a little about both when determining your ideal price. By looking through the listings in the area and seeing what homes like yours have sold for, you may be able to give yourself a range for the offers you can expect.

How Will You Sell It?

One of the added benefits of social media is that you can use sites like Facebook and Twitter to announce your home sale and even highlight its best features. While this may make selling seem much easier, you’ll still need to make sure you have good photography that captures your home and a website where homebuyers can learn more details. Be aware that while these items may seem easy enough, it can take a lot of time to manage these details on your own.

Are You Prepared To Negotiate?

It’s a good feeling to get an offer on your home, but in all likelihood it will be less than what you’re expecting and this means engaging in the art of negotiation. According to the National Association of Realtors, those who sell their home generally get 10-20% less than those who utilize an agent, so it’s important to be comfortable negotiating before you dive in. If you’re confident in your acumen, you may want to go it alone, but if you have doubts, it can be a better financial decision to engage the help of an agent.

Before you decide to sell your home on your own, it’s worth appraising your skills to determine if it will be worth the time and effort you’ll have to put in. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you’d like to utilize an agent after all, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 9, 2017

2017 started with good news; fixed mortgage rates were lower, but the national unemployment rate ticked upward and labor reports showed fewer openings for public and private sector jobs. Construction spending was higher in November.

Mortgage Rates Lower; Construction Spending Higher

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed rate mortgages as the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage crept up. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by 12 basis points to 4.20 percent; The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fell 11 basis points to 3.44 percent while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage gained three basis points to 3.33 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Construction spending was higher in November according to the Commerce Department and reached the highest level since April 2006. The November reading was 0.90 percent higher as compared to an expected reading of 0.60 percent and October’s original reading of 0.50 percent, which was revised to 0.60 percent. Lower mortgage rates coupled with more construction could help ease low inventories of available homes and provide relief to first-time and moderate-income home buyers who’ve been challenged by rapidly rising home prices and mortgage rates.

Fewer New Jobless Claims: Unemployment Rate Rises

The government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report for December showed lower job openings for government and private sector employers with a reading of 156,000 jobs added against the expected reading of 180,000 job openings and November’s reading of 204,000 job openings.

ADP reported similar results for its December reading on private sector jobs; 153,000 jobs were created against November’s reading of 215,000 jobs created. Analysts said that hiring is increasing, but not as fast as in prior months. On average, 174,000 private-sector jobs were created monthly in 2016 as compared to a monthly average of 209,000 private sector jobs created in 2015.

Weekly jobless claims were lower last week with 235,000 new claims filed; 260,000 new claims were expected based on 263,000 new claims filed the previous week.

December’s national unemployment rate rose to 4.70 percent from 4.60 percent in November. Analysts said that the uptick was likely fueled by employers deleting former workers from their payrolls at year-end.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings, consumer sentiment and weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.