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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 26, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 26 2015Last week’s economic reports included the National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Housing Starts for December and the FHFA Home Price Index report for November. The National Association of Realtors® also released its Existing Home Sales report for December.

Freddie Mac and the Department of Commerce released their weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Builder Confidence Close to Record High, Housing Starts Rise

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that home builder confidence slipped by one point in January to an index reading of 57. This was not a significant decline as any reading over 50 indicates that a majority of builders are confident about current housing market conditions. January’s confidence reading remained close to a 2005 peak. 

Housing Starts rose in December to 1.09 million starts as compared to expectations of 1.04 million starts and November’s reading of 1.04 million housing starts according to the Department of Commerce.

December’s annual reading reflected strong home builder confidence and was the highest for housing starts since 2007. Low mortgage rates and improving labor markets were seen as factors contributing to housing construction.

Existing Home Sales Fall, FHFA Home Price Index Gain 

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously owned homes fell to 4.05 million in December, which fell short of 5.08 million expected sales and 4.93 million sales of existing homes in November. Analysts were puzzled at the first drop in sales volume for existing homes since 2010.

Low mortgage rates, job growth and the possibility of less restrictive mortgage requirements were cited by analysts as factors that should have fueled sales of existing homes and should continue to boost home sales as more home buyers enter the market.

FHFA reported that prices of homes associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose 5.30 percent year-over-year in November. This was an increase of 0.90 percent over October’s year-over-year reading of 4.40 percent.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Lower

Mortgage rates dropped across the board according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by three basis points to 3.63 percent with discount points higher at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was five basis points lower at 2.93 percent and discount points higher at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by seven basis points to 2.83 percent with discount points unchanged at an average of 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims fell from the prior week’s reading of 317,000 new claims filed to 307,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected a reading of 298,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts noted that this was the third consecutive reading above 300,000 new jobless claims since July, but the higher readings were attributed to layoffs of seasonal holiday workers.

What’s Ahead

Case-Shiller will release its composite home price index reports; new home sales, consumer confidence and consumer sentiment reports are scheduled along with a customary statement from the FOMC at the conclusion of its January meeting.

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It’s 2015! Get a Jump on Your Payments with Our Quick Guide to Paying Your Mortgage off Sooner

It's 2015! Get a Jump on Your Payments with Our Quick Guide to Paying Your Mortgage off Sooner With the start of the New Year, it’s common to set new resolutions. While there are many goals that are worthwhile, paying off your mortgage as soon as possible can significantly improve your financial position and is a great goal to aim for. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at a few helpful tips for paying your mortgage off sooner.

Refinance To A Shorter Mortgage Term

For example, switching from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year will get your mortgage paid off in half the time it would have originally taken, and it will also lower the total amount owed. By switching to a 15-year mortgage plan, you can save well over a decade’s worth of interest payments.

Carefully Consider How Much Space You Need

Many people have more home than they can afford. By downsizing to a smaller, cheaper house, you should be able to pay more than your minimum payments each month. Other nice perks, such as saving money on heating and air conditioning, may also be able to help make the goal of paying off your mortgage seem more attainable.

Make Payments Every Other Week

Mortgage companies often give borrowers the option of choosing to make payments either every month or every other week. If you opt to pay every other week instead of every month and have a standard, 30-year mortgage, you’ll be able to pay off your debt about six years sooner than expected.

Cut Expenses

Find a regular expense in your budget that isn’t a necessity and start using that money towards your mortgage instead of what you would normally spend it on. For instance, bringing lunch to work each day instead of eating out could easily save a person at least $100 per month. That’s over $1,000 per year!

Set Extra Money Aside

To pay off your mortgage quickly without having to cut regular expenses, use overtime income, holiday pay and gift money for extra mortgage payments. This way, you can pay down your debt without having to lower your standard of living. Another option is getting a part-time job for a few hours each week and putting the extra income towards your house.

There are many things that you can do to pay off your mortgage quickly, but you don’t have to do them all. Whether you choose one tip from this list or all five, you should be able to start making progress on your loan.

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2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You Renovate

2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You RenovateRenovating your kitchen is an excellent way to improve its look, increase the value of your home and appeal to a more diverse range of home buyers if you decide to sell. However, a kitchen remodel can easily cost $10,000 to $20,000 or more, which is why you want to make choices that you can live with. Learning more about some of hottest trends for 2015 can help you decide what you want and don’t want in your kitchen.

Traditional Is Back

Trends come and go, but the classics remain constant. One of the hottest renovation trends for 2015 is a more traditional look. Homeowners today are no longer attached to trendy colors and modern designs; they want homes that have a more traditional look and will retain that traditional look for years to come.

Experts predict that 2015 will bring a return to darker wood colors for cabinets, tables, counters and even floors. There are also some reports that homeowners will use oil rubbed bronze and darker pulls and handles on cabinets and drawers as opposed to flashy and contemporary chrome accents. Other trends include rustic farmhouse tables, double porcelain sinks and natural stone counters.

Going Green

It’s hard to go anywhere today without seeing or hearing about green decorating trends, and those trends carry over into kitchens. Homeowners want products made from recycled materials and the chance to “go green” at home. Adding a recycling center is just one of the hottest trends for the kitchen.

Designers also found that homeowners want counters and floors made from recycled or sustainable materials. Bamboo is a sustainable construction material that works well in flooring applications. Homeowners can also find counters made from old tires, soda bottles and other recycled goods.

Homeowners Want More Space

Ask anyone want they need in their homes, and the odds are good that many will say they need more space. Recessed lighting is one trendy accent that adds more space and reduces the number of fixtures and cords hanging down from the ceiling. Other ways to add more space include adding an island with storage to the center of the room and cutting down on the number of cabinets lining the walls.

There are a number of trendy ways that you can renovate and change your kitchen. Going green, adding more space and bringing in traditional elements are just a few of those ways. Talk with a real estate agent about other changes you can make that will add value to your kitchen.

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NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Nears 2005 High

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Nears 2005 HighThe National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reported that homebuilder confidence in sales conditions for single-family homes declined one point to a reading of 57. The NAHB Housing Market Index measures home builder confidence based on builder opinions of current market conditions, future market conditions and buyer foot traffic in new homes.

Home Builder Confidence Stable for Seven Consecutive Months

January’s index reading of 57 was one point below December’s reading of 58. Any index reading above 50 indicates that more home builders are confident about housing market conditions than not. January’s reading was the seventh consecutive reading above 50. NAHB said that builder confidence in future market conditions slipped by four points to a reading of 60; builder confidence in current housing market conditions was unchanged at a reading of 62 and the reading for buyer foot traffic fell two points for a January reading of 44.

David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, cited improving labor markets, stronger economic conditions and higher consumer confidence as factors that contributed to January’s reading. In addition, analysts said that certain economic trends including higher rents and low mortgage rates may compel more renters to buy homes. Although pent-up demand contributed to buyer interest in recent months, restrictive mortgage credit policies are seen as a deterrent to higher sales volume. Builder confidence in home sales conditions would likely improve if the government can ease lender concerns about providing mortgages to buyers who don’t have strong credit scores.

Housing Market Index Indicates Room for Growth

In spite of strong builder confidence, there’s plenty of room for improvement in markets for new single-family homes. As of November, the sales pace for new homes was approximately 41 percent below the average pace for the last 20 years; housing starts for the same period were approximately 24 percent below the average for the prior 20 years. The Department of Commerce reported that housing starts were 24 percent below the 20 year average. This suggests that while borrowers are confident in housing market conditions overall, they may be taking a conservative approach on building new homes until more buyers enter the market.

This week’s upcoming housing-related reports will help determine the overall climate for housing market growth. Existing home sales and housing starts for December will be released along with FHFA’s home price report for November.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 20, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 20 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news was mixed. Job openings increased and jobless claims increased, and consumer sentiment rose. Mortgage rates fell across the board. Labor market conditions improved and consumer prices fell in large part due to decreasing fuel prices. The details:

Labor Market Conditions Index Suggests Stronger Economy, Jobless Claims Jump

Positive labor market ratings continued to show evidence of strengthening economic conditions. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index rose from November’s revised reading of 5.50 to December’s reading of 6.10. This index measures 19 economic indicators and rose well above its median reading of 1.90. November’s reading was the highest since May.

The Fed does not comment on month-to-month readings for this index. Job openings increased from November’s reading of 4.80 million to December’s reading of 5.00 million in according to the federal government.

Weekly Jobless Claims jumped to 316,000 as compared to the expected reading of 295,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 297,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that some volatility in new unemployment claims are expected in the aftermath of the holiday season and noted that the latest reading was the highest since September.

Mortgage Rates, Retail Sales Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.66 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also fell seven basis points to 2.98 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by eight basis points from 2.98 to 2.08 percent.

Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 0.60 percent, while average discount points for a 16-year mortgage dropped to 0.50 percent from the prior week’s reading of 0.60 percent. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent as compared to the prior week’s average of 0.50 percent. Lower mortgage rates help increase affordability and support home purchases by first-time and moderate income homebuyers.

Retail Sales for December dropped by -0.90 percent against expectations of -0.20 percent and November’s reading of +0.40 percent. December’s reading for retail sales except autos was lower by-0.10 percent as expected against November’s reading of +0.40 percent.

Last week ended on a positive note with the January reading for the Consumer Sentiment Index beating the expected reading of 95.0 with a reading of 98.20. December’s reading was 93.60.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, The National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report, FHFA Home Prices and Leading Economic Indicators. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates reports and weekly jobless claims will be released as usual.

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 20, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 20 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news was mixed. Job openings increased and jobless claims increased, and consumer sentiment rose. Mortgage rates fell across the board. Labor market conditions improved and consumer prices fell in large part due to decreasing fuel prices. The details:

Labor Market Conditions Index Suggests Stronger Economy, Jobless Claims Jump

Positive labor market ratings continued to show evidence of strengthening economic conditions. The Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index rose from November’s revised reading of 5.50 to December’s reading of 6.10. This index measures 19 economic indicators and rose well above its median reading of 1.90. November’s reading was the highest since May.

The Fed does not comment on month-to-month readings for this index. Job openings increased from November’s reading of 4.80 million to December’s reading of 5.00 million in according to the federal government.

Weekly Jobless Claims jumped to 316,000 as compared to the expected reading of 295,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 297,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that some volatility in new unemployment claims are expected in the aftermath of the holiday season and noted that the latest reading was the highest since September.

Mortgage Rates, Retail Sales Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 3.66 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also fell seven basis points to 2.98 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped by eight basis points from 2.98 to 2.08 percent.

Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 0.60 percent, while average discount points for a 16-year mortgage dropped to 0.50 percent from the prior week’s reading of 0.60 percent. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent as compared to the prior week’s average of 0.50 percent. Lower mortgage rates help increase affordability and support home purchases by first-time and moderate income homebuyers.

Retail Sales for December dropped by -0.90 percent against expectations of -0.20 percent and November’s reading of +0.40 percent. December’s reading for retail sales except autos was lower by-0.10 percent as expected against November’s reading of +0.40 percent.

Last week ended on a positive note with the January reading for the Consumer Sentiment Index beating the expected reading of 95.0 with a reading of 98.20. December’s reading was 93.60.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, The National Association of Realtors® Existing Home Sales report, FHFA Home Prices and Leading Economic Indicators. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates reports and weekly jobless claims will be released as usual.

 

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Tankless Water Heaters: The Pros and Cons of Going Tankless In Your Home

Tankless Water Heaters: The Pros and Cons of Going Tankless In Your HomeLarge water heaters are unsightly appliances that home-sellers would rather hide. Although it’s not always possible to banish these structures, it is possible to replace them with a version that is not as overbearing. Tankless water heaters have the potential to make one home stand out amongst the competition, but they do have some disadvantages along with the benefits.

Pro: Tankless Water Heaters Use Less Energy

Traditional water heaters continuously heat water that is just sitting in the tank, and this requires energy. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, do not heat the water until someone needs it. Therefore, they are more energy-efficient and cost less to operate.

Pro: Tankless Water Heaters Last Longer

Traditional water heaters will need to be replaced after about a decade, but tankless water heaters can last much longer. If someone is planning on purchasing a home with a new tankless water heater, he or she would not have to think about replacing it for about 20 years.

Pro: Tankless Water Heaters Are More Space Efficient

The typical traditional water heater is 24 inches wide and 60 inches tall. Tankless heaters save a lot of space because they are generally only 20 inches wide and 28 inches tall. They open up a lot of space, and this impresses buyers greatly.

Con: There Is Less Available Hot Water with Tankless Heaters

Although a tankless heater can provide a home with hot water only when it is needed, the amount is limited to a few gallons at a time. This will mean that more than one occupant in the home cannot take a shower at the same time. They will definitely not be able to do this while they run the dishwasher or the washing machine.

Con: Tankless Water Heaters Are Typically More Expensive

Tankless water heaters cost around $1,000 while the traditional version only has a price tag equal to $300 or $400. While this higher up-front purchase cost is a con, if you consider that a tankless water heater should last longer than a traditional heater you may end up saving a bit over time.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home or are selling the one you currently own, contact your local real estate agent for more information. While they might not be the best source of information about water heaters, these professionals are the best way to ensure you get a great deal on a home.

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Prevent Icy Drafts with Our Easy Three-Step Guide to Weatherizing Your Windows

Prevent Icy Drafts with Our Easy Three-step Guide to Weatherizing Your WindowsIn the cold winter months, you’ll probably want to be outside enjoying the snow when you get a chance – perhaps building a snowman or having a snowball fight with the kids. However, you’ll get cold, and you’ll want to come inside to your well-heated home.

While you may have dealt with insulating your attic, walls and other areas of your home, if you’ve neglected your windows you may find that they become a source of very cold drafts.

In today’s blog post we’ll share a quick three-step guide to weatherizing your windows which will keep you warmer and help to prevent wasted energy and high heating bills.

Between Window Frames and Walls

The first step to weatherizing your windows is to check for spaces in between the window frames and the windows. You can often see any gaps clearly as they will allow you to see straight outside. If you’re dealing with small gaps you can use caulking as a temporary solution.

If you’re dealing with larger gaps, you’ll want to have professionals come in to repair or rebuild the wall.

Between Window Frames and Windows

If you have windows that can be open and closed, you’re going to need to check these to ensure they seal tightly and that the weather-stripping hasn’t worn away. Weather-stripping is typically sold in rolls, and most types have at least one adhesive side so that you can quickly apply it to your windows and frames. Note that there are different types of weather-stripping on the market, so be sure to purchase a type that will work with your windows.

The Window Panes

The window panes themselves can be used to your advantage. On sunny winter days, you can open the windows and let the sunshine in to warm up your home. At night, close the curtains or blinds to help make a sort of insulation to keep out the cold. The thicker the curtains or drapes are, the more they will help insulate your home and prevent heat loss through your windows.

The benefits of weatherizing your windows will serve you well past this winter if done right. Don’t forget that doing the opposite with curtains or blinds in the summer will help keep your home cool, and the value of a house goes up when these kinds of details are covered. When you’re ready to sell your home, be sure to contact your local real estate agent and they’ll be happy to assist.

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Budgeting: How to Manage Large Mortgage Payments when Buying a Costly, High-Value Home

Budgeting: How to Manage Large Mortgage Payments when Buying a Costly, High-value HomeSome people try to apply for as small of a mortgage payment as they can reasonably afford to, and there is some prudence associated with this line of thinking. After all, recent economic events have shown that those who get over-extended may wind up in a dire financial situation.

However, there are also benefits associated with a higher mortgage and buying a slightly larger home if you can comfortably afford to do so.

For example, the rate of growth on equity will typically be more significant, and there are tax deductions and tax advantages that may be greater. If you are preparing to take on a larger mortgage payment that is reasonably manageable for you, you may do so with greater confidence when you follow a few tips.

Reduce Your Debts Beforehand

The best way to ensure that your larger mortgage payment is still affordable for your budget is to reduce your debts. When you think about the difference between carrying $800 per month in credit card payments or the equivalent in a higher mortgage payment, you will see that the benefit lies in the mortgage payment. The credit card payments typically will be mostly interest that has no benefit to you.

The mortgage payment is building equity through principal reduction on an asset, and the interest has tax benefits to you. However, you want that extra $800 per month in payments to be affordable. If possible, pay off or greatly reduce your credit card debt before you take on a new mortgage. In addition, close most existing credit card accounts so that you do not accumulate additional debt while you are responsible for the higher mortgage payment.

Increase Your Personal Savings

Then, increase your personal savings if necessary. The best budget with a higher mortgage payment is one that still allows you to save money regularly. If you are unable to save with your higher mortgage payment, there is a good chance that you may be taking on a little too much debt for what you can afford.

Ideally, you will have at least three to six months worth of your expenses on hand in cash and available to access in a worst-case financial situation. You will be able to sleep easier at night with your higher mortgage payment when you have the extra cash available to support yourself in the event of job loss, serious illness or other related events.

Your higher mortgage payment may help you to live in a nicer, larger home, to enjoy better tax deductions and to build equity at a faster rate. However, you want your mortgage payment to be affordable. By following these tips, you can confidently take on the larger payment.

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Are You Ready to Make the Leap into Home Ownership? Here’s How You Can Tell

Are You Ready to Make the Leap into Home Ownership? Here's How You Can Tell Are you ready to make that leap from living at home or renting to owning a home of your own? While everyone moves at their own pace, here are some signs that you can use to determine if it is time to own your own home. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you can use to justify your decision.

Are You Sticking Around?

If you plan on moving soon for a job or think that you won’t be in town much longer, it may be better to rent. However, if you are thinking about living in the same town or within the same county for years to come, it is time to put down roots.

The stability that comes with home ownership may make you more prepared for a marriage and/or a family if that is something that you want. This stability may make you more attractive if you are single and searching for a long-term relationship.

Do You Have a Steady Job?

Those who have a steady job and know that they have a stable salary may want to make the move to home ownership. As long as there aren’t any other major debts eating into your income, you can probably handle a mortgage and other costs associated with home ownership.

The equity that you build in your home can help you build wealth for the future if and when you want to retire. Your home may also make a great rental property in the future, which can help you diversify your portfolio and keep you solvent for years to come.

You Are Spending More Time Watching Television Shows Related to Home Ownership

You may have caught yourself recently watching shows revolving around people or couples who are looking for homes. You may also be watching programs dedicated to giving tips as to how you can upgrade your home. If you watch these shows frequently, it may be a sign that you are ready to move out on your own and take on the exciting challenge of being a homeowner.

Are you ready to be a homeowner in the near future? Only you can say for sure if it is time to make that leap. However, those who are looking for a long-term housing solution may be ready to make that move. For more information, it may be worthwhile to talk to a real estate agent today.

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