Case-Shiller: Home Prices Grow at Fastest Rate Since June 2014

Home prices continued to rise in September according to Case-Shiller National and 20-City home price index reports. According to the National Home Price Index, national home prices rose 0.70 percent month for the three months ending in September. The National Index regained its pre-housing bubble peak and surpassed it by 5.90 percent as of September.

The 20-City Home Price Index rose 0.50 percent from August’s reading. Analysts forecast a growth rate of 0.40 percent month-to-month. The 20-City Home Price Index indicates a home price growth rate 0f 6.20 percent year-over-year. The 20-City Index remained 1.50 percent below its peak in 2006.

The 20-City Home Price Index showed 16 of 20 cities posted gains in home price growth. Seattle, Washington, which has consistently held the top spot for year-over-year home price growth, posted slower growth for September. Seattle held on to its lead for year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 12.90 percent. Las Vegas Nevada held second place in the 20-City Index with a year-over-year home price growth of 9.00 percent. San Diego, California held third place with a year-over-year reading of 8.20 percent appreciation in home prices.

CaseShiller Home Prices: Not the Whole Story

Analysts caution that while Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports are intended as a tool for real estate investors, they may not reflect all factors impacting U.S. housing markets. An analysis published in May by Trulia indicated that only 38 percent of U.S, homes have recovered their post-recession values. Some analysts say that methodology used for calculating the Case-Shiller home price index readings does not reflect individual or local factors impacting home prices.

In an unrelated report, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices for properties with mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were up 6.50 percent from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017.

FHFA reported that the District of Columbia and all 50 states posted higher home price gains for the period between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017. The top three year-over-year home price gains were held by Washington, D.C at 11.60 percent; the state of Washington held second place with a gain of 11.50 percent and Hawaii and Arizona tied for third place with year-over-year home price gains of 10.00 percent.

FHFA reported home price growth in all 100 areas it tracks and said that the Seattle, Washington region held the highest year-over-year growth rate of 14.60 percent.

Graduating With Student Loan Debt and Worried About Your Mortgage Prospects? You’re Not Alone

Graduating With Student Loan Debt and Worried About Your Mortgage Prospects? You're Not AloneDid you recently graduate from college or university? If so, you may still be dealing with a financial hangover in the form of student loan debt. The vast majority of today’s students have to borrow to invest in their education, which can affect financial plans once school is finished. In today’s post, we will explore buying a home with a mortgage when still dealing with outstanding student loan debt.

Your Situation Is Common, But Unique To You

First, try to keep in mind that you are not alone. Many former students are moving on with life, working hard to build a career and a life while juggling past student loans. However, your situation is unique, and thus, you need to plan it that way. For example, are you single or married? Are you in a stable career or are you potentially shifting jobs? Do you have children or are you planning to in the near future? Your financial needs are unique and need to be prepared and budgeted accordingly.

Understand Your DTI Ratio

Have you heard of the debt-to-income or ‘DTI’ ratio? When you take out a mortgage to buy a home, this ratio is one factor in determining how much you can borrow. In essence, it is a ratio of your monthly debt payments versus your monthly income. As you are paying off student loan debt, that will increase your DTI ratio. Adding a mortgage, car or other monthly payments on here will as well. You will want to ensure that you maintain a healthy debt-to-income ratio or it can be challenging to stay solvent.

Balancing Your Mortgage With Your Other Loans

You may have heard this saying: “life happens.” It is rare that anyone can spend years with everything going according to plan. If you run into a temporary health or job-related issue, you may need to do some juggling to keep your mortgage and other payments fully managed. For this reason, it is worth trying to save at least a few months of your monthly expenses in a ‘rainy day’ fund. Just in case of an emergency.

Challenging, But Not Impossible

Balancing a monthly mortgage payment with student loan repayment can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you would like to learn more about mortgage products that are perfect for recent graduates, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share how we have helped others with student loans realize their dream of homeownership.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 27, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included readings on pre-owned home sales, weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims and consumer sentiment. The weekly news cycle was shorter due to the Thanksgiving holidays on Thursday and Friday.

Sales of PreviouslyOwned Homes Jump in October

Sales of previously owned homes grew by 1.20 percent in October as compared to September’s reading of 0.10 percent growth month-to-month and indicated a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million sales. October home sales increased as inventories of available homes declined. There was a 3.90 months supply of homes in October as compared to a 4.40 months supply of available homes in September. Real estate pros typically consider a six-month supply of homes a healthy balance between homes available and potential home buyers.

Analysts said that October’s inventory of homes for sale was the second lowest on record from 1999 to present. The National Association of Realtors®, which produces the Existing Home Sales report, said that sales to date were 4.60 percent higher year-to-date.

All regions tracked by the National Association of Realtors® reported increased sales of previously owned homes. The Northeast posted a 4.20 percent gain; the Midwest posted a gain of 0.80 percent and the South posted a gain of 1.90 percent. The West posted the highest gain in pre-owned home sales with 2.40 percent growth rate.

Analysts expect sales of pre-owned homes to rise by 3.70 percent in 2018; proposed revisions to tax laws could sideline home buyers if homeownership is “dis-incentivized” by tax reforms.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for average mortgage rates. The rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell three basis points to 3.92 percent. Average rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages each rose by one basis point to 3.32 percent and 3.22 percent respectively. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower last week with 239,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 240.000 new claims as compared to the prior week’s reading of 252,000 new claims.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell from an index reading of 100.7 in October to 98.5 in November.  This was the second highest reading in thirteen years. Consumer sentiment remains high despite headwinds including potential tax reform.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include reports on new and pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and inflation will be released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 Questions

Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 QuestionsHave you been dreaming about a larger, roomier or more luxurious living space? Or perhaps just want to experience the joy of owning your own home and building your net worth instead of renting? Let’s explore a few questions that can help to answer whether or not you’re ready for a new lifestyle as a homeowner.

Can You Realistically Afford To Buy A Home?

The first consideration to make is a financial one: can you afford it? Buying in a home is a significant financial investment. In most cases you’ll need to manage monthly mortgage payments for many years. The good news: owning a home is a more affordable than you might think. If you’re already a stable renter then you’re most of the way there.

Do You Have Your Down Payment Saved Up?

If you’re confident that monthly payments are no problem, then the next step is saving up enough to cover your down payment. This is a lump-sum investment that you make when you buy the home. Typically your down payment is around 20 percent of the home’s cost, but there are assistance programs which can reduce this further.

Do You Know What Type Of Home You Need?

Once you’ve cleared all of the financial hurdles, you will next need to decide exactly what kind of home you need. If you’re a single young professional, a condo or apartment might be the perfect starter home from which you can upgrade later. Or you might prefer something more rural which comes with more yard space, perfect for pets.

Are You Ready To Set Down Some Roots?

Finally, it’s worth taking some time to decide whether or not you’re ready to emotionally and physically invest in your local community. Is your career stable enough that you won’t be moving for at least a few years? What about that of your partner or spouse? If you don’t already, do you envision having children in the future? All of these are considerations that will help you choose the right neighborhood.

When you are ready, our professional mortgage team is here to help you finance the home of your dreams.

Four Pieces of Mortgage ‘Advice’ That You Should Take With the Proverbial Grain of Salt

Four Pieces of Mortgage 'Advice' That You Should Take With the Proverbial Grain of SaltAre you in the market for a new home? If you have been talking to friends and family or researching online, you have likely come across quite a bit of mortgage-related advice. As with anything, there is low-quality advice out there which is essential to avoid. In today’s blog post we will share four pieces of mortgage-related advice that you should take with the proverbial ‘grain of salt.’

#1: Only Get A Mortgage From Your Bank

Have you heard that you should only get a mortgage from the major bank that you use regularly? Many people believe that working with a large bank that you have a history with provides advantages, but this is not always the case. The right advice here is to seek out a mortgage lender offering products that fit your current and future financial needs.

#2: Always Take The Lowest Interest Rate

The next piece of advice you might hear is to always take the mortgage product with the lowest interest rate. As you may know, rates vary based on a wide range of factors. Taking the lowest rate might mean that you miss out on some favorable mortgage terms. It is best to trust your mortgage professional to provide you with some options here.

Don’t forget that, over time, you will be able to refinance your mortgage if rates move in a way that is advantageous for you. So you can feel safe in choosing the right mortgage now and adjust later.

#3: Always Borrow As Much As You Can

Another questionable piece of mortgage advice is to always borrow as much as you possibly can. Keep in mind that a mortgage is a loan and that you are required to pay it back. The amount you borrow should be in line with your needs and financial goals.

#4: Don’t Bother With A Pre-Approval

Finally, you may have heard it suggested that you can avoid the mortgage pre-approval process. While it is possible, this is not a good idea. Many home sellers will require proof of your pre-approval before they will commit to selling their home. If there are other buyers trying to bid on that home, they are more likely to win the bid if they can prove their finances are in order. When you are ready to buy, a pre-approval can help.

These are just a few of the many bad pieces of mortgage advice that you might hear in conversation or read online. When you are ready to discuss your mortgage options with the experts, give our professional team a call. We would be happy to share our insight and experience to help you choose the best mortgage.

3 Ways That a Reverse Mortgage Can Transform Your Retirement

3 Ways That a Reverse Mortgage Can Transform Your RetirementAre you a retired individual looking for ways to increase your financial security? If so, you may have heard of a home equity conversion mortgage, more commonly known as a reverse mortgage. Used correctly, this is one of the most effective financial products for retirees who own their home.

Let’s explore three ways that a reverse mortgage can help to transform a dull retirement into one filled with excitement.

It’s All About Flexibility

The primary benefit that one receives with a reverse mortgage is financial flexibility. It is an excellent way to tap into the equity that has built up in your home over time without having to sell the house and move out. Moreover, unlike a traditional home loan, the payment terms are far more flexible. In many cases, payments are not required until you are ready to leave the home permanently.

An Extra Source Of Income

Is your lifestyle starting to suffer because you do not have a regular salary coming in for you and your partner? Regardless of how much you have saved in 401-k and other retirement accounts, losing that regular monthly income can be depressing.

The good news: a reverse mortgage can help to change that. The funds you receive can be used however you want. You can invest in renovations for your home, take a nice vacation, invest in the stock market or simply leave it in your bank account. It is a helpful ‘bridge’ income source that will ensure that you have no trouble taking care of life’s many expenses.

A Contingency Fund, Just ‘In Case’

Finally, a reverse mortgage can be an excellent contingency fund. If you take this out as a line of credit, the money will be available if and when they are needed. Many retired individuals lack a financial ‘safety net’ and end up suffering due to unexpected health or other costs. With a reverse mortgage, you can sleep soundly knowing that emergency cash is there if needed.

As you can see, taking advantage of a reverse mortgage can be the catalyst that helps take your retirement to the next level. To learn more about these unique financial products, contact our professional mortgage team today. We are happy to share how a reverse mortgage can benefit you and your family.

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.