What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 25th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Federal Reserve Federal Open Market Committee and a press conference by Fed Chair Jerome Powell.

Sales of pre-owned homes in February were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Unchanged Despite Headwinds

Home builders remained confident about housing market conditions in March. The NAHB Housing Market Index posted a reading of 62, which matched February’s reading and fell one point short of expectations. NAHB Index readings above 50 represent a positive outlook on housing market conditions.

Home builders continued to face obstacles including high materials costs and lack of buildable lots and labor. Analysts said builders focused on building larger homes, which were not affordable for many prospective buyers.

FOMC: Fed Puts Brakes on Interest Rate Hikes

Monetary policymakers reversed course on raising the target range for federal funds and voted not to raise the current rate range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. FOMC members cited global economic concerns including Brexit and wavering economic conditions in China.

While the U.S. Labor sector was strong with ongoing jobs and wage growth and low national unemployment, FOMC members said that the Fed could be “patient” about raising rates and did not expect to raise rates in 2019. Slowing economic growth and inflation were reasons for holding interest rates steady.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell described the current economy as “good” and said that the Fed would gradually roll back its accommodative purchase of treasury bonds. This news was likely to cause yields on 10-year Treasury notes to fall; this would cause mortgage rates to fall due to their connection with 10-year Treasury notes.

Pre-Owned Home Sales Hit 11 Month High in February

The National Association of Realtors® reported 5.50 million sales of pre-owned homes on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. February sales reading fell short of 5.12 million sales expected but were higher than the rate of 4.93 million sales in January.

February’s reading was 11.80 percent higher than January’s sales. The sales pace was 1.80 percent lower year-over-year, but the median sale price of preowned homes was $249,500., which was 3.60 percent higher year-over-year.

First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales; this falls short of the typical 40 percent participation rate for first-time buyers. Affordability and strict mortgage qualification requirements continued to challenge first-time and moderate-income buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed rate mortgages. 30-year fixed mortgage rates were three basis points lower and averaged 4.28 percent; Mortgage rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.71 percent and were five basis points lower on average. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 221,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 225,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on housing starts and building permits issued, new and pending home sales and inflation. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

14 Remodeling Projects That Increase the Value of Your Home

14 Remodeling Projects That Increase the Value of Your HomeYour home is likely your largest investment. Beyond repairs and regular maintenance to keep it clean, comfortable, and safe, there are a number of projects that can increase the resale value of your property. These renovations top the list of changes you can make that positively impact your home’s value.

Kitchen

With the right strategy, your kitchen remodel could return up to 92.9% of your construction investment. The trick is to not overdo it. You don’t need to gut and rebuild the entire room. Instead, make strategic upgrades that increase the comfort and usability of the room.

  • Paint wooden cabinets or install new doors and fixtures.
  • Install track lighting or LED features.
  • Refresh or change countertops.
  • Refurbish flooring and spruce up walls with warm, neutral colors that are easy to clean.

Invest in new appliances right before you put your home on the market to catch the eye of potential buyers and pull them in.

Odd Spaces

Older homes with distinctive architecture stand out from the crowd of cookie-cutter residences. However, these unique buildings often hide a lot of unused space. Make the most of every inch of your home to entice buyers to place a bid.

  • Convert a basement into a bonus room.
  • Turn the space underneath a staircase into a storage closet.
  • Divide oversized dining rooms to create a small home office.

Most buyers aren’t looking for a long-term project. Instead of pointing out the potential of your property, make it easy to see by getting creative with odd spaces.

Increase Energy Efficiency

The average monthly utility bill can easily cost a homeowner $200 per month. Help potential buyers lower their monthly costs by installing energy-efficient options throughout the home.

  • Install a solar water heater.
  • Change the windows to more energy-efficient models.
  • Add extra insulation to outer rooms and around doors and windows.
  • Use LED lighting outdoors and throughout the home.

You may be able to get some help paying for your earth-friendly upgrades with state and federal incentives.

Bathrooms

After the kitchen, bathrooms are the most scrutinized feature of homes for sale. Once again, a little goes a long way in these rooms.

  • Update fixtures with shiny metals for a modern look.
  • Change out the toilet seat.
  • Fix up the shower tiles and head.

These projects don’t take a lot of time. However, they can offer a big payoff when you decide to sell your home.

If you are looking for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

4 Ways To Get Your Home Loan Closed Faster

4 Ways To Get Your Home Loan Closed FasterYou’ve finally found the perfect home for your family. Now the only thing standing between you and domestic bliss is the loan process. Use these techniques to shorten the amount of time between placing your bid and getting the final approval on your new home mortgage.

Perfect Your Credit Rating

Your credit score is a measure of your financial responsibility. Lenders look closely at your creditworthiness in their attempt to decide your loan’s risk. Before you start shopping, take some time to clean up your credit history.

Some credit habits that help shorten your loan approval period include:

  • At least one year of on-time payments for utilities, loans, and other regular obligations.
  • A low debt-to-income ratio.
  • A credit utilization rate of 20% or less.

Lenders spend less time researching your financial history when your credit report is clear, which means you spend less time waiting to move in.

Practice Patience

Driven by the excitement of their new home purchase, many buyers spend the closing period investing in new furniture and appliances for their potential home. However, it’s better to wait until the final paperwork goes through before committing to new lines of credit.

Even after applications are filed, lenders still monitor your credit usage. Suddenly spending large amounts of money can cause red flags that delay your loan processing. Practice a little restraint and wait until you’re sure the process is complete before indulging in a spending spree.

Stabilize Yourself

Your ability to repay is a big part of your creditworthiness. A long and solid work history is your best ally in the fight for quality loan products. Establish at least one year of solid work history before starting the loan application process. Hold off on any career changes until you’re comfortably moved into your new residence.

Open The Lines Of Communication

Stay in touch with your trusted home mortgage professional to ensure a smooth loan process. If you move or change your phone number, be sure to update your information right away. While most institutions are very professional about keeping loan applicants updated, don’t be afraid to call and ask about the status of your account. If you feel you haven’t heard back in a timely manner, send a short email or leave a voicemail to ensure you haven’t missed any important requests.

These tips help you spend less time waiting and more time enjoying your new home purchase.

NAHB: Housing Market Index Flat in March

NAHB Housing Market Index Flat in MarchBuilder sentiment held steady in March as headwinds in housing markets affected homebuilder confidence, but National Association of Home Builders Chairman Greg Ugalde said that builders were looking forward to a “solid spring home-buying season.” Builder sentiment mirrored February’s index reading of 62; analysts expected an uptick to 63.

Any Housing Market Index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have a positive outlook on housing market conditions. The average reading for 2018 was 67, which indicated that builders were less confident current market conditions for new homes than in 2018.

HMI Component Readings Mixed in March

Three sub-readings used to calculate the monthly Housing Market Index reading showed builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to 68; Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose three points to 71 and homebuilder confidence in buyer traffic dipped four points to 44. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed the benchmark reading of 50.

The National Association of Home Builders said in a statement that housing markets are “stabilizing,” but did not say that housing markets were growing. Economists and housing market analysts rely on the Housing Market Index for clues about future housing production. Demand for new homes has been strong for years, but headwinds including tariffs on building materials and labor shortages continued to impact construction rates. More new homes on the market could ease pent-up demand for homes, but rapidly rising home prices are making home ownership less feasible for first-time and moderate-income home-buyers.

Imbalance Between New Homes Built and Consumer Needs

Analysts called out a problematic trend in meeting demands for new homes. Price points are frequently beyond affordable for most buyers, and new housing developments often trend toward larger homes with higher prices. Analysts said that from 2010 to 2017, the average size of new homes increased by 300 square feet while household size decreased over the same period. Lower mortgage rates benefit homebuyers concerned over affordable house payments, but strict mortgage qualification requirements limit the number of potential home buyers that can qualify for mortgage amounts needed to buy homes.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First Home

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your First HomeHunting for your new home can be a confusing process. There are countless factors you need to take into account to ensure your new location fits your family’s lifestyle and preferences. In their excitement, first-time home buyers can easily overlook some essential points about their potential property.

When you’re searching for your new residence, ask these questions to get exactly what you’re looking for.

Am I Financially Ready For A New Home Purchase?

It takes more than money to find the right home. Your credit rating is an important factor in your ability to secure enough funding to finance your dream. Check out your credit score before you buy to make sure you won’t have to settle for less.

Some of the things you have the greatest control over include:

  • Payment history
  • Credit utilization ratio
  • Debt-to-income ratio

Even with a large down payment, having a questionable credit history can endanger your chances of qualifying for mortgage loans. Spend some time shining up your credit report for the best results. Getting a pre-approved home loan is a great way to find out how much house you can afford before you start shopping.

Is This The Right Neighborhood For Me?

No matter how beautiful the structure itself is, your house won’t seem like a home unless you’re comfortable with the surrounding neighborhood. Take a walk around your potential block to assess the area and compare it to your needs.

  • For families with children, are there high-quality schools in the area?
  • Do your neighbors’ homes seem well-kept?
  • What amenities (dry cleaner, grocery stores, parks, etc) do you want in your community?
  • How do the roads and sidewalks look?

Before committing to a purchase, visit the home at different times of the day to get an idea of what you might have to live with.

Am I Ready To Settle Down?

Align your home purchase with your future goals. If you know you’re planning to move out-of-state in the next several years, take that into account when shopping for a home. Will you be able to sell quickly enough before you leave? Or do you plan to retain ownership of the home and rent it out while you’re away?

Think about the directions your life might take in the next 5 to 10 years. By looking ahead, you can make a better plan for the best home you can afford which will accommodate you and your family in the years to come.

Buying your first home is a major decision. Knowing your goals, desires, and abilities before agreeing to a purchase a home will make you the most comfortable moving forward.

One of the best partners in your home purchase process will be your trusted mortgage professional. Be sure to make contact as soon as you are considering a new home purchase to start the pre-approval process.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 18th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 18th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings on retail sales, inflation and construction spending. New home sales Consumer sentiment readings were posted along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Retail Sales Increase after Lowest Reading in 10 Years

Retail sales rose by 0.20 percent in January; analysts expected an increase of 0.10 percent based on December’s negative revised reading of -1.60 percent. Home centers and internet retailers led in overall sales; retail sales without the automotive sector were higher with an 0.90 percent increase in January, which exceeded expectations of an 0.40 percent increase.

December had a negative reading of –2.10 percent. Auto dealers had fewer sales to car rental firms and other business customers; the reading for retail sales excluding automotive sales rose 0.90 percent as compared to expectations of 0.40 percent more sales and December’s reading.

Inflation rose 0.20 percent in February, which matched expectations after a flat reading in January. Core inflation, which excludes readings for volatile food and fuel sectors, rose 0.10 percent, which fell short of 0.20 percent in January.

Construction Spending Rises as New Home Sales Fall

Commerce Department readings for construction spending rose 1.30 percent in January as compared to December’s negative reading of -0.80 percent. The end of the government shutdown likely helped return construction spending return to positive territory, but real estate and mortgage pros said that building more homes is the only solution to persistent shortages coupled with high demand for homes by would-be buyers.

Slim inventories and home prices rising in excess of wages and inflation are factors contributing to fewer eligible buyers. New home sales fell in January, which is not unusual for winter sales. 607,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in January; 652,000 new home sales were reported in December, but analysts expected a lower reading of 616,000 sales for January.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week with rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaging ten basis points lower at 4.31 percent. !5-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.76 percent after falling seven basis points. 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.84 percent and were three basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims rose to 239,000 new claims last week; 223,000 claims were filed the prior week and analysts expected 225,000 new claims. Last week’s first-time jobless claims were the highest in ten years, but analysts said that layoffs haven’t risen significantly, which signals healthy labor markets.

The University of Michigan reported higher consumer confidence in March with an index reading of 97.80. The expected reading was 95.0 based on February’s index reading of 93.80. Increased consumer confidence in economic conditions suggests that more families will enter the housing market. Analysts said rising consumer confidence resulted from the resolution of the government shutdown.

What’s Ahead

Economic readings scheduled this week include reports on homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions, sales of pre-owned homes and Commerce departments on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Reserve’s scheduled announcement will be followed by Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be issued.

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should Know

5 Financial Terms Every Real Estate Investor Should KnowThe success of your real estate ventures depends on your ability to navigate the financial world. Learn these terms to make it easier to understand what’s going on with your real estate investments.

Cash Flow

Contrary to popular belief, cash flow isn’t just the amount of liquid assets you have available. Your cash and unused lines of credit are an essential indicator of your ability to complete projects and pay the cost of ongoing operations. However, these factors don’t tell the whole financial story.

Your actual cash flow is the difference between your gross income and your financial obligations. You can have a large cash reserve but still have a negative cash flow if you aren’t making enough to cover your obligations.

Gross Yield

When evaluating potential properties, it’s helpful to understand the gross yield. To calculate gross yield, divide the annual income you expect the property to produce by the property’s price. This number comes in handy for comparing properties and narrowing down your options.

Amortization

Lending institutions offer a variety of loan structures to fit your goals and financial standing. An amortized loan features a set amount of interest. This amount is integrated into each monthly payment. That means that borrowers are paying on the loan’s principal and paying down their interest liabilities from the very first payment.

Amortization is an excellent way to quickly build equity. This enables real estate investors to use existing properties to fund other projects without having to sell off their holdings.

Carrying Costs

Flippers and other short-term real estate investors need to keep a close eye on their carrying costs. These are all the expenses incurred after the initial purchase and before the property is sold for profit. Carrying costs include mortgage and interest payments, utility bills, taxes, and insurance.

The best way to limit carrying costs is to flip your property as quickly as possible. However, sudden changes in the market, illness, and other unexpected factors can prolong your need to make monthly payments. In this event, investors should carefully monitor their cash flow to ensure they don’t end up losing their entire investment.

Double Close

Wholesale home buyers often already have an exit strategy before signing on new properties. In this case, a double closing allows the wholesaler to purchase the property and sell it to a new buyer in a single transaction. This is also sometimes called a back-to-back closing.

Knowing these terms will make it easier for you to manage the financial details of your real estate investments as well as partnering with a trusted and skilled home mortgage professional. 

What Makes Up A PITI Mortgage Payment?

What Makes Up A PITI Mortgage PaymentMany mortgage payments are made up of four parts, called PITI. PITI is an acronym that stands for principal, interest, tax, and insurance. It’s important to understand PITI because it is the real number you need to use in order to find out how much mortgage you can afford to pay each month.

One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make is using only the principal plus interest figure to calculate how much they’ll be paying every month for their mortgage. Then, when the lender comes back and denies them, the prospective buyer is confused. Knowing and understanding PITI will put you back in the driver’s seat with your home buying goal.

Principal

The principal part of your mortgage payment represents the amount of money that you borrow over the terms of the loan. For instance, if you borrow $100,000 and you have 20 years to pay them back, the principal that you’ll pay each month equals $100,000 divided by 20.

Interest

The interest portion of your mortgage payment is the percentage rate that your lender is charging you to borrow from them. Another way of looking at the interest is to think of it as the cost of borrowing money. Interest will be spread out over the length of the loan, just like the principal payment.

Tax

The tax portion of your monthly mortgage payment pays for real estate and/or property taxes. Real estate taxes are assessed by the local government where the properties located. The tax rate is determined by the government and is not influenced by your personal credit score.

Insurance

The insurance part of your monthly mortgage payment pays for homeowner’s insurance and/or private mortgage insurance. If you put less than 20% down on your home purchase, you’re required to have private mortgage insurance. This amount can add considerably to your monthly mortgage payment, so it’s worth it to try to hit that 20% threshold.

Otherwise, you have to wait until your loan to value ratio is 80/20. After that, you can request to drop the private mortgage insurance, but the homeowner’s insurance will still be part of your monthly payment.

Now that you understand what makes up a PITI mortgage payment, you’ll be better prepared to plan for your monthly budget that includes a mortgage payment.

Whether you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to learn about your current financing options.

 

 

 

6 Ways to Fight Foreclosure

6 Ways to Fight ForeclosureSometimes, things don’t go as planned. Despite the best intentions, there are times when it’s impossible for homeowners to fulfill their mortgage obligations. When your misfortune turns into a foreclosure notice, these tips will help you control the situation and realize the best outcome.

Work With Your Lender

Open the lines of communication with your lender to stall the foreclosure process.

  • Call your lender and explain your predicament. Give them specific details about the nature and estimated length of your circumstances. Many lenders are willing to temporarily modify payment terms to temporarily accommodate certain hardships.
  • Apply for a loan modification. If your credit rating has improved or market values have shifted in your area, it’s possible to negotiate friendlier terms that lower your monthly payments.
  • A forbearance allows you to pause or drastically reduce your mortgage payments for a short period. However, you’ll have to pay everything owed in a lump sum or via larger monthly installments.

It is in your lender’s best interest to keep you in your home. Contact them early to avoid unnecessary issues.

Take Legal Action

Keep the law on your side to ensure you have the best chance at keeping your home.

  • If you believe your foreclosure is unlawful or in error, you will have the chance to present your case in court. Respond in writing to the official foreclosure complaint as soon you receive it. This eliminates quick default judgments.
  • Talk to a lawyer about your case. Even if you can’t afford to retain one for the trial, invest in a short sit-down session with a knowledgeable legal representative to get the facts straight and ensure you’re ready to present your defense.
  • Personal bankruptcy is a final strategy for saving your home. Most chapter 7 and 13 filings allow you to keep your primary residence while reorganizing your debt.

Foreclosure is less of a threat when you understand the laws and procedures that govern the process. Educate yourself on your legal options.

A temporary setback doesn’t have to ruin your entire life. With these tips, you won’t have to lose your dream to foreclosure.

Contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

Is Now a Good Time to Cash Out Your Home Equity?

Is Now a Good Time to Cash Out Your Home EquityFor many Americans, their home is their primary investment. The equity stored in your residence can be a source of available cash for home repairs, upgrades, or for financing the purchase of investment properties. However, few homeowners really understand the process that results in home equity. 

What Is Home Equity?

Your monthly mortgage payment goes towards two different amounts. The first is the interest that you pay for the loan. The other is your principal payment or the amount that counts against the initial amount that you borrowed for the purchase. Depending on the details of your loan contract, each payment is generally split between these two types of charges.

Over time the amount that you’ve paid towards the loan’s principal grows your equity position. With each payment, your equity grows as well. Once enough equity is accrued, many lenders allow homeowners to access those funds via an equity line of credit, home equity loan or a cash-out refinance. 

You’ll have to pay interest on any monies you withdraw from the second mortgage or higher loan amount upon your refinance. With home equity lines, however, these loans only charge interest on the money that you actually use. You can secure a home equity line of credit for a certain amount and not be liable for a penny in interest until your first withdrawal.

How Can You Calculate Potential Equity?

There are 4 main factors to consider when calculating your home’s equity.

  • Home value.
  • Monthly mortgage payments.
  • Down payment.
  • Any liens or additional mortgages on the property.

Imagine your home is currently valued at $300,000. With cash down payment of 20%, your home’s starting equity is equal to your initial $60,000 payment. Each payment slowly increases your equity until you have full financial ownership of your home.

Talk to your lender to understand how interest in applied to each payment. For fixed rate loans, you can easily figure out how much of your mortgage payments are immediately applied to the loan’s principal. An easy way to see this equity build up on a monthly basis is to reference an amortization schedule. Your lender should be able to provide this for you at no charge.

For property owners with liens and additional mortgages, add the value of those items to what’s still due on your primary mortgage loan before completing the calculations.

Home equity is a flexible financial tool that you can use to improve your property, expand your business, or treat yourself to something special. Plan carefully to get the most out of your home equity line of credit.

If you are interested in a refinance or a home equity loan, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.