Case-Shiller: Home Prices Lower in November

Case-Shiller Home Prices Lower in NovemberHome price growth continued to struggle in November, with Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index moving from October’s reading of 5.30 percent annual growth to 5.20 percent growth in November. This was the lowest reading since January 2015.

Las Vegas, Nevada remained first in home price growth rate with a year-over-year home prices growth of 12 percent. Phoenix, Arizona’s year-over-year home price growth rate was 8.10 percent and Seattle, Washington held third place with a year-over-year home price growth rate of 6.30 percent.

Las Vegas’ large year-over-year growth in home prices was attributed to the city’s ongoing recovery from the recession when home prices tanked in southern Nevada. Cities including Denver, Colorado, San Francisco California and Seattle, Washington saw steep declines in home price growth rates as compared to past peak home price growth fueled by post-recession recovery.

Challenges to home price appreciation were no surprise as slim supplies of available homes and high buyer demand created buyer competition and fewer choices of available homes. Affordability continued to discourage first-time and moderate income buyers.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices said, “The pace of price increases is being dampened by declining sales of existing homes and weaker affordability. Sales peaked in November 2017 and have drifted down through 2018. Affordability reflects higher prices and increased mortgage rates through much of last year.”

Affordable Homes Hard To Find Amid Slim Supply

First-time home buyers accounted for about 32 percent of home sales in November; their market share has not increased in recent months. First-time buyers typically look for pre-owned homes that cost less than brand new homes.

Healthy job growth and record unemployment rates could encourage potential buyers, but buyers were sidelined by short supplies of available homes and concerns about mortgage rates and overall economic trends. Analysts said that recently falling mortgage rates may not have been enough to encourage buyers who continued to face high demand for fewer homes and strict criteria for mortgage approval.

Positive indicators for housing markets included stable inflation and the Fed’s decision not to rise its target interest rate range; this was expected to help slow rate increases on consumer credit including mortgage loans.

If you are in the market for a new home, please be sure to consult with your trusted real estate agent and your trusted home mortgage professional.

3 Green and Gorgeous Trends in Home Design

3 Green and Gorgeous Trends in Home DesignThese days, people want energy-efficient homes that look great. To answer the call of passionate environmentalists, developer are rising to the occasion and designing home features that minimize waste, save energy and reuse reclaimed materials. The results are gorgeous, green homes that help move the sustainable living trend forward.

Hidden Solar Panels

Solar panels are a great way to save energy, but not everyone loves the optics. A series of solar panels on the roof may save you money on your utilities, but it can detract from the natural shape of your home. As an alternative, innovative in-roof solar panels are installed level with the roof line.

This is accomplished by designing a deeper roof so the solar panels are flush with your shingles or other roof material. Of course, this requires some forethought, but it’s not impossible to retrofit your existing home to take advantage of the clever development.

Reclaimed Materials

Deconstruction involves the “un-building” of a house. Specifically, when buyers or developers tear down a structure before building a new one, they attempt to reuse, salvage or donate as many materials as possible. Otherwise, all this material ends up in a landfill.

Reclaimed brick brings a rustic character to a new home. It also adds a historic appeal and interest to an interior or exterior space. Wood siding and beams reduce further deforestation and often give you beautiful hardwoods and rugged lumber that has stood the test of time. Reclaimed flooring often nets you thicker wood slabs that you can refinish for a powerful visual effect.

Bamboo is the ultimate sustainable building material. This fast-growing wood results in light-colored, unique wood floors. Although its’s softer than traditional hardwoods, it’s a great wood substitute that can regenerate in three years with minimal pesticides or fertilizers.

Large Windows That Conserve Energy

In the past 20 years ago, windows have gotten larger – and more energy-efficient than ever. High-performance glazing and innovative frames hold in heat in winter and cool air in summer.

Steel windows now open up and require fewer mullions to support larger glass panes, which reduces construction materials and air leakage. This means that green-minded homeowners can enjoy floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean or mountains without paying a huge utility bill or expending vast amounts of energy.

Be sure to let your trusted real estate agent know if green living is on your priority list for your future property.

 

 

3 Things You Should Know About Land Surveys

3 Things You Should Know About Land SurveysOne thing to think about when purchasing a home or parcel of land is to have an updated land survey conducted. While property deeds generally include detailed information, many are outdated for a variety of reasons that include nature, weather conditions, and adjustments in floodplain maps among others.

Even when the information about the property is spot-on at the closing, human perception of where your property begins and ends can lead to some unenviable outcomes. Given that buying real estate ranks among the largest personal investments for most people, these are three things you may want consider about land surveys.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The old Robert Frost poem “Mending Wall” ponders the reasons that people erect property line fences and why they fix them each spring. The reason is a simple one, setting boundaries avoids unnecessary disagreements and allows people to get along.

Land disputes can turn otherwise friendly neighbors into hostile abutters because there is a pervasive sense that someone is stealing from you. Good fences are the product of clearly identified boundary markers and professional surveyors are the people who measure and certify them. If you plan on buying or recently purchased a parcel of land, updating the land survey may be in you and your neighbor’s best interest.  

Squatters Can Take Your Land Through Adverse Possession

Many states continue to allow the practice of adverse possession. In some places, it’s known as “squatters rights.” If someone who does not rightfully own a piece of land can maintain or utilize it for a period of time, they may be able to put in a claim.

Although many people consider this an outdated and unfair practice, it remains too common in rural and suburban areas. Misplaced fences are often the basis of such claims. When abutters work your land or use it to access their own, that can be the basis of a claim to get a permanent easement or take it from you.

Land Surveys Can Be Used For Insurance Purposes

The severe weather storms that struck communities across the country have prompted organizations to update their floodplain maps. Property owners who were not previously required to purchase flood insurance may now find themselves considered “at risk.”

But that designation can be considerably more complex than just owning a home or residential property inside the flood zone. These updated maps do not necessarily consider the elevation of each and every property. In order to be properly listed, you may need to have an elevation certificate to petition FEMA and others that your property is not at risk. That means having a professional land survey conducted.

There are numerous reasons why current land surveys can prove valuable to real estate buyers and sellers. Without one, you are operating without critical information about a significant investment.  Your trusted real estate agent and home mortgage professionals can refer you to appraisers and land surveyors in your area. Be sure to rely on these valuable resources during your new home purchase.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 28th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 28th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of previously owned homes and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims. A scheduled report on sales of new homes was not available due to the government shutdown.

National Association of Realtors®: Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Lowest in 3 Years

Sales of previously owned homes fell in December and failed to meet expectations. 4.99 million pre-owned homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts predicted 5.10 million sales based on 5.33 million sales in November 2018. December’s reading showed the lowest number of sales since November of 2015.

Sales of previously-owned homes fell 6.40 percent month-to-month and were 10.30 percent lower year-over-year. Inventories of previously-owned homes also slipped in December with a 3.70 months supply of homes as compared to 3.90 months supply of available homes in November. Real estate pros consider six months supply of homes for sale as an average inventor.

Real estate pros said that lower buyer traffic in all regions of the U.S. could indicate less interest from buyers, but on a positive note, fewer buyers also remove the high rates of competition seen in the recent past.

Lower mortgage rates are well-timed for the upcoming spring sales season. Real estate pros were hopeful that lower mortgage rates will hold and entice more buyers into the market.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported no change in average interest rates for fixed rate mortgages. The average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages held at 4.45 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also unchanged at 3.88 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged three basis points higher at 3.90 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell to 199,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 218,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 212,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading represented the first time since 1969 that new jobless claims fell below 200,000, but analysts were wary of potential impact of the government shutdown on new jobless claims. The shutdown ended on Friday until February 15, but politicians seemed unenthusiastic about future shutdowns.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and readings on pending home sales, construction spending and the post-meeting statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee.

Labor sector readings on private and public employment and the national unemployment rate will also be released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on schedule.

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To Consider

Buy Or Build Your Home? 5 Factors To ConsiderA home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and the American Dream for many. Most people spend significant time finding or designing their “dream home.” The first decision is whether to buy or build. 

As of September 2018, the average sales price of a new home was $377,200, according to joint data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Existing homes sales price was approximately $258,100, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

New homes attract bigger prices than existing ones, meaning building costs are also high. So, how do you decide what is best for you?

Here are five factors to consider. 

Time 

Building a home takes time since you must complete several phases. You must buy land, find an architect to design, get building permits, find a contractor and start building. It can take between six months and a year before you move into your new home. 

Buying an existing home shortens that time. For a new house, you can move in once the escrow closes. Older homes may require renovations, but it won’t take long. 

Home Design 

Building your home gives you the benefit of customization. Working with your architect, you can design your dream home to reflect your taste and preference. Buying an existing home, means you may have to compromise on a few aspects. 

Energy Efficiency 

Rising energy costs is a concern to potential homeowners. Designing your own home means you can incorporate measures to be energy efficient. Buying an old home may require more resources to upgrade. That might end up hitting your wallet harder. 

Fortunately, most homebuilders are responding to market demands for energy efficient homes. Most new homes meet these standards. 

Budget 

Budget is an important consideration when buying or building your home. A buying price on an existing home reflects the value of the house.  

Building, on the other hand, means you have to juggle a budget constantly throughout the construction period. It is not uncommon to spend more than you budgeted for initially. 

Even if you decide to find a perfect existing home, you may finally opt to build. Conversely, you may strategize to build and later choose to buy an existing home. In both cases, working with qualified professionals such as a trusted mortgage lender, real estate agent or a builder can make the process seamless.

 

3 Tips To Save For A Down Payment

3 Tips To Save For A Down PaymentSaving up for a down payment can feel overwhelming. Most people have never saved up the kind of money it takes for a down payment. It can be done, though. The goal is to put 20% down on a house. This is what it takes if you don’t want to have to pay private mortgage insurance every month.

However, you don’t have to absolutely put 20% down. Some mortgage programs, such as VA and FHA loans, let borrowers put down as little as zero down or about 3.5% down. There are extra requirements with any kind of mortgage you get, so be sure to discuss those with your lender.

Whichever kind of mortgage you decide to try for, here are some tips for saving for a down payment.

Get A Head Start

The sooner you start saving for a down payment, the easier it will be. Even if you currently can’t see having any extra money for savings, tuck as much as you can into a savings account. Every single dollar will help later on. 

Invest Safely To Earn Interest On Your Down Payment

If your home purchase goal is two or more years away, consider investing your savings so it earns interest. Since you’re counting on that money to use for a life goal, invest in things with low or no risk. Also, invest in things that allow you to cash out with no penalties when you think you’ll be ready to buy.

Ideas include a bank CD, money market, tax lien certificate, or municipal bonds. You won’t earn massive amounts of interest with any of these vehicles, but in return you’ll have flexibility and security.

Request An Inheritance Advance

If you know that your parents have you in their will, you can request to get part of your inheritance early. Your parents may be able to give you up to a certain amount for your mortgage down payment with no penalty.

Be sure to check with your potential lender. Some mortgage programs have caps on how much of the down payment can be sourced from a third party.

Once you decide what kind of home you might like, and which mortgage programs you might qualify for, you can decide how much you’ll need to save for a down payment. Use these three tips to save up. Before long, you’ll be ready to start shopping for the home of your dreams.

An essential partner is your trusted home mortgage professional. You can count on them to guide you every step of the way through your home loan process.

Remember, it’s never too early to contact your real estate professional. Looking at properties you like can be a helpful motivation to keep saving!

 

 

How The Title Search Works

How The Title Search WorksA title search is an early warning system for buyers and lenders. It reveals flaws the owner must resolve prior to a closing or refinance request. This allows the owner to clear any issues on the title so that the process can move forward. Also, it protects the buyer or lender from assuming an obligation they aren’t responsible for. 

Title Search

A chain of title exists in the public records. It shows the history of property title transfer from each previous owner to the next. Unfortunately, these searches are labor intensive and require a specialist called a title examiner.

The search may take the title examiner back to a time when property laws were much different. Technically, only 40-60 previous years are required, but this may omit important information on older properties. Therefore, title examiners typically go back to the original owner.

Tax Search

The second step involves a search of tax records to ensure there are no unpaid taxes that could result in a tax lien on the property. The local municipality could hold buyers responsible if the taxes aren’t paid prior to the closing.

Inspection

If the title insurance is for a refinance loan, the lender often orders an inspection. The inspector examines the property to investigate whether there are any encroachments or other defects that affect the title. They also verify the lot size, note unrecorded easements and then mark the location of improvements.

Judgments

Judgment decrees, liens and unpaid federal taxes entail a claim on the property that supersedes a lender’s or buyer’s rights. Therefore, if discovered judgments create a cloud on the title, the current owner must resolve them before the transfer of title to the buyer.

Closing

The lender or buyer and seller can proceed with the closing after all defects have been cleared. However, the title company won’t issue a commitment to insure the property if clouds remain on the title. 

Understanding how the title process works can make the closing process easier and might make buyers a little more patient while waiting for the title commitment to arrive. 

Your trusted real estate agent and home mortgage professional will be there to guide you through the process and help you communicate effectively with your lender. These partnerships can be a key element in your successful transaction.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 22nd, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 22nd, 2019Last week’s economic reports included National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued were delayed due to the federal government shutdown, which continued and became the longest government shutdown on record.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Rises Amid Headwinds

Home builder confidence rose two points in January according to the National Association of Home Builders. Builder concerns over rising construction costs and tariffs on building materials were balanced by falling mortgage rates.

Builders felt pressure to create more affordable homes and to offer incentives to buyers that could create more sales. Building new homes is the only solution to the long-entrenched shortage of homes; the Home builder index is closely watched by housing and mortgage industry pros as an indicator of future home inventories and mortgages.

Federal Reserve Beige Book Shows Concern Over Current Economic Conditions

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, which recounts Federal Reserve business contacts’ views of the economy included information from eight of twelve Federal Reserve districts. Business leaders cited higher costs including rising tariffs and costs for supplies. Business growth was slower during December and early January.

Additional concerns cited by the Fed’s business contacts included the government shutdown and conflicts over trade and political policies. Fed contacts reported mixed results with passing on higher costs to consumers. This suggests that consumers are “tapped out,” or are reining in spending among worries over the shutdown and rising costs.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported mixed activity on mortgage rates last week as the average rate for 330-year fixed rate mortgages was unchanged at 4,45 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage ticked down one basis point to 3.88 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.37 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Fewer first-time jobless claims were filed last week with 213,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 220,000 new claims filed and 216,000 first-time claims filed in the prior week.

The University of Michigan released its consumer confidence index for January; consumer uncertainty about economic conditions and the government shutdown caused January’s reading to fall nearly eight points to 90.70. from December’s reading of 98.30 Analysts expected a reading of 97.50, but this may have been based in hopes that the government shutdown would end.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic reports are limited by Monday’s holiday and the ongoing government shutdown. Expected readings include sales of new and pre-owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To Avoid

5 Home-Buying Pitfalls To AvoidBuying your home can be nerve-racking, especially if it’s the first time. The buying process is exciting and often complex. The chances of making a mistake are relatively high. 

In today’s real estate market where demand surpasses supply, you can’t afford to make mistakes. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you are in the market to buy a house, here are five pitfalls avoid. 

Not Doing Your Homework Well 

Fortune favors the prepared in real estate. And preparedness begins with understanding your finances. A wise buyer examines assets, analyzes debts and gets finances pre-approved before jumping into the house hunt. 

Know the neighborhood well, since you’re also buying a location. It’s paramount to research about the quality of schools, upcoming zoning issues and crime level. Not all suburb spots are ideal to live in.

Picking The Wrong Mortgage 

Getting your loan preapproved puts you in a better position to negotiate. Find out how much property you can afford. Don’t rely on your bank’s internet site only. Instead, use calculators and consult with your trusted mortgage professional to find out how much you can borrow. 

It’s worth noting that what banks show they can lend can differ from what they will lend. As such, it’s imperative to choose your mortgage carefully. Compare offers from various banks or consult an independent finance broker. 

Going With The Market Flow 

Resist the temptation to flow with the market rather than your needs. The real estate market goes in cycles. There are times suitable for buyers, and times suitable for sellers. 

However, don’t gamble with your future by sitting and waiting for the right time. Once you know your budget, get your finances organized, think about your needs now and in future. Then use short term market conditions to make long-term lifestyle choices. 

Exceeding Your Budget 

Most homebuyers fall for the trap of picking more appealing properties that cost more than their budgets. Falling into this pitfall can derail your future finances. 

Although it’s human nature to yearn for more than we can afford, resist the desire. Surpassing your budget exposes you to potential financial shocks with bigger payments, property taxes and more.

Falling In Love 

If you find the perfect house, keep it to yourself. Don’t let the sellers read your emotions. If they do, they may use them against you while negotiating. 

Wise buyers know there are several homes out there, and there is one that’s right for them. If you can’t afford one or your offer isn’t accepted, keep looking and move on. 

Buying a home is rejuvenating. However, if you’re not careful, you can make mistakes you may regret later. Be sure to consult with your trusted real estate expert and trusted mortgage professional to get the best advice for your situation. 

 

 

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Grows After Lowest Level in 3 Years

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Grows After Lowest Level in 3 YearsAfter two months of declining builder confidence, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index gained two points in January with a reading of 58. Component readings of the HMI were also higher with builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to an index reading of 63. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 64.

The index for buyer traffic in new housing developments rose one point to 44. While index readings above 50 indicate positive market conditions, the index reading for buyer traffic is typically lower than 50.

Lower Mortgage Rates Compel Home Buyers to Act

Falling mortgage rates contributed to the uptick in home builder confidence, but affordability continued to impact first-time and moderate-income home buyers. Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist, said: “Builders need to continue to manage rising construction costs to keep home prices affordable, particularly for young buyers at the entry level of the market.”

Analysts suggested that builders could consider offering deeper discounts and incentives to buyers to increase sales of new homes. Homes not sold during November and December added to current inventories of new homes available, which provides home buyers with more choices and less competition for homes.

Home Builders Expect More Buyer Traffic

Lennar Corporation, a major home builder said that increased buyer traffic indicated that 2019 home sales would increase and that improving economic conditions were expected to improve housing market conditions and home sales in 2019.

Builders expect to face continued headwinds in 2019; affordability tops the list, but relatively low inventories of homes in some areas dampen buyer enthusiasm. Single-family housing starts are also expected to be lower than the long-term yearly average. As economic conditions improve for would-be home buyers, a slim supply of homes and high home prices present obstacles to buyers.

Your trusted real estate agent is one of your best partners in your next home buying or selling transaction. Be sure to contact them to discuss market conditions in your area.