What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 31, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, along with readings on new and pending home sales. Recurring weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Pacific Northwest Shows Fastest Home Price Growth

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for August, home prices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington grew fastest year-over-year. Portland posted an August index reading of 11.70 percent and Portland followed closely with a reading of 11.40 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities with the fastest rates of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 8.80 percent. The 20-City Home Price Index rose 0.30 percent year-over-year to 5.30 percent in August.

Low inventory of available homes poses challenges for housing markets, but Case-Shiller reported that the national home price index was 0.60 percent lower than its peak reading in 2006. The 20-City Home Price Index was 7.10 percent lower than the 2006 peak. This provides a positive context for healthy home price growth, but concerns linger about a repeat of the housing bubble that burst and caused home prices to crash.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Index Committee said that a new housing bubble is unlikely. Home buyers are not taking out huge mortgages as was common prior to the Great Recession; mortgage lenders have adopted stricter qualification standards to help ensure that borrowers can afford their mortgages.

New Home Sales Rise in September

Sales of new homes rose to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 593,000 sales in September according to the Commerce Department. Although lower than analysts’ expected reading of 600,000 sales, September’s reading surpassed August’s reading of 575,000 sales. August’s reading was downwardly revised from its original reading of 609,000, which suggests that new home prices are growing at a slower rate than expected.

High demand for homes boosted September’s reading for pending home sales, which represents homes under contract for sale that have not closed. Pending home sales increased in September with a reading of 1.50 percent growth as compared to August’s negative rate of -2.50 percent. Pending home sales provide indications of future completed sales and mortgage loan volume.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates were lower last week according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell five basis points to 3.47 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent, which was one basis point lower than the prior week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also one basis point lower at 2.84 percent. Average discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

In spite of growth in home prices and volume of sales, consumer confidence slowed in October. October’s index reading of 98.60 as compared to an expected reading of 101.00 and September’s reading of 103.50. Analysts said that uncertainty over the upcoming presidential election contributed to October’s lower reading.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on inflation, construction spending core inflation, and labor reports. Non-farm payrolls, ADP employment, national unemployment rates will also be released. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report and new jobless claims will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 26, 2016

Last week’s economic news was abundant with releases on home builder sentiment, housing starts, building permits, sales of previously owned homes. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve released its customary statement at the conclusion of its meeting; Fed Chair Janet Yellen also gave a press conference. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were released as usual.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Increases in September

Home builder confidence in housing market conditions increased in September according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Builder confidence rose five points to 65; analysts expected a reading of 60 based on August’s reading of 59. NAHB said that September’s reading was boosted by more “serious” buyers entering housing markets.

Components used to determine NAHB HMI readings were also higher. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose six points to 71; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose by five points to 71. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments rose four points to 48. Buyer traffic readings have not reached 50 since 2005; 50 is a neutral benchmark for NAHB HMI readings.

Home prices continue rising at a higher pace than wages; this is pressuring first-time and moderate income buyers out of the market. An ongoing shortage of available homes is pressing prices higher as demand increases. Analysts pay close attention to the NAHB HMI as building more new homes is a key factor in easing the shortage of homes for sale.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Lower

Commerce Department readings on housing starts and permits issued were lower for August Housing starts were lower in August at 1.142 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual pace. Analysts expected 1.182 million housing starts based on July’s reading of 1.212 million starts. Regional readings showed a dip in starts in the South. Severe flooding in Louisiana contributed to the lower reading for housing starts. August’s reading for housing starts was 5.80 percent lower than July’s reading and 0.90 percent lower than for July 2015.

Building permits issued were nearly flat in August; this was likely due to the prime building season winding down 1.139 million permits were issued as compared to 1.144 million permits issued in July. Single-family starts were six percent lower than for July and were 1.20 percent lower year-over-year.

Existing Home Sales Dip: High Demand, Low Supply Cited

Sales of pre-owned homes fell by 0.90 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million sales. Analysts expected a reading of 5.48 million sales; July’s reading for sales of pre-owned homes was 5.38 million sales.

Low inventory of available homes continues to impact housing markets as demand for homes increased and prices rose; the national average home price was $240,000 in August. Rising home prices continued to be driven by high demand and low supplies. These conditions also impacted first-time and moderate income home buyers who were pressured to keep up with rapidly rising home prices.

While mortgage rates remain relatively low, higher home prices and tight mortgage credit requirements remain obstacles for first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.48 percent; the average rate for a15-year fixed rate mortgage fell on one basis point to 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was lower by two basis points at 2.80 percent.

Analysts expected new jobless claims to remain flat at the prior week’s reading of 260,000 new claims, but 252,000 new claims were filed for the lowest reading since July. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 22250 claims to 258,500. The four-week reading is considered a less volatile reading than week-to-week readings.

Federal Reserve: No Increase in Fed Rate

The Federal Open Market Committee said in its post-meeting statement that the target federal funds rate would not be raised. In a press conference given after the FOMC statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that although the economy continued to improve, the Fed had concerns over the labor market and decided not to raise rates. Any increase in Federal Reserve rates triggers increases in consumer lending rates.

What’s Ahead

This week’s readings include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Benchmark Colorado

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 12, 2016

Few economic reports were released last week due to the Labor Day Holiday. The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book Report, which documents anecdotes shared with the Fed by its regional business contacts. A job openings report, weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of mortgage rates was also released.

Fed’s Beige Book: Approaching Election Dampens Business Growth

According to the Federal Reserve’s survey of business contacts within its 12 districts, November’s election is causing business owners to take a “wait and see” position regarding expansion plans. Commercial real estate contacts in several Fed districts cited modest projections for sales and construction for the second half of 2016. The Bank of Canada supported Fed contacts’ view of modest growth; it characterized U.S. business growth as “less certain.”

Analysts review the Beige Book report for indications of how the Fed may adjust its monetary policy including whether or not to raise the target federal funds rate. The Beige Book report did not reveal any compelling evidence for the Fed to raise rates before year-end, but Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a recent statement that economic conditions were strengthening and favored a rate hike before year-end.

November’s election will likely delay any rate hike until December. Fed policymakers have repeatedly said that a combination of economic trends, current readings, and news reports contribute to decisions relating to interest rates and other monetary policy issues.

Job Openings Rise, New Jobless Claims Drop

July job openings rose from June’s reading of 5.60 million openings to 5.90 million openings to hit an all-time high.  New jobless claims fell from 263,000 new claims to 259,000 new claims. The Labor Department also reported that hires increased from 5.17 million to 5.23 million in June. These readings are further indications of strengthening job markets and general economic growth.

Mortgage Rates Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week; the average rate for a 30-year mortgage was two basis points lower at 3.44 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 2.81 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on retail sales, national inflation, and consumer sentiment.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 23, 2016

You Ask, We Answer: 5 Ways That You Can Proactively Build and Improve Your Credit ScoreLast week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, reports on housing starts, building reports and existing home sales. Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last FOMC meeting were also released.

Homebuilder Confidence Unchanged, Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that builder confidence held steady with a reading of 58 in May. Analysts projected a reading of 58 and April’s reading was also 58. Builder confidence in market conditions could be slowing due to concerns over acquiring skilled labor and a shortage of developed lots. Demand for homes remains high, but a slim inventory of available properties and builder emphasis on higher-priced homes contributed to sidelining moderate income and first-time buyers.

Commerce Department reports for April Housing Starts and Building Permits issued suggest that tight housing inventories may receive some relief. April housing starts rose from a revised March reading of 1.099 million to 1.170 million starts. Housing starts increased by 6.60 percent in April. Housing starts have slowed as compared to the year-over-year period from April 2015 to 2016; housing starts increased by 10 percent for the same year-over-year period in 2015. While any increase in home construction is welcome, some analysts said that they did not expect a huge increase in home construction in coming months.

Construction of multifamily housing units rose by 10.70 percent, while single-family home construction increased by 3.30 percent. Rising rents and millennials delaying home purchases were seen as fueling multifamily home construction. As homes become less affordable, would-be buyers are continuing to rent, which places higher demand on rental units.

Pre-owned Home Sales Rise in April

Sales of previously owned homes rose by 1.70 percent in April to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.45 million sales. Sales increased by 12.10 percent in the Midwest, where homes are most affordable, and fell by 1.70 percent in the West, where homes are most costly. This development suggests that rapidly rising home prices have or will soon reach maximum levels in high-cost areas. Home prices in many areas rose rapidly in preceding months as short inventory and high demand created bidding wars and keen competition for available homes. A lack of affordable single family homes has caused some buyers to buy condos while others have put buying on hold.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose for 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 3.58 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.82 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 2.80 percent. Discount points were 0.60, 0.50 and 0.50 percent respectively. Analysts are watching the Fed closely for any indication that it will raise the target federal funds rate in June, although concerns over the possibility of Great Britain leaving the European Union could cause the Fed to hold off on raising the rate. If the Fed raises the target federal funds rate, loan rates for credit cards and mortgages would also increase.

New jobless claims fell last week to 278,000 new claims against expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 294,000 new claims. Analysts said that a telecommunications strike caused the prior week’s raise in claims as striking workers who are replaced during a strike are eligible for jobless benefits.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include new and pending home sales along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Benchmark Mortgage

Spring Heats Up Housing

According to a late February analysis in the Wall Street Journal, homebuilders are reporting that sales of newly built homes so far this year are going gangbusters.

But sales of existing homes are more lukewarm. Why the difference?333

A simple reason could be that new-home figures are tracked on a more current basis, reporting numbers from orders in more recent weeks, versus existing home sales which often have a full month of lag time since they are tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Analysts also claim that there is simply less available inventory of existing homes, which has helped the new construction market.

Meanwhile, pending sales, an indicator of future closed sales, rose 1.7 percent from December to January, and are now 8.4 percent higher than the same time one year ago. January marked the fifth straight month of year-over-year gains, and the gains are increasing.

“Contract activity is convincingly up compared to a year ago despite comparable inventory levels,” said the National Association of REALTORS® chief economist Lawrence Yun. “The difference this year is the positive factors supporting stronger sales, such as slightly improving credit conditions, more jobs and slower price growth.”

A March CoreLogic report also showed that January home prices rose nearly 6 percent from a year ago. In 2013, investors were blamed for pushing prices upward, but it has been suggested that prices are rising again due simply to a lack of inventory in markets large and small across the nation. This news could result in a very competitive housing season for homebuyers.

Freddie Mac is also expecting 2015 to be the best year for home sales and new construction since 2007, according to its March 2015 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook. Freddie Mac cited an improving job market, rising rents and expanded credit availability as some reasons for its positive outlook.

The Bottom Line

Low rates and new home inventory make for an exciting housing season. If you have any questions regarding housing or know of friends, family or colleagues who wish to discuss buying or refinancing a home, please contact me today.

The Millennials Are Coming: 3 High-Tech Upgrades To Increase Your Home’s Appeal

Selling to Millennials: Three High-Tech Upgrades That Will Increase Your Home's Appeal to Young BuyersMillennials are finally starting to enter the real estate market after delaying home purchases for several years. With a completely new client base looking for homes, it is time to start making your home more appealing to these young buyers.

Millennials use high-tech gadgets every day, so they are going to desire these things in their new home. While there are several high-tech upgrades you can make on your home, these three will appeal the most to young homebuyers.

Keyless Entry: Security for the New Millennium

Keyless entry doors are becoming a popular way of keeping a home secure while adding that great “wow” factor. These keyless entry systems mean there’ll be no more fumbling for keys when all you want to do is get in the door. It may seem like something out of a sci-fi film, but several companies have mastered the art of keyless entry doors that you can use in your home today.

The door automatically locks when it is shut, and you will need the correct fingerprint to unlock the door. If you could show off a keyless entry system at your open house, you would immediately pique the interest of every young buyer interested in technology.

A Home Security System is a Great Practical Addition

A high-tech home security system will certainly make your home more appealing to young buyers, who may even be thinking about having children in the near future. No matter how safe your neighborhood is, everyone is always looking to feel more secure at home. Placing a few security cameras around the exterior of your home will allow you to know what is happening outside at all times, and buyers will love having that peace of mind.

Home Energy Monitor: For the Eco-Conscious Generation

Young people are extremely conscious of the environment, so they would love seeing a home energy monitor when shopping for a new home. A home energy monitor is able to track the energy use of every aspect of your home.

If you think your air conditioner is not running efficiently, a home energy monitor can tell you whether or not you’re right. Since young people know about the dangers of improper energy use, they will want to make the home as efficient as possible.

Millennials are slowly entering the real estate market, and although they are starting to look at homes, you’ll face a lot of competition from other homeowners looking to pass properties onto this new generation. These three upgrades will increase your home’s value and make it more appealing to Millennial buyers.

Call us!

Six Key Questions To Ask When Hiring A Real Estate Agent

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your HomeThe work of a real estate agent can make or break how a prospective buyer feels about the property. Now that it’s time to sell your home, you want to find the right agent to market it.

How do you find someone you can trust who will make you feel confident they can sell your home quickly for the best price possible? Here are the questions you should be asking.

Are They Licensed?

This one is the easy one. You should be working with a member of the National Association of Realtors®. It is also important that you check whether they have any complaints on record about their practices.

You can check with your state’s real estate department as well.

Are They Successful?

A successful real estate agent is more than the number of sales they have completed. You should also find out the average difference between listing and selling prices on their most recent sales.

If an agent is closing deals at far below the original asking price consistently, that might be a red flag.

How Busy Are They?

Make sure you ask in advance how often the agent will contact you and how they will keep you informed of potential buyers. If you’re going to be working with one of their associates at times, you should know.

How Familiar Are They With Your Neighborhood?

A real estate agent is not just marketing your home – they’re marketing your entire community. If they have closed nearby sales before, they are familiar with the selling points of the neighborhood as well as the right price range for properties similar to yours.

How Much Commission Do They Expect?

Normally you will pay the agent about 6 percent of the sale price. If you find one that offers their services for a low percentage, you should know why. Are they just trying to stay competitive? Or do they expect you to do a large share of the marketing yourself?

Do They Have A Plan?

The real estate agent should be able to tell you exactly which marketing techniques they would use for your home and how they plan to promote the listing. They should come to the table with ideas from the very beginning.

Now that you have a clearer idea of the basics, use the internet to find trusted real estate agents in your area. Then pick up the phone and begin your journey toward becoming a successful home seller today.

 

Benchmark Mortgage

Three Key Tips for Assessing The Value Of Your Home

How Much is Your Home Worth in Today's Market? Three Key Tips for Assessing ValueIf you’re thinking about putting the house on the market, or are simply curious about its value in the current economic atmosphere, it’s essential to get an honest assessment. An overly inflated figure won’t hold up and will only turn potential buyers away.

It’s best to get a fair assessment in order to ask a reasonable price or avoid over-extending oneself when it comes to taking out a home equity loan. Consider these three key tips:

Identify Positive Features About The Home And Property

When seeking an appraisal for a home, it’s important to look at the big picture. While the neighborhood and specific location are important, as well as the size and condition of the home, it’s also essential to tally up any improvements or upgrades. Any recent renovations are a plus that are sure to give a boost to a home’s value. Outbuildings and swimming pools add more positives that will increase the initial value of a home. The most important thing any homeowner can do is to stay on top of repairs and give the property a facelift periodically to keep things fresh. This will be taken into consideration during an appraisal.

Pay Attention To The Competition

Whether homeowners try to estimate their home’s value on their own or bring in the professionals, it’s important to pay attention to the surrounding real estate. Take a close look at other properties in the area and their price tags when they come up for sale. It’s especially helpful to look at properties that compare in size and condition. From that point, the most expensive and least expensive homes should be tallied as well, providing a price range for the concerned individual’s home.

Think About Present Circumstances

Be sure to consider if the area is in a recession or showing a period of strong economic growth. If a home is located in an area that is booming, this will inflate the value of the home. It is all part of the law of supply and demand. When buyers are coming in droves, home sales will be ripe for the picking and homeowners can ask a higher price. However, if the population is dwindling and people are migrating elsewhere because job opportunities have fallen, there is a much greater chance that the home’s value will decrease. For those who want to sell, the best bet is to strike when the iron is hot and put the house on the market during a period of economic strength. If the economy is failing, it may be necessary to wait or cut ones’ losses.

Act Now To Learn More

There is no better time than the present to contact a name you can trust in real estate. Discover all the ins and outs of assessing your home’s value, discuss your options, and find out ways to boost your property’s potential as you seek a reliable assessment.

Benchmark Mortgage

Giving and Getting: Why Home Sale Terms Are Far More Important Than Price Paid

Giving and Getting: Why the Terms of a Home's Sale Are Far More Important Than the Price PaidOne of the most significant factors home buyers and sellers focus on when buying real estate is the negotiated sales price in the purchase contract. While the sales price is undeniably important, the reality is that other terms in the sales contract may have more far-reaching and significant effects on the transaction.

In fact, with a closer look at some of the most important terms, you will see why you and your agent should actively negotiate for improved terms rather than a lower sales price.

Closing Costs

Some buyers and sellers will haggle over a few thousand dollars in the sales price without paying attention to the closing costs, but the fact is that the closing costs for a typical transaction may cost the buyer between two to five percent of the sales price on average.

A sales contract may be negotiated so that the seller assumes some or most of the closing costs, and this can result in considerable savings for the buyer. Likewise, when a contract is negotiated in the interest of the seller, the seller may save thousands of dollars at closing if the contract states that the buyer is responsible for these costs.

The Appraised Value

In an ideal world, a home would appraise for the contracted sales price, but this is not always the case. A sales contract may be written with terms that allow for the sales price to be renegotiated after the appraised value is confirmed, and this may benefit both parties. Some sales contracts, however, state that the negotiated sales price is final regardless of the appraised value.

The Property Inspection

Many home buyers opt to obtain a property inspection to determine if there are hidden issues with the property structure, foundation, roof, air quality and other components. Some inspections reveal that a home is in fairly good condition, but others may reveal that a property needs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs.

Some sales contracts may be written so that the buyer may back out of a contract within a certain period of time after receiving the property inspection report or so that the terms of the sales contract may be renegotiated once the property inspection report has been completed.

Special Contingencies

A real estate transaction may extend for several weeks or even months while the buyer contracts with a lender, an appraiser, a property inspector and other third parties. During this period of time, many events can occur that may adjust the interest level or even the ability of the buyer and seller to fulfill the contract.

Some sales contracts are written so that the buyer may opt out of the contract within a certain period of time with minimal expense and regardless of other factors related to the appraisal and inspection.

Generally, there are standard terms found in many real estate sales contracts, but these terms can be adjusted by either party to benefit buyers or sellers. Those who are preparing to buy or sell property should actively communicate their needs and desires with their real estate agent so that the contract may be negotiated with terms most favorable to their needs.

Benchmark Colorado

Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Level In 7 Years

Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Level In 7 YearsThe NAR provided great year-end news as existing home sales in December pushed 2013 sales of existing homes to a 7 year high. December’s reading of 4.86 sales of pre-owned homes came in at 4.87 million on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Although projections had been for 4.89 million sales, the December reading topped November’s revised sales of 4.82 million pre-owned homes.

December’s reading showed the first gain in existing home sales in three months. NAR reported that existing home sales for 2013 reached 5.09 million, which represented a 9.10 percent increase over 2012.

More Good News: Median Price Of Existing Homes Rises

NAR reported that the national median price for pre-owned homes increased to $198,000, a year-over-year increase of 9.90 percent. The average price of an existing home for all of 2013 was $197,100. This was the strongest growth in existing home prices since 2005 and represented an increase of 11.50 percent.

There were 1.86 million pre-owned homes for sale in December. At current sales rates, this represents a 4.60 month inventory. Real estate pros like to see a minimum of a six-month supply of available homes, so existing homes remain in short supply.

Analysts attributed rising home prices to improving economic conditions and a persistent shortage of homes for sale.

FHFA: Slower Gain for Home Prices In November

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that November prices of homes financed with mortgages owned or guaranteed by the two agencies rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.10 percent as compared to October’s increase of 0.50 percent and an expected growth rate of 0.40 percent.

November’s reading brought year-over-year home sales to an increase of 7.60 percent, but is still 8.90 percent below their April 2007 peak.

Analysts noted that recent reports of increasing new home construction and rising new home sales as reasons why prices of existing homes are seeing slower growth.