What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 29th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 29th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Home Sales Lower in April

Sales of new and previously-owned homes were lower in April. The Commerce Department reported sales of new homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 662,000 sales. New home sales were 1.50 percent lower than for March, but were11.60 percent higher year-over-year.

Analysts expected new home sales to rise to 682,000 sales based on the March reading of 672,000 new homes sold.  Sales of new homes are calculated based on a small sample of sales and are typically subject to adjustment. Year-to date sales were 8.40 percent higher year-over-year.

New home sales were downwardly revised for the past three months, which could indicate a slowing in the market. Higher interest rates and rising home prices may be taking a toll on buyer enthusiasm. Fewer buyers caused the inventory of homes for sale to increase to a 5.40month supply. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of available homes a normal inventory of homes for sale.

Sales of previously owned homes were also lower in April; the National Association of Realtors® reported seasonally-adjusted annual sales of 5.46 million homes as compared to expected sales of 5.50 million and March sales pace of 5.60 million sales of previously-owned homes. While fewer sales can relieve demand and ease rising home prices, it appeared that potential buyers are waiting for more options.

Sales of pre-owned homes were 2.50 percent lower than for March and were 1.40 percent lower year-over-year; this was the second consecutive month for a lower year-over-year sales reading. The inventory crunch of pre-owned homes for sale has reduced the average sales period to decrease to 26 days.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Sideline Buyers and Sellers as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported the highest average mortgage rates in seven years. 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.66 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.15 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.87 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Mortgage rates have not risen so fast at the beginning of the year for 40 years. Analysts at Freddie Mac said that home sellers, as well as buyers, may be sidelined as inventories of homes shrink and mortgage rates rise. This could mean that sellers as well as buyers will wait until market conditions and mortgage rates ease.

First-time home buyers accounted for 33 percent of existing home sales; this was lower than the average of 40 percent. First-time buyers are important to real estate markets as their purchases of pre-owned homes enable homeowners to buy their next homes.

New jobless claims rose to 234,000 claims filed as compared to expectations of 219,000 new claims filed. 223,000 new claims were filed the prior week.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, construction spending and pending home sales. ADP and Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released.

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What’s the Difference?

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What's the Difference?Is it worth it to add smart appliances or automated features if you’re selling a home? Just how much connectivity do buyers want? And what exactly do the terms refer to in terms of home updates.

Although smart homes and home automation are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually refer to two basically different concepts about how appliances and home systems can operate. Then there is the need for “connectivity,” adding another dimension to any discussion of futuristic home features.

Home Automation

According to a Texas-based Direct Energy blog, home automation has a long history, beginning with the first labor-saving devices that operated with electrical current. “Automatic” washing machines and hot water heaters certainly made life easier at the time, a time long before wireless technology and integrated home entertainment systems.That may be simplistic, but the truth is that any device that operates without human intervention can be termed automatic. 

Today, however, automation commonly refers to home features that are controlled by computer, or that can be set to operate in specific ways: motion-detected lighting, robotic floor cleaners, dishwashers and ovens with delay settings, and the wide range of room monitors, security cameras and voice or motion-controlled devices.

Smart Technology

Computers introduced American homes to smart technology and the Internet of Things. Today, almost every home has several “smart” devices, even if they are simple ones.  

Case in point: A programmable thermostat, common sensor-operated smoke detectors, and a backyard irrigation system with a timer control can be termed smart devices, albeit maybe only “elementary” smart.

Today, most smart technology is also controllable by wireless remote device. But the true definition of smart is any product that incorporates sensors or data storage, microprocessors or controls that allow autonomous operation. An internal operating system is employed to assure that the product operates as programmed, either through user interface or initial setup. Modern smart technology allows for broad integration of devices, in effect creating a “genius” network.

Connectivity

The third piece of the technology puzzle is connectivity. Both home automation and smart technology can be “connected,” for greater flexibility and integration, but it’s not necessary. And, just because homeowners can change a setting via smart phone or battery-operated remote doesn’t necessarily make an automatic appliance or home product smart. 

Connected products interact with one another over a network; the network collects and shares data, and is designed to monitor and allow some degree of control over the functioning of network-connected products or systems. 

For instance, a smart home with sophisticated lighting controls might automatically sense lower light levels at dusk, triggering an adjustment to window shades and turning on both interior and exterior lighting.

Confused? Actually, there’s no real need to be. No matter what you call them, the home features that make living better are all desirable!

Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational Sense

Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational SenseMulti-generational households and the growing preference on the part of many retirees toward “aging in place”have altered home design in recent years. Interiors are more open, more functional and more adaptable that they were even a decade ago. Spaces tend to be less formal; living space is better integrated with work space like the kitchen, and rooms tend to serve more than once purpose, both for quiet pursuits and for family gatherings.

Universal Design

Home design has gained a new dimension — planning for the future and for a changing lifestyle. Universal design features and amenities that were once off the radar are now very much the focus. Even younger buyers are tuned in to accessibility concerns. Wider doors and hallways, easy to navigate stairs or single-level living, doorless and curbless showers, motion-activated faucets and lighting — these are just a sampling of what may soon become mainstream in American homes.

Add the popularity of home automation and connectivity, and today’s home is uniquely suited for all ages. If you’re thinking of remodeling an existing home, some of these features are well worth the extra cost. Not only do they offer living options, but they also promise great ROI should you wish to sell.

The New Face Of Home

If you are currently looking for a home to buy, view the existing floor plan with an eye toward modifications that would make it more accessible and multi-generation-friendly. Consider the possibility that you might someday share the home with aging parents or with grown children and grandchildren. 

Integrated “apartments”with separate entrances, “granny pods”or separate guest houses, dual master bedrooms, and “au pair”quarters are just some of the ways to offer future flexibility. They are common across the country, but also across price ranges, as sensible and cost-effective alternatives to home health care or retirement housing. 

Renovate For The Future

Renovations that reflect the changing face of family life are always good choices for return on investment in remodeling. Because the traditional family is no longer the norm, any home that offers such options is desirable. If you have questions about what features are important to buyers in a specific market, speak to a real estate professional about trends that go beyond energy savings and sustainability. 

No matter what choices you make about a home update, rely on professional advice and insist on reliable contractors. There is no substitute for quality materials and first-class work. Whether you’re adding space or rearranging it, planning for your future in the home or hoping to appeal to the right buyer, spending a lot or a little, you won’t go wrong with universal design features. Aging is, after all, a reality that we all face sooner or later.

 

What Is Mortgage Insurance and How Does It Benefit Me? Let’s Take a Look

What Is Mortgage Insurance and How Does It Benefit Me? Let's Take a LookAre you in the market for a new home? If you are considering a mortgage, you may be curious about mortgage insurance, commonly referred to as PMI or MI. Let’s explore the topic of mortgage insurance, including how it works to reduce risk and how it benefits you as the mortgage borrower.

Mortgage Insurance = Risk Reduction

You might not know this, but the toughest part of the home buying process for many individuals and families is coming up with the required down payment. For example, if you were to buy a $200,000 home, you may want to invest $40,000 or $60,000 or more in the down payment. The remainder would be borrowed in your mortgage, which you would then pay off each month.

Most mortgage lenders require a minimum of 20 percent as a down payment. In the example above, this means having $40,000 cash on hand before you buy the home. If you can’t come up with this much, your lender may require mortgage insurance be purchased to protect them in case you default on the loan.

Mortgage Insurance Can Help You Qualify

Since mortgage insurance reduces the lender’s exposure to risk, it can help you in a number of ways during the qualification process. First, you can put less in your down payment than you had initially intended, which can increase your buying power and the size of home you can afford. Mortgages backed with a private insurance policy tend to be approved a bit faster than those that aren’t. Also, if you decide that you don’t need it later, many mortgage insurance policies can be canceled, which saves you a bit of money.

Look For Supplemental Benefits

Finally, don’t forget to ask your mortgage lender about any supplemental benefits offered with your mortgage insurance policy. Some policies protect you in the event that you lose your job or provide a partial claim advance if you can’t pay your mortgage. Note that not all policies have these benefits, so be sure to ask.

While it is true that mortgage insurance provides benefits to lenders, it also offers significant benefits to you as the borrower. To learn more about mortgage insurance or to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can buy a home, give us a call today. Our friendly team of real estate professionals is happy to help.

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Pros and Cons of Adjustable Rate MortgagesWhen you are in the market for a new home, you may be faced with numerous options for financing your home. One of the choices you will have to make is whether to apply for a fixed or adjustable rate mortgage. In some cases, an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) may be your best option, but keep in mind, they are not the answer for everyone.

Adjustable rate mortgages can be risky for some borrowers and it’s important to understand both the pros and cons.

When To Consider Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Perhaps one of the best things about ARMs is they typically have a lower starting interest rate than fixed rate mortgages. For some borrowers, this means it is easier for them to qualify for a loan. ARMs are beneficial for borrowers who:

  • Anticipate an income increase – for borrowers who are anticipating their income to increase over the next year or two, an ARM may be the right option.
  • Will be reducing their debt – those borrowers who have automobile loans or student loans that will be paid off in the next few years may benefit from an ARM which would allow them to qualify for a larger mortgage today anticipating their ability to covert to a fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Are purchasing a starter home – when you anticipate living in a home for five years or less, an adjustable rate mortgage may help you save money for a bigger home.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage Concerns

There are a number of different types of adjustable rate mortgages and they are each tied to specific interest rate indexes. While an ARM may offer borrowers some flexibility in terms of income and debt ratios, the downsides cannot be ignored. Some of the cons of using an ARM to finance your mortgage include:

  • Rate adjustments – borrowers should carefully review their loan documents to see how frequently their interest rates may increase. Some loans adjust annually while other may not increase for three to five years after the mortgage is signed. For borrowers, this means they may anticipate an increase in their monthly payments.
  • Prepayment clauses – oftentimes, lenders include a prepayment penalty with ARM loans which can be surprising for borrowers. Before agreeing to an ARM, make sure you read the documents very carefully to determine how long you need to hold the loan and if there is a prepayment clause.
  • Home values – one of the biggest challenges borrowers face with an ARM is what happens if the property value decreases: Refinancing a home into a fixed-rate mortgage may be more difficult if this occurs.

Borrowers who are searching for the right mortgage should discuss all options with their loan officer. There are specific instances when an ARM may be the best option and there are other times, such as if you plan to stay in your home for more than five years, where a fixed-rate mortgage may be your best option.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 21st, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 21st, 2018Last week’s economic releases included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for May, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Home Builder Confidence Rises in May

According to the National Association of Home Builders, home builders surveyed indicated higher confidence in housing market conditions for May. April’s reading was downwardly revised to an index reading of 68; analysts expected a reading of 69.  May’s home builder confidence reading was 70. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions to positive.

Three-month rolling readings for regions showed mixed results in May. Northeast and Western regions were unchanged with index readings of 55 and 76 respectively. Midwestern and Southern regions posted a one-point drop with respective index readings of 65 and 92. The NAHB cited high lumber prices as a concern and said that rising materials costs were impacting builders’ ability to produce affordable housing for first-time buyers.

Both housing starts and building permits issued were lower in April than for March; The Commerce Department reported1.287 million housing starts in April as compared to 1.336 million starts in March. Housing starts are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Although housing starts were 3.70 percent lower in April, analysts said there was little concern as the rate of housing starts remained near the highest levels in 11 years.

April’s decline in housing starts was attributed to volatile multi-unit projects; construction rates for single-family homes were little changed. The South reported an increase in housing starts as all other regions reported fewer housing starts. Builders said that labor shortages continue to impact construction rates. Analysts expected construction rates to expand throughout 2018 as demand for homes rises. Building permits issued fell in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.352 million from the March reading of 1.377 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose to their highest level in seven years. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were six basis points higher and averaged 4.61 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was seven basis points higher at 4.08 percent. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged five basis points higher at 3.82 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 rose to 222,000 new claims last week as compared to 211,000 new claims filed the prior week. Analysts expected 215,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Financing Your Solar Roof

Financing Your Solar RoofGoing solar can make life sunnier for some homeowners. In addition to reducing energy dependence by “borrowing” energy directly from the sun, purchasers may also enjoy a 30 percent federal Solar Investment Tax Credit and other incentives, according to SEIA.

Solar roofing can boost a home’s equity in some cases, while making it more attractive to future buyers in sun-drenched parts of the country. Best of all, financing that solar roof may be a more attainable goal than homeowners think.

Leasing vs. Owning

Perhaps the first question a green-minded homeowner should consider is whether to own solar roofing or lease it. Leasing solar panels from a third-party provider bypasses the need to take out a traditional loan or purchase a solar roof with cash.

Energy.gov notes that PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) allow homeowners to pay fixed monthly payments based on the amount of energy the roof will likely generate over the period of the lease. But it’s worth noting that leasing also bypasses the tax credits and other financial benefits and incentives of ownership.

The Traditional Loan Route

Traditional loans can finance solar roofs just as they can other major home renovations or improvements. For homeowners who already own their homes outright, this approach offers a simple, cost-effective way to enhance the property. Other homeowners may want to look into the Department of Energy’s Residential PACE (Property Assessed Clean energy) loans aimed at promoting energy-efficient modifications.

Those who seek to take out a mortgage on a solar-roofed home, however, should watch out for the proverbial fine print. For instance, PACE loans trump mortgage loans, so having a PACE loan in place can make getting that mortgage loan impossible. 

Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Energy Mortgage

The HomeStyle Energy Mortgage from Fannie Mae offers an attractive alternative to traditional loans, according to the Washington Post. This product includes the solar roof (or other energy-efficient modification) within the overall mortgage loan.

A HomeStyle Energy Mortgage factors in the anticipated energy savings offered by the modification in figuring the loan terms. It also lets borrowers take out larger amounts that they might receive through traditional mortgages — up to 15 percent of the home’s “as-completed” appraisal value.

Some smart financing strategies can turn the objective of owning a solar roof from an out-of-reach dream into a practical reality. A skilled real estate expert can help homeowners weigh all the available options and come up with a sensible plan that suits their needs.

Ensuring A Stress-Less Closing

Ensuring A Stress-Less ClosingBuying a home is an exciting and exhilarating time. Between the time your offer is accepted, and when you finally have keys in hand and you are ready to step into your new home, it can be stressful. The escrow period, also known as the closing, can take the most easygoing home buyer to the brink of insanity.

After you have negotiated your best price and come to an agreement, there are ways to make the escrow process less anxiety-provoking. Here are some tips from top real estate agents to help you get through the escrow process without losing your cool. 

Utilize Your Professionals

Trust your real estate agent and home financing professional to walk you through the entire process is key to a smoothly closing escrow. Rely on them to do their job, but don’t be afraid to express any anxieties, and lean on them during negotiations and inspections. They are the experts, so ask questions and ask for advice, but try not to second guess their guidance or recommendations. 

Your additional trusted partner is your mortgage professional. They know how important the financing piece is to this equation and they will be sure to know your timeline and be available to answer questions and assist you throughout this process. 

Stay Organized

Chaos rarely inspires confidence. Stay on top of all paperwork and make sure you sign and return everything to your lender promptly to eliminate delays. The lender and escrow company want the sale to close in a timely fashion, too, so don’t slow them down by being disorganized or failing to return important documentation such as income tax information or bank statements.

Maintain A Healthy Perspective

No home is perfect, so be prepared for inspections that bring some daunting news. Ask to be present when the inspections are performed. The more information you have about your prospective home, the better you will be prepared to negotiate for repairs before they surprise you in the future. 

Ask for credits and repairs as needed, but try to remain objective. Some seemingly minor fixer projects can lead to a much longer time table. You may decide that, when considering the bigger picture and a timely transaction, a couple thousand dollars might not actually be a worth negotiating. 

Be Flexible

Retain as much flexibility as possible during the closing process and focus on the big picture, rather than all of the details. When opening escrow, ask your agent to give you an overview of the expected timeline from beginning to end. Knowing what to expect, and when as well as being aware of projected milestones goes a long way in reducing anxiety. You can, and should, ask to be notified when important milestones are reached.

While you might have it penciled in on your calendar, it’s common for closing dates to change. Instead of thinking of your closing date as set in stone, think of it as a flexible target. Do not book movers until the last minute, so you won’t be stressed if your belongings are all packed in a truck and the escrow date is set forward a day or two.

Don’t forget to breathe!

This is an important time to take care of yourself. Take a run, meditate, or do yoga. Read a book or enjoy a hobby. Moving can be a physically taxing event, so take the time now to relax before the big move.

Before you know it, you will be moving into your new home. Being informed, staying organized and taking care of yourself are key elements. Most important, though, is to rely on your trained professionals to guide you through this process and help to ensure a stress-less closing.

5 Ways Millennial Buyers Can Snag Their Dream Home In This Sellers Market

5 Ways Millennial Buyers Can Snag Their Dream Home In This Sellers MarketAccording to the 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, Millennials bought 34% of the homes sold; the largest of any generation last year. 

Millennials looking to buy their first, or second, home need to ready themselves for a surprisingly competitive market. Lack of supply causes attractive homes to garner multiple offers in just a few hours!

What can a Millennial buyer do to appeal to sellers and be the one who ends up with the home? Here are 5 ways they can snag their dream home in this seller’s market. 

Get Pre-Approved

Figuring out what a home buyer can afford is a crucial step and no different for these savy Millenial home buyers. Sellers like to avoid nasty surprises. Being pre-approved shows the seller that the homebuyer is serious and financially able to purchase their home. 

Meeting with a mortgage originator and getting pre-approved is how it’s done. This professional will pull credit history and look at current financial infomation to determine precisely how much of a mortgage is affordable. The pre-approval can then be used as part of their offer letter. 

Be Decisive

A hot real estate market is no time for cold feet. Millennials should proactively create a list of must-haves and be ready with an offer when they find a home that meets their requirements. 

Taking too long to mull over whether they like the house, the neighborhood, or the price can result in a dream house being sold right out from under them. 

Get Real

Millennials should research pricing in the neighborhoods they like, and lean on their real estate agent for helpful guidance. Low-balling an offer is not likely to be received well in this competitive market. Making a fair, reasonable offer close to, or even above, the asking price is the best course of action to land the home they want. 

Show Personality

If sellers feel like they know the buyer, they are more likely to choose them over a faceless offer. Include a personal letter with the offer. Go into detail about why the house is appealing. Add personal details about what the Millennial buyer wants to do in the house like raise children, plant a garden, or enjoy baking in the kitchen.

If all buyers are equal, a heartfelt letter just might tip the scales. 

Agree to the Sellers Timetable

Some sellers prefer unloading their house fast. Others may want to wait to move until their kids are out of school or the new home they are building is ready. 

Millennial buyers may need to dig to get this information but it can be used to their advantage. Being flexible might just set them up to be the best choice for the seller. 

While challenging, it’s not impossible for Millennials to end up with the house of their dreams. With a bit of planning, decisiveness, flexibility, and a preapproval from their trusted mortgage professional, Millenials can make homeownership a reality in the very near future!

 

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 14th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 14th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on consumer prices, consumer sentiment and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Consumer Price Index Increases in April

Consumer prices rose by 0.20 percent in April according to the Commerce Department. Analysts expected prices to rise by 0.30 percent based on a negative reading of -0.10 percent in March. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food and energy sectors, eased to 0.10 percent growth in April after growing by 0.20 percent in March. Analysts said that Fed policymakers’ concerns over inflation growth could wane with the easing of core consumer prices.

Mortgage Rates, Mixed New Jobless Claims Unchanged

Freddie Mac reported mixed readings for average mortgage rates; rates for fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.55 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Average rates for a fifteen-year fixed rate mortgage dipped by two basis points. Rates for a5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.77 percent and were higher by eight basis points.

New jobless claims were unchanged 211,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 215,000 new claims. In other news, the University of Michigan reported that consumer sentiment was also unchanged with an index reading of 98.80 in May.

Whats Next

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings From the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.