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.

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.

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.

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.

5 Options To Consider When Your Appraisal Comes In Low

5 Options To Consider When Your Appraisal Comes In LowYikes! You are set on buying the home that you picked out and the appraisal comes back at a lower amount than the amount needed for the home loan to be approved. What do you do? After you calm down your significant other and then take three deep breaths, here are some options to consider.

Request A New Appraisal

Appraisals are only one person’s professional opinion. There are rules that must be followed when making an appraisal; however, there is still some flexibility in how to apply the rules. Check the comparables (also called “comps”) that the appraiser used as the basis for setting the appraised value.

There usually have to be at least three houses that are a similar size, similar age, have a similar condition, and are located in a similar neighborhood. If the home that you want to buy just had major renovation with a lot of work done on it, the appraiser may have missed this and should add more to the appraisal for the home having a better condition than the comparables.

Check to determine if any of the comparables are wrong. For example, if the appraiser uses a home that is in poor condition that may cause the appraisal to be too low. When there is another choice of a home in a better condition, which is more similar to the one being sold, the appraisal might be higher.

If you find problems with how the appraisal was done, request a review from your lender and see if they will allow you to pay for a second appraisal. Getting a new appraisal with a higher value is the easiest way to fix this problem.

If that does not work, then you can try these other options:

Negotiate With The Lender

Some lenders may cooperate with a loan restructuring if you qualify for a program with a higher loan-to-value (LTV). This may also require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your loan amount exceeds 80% of the appraised value of the home. Working with your trusted mortgage professional can lead to unexpected options to get your home purchase completed.

Negotiate With The Seller

Trouble may come up if an appraiser cannot find comps that meet the selling price of the home. This may be caused by the home having unique qualities, a market that does not have other homes like it, or possibly that the sale price is more than the home is actually worth. If the price of the home is actually too high based on the appraisal, the seller might lower the sales price in order to keep the transaction together.

Increase Your Down Payment

If the amount of the difference is small and you can cover it, you can still proceed by taking a lower amount for the loan and adding money to your down payment to make up the difference.

Find Another Home To Buy

Your purchase offer should be subject to obtaining financing. If the appraisal comes in low and that prevents you from obtaining financing at the original sales price, you likely will be able to cancel the purchase agreement without penalty and search for a new home.

Your trusted home mortgage professional is well-versed in these types of issues and ready and willing to assist you with your successful home purchase transaction.

Sound Advice From Successful Home Sellers

Sound Advice From Successful Home SellersThe real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do some of your own research. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees. Keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile to do some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a sign that an agent is trying to win over your business. Most agents are in tune with the current market and should be able to guide you toward the most appropriate market price.

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by doing some research and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success.

As you are preparing to sell your home, be sure that you are also readying yourself for your next home purchase by making an appointment with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss your current financing options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 4th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 4th, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Housing Price Indices and Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Readings on pending home sales and consumer confidence were released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims.

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slows to Lowest Rate in Four Years

Home prices continued to grow in December but reached their slowest pace since November2014. Seasonally-adjusted annual home price growth reached 4.70 percent in December as compared to growth of 5.10percent year-over-year in November.

Analysts cited high home prices, and slim inventories of available homes, although demand for homes eased in some metro areas. Affordability and accessibility to mortgages sidelined low and moderate-income buyers; some buyers allegedly gave up on buying homes.

Building more homes is necessary for relieving the housing shortage; real estate pros, mortgage lenders and home buyers rely on home builders to provide enough housing for first-time buyers and existing homeowners to transition from renting to owning and for existing homeowners to move up to aspirational homes. 

Housing starts fell short of expectations in December with a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.078 million starts. Analysts expected 1.28 million starts based on November’s reading of 1.214 million housing starts. Construction was affected by winter weather and higher costs for building materials.

Pending Home Sales Rise in January

Pending home sales increased in January; sales with signed purchase contracts rose 4.6- percent as compared to December’s negative year-over-year reading of -2.30 percent. The National Association of Realtors® said that all four U.S. regions reported higher readings for pending home sales. The Northeast reported 1.60 percent more pending sales, Midwest and Southern regions reported increases of 2.80 percent and 8.90 percent, and the Western region reported 0.30 percent more pending home sales.

Mortgage Rates, Hold Steady New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported no change in 30-year fixed mortgage rates, which averaged 4.35 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped one basis point to 3.77 percent; mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims matched expectations of 225,000 claims filed as compared to 217,000 first-time claims filed the prior week. The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index rose to an index reading of 131.4 and exceeded the expected reading of 124.7.

January’s reading was 121.7. Rising consumer confidence may compel would-be home buyers to enter the housing market during peak buying season in spring and summer.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on January housing starts, construction spending, and new home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with labor-sector reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate.

 

8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit Score

8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit ScoreHaving an excellent credit score is very useful. The following are some tips on how to maintain a superb credit score.

Open Credit Accounts When You Do Not Need Them

If you don’t have any credit accounts, you will have a low score. The best time to open them is when you do not need them. Keep a small balance on them and pay it all off at the end of each month to avoid paying interest.

Charge Up To Half The Credit Limit Then Pay It All Back Within A Few Months

If you must use a credit line, only use half of it and pay it back quickly.

Buy Big Ticket Items With A Credit Card For Cash Back And Points

Even if you can pay cash for a big ticket item, you may find it beneficial to buy it with a card that gives a reward for making a purchase like cash back or rewards points. Then pay off the balance as quickly as you can.

Ask For An Increased Credit Line

For credit accounts that you have been paying on time, call the customer service department and tell them you are thinking about buying something that is slightly above your credit limit. Ask them if they can extend the limit. This usually works even if you do not actually buy something.

You can attempt to raise your credit limit this way about once per year. As you increase your available credit capacity while maintaining all accounts in a “paid as agreed” status, your credit score should go up.

Move Credit Balances To A New Card With Zero Interest

Many credit card companies offer a zero-interest period for transfers of credit card balances from another card. After doing this, transfer this balance, once again, to another card that has a similar offer before the zero-interest period expires.

Close Old Accounts When New Ones Are Open

Having too many credit card accounts can lower your score. Keep about half a dozen cards. Close the ones that you transferred the balance from to zero interest cards.

Use Automatic Payments To Make Sure Bills Are Paid On Time

Never miss a payment or pay late. You may want to use automatic bill payment systems to make sure you never let a bill slip by.

Monitor Credit Card Activity For Unauthorized Use

Monitor all credit card activity in real time. Immediately take action if you notice an unauthorized charge. Monitor your credit history file on the three credit bureau services of Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

Your trusted home mortgage professional can provide you with additional guidelines to improve and maintain your credit while preparing to purchase or refinance your home. Be sure to contact this valuable resource if you have any questions.