What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 24, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 24 2015Last week’s economic events included a number of readings on housing related topics. The National Association of Home Builders released its report on builder confidence in housing markets, Housing starts reached their highest level since the great recession, and existing home sales exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading. The Federal Reserve released minutes for its most recent FOMC meeting, which indicated that while a majority of FOMC members are leaning toward raising the Fed’s target federal funds rate, concerns over certain aspects of the economy continue to keep the Fed from citing a date for raising its target interest rate.

Home Builder Confidence Nears Highest Reading in 10 Years

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest level of builder confidence in housing market conditions since November of 2005. August’s reading was 61 as compared to an expected reading of 59 and July’s reading of 60. Any reading over 50 indicates that housing market conditions are good. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that August’s readings were consistent with builder expectations of gradual improvement in overall housing market conditions. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by one point to a reading of 61; confidence in buyer foot traffic in new housing developments rose 2 points to 45 and the reading for expected home sales conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 70.

Builder confidence as shown by the three-month rolling average indicated that builder confidence increased by three points for a reading of 63 for the West; the Midwest also posted a gain of three points for a reading of 58. The South posted a two point gain in builder confidence for a reading of 63. In the Northeast, builder confidence held steady at 46.

Existing Home Sales Hit New Post-Recession High in July

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of pre-owned homes reached a new post-recession record in July. Sales of previously owned homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million sales as compared to expectations of 5.48 million sales and June’s reading of 5.48 million sales. Sales of existing homes have risen for three consecutive months and are 10.30 percent higher year-over-year. Higher home prices are helping homeowners move up to larger homes, but analysts said that first-time buyers are still struggling to buy due to strict mortgage requirements and high demand for homes.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts Higher, Building Permits Lower

The Commerce Department reported that June housing starts increased from 1.20 million in May to 1.21 million in June; this is a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent. Economists had expected a dip in housing starts to a rate of 1.185 million on an annual basis. Single family housing starts rose by 12.90 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 starts.

Building permits slipped in July by 16.30 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million permits issued. Permits for single family homes, which account for nearly 75 percent of permits issued, fell by 1.90 percent to an annual rate of 679,000 permits issued. Demand for multi-family homes such as condos and apartments is rising as would-be home buyers sit on the sidelines and many millennials prefer to rent. In spite of these factors the rate of building permits issued rose by 7.50 percent year-over-year.

Building permits issued rose by 7.70 percent in the South, and rose by 20 percent in the Midwest. In the West, permits issued declined by 3.10 percent in July, while the Northeast posted a decline of 27.50 percent in building permits issued. This was not a surprise as builders rushed to take out permits before a tax credit expired in June.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell for fixed rate mortgages and ticked upward for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates fell by two basis points to 3.15 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent. Discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rates and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city home price index reports, FHFA’s house price report for home sales connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and pending home sales. Core inflation numbers will also be released; this is significant as the Fed has set 2.0 percent annual inflation as one of its indicators for raising the Federal funds rate. Freddie Mac’s survey of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will be released on Thursday, and this week wraps up with the consumer sentiment report on Friday.

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a Profit

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a ProfitIf you’re entering the real estate investment market for the first time, you’re embarking on a great adventure – and with a solid plan, you can turn a tidy profit on your investment.

The key to a successful real estate investment is choosing the right property. A great property will reap dividends for years to come. Look for these three features in your next investment property and you’ll have no trouble finding one that turns a profit.

Location: More Important Than You Think

The location of your investment property will be critical in determining how much you earn on it and how long you’re able to keep tenants. And as the saying goes, you can change the color of the walls, you can change the type of flooring, and you can change the layout of the home, but you can’t change the location. So before you do anything else, make sure your new investment property is in a good location.

High cash flow investment properties tend to share certain location characteristics. They tend to be in neighborhoods with great schools and great amenities like pools, parks, movie theaters, and public transit. They also tend to be in an area with quiet, low-traffic, well-kept streets. Great neighborhoods have a low crime rate and don’t mix housing types.

Average Rent Price & Vacancy Rate: Look For Marketability

Aside from local amenities, you’ll also want to consider the average vacancy rate and rent price in your neighborhood. If you can’t cover your costs by charging the neighborhood’s average rent, then the home is a poor investment.

Keep an eye on vacancies in the neighborhood. If there are a high number of vacancies in the area, it could mean that the area’s rental market is seasonal or that renters are no longer interested in it. A low-vacancy area will allow you to charge more rent, and you’ll be more likely to find renters.

Floor Plan: Know The Trends And Buy Accordingly

There are a lot of things you can change if you don’t like your home, but the floor plan is a challenge to rearrange. That means in order to make your property competitive on the market, you’ll want to choose a property with a modern floor plan. Watch the trends and buy a home with a floor plan that’s in demand – you’ll have an easier time finding tenants.

Buying an investment property is a great choice for smart investors, but it’s important that you choose a property that will turn a profit. An experienced real estate agent can help you find a great new investment property that tenants will love. Contact your local real estate professional to learn more about qualifying investment properties.

FOMC Minutes: Rate Hike May be Near

FOMC Minutes Rate Hike May be NearThe minutes for the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that while committee members won’t specify a date, a rate hike could come sooner than later. Committee members continue to cite concerns over labor markets and other economic factors, but the minutes of the FOMC meeting held July 28 and 29 indicate that a majority of members see a rate change as likely in the near term.

Economic Conditions “Approaching” Readiness for Rate Hike

According to the minutes released Wednesday, the time for raising rates is not hear yet, but a majority of FOMC members feel that the time is approaching when economic conditions will warrant an increase of the target federal funds rate which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the Fed increases this rate, consumer loan rates including mortgage rates are expected to increase as well.

Achieving maximum employment is one of the Fed’s mandates; labor markets continue to improve as the national unemployment achieved its lowest reading for 2015 as of June, but labor force participation and the unemployment to population ratio have also declined. On a positive note, the number of part-time workers was lower and under-utilization of workers was lower than since the beginning of the year.

Committee members continued to have varied opinions about whether employment rates are low enough to indicate that the Fed’s mandate of “maximum” employment had been achieved.

Inflation remains below the 2.00 percent medium-term goal set by the Fed. FOMC members have consistently indicated that they don’t expect to see inflation achieve the target rate in the near term.

Housing Markets Show Improvement

The minutes noted that while construction of new homes declined in June, new starts increased over the second quarter. Sales of new homes were lower in June, but sales of existing homes increased. Building permits issued suggest the rate of construction is stable but little changed. Pending home sales were stable and suggest little change in completed home sales in the near term.

A jump in multifamily building permits were attributed to an expiring tax credit date, but housing analysts have repeatedly cited the millennial generation as preferring to live and work in large metro areas where housing can be out of reach for all but the top tier of earners. In other economic sectors, the minutes said that auto loans and student loans continued to grow.

The FOMC minutes indicate the same position of FOMC members in recent months; while the national unemployment rate is low, the Fed does not expect to see inflation at the agency’s target rate of 2.00 percent immediately. Committee members note that they will continue to monitor domestic and global financial conditions as part of the fact-finding process necessary for deciding when to the federal target funds rate,

Speculation over when the Fed will move to raise rates has persisted for several months and will no doubt continue until the Fed does decide to raise rates.

Five Required Mortgage Closing Costs – And A Few Tips On How To Minimize Them

Five Required Mortgage Closing Costs And A Few Tips On How To Minimize ThemMortgages are expensive, and closing costs only add to the financial burden that homebuyers face. But with a little knowledge, you can pinpoint places to save on your mortgage closing costs and keep more money in your pocket. When you’re negotiating your next mortgage, use these tips to reduce required closing costs and keep more of your hard-earned money.

Title Insurance: Request The Simultaneous Issue Rate

Title insurance is an important add-on that no buyer should go without. At the time of closing, there may be a variety of title problems that could arise, such as like encroachments, easements, unpaid liens, and fraud. If a previous property owner wasn’t properly discharged from the title, they may have a claim to the property.

In the event that title ownership challenges arise later on, your title insurance will compensate you for any losses and expenses you incur when trying to prove your ownership. Buying title insurance may help you to avoid the hourly fees you’d pay a lawyer or notary to investigate your title. Typically, when you receive title insurance, you and your lender will each have separate insurance policies on the title.

You can minimize the out-of-pocket expense by asking the insurance provider for their simultaneous issue rate. This is a highly discounted rate that applies when both the borrower and lender title insurance policies are issued at the same time.

Origination Fees: Negotiable If You Have Good Credit

An origination fee is a kind of prepaid interest fee that you surrender to your mortgage broker when you apply for a mortgage. It only applies when you use a mortgage broker.

However, it’s not a mandatory fee for most buyers – even if they go through a broker. The purpose of an origination fee is to compensate the broker for the time and effort they need to invest to get your loan approved. If you have good credit and you can prove your income, then this fee isn’t necessary – and you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your broker to eliminate this fee.

Also note that an origination fee is the same thing as a broker fee. If your agreement includes both, you’re getting charged for the same service twice. Ask for one of them to be removed.

Mortgage Application Fees: Typically A Money Grab

A mortgage application fee is another common fee that you can usually avoid. This fee – which typically runs about $50 or so – is something your lender charges you in order to cover the cost of running your credit report. However, since banks and brokers order hundreds of credit reports every day, they can pull your credit report for next to nothing.

The $50 fee they charge you is, essentially, free money for them – and you can usually get them to drop this fee if you ask.

Underwriting Fees: Your Broker Shouldn’t Charge You For Underwriting

Brokers don’t underwrite loans – lenders do. That means if you’re getting your loan through a broker, you shouldn’t have to pay any kind of underwriting fee – it should already be included in the loan terms the bank set. It’s perfectly valid for a bank to charge you an underwriting fee, but ask your broker to take underwriting fees out of your agreement.

Courier Fees: Handling Documents Should Be A Standard Business Practice

One common closing cost is courier fees. These fees come in different amounts and go by different names. It may be $20 or $50, and it may be called a courier fee or a document handling fee.

Title companies might very well use couriers to send documents, but lenders most likely won’t – and $50 is excessive. Document handling fees are a standard cost of doing business, and that means they should already be included in the lender’s core billed services, not added as an extra fee. Use this argument when you ask your lender to remove the fee – they’ll likely comply.

House Hunting in a New City? Three Ways to Determine Which Neighborhoods Are Up and Coming

House Hunting in a New City? Three Ways to Determine Which Neighborhoods Are 'Up and Coming'If you’re moving to a new city and you’re looking for an affordable home in a nice neighborhood, one great way to get a fantastic home without paying sky-high prices is by choosing a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood. Communities that are starting to gentrify make it easy to find an affordable home, especially if you buy before the prices start to rise.

So how can you spot a neighborhood that’s on the rise? Here’s what you need to know.

Look For Neighborhoods Popular With Artists & Young People

Young people, artists, musicians, performers, and other bohemians tend to lead the way when it comes to neighborhood revitalizations. These are the kinds of people who typically don’t have copious amounts of disposable income, so they’re looking for something affordable. But they also want to live in a hip, trendy part of town.

And as the area gains more and more creative types, it starts to take on its own creative personality. That makes it attractive to all manner of buyers, which starts driving more and more sales. So if you want to find an up-and-coming neighborhood, just follow the artists, musicians, and Gen Y buyers.

Track The Area’s Average Days On Market

One great way to find which neighborhoods are the most popular with buyers is to track the average number of days on market for properties in those neighborhoods. Your real estate agent can help you find this information. If you notice a slow decrease in days on market over time, it’s a good sign that the neighborhood is on the up and up.

Oftentimes, in an up and coming area, the days on market will decrease before prices start to rise – which will help you get a great deal.

Look Up Building Permits To See Where The Renovations Are

You can also tell if an area is up and coming if there’s a lot of renovation activity happening. Visit your municipal government office and see if you can find information on which neighborhoods are seeing more and more building and renovation permits. Lots of construction and renovation activity in an area indicates that it’s a great place to move to.

Finding a great neighborhood is critical to being satisfied with your home purchase. There are lots of things about your home that you can change, but the neighborhood isn’t one of them – so make sure you’re happy with the area before you buy. Local real estate agents are a great source of information about neighborhoods – contact a trusted real estate agent near you to learn which neighborhoods are most popular with buyers.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 17, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 17 2015Last week’s economic reports related to housing were few and far between other than weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Up

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose for fixed rate mortgages and dropped for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.94 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.17 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.93 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and rose from 0.40 percent to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless claims rose to 274,000 last week from the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 270,000 new jobless claims. New claims were lower by 1750 claims for the past month at a seasonally adjusted rate of 266,250 new jobless claims. This was the lowest level since April of 2000. Analysts consider the four week average a less volatile reading for new jobless claims than weekly readings, which fluctuate more due to transitory influences.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled reports include several releases related to housing. Expected releases include: the National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits and the National Association of Realtors® report on sales of previously owned homes.

Marketing to Millennials: How to Stage Your Home to Attract One of the Hottest Buyer Groups

Marketing to Millennials: How to Stage Your Home to Attract One of the Hottest Buyer GroupsMillennials are finally starting to enter the real estate market, but as is expected with a generation as different as Gen Y, they’re buying homes in a completely different way. Millennial buyers intend to own for shorter periods of time and want to live in metropolitan areas, and they’re also actively interested in real estate as an investment.

If you want to sell your home to a Millennial, you’ll need to change the way you stage and market the house in order to make the sale. Here’s how you can make your home more attractive to Millennial buyers without having to plan a massive renovation.

Millennials Want Investment Properties, Not Storybook Homes

One of the major characteristics that defines the Millennial generation is that they are nomads. Millennials don’t want to hear about how a property is the perfect place for them to live out their Happily Ever After. For a Millennial, marriage and kids and the white picket fence are still a long ways off – and that’s if they’re in the picture at all.

Instead, present your home as the ideal investment property – something they can easily renovate and flip for a nice, tidy profit, or something they can rent out to help pay their student loans. Millennials are entrepreneurial by nature, so appeal to that entrepreneurial zeal.

Convert An Unused Room Into A Home Office

Millennials are also very career-minded and tend to be passionate about side projects. Millennials are leading the charge in the work-from-home movement, and the more easily they can see themselves working out of your home, the more likely they are to buy it.

If there’s a room in your home that you aren’t using, converting it into a home office will help you show Millennials that they can run their online business in a great environment.

Ditch The Carpets And Opt For Hardwood Instead

Millennials want their homes to look modern, and carpets will simply make them think of every 1970s stereotype there is. If you want to reach a Millennial buyer, an easy way to make them see your home as more desirable – and more valuable – is to tear out your carpets and replace them with hardwood flooring. Hardwood is also easier to clean, which will appeal to Millennials’ desire for a low maintenance home.

Millennials have traditionally been difficult to understand, but an experienced real estate agent can help you navigate the Millennial market’s demands and stage your home in an appealing way. Contact a trusted real estate professional near you to learn how you can turn your home into something no Millennial can resist.

3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time

3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Home at the Same TimeIf you’re in the process of simultaneously buying and selling a home, you may be in for the most stressful experience of your life. One UK-based real estate survey of over two thousand people found that buying and selling a house is more stressful than divorce, bankruptcy, a death in the family, becoming a parent for the first time, and even planning a wedding!

It’s not easy, but staying calm will help you to plan for your upcoming home purchase and sale and make the process easier. So how can you avoid the stress? Here are three strategies that will keep you calm, no matter what may happen.

Have A Thorough Plan In Place…

Much of the stress that you’ll experience will probably be the result of poor planning. You may feel stressed if you don’t have enough time to move or if you have to pay mortgages on two homes because your old home isn’t selling fast enough.

Before you get too far into the buying and selling process, talk with a real estate agent and ensure you have a solid plan in place for how you’ll manage buying and selling at the same time. Leave a time and expense buffer for unexpected complications – even if nothing goes wrong, it’s still nice to know you have some room to work with.

…But Be Ready To Improvise If Things Go Sideways

There are a number of ways that buying and selling at the same time might result in complications. Poor timing might mean you need to move out before you have a home to move into, or it might mean you don’t have the money for your new home if your old home hasn’t sold. Be prepared to rent a hotel room, take out a short-term loan, or move your belongings into storage if the sale doesn’t go according to plan.

Talk Out Your Problems With Loved Ones

In times of stress, it’s helpful to turn to friends and family for a helping hand. Studies have shown that having a strong social support network can mitigate the effects of stress, and even the Mayo Clinic suggests reaching out to loved ones when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for emotional support, and whenever you have an opportunity to socialize, take it – you’ll find it easier to handle stress after a fun night out with friends.

Buying and selling a home at the same time is bound to be stressful, but an experienced real estate agent can minimize the agony. Call a real estate agent near you to learn how you can successfully buy and sell a home at the same time.

3 Reasons to Avoid Giving Wrong Information on Your Mortgage Application

3 Reasons to Avoid Giving Wrong Information on Your Mortgage ApplicationA mortgage application is typically several pages in length, and it requires you to provide a considerable amount of information about your personal, professional and financial life. Some mortgage applicants may not have access to all of the information when completing the application, and others may simply skim over the form and provide incomplete answers. These are only a few of the reasons why information on the mortgage application may not be accurate, but there are several key reasons why applicants should avoid giving inaccurate information.

Loan Approval is Based on It

The initial loan application will usually serve as a basis for the pre-qualification of the mortgage request. The applicant may make a decision to move forward with an offer to purchase a home based on this pre-qualification, but the pre-qualification is based on the accuracy of the information that is initially provided to the lender in the loan application. If the information is incorrect then an applicant may not be able to qualify for the loan and the deal could fall through.

Information Will Be Verified

The majority of the information that is provided by the applicant in the loan application will be verified at various points throughout the loan process. For example, a credit report may be pulled very early on in the loan process, and it may be used to document the accuracy of the debts and monthly payments that the applicant wrote on the loan application. Tax returns, pay stubs and other related documentation may also be required. Essentially, the lender will eventually have access the accurate data, so there is little benefit to provide inaccurate information up-front on the loan application.

It Is Against the Law

A final reason why it is not advisable to provide inaccurate information on the application is because this is illegal. There is a disclaimer on the standard mortgage application that goes into detail about the law regarding providing false information on a loan application. There are also disclosures that are signed before and during closing that relate to this.

Completing a loan application is an important step buyers go through when buying a home, and it is easy to overlook the importance of providing accurate and detailed information at this stage in the process. It is best to take time complete the loan application as thoroughly and accurately as possible since it is a legal requirement and because of many other negative consequences. Those who have questions about buying a home or buyers who are ready to begin the loan application process who don’t have a mortgage expert to work with can reach out to their trusted real estate professional for guidance.

3 Closing Costs That Most Buyers Forget to Factor in – and What You Can Expect to Pay

3 Closing Costs That Most Buyers Forget to Factor in – and What You Can Expect to PayIf you’re in the process of buying a home, you probably have your deposit and monthly mortgage charges in a spreadsheet, along with a chart of your other expenses and your monthly income. But when it comes to buying a home, there are lots of different costs that will come into play – and it’s easy to forget something. When you’re preparing to close on your new home, make sure you consider these three closing costs that most buyers forget.

Home Inspection Fees: A Small Charge For Peace Of Mind

Most home purchase agreements are contingent upon a successful home inspection – and if you’re planning to buy a home, you should definitely have it inspected before you buy it. However, home inspectors don’t work for free, and you’ll have to pay a home inspector for a thorough evaluation of the premises.

Home inspection fees depend on the kind of property you’re buying, and can vary depending on your location. For a condo unit, you’ll only need to pay about $250, but a single-family home might cost up to $500. Luxury properties are often more expensive, sometimes running as high as $1,500.

Private Mortgage Insurance: Obligatory With Small Down Payments

If you’re only planning to make the minimum down payment on your home, you’ll need to buy mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event that you default on your loan. This is an added cost that your lender pays, and in general, almost every lender will pass the cost on to you.

You can pay for your mortgage insurance in one large payment, or you can add it to your monthly mortgage payments. Note that if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, you’re legally required to buy mortgage insurance.

Lender Fees: All Sorts Of Charges On Top Of Your Mortgage

One large, catch-all category of closing costs that buyers often forget is lender fees. Lender fees are fees that your mortgage lender will charge you in order to recoup their costs and turn a profit. These include appraisal fees, credit report fees, processing and application fees, and administration fees for underwriting.

These fees can range depending on the lender, but in many cases they exceed $3,000. You’ll want to budget about $3,500 to $5,000 to be safe.

Buying a house is a major undertaking, and there are lots of ways that the process could go awry. But a real estate professional can help you navigate the industry and get the home you’ve always wanted without any issues. Contact your local real estate expert to learn more.