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May 4, 2015

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 4, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week May 4 2015Last week’s economic news included S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports, the Fed’s FOMC meeting statement and pending home sales. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims were also released as usual. The details:

Case-Shiller: Denver Leads Home Price Gains in February

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed that home prices continue to appreciate, but at a slower rate than in previous years. Home prices increased at a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year rate of 4.20 percent in February as compared to the February 2014 reading of 4.40 percent.

Denver, Colorado led February’s year-over-year home price appreciation rates with a reading of 10.00 percent. San Francisco, California followed closely with a year-over-year reading of 9.80 percent and Miami Florida reported year-over-year home price gains at 9.20 percent.

FOMC Statement: Fed Expects Moderate Economic Growth

In its customary post-meeting statement the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) the Fed repeated its projections for moderate economic growth, but again kept its options open for raising the target federal funds rate, which currently ranges between 0.00 and 0.250 percent. The Fed noted that inflation remains below its goal of 2.00 percent, largely due to earlier decreases in fuel prices. FOMC indicated it will be monitoring inflation data closely.

FOMC members agreed not to raise the target federal funds rate, but said that FOMC will closely monitor data on its dual mandate to achieve maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent. Labor market conditions, readings on expected and actual inflation rates and domestic and international economic developments will be considered before the FOMC raises the target federal funds rate. When the Fed does raise rates, mortgage rates can also be expected to rise.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall to 15 Year Low

Average mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.68 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.94 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage increased by one basis point to 2.85 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.60 percent and rose from 0.40 to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly first-time jobless claims were lower than expected with a reading of 262,000 claims filed against expectations of 287,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 296,000 claims filed. This was the lowest reading for new jobless claims in 15 years. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 1250 claims to a reading of 283,750 new claims filed. Analysts typically rely on the four-week rolling average reading as it softens the effects of volatility that can occur from week to week.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports are dominated by employment related data including the National Unemployment Rate, Non-Farm Payrolls and the ADP Employment report. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey will be released as usual on Thursday.

May 1, 2015

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Selling a Large Family Home? How to Stage Your Home to Appeal to Family Buyers

Selling a Large Family Home? How to Stage Your Home to Appeal to Family BuyersSelling a large house requires showing buyers its potential as a place where they can raise their families, enjoy space to grow, and make it their own. Preparing a large house can be a big task. There are more rooms to clear out, more square footage to get in tip-top shape, and more accumulated belongings to sort through. However, a large house also has strong points that appeal to buyers looking for a spacious home.

Clear the Clutter

Take a look at whether the house feels spacious or crammed with years of debris. Big houses have so much space that many families store more and more things. Therefore, sellers should throw out what they don’t need or want, consider putting old treasures in temporary storage, and leave closets and cabinets with plenty of empty space so buyers can envision their own belongings there.

Define Family Spaces

When children leave the nest, some couples turn bedrooms into storage space, work areas or other rooms. To sell the home, they should consider restoring bedrooms to that use. If the house is advertised as a four- or five- or even six-bedroom house, put a bed and a dresser in that many rooms. Make the large living area look like a family room by removing anything else. If there is a garage for two or more cars, remove other items.

Update Key Rooms And Spaces

Consider updating key rooms to appeal to young families. A Realtor® can give advice on whether the kitchen, bathrooms or living areas are outdated by today’s standards and whether renovation would increase the sale price.

Make Any Necessary Repairs

Families used to living with a sticky window or tarnished faucet should go through each room and make basic repairs. A fresh coat of paint is one of the least expensive ways to instantly freshen up any room.

Improve Curb Appeal

Many buyers won’t even walk in the door if they don’t like what they see when they drive by. Remove overgrown shrubs. Get rid of weeds. Add flowers. Fix the mailbox and check the condition of the front door.

Following these steps will show off the best attributes of a big house and help buyers envision it as a place for their own families. Call your real estate agent today for an assessment of how to prepare your home for today’s family buyers.

April 30, 2015

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The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must Embrace

The Three Essential Habits That Successful Home Buyers Must EmbraceWhether you are preparing to purchase your first home or it has been many years since you last walked through the home buying process, you may be starting to feel overwhelmed at the thought of all of the work that lies in front of you. From concerns about finding the right home to the physical act of relocating all of your belongings after the closing, there is certainly a lot to think about. While each home buying transaction is unique, the most successful home buyers have typically adopted a few behaviors. You may keep these in mind to help you navigate through the process with success.

Keep An Eye On Your Budget

Financial stress when buying a home is common. You may have saved for years to afford your down payment, but there are various expenses that some may have not calculated or planned for. It is important to leave extra funds available for unexpected expenses, such as paying for the appraisal up-front on the home you have fallen in love with. Likewise, keep a close eye on your budget so that you are aware of your financial situation at all times.

Be Available And Flexible

It is imperative that you remain available and flexible as much as possible. Your real estate agent may call you at the last minute with a great new listing that has come on the market, and you may need to be flexible with your schedule to see this property before other buyers do. In addition, you may need to be flexible and accommodating with regards to contract negotiations, working with title company requests and more.

Seek Advice And Knowledge

Buying a home does not have to be stressful, but it also is not something that you do every day. There is a lot for even an experienced home buyer to learn, and you should be prepared to seek advice and to educate yourself along the way. Ask questions as necessary, and use the Internet for additional research.

Home buying is a process, and you may consider taking one day at a time as you proceed through the journey to reach your ultimate goal. A skilled real estate agent can guide you through the process and can help you to more successfully reach your goal. Reach out to a real estate agent today to begin looking for your new home.

April 29, 2015

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Case-Shiller: 20-City Home Price Index Hits 6 Month High

Case Shiller 20 City Home Price Index Hits 6 Month HighAccording to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for February, month-to-month home prices increased by 0.50 percent from January’s reading and achieved the highest year-over-year gain in six months. Analysts expected February home prices to increase by 4.80 percent. David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones index committee, said that home prices continue to rise and outpace both inflation and wage gains. Although this is great news for homeowners, it also demonstrates the challenge of affordability for home buyers.

Year-Over-Year Home Prices: Denver Leads in Home Price Gains

Home prices in Denver, Colorado increased by 10 percent year-over-year in February; San Francisco, California home prices gained 9.80 percent year-over-year. Miami, Florida home prices gained 9.20 percent year-over-year. Dallas, Texas and Portland, Oregon rounded out the top five cities with the highest year-over-year home price appreciation in February. Home prices in Dallas increased by 8.60 percent, while and Portland’s home prices gained 7.10 percent year-over-year.

February readings for year-over-year home price growth were lowest in Washington, DC at 1.40 percent. Cleveland, Ohio and New York, New York posted year-over-year gains of 2.30 and 2.50 percent respectively. Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by 2.90 percent and Minneapolis, Minnesota home prices gained 3.10 percent year-over-year.

Chicago, Illinois and Detroit Michigan posted year-over-year gains of 3.40 percent and 3.7- percent. Both cities have shown the smallest gains in prior months but home prices are gaining in year-over-year readings.

San Francisco Tops Month-to-Month Home Price Growth

Price gains from January to February 2015 were led by San Francisco, California with a reading of 2.00 percent. Denver, Colorado home prices gained 1.40 percent; Seattle, Washington home prices gained 0.80 percent, and were followed closely by a gain of 0.80 percent in Los Angeles, California and a tie at 0.70 percent for Portland, Oregon and San Diego, California.

Cites showing negative readings and the lowest month-to-month price gains in February were Boston, Massachusetts at -0.20 percent; Cleveland, Ohio at -0.10 percent. Chicago held steady with 0.00 percent gain and Atlanta, Georgia and Minneapolis, Minnesota posted month-to-month gains of +0.10 percent.

Home prices remained about 16 percent below their 2006 peak at the end of February.

April 28, 2015

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Thinking About Buying a Rental Property? 3 Reasons You’ll Want to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Thinking About Buying a Rental Property? 3 Reasons You'll Want to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval A rental property is a wonderful investment option to consider, and it can provide you with everything from considerable tax benefits to appreciation and monthly cash flow. While you may be eager to get started searching for a new rental property to invest in, a good idea is to take the initial step to get pre-approved for your mortgage.

There are several good reasons why a pre-approval is an important first step to take.

Determining What Sales Price to Consider

The mortgage rules and guidelines for an investment or non-owner occupied property are different than those for an owner occupied property. For example, a key difference is that most lenders will require you to make a larger down payment. When you get pre-approved for your mortgage, you can more easily narrow down your property choices so that you only consider those that are affordable for your budget.

Estimating Cash Flow

When you invest in a rental property, you will need to estimate the cash flow for the property to ensure that it is a good investment. This may include reviewing the monthly rents and operating expenses, and it also includes analyzing the mortgage payment. When you get pre-approved for your mortgage, you can estimate your monthly payment and determine which properties are a better investment opportunity for you and which will generate the largest profit for you.

Structuring A Stronger Offer

By getting pre-approved, your mortgage professional will provide you with a pre-approval letter. This letter can be given to a seller when you structure your offer, and essentially this will strengthen your offer and make you look like a more serious and qualified buyer. When you are in a bidding war, this letter can make a big difference in your success. Furthermore, it can streamline your mortgage process once your offer is accepted by the buyer, and it will enable you to create a more realistic closing date on your offer.

While you may be ready to jump head first into your property search, you may benefit from taking time to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This process takes very little time to do, and it will facilitate the entire process. From searching for a great property and analyzing its strength as an investment opportunity to helping you pass through the loan process, you will benefit in a number of ways. You can reach out to your trusted real estate agent today to begin the process.

April 27, 2015

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 27, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week April 27 2015Last week’s housing related reports included the FHFA Home Price Index, the National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report and The Commerce Department’s report on new home sales. Results were mixed, but suggest that housing markets are strengthening.

FHFA Home Prices Up in February, Existing Home Sales Highest in 18 Months

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose from a 5.10 percent increase in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.40 percent in February.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose to 5.19 million in March as compared to expectations of 5.08 million sales and February’s reading of 4.89 million sales of pre-owned homes.

March sales represented a 6.10 percent gain over February sales; this was the highest volume of existing home sales in 18 months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, said that if strong sales of pre-owned homes continue, 2015 could be the best year for existing home sales in nearly a decade.

New Home Sales Lag in March

The Department of Commerce reported that new home sales fell from February’s reading of 543,000 new homes sold to 481,000 new homes sold in March. Analysts expected a March reading of 503,000 new homes sold. This was the slowest pace for new home sales since November, but year-over-year, sales of new homes were 19.40 percent higher year-over-year. The national median home price fell by 1.70 percent to $277,400 year-over-year.

Sales of new homes decreased by 33 percent in the Northeast and fell by 16 percent in the South. New home sales fell by three percent in the West and rose by six percent in the Midwest. At the current sales pace, there is a 5.3 month supply of new homes for sale as compared to a 4.6 month supply in February. Analysts said that stagnant wage growth contributed to fewer home sales.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Weekly Jobless Claims

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage lenders, average mortgage rates fell across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.67 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also dropped two basis points to an average of 2.92 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.84 percent. Discount points for a 30 year mortgage fell to 0.60 percent; points for a 15-year mortgage were higher at 0.60 percent and average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell from 0.50 to 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims came in at 295,000 new claims filed; analysts expected a reading of 288,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading was 294,000 new claims filed. Spring break holidays were blamed for higher jobless claims and March job growth hit its lowest in more than a year. Analysts caution against reading too much into weekly fluctuations and prefer to use the four-week rolling average to identify trends in unemployment claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s housing related economic reports include Case-Shiller 10 and 20 City Housing Market Index reports, the customary post-meeting statement from the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and pending home sales data.

April 24, 2015

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Staging Tips: Let’s Talk Landscaping and How to Prepare Your Yard for the Spring Bloom

Staging Tips: Let's Talk Landscaping and How to Prepare Your Yard for the Spring BloomWhen you are preparing to list your home for sale, you may take various steps to stage the interior so that it is appealing to a potential buyer. In addition to various steps you may take with staging the interior, you want to pay attention to your yard as well. During the spring months, many yards look fresh and vibrant, but they also need some extra care in order to boost curb appeal and make a great first impression on buyers.

Focus On Your Flower Beds

Whether you have one small flower bed or several sprawling areas of beds, you should ensure that all of the vegetation looks fresh and tidy. Trim bushes, and add bright spring annuals to brighten up the space. Pull weeds, and add a layer of fresh mulch to your flower beds to give them a finished, well-maintained look.

Keep The Lawn Neat And Tidy

During the spring months, your lawn may revive from its dormant winter state, and you may find it growing rapidly. The green hue of a spring lawn can have a powerful benefit to curb appeal, but you want to keep the lawn trimmed and edged regularly to give it a manicured appearance. This can also minimize the impact of the look of weeds that may occasionally crop up throughout the spring months.

Pay Attention To Your Patio And Entryway

While your vegetation will require some effort to maintain while you list your home, you do not want to overlook your patio and entryway. These are often visible from the street, and they will be viewed up-close when buyers tour your home. Ensure that the area is clean, and power wash it if necessary. Consider updating front door hardware and the entry mat if they appear worn or dated. You may also need to sweep these areas regularly while your home is listed for sale.

Staging your property can help you to sell your property more quickly and for top dollar, but your staging efforts should not be focused entirely on the interior of your home. Your landscaping also requires extra effort when you are getting your home ready to sell, and these tips can all help you to spruce up your landscaping with beautiful results. You may seek more customized information tailored to your property when you speak with a real estate agent about listing your home.

April 23, 2015

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Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong – and How to Avoid These Mistakes

Home Buying Horror Stories: How Buying a Home Can Go Wrong - and How to Avoid These MistakesWhen you buy a home, you may have dreams of settling into a beautiful new space that meets your needs and that your family can feel comfortable in. While many will enjoy this vision of domestic tranquility after taking ownership of their dream home, others have had their dream turn into a veritable nightmare due to some simple mistakes or oversights on their part. By understanding these mistakes, you can avoid making them yourself.

Paying Too Much For The Property

One the surface, the main cost of buying a home relates to the sales price, and it is true that your monthly housing payment may be the primary related expense. However, other expenses such as homeowners insurance, property taxes, repair and maintenance costs, utilities and more will all need to be factored into the cost of home ownership. Some buyers believe that because an online calculator or a lending professional tells them that they can afford a high priced home that it is the case. You can review your budget and estimate all related home expenses to determine how affordable a specific property is for you.

Finding Out That The Location Is Undesirable

There are many things that can make a location undesirable, and you should take time to become comfortable with the location before making an offer. Consider, for example, if the neighbors like to throw loud parties on the weekend or if there is a teen driver that likes to speed down the street. If you are buying a property with open land or vacant buildings around it, consider researching zoning, and think about future uses for these properties that could influence value and desire.

Discovering That Your Property Is In Bad Condition

Some home buyers discover after purchasing a property that it is not in the best condition, and some even learn that their home needs tens of thousands of dollars of repair work or more. Even properties that appear to be in great condition on the surface may have hidden issues with the foundation, structure, roof, pipes or electrical work, to name a few. You can order a property inspection to learn more about the true condition of a property.

These are among the most common issues that can turn a dream home into a nightmare. When you work with a local real estate agent when buying a home, your agent can help you to avoid unpleasant and costly mistakes such as these.

April 22, 2015

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First-time Real Estate Investor? Here Are 3 Helpful Tips That Will Get You Started

First-time Real Estate Investor? Here Are 3 Helpful Tips That Will Get You Started Real estate investing comes with many benefits that you may be eager to start taking advantage of. For example, the right rental property can provide you with monthly cash flow coupled with equity appreciation, tax deductions and more, and these can have incredible effects on your overall financial situation. As a first time real estate investor, you may be excited to start searching for a property to invest in, but you may consider following a few helpful tips to make your search more successful.

Determine Your Budget

There are investment properties that range in price considerably, and you will need to know up-front what your budget is before you can begin your search. The right real estate investment will generate revenue to pay your monthly mortgage payment and expenses, but there may be months when your property is vacant. Therefore, in addition to thinking about the amount of down payment that you can afford, also think about how affordable it will be to manage property expenses when the space is vacant.

Consider Different Communities

You may consider being flexible regarding the communities that you invest in. Each community may have a different economic base and primary demographic. For example, some towns or even suburban communities may be largely comprised of college students or military professionals. Think about the benefits between the ease of finding new tenants versus the benefit of having long-term tenants.

Analyze Cash Flow

After you have found a few properties to consider, it is important to analyze cash flow. Each property will be unique with regards to the required mortgage payment, income generated, property taxes and even repair and maintenance needs. While you can estimate these expenses initially, you should request historical operating statements from the sellers early in the process. You will find that some properties can be considerably more profitable than others, so it is important to complete a thorough analysis.

Some real estate agents have considerable experience helping their clients from excellent real estate investments to consider, and they may even complete a basic review of operating statement numbers on your behalf before showing you a property. When you are new to real estate investing, the experience and guidance of a savvy and knowledgeable real estate agent can be invaluable. When you are preparing to make your investment, consider following these tips, and seek the advice of a helpful real estate agent.

April 21, 2015

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You Ask, We Answer: How Long Should It Take to Sell My House in the Spring?

You Ask, We Answer: How Long Should It Take to Sell My House in the Spring?Depending on where you live, selling your house in the spring could take a few weeks to a few months. Although people are in the market to buy a home all throughout the year, spring time appeals to buyers who may be planning to use an income tax refund to help with the down-payment or closing costs. If you want to sell fast make sure you pay attention to the details like curb appeal, freshening the interior, and pricing your home right.

Curb Appeal Basics

Selling your home quickly in the spring depends on a buyer’s first impression when they see your house. If you want to sell in the first couple of weeks it is on the market make sure to clean up debris that has collected and plant some flowers for a pop of color. You may also want to power wash the exterior and touch up paint around windows and doors to help get top dollar for your home.

Clear Out The Clutter

Freshening the interior of your home will give buyers an opportunity to imagine their own belongings in the house. Over the holidays you and the children may have collected new items that need to be packed away and stored out of sight. Once the clutter is cleared out make sure to clean the windows and baseboards to offer spring buyers a fresh clean view of your home.

Sell For The Right Price

Pricing your home right for the spring market is essential to make a quick sale. You may even want to set the price below market value to bring in multiple offers and drive the price up. If you are looking for a quick closing make sure your real estate agent uses this as a bargaining tool with potential buyers.

So how long should it take you to sell your house in the spring? It really depends on the market in your area and how well you prepare your house in advance. Curb appeal will make sure buyers stop in at your open house instead of driving by because the yard looks trashy. Giving the interior of your home a clean non-cluttered look will also help buyers envision a move in ready home. Finally, pricing your home in line with comparable homes in your neighborhood will help ensure you get the right buyer quickly so you can move on to a new adventure.

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