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September 16, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 16, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 16, 2013Last week didn’t feature any housing-related news other than Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage interest rates.

Reports on consumer credit, job openings and weekly jobless claims suggest that without some relief in the jobs market, Americans may be taking a “wait-and-see” stance toward buying homes.

Consumer Credit Rose By $10.40 Billion In July

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that revolving credit fell by an annual rate of 2.60 percent as compared to an annual decrease of 5.20 percent in June. Non-revolving consumer credit such as vehicle and education loans rose at an annual rate of 7.40 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey indicated that mortgage rates were unchanged for both 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgage loans. The average rate for a 30-year FRM was 4.57 percent with discount points of 0.80 percent; this was higher than last week’s 0.70 percent.

Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 3.57 percent with 0.70 percent in discount points. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points from 3.28 to 3.22 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Mortgage rates are likely to change next week in response to any announcement by the Federal Reserve regarding its plan for reducing the amount of monthly bond purchases in its current quantitative easing program.

Mortgage rates would likely rise if the Fed begins tapering its $85 billion monthly purchase of securities, but if the Fed maintains its current rate of purchases, mortgage rates could remain steady or fall in response to the news.

Retail sales fell short of expectations on Friday. The Department of Commerce reported a seasonally-adjusted growth rate of 0.20 percent in August against an expected reading of 0.50 percent and July’s revised reading of 0.40 percent, which was initially reported at 0.20 percent.

The University of Michigan/Thompson Reuters Consumer Sentiment Index for September fell to its lowest reading since April. The September reading was 76.80 percent as compared to expectations of 81.50 percent and August’s reading of 82.10 percent.

What’s Coming, Will The Fed Taper Its Securities Purchases?

This week’s economic news is highlighted by the Fed’s FOMC statement scheduled on Wednesday after its two-day meeting. The announcement is expected to include an indication of the Fed’s intention concerning its QE program and whether or not monthly securities purchases will be reduced. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give a press conference after the FOMC statement.

Other scheduled economic news for this week includes the Consumer Price Index and Home Builders Housing Market Index on Tuesday; Wednesday brings reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits in addition to the FOMC statement and press conference. Thursday’s economic reports include Weekly Jobless Claims and the Freddie Mac PMMS along with Existing Home Sales and Leading Indicators.

September 13, 2013

Social Living – How To Buy A Comfortable Home Guests

Category: Home Buyer Tips – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

Social Living -How To Buy A Comfortable Home For GuestsWhen people are buying a home, one of the things that they sometimes forget to consider is the need to be able to accommodate guests. You likely have out of state relatives or friends who might come and visit you and you will probably want to be able to give them a place to sleep so that they don’t have to pay for a hotel.

You will also probably want to have your parents or your relatives stay over on special occasions such as Christmas. You might even need to host guests for long periods of time, such as if an aging parent needs to move in with you or you need to give a struggling friend some support while they get back on their feet.

Having a home that is well suited to having guests stay will make being a host a lot easier. Having someone sleep on a fold out couch in your living room can be inconvenient for both you and your guest, so what should you look for in a home so that hosting someone will be comfortable?

  • If you have a small home, you might not have room for an extra guest bedroom that is only used occasionally. Instead, choose a home with a multi-purpose room that can be used as a home office, a storage space or a hobby room as well as a guest bedroom.
  • You could use clever storage solutions and a Murphy bed or futon to make the transition into guest bedroom when your friends and relatives arrive. Another option is to choose a home with a finished attic, which can easily be turned into a great small bedroom for guests.
  • Does the house have enough bathrooms for everyone? Waiting for the bathroom while someone else has a shower can get annoying really quickly when there are extra people in the house. A guest bedroom with its own ensuite is ideal.
  • Have at least two or more “chill out” spaces so that everyone doesn’t have to enjoy the same activity. If some of your family members are watching a movie but a couple others want to have a quiet chat or play a board game, make sure that there is another spot where they can sit. It doesn’t have to be huge, just another set of chairs or a sofa somewhere.
  • For the guest room, choose a bedroom that is furthest away from the rest of the main traffic areas in the home. This means that if you wake up earlier or get in later than your guests, you can cook or go about your daily chores without making a lot of noise right outside their door.
  • Make sure that the dining area is big enough to accommodate a larger table to seat your extra guests.

These are just a few things to consider when choosing a home that will make hosting guests easy. For more info about buying a home, contact your trusted real estate professional. 

September 12, 2013

A Few Reasons Why That Extra Bedroom Might Be Worth It

Category: Home Buyer Tips – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

A Few Reasons Why That Extra Bedroom Might be Worth ItSo you are looking at buying a home, but you are wondering whether or not it is worth it to pay a little extra for a home with one more bedroom.

It’s a tough decision to make, especially when balancing other factors such as location and the other features of the home. However, having one more bedroom than you think you need could end up being a good thing for a number of reasons.

Expanding Family

Perhaps you only planned on having two children, but a third one might come along as an unplanned surprise… will you have enough room for everyone?

One of your children’s friends might have a bad home situation and need a place to crash for a while. One of your elderly parents might need to live with you for a while.

There are many situations when the family living under your roof might expand, (even if it’s just having guests over the weekend) so make sure that you have the space to accommodate.

A Home Office

If you are working from home or have your own business, a private space in the home to work can be worth its weight in gold. It’s really difficult to be productive when you are trying to work at the kitchen table with the rest of the family buzzing around you, so turn your extra bedroom into a home office.

Rental Income

An extra bedroom might be a great source of income, especially if it can be turned into a basement or attic suite. As long as you don’t mind the responsibility of being a landlord, you could rent out the room to a tenant and let their rent help you cover the mortgage payment.

Resale Value

Buying a slightly larger house with one more bedroom means that the home will be easier to sell in the future. This is especially true if all of the other homes in the area have similar amounts of bedrooms.

These are just a few reasons why an extra room can really come in handy. If you want to know more about home buying, you can contact me your trusted real estate professional.

September 11, 2013

What You Need To Know About Mortgage Insurance

Category: Mortgage Tips – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

What You Need to Know About Private Mortgage InsuranceIf you are on the verge of buying real estate, you’ve probably heard the term Private Mortgage Insurance. Mortgage professionals talk about it a great deal, but you may be asking, “What is it exactly? And why should I care?”

Private Mortgage Insurance Defined

PMI is required by lenders if the down payment of a purchase is less than 20 percent of the home’s value. It protects the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan.

It also makes the lender more apt to loan, even if the down payment is as low as 3%, because in the long run, the lender’s investment is protected.

You Pay For It

Unlike other types of insurance which you pay to protect your interest in an asset, you pay Private Mortgage Insurance to the mortgage company to protect its interest in your new real estate. (Note that PMI is not usually tax deductible. Check with a tax professional for details.)

Make It Go Away: PMI Can Be Terminated Once You’ve Paid Down Your Loan

Once you pay down your mortgage to the point where it hits the magical 80% of the original purchase price or appraised value, whichever is less, you can request cancellation of PMI. The Homeowners Protection Act requires that loans made after 1999 include notifications to the borrower when you arrive at this point in your payments.

Your PMI payments must be automatically canceled once you pay down your loan to 78%. At closing, and on a yearly basis, you should receive information from your lender about when you can request cancellation.

Whether you’re ready to buy real estate or need more information before taking the plunge, I can help. Contact your trusted real estate professional today.

September 10, 2013

5 Cool Ideas For Green Home Remodeling

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

5 Cool Ideas For Green Home RemodelingEvery home seems to have a never-ending remodeling list. As you consider tackling your next project, it usually pays off if you also think about helping the environment.

Green remodeling can last longer, utilize recycled materials and typically end up saving you money in the long run. Below are several environment-friendly ideas that will have your neighbors green with envy.

1. Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are a shallow depressions in your yard planted with native shrubs and flowers. When there is a large rainfall, all the water rushes along roadways picking up dirt and pollutants along their way to drainage systems and eventually rivers and streams. Rain gardens catch water run-off, which reduces the street flooding and makes for cleaner water sources.

2. Reclaimed Hardwoods

Using reclaimed wood is all of the rage right now – and it’s easy to see why. Reclaimed wood helps the environment by being recycled and repurposed from other structures. Turning an old barn into your new hardwood floors not only saves trees and looks great, but is an interesting conversation point.

3. Paper Covers Rock

Most kitchen remodels usually include the discussion of to go with granite or quartz countertops. However compressed paper or glass surfaces are actually better for the environment. Instead of harvesting natural resources, you’ll be recycling resources that have already been used.

4. One Shower Head

It’s tempting to use multiple showerheads and powerfully flushing toilets. However, reducing your water usage saves you money. Install low-flow water fixtures and limit yourself to just one fantastic showerhead in each bathroom. You’ll help the earth and your pocketbook by saving water.

5. Passive Solar Design

Solar panels are a great way to trap the sun’s energy and reduce your utility bills. However, if you’re not ready to directly tap into the grid, then there are ways you can remodel your home using passive solar design. Concrete floors and thick concrete, brick or plaster walls soak up the suns rays during the day and release them at night when the temperature drops.

Going green doesn’t have to hamper your lifestyle or your home’s design. With the five green remodeling ideas above, you’ll add value to your home, help the environment and put money back in your bank account.

 

September 9, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 9, 2013

Category: Housing Analysis – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 9, 2013Last week was relatively calm due to the Labor Day Holiday on Monday providing little mortgage and housing related news. However, there were several positive indicators for overall economic conditions.

Construction spending rose by 0.60 percent in July and surpassed economists’ expectations of 0.30 percent and June’s zero percent growth. While this may seem a small increase, any indication that construction spending is increasing could indicate that residential construction is ramping up.

This would be good news for home buyers, who’ve been facing a shortage of available homes in many areas of the U.S.

The Fed Released Its Latest Beige Book Report

Federal Reserve districts reported rising consumer spending in most districts, modest expansion in manufacturing and moderate residential real estate sales. Higher mortgage rates may have dampened home buyer enthusiasm, but an ongoing shortage of available homes is also likely to have contributed to slower sales.

Mortgage rates will likely rise if the Fed tapers its $85 billion monthly purchase of mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds as demand for bonds is expected to decrease. When bond prices fall, mortgage rates usually rise.

ADP released its report on private sector jobs added for August; 176,000 jobs were added against expectations of 185,000 jobs added and July’s 198,000 jobs added. The three-month rolling average of private sector jobs added shows steady job growth as jobs added rose from 140,000 in May to 188,000 jobs for August.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.57 percent with discount points unchanged at 9.70 percent. 

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by five basis points to 3.59 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.28 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Non-Farm Payrolls Report for August, 169,000 jobs were created, which fell shy of expectations of 173,000 new jobs. Expectations were based on the original number of 162,000 jobs created in July, but July’s number was revised downward to 104,000 jobs created.

The unemployment report for August was 7.30 percent, down 0.10 percent from July’s reading of 7.40 percent.

The combination of higher mortgage rates, persistently high unemployment and fewer jobs created could signal the Fed to postpone its plan to start reducing its monthly securities purchases.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s scheduled mortgage and housing news is relatively flat, but Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey will provide the last indication of mortgage rates’ direction before the FOMC meeting on September 18.

The Fed will also likely be watching the Weekly Jobs report and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index as part of its decision-making process on whether to taper or maintain current QE securities purchases.

September 6, 2013

How To Create The Perfect Garage Workshop

Category: Around The Home – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:51 am

Creating The Perfect Garage WorkshopMost men, and even handy women, dream of a perfectly organized work space where their tools are orderly and they can tackle that list of home DIY projects.

However, renovations can get put on hold because there’s not a designated place to work. Tools are usually scattered throughout closets and the kitchen table serves as a workbench.

You can create a space for all of your improvement projects by turning a section of your garage into a construction-friendly, wonderfully organized haven for your tools and home makeover endeavors.

Below are easy steps to building the perfect garage workshop.

Make Sure You Have Adequate Space

Ideally, you’d still like to be able to get your cars in their designated space, so look for a vacant area at the back of the garage or along one side. If you’re garage isn’t quite large enough, then you might want to consider adding on to it or building an outdoor shed.

Create A Work Surface

For your work surface, you could repurpose old kitchen cabinets with a counter or build yourself a rough table using lumber from your local hardware store. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s sturdy. Cabinets will provide storage for all of the nuts, bolts, paint and little tools you’ll accumulate.

Clear A Wall

Whether this is above your workstation or alongside it, you’ll want an open area to hang up and organize your tools, so that they don’t clutter your surface. Put up a pegboard and create custom spaces with hooks.

There’s a certain satisfaction that comes will seeing all your tools hanging with in reach and a desire to fill it up.

Install Decent Lighting

You need to see what you’re doing when working with power tools. High-intensity lights, such as halogens or LEDs are perfect for brightening up your space. Utilizing them in track lighting or on bendable gooseneck fixtures can help you adjust the light to exactly where you need it.

Don’t let the thought of a home improvement project send you scurrying all over the house for tools. Take one weekend to follow these four steps and create a designated space for your garage workshop.

Everything will be in one place and it won’t matter how long a project takes or how much of a mess you make!

For more tips on home maintenance contact your trusted real estate professional today.

September 5, 2013

Don’t Turn Your Buyers Away With These Curb Appeal Mistakes

Category: Home Selling Tips – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:52 am

Don't Turn Your Buyers Away With These Curb Appeal MistakesWhen it comes to selling your home, curb appeal refers to the “first impression” that your house gives when a buyer approaches it from the driveway or the street.

Does your house look attractive and inviting, or does it appear rundown?

First impressions are important and even if the inside of the home is perfect, the outer appearance can really affect a buyer’s perception.

If you are trying to sell your property, you have probably mowed the front lawn and even planted flowers in order to improve your curb appeal. However, could you have over looked one of these common curb appeal mistakes?

Cheesy Garden Gnomes

You might think that your decorative lawn ornaments are cute, but your potential buyers don’t necessarily have the same taste. If you have a few gnomes living in your garden, you might want to hide them away for a while when your home goes on the market.

Dark Pathways

Your potential buyers might want to visit your home in the evening, so make sure you invest in some outdoor lighting to guide their way to your front door. A poorly lit front walkway will not make a good first impression.

Dying Flowers

Adding flowers to your front yard can improve your curb appeal, until the seasons change and they begin to go brown and whither. Do your best to keep up with the garden maintenance throughout the year so that everything still looks fresh.

Children’s Toys

If you have little ones, your yard is probably filled with discarded Frisbees, tricycles, skipping ropes, sidewalk chalk and other toys. Before showing your home, make sure that all of these are tidied away.

Your potential buyers might not have children and might not be fond of them, so they want to be able to see what the lawn and the garden will look like when it is not covered in brightly coloured plastic.

These are just a few of the curb appeal mistakes to avoid, so that your home looks as appealing as possible. For more home real estate tips, feel free to contact your real estate professional. 

September 4, 2013

Knock Your Real Estate Listing Out Of The Park With These Powerful Buzz Words

Knock Your Real Estate Listing Out Of The Park With These Powerful Buzz WordsWords are powerful and when you are selling your home, the words that you use in your real estate listing can really impact the first impression that the property makes on potential buyers.

Whether you are writing the real estate listing, or the house is being promoted by a real estate professional, it is important to use the right words to convey the meaning that you intend.

This is especially true when you only have room for a short description, as every word counts.

Here are a few words to use in your description that will really bring positive attention to your real estate listing:

“Within Walking Distance Of…”

Can you walk from your home to the supermarket, the local pub, the shopping mall, the elementary school or the dog park? If so, make sure you advertise this on your real estate listing!

Buyers are looking for homes that are accessible to the major amenities that they use in their everyday lives, because this saves them time and money on fuel and is more convenient.

“Plenty of Storage Space”

Let’s face it, as a nation we tend to be hoarders. Many people have an incredible amount of stuff and they need a house that has enough room to store it all.

A home with plenty of well organized closets and storage space will be desirable, because it will suggest a comfortable and well organized living environment rather than a cramped and cluttered existence.

“Move Right In”

If your home is fully finished and doesn’t require any renovations, make sure that potential buyers know this. A home that is in “move in condition” will be very desirable to some people who don’t want to take on the headache and hard work of a fixer-upper.

“Light and Spacious”

We are attracted to bright open spaces and floor plans that have a comfortable flow, rather than small and dark compartmentalized hallways and rooms. If your home has a lot of natural light and an open floor plan, this is a great attribute that you should highlight in the listing.

To find out more about listing your home and generating interest in your property, contact trusted real estate professional today.

September 3, 2013

What Happens If You Find Your New Home Before You Sell Your Old One?

Category: Home Buyer Tips – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:51 am

What Happens if You Find Your New Home Before You Sell Your Old One?What happens if you find the dream property that you want to buy before you have made the sale on your old property? Ideally you would have sold your current home before you buy your new property.

However, sometimes the transition doesn’t work out that way. You don’t want to give up the purchase if you have found a bargain on your dream home, so is it possible to buy the property before you have closed on your current residence?

The answer is yes, it is possible. You will need to use a financing option that will allow you to secure your next home before you have sold your existing property.

Getting A Bridge Loan

One option is a bridge loan. This is designed to wrap your payments for your current home and your future home into one loan, which can last usually between six and twelve months.

This type of loan usually involves a small fee and you will also be responsible for the closing cost on the mortgage on your next home.

Borrowing From Your 401K

Another option that might work is to borrow from your 401K, if your company allows it. In this situation, you will be able to borrow the money and then repay it right away when you sell your home. Of course, make sure you find out the rules on this first so that you are not at risk of incurring any penalties with the IRS.

Taking Out A Personal Loan

Another possible option is to take out a personal unsecured loan. Keep in mind, these types of loans usually have high interst rates and they will only last for a few years. Also, you will need to include the payments that you are making on that loan when you are qualifying for a mortgage on your next home.

Advantages To Buying Before Selling

One thing to keep in mind is that if you buy a new home before selling your old one, you will save yourself from a period of transition when you are between homes. Also, you will only need to hire a moving company once and you won’t have to put anything into storage, which will save you money.

For more information on how to make the best transition into your new home, speak with your trusted real estate professional today.

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