Fed’s Open Market Committee Holds Key Rate Steady

Fed’s Open Market Committee Holds Key Rate SteadyThe Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee decided against changing the Fed’s benchmark interest rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent. The Federal Open Market Committee said in its post-meeting statement that it is not considering raising rates until 2023. Two of 17 FOMC members felt that the Fed’s key rate may rise in 2022.

Fed Approves Quantitative Easing Measures

Committee members also stabilized the Federal Reserve’s ongoing purchases of Treasury bills and mortgage-backed securities and said that the Fed would purchase Treasury bills and mortgage-backed securities “at least at the current pace.” The Fed was tapering its purchases before the Coronavirus pandemic.

FOMC members moved to stimulate the economy through quantitative easing. The Fed purchased $20 billion in Treasurys and agreed to purchase up to $22.5 billion in mortgage-backed securities this week. The Fed’s balance sheet was higher than $7 trillion as of June’s FOMC meeting, but former New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley expected the Fed’s balance sheet to reach $10 trillion.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell remained cautious about a quick economic recovery in response to last week’s report of 2.5 million jobs added in May. Mr. Powell noted that it was only one month’s data and that 20 million people remain out of work. Some analysts interpreted Mr. Powell’s comments as pressure on Congress to approve another stimulus package. FOMC members also discussed capping certain Treasury yields, but no decision was made.

Federal Reserve Chair Favors a Cautious Approach to Economic Recovery

Fed Chair Jerome Powell emphasized the Fed’s position of supporting the economy to the extent it is permitted. In his post FOMC meeting press conference, Mr. Powell said the Fed’s goals during the pandemic were to “provide some relief and stability, ensure that the recovery will be as strong as possible and to limit lasting damage to the economy.”

Mr. Powell predicted that the decline in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the current quarter would likely be the most severe to date. He also said that the Coronavirus has not impacted Americans equally as “those least able to shoulder the burden have been the most affected.”

After saying that the extent of the economic downturn and the pace of economic recovery remains extremely uncertain, Mr. Powell indirectly called upon Congress to pass needed funding and provisions to provide additional relief until economic conditions return to normal. He said that the Fed would do “whatever we can, for as long as it takes” to assist in economic recovery.

Buying A Home: You Might Be Able To Skip The Home Appraisal – But Should You?

Buying A Home: You Might Be Able To Skip The Home Appraisal - But Should You?When someone is thinking about buying a home, one of the key parts is the home appraisal. The appraisal ensures that the buyer is paying a fair price for the home while also protecting the mortgage lender against taking a loss.

On the other hand, an appraisal is also an added cost of the buyer can be a serious source of stress for both sellers and brokers.

Recently, government agencies have passed a rule saying that home appraisals are no longer going to be required on homes that are less than $400,000; however, many lenders will still require them.

Therefore, when should someone consider skipping a home appraisal to save some money?

Appraisals And Mortgages

One of the first ways to take a look at the value of a home appraisal is by comparing it to the mortgage. The two go hand in hand. Appraisals are important because they protect not only the seller and buyer but also the lender. The lender wants to make sure they know what the property is worth.

Therefore, an appraisal is more about valuing the property and not about the price of the home.

In addition, lenders make loans based on either the sale price or the appraised value, whichever is lower. Lenders do this to make sure that buyers have invested enough in their own property.

Borrowers And Appraisals

In addition to considering the lender, it is also important to consider the borrower. An appraisal is helpful for the borrower because this prevents someone from overpaying for a property.

Therefore, they act as a form of consumer protection. On the other hand, they also cost the borrower a few hundred dollars. If money is tight, this can be a serious problem and could dull the appeal of a home.

Choosing Between The Two Options

In the end, people should consider skipping the appraisal if it saves them money. Lenders might still require someone to obtain an evaluation as a form of protection. If the buyer is not confident in this evaluation method, then a traditional evaluation might be a better approach.

It is important for people to feel confident in the sale price, regardless of how this happens.

7 Reasons To Buy A Home In The Summer Months

7 Reasons To Buy A Home In The Summer MonthsIf you’ve been putting off your house hunting, it’s time to head out. Summer is the best season to go shopping for a new home, for a variety of reasons. 

1. More Inventory

Homeowners list their homes for sale in the summer more often than any other season. When you shop for a new home during this time, you’ll have a much wider selection of homes to choose from. 

2. Better Prices

More inventory in summer often turns the local real estate scene into a buyer’s market. Home sellers may have to compete with other sellers on the same block or even down the street. This gives buyers a nice position of leverage to possible get a better price on a new home. 

3. More Neighborhood Activity

There’s no better time to get a true sense of the neighborhood than summer. In summer, kids are out playing, homeowners are out tending lawns and friends are gathering for backyard BBQs. These are all activities that can give you an accurate portrayal of the neighborhood culture. Take advantage of summer weekends, too; you’ll find even more neighborhood activity then. 

4. More Visibility

By summer, all the snow, ice and autumn debris has either melted or been cleaned up by homeowners. You’ll have more visibility to view the condition of the roof, siding, deck, lawn, driveway and walkways. Under the cover of snow and ice, you might miss important issues.

5. Evidence Of Any Flooding Problems

Spring rains produce evidence of any flooding issues with water lines along foundation walls. Summer is the best time to go home shopping because this kind of evidence will be fresh and easily identifiable. Flooding isn’t always a reason not to buy a home, but it helps to know what potential issues you could be facing.  

6. More Free Time

Most people have more free time in summer than any other time of year. 

It is more relaxing to go home shopping when you know you aren’t taking valuable time away from work. On your summer vacation, you also don’t have to take unpaid days off to view homes with your real estate agent. 

7. Easier School Transition

When you do go ahead and buy in summer, your kids will have an easier time of transitioning to a new school. Instead of breaking up the school year, your kids can end one grade in one school and start the new year at the new school.

Buying a home in summer just makes good sense. Contact your local real estate agent today so you can hurry and take advantage of the summer real estate market in your area. 

5 Tips For Getting A Job In A New City When You Relocate

5 Tips For Getting A Job In A New City When You RelocateDid you just move into a new city? Transitioning to a new city is hard enough, but when you also need to find a job, it can be even tougher. Since everything is a bit new to you, there are definitely some strategies to implement that will make your job hunting easier. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Let People Know You are Looking For A Job

Everywhere you go, spread the word that you are in the market for a new job. In general, people love to help out other people. Someone you speak with will surely know of a job opening; either where they work or someplace else. 

2. Be Ready With Your Business Card

Once you start having conversations with people about needing a job, they will want to know what you do and how to contact you. Have some attractive business cards printed up with your contact information and area of expertise.

The more of these you can get into circulation, the higher your chances of finding a job sooner rather than later. 

3. Use Your Existing Network

Check back in with your network where you used to live and see if anyone knows someone in your new city. You might be surprised to find out how vast a network of connections can be. If you can make a new connection in your new city through your old network, they may be able to introduce you to potential employers in the area where you now live.

4. Go Through The Employment Agency

Employment agency work can sometimes transition into permanent positions. Working through an employment agency will not make you wealthy, but it can help to pay the bills until the time you can find a job that fits with your career goals.

Plus, employment agencies can often put you to work the very next day or the next Monday. It is a temporary solution, but a worthwhile use of your time.

5. Spend Time Getting To Know The Locals

Some cities are known for being harder to find a job as an outsider. A local reference can help you to pass the test and get an interview. Get to know some locals who might be willing to vouch for you as a local reference. 

These five tips will help you get a job in no time in your new city. Remember, your first job in your new city might not be your dream job, but at least it will get you in the door.



What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 8, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 8, 2020Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending and labor reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Falls in April

The Commerce Department reported lower than expected deficits in consumer spending in April. Construction spending fell by -2.90 percent from the March reading of 0.00 percent growth in spending; analysts expected 6.80 percent less construction spending for April due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Additional declines in construction spending are expected for May and June as impacts of the Coronavirus and uncertain economic conditions lessen demand for homes. Residential construction spending fell by 4.50 percent in May.

Mortgage Rates Mixed as  Initial Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for 3-year fixed-rate mortgages, which increased an average of three basis points to 3.18 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 2.62 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by three basis points to an average rate of 3.10 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week but were much higher than readings reported before the coronavirus outbreak. States reported 1.88 million new jobless claims, which exceeded expectations of 1.81 million new claims and fell short of the prior week’s reading of 2.13 million initial jobless claims.

2.23 million initial jobless claims were filed last week including claims made under federal programs. 3.21 million total jobless claims were filed the prior week.

Jobs Reports Show Mixed Results In May

ADP reported -2.76 million private-sector jobs lost on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to April’s reading of -19.60 million jobs lost. The government’s Nonfarm Payrolls report showed 2.50 million more public and private-sector jobs than were reported in April.

Analysts expected -7.25 million fewer public and private sector jobs in May as compared to April’s reading of -20.70 million jobs lost.

The national unemployment rate dipped from April’s rate of 14.70 percent to 13.30 percent in May. Analysts expected the national unemployment rate to reach 19.00 percent in May.

Lower unemployment readings suggest that the economy is recovering at a faster pace than originally estimated, but recent civil unrest may cause another wave of coronavirus cases as protesters failed to observe social distancing protocols.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation and consumer sentiment. The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee is set to meet next week, but this meeting may be canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

How To Choose A Moving Company

How To Choose A Moving CompanyOnce you’ve accepted an offer on your house, the next thing you should do is schedule a moving company. The earlier you plan for the moving company, the more time you’ll have to research your options and ensure that you can reserve the date you need. 

Narrow Down By Services

The first step is to narrow down your choices so you can focus on moving companies that are best suited for your needs.

  • First, determine if you need a long distance mover or a regional mover. Long distance movers will have larger trucks and/or semi-trailers; regional movers will have mid-to-small sized trucks only.
  • Next, decide if you want to do all your packing yourself or if you want the movers to pack your possessions. Don’t worry about the furniture; most movers will insist on wrapping furniture to protect it from damage.
  • Finally, decide if you want help unpacking on the other end.

Once you’ve narrowed down the list with these three criteria, you’re ready to start contacting moving companies.

Ask Questions

Prepare a list of questions to ask all the moving companies you’re considering. This way, you’ll be comparing apples to apples and it will make your final decision more clear. The first things to ask are if they meet the criteria that’s mentioned above. Next, move on to your prepared list.

Following are some questions you should definitely ask. You may also have other questions to add to the list.

  • What kind of insurance coverage do you provide?
  • What if my moving date needs to change?
  • What guarantees do you offer as far as showing up and delivering the possessions as promised?
  • Do you have at least two previous clients I can call for references?
  • How many hours does it typically take you to do a move of this size?

Get Estimates

A quality moving company will want to send over a representative to inventory your possessions to ensure an accurate estimate. This is standard procedure, and you should lead the rep through your home so you can answer any questions.

Your final decision should be based on the criteria you need, the affordability, and quality you think you’ll receive based on the answers to your questions and your impression of the representative.  



Why Every Home Buyer Needs A Pre-Approval Before Home Shopping

Why Every Home Buyer Needs A Pre-Approval Before Home ShoppingThere are many people who are considering buying a home because the current market is so attractive. With the ability to carry out virtual tours, this makes it even easier for people to find the home of their dreams.

While the fun part is looking at houses, it is important to get pre-approved for a home loan first. There are a few reasons why everyone must get pre-approved before they start the process of shopping for a home. 

This Provides A Chance For People To Get Their Finances In Order

Buying a home is a major decision. For many people, this is going to be their biggest investment. For this reason, it is critical for everyone to have their finances in order.

Of course, some people might think that their finances are fine when, in reality, this might not be the case.

For example, someone might be self-employed and think they are doing well; however, many lenders will not accept self-employment income as “reliable” unless they see at least two years of tax records. Furthermore, because those who are self-employed often take large tax deductions (due to business expenses being deductible), their gross taxable income is also lower.

This can be a problem for lenders who want to make sure their borrowers have a high gross taxable income to pay back the loan.

Increases The Attractiveness Of An Offer

If someone finds a house they love, there is a strong chance that someone else has fallen in love with the home as well. The seller wants to make sure that whoever is providing an offer on a home is a serious candidate. With a pre-approval letter, this makes the offer far more attractive.

This is because the seller knows that nothing is going to hold up the sale. If someone isn’t pre-approved, there is a chance that they might make an offer on the home only to have it stonewalled by the lender. This can be frustrating for someone who is trying to sell a home.

Avoid These Problems By Getting Pre-Approved

In order to avoid these problems, everyone must get pre-approved before they start the process of searching for a home. By getting pre-approved, people can expedite the home buying process.

The Basics Of A Mortgage

The Basics Of A MortgageThe vast majority of people who are interested in buying a home are not going to be able to pay cash for the home. Even for those who can buy a home in cash, they often would rather take out a loan to avoid pulling money out of their investments where they would have to pay capital gains taxes.

Those who take out a loan to buy a home will apply for something called a mortgage.

Simply put, a mortgage is a loan that someone uses to buy a home. Mortgages are very specific to the real estate industry; however, they are similar to other loans. People borrow money to cover the difference between the down payment and the cost of the house.

Then, they pay back the loan over a specified period of time with interest. For those who are buying a home, it is important to understand the basics of a mortgage.

Qualifying For A Mortgage

First, anyone buying a home has to qualify for a mortgage. Most lenders will have a set of criteria they use to approve someone for a loan. Some of the factors include:

  • Many borrowers will have to meet a minimum credit score which lenders see as a reflection of someone’s ability to pay back a loan on time
  • Lenders will also need to see that someone has a proof of income (or proof of assets) so that they know the individual can afford to pay back the loan
  • Finally, lenders will also want to see what other debts someone is carrying such as a car loan, student loans, or credit card debts

The lender is taking on risk by providing a mortgage to someone. They want to make sure the borrower is going to reliably pay the loan back.

The Terms Of The Mortgage

Once someone has been approved for a loan, they need to figure out what the terms of the mortgage will be. Some of the variables include:

  • The length of the loan
  • The size of the monthly payments
  • The total amount of the loan
  • The down payment required for the loan
  • The interest rate on the mortgage
  • The presence (or absence) of private mortgage insurance, or PMI

It is critical for everyone to talk with an experienced professional to make sure they understand the terms of the mortgage.

Routine Maintenance Of Various Systems In Your Home

Routine Maintenance Of Various Systems In Your HomeWhen you are a first-time homeowner, learning about your property can feel overwhelming. There are a number of systems in your home that require routine maintenance. Knowing when to have system serviced will help keep your home running smoothly. From the plumbing in your home, to the heating and cooling, understand that each system may need routine maintenance from time to time. 

Your Heating And Cooling System

To maintain comfortable air temperatures in your home, it’s important to keep your heating and cooling system up-to-date. If you have a whole home system, it should be serviced once before the heating season and once before the cooling season. When you get filters changed, and your system serviced, you are less likely to have to deal with emergency repairs. In addition, your HVAC system will run more efficiently.

When You Have A Septic System

Waste water leaves your home either through the town sewer system or through a septic tank. If you have a septic system on your property, you need to have the system serviced every other year. Check the records of your septic system to see when it was serviced previously.

Address Plumbing Issues

A leaky faucet is a localized problem, while discovering that all of the drains in your home are draining slowly is systemic. You need to repair small leaks to avoid wasting water in your home, while systemic problems must be addressed by a professional. If your drains aren’t working correctly, you may have a block in your main sewer line. Know where the main shut off valve is for the water coming in to your home in case of an emergency.

Electrical Needs In Your Home

Your home has an intricate electrical system that is controlled by an electrical panel usually located in your basement. When a circuit trips, you will need to reset the circuit breaker. If your home consistently has problems with a specific circuit, you’ll want to have the circuit checked by an electrician to see if it is overloaded.

It’s exciting to own a home for the first time. Once you understand the various systems in your home, it becomes easier to take care of your property. With good maintenance, you can help avoid emergency repairs to your home. Your heating and cooling will be more efficient, and you won’t run in to problems with your septic system if you have one. If there is something you don’t understand in your home, call a professional to get the problem looked at.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 1, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 1, 2020Last week’s economic reports included monthly readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, FHFA home prices, and readings on new and pending home sales. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices: Home Price Growth Pace Increased In March

National home prices rose at a year-over-year pace of 4.50 percent in March from February’s reading of 4.20 percent. According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, home prices rose by 0.40 percent to a year-over-year growth rate of 3.90 percent.

The three cities reporting the highest rates of home price growth year-over-year were Phoenix, Arizona with 8.20 percent year-over-year growth; Seattle, Washington reported year-over-year home prices growth of 6.90 percent. Charlotte, North Carolina reported 5.80 percent home price growth.

Analysts said that Seattle home prices rose despite the Seattle metro area having a large outbreak of Covid-19 in the first weeks of the pandemic. April readings on home price growth are expected to dip into negative readings reflecting the spread of the coronavirus and its increasing impact.

17 of 19 cities reported in the 20-City Home Price Index for March had higher growth rates than in February; the Detroit metro area did not report data for the March 20-City Home Price Index.

The FHFA Home Price Index reported 5.90 percent year-over-year home price growth for March as compared to its February reading of 6.10 percent home price growth. FHFA reports on home sales connected with properties that have mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

New Home Sales Increase in April as Pending Home Sales Fall

Sales of new homes rose in April although many areas were under stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus pandemic. 623,000 new home sales were reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to the March reading of 619,000 sales of new homes. Pending home sales were -21.80 percent lower as compared to the March reading of -20.80 percent. Fewer pending home sales reflected impacts of the pandemic as government agencies issued stay-at-home orders and citizens faced financial uncertainty and health concerns.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were nine basis points lower at an average rate of 3.13 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged eight basis points lower at 2.62 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.13 percent and were four basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower at 2.12 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.45 million initial jobless claims filed. While fewer claims filed is good news, readings for initial jobless claims far exceeded typical numbers of new jobless claims filed before the pandemic.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and labor sector reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.