The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 3rd, 2020

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has impacted every industry across the country. Many people are being asked to shelter in place and everyone has been asked to practice social distancing to try to curtail the spread of this deadly virus.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has asked both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to make some changes in the manner they conduct property appraisals and employment verification.

Shortly after the move by the FHFA, The Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) followed suit by relaxing property appraisal requirements. Due to the unusual circumstances that are facing the country right now, these changes are necessary to keep people safe while minimizing the blow to the economy.

Exterior Inspection Appraisals

One of the critical parts that must happen during the purchase of a home is something called an appraisal. Typically, these appraisals involve an on-site inspection of the home, taking a close look at everything inside to try to make sure the price is as accurate as possible. Now, appraisals can be done on something that is called an exterior-only or “drive-by” basis. This means that appraisers might drive by to confirm that the property exists, but will not physically inspect it. 

In some cases, they might just use the computer, find comparable properties, and appraise it in this manner. This is normally referred to as a “desktop appraisal”. This is important for everyone, including those who are Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan borrowers.

Why Appraisals Are Needed Now

Even though fewer people may be currently looking at houses, there are other reasons why an appraisal might be necessary. Many people are looking for sources of emergency funding, particularly as hours get cut and people get laid off.

There are still bills that need to be paid, including utility bills and mortgages. Therefore, many people are looking at taking out a second mortgage as a source of immediate liquidity. Sometimes, an appraisal might be needed to make this happen.

Other Measures Are Being Taken By The FHFA

In addition to the notice about drive-by appraisals, the FHFA has also suspended any foreclosures and evictions in many cases. People who are facing hardship due to the pandemic can also apply for forbearance, which can take a lot of stress off of the shoulders of individuals and families.

If you have questions about your mortgage and financing options available to you during the Coronavirus pandemic, contact your trusted mortgage professional. They will be best able to analyze your personal situation and provide the most accurate feedback.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Case-Shiller: January Home Price Growth Strong; Pandemic Impact Unknown

Posted in Financial Crisis by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 2nd, 2020

Case-Shiller: January Home Price Growth Strong; Pandemic Impact UnknownUnited States home prices increased by 3.90 percent year-over-year in January as compared to December’s growth rate of 3.70 percent according to Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index. Home prices also rose in Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index.

20-City Home Price Index: Phoenix Arizona Leads in Home Price Growth

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index is followed closely by real estate pros and its trends are used to gauge home price growth within cities included in the index. Phoenix, Arizona led home price growth rates for the eighth consecutive month with a year-over-year growth rate of 6.90 percent. Seattle, Washington followed with year-over-year home price growth of 5.10 percent; Tampa, Florida also reported home price growth of 5.10 percent.

Seattle replaced Las Vegas, Nevada in second place, which showed a comeback for coastal housing markets that lost ground in recent months.

Case-Shiller’s 10-City, 20-City, and National Home Price Indices all posted higher home price growth rates in January. 14 of 20 cities in the 20-City Home Price Index showed faster growth rates for home prices in January than in December. Home price growth was strongest in the South and West; home price growth was weaker in the Midwest and Northeast.

FHFA Reports 5.20 Percent Yearly Home Price Growth in January

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported 5.20 percent annual home price growth for homes owned or financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While home prices have been fueled by limited supplies of available homes, demand for homes will likely fall as the coronavirus spreads throughout the U.S.

Local and statewide requirements to limit nonessential activities caused businesses and schools to close and many workers were laid off.  Prospective homebuyers could be sidelined for months if not indefinitely.

Analysts had mixed opinions on how the coronavirus outbreak could impact home prices; if companies and jobs reopen after the virus has passed, housing markets are expected to recover. Because the ultimate length and impact of the pandemic remain unknown, it’s currently impossible to know how housing markets will be impacted.

 

 

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

How To Be Sure Your Home Is Sanitized During Quarantine

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 1st, 2020

How To Be Sure Your Home Is Sanitized During QuarantineDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for everyone to make sure they act in the best interests of their local communities and the world as a whole. This means that everyone should follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), practice social distancing measures, and obey all orders to shelter in place. When families are stuck at home, it is important to ensure the house is sanitized. This will prevent the spread of this dangerous virus. There are a few measures that everyone should take to make sure their home is as clean as possible.

Clean High-Touch Surfaces Frequently

Any surfaces that multiple people are going to touch on a regular basis need to be cleaned every day. Some of the most common surfaces people need to clean daily include counters, doorknobs, bathroom appliances, faucets, toilets, phones, tablets, end tables, tabletops, and keyboards. Try to use a household spray followed by a wipe.

Read the labels of these cleaning items to make sure they are being used properly. During the cleaning process, try to wear gloves and make sure to dispose of them after they are used. Finally, if there are any surfaces that have bodily fluids on them, including blood, these need to be cleaned thoroughly as well.

Step Up Laundry Practices

All laundry needs to be cleaned as thoroughly as possible. If there are any clothes that have bodily fluids on them, including sweat after working out, these need to be laundered immediately. While handling laundry, try to wear disposable gloves. Try to keep these items as far away from the body as possible. Make sure to closely follow any and all directions on laundry detergent. Try to wash clothing at the warmest temperatures allowed on the clothing labels to ensure any pathogens are killed. Finally, wash hands with soap and water after handling any laundry.

Ask Questions 

Finally, anyone who has questions about how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic needs to rely on resources from credible sources such as the CDC and WHO. Furthermore, don’t hesitate to call a local doctor and ask questions. It is important for everyone to watch out for one another during this trying time.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Staying Social While Distancing

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 31st, 2020

Staying Social While DistancingFor many months, the COVID-19 (Corona-virus) pandemic appeared to be a problem that only existed in foreign lands. Now, this virus has arrived on the shores of the United States and has disrupted jobs, hospitals, and lives. People are being asked to practice social distancing measures to curtail the spread of the virus while some parts of the country are being asked to stay home entirely. The good news is that there are still ways for people to remain social while being safe. 

Get Outside Safely

One of the first tips that people need to remember is that they are still allowed to go outside. Even in states that are telling people to shelter in place, people are still allowed to go outside and get some fresh air. This is a great way for people to not only stay in shape but many other people are doing the same thing. Therefore, this is an opportunity for everyone to get some vitamin D, run into a few neighbors, and socialize (while practicing safe social distancing measures, of course!).

Get The Family Involved In The Cooking Process

Next, given that many restaurants are going to be closed during this crisis, take this opportunity to get the entire family involved in the cooking process. Take a few minutes and bake some cookies with the kids. Ask them for ideas on what to cook for dinner. This is a great opportunity for children to learn about something new, given that they are going to be home from school for a while.

Use Video Chat Applications

Finally, remember that there are still ways for people to stay in contact with one another through video chat apps. These include FaceTime and Skype. Even though that trip to visit the grandparents was canceled, this is still a great way to stay in touch. Furthermore, this can be a way for families to check in with each other and make sure that everyone is doing alright.

Stay Social During The Pandemic

In the end, it is going to be a challenging few months; however, with the right strategies, the country is going to come out stronger on the other side. Put these tips to use and stay social during the pandemic! 

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 30th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 30th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 30th, 2020

Scheduled monthly readings were released for new home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

New Home Sales Beat Expectations in February

Sales of new homes dropped 4.40 percent in February after reaching a 13-year high in January. 765,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis, which exceeded expectations of 750,000 sales in February. New home sales were 14.30 percent higher year-over-year.

Analysts said that further declines monthly new home sales are expected as the coronavirus spreads.

The national median price for a new home was $345,900 and there was a five-month inventory of new homes for sale in February; this was the lowest inventory of new homes since 2017.

Regional sales rose 39 percent in the Northeast and 7.00 percent in the Midwest. Sales rose 1.00 percent in the South and fell by 17 percent in the West.

Mortgage Rates Mixed After Fed Moves to Create Stability

Freddie Mac reported lower average rates for fixed-rate mortgages last week; rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped 15 basis points to 3.50 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by 14 basis points to an average of 2.92 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose 23 basis points to an average rate of 3.34 percent; this was caused by rising yields for 5-year treasury bills.

Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Sharp adjustments in mortgage rates and financial markets continued last week and are likely to continue as uncertainty increases over coronavirus impacts. Analysts noted that as tenants face prolonged unemployment, landlords will also be impacted when rents aren’t paid. The stimulus payments of $1200 per adult will not cover one month’s rent for households in high-cost housing market.                                                                                                   

First-time Jobless Claims Skyrocket as Consumer Sentiment Falls

3.28 million initial jobless claims were filed last week as compared to 282,000 claims filed the prior week. Analysts project higher numbers of jobless claims as the coronavirus spreads and more employers close their doors. Not surprisingly, consumer sentiment fell in March according to the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.

The March index reading dropped to 89.1 from February’s reading of 95.9. Analysts expected a March reading of 89.0. 

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on pending home sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, and labor-sector readings on job growth and national unemployment. 

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Home Improvements For A New Home Or When Getting Ready To Sell

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 27th, 2020

Home Improvements For A New Home Or When Getting Ready To SellSome simple home improvements increase the attractiveness of a home and may help with a sale. If you are getting ready to sell your home or if you just want to beautify it a little, here are some low-cost tips for home improvements to consider.

Go Green

Adding indoor plants is nice and improves interior air quality. If you have the room for it, consider a vertical garden. A vertical garden may use the entire ceiling-to-floor area of one wall. With the proper type of grow lights, it is possible to create the feeling of a lush tropical forest inside the home.

You can grow a herb garden in a window box, so you always have fresh herbs for cooking. Flowers, which make a lovely fragrance, are wonderful for aromatherapy to create positive feelings. Hang a sprig of fresh eucalyptus in the shower for a spa-like experience.

Water Elements

A water fountain or birdbath in the garden is a pleasant touch. Use a solar-powered water pump so there is no need to connect it to electricity. It will attract birds that are enjoyable to watch.

A small fountain in the home will have a soothing effect from the sound of the falling water. The Chinese art of Feng Shui recommends having some water elements in the home for a more peaceful living space. It can be something as simple as a desk or tabletop water fountain to have a nice effect.

Wall Decor

To spice up a room and give it a fresh look, consider changing the wall decor. Give the wall a fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper and hang new things on it in an attractive way.

Throw Rugs

Colorful throw rugs are helpful to cover a worn area of old carpet. Rugs improve the look of a room without the expense of replacing the carpet. In a larger room, a throw rug may create a space for a certain use, such as a sitting or dining area.

Add Some Color to the Front Door

One quick and easy technique to give a dreary home exterior a bit of curb appeal is to power wash the siding on the front and then paint the front door a dramatic contrasting color. A superbly-colorful front door is very attractive and welcoming.

Summary

With a little imagination and a modest budget, it is possible to make attractive home improvements that have appeal. Just try some of our suggestions and make improvements that you enjoy.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Paying Rent And Mortgages With A Credit Card

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 26th, 2020

Using a credit card for mortgage or rent

When people purchase a house, they usually set up their mortgage payments as a direct draft out of a checking account. The same is typically true of rent payments; however, many people have wondered if there was another way to pay rent or mortgage. After all, there are credit cards out there that have fantastic rewards. It would be great to take advantage of these rewards by placing rent and mortgage payments on a card.

Sadly, there is no way to pay rent or mortgage with a credit card without a fee. There are bank interchange fees that would lead to a surcharge for banks and landlords. This prevents them from readily accepting credit cards without a fee. What if there was a better way?

Possibilities For Credit Card Payments

It is rare to find an apartment complex that accepts a credit card. It is even harder to find a bank that does this. It is helpful to ask about the different ways to pay rents and mortgages when talking to banks and landlords. It can be helpful to do the math on any fees that are charged and compare them to rewards. For example, if a credit card gives five percent cash back on rotating categories, it might be beneficial to take advantage of this five percent back and pay a two percent fee to use the card. This would still net three percent in savings.

Using Third-Party Payment Options

There are also third-party service providers that will allow someone to pay nearly any bill online with a debit or credit card. This includes rent and mortgage payments. These third-party sites still charge fees. Sometimes, it is a flat rate. Other times, it is a percentage of the total.

When To Use Credit And Debit Cards

The most appropriate time to use a credit or debit card to pay this bill is when a minimum spending requirement is needed to trigger a significant bonus. For example, if a card requires someone to spend $5,000 to trigger a bonus, it is easier to reach this number by using the card to pay rent. Otherwise, it is better to calculate the fee versus and points and see which option makes the most sense.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Or Invest the Money?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 25th, 2020

Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Or Invest the MoneyTo understand what to do with a windfall or extra disposable income when it comes to paying down a mortgage or investing the money, we need to discuss and understand the concept of opportunity cost.

What Is Opportunity Cost?

The concept of opportunity cost takes into consideration the total financial impact of the use of funds when applied in different ways, to be able to compare the effectiveness of how it is best to use them. The opportunity cost considers the risks involved, the potential reward, as well as the tax implications of the choices.

Risk Versus Reward Evaluation

All investments have risks. When comparing the potential earnings from an investment against the savings of mortgage interest, only the investment side has any downside risk. If you pay down the mortgage, there is a 100% certainty that the loan will reduce and the interest paid will go down. You can calculate the saving on the interest and know the exact amount.

If you invest those same funds, there is always a risk that the investment money can be lost or the investment returns are lower than expected. Moneywise did a comparison of using money to lower a mortgage versus investing in the S&P 500 stock market index over 43 years from 1971 to 2013. For 26 of those 43 years (60% of the time), paying down the mortgage was a better financial move.

Tax Implications

The tax implications involve the impact of the mortgage interest deduction, and its effect on reducing federal income taxes, and the cost of paying capital gains tax on investment profits.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 reduced the possibility for many people of benefiting from an itemized mortgage interest deduction because the standard deduction increased. For comparative purposes, most Americans pay capital gains at the current rate of 15%.

Take the tax savings from the mortgage deduction, if you can use it, and compare this to the investment income, less the applicable capital gains taxes. Ask your tax accountant to do the calculation for you if you cannot do this yourself.

Summary

For some, paying down a mortgage is more beneficial than investing. Paying down a mortgage certainly has less risk. Be sure to consider paying down high-interest credit card bills first. That is always a wise idea because the interest rate charged on credit cards is so high.

Every person’s financial circumstances are somewhat different so there is no standard answer when comparing paying down a mortgage to investing the same amount of money. Each person needs to do this calculation of the opportunity costs, to be able to apply their extra funds in ways that are most beneficial for them.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional to discuss current financing options.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

When It Makes Sense To DIY

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 24th, 2020

When It Makes Sense To DIYMany homeowners enjoy DIY, or Do-it-Yourself, home improvement projects. There’s nothing quite like the pride of knowing you used your own hands to put together or improve something.

With the explosion of social media sites such as YouTube, Pinterest,and TikTok, spending a weekend on DIY projects seems easier than ever before. After just a couple of minutes spent searching, you can find a step-by-step tutorial, before and after photos, or a time-lapse video of any project imaginable. Anyone can do this! Right?

Not so fast. In some cases, it may not make sense to DIY. How do you decide whether it will be worth the elbow grease or if you should leave it to the professionals?

To DIY Or Not To DIY

Building, fixing, painting, or any other -ing isn’t always easier or more affordable, despite what HGTV would have you believe. As you consider whether or not to take a project on yourself, here are some things to consider. 

  • Cost – Calculate the cost of materials you’ll need for your project, factoring in tools and equipment. If the job requires some you don’t already own, you’ll have to rent or buy them, which can be quite costly. However, if you already have some of the necessary materials or you can borrow tools from someone, going the DIY route may make sense. 
  • Time – As Greek philosopher Theophrastus said, “Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” Even if a DIY project offers substantial cost savings, it’s important to factor in the time you’ll have to spend on it. Consider whether saving money is a worthwhile trade-off for your time.
  • Skill level – No matter how many tutorials you study, some things are better left to truly skilled professionals. If you don’t have any experience working in electrical, you shouldn’t attempt to do a project that requires running wires. Knowing your limitations and when to hire someone can save you time, money, and stress.

Potentially saving money is certainly not the only thing to consider when it comes to DIY projects. Before deciding to take it on, ask yourself if you’ll truly enjoy the project and whether or not you have the necessary skills. 

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

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -March 23rd , 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 23rd, 2020

 What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -March 17th, 2020Last week’s economic reports included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and  National Association of Realtors® reporting on sales of previously-owned homes.

The Federal Reserve canceled the scheduled meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee and Fed Chair’s press conference, but the Fed did lower its target federal funds rate early in the week. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims were also released.

 Builder Confidence, Housing Starts and Building Permits Decrease

Builder confidence in housing market conditions dropped two index points to 72 in March. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders are confident about housing market conditions. Component readings of the Housing Market Index were also lower.

Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell two points to 79; builder sentiment about housing market conditions within the next six months fell four points to 75 and builder confidence about buyer traffic in new housing developments dropped one point to 56.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said that March readings were compiled before the coronavirus outbreak and that April’s readings would show more accurate impacts of the coronavirus on builder confidence. As state and local governments begin to restrict non-essential activity, home sales and buyer traffic readings will decline.

February housing starts fell to 1.599 million starts as compared to January’s reading of 1.624 million starts; analysts expected 1.493 million housing starts for February’s report. The Commerce Department also reported lower numbers for building permits issued. 1.464 million building permits were issued in February; analysts expected 1.500 million permits issued as compared to January’s reading of 1.550 million permits issued. Analysts expect the coronavirus to cause declines in housing starts and real estate activity in general as the virus spreads.

Mortgage Rates Rise as Fed Lowers Target Federal Funds Rate

The Federal Reserve canceled the scheduled meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee after announcing its decision to lower the target federal funds rate to 0.00 to 0.25 percent.

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week as mortgage lenders worked through a backlog of refinancing applications. Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.65 percent and were 29 basis points higher. 15-year fixed-rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.06 percent, which was also 29 basis points higher than in the prior week. 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rates averaged 10 basis points higher at 3.11 percent.

Discount points averaged0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims jumped to 281,000 initial claims last week as employers closed and citizens were encouraged to limit non-essential activities. Unemployment claims will increase as more businesses close or reduce services.

The National Association of Realtors® reported rising sales of previously-owned homes with a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.77 million homes sold and was the highest reading for February sales since 2007. Home sales are expected to decrease as the coronavirus advances.

Open houses and home showings will decrease as stricter efforts to contain the coronavirus occur.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new home sales, inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Tags: , ,


| Comments off

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »