Archive for December, 2016

Selling Social: How to Leverage Your Social Network to Sell Your Home Faster

December 30, 2016

Selling Social: How to Leverage Your Social Network to Sell Your Home FasterThere were days when the marketing of a home involved plunking a sign into the front yard, but with the power of the Internet, there are many mediums through which home sellers can find potential buyers. If you’re currently looking at ways to use the power of social media in order to get your ideal purchase price, here are some things you can do to best harness its capabilities.

Make A Facebook Page

According to the social market service provider, Postling, approximately 80% of real estate agents are now using Facebook in order to market and sell their properties. This means that Facebook is not only a great tool for agents, it can be an ideal means of marketing for you. By creating a Facebook page for your home that is professional looking and informative, you may be able to tap into a unique base of people without having to do a lot of legwork.

A Picture Says A Thousand Words

Open Houses can have a huge impact on finding the right buyer for your home, but a good picture can also be a great way of drawing in interested parties. Instead of creating a video or a website, you may want to try making a Pinterest account that highlights the rooms of your house and any special details that may work to entice homebuyers. It’s just important to make sure your pictures show your house in its best light so you can get people through the door.

Create A Twitter Account

It may seem a bit strange to create a Twitter account for your home, but it can actually be a fun and simple way to attract a broad mix of people and show what your home has to offer. Because a Tweet must engage people in 140 characters or less, it can be a great opportunity to articulate the benefits of your home in a concise, clear way. In addition, it’s an easy and affordable means of getting your home out there without having to invest money or time into marketing materials and a website.

From marketing material to a savvy real estate agent, there are a variety of ways to sell a home. However, with the power of social media, many home sellers have the opportunity to do the legwork without putting in a great deal of effort.

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Did You Know? A Mortgage Professional Can Save You a Lot of Money. Here’s How

December 29, 2016

Did You Know? A Mortgage Professional Can Save You a Lot of Money. Here's HowMany people forego a mortgage broker and decide to go through the application process on their own, but a mortgage professional can actually work to save you money when it comes to your biggest investment. Whether you’re new to the market and are looking for tips or are just a prospective buyer in need of advice, here are a few reasons you may want to consult a broker to make for an improved real estate investment.

Liaising With The Lender

If you go it alone without a lender, you may be able to find a good loan opportunity, but because a mortgage broker knows the ins and outs of the market, they may be able to assist you in acquiring a better deal. Since brokers have a business relationship and a history with many lenders, they will be able to get you in the door and perhaps broker a deal you would not have been able to find without them.

It’s A Free Service

Many people think that a broker adds even more expenditure to an already expensive investment, but mortgage brokers can you save you time and money in the long run. While this can be a financial boon on its own since you can tap into their knowledge and experience for free, it’s also worth realizing that the lender pays a broker and has a responsibility to them as well as you. It may be free, but it’s worth doing a little digging to find the professional that can best meet your needs.

Navigating The Application Process

For those who are new to the market, the paperwork and discussion around getting a mortgage can be a significant deterrent in putting money down. Since a mortgage broker is familiar with the process, they can help you compile the correct documentation and you can trust their knowledge of the process. While it’s important to do some of your own research about mortgage rates and lenders, a broker can help you save time and seal the deal.

Many people are hesitant to consult with a mortgage broker when it comes to their home purchase, but as a free service that can make the process a little clearer, it can be well worth the consultation. If you’re currently in the market for a home and are confused with all of the associated details, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Continues

December 28, 2016

Home increased in October according to Case-Shiller’s 20City Home Price Index. Home prices rose from September’s annualized reading of 5.40 percent to 5.60 percent. Factors contributing to rising home prices include stronger economic conditions and outlook along with short inventories of available homes coupled with high demand. On average, October home prices rose 5.10 percent on seasonally adjusted annual basis, which was unchanged from September’s reading.

West Continues to Lead Home Price Growth

Top home price growth rates were in Seattle, Washington at 10.70 percent, Portland, Oregon at 10.30 percent and Denver, Colorado with a seasonally-adjusted annual price increase of 8.30 percent. New York, New York had the lowest home price growth in October with a reading of 1.70 percent.

In a separate report, December consumer confidence exceeded expectations with an index reading of 113.70 as compared to an expected reading of 110.00 and November’s reading of 109.40. This was the highest reading for consumer confidence since 2001. Analysts said that the strong reading for consumer confidence was a sign that consumers will increase their spending in 2017, but what will happen with mortgage rates is a big question.

Rising Mortgage Rates May Slow Home Prices, High Demand for Homes

With the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its target federal funds range in December comes a question of how rising mortgage rates will affect housing markets. Rising fed rates typically lead to increases in consumer lending rates including rates for home loans and refinancing. Combined effects of rising home prices and mortgage rates create challenges for first-time and moderate income home buyers. While higher mortgage rates have not impacted buyer demand so far, rising mortgage rates could sideline some buyers.

A recent compilation of the most expensive places to live in America illustrates the imbalance of home prices as compared to consumer incomes. Brooklyn, NY topped this list with a reading of 127.70 percent of average household income earned in Brooklyn to buy an average priced home in Brooklyn. Analysts reporting this data noted that many Brooklyn homeowners work in Manhattan and earn more than those who work in Brooklyn. Disparities in average home prices and home buyer incomes could “trickle down” to less expensive areas if mortgage rates and home prices continue to rise.

Meanwhile, builder confidence is strong and is expected to lead to higher levels of home construction in 2017.

3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a Home

December 27, 2016

3 Things You Must Do after Inheriting a HomeThere can be a lot of excitement when it comes to the realization that you’ve inherited a home, but simply because it’s an inheritance doesn’t mean there aren’t a few strings attached. Whether you’re expecting to be gifted with a home in the future or you’re currently going through this process, here are a few things you may need to watch out for.

The State Of The Mortgage

Once a home has been effectively handed over to you, it’s important to determine the status of the mortgage with the lender and if anything is still owed. While you have the option of taking over the mortgage in a lot of cases, in the event that there’s a reversible mortgage or you’re choosing to rent it out as a second property, you may not be able to transfer the mortgage. While this can often be a rather seamless process, if money is owed there can be other factors to consider.

Determine If You Want It

If you already have a first home and don’t want to take care of your second property as a rental unit, it’s important to realize that keeping the home may not be the best decision for you. While you have the option of organizing a short sale if you’d like to get it off of your hands, you can also contact a real estate agent who will be able to provide you with advice on how to proceed if you’re unwilling (or unable) to take control of the property.

Is It In Good Condition?

Whether you want to keep the home or not, there can be cases where it’s not even a question if it’s a home that you’re going to end up investing money into without much return. In the situation that a lot of money is owed on the house or there are serious issues with its general condition, you may want to release yourself from the inheritance and move on with your financial situation still intact.

There can be an instant feeling of acquired wealth in the event that you’ve inherited a home, but a home in bad condition or that you don’t want to take care of can end up being more of a headache than anything else.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 26, 2016

December 26, 2016

Last week’s economic news included readings on consumer spending, core inflation new home sales and regularly scheduled readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Consumer Spending Dips in November

Commerce Department reports on consumer spending in November indicated that consumer spending was lower in November with 0.20 percent growth as compared to October’s reading of 0.40 percent growth. November’s reading for core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, was flat as compared to expectations of 0.10 percent growth and October’s reading of 0.10 percent growth.

New Jobless Claims Rise to 6Month High

New jobless claims jumped to 275,000 last week as compared to an expected reading of 258,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 254,000 new claims. New claims typically rise during the holiday season due to school and other workplace closures.

There was good news as new jobless claims remained below the benchmark of 300,000 new claims for 94 consecutive weeks. This streak of new claims below 300,000 new claims is the longest since 1970. Increasing numbers of “contingent” workers contributed to volatility in employment; The Rand Corporation reported that 10.10 percent of the workforce was contingent workers in 2005; the percentage of contingent workers increased to 15.80 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2015.

Mortgage Rates, New Home Sales Rise

Freddie Mac reported a jump in mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 14 basis points higher at 4.30 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 15 basis points higher at 3.52 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose 13 basis points to 3.32 percent. Analysts said that the 10-year Treasury rate rose 10 basis points in response to the Fed raising its target funds rate. New home sales gained in November with a seasonally adjusted annualized reading of 582,000 sales as compared to 285,000 expected sales and October’s annual rate of 563,000 sales of new homes. This was the second highest reading for new home sales since early 2008. Builders will be watching mortgage rates and new home sales in the New Year to determine how rising mortgage rates will impact new home sales.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. U.S. Financial markets will be closed Monday in observance of the Christmas holiday

After the Sale: The Next Steps and What You’ll Need to Do Before You Move Out

December 23, 2016

After the Sale: The Next Steps and What You'll Need to Do Before You Move OutGetting an offer on your home can certainly make it feel like the hard part is over, but even after the deal is sealed there’s still a lot to do when it comes to moving out. Whether you’re getting prepared for a future move or your buyer has just signed on the dotted line, here are the first steps to take once it’s certain your property is off the market.

Start The Packing

For many people, packing is something they would rather put off until the last minute, but boxing up your stuff is actually a great opportunity for a little spring-cleaning at any time of the year. Instead of procrastinating, get started early and ensure that you’re only packing up the items you will make use of. Whether you decide to pass the extras off to friends or donate them, this is a great way to make your next home clutter free.

Book The Moving Trucks

The day you have to be out of your home by will be set in stone, so it’s important to get ahead of this process and contact the movers as soon as you can. Moving companies have busier times of year and by booking in advance, you won’t have to comply with their loaded schedule. While you’ll want to make a reservation if you’re working under a time crunch, it still might be worth shopping around to see if you can find a better deal.

Complete The Last Minute Fix-Ups

In all likelihood, there’s a list of minor tasks the homebuyer will want you to complete prior to move-in. It’s important to prioritize these things so they’re not left until the last minute, so ensure you make a list and pick a day or a certain window of time to complete them. Whether you’ve agreed to paint a room or get the windows re-sealed, not making these fixes can end up costing you money so it will be worth the time you spend.

It’s a wonderful feeling to get your home off the market at the purchase price you were looking for, but there are still things that need to be done before the deal is sealed. By making a list of any outstanding maintenance and booking the moving trucks, you’ll be well on your way to your new home.

Understanding the HARP Program and How to Qualify for a HARP Mortgage

December 22, 2016

Understanding the HARP Program and How to Qualify for a HARP MortgageInterest rates may be relatively low, but if you’re a homeowner who is struggling with your monthly mortgage payment, it may be time to consider what re-financing options are available on the market. If you are looking for a lower interest rate to improve your financial health, here’s what you need to know about the HARP program so you can take advantage of a better rate.

What Is HARP?

The Home Affordable Refinance Program, which is commonly known as HARP, was created in the wake of the 2008 recession, which was brought on by the high amount of housing debt in the United States. As the program was created to simplify re-financing for those who needed a different mortgage option, it is a means of providing lower interest rates to those who possess a solid payment history but may be struggling with the financial burden of their monthly payments.

What’s Required For HARP Refinancing?

There are a variety of requirements the homeowner must meet so they can take advantage of the HARP program. In order to apply, the homeowner must have a mortgage that is owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae and was purchased prior to May 21st, 2009. If this condition is met, the homeowner must prove their financial reliability by being up-to-date on their mortgage payments with no payment more than 30 days late in the previous six months. While you’ll want to check with HARP’s website or your mortgage adviser for details, eligible property types include a primary residence, a one-unit second home and a one-to-four-unit rental property.

What’s The Fine Print?

Utilizing the HARP program and acquiring a lower interest rate may seem like an instant benefit for your finances, but it’s important to find a lender who does not have high closing costs. If you have a lender at a high cost, it’s possible that even at the lowered interest rates offered by using HARP, the savings gain will not balance out with what you will be paying by sealing the deal.

If you’re a homeowner who is looking to refinance in 2017, HARP may be the ideal mortgage option for you to re-finance your mortgage and save money on a monthly basis. While it’s important to be aware of all of the details involved before choosing this option, if you’re considering HARP, reach out to one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Mythbusting: Understanding Mortgage Myths and Why They Shouldn’t Hold You Back

December 21, 2016

Mythbusting: Understanding Mortgage Myths and Why They Shouldn't Hold You BackWith the fluctuations in real estate and the increasing cost of home ownership, many people are entering the market with more trepidation these days. Fortunately, there are a number of myths associated with buying a home that may not adversely affect potential homebuyers. If you’re interested in purchasing a home but are unsure about whether it will get approved, here are a few things you may want to dispel.

No Approval With Less Than 20 Percent

While putting 20 percent down can help you avoid having to pay private mortgage insurance, this down payment percentage is still just a suggestion when it comes to mortgages. It’s necessary to put a certain percentage down and be able to drum up the money on your own, but if getting into the market is your priority, buying now may be worth the investment over time. It’s just important to remember that the cost of your monthly payment should be affordable for the long term.

Home Ownership Is Too Expensive

It’s certainly the case that the real estate market is always fluctuating and prices can go up or down, but generally speaking, a home will increase in value over time and that means your monthly payment will be something you can consider an investment. While monthly rent disappears as soon as the calendar month is over, the money you invest into a home month after month builds up your equity and ensures greater stability for your financial future.

You Must Have A Good Credit Report

While it will definitely help your mortgage application if you possess good credit, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker if you don’t. Each mortgage is assessed based on a combination of factors that can include your down payment amount and your debt-to-income ratio, so this means that if you have a higher down payment and a less impressive credit report, you can still be approved. It’s a good idea to pay your bills on time and get your debt down if you’re applying for a mortgage, but there are opportunities for potential buyers who have experienced credit issues.

Home ownership is an important dream for many people, and as a result, there are many myths associated with the mortgage process. However, even if you don’t have 20 percent down or perfect credit, there are still opportunities for improving your financial well-being and investing in a home. If you’re currently looking for a new home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Graduating Soon? Tips to Prepare You for Your First Mortgage

December 20, 2016

If you’ve recently graduated from college, or will be graduating soon, and plan to become a homeowner, you’re in a somewhat unique position. You’re about to embark on a great journey, but at the same time, you may also be taking on an awful lot of debt. That said, it is possible to successfully manage a high debt load if you’re careful.

So how can you make sure you can pay your mortgage, your student loans, and your mortgage expenses all without losing your mind? Here’s what you need to know.

Make Sure You Have An Emergency Fund

Managing a high debt load isn’t necessarily a challenge if you have a consistent income stream. But if interest rates rise on your adjustable rate mortgage, if your portfolio doesn’t do as well as expected, or if you lose your job, you may find yourself unable to pay your expenses without dipping into your savings. That’s why you’ll want to establish an emergency fund a spare supply of cash you can live on for 6 months or longer, if necessary.

Extra Cash At The End Of The Month? Attack High-Interest Debt

Mortgage rates are at a historical low right now, which makes now a great time to become a homeowner but if you’re going to carry a mortgage and student loans, you’ll need to be smart about how you repay your debts. High-interest rates can quickly add up and eventually crush you, which is why your debt with the highest interest rate should be your primary priority. This is most likely your student loan so if you have some extra money left over at the end of every month, put it toward your student loan first.

Never Roll Student Loans Into A Mortgage

Some young people seem to think that getting a mortgage is the answer to student debt. By rolling your student loans into a mortgage, you can worry about just one monthly payment instead of two. The problem with this thinking, though, is that your student loan is probably the size of the principal on a mortgage and you’ll have to stretch your loan term out farther in order to afford the monthly payments.

This means that you’ll pay more money in interest over the long term. Your mortgage loan is also a loan with more severe consequences for missing a payment. If you miss a number of mortgage payment, you could run the risk of losing your home but if you miss a student loan payment, there are lesser consequences. Paying off a student loan and a mortgage at the same time may seem like a daunting task, but it is possible.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

Housing news was boosted by the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which posted its highest readings since July of 2002. In other news, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the federal funds rate and Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a press conference. Mortgage rates rose and weekly jobless claims fell.

Home Builder Confidence Highest in 14 Years, Home Construction Lags

According to the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence in housing market conditions reached its highest rate since 2002 in December. The NAHB Housing Market Index reading topped out at 70 as compared to November’s reading of 63. Analysts said that December’s high reading resulted from a post-election bump in builder confidence. While high builder confidence could bode well for supplies of new homes, construction rates continued to lag strong economic indicators such as low unemployment and high demand for homes. While builders gained confidence in current and projected housing market conditions, they continued to face shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Fed Raises Rate

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced it would raise the federal funds range by 0.25 percent to 0.50 to 0.75 percent. FOMC said strengthening job markets, lower unemployment and rising household spending supported the decision to raise the federal funds rate. Inflation, while below the Fed’s target of 2.00 percent, is gradually moving toward the Fed’s medium term goal. FOMC’s statement indicated that the Fed’s monetary policy would remain accommodative.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen held a press conference and cited “considerable progress” toward the Fed’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability as factors supporting the decision to raise the target federal funds range. Labor markets continue to improve; Chair Yellen said that the economy has added 180,000 jobs per month over the last three months. 15 million jobs have been added in the past seven years. Inflation is growing gradually, and the Fed expects to achieve its target inflation rate of 2.00 percent over the next two years.

Month-to-month consumer spending readings held steady at 0.20 percent growth. Core consumer price index data, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose from 0.10 percent to 0.20 percent in November.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates were higher last week, but Freddie Mac said that its survey data was collected before FOMC raised the federal funds rate. Analysts at Freddie Mac suggested a wait-and see position on rate forecasts due to the changing political climate. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 4.16 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 2.37 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.19 percent. Average discount points for fixed rate mortgages held steady at 0.50 percent and dipped to 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

New jobless claims were lower last week at 254,000 claims filed. Analysts had expected a reading of 250,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 258,000 new claims filed. Volatility in weekly readings for new jobless claims can be expected due to seasonal hiring and layoffs.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic releases include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, inflation and consumer sentiment. Readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.