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Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in May

CaseShillerAccording to the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, home price growth in May dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.20 percent as compared to April’s reading of 5.40 percent. Analysts said that low mortgage rates continue to support housing markets, but also noted that affordability due to rising home prices is sidelining some would-be buyers. High demand for homes coupled with slim supplies of available homes have driven prices up for months; analysts said that “tentative signs” of slower gains in home prices were seen.

New Home Sales Hit Highest Level Since 2008

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Indices, cited high home prices and sales of previously-owned homes as contributing factors to a healthy housing sector. Slower home price growth in high priced metro areas may indicate that home prices are topping out in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. With home prices out of reach in high demand metros, it’s likely that rampant home price growth seen in recent years will have to slow in spite of pronounced shortages of homes and high demand in many areas.

Building more homes is the only way to combat outsized competition for homes and astronomical home prices. According to the Commerce Department, June sales of new homes jumped to 592,000 as compared to an expected reading of 562,000 and May’s reading of 572,000 new homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. June sales of new homes were at their highest level since February 2008.

Rising Rents Increase Demand for Homes

The national average price for a new home rose to $306,700 in June, while the supply of available homes sank to 4.90 percent. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of available homes a typical reading. 574,000 new homes were sold in the second quarter of 2016, which was 10 percent higher than the reading of 524,000 new homes sold in the first quarter of 2016.

A report on rental vacancies is due out on Thursday. Rapidly rising rents have recently contributed to higher numbers of first-time buyers looking to buy homes and could continue to strengthen demand for available homes.

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4 Ways to Safeguard Your Home While on Vacation

4 Ways to Safeguard Your Home While on VacationEveryone needs a vacation at some point, and worrying about your home should be the last thing on your mind while you’re out of town. Here are 4 ways to boost home security when you’re not around.

1. Enlist The Help Of Others

Even if you’re only gone for a short amount of time, asking someone you trust to keep an eye on your home can offer a big-time boost in security.

Hiring a house-sitter to collect your mail, mow your lawn, and make your house look lived in can be a great option for longer vacations, as physical changes to your property can tip-off burglars that you’re out of town.

For short trips, it is worthwhile to ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities. Having someone who is aware you’re not around can nip crime in the bud, as they’ll be less hesitant to call the police if they notice any unexpected guests around your home.

2. No Give-Aways!

Sharing your vacation photos on social media can be a convenient way to share your experiences with your friends, but it’s best to do so after you’ve returned home. The fact that you’re not around is information that can easily fall into the wrong hands on the web, making you a target for crime.

If you decide to change your voicemail greeting while you’re away, be careful that it does not explicitly state that you’re out of town. It’s fine to tell callers that you’re unable to accept calls for a period of time, but they do not need to know it’s because you’re a thousand miles away.

3. Leave It To The Pros

If you’re looking for a security measure that’s even more reliable than your neighbors, it may be worthwhile to install a home alarm system. Houses that lack security systems are burglarized more often than ones that have an alarm installed, making them a worthwhile investment for frequent travelers.

4. Don’t Forget Internal Threats

It’s not only outside threats that you have to consider before heading on vacation! Make sure you prep your home for your absence by unplugging any appliances (toaster, computer, TV) that are at risk of a power surge.

If you live in a cold climate and your pipes are at risk of freezing, ask someone you trust to stop by your home every few days to run the water. Make sure to show them where the water main shut-off is in case a pipe bursts while you’re away.

Interested in more neighborhood safety advice? Contact your trusted real estate professional today!

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 25, 2016

Housing Starts, Building Permits Issued Rise

Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued were released Tuesday. Housing starts rose to 1.189 million in June against expectations of 1.165 million starts and May’s downwardly revised reading of 1.135 million starts, Housing starts rose by 4.80 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This is good news for housing markets, but analysts said that demand for homes continued to exceed available supplies.

Building permits issued also rose in June to 1.53 million as compared to May’s reading of 1.136 million permits issued.

Existing Home Sales Increase: National Association of Realtors®

Sales of previously-owned homes rose three percent year-over-year and reached their highest level since February 2007 in June. Existing home sales rose by 1.10 percent in June to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million sales. Analysts forecasted a reading of 5.48 million sales of pre-owned homes based on May’s reading of 5.51 million sales.

Analysts said that first-time home buyers are returning to housing markets and helped boost June sales and cited changing buyer demographics that suggest a return to owner-occupant home sales. First-time buyers accounted for 33 percent of pre-owned home sales in July, which was their highest reading since 2012. First-time buyers are important to housing markets as their purchases of existing homes enable current homeowners to sell their homes to buy larger homes or to relocate.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose across the board last week according to Freddie Mac’s weekly report. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.45 percent, which was three basis points higher. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose three basis points to 2.75 percent; rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgage and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims sustained their streak and fell last week to 253,000 against predictions of 260,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 254,000 new claims filed. Analysts hailed declining jobless claims as a strong indicator that the economy and labor markets continue to improve. New jobless claims have remained below the key reading of 300,000 for 73 weeks. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 1250 claims to 257,750. This reading is considered less volatile than week-to-week readings and offers evidence of steady improvements in labor markets.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, readings on new and pending home sales and the FOMC committee’s post-meeting statement on Federal Reserve monetary policy decisions. Analysts widely expect the Fed to hold firm on its current federal funds rate of 0.25 to 0.50 percent.

Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with a reading on consumer confidence.

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4 Reasons Why Your Home Isn’t Selling

4 Reasons Why Your Home Isn't SellingSelling your house can be hard. Emotionally, because it’s become your home, but also economically. If your home isn’t selling, there are usually specific reasons which means there are ways to amend them and make your home more appealing to potential buyers. Here’s a short list of reasons why your home might be stalling on the market.

You Didn’t Spread The Net Wide Enough

No longer is it enough for a sign on your front lawn and word of mouth to carry the brunt of your marketing. With the world moving increasingly online, you need to address social media when advertising your home. Think Facebook. And be sure to use professional photos of your house whenever advertising it, so that it is properly and engagingly represented.

You Didn’t Make Your Home A Blank Slate

People on the hunt for a new home want to be able to picture themselves in the house (or apartment, or condo) they’re being shown. This means your house needs to be a blank slate. If there are idiosyncratic rooms, paint them neutral colors and keep the furnishings simple. Remove personal items from all areas being shown photos, achievements, etc. Open up the space by moving furniture out first.

You Are Not Available Enough or Are Too Available.

Potential buyers can be easily discouraged before they even get into your home. Make sure your house is accessible for as many viewings as you can manage even at odd hours to accommodate them. But you should not go to the showing itself. Having the previous owner around hinders people’s ability to assess the home objectively because they know it’s not objective for you. That discomfort can lead to them not asking the questions they needed to, and being deterred from the purchase.

You Didn’t Talk To The Buyers That Walked

It’s inevitable there will always be buyers that are interested but unwilling to make the final commitment, so use those buyers to your advantage. If you can, reach out and ask what made them turn away. There could be external factors (literally, elements outside your home) that negatively impact a buyer’s decision. If you learn that from almost-buyers, or even from your neighbors you’ll be able to find a fix or adjust the price accordingly.

If your home is listed but not selling, sometimes it can feel like it’s the universe rising against you. But often there are concrete reasons and simple solutions to get your home’s appeal up. And remember, in the end, the best way to find out why your house isn’t selling is to talk to your local real estate agent, who has the expertise to help.

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Budget-Friendly DIY Projects That Instantly Boost Curb Appeal

Budget-Friendly DIY Projects That Instantly Boost Curb AppealWe’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but there’s no such rule in the housing market. Curb appeal is the external attractiveness of a home, and if you’re in the market for a house that first impression has a lot to do with your final decision. Alternatively, if you’re looking to sell, it’s an easy area to boost the attractiveness of your home.

Essentially, ensure your home is accessible and inviting to make it appeal to potential buyers. It’s like making new friends, and how you’re much more likely to approach someone who is smiling. Help your home smile by spending a little time and money on outdoor seating, open spaces and color. Note that homes that have personality make stronger first impressions, so also try to put some of yourself into the exterior of your home.

A Place To Sit

Outdoor seating inspires relaxation, providing a great first impression. Potential buyers can pause and get a sense of the community without feeling rushed. They’ll take in the external features of your home in comfort, and will be primed to imagine themselves sitting out there as new homeowners, sunning or sipping tea.

An Open Entrance

Open your home up literally. Creating an uncluttered space in front of your home will help direct and draw buyers. Use pathways and lighting (lamps, candles) to clearly guide the way into your home. A well-lit pathway is not only visually appealing, but safer and a confusing entrance could deter buyers before they even reach your house.

A Dash Of Color

Color draws the eye. Add flowers to the front of your house, or paint the shutters brightly to attract attention from the street. This will also help your home look tidy and put-together.

A Strong Front Door

The front door is the focal point of anyone walking up to your house. Why not paint it your favorite color, or decorate it with something that gives an idea of the interior, like a funky door-knocker or a wreath? Make sure the door is clean and everything works (knob, bell, hinges) to complete the look.

A Personalized Mailbox

If you have a mailbox out front, you can give it the same personalizing treatment. Paint it, or plant it in a flowerbed. Keep it clean, functional and inviting, and it’ll add to the overall impression of your house.

Riff off these easy, cheap projects to increase your home’s curb appeal. Contact your local real estate professional for more information.

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The 4 Most Common Mortgage Questions, Answered

The 4 Most Common Mortgage Questions, AnsweredMaking the decision to purchase a home is one of the most significant investments most people will make in their life, and this automatically means there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before putting any money down. If you’re considering making the leap, here are some insights into some of the common questions you might have.

How Much Should You Put Down?

While many homebuyers have the option of putting as little as 3% down in order to purchase a home, there are benefits to saving up for a down payment and putting in 15 or 20%. Because your interest rate will be higher on a lower down payment, putting more down can mean a lower overall price tag and monthly payment.

Fixed or Variable Rate Mortgage?

While a fixed rate mortgage can be good for homeowners who are new to the market due to its stability, a variable rate can be hard to rely on because it can change all of the time. Fixed rates can end up costing more than variable rates in the event of low interest rates, but it’s important to determine your comfort level with the market is before deciding on your mortgage type.

How Will The Lender Assess You?

There are a number of different factors that lenders will assess you on including your income, personal debt load, employment and credit history. While it’s important to be in the good books for these reasons, a lower credit score does not mean you will not be able to qualify for a mortgage; it simply means that you may need to provide a higher down payment.

What Will The Monthly Payment Be?

One of the conundrums of home ownership is being able to determine what you’ll actually be paying per month to purchase your home, but this number is dependent on the size of your mortgage, your interest rate, and the frequency of your payments. There are also many handy online tools you can use to provide some estimates but it’s best that you consult your mortgage specialist about this.

Most homeowners, particularly those that are new to home ownership, have many questions when it comes to purchasing a home, but by being aware of what a lender looks at and what you should put down, you’re well on your way to a healthy attitude towards ownership. If you’re currently considering buying a home, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

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NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Slips in June

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 1 2015Home builder confidence fell slightly in June to a reading of 59 according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Analysts had expected no change to June’s reading of 60. June components of the HMI were also lower.

Builder confidence in current market conditions dropped by one point to 63; builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months fell three points to a reading of 66. The reading for foot traffic in new single-family developments dropped one point to 55. Readings over 50 indicate that more builders than fewer are confident about housing market conditions.

Are Housing Markets Cooling Down?

A statement released by NAHB said that June’s readings were consistent with an ongoing gradual housing recovery. In related news, real estate analysts are seeing similarities in today’s level of speculation to the pre-recession housing bubble that was fueled by speculation. More “mom-and-pop” investors are entering the market instead of seasoned institutional investors, which suggests that institutional investor interest is slowing.

In June, 2.50 percent of homes were purchased by institutional investors as compared to a peak of 9.80 percent in February 2013. Red flags suggesting that housing markets are cooling down appear consistent with June’s NAHB Housing Market Index.

Too much speculation can create a housing bubble, which would burst when demand dries up due to overly inflated home prices and falling demand for homes. Slim supplies of available homes and rapidly rising home prices are obstacles for home buyers. Home builders continue to cite low supplies of suitable land and labor shortages as obstacles to home construction.

Short Supply of Homes, Affordability Issues Persist

In a report separate from the NAHB Housing Market Index, Fannie Mae economists said that they expect single-family housing starts to increase by 13 percent in 2016. Any increase in home building would help reduce the shortage of available homes. The willingness and ability of builders to produce more affordable homes is a key aspect of maintaining healthy housing markets. Strong competitions for homes and high home prices in major metro areas have made home ownership impossible for many would-be buyers. Short supplies of available homes are discouraging those who are prepared to buy but can’t find homes they want.

Unless low supplies of homes and affordability concerns are resolved, overall market slow-downs are likely to occur at some point. Indications that professional investors may be slowing their former pace of snapping up homes could suggest that hot housing markets are starting to cool off.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 18, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 04 2016Last week’s economic news included reports on inflation, retail sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

Mortgage rates were mixed with average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising by one basis point to 3.42 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage dropped by two basis points to 2.72 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose six basis points to 2.76 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15 year fixed rate mortgages. Freddie Mac said that recent patterns in mortgage rates suggested that rates are likely to remain low throughout the summer; last year the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.09 percent.

Inflation Grows at Steady Rate

Inflation grew by 0.20 percent in June according to the Consumer Price Index issued by the government. Rent, gas and pharmaceuticals drove the increase, while grocery prices declined. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, also grew by 0.200 percent; this reflects lower grocery prices and relatively low fuel costs.

Increasing rents could propel more renters into the home buying market, but high home prices and short supplies of available homes continue to limit home buyer choices. Inflation remains below the Federal Reserve’s target of 2.00 percent annually; this indicates that the Fed isn’t likely to raise its target federal fund rates in the near future.

Home and Garden Sales Drive June Retail Sales

Homeowners were busy with home improvements and yard work in June; this boosted retail sales to 0.50 percent against an expected reading of 0.10 percent and May’s reading of 0.20 percent. June retail sales excluding automotive sales rose from May’s reading of 0.40 percent to 0.70 percent; analysts had expected retail sales exclusive of autos to grow by 0.50 percent in June.

New Jobless Claims Hold Steady, Consumer Sentiment Dips

Weekly jobless claims were unchanged at 254,000 new claims filed; analysts had expected new claims to increase to 265,000 new claims. A wave of new claims created by end-of-school-year layoffs caused new claims to jump in recent weeks, but analysts said that layoffs remain low. New jobless claims remained well below the benchmark of 300,000 for the 71st consecutive week. This extended the longest time that new jobless claims were below 300,000 since 1973.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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4 Ways to Help Your Mortgage Transaction Close On Time

4 Ways to Help Your Mortgage Transaction Close On TimeWhen you’ve finally found the home you’re looking for at the right price, it’s easy to think that the hard part is over; however, there’s still a lot to do in order to ensure your purchase goes through without a hitch. If you’re tying up the loose ends on your home purchase, here are some things you should do to avoid any unnecessary delays.

Hire A Legal Professional

However much research you may have done in regards to buying a home, there’s still a lot of legal jargon in the closing documents that can be difficult for most people to understand. Instead of doing guesswork, you may want to use an attorney who will take the difficulty out of the documents for you so there will be no holdups with the paperwork.

Arrange A Home Inspection

A home inspection is a necessary step before the sale of a home, but this is an important one to get out of the way because it can seriously impact your home purchase. Because major problems can often be discovered during inspection, getting this out of the way and deciding if an item should be fixed or the total price knocked down will ensure there are no delays at the last minute.

Acquire Title Insurance

In order to make sure your property really belongs to you, it’s a good idea to have a title search completed to see if there are any claims to your future property that could invalidate your purchase. As this is a legal safeguard for your claim to your home, it will help you avoid unnecessary issues in the event of an unknown property claim.

Determine The Closing Costs

An escrow company is responsible for holding the funds until all aspects of a home sale are complete, but there are fees that go along with this service. Before you get to the end of the process, determine what exactly the company will be charging so that you can be prepared for the final total. While fees are legitimate, if you see a higher tally than expected, you may want to negotiate for a reduced cost.

Purchasing a home is a significant investment full of hurdles you might not be aware of, but by acquiring title insurance and having a legal professional look through your documents, you can make your home purchase go a little smoother. If you’re planning on purchasing a new home soon, contact your local real estate professional for more information.

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4 Bathroom Design Trends That Buyers Hate

4 Bathroom Design Trends That Buyers HateBathrooms are an essential part of any home, especially when it comes to buying and selling a home. They’re impossible to ignore and one of the first things buyers look at. Despite this, it’s simple for homeowners to forget how important these rooms are.

Bathroom decor can quickly go wrong. Little features look big when they’re packed into these small spaces, so minor things like shower curtains or how clean the window is can make a big difference.

On the other hand, homeowners are also able to take advantage of how powerful interior design can be in smaller spaces. A little effort goes a long way when looking to maximize the price of property or speed up a sale.

Homeowners can boost the benefits of their sale with these four tips on the most unappealing bathroom trends around.

1. Color Toilets and Sinks

Toilets and sinks in colors like rose pink or seafoam green were incredibly popular years ago, but they’re still loved by many people who enjoy a vintage look or just love bright spaces.

However, homeowners have a greater potential to make more money faster if they appeal to a wide range of buyers. Bathrooms decorated in a classic style are great looking to most people, making them more likely to put in an offer.

2. Peel and Paste Wall Paper

Modern peel and paste wall paper is a new trend that’s taken over many interior design websites and stores. It’s available in countless prints, colors and patterns and its popularity continues to grow.

Despite this, it’s difficult to find a style that’s sought after by the majority of buyers. Yellow polka dot cabinets may be hip, but it’s usually best for homeowners to decorate in neutral colors and traditional materials.

3. Carpet

Carpet is warm and feels great, but there are several drawbacks to decorating with this trend. Buyers know the potential hassle of wall-to-wall carpet, which may reduce the price of their offer or stop them from buying at all.

Buyers like stress-free flooring that’s difficult to stain, so homeowners should consider using easy-to-clean materials in their bathrooms.

4. Unusual Tile and Linoleum Flooring

Unusual tile colors and patterns can look outdated, while linoleum flooring can look inexpensive. Unfortunately, neither results are attractive to buyers. To get the most out of their property, homeowners should consider replacing the flooring with hardwood or a convincing laminate alternative.

Reach out to your trusted real estate professional to get more advice on how to create beautiful bathrooms today.

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