What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 20, 2017

Last week’s economic news included remarks by Fed Chair Janet Yellen about the diversity of opinions in the Federal Open Market Committee, readings on inflation, and the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department issued reports on housing starts and building permits issued; Freddie Mac and the Commerce Department issued weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Fed Chair Discusses Pros and Cons of Diverse Opinions Among Policymakers

During a panel presentation of global economic leaders, outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen discussed the pros and cons of having 19 members on the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, which is responsible for the Fed’s policymaking decisions.

Chair Yellen said that it was “challenging” in terms of expressing diverse member opinions into a pat statement of Fed policy. She noted that multiple opinions on any aspect of the Fed’s decisions could be confusing for the public. She also said that individual and varied opinions were essential in considering all aspects of the Fed’s policy decisions: “The most important strength is that we avoid ‘group-think,’ which is a real pitfall for policy committees.”

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Hits EightMonth High

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest housing market index reading in eight months. The monthly survey of home builders consists of readings on builder confidence in present housing market conditions, market conditions within the next six months and the volume of buyer traffic in new housing developments. Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions.

November’s reading of 70 was two points higher than in October; analysts expected a one-point decline to 67. Concerns over tax reforms potentially impacting homeowner tax deductions for mortgage interest were expected to impact builder confidence, but NAHB did not mention tax reform in their summation of builder confidence readings for November.

Component readings used to comprise the HMI reading were mixed. Builder sentiment increased two points to 77 for current housing market conditions. Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months dipped by one point to 77 and builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments rose two points to an index reading of 50.

Builders have repeatedly cited concerns about shortages of lots and labor as well as increasing costs for building materials. NAHB said in a statement that November’s Housing Market Index reading was a “strong indicator that the housing market continues to grow steadily.”

According to the Commerce Department, October housing starts rose to 1.29 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; analysts expected 1.20 million starts based on September’s reading of 1.14 million starts. 5.30 percent of housing starts were single-family construction.

Builders also took out more building permits in October; 1.30 million permits were issued against 1.23 million permits issued in September. The increased volume of building permits was partially attributed to reconstruction after hurricanes in Florida and Texas, but in the Northeast, building permits rose by 42 percent. The Northeast region is the smallest reported, but warm weather was cited as boosting permits issued.

Builder sentiment has been strong all year and was propelled by healthy job markets and lower mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Fixed mortgage rates rose last week with the average rate for an average 30-year fixed rate of 3.95 percent; the average 15-year mortgage rate rose seven basis points to an average of 3.31 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dipped one basis point to 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 249,000 last week as compared to estimates of 235,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 239,000 new jobless claims. Jobs lost and a backlog of first-time claims due to recent hurricanes were cited as the primary cause for the rise in new jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on previously-owned home sales, minutes from the Fed’s last Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims are also scheduled.

Single and Considering a New Home? Here’s What You’ll Need to Know About Your Mortgage

Single and Considering a New Home? Here's What You'll Need to Know About Your MortgageHave you decided that it is time to move on from renting? If you are single and living alone, you may be wondering whether or not homeownership is right for you. Let’s have a look at a few key factors that you will need to be aware of when taking out a mortgage as a single person.

It’s A Commitment – But Not For A Lifetime

Some single people shy away from the idea of buying a home as it is a significant financial commitment. When you are single, especially if you are young and early in your career, flexibility can be valuable. You might decide to move to a new city to take a new job, or you may find a partner and decide to start a family.

Keep in mind that homeownership – and your mortgage – aren’t permanent. If you decide to buy a house, condo or apartment, you can always sell it later if you need to move or upgrade to a larger home.

You’ll Need To Be Disciplined

As you will only have one income stream coming in to support you in managing your monthly finances, you will need to be disciplined. Living paycheck to paycheck is not really an option as you will end up in trouble if an emergency occurs. Some financial experts advise having at least 6 to 12 months of monthly expenses saved up, in case of a job loss or an unexpected health issue that takes you out of work.

Don’t forget that there are also mortgage insurance products that can help to cover some of your costs in the event of an emergency. These may be an option to consider as a backup plan.

Starting Small Versus Going Big

Do you need a lot of space? If not, investing in a small ‘starter’ home is an excellent option. You can buy just enough home to suit your needs without buying anything extravagant. A helpful advantage that you gain purchasing a less-expensive home is that it comes with a smaller mortgage that can be paid off faster.

Questions? Get Professional Advice

If you have questions about borrowing and maintaining a mortgage as a single person, you’re not alone. Give our professional mortgage team a call. We will be happy to share our guidance and expertise in helping you choose the mortgage product that suits your financial goals.

Let’s Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home Buyer

Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home BuyerAre you in the market for a new house or condo? Whether you’re looking for something luxurious or intimate, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough space for all of life’s necessities. Many home buyers focus on bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas as their top priorities. But have you given any thought to your closet space?

In today’s blog post we’ll explore why a spacious walk-in closet should be high on your list of “must-haves” for your new home.

Enough Storage For A Stylish Couple

An upgrade in storage space is the main reason to have a large walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today’s working professional needs a large wardrobe to store suits, work outfits, social attire, shoes, accessories and more. It’s almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. And even if you do decide to fill a smaller closet until it’s bursting at the seams, you’re stuck with having to try to organize it regularly just to be able to find anything. Forget it!

A Showcase For Clothes, Shoes And Accessories

A walk-in closet isn’t just for piling a ton of clothes into. It’s a showcase for your wardrobe and all of the items in it. Most walk-in closets are designed with numerous shelves, racks and other display areas. Take advantage of these to show off the best pieces in your collection. For example, are you particularly proud of that oxblood leather bag that you found while traveling Europe? Or the hat that you wore to last year’s Kentucky Derby? Your walk-in closet is the right place to show it off.

Room For Elegant Touches Like A Dressing Island

Finally, if you have enough space in your walk-in closet, you’ll be able to add some elegant touches. A dressing island with built-in shelves is the perfect feature for storing accessories and shoes. You can also add matching jewelry boxes on top to store frequently-used items. An ottoman is another elegant touch that can help make your walk-in closet feel more roomy and comfortable. And don’t forget to include a couple of mirrors for checking your look from multiple angles before you leave the house.

These are just a few of the (many!) reasons why a walk-in closet is an absolute must-have for any new home. When you’re ready to explore financing opportunities for your new home, contact us. Our professional team is happy to assist you.

The Easy 3-Step Guide to Get Started With Real Estate Investing

The Easy 3-Step Guide to Get Started With Real Estate InvestingAre you interested in expanding your investment portfolio with hard, long-term assets that are almost certain to grow in value? If so, you will want to consider investing in real estate. Let’s take a look at how you can get started with real estate investing in just three easy steps.

Start By Budgeting Your Time And Money

Real estate investing is just that – investing! Moreover, this, of course, means that you’ll need to commit both money and time to see results. The great news is that if you’re just getting started with real estate investing, you don’t need to start with much of either. There are fund and other investment opportunities that will allow you to get started with as little as $1,000. Once you’re more familiar with investing in real estate, you can commit larger and larger sums, expanding your portfolio.

Figure Out Which Investment Option Suits You Best

If you’re new to the game or are investing smaller amounts, you may be interested in a Real Estate Investment Trust or “REIT.” REITs are essentially investment companies which own or finance income-producing real estate. For example, you may buy into a REIT that invests in commercial buildings, like office buildings or warehouses. The REIT will take care of all of the maintenance, leasing and other upkeep while offering a return to you as a shareholder.

If you’re starting with deeper pockets, another option is to simply buy your own properties and rent or lease them out. To be successful, you will need to find houses or apartments that are of good value and will see a decent amount of rental return each month.

Start Networking And Meeting Other Investors

Now that you’re ready to get started take some time to meet and network with other local investors who are active in your community. Check on Facebook to see if there are real estate investment groups for your city, or give a few quick Google searches to see if there are any meetups. You might be surprised at how friendly and ready to share information other investors are.

Be Ready To Experience Challenges And Setbacks

One important thing to keep in mind is that you are likely to experience challenges or setbacks along the way. You’re learning about a new form of investment – one which takes some skill to master. Stay positive and accept that as you gain experience, it will get easier.

Real estate investment is an excellent way to diversify your financial portfolio and grow your personal or family wealth. For more information about financing local real estate opportunities, contact your trusted mortgage professionals today.

Buying a New Home? Make Your Move Easier With These Three Purging Tips

Buying a New Home? Make Your Move Easier With These Three Purging TipsAre you thinking about buying a new house or apartment? While the prospect of a new home is undoubtedly exciting, you may be dreading the thought at having to pack everything up and move. In today’s blog post we will explore three tips for purging old, unwanted or forgotten items before making a move into a new home.

Sort Everything That You Don’t Need

The first step you will want to take is to sort everything in your home. Many families go through the house, room-by-room, separating their must-have items from everything else. At first, this process is quick as there are many items just sitting around waiting to be thrown out. However, you are bound to find some older keepsakes that are much harder to let go. In the end, you’ll want to ensure that you only keep those goods that are important to you. Everything else should go.

Host A (Virtual) Yard Sale And Consider Consignment

Now that you have everything in your home sorted, it’s time to host a yard sale. If you are so inclined, you can run a traditional sale where you place everything out on the lawn on a Saturday morning and put up signs to let the neighborhood know. Alternatively, you can run a virtual yard sale through the web and app-based classifieds like Craigslist.

You may also want to consider calling up local consignment shops to see if they’ll take some of your unwanted goods. A consignment store will sell your items for you and keep a portion of the sale price as a fee. This can be a useful option if you have antiques or other goods that are more popular with an older crowd.

Donate Everything Else

Is there anything left in your home? If so, it’s time to hand over this last bit of unwanted clothing, furniture or appliances to your local charity. Many charitable organizations will come and pick up your unwanted items, which saves you from having to drive a load of stuff over somewhere to drop it off. Call up your charity of choice and see if they accept donations. If not, they will be able to refer you to other local organizations that are interested.

Purging your older or unwanted items is a surefire way to make your move easier. If you’re in the market for a new home and need information about financing your new home, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to help you.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 13, 2017

Last week’s economic news included a survey of senior loan officers, Freddie Mac’s average mortgage rates, and new jobless claims. An index reading for consumer sentiment was also reported.

Loan Officers: Standards for Residential Real Estate Loans Eased or Unchanged

According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Senior Loan Officers,72 institutions surveyed reported that all types of residential real estate loans saw easing of lending standards or no change in lending requirements. Demand for real estate loans eased, which likely influenced financial institutions decision not to tighten lending criteria for home loans. In contrast, banks surveyed indicated tighter lending requirements for auto loans and credit cards.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week.30-year fixed rates averaged 3.90 percent; 15-year fixed rates averaged 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates averaged 3.22 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Lower mortgage rates were good news for home buyers who continue to face high home prices coupled with competition by cash buyers.

First-time jobless claims increased by 10,000 new claims to 239,000 new claims. Analysts expected a reading of 231,000 new claims based on the prior week. The week-to-week reading, which can be volatile, was eclipsed by the four-week rolling average of new claims, which hit its lowest reading since March 1973.

The bump in weekly first-time jobless claims was caused by a backlog in jobless claims filed in Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Computer and infrastructure problems caused delays in claim filing.

Consumer sentiment dipped in November to an index reading of 97.8 as compared to an expected reading of 100.7 and October’s reading, also 100.7; Indicators of rising inflation concerned consumers, according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the survey.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, housing starts, building permits issued and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Monthly readings on inflation and retail sales will also be released.

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home AutomationAre you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years so it might be time to invest. In today’s blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home.

Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There

Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it’s likely to be one of the older “set it and forget it” models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you’re gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar?

The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what’s happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up.

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

If you’re not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon’s Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings.

Don’t forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported.

Tip #3: If It’s Easy To Use, You’ll Use It Regularly

Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you’re unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone.

Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you’re ready to explore purchasing high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to help you.

Taking Out a Mortgage for the First Time? Learn Why a Condo Might Be a Great First Home

Taking Out a Mortgage for the First Time? Learn Why a Condo Might Be a Great First HomeAre you starting to tire of paying your monthly rent to someone and never building any equity? Renting forever can be a significant pain, especially as you’re contributing to someone else’s financial well-being. The good news is that there are affordable real estate options out there for those investing in their first home. Below we will share a few excellent reasons why an apartment or condo might be the best choice for a first-time home buyer.

A Manageable Monthly Payment

In most markets across the country, condos and apartments are available at a significantly lower cost than a full-sized house. Buying a less-expensive home means that your monthly mortgage payments will, in turn, be lower. If you are single or a young professional trying to start a family, that extra money can be a massive boost to your monthly budget.

Note that while your monthly mortgage payment may be lower, you are still responsible for other maintenance and upkeep fees. The most common is known as a homeowners’ association fee, to which all condo owners in the same development contribute. These funds are used to upkeep the building or property as well as things like landscaping, a pool or gym, and other amenities.

A Smaller Down Payment

In the same vein, buying a less-expensive home also means that you can put a smaller down payment on it when you close the sale. In many cases you are required to place a certain percentage – typically 20 percent – down to avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance. Having to commit less in your down payment leaves more money in the bank for other purposes.

An Excellent Future Investment Property

Don’t forget that when you are ready to upgrade and move into a larger house, you can keep a condo as a rental or investment property. Once your mortgage is paid off, you are only responsible for the monthly maintenance fees and taxes. So if you can rent the condo out to a tenant, you will have an excellent source of cash flow that can help to pay for your new home or fund other activities.

The above are just a few of the many reasons why a condo can be a great starter home for first-time buyers. To learn more about your mortgage options, contact us today. Our team is happy to help.

It’s Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemInvesting in your home by remodeling or renovating is an excellent way to increase its value. However, a significant renovation project can quickly turn into a disaster, especially for those who are inexperienced. Let’s take a look at four of the more common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process

The first mistake you will want to avoid is undertaking any home renovation without the required permits. While some remodeling projects will not require a permit, others will. Regardless, it is more than worth taking the time to do your research to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. A visit to the city’s website or a quick phone call is all you will need to find out if a permit is required and how much it will cost.

Mistake #2: Being Afraid

A great way to ruin your renovation is to be too afraid to transform the space into whatever best suits your family. Try to avoid being trendy and going with renos that you saw recently on television. Instead, consider how you currently use your kitchen, bathroom or whatever other space you’re changing and improve it for the better.

Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor

When it comes to contractors, going cheap is rarely a good idea. You want someone who is going to do the best quality of work at a fair, affordable price. Moreover, since you’re investing in that contractor, it is best to also invest in using high-quality materials for the job.

Also, don’t be the type that skimps on costs just because something isn’t visible. A good example is if your contractor recommends that you install something like a bathroom membrane system. Yes, it’s an extra cost that is mostly a preventive measure against mold getting under your tiles. However, it is a small consideration in protecting the more substantial investment you’re making in upgrading your home.

Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind

As the old saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Changing your mind in the middle of your renovation is almost certainly going to cost you. Once you commit, try to stick to the plan unless circumstances force you to make a change. These are just four of the many mistakes that can be made by an inexperienced home renovator.

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit Score

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit ScoreIn the market for a new home in 2018? With the new year just a few short weeks away, that leaves you with precious little time to get your finances in order. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you get a jump on improving your credit score before the end of the year.

Grab A Fresh Copy

The first step is to order a fresh copy of your credit report from one of the major agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to access a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. So, if you have not ordered a copy recently, it is time to do so. You can access this free service through AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a website recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

Clean Up Anything Outstanding

Now that you have a copy of your credit report, it’s time to go through it, line-by-line. You should recognize every current and outstanding account in the report. Any balances owing should be in order and reflect how much you owe. It’s critical that you flag any mistakes or old debts that you have already paid in full. If you come across anything that shouldn’t be on your credit report, call the reporting agency to let them know. If necessary, they will assist you with challenging the issue.

Pay Down Those High-Interest Debts

The final tip in today’s guide is to prioritize your outstanding debts so that you can pay them off more efficiently. The essential debt payments are your mandatory minimums, which you need to pay to avoid being sent to a collection agency. From there, try to pay off your debts with the highest interest rates first. Getting these paid off faster means that over time, you’re spending less on interest payments. Moreover, you can use that extra cash to pay your debts down further.

The above are just a few of the action steps that you can take today to start improving your credit score. When you’re ready to discuss a mortgage for your new home, give our team a call. We will be happy to advise you on the mortgage offer that suits your needs, budget, and credit.


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