Archive for January, 2017

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can’t Forget to Take Care of This Winter

January 31, 2017

5 Home Maintenance Chores That You Can't Forget to Take Care of This WinterWinter may be a time for nesting until the cold weather abates, but there are a number of important tasks that a homeowner should be sure to do during the winter months. If you’re readying for the slow season or wondering what you might have forgotten, here are some things you’ll want to check off your to-do list.

A New Coat Of Paint

Getting out the paint may seem like a sizeable task, but any peeling paint is going to be adversely affected by the cooler temperatures of fall and winter. While you may want to hold off if it’s already cold, it might be a task worth prioritizing if the materials on your home will be damaged as a result of the coming weather.

Shovel The Snow

Shoveling snow may be important for sidewalk safety, but a build-up can actually have an ill effect on your home’s foundation. Instead of taking the risk, ensure you clear the areas around any basement windows and steps so that drainage will not impact your home’s foundation and its value.

Do A Window Check

A window that isn’t properly sealed can cause issues with the heating and cooling of your home, but in the cooler season any issues will be a lot more apparent. If you find drafts throughout the house, you may want to hire a professional or do the re-caulking on your own.

Restore The Roof

If there are issues with the viability of your shingles, you may have significant problems when it comes to heavy rain or snow. Whether you decide to hire a pro or head up the ladder on your own, make sure to take the time to check for loose or damaged shingles before the season hits.

Test The Detectors

It’s easy to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at any time, but it’s easier to remember if it’s on the year-end checklist. It may be easy to forget about the utility of a functioning detector, but it’s very important for protecting your home and your family in the event that something goes wrong.

There are a lot of things to prep for when it comes to winter, but it’s important to make sure that you’ve done your home maintenance duties so your home is prepared for the coming season.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on new and existing home sales and mortgage rates. Also released were reports on new jobless claims and consumer sentiment.

New and Existing Home Sales Lower in December

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, sales of new homes fell to 536,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This reading was markedly lower than the expected rate of 595,000 sales and November’s reading of 598,000 sales. Analysts said that the drop in new home sales indicated that the housing sector is still experiencing a rocky recovery. December’s reading for new home sales was 10.4 percent lower than December’s adjusted reading of 598,000 sales. December’s reading was 0.40 percent lower year-over-year.

The median sale price of new homes was $322,500 in December, which was 4.30 percent higher than in November and 7.90 percent higher than in December 2015. The dip in sales has increased inventory of available homes to a reading of 5.80 months needed to sell all new homes presently available. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of homes for sale a normal inventory.

In related news, sales of pre-owned homes were also lower in December. The National Association of Realtors® reported December sales at 5.49 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; this reading was lower than expectations of 5.51 million sales and November’s reading of 5.65 million sales. The slower rate of sales may signal that home prices have topped out; there is also a very low inventory of available pre-owned homes for sale as compared to demand. Sales of pre-owned homes were 2.80 percent lower than November’s reading, which was the highest rate of existing home sales since 2007. Sales of pre-owned homes were 0.70 percent higher year-over-year.

Winter weather and holidays may have contributed to lower home sales in December, but higher prices, tough mortgage requirements and a low supply of available pre-owned homes were seen as obstacles to completed home sales for December.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher fixed rates for mortgages last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 10 basis points to 4.19 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.40 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.20 percent. Discount points for fixed rate and 5/1 mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

New jobless claims exceeded expectations of 250,000 new claims with a reading of 259,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 237,000 new claims. Analysts said that volatility is common with new jobless claims in January. There were few layoffs reported and good news that the new jobless claims rate remained below the benchmark reading of 300,000 new claims for the 99th consecutive week. This milestone was last seen in 1970.

The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 2000 to an average of 245,900 new claims filed; this was the lowest reading since 1973.

Consumer sentiment rose to 98.5 which surpassed the expected reading of 98.2 percent and December’s reading of 98.1 percent.

Whats Ahead

Multiple readings on housing and labor related data will be released this week. Scheduled releases include pending home sales, Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices and construction spending. Reports on inflation and core inflation are due along with readings on non-farm payrolls, ADP payrolls and the national unemployment rate. 

The First-Time Home Buyer’s Guide to Getting the Best Possible Mortgage Rate

January 27, 2017

The First-Time Home Buyer's Guide to Getting the Best Possible Mortgage RateWhether they’re found online or heard from family and friends, there are so many mortgage tips out there that it can be hard to know exactly how to proceed. But, if you’re new to the market, there are a few surefire things you can do to get a mortgage rate you’ll feel good about. For some of the best tips on getting a great loan, look no further than the following.

Know Your Credit History

It’s a simple fact that one of the most important factors in your mortgage application is your credit history, so good or fair, it’s important to be aware of where you stand. While the acceptable credit score for mortgage approval can fluctuate, the best rates are often available to those with a score that is higher than 760. In order to improve your chances, get a copy of your credit report and pay attention to any discrepancies that might be in it. These can have a negative impact on your score and your application, so you’ll want to have them revised if they’re incorrect.

Save Your Down Payment

It’s not a requirement of mortgage approval to put 20% down, but a down payment of this size will lower your debt-to-income ratio and will make you a more solid bet for the lender. By having 20% in the bank to go towards your home investment, you will also be able to qualify for a lower rate. Not only this, you will not be required to pay mortgage insurance which means a lowered monthly payment and a higher disposable income in the event of market fluctuations.

Consult With A Mortgage Professional

You may want to pursue a mortgage on your own, but having a professional to help you with the process can be beneficial for a number of reasons. A mortgage expert will not only be aware of market conditions, they will have a relationship with the lenders that means they may be able to get you a rate you wouldn’t be offered on your own. While you may want to go it alone, there are benefits to consulting a professional.

There’s a lot involved in the mortgage process, but by putting 20 percent down and having a good credit history, you’ll be well on your way to a great rate. If you’re currently on the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

4 Websites to Help You Evaluate the Safety of Your Future Neighborhood

January 26, 2017

4 Websites to Help You Evaluate the Safety of Your Future NeighborhoodWhen you’re just moving into a neighborhood, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re getting into. Certainly, you can see the sights for yourself and read about your new community online, but there are still things that may not be readily available. If you’re looking for the cold, hard facts on the safety of your neighborhood, look no further than the following websites for the things you’ll want to know.

Situation Alerts on SpotCrime

By simply typing your street address in at SpotCrime, you will get an instant report of all the criminal goings-on in your community from arson to assault. While SpotCrime is free and enables you to register so you can be alerted to situations in your community, you also have the ability to anonymously offer up information that will help others.

Crime Rates On Neighborhood Scout

A website that will give you information regarding the crime rate in a certain community, Neighborhood Scout offers much of its information free of charge to users to scope out future communities for their own interest. In addition to the per capita crime rate, you can also get a host of information about other communities around the country with similar crime profiles to your own.

Registered Offenders on Family Watchdog

The tranquility of a neighborhood is something that can be easily taken for granted, but Family Watchdog enables you to be aware of what might be going on under the surface. Committed to determining the location of registered sex offenders, this website will easily inform you if there are any offenders in or near your community so you can evaluate the safety of you and your family accordingly.

Situation Updates on CrimeReports

Along with SpotCrime, CrimeReports is another website that enables you to type in your address to instantly pull up a host of information regarding recent crime that’s occurred in your next neighborhood. Much like SpotCrime, it provides you with an easy to read map of crimes that have occurred and you have the option of signing up for alerts that will inform you of recent situations in your community.

There may be a lot of information about your neighborhood online, but the websites listed above can help you with the details on things that may not be commonly reported.

Refinancing Your Mortgage: How To Get The Most Out of Your Home Equity

January 25, 2017

Refinancing Your Mortgage: How To Get The Most Out of Your Home EquityWith interest rates on the rise following the 2016 election, it’s possible that you’re now considering your options for refinancing your current mortgage. It can sometimes be hard to know all of the ins and outs of making this choice, though, and it’s important to know what’s involved. If you’re trying to determine if refinancing will work for you, here are some of the basics on this option and what it can mean for your equity.

Acquiring A Lower Interest Rate

One of the most common reasons for re-financing is to get a lower interest rate on a mortgage in times of a fluctuating market. While it may seem like this is more hassle than its worth, if you are able to get an improved rate, this can add up to considerable savings over time. While the once suggested percentage for refinancing was 2%, with economic times changing it can be worth looking at the numbers to determine if this option is financially viable for you.

Building More Equity

The great thing about negotiating a better interest rate for your mortgage is that it will not only lower your monthly mortgage payment, it can be a greater financial benefit over time. For example, if you have an 8% interest rate on a $250,000 home, adjusting your rate to 6% per month will mean a decrease in your monthly expenditures. Since you’ll be paying less interest overall, you can up your monthly payment and pay off the principal even more quickly.

Will Refinancing Benefit You?

While refinancing can be a great option if you’re able to get a better rate and are planning on staying in your home to reap the benefits, there are things to consider when making this choice. If you’re refinancing in order to make a big expense or renovate, these may be financially beneficial choices, but they can also be bad for the bank if budgeting isn’t kept in mind. It’s also worth realizing that there will be fees associated with refinancing, from the appraisal to the application, so ensure the new rate makes up for these costs.

There are many benefits associated with refinancing your mortgage, but it’s important to be aware of the costs involved and the financial benefit to you in the long term before making a decision. If you’re currently reconsidering your mortgage, contact one of our local mortgage professionals for more information.

3 Important Things To Consider Before Listing Your Home on Airbnb

January 24, 2017

Airbnb has become an attractive way for homeowners to make income from their property. Although Airbnb’s is known for its reputable insurance policy, there are a few things you should consider before listing your home online.

Time Commitment

People have a tendency to think more about what they can gain from hosting on Airbnb than what hosting will do to their life. Having a steady stream of guests is quite a time-consuming endeavor; you’ll have to respond to inquiries online, clean your guest’s space and do laundry after every booking, and make sure your home is constantly neat and tidy.

This may seem like a small to-do list, but if you have a new guest every 3-4 days that could add up to 10 extra loads of laundry per month. Yikes!

As a host, you will also need to be present to check guests in and out of your home, which means you’ll need to book time off from your other commitments to properly welcome your guests and fulfill your hosting requirements. Hosting on Airbnb is just like having a real B&B, it is a business and requires time as such.

Risky Business

Needless to say, allowing strangers to stay in your home comes with inherent risk. Although Airbnb has insurance to protect its hosts and their homes, hosts are still vulnerable to theft or property damage. This can be especially devastating if sentimental items, such a wedding rings or family heirlooms, are stolen by a guest.

Another risk for Airbnb hosts to be aware of is squatting scams. Some scammers have taken advantage of the fact that when a guest stays in a home for longer than 30 days, they may gain squatting rights to the property, making it difficult for their host to force them to leave.

To avoid this situation, do not accept bookings that are longer than 30 days, and/or be very clear in your communication to guests that they are only allowed to stay at your property until the agreed upon departure date, and explicitly state that they must vacate your home after that time.

Be Realistic

It is unlikely that listing your home on Airbnb will provide you with enough financial freedom to quit your job and travel the world, though it may provide you with extra funds to contribute towards your mortgage payments. Be realistic about your expected hosting income, and don’t make any major financial changes based on your expectations until you have experience as a host and can accurately predict your monthly Airbnb profit.

Are you ready to find an ideal income property for Airbnb guests? Speak with your local mortgage professional today!

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

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 4.09 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 4.12 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.

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let’s Take a Look

January 20, 2017

How Will Having a New President Impact Your Mortgage? Let's Take a LookThere is always uncertainty in the market in an election year, but many people are wondering exactly what kind of impact Donald Trump’s election will have on their mortgage and the real estate options available. Whether you are still paying off your home or have been shopping around for the right one, here are some possibilities for the real estate market following the results of the 2016 election.

An Increase In Luxury Properties

With the release of Donald Trump’s tax plan which provides the most sizeable tax cuts to the wealthy, it could be the case that there will be an increase in the demand for high-end properties which may lead to less availability and a higher price point. As this kind of demand could also work to bump up the median price of real estate in urban areas, it could have an adverse impact on low-income earners who may see themselves priced out of a more expensive market.

Rising Mortgage Rates

Most people that have been perusing the market recently have heard about the low interest rates that make purchasing a home a good financial decision. However, following the uncertainty of the election, interest rates are on the rise. While the sense of instability may persist until potential homebuyers know more, this boost in the rates since the election may mean that many buyers will decide to hold off until the new year.

A Loosening Of Regulations

The concept of the cost involved in regulation was something that Donald Trump brought up many times on the campaign trail, and this could be a sign that he is ready to make adjustments when it comes to housing regulations. While there may be little he can do at the local level, if regulation changes take hold, this could mean more loan opportunities for those with a poor credit history who may not have been a shoe-in for a mortgage previously.

With the fluctuations of the market dependent upon a variety of factors, it’s hard to say what will occur in the mortgage market in the next few months and years. However, with mortgage rates on the rise and the potential change in regulations, it could continue to fluctuate until there is more certainty on the horizon. If you’re currently on the market for a home and are curious about your options, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Home Builder Index Dips in January

January 19, 2017

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. 

Get Your Mortgage Paid Down Faster With These 5 Simple Money Saving Strategies

January 18, 2017

Get Your Mortgage Paid Down Faster With These 5 Simple Money Saving StrategiesThe monthly mortgage payment can be burdensome for many, but it’s possible you’ve thought of trying to pay it down more quickly. Without getting a new job or working overtime, here are some tips you can use on a daily basis to save additional funds and pay off your mortgage at a swifter rate.

Make Your Lunch

The five or ten dollars spent on lunch might not seem like a lot, but over time this amount adds up to a lot of savings. Instead of hitting the cafe, pick one or two nights each week to prepare a lunch for yourself so you can skip the daily expense.

Take A Coffee To Go

Like lunch, coffee is another thing that can end up costing a lot of money. However, instead of going for the two-dollar cup, make a pot before you leave for the day or opt for the office coffee instead. If you prefer yours on the go, you can always make it a once-a-week treat.

Avoid The Impulse

This might seem like a hard one to stick with, but instead of buying something because you want it, sit on it for a day or two and see if it still appeals to you. In all likelihood, the desire to purchase will pass and you’ll manage to keep more money in the bank.

Read The Flyers

Items like groceries may be a necessity, but that doesn’t mean that you have to buy the first thing you see. From fruits and vegetables to packaged goods, there are plenty of food items that go on sale all the time. By the time the month is out, you’ll be surprised how much you can save just by shopping around.

Skip The Cell Phone Plan

For most people, having a cell phone is a necessity these days; however, there are ways that you can get around the high costs that are often associated with smart phones. Instead of going for the expensive plan you have, settle for a little bit less service and talk to your provider about deals they can offer you.

It may seem like paying a higher monthly amount on your mortgage is impossible, but there are little ways to save each day that can help you pay it down faster. If you’re planning on looking for a new home in the near future, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.