What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 25th, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on housing starts, building permits issued and sales of pre-owned homes. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee issued its customary post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Housing Starts Lower, but Building Permits Increase

August saw fewer housing starts with 1.18 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. July’s reading was upwardly adjusted to 1.19 million starts; analysts expected 1.175 million starts annually in August. Building permits rose in August, which suggested builder confidence was strong regardless of fewer starts.

Recent hurricanes had little effect on August building permits, but building permits will likely increase as rebuilding gets under way in affected areas. 1.30 million building permits were issued on an annual basis as compared to July’s reading of 1.23 million permits issued. August’s reading for permits issued was the second highest since 2007.

Analysts noted that more permits were issued for single-family residences than for multi-family complexes. This is likely a response to high demand for single-family homes caused by persistent shortages of homes for sale. Multi-family permits issued fell by 5.80 percent in August with 323,000 permits reported. August’s reading for multi-family housing permits was 23 percent lower year-over-year.

PreOwned Home Sales Dip, Fed Holds Steady on Federal Funds Rate

Sales of previously-owned homes fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million sales in August. Analysts expected a reading of 5.44 million sales, which matched July’s seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 5.44 million sales of previously-owned homes. High demand and very low inventories of homes for sale has caused sales to fall although very low unemployment rates and relatively low mortgage rates were positive indicators for would-be home buyers.

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced it did not raise the current federal funds rate of 1.00 to 1,25 percent. Fed Chair Janet Yellen remarked that “the basic message here is U.S. economic performance has been good.” The Fed was puzzled by sluggish inflation and revised its long-term inflation goal from 3.00 percent to 2.80 percent. The Fed is expected to raise its target federal funds rate one more time in 2017 and twice in 2018; this prediction may change if economic forecasts and world events change significantly.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose last week in response to the 10-year Treasury rate rising by seven basis points. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage rate rose five basis points to 3.83 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.13 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.17 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower with 259,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 302,000 new jobless claims based on the prior week’s reading of 282,000 new jobless claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and pending home sales, personal income, and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are scheduled along with a monthly reading on consumer sentiment.

Understanding the Differences Between ‘Prequalified’ And ‘Preapproved’ For a Mortgage

Understanding the Differences Between 'Prequalified' And 'Preapproved' For a MortgageAre you in the market for a new home? If you are going to rely on mortgage financing to cover some of the purchase cost, you will need to start the application process as soon as possible. However, what if you just need to know how much you will be able to borrow so you can start finding homes in your price range?

Let’s take a quick look at the difference between being ‘prequalified’ and ‘preapproved’ for mortgage financing.

The Process Starts With Prequalification

The first step in obtaining mortgage financing is to speak with a mortgage professional to get prequalified. After sharing some quick information about your financial assets, income, and any debts, your advisor will share a range of financing options and amounts that you may qualify for. Prequalification is typically done free of charge and either in person or over the phone.

Note that your mortgage lender will not be doing any digging in the prequalification stage. There’s no credit check and no hard look at your assets. Don’t get too excited if you are prequalified for a large mortgage as you will still need to be approved.

Once You Are Preapproved, You Are All Set

Preapproval, on the other hand, is a firm commitment to access to a certain level of mortgage financing. Your mortgage lender will require a variety of information to get an idea of your financial situation, your current and future employment, your level of risk and more. Once they have a good idea of how much mortgage you can afford, you will be provided with a conditional commitment letter. This letter outlines how much the lender is willing to offer to you as well as other vital information like your mortgage loan interest rate.

Speed Up The Process By Preparing Beforehand

Finally, it is worth a mention that you can speed up the mortgage process by having all of your application paperwork ready before the initial meeting. Gather up your most recent income tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. If you have investments or other financial assets, document those. You will also want to be up front about any outstanding debts that you are paying off. The more prepared you are, the faster the application and pre-approval process will go.

Have you found the home of your dreams? Contact your local real estate professional to get started.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

The Quick and Easy Guide to Finding the Best Real Estate Agent to Sell Your HomeIs it time to move on from your house, townhouse or condo? If a sale is in your near future, you will want to start looking for a professional selling agent or broker to help manage the process. Let’s take a look at our quick and easy guide to finding the best real estate agent to handle your home sale.

Check Your Social Network

The easiest place to start is your social network, as almost everyone knows a great real estate agent. Get a post up on Facebook sharing that you are about to sell your home and you’re looking for the very best agent to help you sell it. Maybe an old high school acquaintance or college friend is now in the real estate business and can help.

Ask Your Friends And Family For Referrals

If you aren’t close with a trustworthy real estate agent, the next best people to ask are your local friends and family. It is unlikely that you’re going to get a bad referral from your best friend, brother or aunt. Send out a few text messages and make a few calls to let the family know that you’re hunting for a great real estate agent. Soon enough, you’ll have some recommendations.

Check Their Designations And Specialties

You might not know this, but real estate agents have specialties and designations available to certify in. Aside from becoming a REALTOR®, your agent may be a Certified Residential Specialist, an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and more.

Be Sure To Read Reviews And Talk To Past Clients

When you’ve made a short list of your final choices for a selling agent, it’s time to check on their recent work. Ask the agent for a list of houses or other properties that they’ve sold recently. If possible, you’ll also want to socialize with some of their past clients to see what the agent is like. You’ll be working closely together for at least a couple of weeks, so it’s important that you choose a real estate professional that you’re comfortable with.

Selling your home is not a painful process, but it’s one where you’ll want to have the best agent working to protect your interests. If you’re thinking about making a move, contact your local real estate professional.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Dips on Hurricane Damage

Home builders had less confidence in housing market conditions in September. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, builders worried that ongoing shortages of construction labor and materials would worsen.  NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald said that concerns over labor and building materials were “intensified,” but said that builder confidence was expected to return to high readings once rebuilding is underway.

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index dropped three points to an index reading of 64 with all three component readings lower than they were in August. Builder confidence in current market conditions for new single-family homes dipped for points to an index reading of 70. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months also dropped points to 74. September’s reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments was one point lower at 47.

Construction Labor and Materials Shortages Expected to Worsen

Home builders have cited shortages of labor and building materials in recent years, but these shortages are expected to grow in coming months due to massive amounts of construction workers needed for rebuilding after severe storm damage and flooding wiped out homes, businesses, and infrastructure. As with the high demand for homes caused by low inventories of homes for sale, labor and materials costs will likely rise as rebuilding begins

The NAHB Housing Market Index measures builder confidence on a scale of 0 to 100. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer consider housing market conditions to be in positive territory. While September readings are well within positive territory, approaching winter weather and shortages may cause builder confidence in housing market conditions to decrease.

Regional Builder Confidence Readings Mixed

Three-month rolling average readings for four regions tracked by NAHB had missed results in September. The Northeast posted a one-point gain to 49; the Midwest posted a loss of three points for a reading of 63 and the Southern region posted a one-point loss for a reading of 66. The West posted a two-point gain for a reading of 77.

Future builder confidence readings depend on conditions as storm season continues and winter weather sets in.

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood Floors

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood FloorsAre you tired of scouring the internet, trying to find the secret recipe for whatever will take stains out of your carpet? And the irritating annual steam cleaning ritual where your whole home is soaking wet for a couple of days? Ugh. If your old carpet has you down, it might be time for a change. In today’s blog post we’ll share five great reasons why you’ll want to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors.

Your Home Will Look Amazing

Let’s face it. Unless you have a serious appreciation for all things shag, hardwood floors look much better than carpet. Available in a variety of colors and grains, hardwoods add a natural element to any room. They give off a much warmer appeal than carpet as well, especially when polished.

They’re Much Easier To Keep Clean

Spill on the floor? No problem. Pet has an accident? Rest easy. Hardwood flooring is far easier to keep clean than any form of carpeting. Your floor won’t absorb liquids and solids won’t leave a mess.

They’re A Great Equity-Building Investment

Hardwood floors are an excellent investment in your home. Some studies show that up to 75 percent of the cost will be returned when the house is sold, which puts hardwoods high on the list of equity-building renovations. Also, many home buyers are specifically looking for houses with hardwood flooring. So when you do choose to sell, your home may sell that much faster.

They Last Longer Than Carpets

The next time you are over at a friend’s house, take a look at their floors. Many homes have hardwood flooring that has been around for decades, requiring only the occasional refinishing to restore its former shine. Hardwoods last much longer than carpets and won’t require a full “rip and replace.”

Your Allergies Will Thank You

Finally, if you or any of your family members suffer from allergies, hardwood floors may be the answer. Carpets collect dust, which can lead to the formation of dust mites and other allergens. And while you can vacuum them regularly, only the very best vacuums have enough suction to get deep into the carpet fiber to remove this gunk.

These are just five of the many good reasons to invest in hardwood flooring for your home. When you’re ready to sell, or if you’re in the market for a great new home, contact your local real estate professional. We will be happy to show you some great local opportunities.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 18, 2017

Last week’s economic readings release included reports on inflation, core inflation retail sales and retail sales excluding autos. Consumer sentiment, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also reported.

Inflation Exceeds Expectations, Retail Sales Lag

Consumer prices rose 0.40 percent in August, which surpassed expectations of 0.30 percent growth and July’s reading of 0.10 percent. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food and energy sectors, matched expectations with a reading of 0.20 percent growth and exceeded July’s growth of 0.10 percent.

August retail sales fell to -0.20 percent against expectations of no change from July’s reading of 0.30 percent.

Retail sales excluding auto sales grew by 0.20 percent, which was lower than expected growth of 0.40 percent, which was based on July’s growth rate of 0.40 percent.  

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady, Weekly Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported no change for averaged fixed mortgage rates; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.78 percent. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.08 percent and was also unchanged from last week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.13 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The readings for fixed rate mortgages were the lowest in 2017, and provided an ongoing incentive for home shoppers who continued to face high home prices and slim inventories of homes for sale.

New jobless claims were lower at 284,000 new claims filed than last week and were also lower than the expected reading of 300,000 first-time jobless claims The prior week’s reading reported 297,000 first-time jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on home builder sentiment, existing home sales, housing starts and building permits issued. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will issue its post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will give a press conference. Weekly readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released. 

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today’s post, we’ll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let’s get started!

Title Insurance Costs

You’re almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether or not there are any liens on the property.

Mortgage Underwriting Fees

Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there’s an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the ‘origination fee’ or included within it.

The Closing Fee

As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final ‘closing’ of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you.

Legal And Attorney’s Fees

Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you’ll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment.

While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won’t even notice most of these fees. For more information about the mortgage process, contact your local real estate professional today. We’re happy to help.

Selling Your Home? Here’s 3 Reasons Why You Won’t Want to Handle the Sale Yourself

Selling Your Home? Here's 3 Reasons Why You Won't Want to Handle the Sale YourselfAre you thinking about selling your home? If so, you may be weighing the pros and cons of working with a professional real estate agent. Let’s take a quick look at three great reasons why you won’t want to handle the sale yourself.

You Won’t Save As Much As You Think

Let’s start with the most common and obvious reason that homeowners try to handle their home sale: the cost. It’s true that selling your home using the services of a real estate professional isn’t going to be free. Depending on the value of your home, their commission might range from two to four or five percent of the final sale price. However, the entire reason you’re paying commission is that you’re contracting with a professional to do a job. Your real estate agent is there to both share their experience and handle all of the tasks and responsibilities with your sale. Without them, you’ll be responsible for everything from creating an online listing for your property to figuring out how to host an open house.

So while you may believe you are saving money by not paying commission, you’re going to be burning a lot of your time. If you’re already busy in your career or as a parent, that may end up costing you more in the long run.

A Professional And Objective Eye Is A Huge Plus

Objectivity is another great reason to work with a real estate professional when selling your home. If you had to answer right now, would you say your home is better than your neighbor’s? Better than all the houses on your street, even? The majority of home sellers do believe their home is “above average,” which is of course statistically impossible.

When someone has been the one painting, renovating and putting love into her home for so long, it is no surprise that she becomes attached to it. A real estate agent’s objective eye can offer a nice dose of reality and help to keep the sale moving.

Many Buyers Will Automatically Avoid Owner Sales

Are you a professional salesperson? If not, do you have experience dealing with the public? Selling your home is a significant financial transaction in which you’re going to have to meet with buyers. Moreover, from their perspective, it’s likely that your home is not the only one they’re viewing. Many homebuyers will prefer to work with a seller agent as they know the process will be smooth and professional rather than trying to negotiate directly with an owner.

These are just a few of the reasons you won’t want to go it alone when you sell your home. For more information about local home sales, contact your local real estate professional today.

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the System

3 Useful Tips for First-time Homebuyers Trying to Navigate the SystemWhether you’re tired of renting, need more space or want to make an upgrade, buying your first home is the solution. However, if you have never participated in the market before it can be a bit daunting at first. Let’s explore a few useful tips that are helpful for first-time homebuyers who are new to the process of buying real estate.

Tip #1: Begin With The End In Mind

Before you start exploring local home listings and shopping around, it’s worth asking yourself both what you ‘need’ in a home and what you ‘want’ in a home. For example, are you single or married? If you are married or are likely to be in the near future, are you planning on having a family? Will you need space for pets? What area of the city is most convenient for your commute? And so on. If you start by knowing exactly what you need, it will be that much easier to narrow down your options.

Tip #2: The Market Determines The Value Of A House

The second tip to keep in mind is that your local real estate market is what determines how much a home is worth. What you can afford has nothing to do with a home’s value, nor does your opinion of its current condition. In some cities, homes will sell with the intention of being torn down after the purchase completes.

Tip #3: Go Low, Start Slow

Finally, when you’re ready to make an offer, it should be one that is as low as possible without insulting the homeowner. Buying a house is not like buying groceries or clothing. The price isn’t fixed and is certainly going to be open to negotiation. Conversely, you shouldn’t be surprised if and when the seller makes a counteroffer against yours. The more you’re prepared for a lengthy back-and-forth to hammer out a final price, the more likely you are to be successful.

When you’re ready to buy your first home, contact your trusted real estate professional and we’ll be happy to help.

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don’t Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here’s Why

Ready to Buy Your First Home? Don't Forget to Check Your Credit Score – Here's WhyWhether you’re just out of college, recently married or simply haven’t jumped into the market yet, buying your first home is an exciting prospect. It can also be an expensive one, which is why most people will take out a mortgage to help finance the cost.

If you are planning on engaging with a mortgage lender, you’ll need to have your finances in order. In today’s post, we’ll share a few key reasons why you’ll want to check your credit score well in advance of buying your first home.

Your Credit Score Is A Signal For Lenders

As you know, mortgage lenders have a responsibility to lend to those individuals and families who are at a low risk of default. So when a mortgage lender starts to dig into your financial background, they are looking at your credit history and credit score to help them assess that risk.

Note that having a low score doesn’t necessarily mean you have bad credit. If you’re still in your 20s and have only had a credit card, your score might be low even though you are fully capable of managing a mortgage.

Your Score Impacts Your Mortgage Interest Rate

As mentioned above, your credit score helps to signify your risk. If your credit score is in a lower range, perhaps a 640 or 660, you’re presenting a greater risk than someone with a score of 760 or 800. Because of this, the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage will in part be determined by your credit score. Those individuals who present a higher risk pay a higher rate to compensate. And vice versa, if your credit is spotless you can expect to pay a lower interest rate.

You’ll Need Time To Challenge Any Issues

Finally, you’ll need to give yourself some lead time to challenge any irregularities with your credit report. The credit reporting agencies aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. There may be some old, retired credit card or other debt sitting on your report which is holding the score down. Even worse, there may be some incorrect delinquency or other error which ends up as a big red flag for potential mortgage lenders.

As you can see, it’s worth spending the time to check your credit score. You get to check it for free once per year, so take advantage of the opportunity. And when you’re ready to discuss buying your first home, contact your local professional real estate agent. We’ll share how to navigate the credit score and mortgage process so you can land the home of your dreams.