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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 21, 2017

Last week’s economic releases included readings on housing starts, building permits issued and the National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. Fed Chair Janet Yellen testified before the House Finance Committee and consumer spending and core consumer spending reports were also released. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims were little changed week-to-week.

Home Builder Sentiment Slows as Industry Faces Obstacles

NAHB reported lower reading for its January Housing Market Index. January’s index reading was two points lower at 65 than December’s reading. Builders surveyed for the index cited ongoing shortages of buildable lots and labor, they also said that housing regulation were causing home prices to rise as new home prices are adjusted to compensate for feels associated with new construction. Any reading above 50 for the NAHB Housing Market Index is considered more positive than negative.

Builder concerns could raise additional issues for housing markets as a persistent shortage of homes for sale has driven prices up and caused fierce competition among home buyers. First-time and moderate income home buyers have been sidelined in favor of cash buyers in ultra-competitive metro areas. There was some evidence that rapidly escalating home prices may be approaching their peak. Home prices in San Francisco, California increased more slowly in recent months and were unchanged in January.

Housing Starts Lower; More Building Permits Issued

Fewer new homes were started in January as compared to December. 1.246 million homes were started in January as compared to December’s reading of 1.279 million new homes started. Winter weather can cause fluctuations in housing starts; more building permits were issued in January than for December. 1.246 million permits were issued for January as compared to December’s reading of 1.228 million permits issued.

Home builders were also concerned about rising mortgage rates as reducing affordability for would-be home buyers; Fed Chair Janet Yellen indicated in her testimony before the House Finance Committee that economic conditions are normalizing and that the Fed would likely continue to raise the target federal funds rate as economic conditions continue to improve.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims /Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. Average mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 4.15 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages; the average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages was four basis points lower at 3.35 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates were three basis points lower at 3.18 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were higher last week with 239,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 242,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 234,000 new jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and previously owned home sales and consumer sentiment index. Freddie Mac will report mortgage rates and new weekly jobless claims will be released as usual.

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5 Things Nobody Tells You About Selling Your First Home

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Selling Your First HomeIt’s often so exciting to think of buying a new home that homeowners forget about the sale, but there are a lot of details involved in putting a home on the market. Whether you’re just considering selling or are readying to put your home up, here are some things you might not know about the process.

Marketing Strategy Is Important

The days of putting a sign on the front yard and waiting for buyers are gone, so it’s important to have a strategy that will successfully highlight your house. Whether you decide to make a website, use social media or invest in a professional photographer, ensure you’re prepared to put your home out there.

The Right Price Is Everything

You have the ability to change your asking price at any time, but it’s best to hit the market with a price that is both reasonable and competitive. This will not only prevent your home from lingering on the market, it will make it more likely you’ll get the offer you’re looking for.

Fixing It Up Is Important

You might want to avoid minor fix-ups before selling your home, but maintenance issues can impact the offers you’ll receive. Instead of leaving these for the next homeowner, put time aside to do paint touch-ups, repair doors or insulate the windows so the small things don’t affect your offer.

Prepare To Pack

It’s great to receive an offer on your home, but packing up can be one of the most stressful aspects of moving. Instead of leaving this to the last minute, do some preliminary ‘spring cleaning’ to discard the stuff you won’t use and pack up the stuff you won’t soon need. This will make moving out a little smoother.

Be Ready For An Open House

It can be a pain to stage your home and leave on short notice to accommodate an interested homebuyer, but a good open house is one of your best bets for selling your home. This means your house should be clean and clutter free all the time so only a few last-minute fix-ups will be required.

There are a lot of things involved in selling your first home, but by completing the little fix ups and choosing the right price, you’ll be well on your way to an interested buyer. If you’re currently getting ready to put your home on the market, contact your real estate professional for more information.

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DIY Weekend Projects: Replace Your Tired Light Fixtures With Newer, Modern Options

DIY Weekend Projects: Replace Your Tired Light Fixtures With Newer, Modern OptionsThere are a variety of cool, modernized light fixtures that will be sure to jazz up any living space, but these trendy items can often come with a high price tag. Instead of going out and spending a bundle, how about staying inside over the weekend for a unique do-it-yourself project? If you’re looking to make a new light fixture, here are some fun designs to put at the top of your list.

Get A Grater Light

The cheese grater may be better known as an every-day kitchen tool, but there’s no reason you can’t use this strange gadget for your very own light. Whether you decide to place your light in the kitchen or the living room, you can get a unique, updated look by taking a number of graters and attaching them to a piece of wood that is affixed to the ceiling. The bulbs will be placed inside each grater to achieve a cool, cascading light effect.

Add Some Ribbon

Changing up the look of your home doesn’t require a grand gesture, and this means that even doing something small will make a big difference. If you have an old lamp with an aging lampshade, make a visit to the craft store for some ribbon that you can use as an accent. Whether you decide to cover the entire lampshade with a particular color or you just want to create a neat effect, this is an easy way to add some vibrance without replacing anything.

Break In The Bamboo

From updated lava lamps to paper lanterns, there are a lot of unique styles out there that you can instantly modernize, but a bamboo lamp can add instant impact. In order to get this earthy and inspiring look, purchase some bamboo strips and flex them into place so that you have an orb. Once you’ve settled on a design you like, you can utilize wood glue to maintain the shape and a cord kit to install a light in the middle. This may require a little bit of patience, but the ambiance it creates will be worth it.

There are plenty of striking light fixtures out there that can add a lot of character to any space, but there are many options for doing it yourself that will come at a more economical price. If you’re currently staging your home and are planning to sell, you may want to contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

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The 2017 Mortgage Rate Outlook: Here’s What the Experts Are Saying

The 2017 Mortgage Rate Outlook: Here's What the Experts Are SayingThe post-election period is often one of uncertainty, and the time since the 2016 election has been no different with regards to market force and the financial world. With a new administration taking office, there are many questions regarding how Donald Trump’s presidency will impact the market and your mortgage. If you’re wondering what the predictions are for the coming year, here are a few things the experts are considering.

An Increase In Rates

Due to an expected hike in rates by the Federal Reserve, it’s unlikely that potential homebuyers will be able to get the low interest rates of previous years. While higher rates are likely, the proposed tax plan and budget of Donald Trump may lead to increased inflation and could also have an impact on rates down the road. The low rates of previous years certainly made homeownership a more feasible option, but it’s still a good time to get into a home before they rise even more.

Less Red Tape

The money invested into regulations is something that Donald Trump was highly critical of in the run up to the election, and this may mean many opportunities for home ownership that did not exist before. While a poor credit history can make or break a mortgage application, in a time of loosening regulations there will likely be more available mortgage products for those who have a less than stellar financial situation.

Privatizing Loan Programs

There is the possibility that government-sponsored home loan organizations like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will come under new ownership. While this may provide an opportunity for potential homeowners, because the risk will be taken on by private owners – and not the government – this may lead to higher rates. As Jordan Levin of the California Association of Realtors says, “I can say with a pretty good level of confidence that it will increase the cost of borrowing because there’s going to be more risk from those pools being borne by the private sector and they’re going to want to be compensated for that additional risk that they’re bearing.”

While the economic policy of the coming years has yet to take shape, the mortgage rates are on the rise and the regulations surrounding home ownership are likely to loosen. 

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Trying to Sell Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent Is a Big Mistake — Here’s Why

Trying to Sell Your Home Without a Real Estate Agent Is a Big Mistake -- Here's WhyWhether you’re new to the real estate game or you’ve bought and sold a home before, there are many details involved in selling. It can be enticing to think about taking on the responsibility yourself and going it alone, but there are a number of reasons it’s wise to use a real estate agent. Before you make a decision on selling your home, ensure you consider all the details you’ll have to deal with.

Misunderstanding Of The Market

It’s entirely possible for a home seller to look at the MLS listings and determine a price range for their home, but the right real estate agent will have a wealth of knowledge to draw from. In all likelihood, they will be familiar with the neighborhood and may even have sold a few homes in it. This means they’ll be able to determine the right offer for your home and ensure it’s feasible on the market, which may mean a higher price and a shorter selling time.

It Takes Time

While a real estate agent will get a certain percentage of the price for helping you sell your home, you won’t be getting paid anything to do the legwork. However, it’s easy to underestimate how much time it can take to market your home, arrange open houses and deal effectively with all of the negotiating. It may be enticing to do it on your own, but what it might save in money, it may end up eating in time.

The Closing Details

If you’ve determined the price of your home and you’ve received an offer, it can be a great feeling to know that you’ve taken the right steps. However, what happens after you receive an offer is one of the most important parts of selling your home, and a real estate agent will be able to guide you through counter offers and lowering your price if needed. While it may seem like this will be easy enough to navigate, having an agent who’s waded through the waters can help to simplify things.

Selling your home on your own may seem like a money saving opportunity, but the right real estate agent will be able to navigate the market and do the legwork for you while still getting a good offer. If you’re currently preparing to put your home on the market, contact your local real estate professional today for market tips.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 13, 2017

Last week’s scheduled economic readings were limited and included new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey. In other news, all types of mortgage applications rose by 2.30 percent this week as compared to the prior week.

Mortgage Rates Lower, Home Loan Applications Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates for fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable mortgages; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages dropped two basis points to 4.17 percent. Average rates for 15-year mortgages also dropped two basis points to 3.39 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates averaged 3.21 percent, which was also two basis points lower than the previous week. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for the three types of mortgages tracked in Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, this small drop in mortgage rates caused all types of mortgage applications to rise by 2.30 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Refinance applications rose two percent from the prior week, but remain 40 percent lower year-over-year. The dearth of refinancing applications was caused by two factors including many refinances were completed recently when rates were lower and homeowners currently discouraged by higher mortgage rates.

Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

Last week’s initial jobless claims fell to 234,000 as compared to expectations of 249,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 246,000 new claims. This was the lowest reading since 1973 and when compared to the benchmark of 300,000 new claims, shows that the economy continues to strengthen. Last week’s reading was the second lowest since recovery from the recession got underway in 2009 and represented the 101st consecutive week that new jobless claims were lower than the 300,000 new claims benchmark. According to Labor Department data, this week’s reading sustained the longest-running consecutive period of new jobless claims below the benchmark level.

The four-week average of new jobless claims is viewed by analysts as less volatile than the week-to-week reading, but it showed similar results last week as it fell by 3750 new claims to 244,250 initial claims and reached the lowest level of new claims filed in 44 years.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation and core inflation, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

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2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy Guide

2017 Home Decor Trends: Stay on Top of Modern Trends With This Handy GuideNow that 2017 is here, it’s time to consider which upgrades you will make to your home. If you don’t have any major renovations planned, you can still tackle smaller projects or theme rooms. In today’s post we’ll explore some of the home decor trends expected to be popular in 2017.

Paint Colors: Confident, Composed & Comfortable

According to the color experts at paint company Behr, 2017’s trend colors express confidence, composition and comfort. If you plan on painting accent walls, rooms or even your entire home this year, these are worth exploring. Confident palette colors include the bluish-green Jade Dragon, the fiery red Hot and Spicy and more. The Composed Palette is a bit muter, with blues and grays like Laid Back Gray and Polished Aqua. For those that love pastels, the Comfortable Palette has many soft notes. Life is a Peach and Everything’s Rosy are two great light link options.

Replacing DIY With Artisanal

If you’ve owned your home for a while, you may find that over time your do-it-yourself projects have added up. While DIY upgrades are fun and cost-effective, if they don’t match or pair well they can throw off continuity in your decor. Consider 2017 a chance to replace some of your older DIY items with similar ones created by artisans. You can always gift, sell or repurpose yours to ensure they find use in a new home.

Enjoy Saving Energy With Heated Floors

Heated floors are one of 2017’s decor trends that combine luxury with responsibility. It might be tough to imagine that heated floors actually save energy, but it’s true. In-floor heating can actually heat entire rooms with less energy than other central solutions. Still using electric baseboard heaters in small areas like bathrooms? Consider heating your floors instead.

Climbing Plants Are The New Art

If you’re struggling with how to fill a blank space on a wall, consider climbing plants. Indoor vines like the Pothos (or Devil’s Ivy) can add a lively splash of green to a wall area. Or, consider using creeper vines that grow upwards. Even a small shelf with a few attractive potted plants can set off an entire wall. The more life you can add to your home, the better!

With so many colors, upgrades and DIY upgrades to choose from, 2017 is set to be a great year for home renovators. For more insight into value-boosting decor upgrades, contact your local real estate agent.

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Take the Plunge: Why Installing an In-ground Pool Will Boost Your Home’s Resale Value

Take the Plunge: Why Installing an In-ground Pool Will Boost Your Home's Resale ValueWhether you’re planning to sell or not, if you can afford to upgrade your home it’s almost always worth it. But the question is: which renovations add value to your life, as well as your house? Let’s explore how adding an in-ground pool to your backyard can boost your home’s value.

The Ultimate In Functional Luxury

It’s true that there are many home upgrades that add a ton of value. Kitchen renovations, home solar panels and other long-term investments tend to pay off. But few are as luxurious and fun as installing your own in-ground pool.

Not only will you get to enjoy having a swim whenever you feel like it. But some studies show that having a pool improves your health and quality of life. Of course, you’ll actually need to use your pool to gain its benefits. But once you have one… why wouldn’t you?

A Huge Draw For Families

As you might imagine, in-ground pools are very popular with home buyers that have children. A backyard pool is an excellent way to get the kids out of the house and away from the TV or computer. Some families will make a buying decision on factors like this alone. If you’re the only pool in the neighborhood, you’ll find that your home sale moves a bit faster.

Aim For Eco-Friendly Options

If you plan to sell your home in the future, you’ll want to ensure your pool is easy on the environment. Both regulations and social opinion are moving in favor of ‘green’ homes. Invest in water-recycling technology that goes easy on the chemicals. And if you plan to heat your pool, aim for options that use solar or other natural resources.

Remember: Maintenance Is Key

Finally, don’t forget that an in-ground pool is an investment. You need to keep it in top shape or it may actually lose value over time. If you’re motivated and handy, you can likely handle most of the maintenance yourself. But if you think it’s above your skill level, invest in a pool service professional. Even if they only come out once or twice a year, it will be worth it.

There are many other home renovation projects that can add equity and value to your house. For other ideas, contact your local real estate agent today.

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Worried About Future Mortgage Rate Increases? Here’s How to ‘Stress Test’ Your Finances

Worried About Future Mortgage Rate Increases? Here's How to 'Stress Test' Your Finances When it comes to real estate, there are always going to be upswings in the market that will have an impact on your mortgage payment and overall financial health. However, with a fluctuating market here to stay, you may be wondering how you can guard your biggest investment and your finances against rate increases. If you’re concerned about rates on the rise, here are a few tips to test out you’re fiscal well-being.

Calculate Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

It’s beneficial to determine your DTI ratio prior to purchasing a home, but since debt and housing costs are always fluctuating, calculating this number again can be a wakeup call. By adding up your monthly expenditures (including any debt), and dividing that number by your pre-tax income, you’ll be able to determine your DTI percentage. While it’s ideal to have a percentage of less than 28%, if your expenditures have risen above this number, it may be time to take a look at your monthly budget and see what you can cut out.

Do You Have Emergency Savings?

Many people make a habit of putting money into their retirement funds each paycheck, but it’s equally important to have emergency savings you can access in the event of car repairs, home maintenance issues or an unforeseen medical problem. While it’s often suggested that a person should have a minimum of 3 months of expenses at their disposal, saving more than this can make you even more prepared in the event that a rate increase requires you to dive into other funds.

Review Your Budget

It’s easy enough to have a monthly budget, but the hard part for most people is sticking to it on a day-to-day basis. If you’ve veered off the trail a little bit in this regard, sit down to review your expenditures and determine what your financial outlook would be if you experienced an interest rate bump next month. In the event that there’s very little cushion and no money for savings, it may be worth your time to craft a new budget that gives you a bit more wiggle room.

Many people are uncertain about what the short-term economy will bring for their mortgage rates, but by reviewing your budget and maintaining emergency savings, you can be better prepared for the future. If you’re currently considering purchasing a home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

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Buyer’s Remorse: 3 Things You Should Never Say When You’re Negotiating to Buy a Home

Buyer's Remorse: 3 Things You Should Never Say When You're Negotiating to Buy a HomeThe prospect of finding the home you’ve always dreamed of can be such an exciting prospect that it’s easy to forget all about the process of negotiating. However, it’s important to keep a few things to yourself when it comes to the art of making the deal. If you’re currently searching for the right place and are preparing to sign on the dotted line, here are a few phrases it’s best to avoid.

Declaring It Your Dream Home

There’s nothing wrong with finding the ideal home and getting enthusiastic about the prospect of owning it, but it’s very important not to say too much to the homeowner or the homeowner’s agent. While it’s certainly welcome to be a polite home viewer and mention some of the features you like, giving away too much will inform the homeowner of just how much leverage they have with you. This can mean they may request a higher price since they know how interested you are.

What You’re Willing To Pay

It might seem up front and honest to declare the price range that you’re willing to spend on a home, but if a homeowner knows what your limitations are, they’ll likely push you past them. While you may be willing to pay more for a home you truly love, it’s important that you’re investing a reasonable amount into the home and not paying much over market value for your property. Instead of being too forward, keep your offer to yourself until it’s on the table.

Critiquing Their Price Point

If you’re truly interested in a home, it can be pretty difficult to realize that it’s not within your price range. However, it’s unnecessary to mention this to the buyer as it’s entirely possible that the price is comparable to other homes of a similar style in the neighborhood. After all, there’s always a chance that the home will stay on the market and drop down in value, and this may be the point at which you can get your foot in the door.

When it comes to buying a home, the process of negotiating can be fraught with stress for many people. However, it’s important to keep your price range and your impressions to yourself so that you can get the best deal possible. If you’re currently on the market for your dream home, contact one of our real estate professionals for more information.

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