Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index And FOMC QE Update

Case Shiller 20 City Home Price Index And FOMC QE UpdateAccording to the S&P Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index, Home prices rose by 0.20 percent in August. Three of the 20 cities tracked saw home prices drop, while Detroit, Michigan posted the highest price growth. The seasonally adjusted growth rate for cities tracked declined by 0.10 percent as compared to a decline of 0.10 percent in July.

Detroit led monthly home price growth with a gain of 0.80 percent. Dallas, Denver, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada posted gains of 9.50 percent as compared to July. Cities posting declines in home price growth included San Francisco at -0.40 percent, Charlotte, North Carolina and San Diego, California at -0.10 percent.

Home prices increased by a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year rate of 5.60 percent in August, which was the lowest reading since November 2012. Year-over-year home prices grew by 6.70 percent in July. August home prices were 16 percent lower than their 2006 peak.

The Case-Shiller National Home Price Index posted a year-over-growth rate of 5.10 percent. This index covers all nine U.S. census regions.

Analysts note that slower growth in home prices will likely attract more buyers, but is a sign of overall decline in demand for homes. August home prices were 16 percent lower than their 2006 peak. As the jobs market continues to improve and if mortgage rates remain low, more buyers are expected to enter the housing market.

FOMC Statement: QE Ends, Labor Market Forecast Brighter

In its customary post-meeting statement, The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve announced that it voted to reduce asset purchases under its current quantitative easing (QE) program to zero. The committee's decision concluded 37 consecutive monthly purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

FOMC cited "substantial improvement" in the outlook for the labor market since the inception of QE purchases, and also noted "sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy" as the basis for the committee's decision. The demise of QE was no surprise as FOMC has consistently tapered asset purchases each month along with its advisory that it planned to end asset purchases under the current QE program this year.

The FOMC characterized the pace of economic improvement as "moderate," but also said that "labor market conditions improved somewhat further with solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate." Along with the stronger outlook for jobs, the Fed noted that "underutilization of labor resources is gradually diminishing."

The committee held to its position that it would not increase the target federal funds rate for a "considerable time" after the quantitative easing program ended. Analysts following the Fed estimate that no changes to the federal funds rate will be made until June 2015 or later.

Four Ways You Can Enhance Your Home's Value Before You List It for Sale

Four Ways You Can Enhance Your Home's Value Before You List It for SaleWhether you've decided it's time for an upgrade or you're moving on to a new city, if you're selling your home you may be wondering how you can boost its value before listing it up for sale.

In today's blog post we'll share four ways that you can spend a bit of time and money upgrading your home before it hits the local real estate market.

Spruce Up Your Landscaping

You'll want your home to make a great first impression, and as such a great place to start is by sprucing up your lawn, gardens and other landscape features. Your grass should be a healthy green, free of weeds and freshly trimmed.

If you can, look to add seasonal flowers in your front gardens as this can add a bit of color to your home. Keep any shrubs or trees trimmed away from the home so that buyers can get a good look.

Apply A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Another excellent way to increase your home's "curb appeal" is by applying a fresh coat of paint to the house, the trim around the windows and the front door.

Of course, painting a house is a big job so this might be one that is best left to a team of professionals. For added effect, replace the fixtures on the front door and pick up new house numbers.

Upgrade Your Kitchen Appliances

Many buyers will focus intently on your kitchen and the condition of everything from your flooring to your cupboards. If you have an older refrigerator or stove you'll want to replace those with newer stainless-steel models.

You'll also want to ensure that you have quality countertops – if you're replacing them, consider going with granite as it's popular with younger buyers.

Install A New Set Of Bathroom Fixtures

Finally, if you haven't renovated your bathroom recently you'll want to invest in modernizing your faucets, mirrors and other fixtures. The decor of your bathroom should match that in the rest of your home, but also stand out in its own unique way.

If you have an old bathtub with stained porcelain, consider replacing it with a glass-enclosed waterfall shower. Don't forget about your light fixtures; if you find the bathroom is a bit dark, replace these with something that adds brightness.

Buying a Home? 4 Steps You Can Take to Ensure You Start out with a Low Monthly Mortgage Payment

Buying a Home? 4 Steps You Can Take to Ensure You Start out with a Low Monthly Mortgage PaymentAre you thinking about buying a new house or condo? If so, you've likely given some thought to your mortgage and as to how you can pay as little as possible in order to own your new home.

Below we'll share four easy steps that you can take to ensure you start out with an affordable monthly mortgage payment.

Make A Large Down Payment On Your Home

The easiest way to reduce your monthly payment is to invest as much as possible in your down payment. The less you have to borrow, the less you'll be required to pay back.

If you can put a sizeable amount down on your home you'll find that your monthly payments are going to be very manageable. You'll also save a lot of money in interest.

Maintain A High Credit Score

When a lender assesses your financial history they'll take an in-depth look at your credit score in order to determine how much risk you present to them. If you've kept a clean credit rating and have a high score, it's likely that you will qualify for a lower interest rate than someone with a lower credit score – even if you both have the same monthly income.

Buy A Smaller, More Efficient Home

When you've made your short list of homes and you're scheduling your viewings, ask yourself – do you need a home this big, or this expensive? If you can do with a smaller, more efficient home you can reduce the amount of mortgage financing that you require and this will in turn reduce the amount that you need to pay each month.

Consider A Longer Mortgage Term

Finally, if you need to reduce your monthly payment at any cost you can stretch out your mortgage repayment period by a few years. Note that while this can reduce your payment amount it will actually increase the total amount that you end up paying back as you'll pay more in interest.

While the above are general tips for reducing your mortgage payment, it's likely that there are other strategies that are unique to your financial situation. Contact your local mortgage professional at your convenience and they'll be able to share insights that are relevant to your income, your credit and the price range you're looking to buy into.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 27, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 31,2014Last week's economic news included a few developments connected with housing and mortgage industries. While no economic reports were released on Monday, the rest of the week provided good news for existing home sales, home prices and mortgage rates.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that existing home sales in September exceeded expectations and the prior month's reading with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million sales.

Three of four U.S. regions posted higher sales of previously owned homes with only the Midwest region reporting a decline in existing home sales. Analysts said that consistent job growth and improved access to mortgage loans are two keys to improving U.S. housing markets.

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reported that home prices for properties associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose by 0.50 percent in August.

In a separate development, FHFA Director Mel Watt said that the agency is reviewing policies that could lessen lender concerns over requests to repurchase Fannie and Freddie loans due to early defaults or other deficiencies. This was seen as a possible solution to current strict mortgage approval requirements that are limiting access to home loans by first-time and moderate income buyers.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise

After falling below four percent the prior week, last week's mortgage rates continued to decrease. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 3.92 percent; 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.08 percent, a decrease of 10 basis points. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point below the prior week's reading at 2.91 percent.

Average discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. Lower mortgage rates help with making home loans more affordable, but analysts again noted the importance of improved access to mortgage loans for would-be home buyers.

Weekly jobless claims were higher at 283,000 new claims filed as compared to projections of 285,000 and the prior week's reading of 266,000 new claims filed. While higher than in recent weeks, new jobless claims have remained below 300,000 for six weeks. The Labor department reported that new claims over the past month fell by 3000 to 281,000 new claims. This reading was the lowest since May 2000. Due to week-to-week volatility, financial analysts and economists view the month-to-month readings as a more consistent data source.

New Home Sales Hit Six-Year High in September

Sales of new homes in September ended the week on an upbeat note and exceeded expectations; they reached a six-year high in spite of downward adjustments to sales figures reported earlier. September's reading was 467,000 new homes sold on an annual basis as compared to expectations of 455,000 new homes sold and August's reading of 466,000 new homes sold.

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled economic news includes pending home sales, the Case-Schiller home price index reports, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) post-meeting statement and reports on consumer sentiment and consumer confidence. The Freddie Mac PMMS and Weekly Jobless Claims reports will be released as usual on Thursday.

Good News! Existing Home Sales Up And FHFA Home Prices Rise

Good News! Existing Home Sales FHFA Home Prices RiseAfter months of reports of slowing home price momentum and forecasts of a lagging housing market, we are pleased to report an increased volume of existing home sales as reported by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported rising prices for homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. Here are the details.

Pedal to the Metal: Existing Home Sales Achieve Fastest Rate in a Year

September sales of previously owned homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million sales against expectations of 5.10 million sales and August's reading of 5.05 million sales.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that the national reading for sales of previously owned homes rose by 2.40 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million sales.

Analysts had expected September's reading for existing home sales to reach 5.10 million based on August's reading of 5.05 million existing homes sold.

Three of four regions posted month-to-month gains in existing home sales for September; only the Midwest showed a decline. Overall, September's sales pace for existing homes was 1.70 percent lower year-over-year.

Steady home prices and lower mortgage rates contributed to a higher pace of existing home sales, but obstacles remain. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® said that September's reading for existing home sales reflected ongoing economic uncertainty; he said that labor markets will need to strengthen in order to maintain the pace of existing home sales.

Mr. Yun also said that restoration of more "normal" lending standards would allow more first-time and moderate income buyers to qualify for mortgage loans and could potentially increase home sales by 10 percent.

FHFA: Home Prices Rise, Mortgage Credit Standards May Ease

FHFA reported that home prices of properties connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose by 0.5 percent in August as compared to a month-to-month revised increase of 0.20 percent in July. August's reading represents a year-over-year increase of 4.80 percent as compared to July's year-over-year increase of 4.60 percent.

In related news, FHFA Director Mel Watt hinted at some welcome news during a meeting on October 21 in Las Vegas.

Strict mortgage requirements are frequently cited as a cause of lukewarm home sales, but there is some hope that mortgage credit requirements may return to pre-housing bubble standards. Mr. Watt said that the agency is working on relaxing certain rules affecting how and when mortgage lenders are required to repurchase loans that they've sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

These changes are designed to clarify FHFA regulations and to narrow the criteria for when repurchasing loans is required. Lenders have been using strict mortgage approval standards as a protection against Fannie and Freddie requests to repurchase loans categorized as "early defaults."

Did You Know: Five Factors That Lenders Won't Even Consider When Assessing You For a Mortgage

Did You Know: Five Factors That Lenders Won't Even Consider when Assessing You for a MortgageAre you thinking about buying a new home? If you're going to apply for mortgage financing, you can rest assured that your lender will be checking in to your credit history, income and other items in order to assess your ability to manage this debt.

However, there also quite a few variables that they won't inspect during the due diligence process. In today's blog post we'll look at five factors that a lender or mortgage underwriter won't consider when assessing your suitability for a mortgage loan.

Your Family Status

It's against the law for lenders to make any special considerations as to your family status, whatever it might be. Both the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act protect you from discrimination in regards to your family status.

Your Age or Race

Similarly, lenders cannot factor in your age or your race when assessing your suitability for a mortgage loan. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer who has just graduated from college or a retiree looking to purchase that dream condo on the beach, age will not be a factor in your mortgage application.

Shopping Around with Other Lenders

While you might have heard that checking your credit too often can cause issues with your credit score, this isn't the case when shopping around with multiple mortgage providers.

Only the first "hard inquiry" on your credit by a mortgage lender in a two-week period will count against your score; after this, the credit agencies will assume that you're doing comparison shopping with other providers and avoid factoring these checks in.

Unemployment and Other Unstable Income Sources

If you have sources of income that are deemed irregular or unstable, such as a small side business or unemployment income, it's a safe bet that these will not be considered as income when your mortgage application is assessed. As the typical mortgage loan is repaid back over 10 to 20 years, lenders and underwriters are looking for stability in your ability to pay.

Any Non-Borrower's Income

While it can certainly be helpful to have a spouse or other family member include their income along with yours to prove your repayment ability, unless they are listed on the loan as a co-borrower their income will not be counted.

If you have other questions, be sure to contact your local mortgage broker or other professional as they are an excellent source of quality information and expertise.

Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding a Family-friendly Community to Buy Your New Home In

Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding a Family-friendly Community to Buy Your New Home InIf you're moving to a new city with children, one of your likely considerations is finding a family-friendly community where you can settle in and call home.

In this post we'll share a handful of tips that you may find helpful if you're searching for a family-friendly neighborhood in a new city.

Check Out The Quality Of Local Schools

Schools are one of the cornerstones of a community and high-quality schools are a sign that a community is suitable for your family. When you've made your short list of communities that you are considering, take some time to research the local elementary or high schools to see how they stack up against other schools in the surrounding area.

You may also want to connect with the school's principal or dean to ask about the environment and whether or not it would be suitable for your children.

Look Around For Local Churches And Other Community Groups

Great communities are those which are filled with engaged citizens who are actively working to better the area for everyone. When you drive through a community that you're considering, look around to see if there are churches and other groups that get local residents together on a regular basis.

You may find that these groups make for an excellent welcoming committee who can introduce you to the area and help to get your family settled.

Parks And Other Gathering Spaces Are A Good Sign

Another excellent way to determine if a community is suitable for raising a family is the number of nearby parks and public gathering spaces. You'll want to ensure that your children have a nice area to run around and play with your family pet, or that you have a nice park in which to have the occasional picnic lunch to spend some quality time together.

When In Doubt: Ask The Locals

If you're visiting a community or touring through homes, spend some time talking to the locals to hear their thoughts and opinions on how family-friendly the local area is. If you haven't yet, you should also connect with a local real estate agent who can share the ups and downs of the community you're thinking about moving to.

Follow these tips and trust your instincts, and you'll be able to find a great new community that makes a perfect home for your family.

First-time Home Buyer? Don't Miss These Tips to Ensure Your Mortgage Application is Approved

First-time Home Buyer? Don't Miss These Tips to Ensure Your Mortgage Application is ApprovedAre you buying a home for the first time? Congratulations! Buying your own home is an excellent way to build your net worth while living in a space that you can renovate and truly make your own.

If you're going to be taking out a mortgage to help pay for the up-front costs of your home, you'll want to get a head start on the approval process.

With that in mind, below are four handy tips to ensure that your mortgage application is approved on your first try.

Gather All Of The Necessary Information And Paperwork

You're going to need as much financial data as possible so try to prepare your past two income tax returns, pay stubs and other details ahead of time. It may also be helpful to create a quick budget to show your lender how your income stacks up against your monthly bills.

Maintain A Clean Credit History

It likely goes without saying that you'll need as clean a credit history as possible in order to ensure a quick mortgage approval. If you think that there may be some negative items on your report, try to have a copy pulled before you see your mortgage lender as they'll be asking you about them.

Don't Try To Fudge Any Facts On Your Application

Your mortgage lender is legally and professionally obligated to perform a significant amount of due diligence on you before they are able to process your approval. If you've lied on your application it is likely to be discovered and will be seen as a serious breach of trust on your part.

Even if your financial picture isn't all that strong it's far better to be honest than to try to hide or falsify your data.

Make A Down Payment Higher Than 20 Percent

Finally, if you can make a down payment on your home that is higher than 20 percent of the purchase cost you may find it easier to get approved. Placing more than 20 percent down typically eliminates you from various mortgage insurance requirements and can show the lender that you're capable of paying the mortgage back in full.

The above tips are just a few ways that you can work to ensure that you have a better chance at being approved for your mortgage. If you have other questions or for more information, contact your local mortgage professional and they'll be happy to share their expertise.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 20, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 20 2014Last week's economic highlights included the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index for October. The Commerce Department also released Housing Starts for September. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped below four percent. The Fed released its Beige Book report, and Weekly jobless claims came in lower than expected. Here are the details:

Homebuilder Confidence Slips in Spite of Lower Mortgage Rates

U.S. Homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions slipped by 5 points to October's reading of 54 as compared to September's reading; this was also lower than the expected reading of 59. Builders are concerned over strict mortgage credit rules, but the NAHB's chief economist noted that pent-up demand, lower mortgage rates and improved labor markets are expected to drive builder confidence in the near term. Readings of 50 and above indicate that more builders are confident about market conditions than not.

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.97 percent, a drop of 15 basis points from the prior reading. 15-year fixed rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.18 percent from the prior week's reading of 3.30 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by 13 basis points to 2.92 percent. Average discount points remained at 0.50 for all mortgage types.

If 30-year fixed rate mortgages can stay below the four percent mark, this could mean additional incentive for fence-sitters to become active home buyers.

Surprise: New Jobless Claims Hit 14-Year Low

Concerns over job markets and employment stability have consistently been of concern to home buyers in the aftermath of the recession. Last week's jobless claims report brought encouraging news as it came in at 264,000 new jobless claims filed against predictions of 289,000 new claims and the prior week's reading of 287,000 new jobless claims filed. This was the lowest number of new jobless claims filed in more than 14 years. Analysts said that lower numbers of weekly jobless claims indicate fewer layoffs, which should help boost prospective home buyers' confidence in job stability.

Fed: Economy Growing at "Modest to Moderate Pace"

The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book report on Wednesday. This report contains anecdotes from business sources within the 12 Federal Reserve districts. The report said that the economy continues to grow at a modest to moderate pace and noted that potential concerns over the stronger U.S. dollar causing increases in export costs did not concern the Fed's business sources.

Housing Starts, Consumer Confidence Up

September's housing starts were above both expectations and August's reading. 1.02 million starts were reported with the majority being multi-family homes. The expected reading was 1.015 million housing starts; this was based on August's reading of 956,000 starts. This news is consistent with the drop in builder confidence for sales of new single-family homes.

The University of Michigan/Thompson-Reuters Consumer Sentiment Index for October rose to 86.4 against an expected reading of 83.5 and September's reading of 84.6. This was the highest consumer sentiment reading in seven years. Analysts rained on the consumer sentiment parade by noting that recent jitters over Wall Street and concerns about Ebola outbreaks could cause the Consumer Sentiment Index to lose ground.

What's Ahead:

Next week's scheduled economic reports include the National Association of REALTORS® Existing Home Sales report, FHFA's Home Price Index and New Home Sales. Leading Economic Indicators will also be released.

NAHB Reports: Home Builder Confidence Drops in October

NAHB Reports Home Builder Confidence Drops in October The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that home builder sentiment lost its momentum in October and posted a seasonally adjusted reading of 54 in its Home Builder Market Index.

This reading was five points lower than expected and also five points lower than September's reading. October's reading was the first time in five months that builder confidence has fallen.

To put October's reading in perspective, things aren't all that bad. A reading over 50 indicates more builders are confident about housing market conditions than not. Also, October's lower reading of 54 after the HMI reading reached a nine-year high in September.

Low Mortgage Rates, Pent-up Demand Expected to Drive Housing Markets

David Crowe, Chief Economist for NAHB said that low mortgage rates, improved labor markets and "significant" pent-up demand for homes all point to continued growth for housing markets.

NAHB reported that builders' views on current market conditions dropped from September's reading of 63 to 57 in October. The confidence rating for upcoming sales fell from 67 to 64. The gauge of home buyer traffic for new homes fell by six points to a reading of 41.

Analysts said that although stronger jobs markets can help would-be buyers get into the market, concerns over ultra-strict mortgage standards are dampening potential home sales.

Multi-family Housing Starts Outstrips Single Family Home Construction

Starts for all types of housing gained 8.60 percent in the first eight months of 2014, but single family housing construction accounted for only 3.10 percent of housing starts between January and August. September's housing starts are set for release today (Friday).

New Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Since 2005

In related news, the Labor Department reported that weekly jobless claims were lower than expected and also lower than for the prior week. The reading for new jobless claims was 264,000 new claims; this was 23,000 fewer new claims than the prior week's reading of 287,000 new jobless claims filed. A reading of 289,000 new jobless claims had been expected. This was the lowest reading for new jobless claims since April 2005.

Three Reasons Why Setting Your Listing Price is the Most Important Aspect of the Home Sales Process

Three Reasons Why Setting Your Listing Price is the Most Important Aspect of the Home Sales ProcessHave you decided to sell your home, perhaps to make an upgrade to a newer, larger house? Whatever your reasons for selling, you'll have a number of decisions to make as you craft your listing and begin receiving offers from buyers but few are as important as your initial selling price.

Let's take a look at three reasons why setting your listing price is the most important factor in your home sale.

Reason #1: You Can Scare Off Potential Buyers With A High Price

You'll receive the majority of your buyer interest in the first few days and weeks after you place your home up for sale, so it's critical that your price isn't set so high that it scares a number of buyers off.

While some sellers believe that it's better to price high and let buyers submit lower offers, this can actually work against you. It's better to have your home priced fairly from the beginning as you can always refuse offers that you deem are too low.

Reason #2: Your Price Directly Impacts How Long Your Sale Will Take

If you're interested in seeing your home sell quickly it's going to be in your best interest to have it priced competitively. Buyers will be shopping around for similar homes in your community and if there are other listings with lower prices on the market you may find it takes you a while to get your home sold.

Also, if you do find a buyer that is interested they'll likely try to enter into price negotiations with you which can extend the length of the sale by a week or more as you go back and forth to reach an agreement.

Reason #3: A Low Price Means Leaving Money On The Table

While pricing too high can cause issues with your sale, pricing your home too low isn't going to benefit you either. While you'll likely find that you receive a high number of offers very quickly, you'll end up leaving some of your home equity on the table – equity that you could easily have realized as buyers would have been willing to pay the difference.

Refinance Now or Wait? How to Determine the Best Time to Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinance Now or Wait? How to Determine the Best Time to Refinance Your MortgageRefinancing your mortgage is a great way to reduce your monthly payments or take out some of the equity in your home to reinvest in renovations, upgrades or in other areas in your financial portfolio.

Let's take a quick look at a few questions that you can ask yourself in order to determine whether you should refinance now or wait until sometime in the future.

Can You Lock In A Lower Interest Rate?

Depending on when you first purchased your home and took out your mortgage, you may find that by refinancing now you can lock in a lower interest rate.

Getting a lower rate can end up saving you thousands of dollars a year in interest, but you'll need to weigh the closing costs of the refinancing against the savings you'll obtain to ensure that refinancing is worthwhile.

How Much Do You Owe On The Home?

If you still owe a significant amount on your home you may find that it's worth refinancing, especially if you're confident that you won't be selling the home any time soon. Conversely, if you're very close to having your mortgage paid off you may find that refinancing has little benefit.

Do You Need To Tap Into Your Home Equity?

If you feel that now is the time to tap into the equity you've built up in your home over time in order to cover renovation or upgrade costs you may want to consider refinancing. This will allow you to take out a large chunk of cash without having to open a new loan or line of credit. If possible, try to secure a lower interest rate for added benefit.

Do You Plan On Moving?

If you're planning on moving in the next couple of years then you may want to hold off on refinancing your mortgage. As mentioned above, there are closing costs attached with a refinancing deal and these must be factored in when assessing whether or not you stand to gain or lose.

If you're staying in your home for the near future there's a far better chance that the costs of a refinancing will be covered by the amount that you save.

Every financial situation is unique, and you may find that you have other questions about refinancing that aren't listed above. Don't hesitate to contact your mortgage professional as they've worked with all sorts of refinancing clients and can share helpful advice that is relevant to your situation.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 14, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 14 2014Economic news was lean last week as the first week of the month tends to be calm in the aftermath of the rush of end-of-month reporting.

Of note was CoreLogic's report on housing markets, the release of the minutes from the most recent FOMC meeting and lower mortgage rates reported by Freddie Mac.

CoreLogic Reports Lowest Home Price Gains in Almost Two Years

August home prices hit their slowest growth rate in nearly two years according to CoreLogic data released last Tuesday. Annual home prices grew by 6.40 percent in August as compared to July's reading of 6.80 percent. Year-over-year home price growth reached a rate of 11.40 percent in August.

Analysts have recently said that a slow-down in home price growth may increase slowing demand for homes as inventories of available homes have increased in recent months. Low inventories of available homes and high demand contributed to rapid growth of home prices in 2013.

The slower pace of home price gains is expected to continue next year; analysts predicted an annual growth rate of 5.20 percent in August 2015. Home prices remain about 12 percent below peak levels reached in 2006.

Federal Reserve Policy Makers Watch U.S. Dollar, European Markets

Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September were released Wednesday. Of note were member concerns that changing the committee's language for its oft-repeated assertion that target rates for federal funds would remain between 0.00 percent and 0.250 percent for a considerable time" after asset purchases under the QE program ended could be viewed as a fundamental policy change.

The FOMC also registered concerns over the impact of a stronger U.S. dollar on the economy and said that persistent weakening of the European economy could cause the dollar to strengthen too much. This would cause exports to decrease and could also slow inflation.

The Fed decided not change language in its forward guidance in order to avoid unintended reactions in the financial markets.

Mortgage Rates and Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that average mortgage rates fell last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by seven basis points to 4.12 percent with discount points higher at 0.50 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 3.30 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was lower by one basis point to 3.05 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Weekly jobless claims were lower at 287,000 new claims filed against predictions of 294,000 new claims filed and the prior week's reading of 288,000 new claims filed. This supports recent indications of stronger job markets; coupled with lower home prices, this could prompt more would-be homebuyers to buy homes.

What's Ahead

Markets are closed for Monday's Columbus Day holiday and no economic reports are scheduled for Tuesday. The Fed releases its Beige Book report Wednesday and the NAHB Home Builder's Market index for October is due Thursday along with Freddie Mac's PMMS report and weekly jobless claims.

Housing Starts and the Consumer Sentiment Index are scheduled for next Friday.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a New Home Versus Buying Pre-owned

The Pros and Cons of Buying a New Home Versus Buying Pre-ownedAre you thinking about buying a new home? Congratulations!

Buying a house, condo or townhouse is an exciting and rewarding time which tends to be a lot of fun. However, along the way you'll need to make a number of decisions – including whether you want to buy a pre-owned home or one that has been built recently and is brand new.

Let's take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of buying a new home versus buying pre-owned.

New Homes Tend To Have Fewer Problems

One of the major upsides of buying new is that newly-built homes tend to have very few problems within the first few years of ownership.

While you'll still be required to make regular maintenance on a new home, when you buy pre-owned you're buying a house that has seen years or decades of weather and regular wear-and-tear.

New Construction Allows For Customization

If you want to be able to customize certain aspects of your home, it might be better to buy brand new as the builder will be able to incorporate your requests as they're building the home. Of course, you can always renovate and upgrade a pre-owned home but if you have significant needs you may find it easier to get them built into the home as it's being developed.

The Major Downsides To Buying New: Cost And Location

While there are a number of upsides to buying new, there are some downsides that you'll need to know.

First, new homes almost always cost more than an equivalent pre-owned home. Brand new homes are filled with new appliances, fixtures and modern building materials which add to the overall cost of the home. Unless the pre-owned home is on a larger lot or property, you'll generally be able to save a bit when you buy pre-owned.

Depending on where you're buying, you may also find that the location where brand new homes are being constructed is much further from the downtown or urban area. In many cities, the only available space for new construction is in suburban areas, which means that you may be in for a lengthy commute to and from work each day if you choose to buy new.

These are just a few of the factors that you'll need to consider when buying your next dream home.

Self Employed and Seeking a Mortgage? How to Ensure That Your Lender Knows You're Able to Pay

Self Employed and Seeking a Mortgage? How to Ensure That Your Lender Knows You're Able to PayWhether you're a freelance web designer who spends their days working from a coffee shop or a small-business entrepreneur with a team of staff, if you're a self-employed individual and you're thinking about buying a new house you may face some difficulty getting approved for a mortgage.

In today's blog post we'll share how you can provide paperwork and other evidence to show your mortgage lender that you're a quality applicant who has the ability to make their payments.

Have Your Accountant Prep Your Paperwork

As a general rule of thumb, if you're in business you should invest in the services of an accountant to handle your tax preparation and other financial matters so that you don't miss anything important.

If you have an accountant, let them know that you're applying for a mortgage and ask them to create a package that includes your business financials as well as your past two or three years of income tax documents.

Watch Your Debt-to-income Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio is one of the primary factors calculated during the mortgage application process and if you don't have a regular paycheck or salary this is how your lender will assess your ability to pay.

In short, this number is the percentage of your monthly gross income that is used to pay debts, taxes, insurance, and other items. Add up your car payment, loan payments, credit card payments, child support and any other regular debts and divide this number from your monthly income. If this number is too high, your application may be declined.

Ensure You Have A Clean, Stable History

Your credit rating – and that of your business – will be intensely scrutinized by any potential lender in order to determine whether or not you present a significant risk of missing a payment or defaulting entirely.

Maintaining a positive credit history can be challenging as an entrepreneur, especially if you're in the early stages of your business and you're relying on loans or other financing to help fund your operations. Try to make sure that every bill is paid and avoid situations that can leave a blemish on your credit report.

Seek The Advice Of A Mortgage Professional

Even if you have your past taxes and a clean credit history you may still face a bit of an uphill battle in getting that mortgage approved. It's best to seek a mortgage professional's advice as early on in the process as you can, as they work with self-employed individuals regularly and will be able to help you craft your application. Good luck!

Closing Costs: Understanding What It Costs to Close on a Home and What You Can Expect to Pay

Closing Costs: Understanding What It Costs to Close on a Home and What You Can Expect to PayIf you're in the process of buying a new home, you've likely heard the term "closing costs" in regards to the many different fees and taxes that you'll be required to pay during the purchase process.

In this post we'll look at a number of these closing costs and what you will be expected to pay when you buy that next dream home.

Taking out a Mortgage? There Will Be Fees Attached

If you're taking out a mortgage to finance the cost of buying your home you'll end up incurring a variety of fees. Nearly all lenders will charge a mortgage application fee, which covers the cost of processing your application and all of the necessary paperwork.

You'll likely have to pay for a professional appraisal of the home as well, as the lender will want to ensure that they aren't lending you more than the house and property are actually worth.

Inspection And Insurance Costs Will Add Up

If you're buying a pre-owned home you'll need to pay for a home inspection to gain an understanding of the home's condition and if you'll need to make any repairs in the near future. You'll also need to purchase homeowner's insurance on the property to protect yourself in the event that something does go wrong with the home.

If you put less than 20 percent down on the cost of the home, your mortgage lender may also require that you purchase private mortgage insurance; this will vary depending on which state or province you are buying in.

Don't Forget About Escrow Fees and Taxes

As with any major financial transaction you'll need to satisfy the tax man by paying various taxes on your purchase. These will vary depending on where you are buying your home, but might include sales taxes, property taxes, transfer taxes, recording fees, title transfer fees and more.

If you used a third-party escrow service to manage these fees or to hold your deposit during the closing process you'll also need to pay escrow fees prior to signing the final paperwork.

Shopping Around: How to Compare Mortgages from Different Lenders or Underwriters

Shopping Around: How to Compare Mortgages from Different Lenders or UnderwritersBuying a home is a major financial transaction, especially if you're going to need mortgage financing to help cover the purchase cost.

The only way to know if you're getting the best deal on a mortgage is to shop around, but with so many different lenders vying for your business it can be very tough to choose which mortgage is the best fit for your own situation.

In this post we'll share how you can compare mortgages from different lenders or underwriters so that you can get the best possible deal on your mortgage loan.

Start By Comparing Interest Rates

The most important factor in your mortgage is the interest rate that you'll be required to pay so this should be your starting point.

While most lenders will keep their rates competitive with one another, you may find that there are discounts available based on your credit or financial history. You might also find that some lenders are willing to adjust the rate based on how long of a mortgage term you'll need, and how much you're investing in your down payment.

Get An Estimate Of Your Total Closing Costs

While the number that you're likely focused on is the total monthly payment that you'll be making for the next few years, you'll also want to find out how much in fees and closing costs you will have to pay in order to take out the mortgage.

Every lender charges different fees and the amounts can vary wildly, so be sure to get an estimate on these costs to find out how they'll affect your home purchase.

Watch Out For Early Payment Penalties

Finally, you'll want to keep an eye out for early repayment penalties as these can cause you a headache later on if you decide you want to pay your mortgage off a bit faster. The ideal mortgage is one that allows you to repay the principal amount at any time without facing a penalty, but depending on the other terms that you require you might need to shop around a bit before you find a mortgage like this.

You may find that comparison shopping can be a bit overwhelming with so many different mortgage options, terms and interest rates to choose from. If you have questions or you need help sorting through it all to determine which mortgage suits you best, contact your local mortgage professional today to book a quick consultation.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 6, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 6 2014Last week's economic news included multiple reports on housing and the labor sector. The good news is that job markets appear to be stronger, with new jobless claims and the national unemployment rate lower. Unfortunately, housing continues to struggle in its recovery.

Pending home sales slumped in August and the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index reports for July showed slower growth in home prices with 19 of 20 cities posting lower gains than for June.

Mortgage rates were mixed, but remained relatively steady.

Housing Reports Show Slower Price Gains, Suggest Falling Demand

The National Association of REALTORS® released data for August that showed that pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent to a reading of 104.7 as compared to July's reading of 105.8. Pending home sales indicate upcoming closings and mortgage loan volume.

Pending home sales fell by 2.20 percent year-over-year. Analysts attributed the drop in pending sales to lower investor participation.

Analysts said that as distressed home sales diminish, mortgage rates and home prices rise, investors are not buying as many homes Regional results showed fewer pending sales in all regions except the West, where pending sales rose by 2.60 percent in August. A reading of 100 in the pending home sales index is consistent with 2001's average contract level.

S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index reports indicated that July home prices gained 6.70 percent year-over-year as compared to June's year-over-year reading of 8.10 percent. Prices even dropped in San Francisco to its lowest reading since 2012. On a seasonally adjusted basis, July home sales fell by 0.50 percent in July as compared to June's decrease of 0.30 percent. 19 of 20 cities showed lower rates of price growth in July.

Slower growth of home prices was viewed by analysts as potentially increasing demand for homes provided that mortgage rates stay low.

Construction spending for August fell by 0.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. The good news here is that spending on residential construction dropped only 0.10 percent.

Freddie Mac Mortgage Rates: No Major Changes

According to Freddie Mac's PMMS report, average mortgage rates were a mixed bag. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 4.19 percent with discount points lower at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage held steady at 3.36 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.06 percent; discount points rose from 0.40 percent to 0.40 percent.

Lower mortgage rates are seen as a potential stimulus for housing markets as more buyers may be encouraged to enter the market.

Jobs Reports Readings Improve, Unemployment Rate Drops

Job markets are showing signs of improvement according to data on weekly jobless claims and reports released by the Department of Commerce. Weekly jobless claims grew by 287,000 as compared to expectations of 298,000 new claims filed. The prior week's reading was also higher at 295,000 new claims filed.

The Department of Commerce released its Non-farm Payrolls report for August with more good news. 248,000 jobs were added against expectations of 220,000 new jobs and 180,000 new jobs reported in the prior week. The national unemployment fell below the six percent benchmark in August with a reading of 5.90 percent, which indicates proof that the jobs market is improving.

September's Consumer Confidence Index suggests that economic conditions continue to concern consumers. The reading for September was 86.0 against an expected reading of 92.3 and Augusts reading of 93.4.

What's Ahead

There is no scheduled housing news for next week other than Freddie Mac's weekly report on mortgage rates. Other economic news includes Labor Market Conditions Index, Job Openings, and the release of minutes from the last FOMC meeting, which is expected to reaffirm the Fed's position that it doesn't expect to increase the target federal funds rate for a "considerable time" after the Fed concludes its asset purchases this year.

Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels Are Becoming a Popular Renovation

Looking for a Value-adding Upgrade? Why Residential Solar Panels Are Becoming a Popular RenovationIf you're looking for a home upgrade that can add resale value to your home while paying itself off over time, look no further than a solar panel setup. In the past few years, the cost of installing residential solar has declined while the efficiency of the panels has increased. This combination has made home solar one of the best investments that a homeowner can make - provided they live in an area that receives a good deal of sunshine.

Solar Adds Immense Value To Your Home

While solar panel installations are not inexpensive, in almost every case they add at least their total cost to the value of the home as soon as they are installed. If you decide to sell your home, it will be very attractive to those who are interested in leaving a lighter footprint or for anyone who was thinking of going solar after they bought their new home.

A Quality Install Will Pay For Itself Over Time

As they generate electricity which can be used in your home or sold back in to the public grid, residential solar panels are one of the only home upgrades that will pay for themselves over time. If you live in a very sunny area and watch your home energy consumption, you may even find that after a few years your solar setup actually begins generating a profit each month. Home solar setups typically come with a 25-year warranty so you can rest assured that your panels will be producing energy for at least the next couple of decades.

Tax Credits And Incentives Reduce The Up-front Financial Cost

Renewable energy sources like solar quality for significant tax credits and rebates which will vary depending on the city and state or province that you live in. A quick web search will show you which types of incentives that you will qualify for, or you can call a local residential solar installer as they'll be fully aware of all of the various incentives that are available.

Setting Your Budget: How to Analyze Your Finances to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

Setting Your Budget: How to Analyze Your Finances to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can AffordWhether you're buying a home for the first time or you've decided it's about time that you upgraded to a larger, more expansive house, if you're making a real estate purchase you'll need to be aware of how much you can reasonably afford to borrow in a mortgage. In today's post we'll take a look at a few ways that you can analyze your financial situation to help decide how much mortgage you can truly afford.

Prepare An Honest Monthly Budget

The first step in understanding how much of a monthly payment you can afford is to create an honest monthly budget which includes all of your family's income and spending. Although you won't have to pay them every month, it's also important that you include costs that show up irregularly like car repairs, Christmas gifts or tuition bills as these still need to be paid. The more information you can place in your budget, the more accurate your financial picture will be.

Your Down Payment Plays A Huge Role

As you might imagine, the amount you can invest in your down payment plays a significant role in how much mortgage financing you will need. Every dollar that you can place in your down payment today is one less dollar that you'll need to borrow and pay interest on over the amortization period of your mortgage. Take some time to consider how much you can put down, and see if there's any way you can bump this figure a bit higher.

What Interest Rate Will You End Up Paying?

Small changes to your mortgage interest rate can have significant impacts on how much you are required to pay back over the life of your mortgage. As you're shopping around, be sure to consider how long your interest rates are valid for and try to determine the lowest rate you might qualify for. You may also find it helpful to use an online mortgage calculator which can help you to understand how your interest rate impacts your monthly payments.

Consult A Mortgage Professional To Learn More

While building a quick budget to analyze your family's expenses is easy, factoring in all of the various items that a lender will consider might be harder than you expect. If you have questions about the mortgage process and whether or not you're ready financially, contact your local mortgage professional today.