A Few Simple Ways To Upgrade The Kitchen Pantry

A Few Simple Ways To Upgrade The Kitchen PantryDuring the past few months, people have been spending much more time at home than usual. Therefore, many people are looking for ways to upgrade their homes. A common area of focus is the kitchen.

Even though many people are thinking about upgrading cabinets and countertops, the kitchen pantry should also be a target for home improvement. There are a few simple ways that everyone can improve their kitchen pantry. 

Use Vertical Storage

One of the top tips for everyone to follow is to use vertical storage capacity. It is a smart idea for everyone to build in a few extra storage areas by thinking about under-shelf baskets. These baskets can help people instantly create space for various items and ingredients. Furthermore, think about using the insides of cabinet doors to create some extra shelves, walls, or baskets. This can significantly add to the storage space of a pantry.

Think About Specific Needs For The Pantry

When looking at a kitchen pantry, it is a great idea for everyone to think carefully about specific needs they might have. Consider what items need to be stored in the pantry. Then, shop for the right items. For example, many people like to store wine bottles in the pantry. These are awkwardly shaped items that might not fit on typical shelves. Therefore, thinking about a wine rack that will fit in the pantry is a great way to create some extra, specific storage.

Relocate Bulk Items Somewhere Else

Too often, people end up trying to store bulk items in the pantry. While it is true that shopping in bulk is incredibly cost-efficient, bulk items can also take up valuable space in the kitchen pantry in the blink of an eye. Think about finding alternative locations for paper goods, canned items, and other large, non-perishable items. This will instantly open up some more storage space in the pantry.

Upgrade Storage In The Kitchen Pantry

Upgrading the kitchen does not always have to be expensive. There are simple ways that everyone can create extra storage space in their kitchen pantry by simply moving some other items around. Consider adding storage baskets to the kitchen pantry to create some new storage space.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 9, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 9 , 2020Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending, the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee statement, and a press conference by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell. Labor data on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

Residential Developments Lead September Construction Spending

High demand for homes continued to fuel home construction, but public and non-residential construction spending was slower according to the Commerce Department. Residential construction spending rose by 2.70 percent on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis while public construction spending decreased by -1.70 percent and non-residential construction spending dropped by -1.60 percent.

Changing priorities for home buyers including accommodations for work-from-home spaces and moving away from congested urban areas drove demand for  single-family homes. Commercial and public construction was sidelined as concerns over municipal spending and less revenue sidelined business and public construction spending. A new wave of COVID-19 cases also dampened commercial and public construction plans.

FOMC Statement and Fed Chair’s Press Conference

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve said it would leave the target Federal Funds range unchanged at 0.00 to 0.25 percent to promote access to business and personal credit. Factors contributing to the Committee’s decision included observations that demand for goods and services decreased and lower oil prices held down inflation. Committee members expected the spread of COVID-19 to impact the economy, employment, and inflation in the near term. The virus is expected to pose serious risks to economic forecasts over the medium term.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the economy continued to recover from its low in the second quarter, but the pace of economic improvement has since slowed. Travel and hospitality sectors were hard-hit due to requirements for social distancing and wearing masks; Chair Powell emphasized that following public health guidelines was the only way that the COVID-19 virus could be controlled.

Mortgage Rates Mixed as Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported mixed movement for average mortgage rates with rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages three basis points lower at 2.78 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.32 percent and were unchanged. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.89 percent and were one basis point higher. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and averaged 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims fell to 751,000 last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 758,000 first-time claims filed. Continuing jobless claims were also lower last week with 7.38 million continuing claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 7.81 million ongoing claims filed.

Public and Private  Sector Job Growth Slows in October

ADP reported 365,000 private-sector jobs added in October as compared to 753,000 jobs added in September. The Commerce Department reported 638,000 public and private sector jobs added in October as compared to the prior month’s reading of 672,000 public and private sector jobs added. The National Unemployment rate was also lower at 6.90 percent, which was lower than the expected reading of 7.60 percent and the previous month’s reading of 7.90 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly updates on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

Save Money on Your Home Energy Costs This Winter in Just Three Easy Steps

Save Money on Your Home Energy Costs This Winter in Just Three Easy Steps It doesn’t matter if you heat your home with electricity, natural gas or some other energy source; prices continue to rise and that means increased heating costs for most of us.

In today’s blog post we’ll share three easy ways that you can save money on your home energy costs this winter.

Install and Use Programmable Thermostats

Now that Nest and other companies have brought Wi-Fi enabled, programmable thermostats on the market there’s very few excuses to avoid using them. At bare minimum you’ll want a digital thermostat that can be programmed to turn on and off at certain hours of the day.

For example, you can shut your heat off after leaving for work and have it turn back on again a half-hour or so before you get home. You can do the same at night when you’re fast asleep under warm blankets. If possible, try to get a thermostat for each room so that rooms can be heated individually as needed.

Switch Up Your Ceiling Fans

If you have ceiling fans you may not know that by reversing their direction you can keep your rooms feeling much warmer. In the winter you’ll want your fans spinning in a clockwise direction, which will push warm air downward into the room where you’ll be able to feel it. In the summer you’ll want to switch the fans back to counter-clockwise as this will help move warm air towards the ceiling.

Check Your Insulation, Furnace and Ducts Now

Finally, you’ll want to check that your home heating system is operating at peak efficiency. If you can access your attic, check to ensure that your insulation is tightly packed and that it’s still in good condition. Clean or replace the air filter on your furnace, and check your ducts for any leaks that need to be repaired. If it has been a few years, consider having a professional furnace and duct cleaning to get all of the dust and debris out of the ductwork.

As you can see, a little time spent on home maintenance can end up saving quite a bit in energy costs when the temperatures drop. When you’re ready to look at buying a newer, more energy-efficient home, contact your local real estate agent and book a consultation where you can share your needs and price range.

The Ultimate Payoff: Getting Debt Free Before Retirement

The Ultimate Payoff: Getting Debt Free Before Retirement

For many people, reaching retirement is something to look forward to. At the same time, too many people still have a lot of debt by the time they retire. In order for people to really take advantage of everything that retirement has to offer, they should try to find a way to pay off all of their debt before they retire. In order to make sure this happens, there are a few tips that everyone has to keep in mind.

Try To Keep Housing Costs Low

First, it is important for everyone to try to keep their housing costs as low as possible. Housing is one of the major sources of debt that people have when they retire. This could come in the form of a mortgage that has been stretched out for a longer period of time in order to send kids to college.

At the same time, as people start to approach retirement, they should try to attack this debt as much as possible. Remember that cash is king. Paying off a mortgage before retirement can really help people improve their quality of life on the other side of retirement.

Pay Down Credit Card Debt

Ideally, individuals are able to pay their credit card bills in full every month. Yes, it is great to take out credit cards because of the rewards that they provide and the positive credit history this can create. At the same time, if individuals end up carrying a lot of credit card debt, this can end up hurting them in the long run. In addition to damaging someone’s credit score, this can also take money away from retirement. Therefore, it is important for everyone to try to pay down their credit card debt as quickly as possible. That way, they do not have to worry about this when they retire and have more money they can spend every month.

Get Ready To Retire Debt Free

By following these tips, everyone is able to enjoy their retirement just a little bit more. By trying to find ways to retire without any debt, everyone is able to set themselves up for success. That way, they will be ready to take advantage of everything that retirement has to offer.

 

A Guide To Understanding Mortgages And Marriage Agreement Settlements

A Guide To Understanding Mortgages And Marriage Agreement SettlementsWhen people end up taking out a mortgage, there is a lot they need to consider. This includes the size of the down payment, the term of the loan, and the interest rate. At the same time, there are a few issues that could complicate the way a mortgage is paid off.

Nobody enters into a marriage planning on divorce; however, if this does take place, it is critical to think about how a marriage settlement agreement is going to impact the mortgage. There are a few important to keep in mind. 

Refinancing The Mortgage After The Marriage Settlement Agreement

When looking at the assets that the couple shares, it is important to think about not only assets but debt as well. One of the largest sources of debt is going to be the mortgage. Obviously, it is impossible to split the house down the middle. Therefore, it is important to think about how the mortgage itself is going to be divided.

When dividing a house following a divorce, the equity should be considered an asset and the mortgage should be considered debt. Then, when the settlement agreement is finalized, the best practice is to ask a spouse who is retaining ownership of the home to refinance the loan and just his or her name. This will eliminate the liability of the other spouse and remove his or her responsibility for paying off the mortgage. This is the fair and equitable way to divide a house following a divorce.

Include the Mortgage Among the Other Assets

It is important for everyone to think about how the mortgage is going to impact other assets as well. Some of the other factors that will have to be addressed during a divorce include alimony payments, child support, credit cards, financial accounts, and other types of property. When looking at the grand scheme of things, it is likely that the house is going to be the largest asset. Therefore, it might be helpful for couples to start with the house first and then worry about the smaller issues later. That way, this will streamline the divorce process and ensure that everyone ends up with a fair and equitable divorce settlement.

 

How To Negotiate A Better Mortgage Rate

How To Negotiate A Better Mortgage RateFor those who are thinking about buying a house in the near future, they want to make sure that they get the best mortgage rate possible. At the same time, if people who want to reduce the interest rate on their mortgage, then they need to do everything you can to make yourself as attractive as possible to lenders. When they are negotiating for a better rate on your mortgage, they need to keep a few important points in mind.

Make A Larger Down Payment

If people want the lender to reduce the interest rate on your mortgage, then borrowers need to think about making a larger down payment. By doing everything they can to reduce the risk they present to the lender, they will be rewarded with a lower interest rate. If borrowers are willing to put more money down, then that is less money that the bank has to lend out. Therefore, the risk the bank takes on is going to be reduced and borrowers will be rewarded with a lower interest rate. Make a larger down payment to reduce the interest rate on the mortgage.

Improve the Credit Score

Another way that people can reduce the risk that they present to the bank is to improve their credit score. What can borrowers do to make this happen? They can check your credit report first and correct any inaccuracies that might be present. After this, they should take a look at any existing debt they have and try to pay down as much of it as possible. By reducing the amount of debt they owe, the credit score will improve, helping them qualify for a lower interest rate on their mortgage.

Take Advantage Of Discount Points

Those want to reduce the interest rate on your mortgage, could use something called discount points. These are points that the borrower will pay directly to the lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. By providing the lender with more money up front, they can secure a reduced payment over the life of the loan.

Reduce the Interest Rate

These are a few of the fastest ways that people can secure a lower interest rate on their loan. This can save them a tremendous amount of money.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 2, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 2, 2020Last week’s economic reporting included home price data from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices along with readings on pending home sales, new home sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: August Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace in Two Years

Home prices rose at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.70 percent in August according to Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index. U.S. home prices rose by 4.80 percent in July

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed 5.20 percent year-over-year home price growth in August.

Phoenix, Arizona, held first place in home price growth for the 15th consecutive month. Seattle, Washington followed with 8.50 percent year-over-year growth in home prices. San Diego, California reported 7.60 percent year-over-year growth in home prices.

New and Pending Home Sales Fall in September

New homes sold at a pace of 959,000 sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis in September.  Analysts expected a sales pace of 1.033 million sales based on August’s pace of 994,000 sales. Sales fell with the end of the peak home-buying season and may have also slowed due to rising COVID-19 cases. Demand for homes has been high as buyers’ shifting priorities were expected to cause more families to relocate to less congested suburbs. Pending home sales fell by 2.20 percent in September according to the National Association of Realtors®. Signed sales contracts were 20.50 percent higher year over year.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 2.81 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.32 percent and were one basis point higher than for the prior week. Mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also rose by one basis point on average. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims fell last week to 751,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 770,000 new claims filed based on the prior week’s reading of  791,000 new claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims also fell last week with 7.76 million ongoing claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 8.47 million continuing jobless claims filed.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose to an index reading of 81.8 in October as compared to September’s reading of 80.4 and an expected index reading of 81.2.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include a statement and press conference by the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Construction spending data and labor sector readings on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate will also be released along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

How Much Income Should People Spend On A Mortgage?

How Much Income Should People Spend On A Mortgage?When people are looking for a home, this is an exciting process. There is always something fun about looking at potential homes and envisioning a future there. This is a big decision. At the same time, it is just as important for people to think about how much of their money they should be spending on their mortgage. There are a few rules of thumb that people should keep in mind. 

The 28 Percent Rule

One of the most common rules that financial advisors and lenders are going to talk about is going to be the 28 percent rule. This rule states that people should not be spending any more than 28 percent of their pre-tax income on their monthly housing payments. This includes not only the mortgage but also any potential homeowners association fees, real estate taxes, and home insurance payments. Once people figure out how much they can afford on their monthly mortgage payment, they can work backward to see how large of a house they can afford. 

The 36 Percent Rule

The other rule that homebuyers are going to hear is the 36 percent rule. This is a rule that pertains to all debt. Therefore, this rule includes not only the monthly mortgage payments but also any car payments, credit card payments, utilities, and student loans. In general, no more than 36 percent of someone’s pre-tax income should be going toward debt. This is very important for taking out a home loan because it is going to impact someone’s debt to income ratio. If the debt to income ratio is too high, then potential homeowners are going to have a hard time getting a great deal on a mortgage. Furthermore, they could even be denied completely. 

Find The Right House

For those who are looking for a home, this is an exciting time. At the same time, it can also be hard to find the right home when people don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. When potential homeowners understand what their budget is, this process gets much easier. Therefore, everyone needs to think about how big of a monthly mortgage payment they can afford. This will help them make the right decision.

 

The Required Steps For A Smooth Mortgage Refinance Process

The Required Steps For a Smooth Mortgage Refinance ProcessThere are lots of people who have heard that one of the top ways to ensure the best mortgage rate possible is to refinance. At the same time, it is critical to make sure that this process is planned out accordingly.

Therefore, there are a few steps that everyone has to follow to make sure they are able to handle the mortgage refinancing process in a smooth manner that leads to the best rate possible.

Ask If A Refinance Is The Right Step

There are a lot of people who assume that a mortgage refinance is a financial win; however, it is important to keep the added costs in mind. For example, the refinancing process is going to lead to another closing. When this happens, there are going to be closing costs that must be considered.

Therefore, the refinancing process could lead to a higher mortgage payment if the money saved on interest payments is not enough to offset these costs.

Check The Credit Score First

Many people get lured into the refinance process by looking at low mortgage interest rates and assuming they are going to qualify for them; however, this is not always the case. Only the people with the top credit scores are able to qualify for these low rates. Therefore, everyone needs to take a look at their credit score and make sure that their credit report has been cleaned up. This is the only way that people are going to be able to qualify for these low rates.

Talk To A Trained Professional

Finally, many people are going to be going through the refinance process for the first time. It is important to work with a trained professional who can walk everyone through this process, ensuring that they know what they are doing as the process unfolds. This can go a long way toward ensuring that everyone has a successful refinancing experience.

Go Through The Right Steps

Following these steps can maximize everyone’s chances of making sure they end up with a refinance that works for them. By planning out the process ahead of time, everyone can go through the steps they need to make sure that the refinancing process proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Case-Shiller Reports Fastest Home Price Growth in Two Years

Case-Shiller Reports Fastest Home Price Growth in Two YearsHome prices rose at their fastest rate in two years according to Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The National Home Price Index for August showed 5.70 percent home price growth year-over-year as compared to 4.80 percent growth reported in July.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed that home prices rose to a 5.70 percent year-over-year pace from July’s growth rate of 4.10 percent. Phoenix, Arizona held the top home price growth rate for the 15th consecutive month with year-over-year home price growth of 9.90 percent. Seattle, Washington held second place with 8.50 percent growth in home prices. San Diego, California took third place with 7.60 percent year-over-year home price growth.

According to the 20-City Home Price Index, 19 of 20 cities reported growth in home prices. Detroit, MI has not reported home price information in recent months. Analysts said that low mortgage rates, short supplies of available homes, and changing consumer preferences drove home prices higher. The COVID pandemic caused homeowners and buyers to change preferences for home location, square footage, and amenities as working from home, school closures, and avoiding crowded urban areas adjusted family priorities.

Craig Lazzara, global head of index investment strategies for S&P Dow Jones Indices, said “If future reports continue in this vein,[positive index readings], we may be able to conclude that the COVID-related deceleration is far behind us.” It’s also possible that seasonal weather conditions and resurging COVID cases could slow home sales and home price growth.

Federal Housing Finance AgencyReports Highest Home Price Growth Rate Since 2006

August readings reported by FHFA also showed higher home prices. The agency, which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported year-over-year home price growth of 1.50 percent from July to August; home prices for homes mortgaged or owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose by eight percent annually. 

FHFA home price data is tracked nationally by census divisions, states, and metro areas. Information is also available by county and zip code.