Last week’s economic reports included readings on job openings, retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates.
Job Openings Hold Steady in November; Quits and Hires Increase
According to the Labor Department, job openings held steady with a reading of 5.50 million openings in November, which matched October’s reading. Hires and quits showed more activity, which analysts deemed a healthy sign for the economy. Workers typically hold on to their current jobs in times of economic uncertainty, while they may be more comfortable with changing jobs in a strong economy. Increased “churn” in terms of quits and hires suggests that workers are gaining confidence in economic conditions and are more willing to change jobs. There were 1.3 unemployed workers for each job opening, which was lower than October’s reading of 1.4 unemployed workers for each job opening.
Retail Sales Higher in December
Retail sales grew by 0.60 percent in December, although analysts had expected o.80 percent growth. November’s reading showed 0.20 percent growth. Retail sales not including the automotive sector grew by 0.20 percent. Analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent based on November’s reading of 0.30 percent growth. Year-end promotions and incentives offered by auto dealers likely contributed to December’s increase in retail sales.
Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by eight basis points to 4.12 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged seven basis points lower at 3.37 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were 10 basis points lower at an average of 3.23 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types.
New jobless claims were lower than expected last week with a reading of 247,000 new jobless claims. 258,000 new claims were expected based on the prior week’s reading of 237,000 new claims filed. New jobless claims were lower than 300,000 new claims for the 97th consecutive week. The rise in new claims last week was attributed to delays in filing for benefits between Christmas and New Year holidays.
Consumer sentiment dipped in January to an index reading of 98.1 as compared to December’s reading of 98.2 and the expected reading of 98.8.
This week’s scheduled economic releases include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits will be released. Consumer Price Index readings are scheduled along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
There are a variety of mortgage products out there that serve the needs of different homeowners, but for the uninitiated it can be hard to know what will work best for them. If you happen to be close to retirement and are looking at options that will be more financially beneficial for you, here are the details on a reverse mortgage and how this product can work for you.
The Details On A Reverse Mortgage
A reverse mortgage may be one of the lesser-known products available on the market, but it was created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) following the 2008 recession. While this type of mortgage is only available to homeowners who are 62 or older, it offers a way for people to tap into the equity of their home so that they are not required to pay monthly mortgage payments. There are limitations imposed on this product, but this can be useful for many homeowners.
What’s Required To Apply?
In order to utilize this mortgage product, the homeowner must have paid off their property entirely or have a significant amount of equity in their current home. As people who want to use a reverse mortgage will have to go through a credit check, they will have to be able to prove that they have the ability to pay for all the fees associated with home ownership. This can include common expenses like insurance, property tax and any other applicable charges that come with a monthly mortgage payment.
How You Can Use It
A reverse mortgage can be confusing to understand, but for those who want to receive monthly payments, get a lump sum payment from their equity or even access a line of credit, it can be a means of tapping into additional funds. While this means that the overall loan balance of the mortgage can increase over time due to interest and insurance not being paid consistently, these expenses will be taken care of once the owner has passed away when the property can be sold or the loan balance is paid.
A reverse mortgage can be a beneficial product for many homeowners, but it’s important to be aware of the associated costs involved to determine if this product is beneficial for you.
Once you’re done with debt and you’ve started to save, it’s commonly the case that you’ll start hearing about the risks and rewards of investing in stocks or real estate. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many people to know what type of investment is going to work better for them down the road. If you’re currently considering what you should put your money into, here are some reasons you may want to turn to real estate.
It’s Something You Can See
While investing in the stock market will give you the ability to invest as little or as much as you want, a home will take a monthly payment and a down payment in order to make the deal. Fortunately, this means that you’ll be investing money every month into something that belongs to you and that you can see. A home is not only something you can invest in all the time, it will enable you to avoid putting money into rent that you’ll never get back.
Saving Money On Tax Breaks
There may be a certain amount of volatility with any market investment, but when it comes to buying a home you also have the benefit of tax breaks that are designed specifically for homeowners. In addition to the ability to deduct interest on your main residence if you’ve lived in your property for a minimum of two of the last five years, you’ll also be able to sell it tax-free. Investing in a home certainly takes savings, but there are many available tax benefits that can save money.
A Sense Of Security
Many people want to invest in a home because it offers up a piece of something that they can really own. However, another appealing aspect of having a home is that you’ll be removed from the day-to-day rumblings of the stock market. Investing can make people more than a little weary, even if they’re knowledgeable about the markets, and this can cause people to sell off and lose money when the going gets tough.
Investing in real estate and the stock market both involve some degree of financial risk, but you might not be aware that there are several added benefits of buying a home. From the tax break incentives to the sense of security, real estate can often be the better financial route to take. If you’re currently considering a home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.
There was a time when a higher percentage of people were married before they committed to buying a home together, but it’s a lot more common to co-habit and invest in a home together. If you’re considering the commitment of a mortgage without being married, here are some things to be aware of before you start searching the market.
Relationship Status Won’t Affect Your Rates
It might seem like there are greater risks involved if two individuals purchasing a property are not legally bound, but it actually makes no difference to the mortgage lender. If two people are buying a home together, the lender is going to be assessing their credibility based on their individual credit reports and financial history, not on their relationship to each other. While it may seem like co-habiting will have an impact, the proof as far as lenders are concerned is in the numbers.
What’s Your Credit History?
Most people are aware of their credit history, whether they’ve had financial hiccups in the past or are still paying off a significant amount of debt. However, it is more difficult for some to know the financial background of their partner, and this can be more common when it comes to co-habiting. Because the lender will be looking at both credit scores, if you or your partner have had financial issues in the past, it can have an adverse impact on your application. While you may have a nearly perfect credit history, if your partner does not this can make mortgage approval more difficult.
In The Event Of Separation
Home ownership can involve significant hurdles after a divorce, but there will still be some legal and financial issues to wade through if you’ve never been married. Since it’s likely that you won’t want to continue to co-habit, there’s the possibility that one party will have to buy the other out, which can be a sizeable financial burden. While this type of situation may never come to fruition, it’s important to be aware of what might occur so you can be prepared.
There can be a lot of complexities involved in co-habiting whether you’re married or not, but it’s important to have an awareness of your partner’s financial history and be prepared for financial hurdles.
The springtime is known to be one of the best times to put your home up for sale. However, if you’re not necessarily planning on engaging a real estate agent, it’s important to be prepared for all of the hard work involved in putting your home up for sale. Whether you’re new to the market or you’ve never sold a home on your own before, here are some questions to ask yourself so you’re prepared for selling in the coming season.
Do You Know The Market?
The neighborhood you live in and the buying market you’re dealing with are important factors in how your home is going to sell, so you’ll need to know a little about both when determining your ideal price. By looking through the listings in the area and seeing what homes like yours have sold for, you may be able to give yourself a range for the offers you can expect.
How Will You Sell It?
One of the added benefits of social media is that you can use sites like Facebook and Twitter to announce your home sale and even highlight its best features. While this may make selling seem much easier, you’ll still need to make sure you have good photography that captures your home and a website where homebuyers can learn more details. Be aware that while these items may seem easy enough, it can take a lot of time to manage these details on your own.
Are You Prepared To Negotiate?
It’s a good feeling to get an offer on your home, but in all likelihood it will be less than what you’re expecting and this means engaging in the art of negotiation. According to the National Association of Realtors, those who sell their home generally get 10-20% less than those who utilize an agent, so it’s important to be comfortable negotiating before you dive in. If you’re confident in your acumen, you may want to go it alone, but if you have doubts, it can be a better financial decision to engage the help of an agent.
Before you decide to sell your home on your own, it’s worth appraising your skills to determine if it will be worth the time and effort you’ll have to put in. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you’d like to utilize an agent after all, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.
2017 started with good news; fixed mortgage rates were lower, but the national unemployment rate ticked upward and labor reports showed fewer openings for public and private sector jobs. Construction spending was higher in November.
Mortgage Rates Lower; Construction Spending Higher
Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed rate mortgages as the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage crept up. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by 12 basis points to 4.20 percent; The average rate for a 15-year mortgage fell 11 basis points to 3.44 percent while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage gained three basis points to 3.33 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Construction spending was higher in November according to the Commerce Department and reached the highest level since April 2006. The November reading was 0.90 percent higher as compared to an expected reading of 0.60 percent and October’s original reading of 0.50 percent, which was revised to 0.60 percent. Lower mortgage rates coupled with more construction could help ease low inventories of available homes and provide relief to first-time and moderate-income home buyers who’ve been challenged by rapidly rising home prices and mortgage rates.
Fewer New Jobless Claims: Unemployment Rate Rises
The government’s Non-Farm Payrolls report for December showed lower job openings for government and private sector employers with a reading of 156,000 jobs added against the expected reading of 180,000 job openings and November’s reading of 204,000 job openings.
ADP reported similar results for its December reading on private sector jobs; 153,000 jobs were created against November’s reading of 215,000 jobs created. Analysts said that hiring is increasing, but not as fast as in prior months. On average, 174,000 private-sector jobs were created monthly in 2016 as compared to a monthly average of 209,000 private sector jobs created in 2015.
Weekly jobless claims were lower last week with 235,000 new claims filed; 260,000 new claims were expected based on 263,000 new claims filed the previous week.
December’s national unemployment rate rose to 4.70 percent from 4.60 percent in November. Analysts said that the uptick was likely fueled by employers deleting former workers from their payrolls at year-end.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on job openings, consumer sentiment and weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.
If you have a good credit history and are prepared to invest in a home, you may be feeling pretty confident about the mortgage process. However, it’s important to be aware that there are things that can have a negative impact on your application. Whether you’ve just submitted your documents or are getting close to it, here are some things you may want to avoid.
Acquiring New Credit
It may seem silly that something as minor as a new credit card can be a mark against your credit, but applying for new ones can be a bad sign to lenders. The problem is that this can be signal an unmanageable debt load, so you may be considered a high risk for not being able to make your payments.
Forget To Pay Your Bills
It’s easy enough to get lulled into the feeling that your mortgage application will be approved, but this doesn’t mean that you should forget your financial responsibilities. If you’ve had poor credit in the past and neglected paying your bills on time, now is not the time to do this. Instead, ensure that you’re paying all bills and any applicable minimum payments in advance of the due date so your credit score is not impacted.
Close Old Credit Cards
Many people think that closing out old credit cards can be a positive financial step forward and a good way to streamline their finances, but this can cause damage to your credit score. Because closing a credit card will change your available balance and bump up your debt load, it may mean that your debt percentage will increase. Instead of risking this, leave them active until you’ve received approval.
Quit Your Job
Few people will have the ability to quit their job when they’re applying for a mortgage, but doing this or incurring other fluctuations in your monthly income can cause problems with your application. If you are self-employed, there may be peaks and valleys in your finances, but a huge shift in what you bring home can show lenders that you’re not a solid bet.
There can be a lot of stress that comes along with the mortgage application process, but by paying your bills on time and staying on top of your payments, you can avoid negatively impacting your approval.
There are so many things involved in moving into a new home in a different neighborhood that it can be easy to forget about the proximity of many nearby amenities. However, if you have children, the local schools available can make-or-break the decision on whether or not to invest in a house. If you’re wondering how you can find out more about the local school, let the following tips be your guide.
Take a Web-Search To SchoolMatch.com
One of the benefits of so many things being online these days is that local schools are no exception, and SchoolMatch.com is a great resource that puts this information at your fingertips. While you’ll have to pay a fee to get the details on many public and private institutions, this resource features ratings on schools throughout the country which can make it worth the price.
Contact The NAEYC
With a wealth of information on preschools, kindergartens and elementary schools located throughout the country, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is another helpful website to visit. While the organization offers informational pamphlets that can help you decide a school’s benefits, you can also call in if you want to speak with someone directly about a particular institution.
Make A Visit To The Neighborhood
While it can take a lot of time to visit the schools in the neighborhood you’re considering, this is a great way for you to get a sense of the area you’re moving to and what it affords. By taking a walk through the hallways to view the building’s upkeep and even visiting the office to talk with the Principal, you’ll be able to decide whether it’s a good fit.
Talk To An Agent
It might seem a bit strange to talk to a realtor about local schools, but real estate agents are responsible for providing a multitude of information to potential homebuyers so they have to be in the know. Whether they’re able to help you with a house or not, it’s certain they’ll have some of the basic details about your neighborhood’s educational offerings, whether it’s good or bad.
There are a variety of amenities that can improve the appeal of a new neighborhood, but good schools are a necessity when it comes to the kids.
There is a particular pleasure in a well-organized closet; not to mention the space and energy-saver that it becomes! And the best part is that you don’t need to spend tons of money to get a dapper closet space. A lot of the work is just thinking outside the (clothing) box.
Plan The Closet First
Before anything else, sit down and plan out your closet. Measure it so you know the exact dimensions (if you need to grab a rod or drawers, you’ll know what size fits). Clean out your closet (to get a better idea of its contents and space), then plan out what you want it to store. Having a clear idea of how you want to organize the space will prevent impulse purchases and conflicting organizational strategies.
Optimize The Contents
Your closet is essentially a functional space, so treat it that way. Think about what you want to have easy access to, and what can be rotated into storage. (Bulky winter coats, for example, can be stored elsewhere until winter rolls around). Once your closet is pared down, look for items that you can donate: think anything you haven’t worn in a year or more.
Optimize The Space
Even if you have a small closet, it can be a mighty space. Optimize what you have by using the walls and the door for hanging storage, and by stacking items. Wire shelving is cheap and easy to install, and is great for seeing at a glance what’s there. A movable closet rod (for hangers) can be pushed up for more storage, and pulled down for easy access. And what about the double-hanger trick; hooking one item’s hanger off another’s? This way you can pair items that go together to save time and save space. Or use shower rings on hangers to store scarves; multiple scarves looped on one hanger; and hang baskets under shelves to maximize space.
Organize The Space
Experts say that organizing items by color is not the most efficient method; instead, group items by activity or function. Pants are with pants, dresses with dresses. Use labels to make access and maintenance easy. Put the most frequently used items in the center and at eye-level, and make sure drawers are slightly below eye-level for the easiest perusal. Finally, think creatively: use hanging shoe bags for other items, hang jewelry off spruced-up paint stir sticks, store entire sheet sets in their pillowcases.
If you have questions or need input, contact your local real estate agent. After all, they have closets of their own. Who knows what organizing expertise they can share?
There are a lot of things that go into the successful sale of your home, but many people are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the contract. Whether you consult with your real estate agent or plan on diving in on your own, it’s important to be clear on the terms. If you’re wondering what you can expect when it comes to the contract, here are some pointers on what to watch out for.
Real Estate Jargon
A real estate contract would not be complete without the professional terminology, so you’ll see words like amortization, price-to-income ratio and title that may impact the meaning of your contract. Instead of going it blind, search the Internet for terms or consult with your real estate agent to provide a clear explanation.
Specifics On The Sale
Information regarding the specifics of your property will be present in the contract, and it’s important to check this information before signing on the dotted line. While the address and location of your home are important, it’s also critical to verify the purchase price that has been decided upon, the closing date on the property and any other items that have been negotiated and agreed upon.
Be Aware Of Withdrawal Terms
It can be easy to be taken away by excitement once you’ve received the perfect offer on your home, but it’s important not to lose sight of everything that’s required before the sale has been finalized. One of the most important parts of the contract is the withdrawal terms that are laid out, so be certain you’re aware of what your rights are if you or the homebuyer decides to withdraw from the process.
Watch For Seller’s Responsibilities
If you, as a seller, do not remain committed to the terms of the contract this can be a deal breaker, so ensure that you’ve familiarized yourself with exactly what’s required of you. This may include everything from the maintenance on the property to offer negotiations, so it’s important to comply with these terms.
Dealing with a real estate contract can be confusing for the layman, so it’s worth your while to have a trusted real estate agent around who will be able to explain it. From withdrawal terms to seller responsibilities, there are plenty of things you should be aware of before sealing the deal. If you’re currently embarking on selling your home, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.