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January 30, 2015

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Three Subtle Painting Tricks That Will Make Your Home Look Amazing

Three Subtle Painting Tricks That Will Make Your Home Look Amazing This Spring When it comes to painting the walls of a house, sometimes subtle is best. You want to add design, color, and texture to the walls, but you don’t want it jarring to the eyes. Here are three subtle painting techniques you can try on your home walls.

Tissue Paper Texture

One easy way to add texture to walls is to use tissue paper. You apply the tissue paper to the walls and it stays there until you want something new.

Crumple up a piece of tissue paper into a tight ball and then open it up and smooth it out. Small textured lines will appear on the paper. Those lines will remain when you use the paper on the walls.

Use the colored wall paint as glue to adhere the tissue paper to the wall. Paint an area of the wall that’s a little bit bigger than the piece of tissue paper. Press the paper to the painted area and smooth it out so all the edges stick to the wall. Paint over the tissue paper. Repeat the process until the entire wall is covered.

Sponge Color-on-Color Technique

Natural sponges create a unique look on painted walls. If you use two versions of the same color, satin and semi-gloss, then it creates a subtle look that isn’t shocking to the eyes. The color is the same but the shine is different.

Paint your wall with the satin color paint. Let it dry completely. Dip the top of the natural sponge in the semi-gloss paint. Dab the sponge to the wall over and over. It’s OK to overlap the paint in areas and you aren’t going to completely cover the wall.

Once dry, the satin paint will show from beneath the semi-gloss paint creating a neat shine effect.

Taped Stripes

You don’t want bold multi-color stripes on your wall because it will stand out too much. Subtle stripes create a beautiful effect.

Choose two colors that sit side-by-side on the color spectrum. Or, choose two similar colors from different companies. Paint companies tend to have slight differences in colors.

Paint the walls your first color choice. Let it dry completely. Tape the walls using painters tape to make stripes. Make them horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Make them wide or thin. It’s up to you. Paint the walls again with the second color choice. Paint right over the tape. When you remove the tape, the first color will show.

These simple and subtle paint techniques will make your walls beautiful. This is especially useful if you plan to sell your home and want to increase its value. Visit a trusted real estate agent for more information on simple ways to make your home more inviting to potential buyers.

January 29, 2015

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Mind Your Manners: Four Etiquette Tips That Will Help Make the Home Buying Process Go Smoothly

Mind Your Manners: Four Etiquette Tips That Will Help Make the Home Buying Process Go SmoothlyAre you currently shopping for a new home? While it’s true that real estate transactions can be stressful, this stress can be minimized by following a few simple tips. For example, following proper etiquette plays a big role in making your real estate experience go smoothly, and in this post we’ll share four key etiquette tips that are sure to help.

Get Preapproved

Prior to shopping, a buyer should check with a lender to determine the maximum loan amount they qualify for. This is proper etiquette because both the seller and the real estate broker have likely prepared themselves and assume you have as well.

Keep It Professional

Shopping for a home seems personal, but keeping interactions on a professional level can ease the awkwardness of the process. One step in that direction is being considerate of others’ schedules. Proper etiquette includes being realistic about how many properties can be seen in a span of time. Allowing time for a sellers’ special conditions, pets or children is also good etiquette.

Negotiate Through A Representative

When it’s time to negotiate pricing between a buyer and seller, the real estate agent should be used as the intermediary. While touring a property, it is best not to make offers or discuss how much the house is priced for, or make any counter offers without involving the real estate agent. It is also not advisable to point out stains, outdated designs or noticeable damage in the hopes of getting a discount.

Use Closing Credits

Home sellers should not be surprised once a buyer has decided to close and begins to negotiate the price. Home inspections reveal problems a home has and the buyer’s willingness to continue negotiating can depend on how willing the seller is to address those problems. A closing credit can be a win-win for both parties. If the buyer and seller of the home agree on closing credits instead of repairs and inspections, the buyer has the option of hiring a contractor and dealing directly with the contractor if not satisfied. Meanwhile, sellers are typically ready to move out or are not living at the property, so closing credits save them time.

Well-mannered people handle real estate transactions in a way that lets them join the ranks of successful buyers and sellers who operate with as little stress as possible. The good news is that real estate agents can help with understanding what proper home-buying etiquette is. Call a real estate agent to receive guidance on how to navigate a real estate transaction with ease.

January 28, 2015

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Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slower in November

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slower in November

Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for November indicate that home price growth continues to slow. The 20-City Home Price Index dropped by 0.20 percent to November’s reading of 4.30 percent year-over-year. 

The five cities with highest year-over-year home price growth rates in November were:

San Francisco, California 8.90%

Miami, Florida 8.60%

Las Vegas, Nevada and Dallas, Texas 7.70%

Denver, Colorado 7.50%

The five cities with the lowest year-over-year growth in home prices were:

Cleveland, Ohio 0.60%

Washington, DC 1.90%

New York, New York and Minneapolis, Minnesota 1.50%

Chicago, Illinois 2.00%

There were no instances of year-over-year depreciation in home prices for the year-over-year readings, but month-to-month readings indicated that slower momentum in year-over-year home prices is producing negative home price readings on a month-to-month basis. First the good news; although no city included in the 20-City Home Price Index had month-to-month home prices increases of one percent or more, there were some gains.

Month-to-Month Home Price Readings Mixed

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for November, 12 cities posted month-to-month gains for home prices and eight cities saw home prices decline from October to November.

The five cities with the highest month to month home price growth in November were:

Tampa, Florida 0.80%

Miami, Florida 0.60%

Las Vegas Nevada 0.50%

Los Angeles and San Diego, California 0.50%

San Francisco, which led year-over-year home price growth rates for November, posted a month-to-month gain of 0.10 percent.

The five cities with the highest declines in month-to-month home price growth were:

Chicago, Illinois -1.10%

Detroit, Michigan -0.90%

New York, New York -0.80%

Minneapolis, Minnesota -0.70%

Washington, DC -0.50%

In spite of gloomy month-to-month readings for November home prices for cities included in the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price report, overall signs of economic growth persist. In separate reports released Tuesday, The Department of Commerce reported that December sales of new homes rose by 11.60 percent year-over-year.

481,000 newly constructed homes were sold in December as compared to expectations of 455,000 new homes sold and November’s reading of 431,000 sales of new homes in November.

Home Sales Should Continue to Increase with Warmer Weather

As warmer weather approaches, it’s likely that overall home sales will continue to increase. Stronger job markets, low mortgage rates and the possibility of relaxing mortgage standards likely contributed to a jump in consumer confidence for January.

Consumer confidence increased from December’s index reading of 93.10 to 102.90, which was the highest reading since August 2007. Analysts had forecasted an index reading of 96.90 for January. Expectations of wage growth, which has been largely flat post-recession, were seen a significant contribution to January’s boost in consumer confidence. 

January 27, 2015

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Three Excellent Reasons to Buy a Home So You Can Get out of the “Renting Rut”

Three Excellent Reasons to Buy a Home So You Can Get out of the Renting a home is a good option for some, but buying a home just might be the best thing for you. When you rent a home, you send money to someone else every month in exchange for knowing that you can call on your landlord when the roof leaks, an appliance stops working or your bathroom faucet breaks. There are some big advantages to buying a house that will help you get out of your renting rut and focus more on your future.

Build Equity

Did you know that when you rent a home, you help someone else build equity? Any changes that you make with your landlord’s approval puts money back in his or her pocket. Keeping the yard clean and taking care of routine maintenance builds equity in that property. When you buy a home of your own, you have the chance to build equity of your own, which you can use to obtain a loan later.

Save On Your Taxes

When you rent a house, you cannot deduct the money you spend on your taxes. Though some states will let you make a small deduction based on the total amount you spend in rent each month, you cannot make any deductions on your federal taxes. When you buy a home, you can save with a few different types of deductions.

The federal government lets you make a deduction if your home is worth more than what you currently owe on your taxes. If you purchased your first home, you can make a deduction in regards to your property taxes. You can also deduct money that you spend on some renovations and energy saving appliances.

Put Your Personal Touch On Things

As long as you continue renting, you live in a home that belongs to someone else. Your landlord has final say over what you do and do not do. This often means that you cannot make repairs or significant changes without seeking approval first.

Renting a home lets you put your personal touch on things. You can paint the walls any colors you want, rip out the carpet to add hardwood flooring or even make significant changes outside to turn your new home into your dream home.

Now that you know more about the benefits of buying a home and how that purchase can get you out of the rental rut you’re in currently, turn to a real estate professional for assistance.

January 26, 2015

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 26, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 26 2015Last week’s economic reports included the National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Housing Starts for December and the FHFA Home Price Index report for November. The National Association of Realtors® also released its Existing Home Sales report for December.

Freddie Mac and the Department of Commerce released their weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Builder Confidence Close to Record High, Housing Starts Rise

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that home builder confidence slipped by one point in January to an index reading of 57. This was not a significant decline as any reading over 50 indicates that a majority of builders are confident about current housing market conditions. January’s confidence reading remained close to a 2005 peak. 

Housing Starts rose in December to 1.09 million starts as compared to expectations of 1.04 million starts and November’s reading of 1.04 million housing starts according to the Department of Commerce.

December’s annual reading reflected strong home builder confidence and was the highest for housing starts since 2007. Low mortgage rates and improving labor markets were seen as factors contributing to housing construction.

Existing Home Sales Fall, FHFA Home Price Index Gain 

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously owned homes fell to 4.05 million in December, which fell short of 5.08 million expected sales and 4.93 million sales of existing homes in November. Analysts were puzzled at the first drop in sales volume for existing homes since 2010.

Low mortgage rates, job growth and the possibility of less restrictive mortgage requirements were cited by analysts as factors that should have fueled sales of existing homes and should continue to boost home sales as more home buyers enter the market.

FHFA reported that prices of homes associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose 5.30 percent year-over-year in November. This was an increase of 0.90 percent over October’s year-over-year reading of 4.40 percent.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Lower

Mortgage rates dropped across the board according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by three basis points to 3.63 percent with discount points higher at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was five basis points lower at 2.93 percent and discount points higher at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by seven basis points to 2.83 percent with discount points unchanged at an average of 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims fell from the prior week’s reading of 317,000 new claims filed to 307,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected a reading of 298,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts noted that this was the third consecutive reading above 300,000 new jobless claims since July, but the higher readings were attributed to layoffs of seasonal holiday workers.

What’s Ahead

Case-Shiller will release its composite home price index reports; new home sales, consumer confidence and consumer sentiment reports are scheduled along with a customary statement from the FOMC at the conclusion of its January meeting.

January 23, 2015

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It’s 2015! Get a Jump on Your Payments with Our Quick Guide to Paying Your Mortgage off Sooner

It's 2015! Get a Jump on Your Payments with Our Quick Guide to Paying Your Mortgage off Sooner With the start of the New Year, it’s common to set new resolutions. While there are many goals that are worthwhile, paying off your mortgage as soon as possible can significantly improve your financial position and is a great goal to aim for. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at a few helpful tips for paying your mortgage off sooner.

Refinance To A Shorter Mortgage Term

For example, switching from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year will get your mortgage paid off in half the time it would have originally taken, and it will also lower the total amount owed. By switching to a 15-year mortgage plan, you can save well over a decade’s worth of interest payments.

Carefully Consider How Much Space You Need

Many people have more home than they can afford. By downsizing to a smaller, cheaper house, you should be able to pay more than your minimum payments each month. Other nice perks, such as saving money on heating and air conditioning, may also be able to help make the goal of paying off your mortgage seem more attainable.

Make Payments Every Other Week

Mortgage companies often give borrowers the option of choosing to make payments either every month or every other week. If you opt to pay every other week instead of every month and have a standard, 30-year mortgage, you’ll be able to pay off your debt about six years sooner than expected.

Cut Expenses

Find a regular expense in your budget that isn’t a necessity and start using that money towards your mortgage instead of what you would normally spend it on. For instance, bringing lunch to work each day instead of eating out could easily save a person at least $100 per month. That’s over $1,000 per year!

Set Extra Money Aside

To pay off your mortgage quickly without having to cut regular expenses, use overtime income, holiday pay and gift money for extra mortgage payments. This way, you can pay down your debt without having to lower your standard of living. Another option is getting a part-time job for a few hours each week and putting the extra income towards your house.

There are many things that you can do to pay off your mortgage quickly, but you don’t have to do them all. Whether you choose one tip from this list or all five, you should be able to start making progress on your loan.

January 22, 2015

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2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You Renovate

2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You RenovateRenovating your kitchen is an excellent way to improve its look, increase the value of your home and appeal to a more diverse range of home buyers if you decide to sell. However, a kitchen remodel can easily cost $10,000 to $20,000 or more, which is why you want to make choices that you can live with. Learning more about some of hottest trends for 2015 can help you decide what you want and don’t want in your kitchen.

Traditional Is Back

Trends come and go, but the classics remain constant. One of the hottest renovation trends for 2015 is a more traditional look. Homeowners today are no longer attached to trendy colors and modern designs; they want homes that have a more traditional look and will retain that traditional look for years to come.

Experts predict that 2015 will bring a return to darker wood colors for cabinets, tables, counters and even floors. There are also some reports that homeowners will use oil rubbed bronze and darker pulls and handles on cabinets and drawers as opposed to flashy and contemporary chrome accents. Other trends include rustic farmhouse tables, double porcelain sinks and natural stone counters.

Going Green

It’s hard to go anywhere today without seeing or hearing about green decorating trends, and those trends carry over into kitchens. Homeowners want products made from recycled materials and the chance to “go green” at home. Adding a recycling center is just one of the hottest trends for the kitchen.

Designers also found that homeowners want counters and floors made from recycled or sustainable materials. Bamboo is a sustainable construction material that works well in flooring applications. Homeowners can also find counters made from old tires, soda bottles and other recycled goods.

Homeowners Want More Space

Ask anyone want they need in their homes, and the odds are good that many will say they need more space. Recessed lighting is one trendy accent that adds more space and reduces the number of fixtures and cords hanging down from the ceiling. Other ways to add more space include adding an island with storage to the center of the room and cutting down on the number of cabinets lining the walls.

There are a number of trendy ways that you can renovate and change your kitchen. Going green, adding more space and bringing in traditional elements are just a few of those ways. Talk with a real estate agent about other changes you can make that will add value to your kitchen.

January 21, 2015

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NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Nears 2005 High

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Nears 2005 HighThe National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reported that homebuilder confidence in sales conditions for single-family homes declined one point to a reading of 57. The NAHB Housing Market Index measures home builder confidence based on builder opinions of current market conditions, future market conditions and buyer foot traffic in new homes.

Home Builder Confidence Stable for Seven Consecutive Months

January’s index reading of 57 was one point below December’s reading of 58. Any index reading above 50 indicates that more home builders are confident about housing market conditions than not. January’s reading was the seventh consecutive reading above 50. NAHB said that builder confidence in future market conditions slipped by four points to a reading of 60; builder confidence in current housing market conditions was unchanged at a reading of 62 and the reading for buyer foot traffic fell two points for a January reading of 44.

David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, cited improving labor markets, stronger economic conditions and higher consumer confidence as factors that contributed to January’s reading. In addition, analysts said that certain economic trends including higher rents and low mortgage rates may compel more renters to buy homes. Although pent-up demand contributed to buyer interest in recent months, restrictive mortgage credit policies are seen as a deterrent to higher sales volume. Builder confidence in home sales conditions would likely improve if the government can ease lender concerns about providing mortgages to buyers who don’t have strong credit scores.

Housing Market Index Indicates Room for Growth

In spite of strong builder confidence, there’s plenty of room for improvement in markets for new single-family homes. As of November, the sales pace for new homes was approximately 41 percent below the average pace for the last 20 years; housing starts for the same period were approximately 24 percent below the average for the prior 20 years. The Department of Commerce reported that housing starts were 24 percent below the 20 year average. This suggests that while borrowers are confident in housing market conditions overall, they may be taking a conservative approach on building new homes until more buyers enter the market.

This week’s upcoming housing-related reports will help determine the overall climate for housing market growth. Existing home sales and housing starts for December will be released along with FHFA’s home price report for November.

January 20, 2015

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 20, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 20 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news was mixed. Job openings increased and jobless claims increased, and consumer sentiment rose. Mortgage rates fell across the board. Labor market conditions improved and consumer prices fell in large part due to decreasing fuel prices. The details:

Labor Market Conditions Index Suggests Stronger Economy, Jobless Claims Jump

Positive labor market ratings continued to show evidence of strengthening economic conditions. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index rose from November’s revised reading of 5.50 to December’s reading of 6.10. This index measures 19 economic indicators and rose well above its median reading of 1.90. November’s reading was the highest since May.

The Fed does not comment on month-to-month readings for this index. Job openings increased from November’s reading of 4.80 million to December’s reading of 5.00 million in according to the federal government.

Weekly Jobless Claims jumped to 316,000 as compared to the expected reading of 295,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 297,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that some volatility in new unemployment claims are expected in the aftermath of the holiday season and noted that the latest reading was the highest since September.

Mortgage Rates, Retail Sales Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.66 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also fell seven basis points to 2.98 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by eight basis points from 2.98 to 2.08 percent.

Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 0.60 percent, while average discount points for a 16-year mortgage dropped to 0.50 percent from the prior week’s reading of 0.60 percent. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent as compared to the prior week’s average of 0.50 percent. Lower mortgage rates help increase affordability and support home purchases by first-time and moderate income homebuyers.

Retail Sales for December dropped by -0.90 percent against expectations of -0.20 percent and November’s reading of +0.40 percent. December’s reading for retail sales except autos was lower by-0.10 percent as expected against November’s reading of +0.40 percent.

Last week ended on a positive note with the January reading for the Consumer Sentiment Index beating the expected reading of 95.0 with a reading of 98.20. December’s reading was 93.60.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, The National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report, FHFA Home Prices and Leading Economic Indicators. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates reports and weekly jobless claims will be released as usual.

 

January 20, 2015

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 20, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 20 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news was mixed. Job openings increased and jobless claims increased, and consumer sentiment rose. Mortgage rates fell across the board. Labor market conditions improved and consumer prices fell in large part due to decreasing fuel prices. The details:

Labor Market Conditions Index Suggests Stronger Economy, Jobless Claims Jump

Positive labor market ratings continued to show evidence of strengthening economic conditions. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index rose from November’s revised reading of 5.50 to December’s reading of 6.10. This index measures 19 economic indicators and rose well above its median reading of 1.90. November’s reading was the highest since May.

The Fed does not comment on month-to-month readings for this index. Job openings increased from November’s reading of 4.80 million to December’s reading of 5.00 million in according to the federal government.

Weekly Jobless Claims jumped to 316,000 as compared to the expected reading of 295,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 297,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that some volatility in new unemployment claims are expected in the aftermath of the holiday season and noted that the latest reading was the highest since September.

Mortgage Rates, Retail Sales Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.66 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also fell seven basis points to 2.98 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by eight basis points from 2.98 to 2.08 percent.

Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 0.60 percent, while average discount points for a 16-year mortgage dropped to 0.50 percent from the prior week’s reading of 0.60 percent. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent as compared to the prior week’s average of 0.50 percent. Lower mortgage rates help increase affordability and support home purchases by first-time and moderate income homebuyers.

Retail Sales for December dropped by -0.90 percent against expectations of -0.20 percent and November’s reading of +0.40 percent. December’s reading for retail sales except autos was lower by-0.10 percent as expected against November’s reading of +0.40 percent.

Last week ended on a positive note with the January reading for the Consumer Sentiment Index beating the expected reading of 95.0 with a reading of 98.20. December’s reading was 93.60.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, The National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report, FHFA Home Prices and Leading Economic Indicators. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates reports and weekly jobless claims will be released as usual.

 

Chris Brown
Chris Brown is the premier expert on HARP loans and Government FHA and VA loans. Please visit The Mortgage Chili Blog