Last week’s economic news included construction spending and the CoreLogic Home Price Index for January. Reports for February included ADP Employment, Non-Farm Payrolls and national unemployment data.
The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims rounded out the week’s economic news.
Highlights for last week include:
Consumer spending gained 0.40 percent for January. The expected reading was 0.20 percent and the reading for December was flat.
The Commerce Department reported that increased spending was less an indicator of consumer discretionary spending than an indicator of high utility costs caused by severe winter weather.
Construction spending ticked upward in January with gain of 0.10 percent as compared to expectations of -0.40 percent and the prior month’s reading of 0.10 percent.
January’s reading translates to a seasonally adjusted annual figure of $943.1 billion.
Federal Reserve: Winter Weather Obscures Accurate Economic Outlook
According to the Fed’s Beige Book report, much of the U.S. economy was impacted by severe winter weather. The report is based on anecdotal information provided by business contacts and industry leaders throughout the 12 regions of the U.S. Federal Reserve System.
Eight regions reported slow economic growth. Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Fed, noted that winter weather was not expected to alter the Fed’s plan to continue reducing its asset purchases under its quantitative easing program. She also said that it may be months before accurate economic readings can be obtained in the aftermath of winter weather conditions.
Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought good news on Thursday as mortgage rates fell across the board and discount points were also lower in most cases.
Average mortgage rates were down nine basis points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 4.28 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.32 percent, a decrease of seven basis points.
The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.03 percent, down by two basis points from the prior week. Discount points were unchanged for 30-year fixed rate mortgages at 0.70 percent, but dropped to 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Employment Sector: Surprise Results
The ADP payroll report showed a reading of 139,000 jobs added in February as compared to the prior month’s 127,000 jobs. ADP tracks private sector jobs. The BLS released its Non-Farm Payrolls report for February, which also surpassed expectations.
175,000 jobs were added against expectations of 140,000 jobs added and January’s reading of 129,000 jobs added. The national unemployment rate rose to 6.70 percent against an expected drop to 6.50 percent from January’s reading of 6.60 percent. Once again, foul weather was seen as a major influence.
What‘s Ahead This Week
This week’s economic news schedule is relatively light with no releases set for today.
Mortgage rates will be released by Freddie Mac on Thursday, along with weekly jobless claims. Retail sales and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index round out next week’s schedule.
There is a fine line between adding color to your home decor and using too much color, so that you feel like you are living inside a rainbow.
A little bit of color will add a lot of fun and interest to your home design, but too much color can be overwhelming. How can you achieve that perfect balance?
Here Are Some Tips To Keep In Mind For Using Color In Your Home In A Subtle And Balanced Way:
- Use Color Schemes
Before choosing the colors for your decor, do a little bit of research into color schemes and how they work, so you know how to combine colors harmoniously.
For example, you can choose a complementary color scheme with shades that are across each other on the color wheel – such as blue and orange or purple and yellow.
Or you could try an analogous color scheme, which is a scheme where the colors are next to each other on the colour wheel – such as blue, green and purple.
- Use The 60/30/10 Rule
This is a rule that interior decorators use in order to use colors in a balanced way. Use the dominant color on 60% of the room, so that it will create a unifying look.
Then, use the secondary color on 30% of the room in order to add visual interest. Lastly, use an accent color for 10% of the room to add that little extra.
For example, you might use the dominant color for the walls and carpet, the secondary color for the upholstery and the accent color for some pillows, a wall hanging or a throw rug.
- Try An Accent Wall
Perhaps you have found a gorgeous paint color, but it’s just a little too bright and overwhelming to use for all four walls of a room.
In this case, you can simply paint one wall with the color and the other walls with a neutral tone, so that you can enjoy the shade without it being overpowering.
You could also simply use the color in one aspect of the room, such as the baseboards or the door jams.
These are just a few of the ways that you can incorporate color into your home design, without it being overpowering. For more information, call your trusted real estate professional.
These gray, dreary winter days can really sap your energy and dull your enjoyment of life. To survive the winter doldrums, brighten your home.
Use These Easy Tips:
- Open your home’s window treatments during the day to let the light brighten and warm your room. Close them again as soon as night falls to retain heat.
- Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
- Add a mirror. Wherever a mirror reflects light in a room, it visually doubles that light. Place a mirror opposite a window to immediately brighten your space. No window? Hang a large mirror above a console table and place a pair of lamps in front of the mirror.
- Install higher watt bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
- Eliminate dark corners by adding recessed lighting.
- Use full spectrum lighting in areas where you read, knit or do other up-close work.
- Lighten living areas with colorful throws and pillows.
- Lift the winter blues by adding flowers and plants to your decor. Colorful indoor blooming plants include the African violet, Cyclamen, Orchid and desert cactus. Use tropical flowers to transport yourself mentally to climates where the sun always shines.
- Do A Little Winter Cleaning:
- Wash the inside of your windows. Fireplace and candle soot coats windows with a dingy film that blocks the sun.
- Polish your furniture. Shiny furniture reflects ambient light.
- Wash ceiling light fixtures in soapy water. Light is muted when filtered through dirty light fixtures.
Lighting can change how you (and potential buyers) feel about your home. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways to quickly improve the ambiance of your home.
If you’d like to sell your home, I can help. Contact your real estate professional today.
Two major indicators of home price trends showed a slowing momentum for home prices in December. The S&P Case Shiller 10 and 20 city indices reported that of 20 cities tracked, home prices were lower in December than for November.
Case-Shiller’s seasonally adjusted month-to month reading showed that home prices rose by 0.8 percent as compared to 0.90 percent in November.
David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that “Gains are slowing from month-to-month and the strongest part of home price recovery may be over.” He also noted that seasonally adjusted data was showing a loss of momentum for home prices.
December home prices posted a year-over-year gain of 13.40 percent, down from November’s year-over-year reading of 13.70 percent. December’s reading reflected the highest year-over-year increase in home prices since 2005.
Analysts note that a slower pace of increasing home prices may allow more buyers to enter the market, and may also encourage more buyers to list their properties for sale.
This would increase inventories of available homes and relieve pent-up demand for homes. Although home price growth is cooling off, average home prices remain 20 percent below their pre-recession peak in 2006.
Home Prices Face Challenges In 2014
Another factor in slower growth of home prices is regional differences in the rate of economic recovery. Cities including Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado recently set records for escalating home prices.
Five states including Florida and Michigan accounted for almost half of foreclosures completed during 2013. Slow job growth and poor winter weather were also blamed for slower gains in home prices.
New mortgage rules and relatively strict mortgage lending standards may continue to dampen housing markets, but there is some good news as some lenders are easing credit standards.
FHFA: Home Prices Higher For 10th Consecutive Quarter
The Federal Housing Finance Administration reported similar trends in December home price data for properties either financed or owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Home prices rose by a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.80 percent in December as compared to November’s reading.
Home prices were 7.70 percent higher for the fourth quarter of 2013 than for the same period in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, this reading indicates an approximate year-over-year increase of 7 percent.
FHFA reported higher readings for 38 states in its fourth quarter 2013 Home Price Index, as compared with 48 states in in the third quarter of 2013. In order of home price appreciation, the top five states with highest growth in home prices were Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon and Florida.
These calculations were seasonally adjusted and based on home purchases only.
When buying real estate, you may find some unexpected problems. Generally, these issues revolve around plumbing, wiring or sticking doors and windows. Although they aren’t as expensive to fix as other issues, there’s always a possibility that they indicate bigger problems.
Spotting wear and tear on doors and windows is fairly easy. Check the hinges and locks. Squeaking hinges or locks that stick indicate wear on seals and metal.
Although sticking doors and windows aren’t a big deal in and of themselves, these issues can be indications of moderate to severe foundation problems. If you find these issues in real estate, make your way to the basement and look for cracks or dips in the floors and walls.
Pay attention to how the floors of the house feel when you walk. If you’re at all uneasy, have an inspector look at the house before you buy.
Sometimes, plumbing problems aren’t so easy to find. Sellers have been known to use temporary fixes, which does a good job of hiding the issues. However, there are places to look that make the problems easier to find.
- Look up in the corners where the walls connect to the ceiling. Spackled ceilings make issues especially easy to spot, as they pick up water stains or crack and flake.
- Another place to check is the bathroom, along the bottom of the wall.
- Tile grout has a tendency to crack or flake, become discolored or loosen with continuous proximity to water.
- Finally, check the closets.
People who use temporary fixes will generally work hard to cover up the problems in lived-in rooms, while forgetting to fix walls and ceilings in closets.
Spotting faulty or old wiring depends on the size of the issue and where it’s located. For instance, a bad socket can be found by looking for darkened spots around the holes. However, it’s impossible to look through the walls to find faulty or old wiring behind them. An electrician will be able to give you a better idea of the wiring in the real estate.
Remember, nothing takes the place of getting real estate you’re thinking of buying inspected by a professional.
Are you considering purchasing a new home? Let me help you get your dream home at the lowest price. Call your trusted real estate professional.
Last week’s economic news was mixed, with new home sales increasing and weekly jobless claims higher than expected.
Case-Shiller and FHFA home price reports reflected slower growth in home prices. Mortgage rates moved higher for the third consecutive week.
Weakness in the jobs sector and harsh winter weather were seen as factors contributing to economic events, but sales of new homes jumped unexpectedly to their highest since 2008.
Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Slower Growth for Home Prices
The Case-Shiller composite home price index for December reported that home prices declined by 0.10 percent in December, which was the second consecutive monthly decline.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, home prices rose 0.80 percent in December as compared to November’s reading of 0.90 percent. Year-over-year, home prices grew at a rate of 13.40 percent, their fastest pace since 2005.
The momentum of year-over-year home prices declined in December as compared to November’s year-over-year reading of 13.70 percent. 11 of 20 cities included in the Case-Shiller composite index declined.
Analysts said that low inventories of available homes, higher mortgage rates and severe winter weather contributed to slower growth in home prices.
FHFA’s quarterly House Price Index for the fourth quarter of 2013 posted its tenth consecutive gain in quarterly home prices. Seasonally adjusted home prices rose by 0.80 percent from November to December 2013.
FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices increased by 7.70 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013. Adjusted for inflation, the agency reported a year-over-year increase of 7.0 percent.
FHFA House Price Index data is based on sales information for homes with mortgages held or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Fixed Mortgage Rates, New and Pending Home Sales Rise
Freddie Mac reported that average rates for fixed-rate mortgages rose last week, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising 4 basis points to 4.37 percent.
The rate for a 15-year mortgage also increased by 4 basis points to 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by 3 basis points to 3.05 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.7 0 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.
Weekly jobless claims also rose to 348,000 against projections for 335,000 new jobless claims. The four-week average for new jobless claims remained steady at 338,250.
The Department of Labor noted that weekly readings are more volatile than the four -week average reading. Poor winter weather and a softer labor market were cited as possible causes for the jump in new claims.
New home sales provided unexpected good news; they jumped by 9.60 percent in January, to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 468,000 sales against expected sales of 405,000.
December’s reading was upwardly revised from 414,000 to 427,000 new homes sold.
January’s reading was the largest increase in new home sales since July 2008, and there may be more positive housing news ahead as builders said that some of the sales lost during winter months may be recouped during spring.
Pending home sales increased by 0.10 percent in January to an index reading of 95 as compared to December’s reading of 94.9, which was the lowest reading since November 2011.
What‘s Coming Up
This week’s scheduled economic news includes construction spending, the Federal Reserve’s beige book report, weekly jobless claims, and Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates.
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment reports for February.
Have you been looking through home décor magazines and gazing with wonder at the gorgeous homes inside? Do you want to add a touch of elegance and luxury to your home, but you are on a tight budget?
No need to worry, there are many ways that you can make your home look like a million bucks, without actually having to spend a fortune.
Luxury Home Decor Ideas
Here are a few great ideas that don’t have to cost a lot, they just require a little bit of planning and some elbow grease and they will take your home from ordinary to luxury.
- Mount your curtains at ceiling level rather than the top of the windows. This draws the eye upwards and gives the illusion of high ceilings.
- Paint your interior doors a sleek and shiny shade of black. This looks very modern and sophisticated and is much cheaper than buying expensive doors.
- If your home doesn’t have crown moulding, paint a white band around the ceiling to fake the look.
- The little details can make a big difference when it comes to making a home look elegant and luxurious. Add in finishing touches such as a beautiful glass vase, a stack of coffee table books, fresh flowers or a piece of artwork.
- Remember, less is more and a cluttered house will not create the impression of luxury. Eliminate as much clutter as possible, making your home seem more spacious and sophisticated.
- Lighting can also have a big impact on how luxurious your home appears. Invest in a few beautiful and stylish lamps, or a chandelier, and you will transform the entire space.
- When choosing fabrics for accessories and upholstery, go for fabrics that have a luxurious texture such as velvet, satin or fur. They can be faux to make them cheaper, but they will still add to the luxurious look.
- You can take simple and cheap accessories such as a candle holder or a vase from the dollar store and then paint them with gold paint. They will have a luxurious look, for much less than the real thing!
These are just a few ideas that you can incorporate into your home décor of your home in order to make it look and feel more luxurious. For more helpful information, contact your trusted real estate professional.
If you have started working from home, whether you are a freelancer or running a business, having a home office in your home is very important.
It is a place where you can separate your home life and work, so that you can get “in the zone” and concentrate on the important work tasks that you need to complete. But where should you place your home office?
If you have a spare bedroom in your home, the answer is easy – but what if you don’t have this extra space? Is it possible to squeeze a home office into an already full home? Of course it is, you just have to think outside of the box. Here are some ideas:
Convert Your Attic
If you have an attic in your home, why not use that space for a quiet and private home office? It will be separate from your home and free from any distractions. If your attic is unfinished, converting it into living space can be a good investment that will improve the value of your home.
Work At Your Breakfast Nook
Perhaps your kitchen has a breakfast nook, but your family always ends up eating at the dining table and doesn’t really use it much? If this is the case, you could create a small and compact office space where you can work – while being close to the coffee maker in the kitchen!
Find An Unused Corner
Perhaps there is a corner of your bedroom or living room that you aren’t really using for much? Why not turn it into a home office? All you need is a small desk and a chair to create a workspace. If you want to separate it from the rest of the room, you can use stylish room dividers.
Have you ever thought of using your basement for your home office? There is probably a corner down there that you could use for office space. To combat the lack of natural light, you can use a SAD lamp that offers the same wavelengths as sunlight.
These are just a few ideas of where you could place your home office, even if all of the rooms in your home are in use. As long as you can find a quiet corner somewhere, you can create your ultimate working space.
For more tips and information, contact your trusted real estate professional today.
An entire gutter system around the home might seem expensive to many homeowners.
However, not having one could mean water pooling around your home creating a moat and costing you thousands of dollars in damage to your foundation.
So it’s a good idea to install gutters and take care of them.
Below are tips for gutter maintenance to help keep water away from your home.
Unclog The Gutters
Annual gutter maintenance includes cleaning them of debris, such as leaves, sticks or animal nests. Remove downspout cages and clean them.
Determine if they’re still in good shape or need to be replaced.
If a downspout is clogged, try to use a plumbing snake to dislodge the debris. Then use a hose to force water down the spout and hopefully remove the rest of the clog.
Check The Pitch
Gutters should be set on an incline of 1/4 inch for every 10 feet. For example, if your gutter is 20 feet long, then it should have a drop of 1/2 inch. If your gutter doesn’t have enough of an incline, then you might have water overflow because it can’t drain quick enough.
Most gutters also come to a point in the middle so the water runs both ways to downspouts on each end.
Seal Leaky Gutters
Right after a rainstorm, inspect your gutters for leaks. Look for water-saturated areas along your home underneath the gutter.
Constant leaks can cause water damage to vinyl, brick or stone siding. Use a sealant to repair small leaks or purchase a gutter maintenance patch kit for larger holes.
Replace Damaged Areas
If part of your gutter falls off or is damaged beyond repair, then you’ll need to replace it. You’ll need two ladders, a helper, new gutter cut to fit, joint connectors and sealant.
Remove old joint connectors and clean the area. Fit the new joint connectors with sealant and then install the new piece of gutter.
Install A New Downspout
You’ll need roughly the same tools for replacing the gutter, except you’ll also require downspout sections and self-tapping gutter screws.
Make sure the drop outlet at the end of the gutter fits securely into the downspout to prevent leaking.
Then fasten the joint with gutter screws and add sections as needed.
Finish with an elbowed section that extends five feet into the yard.
In your imagination it seems like a great idea – you purchase an older run-down property and you have the chance to fix it up and turn it into the home of your dreams.
To Renovate, Or Not To Renovate
However, the renovation project that is simply a quick montage in your imagination will actually take several months or years and thousands of dollars in real life.
The concept of renovating a “fixer-upper” property is exciting, but the reality is a lot of work and investment. How can you make sure that you are making the right choice for you?
One of the main advantages of buying a fixer-upper property is that you will usually be able to get the property for a much cheaper price. But is it worth it for the amount of time and money you will need to invest in the property?
Here Are Some Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself When Making Your Decision:
- Do you (or your friends and family members) have the skills to be able to perform most of the renovations yourself? If you do the labour yourself, you will be able to save thousands of dollars that you would have spent hiring contractors, which will make the renovation a much more profitable project.
- Are you comfortable with the idea of living in a construction zone, perhaps for several months or more? There will be dust and noise everywhere and you might have to cope without a kitchen or a shower for a while.
- Make sure that you have a thorough inspection of the home performed so that you can see whether the home has a sturdy foundation, good wiring and plumbing, etc. If your inspection reveals any structural issues or water damage, you might be in for more than you bargained for. You need to start with a house that has “good bones”.
- If the home has serious structural, plumbing or wiring problems you should stay away – these repairs are very expensive but “invisible”, so you are unlikely to recoup your costs when you sell the home.
- Add up the estimated costs for renovating the property along with the cost of the home – does it still work out to be a better deal or would you be better off buying a new property.
- What is your strategy for financing the renovations? If your only option is putting it on the credit card, you might want to think twice because this is a very high interest option.
Buying a fixer-upper property can be a great investment and can give you the opportunity to transform a run-down old house into the property of your dreams. However, make sure you that you consider the choice carefully before making your decision.
For more information about about buying or selling a fixer-upper or any questions regarding real estate, contact your trusted real estate professional.