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June 28, 2013

How To Improve Your Credit Score For Better Financing Terms

Category: Home Financing Tips – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:55 am

How To Improve Your Credit Score For Better Financing TermsImagine that you’ve found the perfect home and are ready to apply for financing. Your home loan approval amount comes back lower than you would have expected and at an interest rate significantly above what you have heard is available on the market.

This could be because you have an average to poor credit score.

Mortgage lenders base interest rates on many things, but your credit score plays a large part. Anything between 720 and 850 will typically qualify for better interest rates. A mediocre score is usually between 660 and 719, and a low score is 659 and under.

If you have a lower score than you’d like, below are a few traits for you to follow of people who possess higher credit scores and secure the best home financing.

They don’t max out their cards.

It’s better to keep a low revolving balance on a few cards than to spend every dime allotted on one. The ratio of credit card balance to your credit limit is called credit utilization. The higher your credit utilization, the larger affect it can have one your credit score.

They make payments on time.

This is very likely the most important tip for your credit health. If you miss a payment on a term loan, credit card account or monthly home bill, then you could be turned over to collections, which will affect your score negatively.  You will almost surely be reported as late to the credit bureaus, which will in turn drop your credit score precipitously. Absolutely make all of your payments before their due date.

They stay with one card.

Don’t close and open credit card accounts frequently. Each time you make a change to your line of credit, it affects your score. Even if you don’t want to be tempted to use a credit card, keep the account open and leave the card at home. According to the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), high credit achievers have accounts that are usually at least 11 years old.

Excellent credit could qualify you for a better interest rate, which might save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. So stay on top of your monthly credit bills and keep a low balance on just a few cards to watch your score steadily increase.

If you’re ready to learn more about your ability to purchase a Fitchburg home, call your trusted home financing professional today.

June 27, 2013

5 Important Tips To Help Smooth Your Move When You Have Teens In The Home

5 Important Tips To Help Smooth Your Move With TeensYou’ve got a new job offer across the country and you are planning to pack your things, buy a home and make the big move.

However, when you tell your 17 year old daughter your plans, she lets out a mournful wail and cries that it is not fair. How can you possibly take her away from all of her friends, her favorite hangout spots and the cute boy she just started seeing?

Moving is a difficult transition and it is often even more traumatic for teenagers. The teenage years are an important stage where young adults establish their individuality and independence and during this time their social circle is extremely important to them.

Being removed from that against their will can make any teen feel sad, confused, angry and resentful. Also, fitting into a new social scene in a different location can be a challenge for a teen that might be singled out as the “new kid”.

How can you help your teen during this transition so that the experience will be easier on them?

5 Tips To Help Your Teen Move More Smoothly

Here are some tips that will make the experience of moving a little bit easier on your teenager:

  • Give them as much notice as possible so that they have time to adjust to the idea of moving. They will feel like they have enough time to say goodbye to their friends and close a chapter of their lives.
  • Try to schedule the move around the school calendar, as moving in the summer is much less disruptive to your teen’s life than relocating in the middle of the school year.
  • Make sure that they have ample time to spend with their close friends before they leave and once you arrive, understand that they might go through a grieving process of missing their old pals.
  • When you get to your new home, make sure that your teen has plenty of ways to keep in touch with their old friends, such as an internet connection and a cell phone plan.
  • Encourage your teen to get involved in the community of your new hometown, like joining sports clubs or attending events. This can help them to make new friends.

Moving to a new city is always exciting but offers challenges like this one for families. For more advice on moving to a new Fitchburg home, contact your trusted real estate agent today.

June 26, 2013

Home Prices Record Highest Monthly Gains Since Case Shiller Index Inception

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

Home Prices Record Record Month To Month GainsThe S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices for April indicate that the housing recovery gained ground.

In April 2013 average home prices tracked in the Case-Shiller 10 and 20-city Composites increased by 11.60 and 12.10 percent year-over-year. On a month-to-month basis, the Composites increased by 2.60 and 2.50 percent respectively.

According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices’ Index Committee, the 10-and 20- City Composites experienced their largest month- to- month gains since their inception: “Thirteen cities posted month- to-month gains of two percent or more, with San Francisco leading with a month-to-month gain of 4.90 percent.”

The 10-and-20 City Indices reported the highest year-over-year gains in home prices since 2006.  Cities where home prices gained more than 20 percent year-over-year included Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Francisco. Phoenix posted its 12th consecutive month of double-digit increases in home prices while San Francisco home prices increased year-over-year by an average of 23.90 percent. Home prices increased year-over-year in 19 the 20 cities included in the 10-and 20 City Composites, with home prices in Detroit remaining flat.

Mortgage Loan Requirements Showing Signs Of Loosening

Mr. Blitzer also noted that according to the most recent Fed Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, some lenders are beginning to relax credit requirements for mortgage loans. This good news, along with the availability of adjustable-rate mortgage loans is expected to help with maintaining affordability and providing access to homes for more buyers.

According to the S&P Case-Shiller 10-and-20 City Composites, home prices fell approximately 26 to 27percent from their highest in June 2006 to their lowest in March 2012. As of April 2013, average home prices had recovered by 13.10 percent for the 10-City Composite and 13.60 percent for the 20-City Composite.

More Reports Show Ongoing Housing Recovery

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices increased an average of 7.40 percent year-over-year as of April 2013, and rose by 0.70 percent between March and April 2013. While this data fell short of an expected month-to-month increase of 1.10 percent, Average FHFA home prices were 11.70 percent below their peak in April 2007.

FHFA bases its report on sales of homes financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes reached a five-year high in May, the highest level since July 2008. May sales increased 2.10 percent between April and May 2013 to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 476,000 homes. This represents a year-over-year increase of 29 percent from May 2012.

While rising mortgage rates and home prices may slow demand for homes, economists don’t believe that either factor will halt the housing recovery. A good next step is asking your trusted real estate professional about current home values and loan options in and around Leominster.

June 25, 2013

3 Clever But Simple Ways To Get Your Home Mortgage Paid Faster

3 Clever But Simple Ways to Get Your Home Mortgage Paid FasterPaying off the mortgage on your home faster means that you will not only have the satisfaction of owning your own home sooner, you will also have the benefit of paying much less in interest over the years.

The faster you pay off your mortgage, the more money you can save, so here are some tips to accelerate your payment schedule.

Pay Your Mortgage Every Other Week (Bi-Weekly)

Did you know that if you take your monthly mortgage payment and divide it in half and then pay it every two weeks that you will end up making a full extra month of payments every year? This is called a bi-weekly payment program which has been around for a long time, and it’s still a good idea today!

You likely won’t notice the difference since the extra half payments occur in long months with bigger paychecks, but over the years this will end up saving you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Make a Bigger Monthly Payment

Similar to the bi-weekly payment plan above, you can accomplish the goal by dividing your principal and interest portion of your payment by 12 and then adding that amount to your regular monthly payment.  You will be paying that extra payment every year, but spacing it out over each monthly payment.  

Most homeowners using this tactic can shorten their term by up to seven years.

Put Any Windfall Toward the Mortgage

Was your tax rebate larger than you expected? Have you received an inheritance from your great aunt Thelma? Have you won a cash prize in a contest?

Put any unexpected chunks of cash straight toward your mortgage instead of spending them. This won’t affect your budget at all, because you were never expecting or counting on that money in the first place. But once again, it can make a huge difference in the overall amount of interest that you pay on your mortgage loan.

However, keep in mind your particular situation. Spending every last penny paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible might not be the best option for you if you have no emergency savings fund or if you have a credit card languishing with high interest debt.

It is usually more important to deal with these pressing financial issues before attempting to save money on your mortgage. One great way to start your research on how to pay your Gardner home off faster is to talk with your trusted real estate professional.  They can answer your questions and point you in the best direction for your situation.

June 24, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 24, 2013

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

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 24, 2013Comments by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke after Wednesday’s FOMC meeting caused havoc in financial markets as investors anticipated the potential effects of any rollback of the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing (QE). Chairman Bernanke said that the Fed may begin reducing its $85 billion monthly purchase of Treasury securities and MBS toward the end of this year.

The chairman made it clear that any decision concerning QE would be based on careful review of current and developing economic conditions. QE is intended to keep long-term interest rates low; any reduction of the QE securities purchases could cause mortgage rates to rise.

Economic News Bodes Well For Housing

The week’s other economic news included more good news for housing. The NAHB/WF Housing Market Index for June came in ahead of expectations at 52, which surpassed the expected reading of 45 and May’s reading of 44. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders surveyed believe that housing market conditions are positive.

Tuesday was busy for economic news. The Consumer Price Index for May rose from April’s reading of –0.40 percent to +0.10 percent in May, which was below expectations of +0.20 percent.

The Department of Commerce released its Housing Starts Report for May; the reading for May missed expectations of 953,000 housing starts and came in at 914,000 which exceeded April’s 856,000 housing starts. Increasing the number of available homes could help steady recently increasing home prices, but existing homes remain in short supply in many areas.

Fed Expects Moderate Improvement Continuing For Economy

Wednesday’s news involved the Fed’s FOMC meeting and press conference. The Fed stated after the meeting that it expects moderate improvement in economic condition and noted that housing, which was a primary cause of the economic downturn, is now leading the economy’s recovery.

Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.98 percent with 0.7 percent discount points to 3.93 percent with borrowers paying 0.8 percent in discount points.  The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 3.10 percent to 3.04 percent with 0.7 percent in discount points for both weeks. Investor response to the Fed’s mention of possibly reducing its QE program is likely to send mortgage rates up next week.

The National Association of REALTORS® released its Existing Home Sales report for May. Existing home sales came in at 5.18 million and beat projections of 5.00 million and April’s sales of 4.97 million existing homes.

Increasing sales of existing homes is good news as demand has exceeded supplies of existing homes in recent months. High demand drives up home prices and impacts affordability along with rising mortgage rates.

What’s Ahead For This Week

Next week’s scheduled news includes a number of housing related reports, FHFA Home Prices, the Case-Shiller Home Prices Report and New Home Sales are set for release Tuesday.

The Gross Domestic Product Report comes out on Wednesday. On Thursday, data for weekly jobless claims, consumer spending and pending home sales will be released.

Friday brings the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index and the Consumer Sentiment Index.

The data released in these reports will continue to inform the Fed’s decision-making with regard to bond purchasing and interest rate policy. It’s possible though, following the aggressive market sell-off activity from last week, that we may see a softening in long-term rates over the course of this week.

June 21, 2013

Quick Tips To Get Your Summer Garden Blooming

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

Summer Gardening Tips For JuneSpring has sprung and today is the first official day of summer. If you are finally finding time to tend your garden, don’t feel guilty — just get dirty!

In one June weekend, you can have your yard looking colorful and smelling sweet. All it takes is a shovel, a design idea and a knowledgeable trip to a greenhouse.

Whether a rose is your favorite or you know nothing about flowers, you can make you yard beautiful without being a professional landscaper. Below are several types of flowers that will have your garden looking gorgeous this summer and you blushing from all your neighbors’ compliments.

Snowdrift Rose – The perfumed petals of this vigorous plant will provide a pleasant scent to your outdoors. Also, the stems are nice and long for cutting and creating indoor arrangements.

Black-Eyed Susan – After these vivid yellow flowers have bloomed, cut them back in order to ensure a second round of blossoms.

Dwarf Sunflower – If you love the large varietal, but don’t have the room, consider this smaller cousin.

English Lavender – This dark blue and purple flower is a tough plant that does well in even the hottest of climates.

Hydrangea – To take up more space, these little shrubs produce beautiful white clusters of flowers that fade to shades of pink and green.

Marigold – These traditional crimson blooms grow low and spread quickly, which makes them the perfect plant for a flowerbed border.

Petunia – The newer varieties of these full-sun flowers are low maintenance because they self-clean. The old blooms drop off without you needing to prune.

Summersweet – If you have a shady spot, this pink or white plant with its gold colored leaves will have the space feeling vibrant.

Zinnia – These long-lasting yellow, red and orange flowers will bloom well into fall.

A rose can be red, violets are blue — but you don’t have to feel that way about your garden.

Take one weekend this month to tame your flowerbeds, introduce a few budding plants and enjoy their fragrant scents for the rest of the summer.

June 20, 2013

Three Tips To Get The Best Financing On Your Second Home Purchase

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

Three Tips To Get The Best Financing On Your Second HomeAre you buying a property as your second home? Perhaps you are looking for a small cottage or apartment where you can escape to for your vacations, or maybe you want to have another home closer to your relatives?

Maybe you want to rent out your second property and make a steady income from your investment. Whatever the reason, a second piece of real estate can be a fantastic investment. However, sometimes getting a mortgage on your second home can present a challenge.

Generally, a mortgage lender will have tougher standards for vacation home — or second home — loans than primary home loans. This is because usually when you are buying a second home your finances will be stretched thinner and you will have less money to spare due to already paying a mortgage on your primary home.

This additional risk may mean that your second home mortgage can be more difficult to close and likely could carry a higher interest rate.

Here are three tips to keep in mind that will help you to get the best mortgage on your second property:

Build up a decent amount of savings.

Your mortgage lender will want to be able to see that you have a large amount of savings in reserve so that you will have enough to pay for the mortgage even if you were to lose your job or other income source.

Pay off any credit card or installment debt.

Many lenders will be hesitant to approve your second home mortgage if they see that you have a lot of debt on your credit card. They will want to see that you have a low debt to income ratio so that you will be able to pay back the loan.

Use your primary home as a resource.

If you have always made your payments on time and you are well on your way through paying off your first house, you may have equity to borrow against for some or all of your second home purchase. Be careful here though.  There is a little known IRS regulation that requires the second home be financed under it’s own home loan within 90 days of closing to get the best tax advantages.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind in order to make getting a mortgage for your second property as easy as possible.

To find out more about investing in a second home or vacation property, contact your trusted real estate professional today. 

June 19, 2013

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002U.S. housing markets are gaining as demand for homes exceeds available supplies in many areas. The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for June increased by eight points over May’s reading to achieve a positive reading of 52. This last happened in August-September of 2002, when HMI monthly readings also jumped by eight points.

Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than negative. June’s reading was the first time the HMI reading surpassed a reading of 50 since April 2006.

Limited Inventory Drives Sales Of New Homes

Rick Judson, NAHB Chairman, cited short supplies of existing homes as a factor driving sales of new homes. As demand for homes grows and inventories of available existing homes fall, buyers are increasingly buying new homes.

Sales of existing homes continue to be impacted by factors such as homes worth less than the mortgages held against them and sellers taking a “wait and see” attitude toward listing their homes for sale.

All three of the components of June’s national HMI gained:

  • The reading for current sales conditions rose from 48 to 56.
  • Expectations for future sales gained nine points to 61.
  • June’s reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes gained seven points for a reading of 40.

Regional Home Builder Confidence Grows In 3 Of 4 Regions

The 3-month rolling average readings for regional home builder confidence showed increases in three of four regions:

  • Northeast: Builder confidence increased by one point to 37.
  • Midwest: Builder confidence rose by one point to 47.
  • South: Builder confidence rose by four points to 46.
  • West: Builder confidence dropped by one point to 48.

High demand and a shortage lots available for building new homes contributed to the West’s slight decrease in builder confidence. Overall, increasing home builder confidence is a sign of economic recovery, but as the economy gains momentum and home prices continue rising, mortgage rates can be expected to rise as well.

Housing Starts Up 28% Annually In May

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday that national housing starts rose by 6.80 percent from April’s revised reading. May’s reading of 914,000 housing starts was reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. May’s reading was 28.80 percent higher than for May 2012.

Single-family housing starts (one to four units) fell short of investor expectations of 953,000 but exceeded April’s revised reading of 856,000.

Multi-family housing starts surpassed single-family housing starts, but any additions to low inventories of single-family homes could ease the difference between high demand and low inventories of available homes. Meeting demand for homes would temper rising home prices, which could help potential buyers qualify for mortgage loans.

June 18, 2013

RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report Shows 28% Decrease From May 2012

Category: Housing Analysis – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

RealtyTrac Foreclosure Report Shows 28 Percent Decline From May 2012

Foreclosure actions increased by 2.0 percent in May from April’s 75 month low point for foreclosure activity according to RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released June 11. However, the good news is that May 2013 foreclosure filings were still 28 percent below May 2012 filings.

RealtyTrac reports that approximately one in 885 homes were in some stage of foreclosure in May. This does not mean that 1 in 885 homes was lost to foreclosure, but it does indicate that documents related to some phase of foreclosure (Notice of Default, Notice of Trustee Sale, and Bank Reposession) were filed.

Actual lender repossessions (REO) increased by 11 percent in May, but were down by 29 percent as compared to May 2012. 33 states reported increases in REOs with North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin having the highest numbers of REO properties added.

Judicial Foreclosure States Lagging In Clearing Foreclosure Inventory

Foreclosure starts were up by 4 percent in May, but were 33 percent lower than for May of 2012. States using judicial foreclosure proceedings were 5 of the top 6 states for foreclosure filings. The state of Nevada, which uses non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, was second after Florida and ahead of Ohio, South Carolina and Illinois.

In general, judicial foreclosure proceedings take longer to complete than non-judicial foreclosures. This results in homes being unavailable for sale for longer periods of time. Lenders are required to complete the foreclosure process and in some cases, they must await expiration of a redemption period before a foreclosed home can be repaired and sold.

In states using non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, the time between the initial foreclosure filing and the foreclosure sale can be as little as three to four months. Quickly turning over foreclosed homes is helpful for improving regional housing markets and making more homes available for purchase. Economists have recently cited low inventories of homes as holding back housing markets in some areas.

Bank Owned Properties Provide Buying Opportunities

Lender-owned properties provide potential opportunities for first-time buyers and others seeking affordable homes. Mortgage lenders tend to offer attractive sale terms on REO properties, as their objective is to move these homes out of their inventories as quickly as possible.

Some foreclosure properties are also lacking current maintenance and are often sold as-is. DIY enthusiasts can buy and renovate foreclosed homes for owner occupancy or investment. 

It’s a good idea to discuss your interest in the opportunities available for buying a Leominster lender-owned home with a trusted real estate professional.

June 17, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 17, 2013

Category: Housing Analysis – Tags: – Matt Ward 7:53 am

What's Ahead This Week - June 17, 2013Last week’s news was relatively quiet with no data significant to the mortgage lending released until Wednesday, when the federal government announced a $138 billion budget deficit for May.

According to the U.S. Treasury this figure is 11 percent higher than for May of 2012, but the federal budget is expected to come in with less than a -$1 trillion deficit for the 2013 fiscal year, which runs from October to September.

The Treasury estimates that the 2013 budget deficit will come in at approximately -$642 billion, well below fiscal 2012’s deficit of -$1.1 trillion. The federal budget has been running deficits over -$1 trillion since 2008.

Employment Market Continues To Strengthen

On Thursday, the Weekly Jobless Claims report brought good news; jobless claims fell from the prior week’s 346,000 jobless claims to 334,000 jobless claims. This was also less than expectations of 350,000 jobless claims. As more workers gain steady employment, this will enable more would-be home buyers to become active buyers.

May Retail sales also showed slight improvement as they moved from 0.60 percent from April’s 0.10 percent.

According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average mortgage rate for a 30year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.91 percent to 3.98 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.03 percent to 3.10 percent with discount points holding at 0.70 percent.

Whats Coming Up This Week

Next week’s economic news schedule has a number of reports due including Wednesday’s FOMC statement and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s press conference. This meeting and press conference are significant as any move by the Fed to reduce or cease its current quantitative easing (QE) program could cause mortgage rates to rise further.

Monday’s news includes the Home Builders Index for June. Tuesday brings the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May and the Core CPI, also for May. The indices measure prices paid by consumers for goods and services; the Core CPI eliminates the volatile food and energy sectors included in the CPI. Rising or falling consumer costs influence how much discretionary income consumers have for saving toward buying a home.

No news is scheduled for Wednesday other than the FOMC statement and press conference.

Thursday brings the Existing Home Sales Report, Weekly Jobs Report, Freddie Mac PMMS and Leading Indicators. These reports are expected to provide news about U.S. housing markets, mortgage rates and economic influences impacting consumers.

There is no economic news scheduled for Friday.

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