What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 15th, 2019

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 15th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 15th, 2019Last week’s economic releases included reports on inflation, core inflation and minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee Meeting held June 18 and 19. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Inflation Rate Rises, but Grows at Lowest Pace in Four Months

June’s Consumer Price Index reported the lowest rate of inflation in four months with a year-over-year rate of 1.60 percent growth as compared to May’s year-over-year inflation rate of 1.80 percent. Fuel prices were lower, which helped balance rising costs of rent, clothing and autos. Analysts said that falling inflation rates would be a primary reason why the Fed is likely to cut its key interest rate range later this month.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose 0.30 percent in June and surpassed expectations of 0.20 percent growth and May’s 0.10 percent growth rate.

Federal Reserve policymakers base their decisions  on the Fed’s dual mandate of maintaining maximum employment and economic growth, which is benchmarked at 2.00 percent annual inflation. FOMC members repeatedly state their commitment to reviewing domestic and global economic news and willingness to adjust Fed policy according to changing economic conditions and current events.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac  reported little change in average mortgage rates last week; Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.75 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages rose four basis points on average to 3.22 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable mortgages rose one basis point to 3.40 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Initial jobless claims fell by 13,000 claims to 209,000 claims filed and was lower than the expected reading of 221,000 new claims filed.  The July 4 holiday likely impacted the number of initial claims filed.

Whats Next

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and a report on consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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Innovative Home Security Technology

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 12th, 2019

Innovative Home Security TechnologyFor market value and the comfort of a home’s occupants, home security is just as important as energy-efficiency. Innovation in smart home technology focuses on both of these areas.

Here are some tips about things a homeowner can do to make a home more secure and a few pitfalls to look out for, which may not be obvious.

Smart View Doorbell

No matter how reinforced the front door of a home is, it is not secure if it is opened by someone inside without first knowing who is there. Additionally, smart doorbells allow the homeowner to view the front of their home using a smartphone application, even when they are not home.

These systems use motion sensors and video cameras. When someone approaches the front door, the motion sensors trigger and the camera captures the images of what is happening. The smartphone application notifies the homeowner that there is physical activity at the front door.

It may be a neighbor’s cat passing by or a burglar trying to steal a package or attempt a break in. The homeowner can trigger a response through some systems to send a security guard to the premises or has the option to call law enforcement.

Biometric Door Locks

Biometric door locks use fingerprints, iris (eye) scans, and/or facial recognition along with passwords to control who is authorized to enter a home. These systems improve door security and eliminate any problems caused by lost keys or unauthorized duplication of keys.

Improved Remote Garage Door Opener

These are convenient systems, especially when driving up to a home in bad weather and not wanting to get out to open the garage door. They do expose the home to vulnerabilities because the wireless signal that triggers their operations is hackable.

The newest systems use a password-protected system with a two-part security authorization that includes entering a password and responding to a text message sent to the homeowner’s smartphone. The wireless communications of the most innovative systems are encrypted, which makes them impenetrable to hacking.

Automatic Lighting

Smart home lighting can turn on and off automatically. This is useful to save energy and turn things off when a room is not in use. It is also useful to give the appearance that the home is in use even when the occupants are away. Lights and television sets can be turned off and on in the home, based on a pre-determined schedule as if done by occupants, which discourages burglars.

Remote Home Monitoring

Many systems exist that allow a homeowner to remotely monitor a home. “Nanny” cams allow parents to use a smartphone application to view their baby at home when in the care of a babysitter. Other systems allow viewing the entire home.

Be cautious when implementing wireless systems. It is very important to use point-to-point encryption technology to protect the wireless transmission from hacking. It is critical to understand that having a wireless view of the interior of the home creates a security risk if hacked by unauthorized users. As an alternative, the home can be hard-wired (not use a wireless signal) and encryption used to send data to the homeowner’s smartphone.

Summary

Improved home security is a value-added thing to have for a property to protect the occupants and may also improve the home’s resale value. Just be careful not to create new security vulnerabilities by using systems with unprotected wireless communications.

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

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5 Important Benefits Of Downsizing Your Home

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 11th, 2019

5 Important Benefits Of Downsizing Your HomeAfter the children are all grown and moved out, the family home often feels excessively large and empty. If you’re in this stage of life, you may be wondering if you should downsize like so many others, or stay put. Downsizing may be the best option, depending on your lifestyle.

Here are five benefits of downsizing for you to consider.

1. Less Clutter

When you move into a smaller home, you’ll have the opportunity to get rid of many possessions that you no longer need. Whether it’s sporting goods or knick knacks, you’ll be able to either sell the items, give them away to kids and grandkids or donate them to a charitable organization. Your new home won’t have as much space, so this decluttering process is almost mandatory.

2. Lower Utility Bills

A smaller home means lower energy usage and lower utility bills. It’s likely that you’ll have fewer lights on the rooms, less square footage to heat and cool. You may also incur less water usage, since you may have fewer bathrooms and less lawn to irrigate. So, not only will you likely have a lower mortgage payment when you downsize, it will probably also take less money to run the home.

3. More Free Time

A smaller home means that it will likely take less time to maintain, too. There’s less to clean inside and a smaller house to maintain on the exterior of the home. This equates to much more time for you to do the things that you want to do instead of the things that you have to do.

4. Easier To Get Around

Downsizing usually makes it easier to get around the home. Many people who downsize opt for a single-floor home rather than a two-story home, so they can avoid having stairs in the home. Living on one floor is often easier as people age and climbing stairs becomes more cumbersome. 

5. More Sustainable Living

A smaller home means a smaller carbon footprint. For people who are earth-conscious, a smaller home affords the chance to play their part in helping by living a more environmentally sustainable life. 

Remember, downsizing doesn’t mean living with less. For many people who have already downsized, the process has infused their life with more opportunities to live a fuller existence by getting rid of space and possessions they didn’t really need anymore. 

If you are in the market for a smaller home, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

 

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4 Tips To Ensure A Successful Closing

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 10th, 2019

4 Tips To Ensure A Successful ClosingAs you come up to the date of your closing, there’s time to reflect on everything that led to this step. Your real estate agent, mortgage broker, title company and others all work hard to ensure a successful closing for you. They’re all in your corner, hoping for the same outcome as you. They’ve had to do a lot of work behind the scenes that you may not even be aware of. Their diligence and professionalism has already benefited you.

But did you know that it’s not all riding on your team of real estate professionals? There are things you can do to ensure a successful closing, too. 

1. Bring Your Checkbook

In other words, have extra funds available to cover unexpected costs. Anything could happen at the closing table. If there was an error in calculations, or the seller all of a sudden asks for some kind of additional compensation, you could all go home empty-handed. If you bring your checkbook, all those problems could go away and you end up with a successful closing. 

2. Don’t Forget Your ID

You probably don’t need to be reminded to bring your driver’s license with you when you drive. But did you know you’ll probably need to present your ID at the closing table? Funnily enough, people do forget, especially if you’re a woman and you’ve changed purses recently. Before you head to the closing table, double check that you have two forms of ID on you to be on the safe side.

3. Preview The Paperwork

Although everyone’s a professional, human error does occur. If possible, ask to preview the paperwork associated with the closing. Your real estate agent can help you with this step. Read through everything with a fine-toothed comb. Look for spelling errors, mistakes in addresses, and even transposed numbers. The earlier you can review paperwork, the longer the available time to get any errors corrected before the closing.

4. Bring Extra Documents With You

You don’t have to carry your filing cabinet to the closing. But it’s wise to bring relevant financial documents with you and leave them in your car. Lenders may ask for things last minute like old bank statements, a certain cancelled check or something else. 

With the help of your trusted real estate agent and home mortgage professional, your closing will likely go off without a hitch. But, just in case, keep these tips in mind.

 

 

 

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Home Staging Tip – Urban Gardening in Small Spaces

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 9th, 2019

Home Staging Tip - Urban Gardening in Small SpacesHome staging means getting a home ready for sale with the goal to maximize the sale price and close a sale as fast as possible. Some home staging tasks are very dreary, like having to get the place sparkling clean. That is really not fun work. It may be better, if it is affordable, for the homeowner to hire professionals to do that grunt work.

Another part of home staging is really fun and even can start long before putting a home on the market for sale. Children like to participate in this as well. It is creating an urban garden.

Urban Garden

An urban garden fits in anywhere. The idea is to create space for plants to thrive even if there is no backyard or in-ground growing opportunities. Here are some easy ways to achieve this:

  • Window Planter Boxes: Any window that gets sunlight can have a window box. Install these boxes on the inside or on the outside of the window depending on the climate. These are perfect places to have flowers add color that is attractive. Transplant low-cost flowering plants into window boxes. Using this strategy, window boxes stay full of flowers, which are constantly in bloom.
  • Big Pots: Decorative large pots are a great thing to use to create a garden space. Strawberry pots made of clay are popular things to put on a balcony or a porch. Flower pots that line the walkway to the front door add to a home’s curb appeal.
  • Roof Gardens: For townhouses without a backyard, balcony, or a patio, there may only be an urban garden space available on a roof. If there is a good view as well, this is a real plus. Be sure to have a nice picnic table to sit around and enjoy the area.
  • Herbs: Herb gardens are very easy to start. Herbs of many kinds can grow in simple planters. One added advantage is, if growing aromatic herbs, they put a pleasant smell in the air.

Summary

Besides growing flowers, urban gardens may also provide fresh herbs and vegetables to eat. Many things are really easy to grow, such as the herb basil, and they add a nice flavor to a meal.

Start with a small herb garden. If you have children, get them involved. Soon, it will be so much fun growing plants that your house will fill with color, nice smells, and good things to eat.

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

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 8th, 2019

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 8th, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 8th, 2019Last week’s scheduled economic news included readings on construction spending and reports on public and private sector  jobs. Monthly readings for public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate were released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims.

Construction Spending Dips in May

May construction spending fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 0.80 percent growth at a pace of $1.3 trillion as compared to April’s reading, which was adjusted to 0.40 percent growth after reports of a flat reading. Year-over-year construction spending  was 2.30 percent lower in May.  

High materials costs and shortages of workers continued to dampen builder sentiment as shortages of available homes added to buyer concerns. Slower home price growth and shortages of affordable homes also impacted housing markets, but low mortgage rates encouraged qualified home buyers to lock in low rates.

Recent news reports suggest that economic growth may be slowing along with home price growth, but public and private-sector jobs grew in June after low readings in May. The Commerce Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls report showed 224,000 public and private sector jobs added in June; ADP reported 102,000 private-sector jobs added in June after May’s lean reading of 41,000 jobs added. The national unemployment rate ticked up to 3.70percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 3.60 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Average mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged  two basis points higher at 3.78 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged two basis points higher at 3.18 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose six basis points to 3.45 percent.

Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

Initial jobless claims fell to 221,000 new claims filed last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 229,000  initial jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic reports include testimony by Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve and release of minutes of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in June. Reports on inflation and weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims will also be released.

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7 New Home Upgrades that Could Save Your Life

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 5th, 2019

7 New Home Upgrades that Could Save Your LifeOne of the best things about moving into a new home is personalizing it and really making it yours. From hanging wall art to arranging furniture to finding the perfect spot for your grandmother’s hand crocheted afghan, it’s a real joy to decorate.

But are you forgetting about the big investment you just made? Consider the following important home upgrades that will protect your home and your family.

1. Smoke Alarm

Take an afternoon and upgrade all your new home’s smoke alarms. Smoke alarms save lives and it’s not worth it to assume that just because it’s there it’s working. 

2. Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Do the same upgrade with your carbon monoxide alarm. If your new home doesn’t yet have one, go ahead and pick up the latest model. Even if your home has all electric appliances, it’s worth it to have this added protection.

3. Trim Bushes

It’s lovely to have a home that’s nestled behind evergreens, but you should know that this gives intruders easy cover around the perimeter of your home. Trim bushes so they are no more than four feet high so intruders have nowhere to hide.

4. Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting adds to the curb appeal of your home and also deters intruders. Install solar lighting to highlight attractive areas and motion sensor lighting around windows and doors. 

5. Security System

Consider enrolling in a security alarm system for your new home. Several companies offer this option. These systems come with cameras that you can have in/or around your home. The mere presence of cameras is often enough to ward off unwanted persons. 

6. Fire Extinguishers

Stock every room with a fire extinguisher. Many times people only put these in the kitchen, but a candle or electrical fire can break out anywhere, including the garage. This isn’t technically an upgrade, but this could save your live and your property.

7. Door Alarm

If you have children, consider installing a door alarm on your sliding patio doors. This is especially helpful if you have a backyard swimming pool. A door alarm can be picked up at the local hardware store and installed within minutes if you’re even a little bit handy.

These seven tips will help to ensure that both you and your home are well-protected. After this, you can get back to decorating comforted by the knowledge that you’ve taken care of the important points first.

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.

 

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3D Printing Used For Home Renovations And Construction

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 3rd, 2019

3D Printing Used For Home Renovations And Construction3D printing technology is a game-changer in the home construction business. Not only is the technology capable of printing a home, but it can also be used to print one at a much lower cost when compared to traditional home construction.

All3DP reports on homes printed using 3D technology that costs as little as $4,000 to $10,000. Some are ready for occupancy within 24 hours.

The $4,000 Home

A company in Texas, called ICON, is working with NewStoryCharity.org to create 3D-printed homes at an extremely low cost. New Story Charity builds simple homes in other countries, like Haiti and El Salvador. They give these homes to very poor people who live in shacks built out of plastic and cardboard.

These homes are small (around 500 square feet) and yet fully self-contained with a kitchen area, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a living space area.

Weather-Resistant Homes

A Russian company, called Apis Cor, used 3D printing to build a ready-to-use home for just over US$10,000 that can withstand the severe climate during winters in Russia. The 410-square-foot home is completely finished, painted inside and out, and wired for electricity. It was printed and built completely on site. It is small, yet quite attractive.

Ten Homes In One Day

A company in Shanghai, China, called Winsun, achieved the break-through of 3D printing ten homes out of a foamy, lightweight concrete material in a single day. The prospects of factory-produced extremely low-cost homes are extremely appealing in China where many millions are looking to have a new home.

Architectural Firsts

Many of the applications of 3D-printing technology in home construction focus on small homes built quickly for a really cheap price. That was what Winsun first started doing. However, 3D-printing technology is not limited to these cheap homes.

In fact, using 3D-printing technology, Winsun produced a beautiful, architecturally-stunning, office building that went up in Dubai for the price of $140,000. The project only took 17 days to complete. The cost was about one-half of regular construction costs for a building of the same type.

The office building has beautifully-curved walls and a style that would be very difficult to replicate by using other construction methods.

Summary

Expect that 3-D printing technology will increase in use for the construction of homes. Using 3D-printing technology also means that the homes can be very stylish. They can have nicely curved walls and are not limited to simple, rectangular-angled styles.

This means that, right now, they are perfect for a cottage home, an in-law apartment, or home office built in the back yards of larger homes in America. If you are thinking about a backyard cottage you can already get one 3D printed for a great price.

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

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Why Do People Stage Homes To Sell?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 2nd, 2019

Why Do People Stage Homes To SellIf you’re selling your home, your real estate agent has likely advised you to stage your home to sell. But why exactly do people stage homes to sell? Some people go to great lengths to stage their home too, even going so far as moving possessions into storage units or renting furnishings!

If your home is already nicely decorated, why should you go to the added trouble of “staging” it? There are many good reasons to stage your home to sell.

1. Staging Makes Your Home Appear More Spacious

Having lived in your home for a number of years, you probably haven’t noticed how many things you’ve accumulated. When you stage your home to sell, these things get put away out of sight. This tends to clear tabletops, open up floor space and generally make your home look larger. Homebuyers will see the spaciousness as a huge asset.

2. Staging Gives Every Area A Purpose

Part of the staging process is to give every area of the home a purposeful identity. A space by the front door becomes a true foyer, a bay window becomes a reading nook and a short hallway becomes a mail organization station. This lets homebuyers imagine how organized and productive their new lives will be in your home.

3. Buyer’s Agents Will Be Proud To Show Your Home

It may seem odd, but the homes that a buyer’s agent shows can reflect on the agent. When your home is beautifully staged, seller’s agents will be delighted to bring their buyers to see it. This can result in more traffic, which can lead to increased offers on your home for sale.

4. Staging Helps Buyers Envision Living There

Another process of staging is the removal of personal items from your home. This would include trophies, family portraits and similar memorabilia. This enables homebuyers to more easily envision themselves living in your home, which is more likely to lead to them making an offer.

5. Staging Takes The Burden Off The Seller

As the homeowner, you need to make sure all your possessions are in tip top shape for showings. Your favorite “sloppy” couch would have to be refreshed and steam cleaned to pass muster with discriminating buyers. Instead of going though all that, you can rent temporary staging furniture that’s already in pristine condition. 

As you can see, there are benefits to home sellers to stage the home. For help with the staging process, consult with your trusted real estate agent.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 1st, 2019

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on July 1st, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 1st, 2019Last week’s economic reports included readings on home prices, sales of pre-owned homes and pending home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Index: Home Price Growth Slips in April

Case-Shiller reported slower home price growth in April; home prices were 0.20 percent lower at 3.50 percent. Increasing inventories of homes for sale provided buyers with more choices and eased demand, which increased in recent years due to severe shortages of available homes.

Cities on the west coast previously dominated home price growth, but the top three cities with highest home prices reported in April were sunbelt cities located east of high-priced west coast cities. Las Vegas, Nevada reported the highest rate of home price growth with 7.20 percent year-over-year.

Phoenix, Arizona followed with 6.00 percent growth and Tampa, Florida home prices grew by 5.60 percent year-over-year in April. Home values in all three cities were hard hit during the recession and are recovering, but not at the double digit rates seen in prior years.

New Home Sales Fall in May

Sales of newly-built homes fell to a five-month low in May according to the Commerce Department. New homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 626,000 homes as compared to April’s rate of 679,000 new homes sold. May’s reading was 3.70 percent lower than April’s revised reading.

There was a 6.40 month supply of new homes available at May’s sales pace. Real estate pros consider a six-month supply of available homes as average. Sales of new homes were 4.00 percent higher than for the same period in 2018. The median price of new homes sold in May was $308,000 and was 2.70 percent lower than a year ago.

Pending home sales rose in May from April’s negative reading of -1.50 percent to a positive reading of 1.10 percent. This reading lines up with the increase in homes for sale.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage 11 basis points lower than for the prior week. Average rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell nine basis points to 3.16 percent and 3.39 percent respectively.

Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Mortgage applications rose 5 percent from the prior week due to the dip in home loan rates.

Initial jobless claims rose last week to 227,000 new claims filed as compared to 216,000 new claims expected and 217,000 first-time claims filed the prior week. Analysts sad that new jobless claims remain low and that last week’s rise in claims did not reflect weakening in labor markets.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index dropped to an index reading of 98.20 in June from May’s reading of 100. Consumer sentiment dropped due to concerns over recent tariffs and resulting increases in consumer prices

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes releases 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.

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