Fed Policymakers Cut Key Rate Range by .25 Percent

September 19, 2019

Fed Policymakers Cut Key Rate Range by.25 PercentThe Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee reduced its key short-term interest rate range one-quarter percent to 1.75 to 2.00 percent during it’s September meeting. While FOMC members had mixed opinions on reducing the benchmark rate range for short term loans, the post-meeting statement suggested that reducing the federal funds rate was a hedge against inflation. The federal funds rate impacts short-term consumer loan rates for autos and adjustable rate mortgages, but does not impact fixed mortgage rates. FOMC monetary policy decisions are governed by the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of maintaining price stability and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

FOMC Members Facing Conflicted Opinions On Rate Cuts

Policymakers consider a variety of influences and news when cutting or raising the federal funds rate range. In addition to its dual mandate, FOMC members consider domestic and global impacts on the economy. Uncertainty over effects of international trade disputes and Great Britain’s looming exit from the European Union balanced strengths in the U.S. economy.

According to the post-meeting statement, seven FOMC members voted in favor of the rate cut to 1.75 to 2.00 percent; one member voted for a rate cut to 1.50 to 1.75 percent and two members voted against changing the target federal funds rate range.

Fed Chair: U.S. Economy Expected To Stay Strong

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a post-meeting press conference that while U.S. economy expanded for its 11th consecutive year, global economic outlook was less certain particularly in Europe and China. The U.S. economy expanded 2.50 percent in the first half of 2019; factors driving growth included rising consumer confidence, wages and strong job markets. Business investment and exports were lower due to uncertainties over trade. Job growth slowed, but this was expected based on 2018’s fast pace of job growth. Work force participation grew; the Fed expects the national unemployment rate to remain below four percent for the next few years.

Chair Powell said that maintaining strong economic conditions was particularly important for low to middle income consumers left behind during the Great Recession. While current inflation stands at 1.40 percent, the Fed projects that it will grow to 1.90 percent in 2020 and achieve the target goal of 2.00 percent in 2021. Chair Powell said that inflation pressures are muted and at the lower end of historical ranges.

Chair Powell echoed the FOMC statement in saying that the Fed would continue to monitor economic developments abroad and would adjust monetary policy according to economic developments prompted by trade disputes and emerging economic developments.

 

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NAHB: Home Builders Remain Confident

September 18, 2019

NAHB Home Builders Remain ConfidentThe National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index shows steady builder confidence in housing market conditions. September’s index reading of 68 was one point higher than August’s reading. Any reading over 50 indicates that most home builders surveyed view housing market conditions as favorable. August’s original index reading was adjusted upward by one point.

Component readings for the Housing Market Index were mixed. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to index reading of 75; this was the highest reading year-over-year. Builder confidence in home sales over the next six months fell by one point to 70. The gauge of buyer traffic in single-family housing developments held steady at 50. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed 50; September’s reading suggested higher builder confidence than the numerical reading suggested.

Average New Home Size Decreases, Builders Confident In Housing Markets

In recent months, builders have focused on producing larger homes, which has limited the number of affordable homes available to middle-income and first-time home buyers. High demand for homes caused by slim inventories of homes for sale and factors including competition with cash buyers sidelined would-be buyers. Home builders scaled down the size of new homes by 4.30 percent during the second quarter of 2019. This trend is expected to encourage potential home buyers into the market as lower home prices and mortgage rates combine to encourage more buyers into the housing market.

Lower Home Prices And Mortgage Rates Increase Affordability

Analysts and real estate pros have long said that the only way to ease demand for homes is by building more homes within all price ranges. Builders did not immediately respond to calls for more homes, but if current builder confidence and a new focus on building affordable homes continues, high demand for homes and short supplies of available homes may ease toward evenly balanced market conditions, but the unknown factor is mortgage rates. If they rise, affordability will be challenged and buyer interest in new homes could slow.

New home prices typically fall as peak buying season ends. Current trends toward building smaller homes, low mortgage rates and lower home prices combined to provide more choices and affordable options for home buyers. If general economic conditions remain strong, more home shoppers could become homeowners.

 

New Home Prices Going Down Making Them More Affordable

September 17, 2019

Residential real estate developers in America are responding to a national slowdown in new home construction by building smaller homes that are more New Home Prices Going Down Making Them More Affordablemodestly priced. The demand for smaller, less expensive homes is growing, while the overall demand for new custom homes is declining. Prices decreased slightly, by about one-half percent, from the price levels in 2018 for newly-constructed homes.

Lower Profits For Builders

The median price for a newly-constructed home in America is $372,900. The median sales price of an existing home is $309,700.

American construction companies are feeling the pressure to build lower-priced homes along with the increased costs for imported building materials due to the tariffs and a labor shortage. This is lowering profits for the construction companies, yet creates a buying opportunity for those looking for a new home.

Lower New Home Inventory Levels

These pressures caused new home inventory to decrease by 1% from the 2018 levels. To put this in perspective, the inventory of new homes only decreased this much in 2013. Even though mortgage loans are easier to come by than a number of years ago, there is not the same demand as before for new homes. Perhaps, this is an advance indicator of an upcoming slowdown.

Down-Sized Demand

The U.S. Census reports that the average size of a new home went from 1,660 square feet in the 1970s to 2,687 square feet in 2105. In 2018, the average size of a new home was only 2,386 square feet.

During 2018, there were around 119,000 contractor-built single-family new homes that started construction and over 840,000 that were completed.

Other interesting trends reported by the Census about the 840,000 new single-family homes that finished construction in 2018 include:

  • 783,000 of the new homes have air-conditioning installed, which is 93% of the total.
  • 778,000 of the new homes have wood frames.
  • 59,000 of the new homes have concrete frames.
  • 336,000 of the new homes have a heat pump.
  • 270,000 of the new homes have a porch or patio.
  • Only 10% or 84,000 of the new homes have two bedrooms or fewer.
  • About half or 376,000 of the new homes have four bedrooms or more.
  • 31,000 of the new homes have one and one-half bathrooms or fewer.
  • 306,000 of the new homes have three or more bathrooms.

Conclusion

Builders who offer smaller, lower-priced homes are still experiencing strong demand. In fact, the demand for these modest homes is growing. This trend is likely to continue for the time being.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 16th, 2019

September 16, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 16th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on inflation, core inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Lower Gas Prices Dampen August Inflation Rate

Consumer prices fell in August; analysts attributed the decline to lower gasoline prices. August’s reading matched expectations, but was 0.20 percent lower than July’s reading. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.30 percent and matched July’s reading.

Analysts expected an August core inflation reading of 0.20 percent. Rising housing and healthcare costs indicated that overall inflation would rise in coming months. Core inflation rose to its highest level in 13 months and was 2.40 percent higher year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates, Rise; New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.56 percent and were two basis points higher than in the prior week. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.09 percent and were nine basis points higher on average.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate rose six  basis points to an average rate of 3.36 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell last week with 204,000 first-time claims filed. Analysts expected 213,000 new claims filed based on the prior week’s reading of 219,000 initial claims.

The University of Michigan reported a jump in consumer sentiment in September;  August readings fell due to consumer concerns over the impact of tariffs on imported goods. September’s consumer sentiment index reading rose to 92.00 as compared to August’s index reading of 89.80.

Analysts predicted a September index reading of 91.40. Analysts said that while confidence in general economic conditions rose, consumers continued to be worried about the effects of tariffs.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and a statement by the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee statement.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell will also give a press conference. Sales of pre-owned homes will be reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

4 Simple Tips For Staying Organized With Kids

September 13, 2019

4 Simple Tips For Staying Organized With KidsIt can be challenging to be organized when you have children. But this is only because, as a devoted parent, you want to be sure your child has everything they need to become happy, well-rounded adults some day.

This usually means you’ll be bringing your kids to extracurricular activities, play dates, fun events and family outings. It also typically means that over the years there will be a steady stream of school supplies, toys, new clothes and maybe even a musical instrument or two. So how can busy parents stay organized with kids? 

Share A Calendar

Depending on how you prefer to organize your days, consider sharing a digital or paper calendar with the entire family. Family members can add events as needed and everyone can access the latest updates. This way, no one gets caught off guard when the dinosaur diorama is due on Monday morning or your child’s ballet recital gets moved from Friday to Saturday afternoon.

Don’t Be Too Detailed

Toys and art supplies have a way of ending up on the living room floor no matter how many tidy storage bins are in your child’s room. Try keeping a large wicker laundry basket in the corner of the living room and let your child pile their things randomly inside the basket. This allows for fast cleanups and doesn’t require you to supervise the “organization.” It also lets smaller kids feel like they’re being a big kid by helping to straighten up.

Store Papers In Accordion Files

Keep accordion folders on hand in the kitchen for when your child comes home with artwork or papers with A grades. Have one accordion file for each month, because they will fill up fast. At the end of each month, go through and filter out anything you don’t want to save permanently. With this method you’ll automatically have your child’s best papers saved according to date.

Do Things On The Same Day

It’s surprisingly helpful to make a practice of always doing certain things on certain days. For instance, every Saturday is bath night, or every Wednesday is change the sheets day. This lets kids know what to expect in their lives and makes it easier for parents to remember things. 

Children add so much joy to parents’ lives. When you’re organized, you’ll probably find that you have even more time to share with your little loved ones.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

 

 

 

 

How Long Should I Spend Looking For a New Home?

September 12, 2019

How Long Should I Spend Looking For a New HomeWhether you’ve been looking for a home for a long time now, or you’re just about to get started on the hunt, you’re probably wondering how long should you spend looking for a new home. Does it take weeks to find your forever home, or months or even a year? What’s typical?

There Is No Typical

The reality is, there is no typical amount of time it takes to find your home. There are too many variables, including how actively you’re looking. Maybe you’ve heard horror stories of people who’ve been hunting for a house for a year. But come to find out, they’ve only really devoted one weekend a month to looking at houses.

Or you’ve heard of a couple who found their dream home in just two days. Well, odds are they spent many nights online, sifting through hundreds of house images and only went to see a handful of homes in person which really met their search criteria.

The Market Plays A Part

It takes longer to find a home when the market is slanted toward sellers. In times like that, there’s less inventory and the houses that are available may be out of reach financially. Keep looking, though, because your real estate agent may find the ideal house on the market from a motivated seller who’s wiling to come down on the price. Hang in there and you’ll find your dream home in any market.

Does Your Dream Home Exist?

If you feel like your home search has been dragging on despite a favorable market, it could be you’re looking for something too elusive to find. Maybe it’s not the houses you’re dissatisfied with, but something else. You may be unconsciously trying to recapture something you’ve lost, like your old childhood neighborhood or a feeling of community.

These are all valid desires that you can acquire with the right home in the right place. Try to identify what you’re really looking for so your real estate agent can help you find it. 

When it comes to finding your home, it takes as long as it takes. Be sure to secure your pre-approved financing with your trusted home mortgage professional and enjoy the process. Communicate with your real estate agent and try to keep an open mind. One day, when you least expect it, you’ll walk through the doors of your next home for the first time. 

Four Key Injury Prevention Tips On Moving Day

September 5, 2019

Four Key Injury Prevention Tips On Moving DayIt’s more likely that someone will incur an injury on moving day than on an ordinary day. The reason is that people are moving in ways that they don’t normally move, loads can be heavy, and accidents do happen. However, most injuries on moving day can be prevented by taking a few simple precautions.

Use A Dolly

Instead of trying to move more than one box by hand, use a dolly or a hand truck. This inexpensive tool can safely move multiple boxes without you having to lift anything at all. Keep in mind that all the boxes should be of equal size; don’t attempt to stack uneven boxes because they may shift and fall, causing an injury.

Take Breaks

Moving day is stressful because there is often a time constraint involved. Everything has to be moved into the truck by a certain time in order to remain on schedule. However, this is the kind of pressure that can lead to injuries. Being overtired leads to carelessness and that’s when accidents occur. Take multiple 10-minute rest breaks throughout the day so your body and mind have a chance to recuperate.

Don’t Overload Boxes

One of the most common moving day injuries happens when someone tries to lift a box that ends up being excessively heavy. Be mindful of the weigh of each box as you pack it. It’s better to keep the weight reasonable and stuff the box with filler than to overload boxes. You don’t have to weigh each box, but just give it a gentle lift to monitor how heavy it’s getting as you pack it.

Send Smaller Kids Packing

If you have smaller kids, the best option is to send them to the parents’ house, or to a babysitter’s until everything is in the truck. Smaller kids may run around and trip you up, distract your attention or otherwise get injured.  

Even the backyard is not a great idea, because they may wander near the truck out of curiosity. For their safety and yours, consider having someone care for them for the day off the premises.

Finally, if you do feel a twinge in your back or get overly exerted, stop what you’re doing and sit or lay down for a few minutes. Don’t try to “push through” the pain; it’s not worth it. Moving day injuries can be minimized or prevented when you take these simple steps. 

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

Young Home Buyers Are A Growing Trend

September 4, 2019

Young Home Buyers Are A Growing TrendA new group of young American adults is emerging as home buyers. These are the young adults who were born after 1995 and are part of the demographic group named Generation Z (Gen Z). In 2019, there are 31.5 million Gen Z members who are adult age. This will increase to 44.5 million adults in this demographic group by 2032 as all the younger members become adults.

Right now, there are around 14 million adults in the Gen Z category who are using credit for the first time.

Not Too Young To Buy A Home

Transunion reports that most Gen Z members are getting credit cards, which is the easiest form of credit available to them. However, they are also applying for mortgage financing in record numbers. The year-over-year increase in home loans among this demographic group is up 112%.

Planning For The Future

In a study conducted by Bank of America, the majority of Gen Z consumers, who are between 18 and 23 years old, are already saving for the down payment needed to buy a home. A huge number of them, 59%, report that they plan to purchase a home during the next five years.

Most dream of owning a home before they are 30 years old. They want to buy modestly-sized and lower-priced homes. They have a high interest in homes that are energy-efficient, homes that use smart technology, and those with renewable energy systems.

Smart Homes And Smart Financial Planning

Many of this generation are still living with their parents to save money for a home purchase, which they would otherwise have to pay in rent. Having lived through the Great Recession in 2008, they are, in general, more pragmatic than previous generations. They take home ownership very seriously.

Manifestation Of The American Dream

Over 71%, of those desiring to buy a home, are already designing it in great detail by selecting things they find on the Internet, which appeal to them. They use social media systems like Pinterest and others to get interesting decorative ideas. They share their home decor ideas with friends.

Conclusion

REALTORS® who work with this new group of home buyers will likely find them more motivated to buy a home than previous generations. They are usually more dedicated with their serious financial planning efforts in how to go about achieving their dreams.

The Generation Z consumers know what they want. They are willing to make sacrifices to get it. The majority want a home and are making plans about how to pay for it.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss your financing options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 3rd, 2019

September 3, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 3rd, 2019Last week’s economic news included  readings on home price trends, pending home sales and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims. The University of Michigan also released consumer sentiment report.

Case-Shiller Reports Slower Home Price Growth in June

According to Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for June, home prices gained an average of 2.10 percent year-over-year. This was the slowest growth of home prices since 2012. Analysts said that home prices grew at one-third the 6.30 percent that home prices grew last year.

Home prices grew fastest in Phoenix, Arizona with year-over-year growth of 5.80 percent; Las Vegas, Nevada home prices rose 5.50 percent and Tampa, Florida reported 4.70 percent growth in home prices.

West coast cities led home price growth in recent years when home prices were rapidly increasing, but growth has slowed and Seattle, Washington reported negative year-over-year growth of home prices in June.Potential obstacles to home price growth include rising materials costs due to tariffs on imported building materials and concerns over slowing economic growth.

Pending Home Sales Lower in July

The National Association of Realtors® reported fewer pending home sales in July as compared to June. Pending sales, which are defined as sales for which purchase contracts have been signed, but sales not closed, fell by -2.50 percent in July as compared to 2,80 percent growth in June. Real estate pros said that the peak home-buying season slows as summer progresses.

All four regions reported fewer contract signings for previously-owned homes in July; the Northeast reported -1.60 percent fewer pending sales, the Midwest had -2.50 percent fewer pending sales and the South reported -2.40 percent fewer sales contracts signed. The biggest dip in contracts signed was in the West with sales contracts -3.40 percent lower than for June.

Analysts and real estate pros expected falling mortgage rates to boost home sales, but current homeowners took advantage of low mortgage rates to refinance their mortgages as would-be home buyers were unaffected by low mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates for fixed rate loans; rates rose three basis points on average for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.58 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.06 percent and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates averaged 3.31 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages

Initial jobless claims rose from the prior week’s reading of 211,000 to 215,000 new jobless claims filed last week. Analysts expected 214,000 new claims to be filed. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index dropped to an index reading of 89.8 as compared to the expected reading of 92.3 and July’s reading of 92.1. August’s reading was the lowest measurement of consumer sentiment since 2012.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on construction spending and data on public and private-sector jobs growth and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released.

Are Tiny Homes Here To Stay?

August 30, 2019

Are Tiny Homes Here To StayThe average size of an American home has been increasing since the 1970s. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) reports that, in 1973, the median size for a new home in the United States was 1,660 square feet.

Over the past 45 years or so, this increased by more than 1,000 square feet. The median size of a new home is now 2,687 square feet.

The Problem With Big Houses

At first, a big house is appealing until one tries to clean it or pay the utility bills. Many baby boomers, who are now nearing retirement age, are downsizing, especially if their children have all moved away.

Moreover, Millennials are the first generation of Americans to experience a reduced standard of living when compared to their parents.

Many millennials see big houses as wasteful, environmentally destructive, and not sustainable. Also, with the challenge of paying off massive student debt, these young adults are delaying buying a home or may remain renters for their rest of their lives, foregoing the chance to have their own home.

One solution for the problems with big houses is to make homes smaller.

The Tiny House Movement

There are strong motivators for the social trend called “The Tiny House Movement.” Many want a smaller space to live in, which they can more easily maintain and afford. Tiny houses are no more than 400 square feet. That is like living in a compact studio apartment.

TheTinyLife says that tiny houses are being built all over the country. They come in almost any style imaginable. The median price for a quality tiny house is about $40,000, although do-it-yourself types can build one for a lot less.

Some are built on a trailer bed that makes them portable. Others are built to function properly in off-grid locations using solar power. There are even tiny houses that have been printed using 3-D printing technology.

Tiny houses can be luxurious, or they can be built to provide inexpensive solutions for housing that helps the homeless.

The Denver Tiny House Community

Denver is trying an experiment with a group of tiny houses called The Beloved Community Village. This is a group of private one-room units that share a communal kitchen and bathrooms. They started with 11 units and plan to expand to 20.

The challenges they experienced were not necessarily construction related. They needed to change the zoning and occupant density rules to allow the development.

Summary

People make a conscious choice to simplify their lifestyle for the freedom that a minimalistic philosophy brings. It is quite possible to live well while also living with less. Tiny houses may even be part of the solution for the approximately half a million homeless people living on the streets in America as the successful tiny house community village in Denver is now demonstrating.

If you are interested in a new home or in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.