Case-Shiller Housing Market Index: Home Prices Rise in July

Case Shiller Housing Market Index Home Prices Rise in JulyU.S. home prices rose by 0.10 percent in July according to the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index. San Francisco, California edged past Denver Colorado with a year-over-year price increase of 10.40 percent as compared to Denver’s reading of 10.30 percent. All year-over-readings for the 20-City Home Price Index posted gains, but Washington, D.C. showed the lowest year-over0-year growth rate at 1.70 percent. Chicago, Illinois and New York City followed closely with year-over-year readings of 1.80 percent and 1.90 percent respectively.

Seasonally-Adjusted Home Prices Fall

Although seasonally-adjusted home prices typically rise during the peak home selling season during spring and summer, July’s reports indicated that seasonally-adjusted home prices fell by 0.20 percent in July. Factors including tough mortgage approval requirements and low inventories of available homes likely contributed to slower growth in home prices as demand for homes fell.

Would-be home buyers may also have sat on the sidelines awaiting the Federal Reserve’s decision regarding raising rates. The Fed has not raised rates yet, but may do so in October. Mortgage rates are expected to rise when the Fed raises its target federal funds rate, which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25percent.

Western Cities Lead Home Price Growth

Case-Shiller reported that as of July, the West continues to see the highest rates of home price growth. Over the past 12 months, only San Francisco and Denver have shown double-digit growth in home prices. Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, California have shown the strongest increases in home prices since 2000.

Home prices for cities included in the 20-City Index have risen 35.70 percent since home prices hit their post -recession low in 2012, but remain 13 percent below the housing bubble’s peak prices. All cities in the 20-City Index posted price gains year-over-year as of July and 14 cities posted higher price gains than for the comparable period ending in July 2014.

Trend: Modest Home Price Growth Continues

The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently posted a year-over-year gain of 5.80 percent for home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This news further supports the trend of moderate gains in U.S home prices; moderate growth in home prices could encourage more moderate-income and first-time home buyers to buy homes, particularly in advance of the anticipated increasein mortgage rates when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

Stepping Up Your Game: Staging Your Home to Make It More Appealing Than New Construction

Stepping Up Your Game: Staging Your Home to Make It More Appealing Than New ConstructionWhen it comes to buying a home people are more apt to consider a newer model. After all new homes are more energy efficient; require less maintenance the perks many buyers want. For homeowners with older homes getting a competitive edge can take a lot of extra work, especially in today’s real estate market.

Give Older Homes A Fresh Look

But there are ways to make older homes stand apart from newer homes on the market. Start by sprucing up the outside out the house. It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint and a newly paved driveway can improve the curb appeal of an older home. Also, it’s good to remodel any room that could use a fresh, updated look like the kitchen and the bathroom for instance.

Homeowners of older houses don’t have to spend a fortune to make their homes look like new, but it helps to help the prospective buyer feel easy about not having to commit to a heavy remodeling job if they buy the house.

Staging Works Wonders For Selling A Home

While cosmetic touch-ups are wonderful, there’s one thing the serious home seller should apply and that’s home staging. The ultimate goal of staging is to make a home as attractive to as many potential buyers as possible. More interested buyers means the home could potentially sell for more and sell faster. Staging isn’t new but has become more popular in this tough market.

Home staging is often mistaken for decorating, but it’s much more than that. Expert home stagers know how to present homes in the best possible light. This often means suggesting paint colors, or rearranging and moving items to make a particular space more appealing to buyers.

For instance, most lived in homes have one thing in common, clutter. Showing a house with clutter can make a buyer feel a home is too small. Expert home stagers know how to open up a home so the perspective buyers can see themselves living there.

According to the Real Estate Staging Association, home staging reduces listing time by as much as 81 percent. Also, there’s an up to 10 percent return on investment when home staging technique is implemented.

It is true that staging a home can be a bit of a challenge. Some homeowners may be bit put off by a stager’s suggestions, and by the inconvenience of the process itself. However, the result can be well worth it if it results in a quick sale.

Homeowners should call their trusted real estate agent, right away before deciding on a home staging professional. A real estate agent may even have a list of professional home stagers he or she regularly refers.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 28, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week September 28 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news included reports on new and existing home sales, the FHFA House Price Index, weekly reports on mortgage rates, and new jobless claims. The week finished with a report on consumer sentiment.

Existing Home Sales Fall as New Homes Sales and Home Prices Rise

The National Association of Realtors reported that home sales for pre-owned homes fell in August. Analysts expected sales of existing homes to reach a reading of 5.52 million sales on an annual basis, but the actual reading was 5.31 million existing homes sold as compared to July’s reading of 5.58 million pre-owned homes sold. Rising home prices were cited as a primary reason for the drop in sales.

FHFA’s House Price Index for July reflected the trend of rising home prices; July’s reading was 0.60 percent as compared to June’s reading of a 0.20 percent increase in home prices associated with homes with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Sales of newly built homes reached the highest level since early 2008 in August, evidence that demand for housing is strengthening heading into the fall. Home builder sentiment is at its highest level in nearly a decade according to a survey earlier this month from the National Association of Home Builders

Mortgage Rates Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell on Thursday; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.86 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 3.08 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage  dropped by one basis point to 2.91 percent. Discount points were 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Jobless Claims Also Rise As Consumer Sentiment Fell.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose slightly last week yet remained at a low level consistent with solid job growth. The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless aid rose 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000. The four-week average fell to a 15-year low last month.

The University of Michigan says consumers lost confidence for the third straight month in September, worried about bad news about the global economy. Consumer sentiment index fell to 87.2 this month, lowest since October 2014 and down from 91.9 in August. Richard Curtin, Chief Economist for the survey, said consumers are worried about signs of weakness in the Chinese economy and continued stresses on Europe’s economies.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include Pending Home Sales, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Core Inflation, ADP Employment and the government’s Non- farm Payrolls report. The national unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index for September are also slated for release this week.

Looking Ahead: How to Ensure That You Are Taking Full Advantage of Mortgage Tax Credits

Looking Ahead: How to Ensure That You Are Taking Full Advantage of Mortgage Tax CreditsOne of the major benefits to purchasing a home with a mortgage are the tax credits that can be taken advantage of when April 15 comes around.

Many homeowners are unaware of what mortgage related expenses can be deducted and, more importantly, which ones can no longer be deducted.

Receive A Tax Deduction For Interest Paid On The Mortgage

The most common tax credit associated with mortgages is the interest paid credit. This allows borrowers to deduct the cost of the interest paid on their mortgage on their taxes, which in many cases is the largest tax break available to homeowners.

Interest paid deductions on taxes are available to second mortgages as well as first time mortgages and are available on home equity lines of credit as well as home equity loans.

Mortgage Insurance Is No Longer Tax Deductible

Unfortunately, as of 2014 any mortgage insurance paid was no longer considered tax deductible. This came as a shock to many borrowers who planned their finances around receiving the tax credit.

Although mortgage insurance is no longer tax deductible, there are still other home related deductions that can be taken advantage of. Real estate taxes can be deducted the year they are paid and discount points purchased at the time of the sale can also be used as a deduction.

The IRS treats discount points as mortgage interest that is pre-paid and allows deductions on certain loan types.

Using Tax Information To Plan Ahead When Buying A Home

There is a limit imposed by the Internal Revenue Service on how large a loan can be to qualify for an interest paid tax deduction. Any loan that is over $1 million dollars is not allowed to have the interest paid towards it deducted when tax time rolls around.

This knowledge can be used to put the borrower in a beneficial situation in years to come when they plan to purchase a home. Limiting any loan to under $1 million dollars, no matter what the cost of the property, will allow the interest paid into it to be deducted the following year.

The tax laws are always changing and differ from state to state, so it is advised to contact a mortgage specialist with knowledge on mortgage tax laws to provide more information on which deductions you qualify for.

A Great Problem to Have: How to Handle Multiple Offers for Your House or Condo

How to Handle Multiple Offers for Your House or Condo With the real estate game in a state of constant flux, getting an offer on your house or condo might seem encouraging enough. However, there’s always the possibility that your property might hit the market hot, and this could mean more than one offer on your home. While having multiple offers can be the best of all outcomes, there are a few ways to handle this situation and make the most of your home sale.

Communication Is Key With Potential Buyers

The occurrence of having multiple offers on your home may put you in the power position, but you’ll want to keep potential buyers in the loop and aware that you’re fielding other offers. Ensure that each buyer supplies you with a pre-mortgage qualification letter and an offer by a deadline you choose, and let them know the tentative timeline on making a decision. This will keep your buyers aware of the situation, and reduce the chance of missing out on a potential sale.

Weigh Your Offers Before Making A Decision

Right off the bat, it may be tempting to go with the offer that seems the best on paper, but make sure to carefully consider the reliability of each potential buyer. It’s important to look over each buyer’s offer and determine if they seem like a consistent candidate that won’t change their mind. Once you’ve determined your ideal buyer, you can move on to negotiating the sale of your home, just do this in a timely manner because any serious buyer will expect a timely response!

Don’t Forget About Following Up

It can sometimes happen that the seller will get so excited about an offer on their home that they’ll forget about everything else and prep for the moving vans. However, it’s important to follow-up with each potential buyer to ensure selling success. Not only will this instill good will with each potential buyer, it may even provide a back-up offer in the event that the initial deal falls through.

Having a number of offers on your home is a great situation to be in, but you’ll want to make sure you handle it appropriately so you don’t miss out on the best deal. By keeping your potential buyers in the loop and following-up in a timely manner, making the sale might end up being the easiest part of your move. For more information on selling your home successfully, contact your local real estate professional today!

National Association of REALTORS – Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Dip

National Association of REALTORS Sales of PreOwned Homes Dip Sales of previously owned homes dropped in August by 4.80 percent on an annual basis for the first time in four months; the dip was likely caused by rising home prices. August sales were reported at a rate of 5.31 million; July’s rate was 5.58 million sales of previously owned homes.

Sales of existing homes have risen 6.20 percent year-over-year; stronger labor markets and low mortgage rates were seen as contributing factors. Although economists expect the Federal Reserve to raise its target federal funds rate before year end, home sales are expected to stay strong through 2016. A Fed rate hike would mean that lending rates for consumer credit and mortgage loans would increase.

Analysts noted that July sales of pre-owned homes hit a post-recession high and characterized August’s lower reading as a “hiccup.” Month-to-month readings often reflect volatility caused by transitory influences; analysts typically rely on month-to-month rolling averages to track trends in housing markets.

Home Sales Thwarted by Slim Supply of Available Homes

Low inventories of homes for sale are likely keeping sales of previously owned homes from achieving their potential. In August, there were 2.29 million homes on the market, which represents a 5.20 month supply under current market conditions. August’s volume of available homes was 1.70 percent lower than for August 2014.

The national median sale price for a home was $228,700 in August; this represents a year-over-year increase of 4.70 percent.

First-time Buyers Getting Back in the Game

First-time home buyers accounted for 32 percent of existing home sales in August as compared to a normal reading of 40 percent of existing home sales. Investors purchased 12 percent of pre-owned homes sold in August as compared to a post-recession high of 25 percent. Less competition from investors should allow more owner-occupant buyers to purchase homes without being priced out of bidding wars. 

On another positive note, distressed sales of pre-owned homes comprised only 7 percent of sales, this is a strong indication that the tide of post-recession foreclosures is ending. 

FHFA House Price Index Also Shows Higher Home Prices

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices of homes associated with mortgages owned or backed by the two government-sponsored entities rose by 0.60 percent in July as compared to June’s reading of 0.20 percent. Home prices were up 5.80 percent year-over-year in July, which is 1.10 percent below the peak index reading of 2007 and was near the November 2006 index reading.

Year-over-year home price readings for the nine census divisions were all positive and ranged from + 2.20 percent in the New England division to +9.40 percent in the Mountain division. Month-to month house prices ranged from -1.20 percent in the New England division to +1.60 percent in the Mountain division.

The New Home Warranty: Why This Benefit Alone Makes Buying New Worth Considering

The New Home Warranty: Why This Benefit Alone Makes Buying New Worth ConsideringWhen making the decision to purchase a home, there can be an array of questions to ask regarding location, size, style and additional features that will complicate things. If one of the considerations among these is whether to buy new or old, though, you may want to be aware of new home warranties. While buying new can seem like a risk, this type of warranty may help make at least one decision easy when it comes to your home purchase.

It’s A New Home Benefit That’s Often Guaranteed

Currently, there are a number of places in North America where a third-party warranty or a builder’s warranty are now required so the quality of a builder’s work can be assured. While some builder’s may offer a warranty when you purchase a home through them, a third-party warranty that is guaranteed in many regions will mean that you don’t have to worry about paying out of your own pocket when a problem occurs with your new home.

The Coverage Included In New Home Warranty

Generally, a new home warranty will include insurance on your deposit and a guarantee against flaws with the work, the materials or the structure that may appear down the road. While this type of warranty will commonly cover standard issues that can occur with a new home, there’s often the option for more extensive warranty coverage that will safeguard you in the event that issues beyond the basic appear.

What You Can Expect From Your Builder

If you’ve decided on a new home, you will want to research your builder and choose one that is reliable, up-front and will follow-up on any issues you may have with your new home. Once your house is close to completion, you’ll have the opportunity to do a home inspection with the builder to take notes of any issues with your house – like a sticky drawer or a chipped cabinet – that may be present. The builder should be able to offer a completion date for these issues, and also provide you with information you need to keep your new house in tip-top shape.

There are no assurances when it comes to buying a house, but new home warranties are a good guarantee that you’ll be covered in the event that a problem occurs. If you’re interested in learning more about making a new home purchase or this type of warranty, you will want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 21, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week September 21 2015Last week’s economic releases included several reports related to housing. The Wells Fargo/NAHB Housing Market Index achieved its highest reading in nearly 10 years. Housing Starts dipped in August and Building Permits issued in August exceeded July expectations. The week’s big news was actually no news. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee decided not to raise interest rates. Fed Chair Janet Yellen followed up on the FOMC statement with a press conference and said that the Fed is not yet ready to raise rates, but that a majority of FOMC members are prepared to raise rates before year-end.

Inflation Rate Remains Well Below Fed Benchmark

The Federal Reserve has set a goal of reaching an inflation rate of 2.00 percent as one of several considerations for raising the target federal funds rate that currently stands at 0.00 percent to 0.250 percent. The Consumer Price Index for August fell from July’s reading of 0.10 percent to -0.10 percent in August. Lower prices were driven by lower fuel costs. The dip in consumer costs was the first since January.

The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, was unchanged at 0.10 percent in August, which matches analyst expectations and July’s reading.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Hits Highest Level in Nearly 10 Years

The Wells Fargo/NAHB Housing Market Index reached its highest reading since November 2005 with a one-point increase to a reading of 62 in September. Readings over 50 indicate that a majority of builders are confident about housing market conditions. September’s reading was the highest since November 2005, when the NAHB Housing Market Index achieved a reading of 68.

Housing Starts Lower, But Building Permits Rise

The Commerce Department reported that August housing starts fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading of 1.13 million starts against projections of 1.16 million starts and 1.16 million housing starts in July. Residential building permits were higher in August with a reading of 1.17 permits issued for residential construction and 1/13 million permits issued in July.

Mortgage Rates Rise

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.91 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage also rose by one basis point to 3.11 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage also rose by one basis point to 2.92 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 got 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.70 percent for 15-year mortgages and 0.50 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

What’s Ahead 

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on new and existing home sales, FHFA’s House Price Index, along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Home Sales Tips: How to Market the Community Around Your Home to Prospective Buyers

Home Sales Tips: How to Market the Community Around Your Home to Prospective BuyersSelling a home is more than real estate listings and making the home appealing to potential buyers. One factor to take into account when buying a home is its location, meaning the community surrounds the home.

For sellers as well as buyers, it’s important to highlight the benefits of living in a particular community. After all, neighborhoods will have an enormous impact on the future buyer’s living experience.

It’s All About Walkable Neighborhoods

According to a Portland, Oregon-based company, City Observatory, there’s a growing demand for homes located in walkable neighborhoods. A decades-long love affair with commuting from suburban areas to work in the city has greatly lost its appeal.

Also, the growing demand for walkable neighborhoods is fueled by people desiring convenient access good schools as well as to entertainment options like movies, restaurants, and shopping. There’s also an appeal for easy access through reliable public transportation.

This trend has been around for a while now. In 2013, the National Association of Realtors found that 57 percent of study participants wanted smaller homes and shorter work commutes.

Fifty-five percent of participants said they would gladly get a small house with a small yard if it meant easy access to stores, schools, and restaurants. Plus, a walkable neighborhood also significantly increases property values. So play up the nearby community benefits that would entice potential buyers.

Great Neighborhood Amenities

Other favorable community amenities bicycle paths and libraries, parks. These are great bonuses for neighborhoods to attract fitness-minded individuals and promote a family-friendly atmosphere for buyers with kids. Speaking of kids, living in an excellent school district usually yields higher home values.

According to a survey conducted by the Demand Institute, almost half of participants wanted a pet-friendly neighborhood. In fact, this factor ranked higher than easy access to public transportation and even public schooling.

Neighborhood Safety

Safety is a top concern for most homebuyers. Although, there’s little one can do to quell neighborhood violence there are things an owner can do to make their home safer. They may want to consider studying security features on homes in their neighborhoods and adopt what they can, within reason.

What Potential Home Buyers Don’t Want In A Neighborhood

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), fewer home buyers were least impressed with communities with golf courses, a high population, gated communities, and mixed-use communities.

Homeowners, when listing a home, seek the help of a professional real estate agent experienced in listing the best features of both the home and the community surrounding it.

Home Buyer’s Remorse: 3 Strategies That Will Help You Avoid Making Mistakes when You Buy

Home Buyer's Remorse: 3 Strategies That Will Help You Avoid Making Mistakes when You BuyIt might seem like selling a home and moving to a new place is enough pressure on its own, but buyer’s remorse is a well-known phrase for a reason. If you’re currently considering a home and are concerned about taking the plunge into purchasing, here are three strategies you will want to utilize before making a final decision.

Choose A Reliable Real Estate Agent

If you’re venturing into purchasing a new home, making sure that you have the right person by your side to help you with all of the aspects of your home purchase. The agent you’ll want to work with should be someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in your area, and whom you will feel comfortable trusting with the questions you can’t answer yourself. When it comes to making this choice, trusting your instincts is a must.

Make Sure It’s The Home You Really Need

It can be easy, once you get into the spirit of looking for homes, to veer off and start considering things beyond your price range that you don’t really need, but get back to square one. If you find a home that you’re seriously considering, make sure that it possesses most of the features you were originally looking for whether it’s location, size or style. Before making the final decision, look over the list of things you’re looking for and make sure any potential cons of your purchase are things that won’t be a deal breaker after.

Consider Cost And Resale Value

It’s not only important to make sure you’re paying a price that you can afford for your new home, you’ll also want to ensure that the resale value is something you can be happy with down the road. It may be hard to discern what a home’s value will be in five or ten years, but thinking about what kind of renovations you want to do should determine if upgrading an outdated bathroom or kitchen will be worth it. While you’ll want to be in a home you can enjoy in the present, ensure it’s something that should have good market value in the future.

Buying a new home can be stressful enough without realizing that you didn’t get what you really wanted after the fact, so it’s important to think twice about what you’re looking for. If you’re wondering about more strategies for a purchase you can be happy with, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for advice and expertise.