Archive for October, 2016

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

Posted in Mortgage Rates by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 31st, 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

Next 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.

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5 Futuristic, Connected Home Upgrades That You Can Install This Fall

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 28th, 2016

5 Futuristic, Connected Home Upgrades That You Can Install This FallThe future is now! You may know that there are already many smart (Internet-connected) appliances and items that you can use to update your home for the connected age. But for your reading pleasure, here are five of them already on the market.

Energy Efficiency: The Smart Thermostat

One of the first smart home upgrades to make it big on the market is the smart thermostat, specifically the Nest Learning Thermostat. Connected to your heating system, and to your phone through Wi-Fi, this device ‘learns’ your energy use habits so it can adjust to them. It saves you money by tailoring its output to your usage, which means it is kinder on the planet as well. Smart tech for the win-win.

Intelligent Alarms: Smart Smoke Detectors

In the same vein is the smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector technology. These alarm systems assess the danger and speak to you. They report on multiple details, including what kind of danger you’re facing (fire or carbon monoxide poisoning), where it is exactly in your home, and whether it constitutes an immediate risk to you.

Turn It On!: Smart Light Bulb

A-ha! The intelligence continues. There are smart light bulbs now like the Philips’ Hue Connected Bulb which speak through your Wi-Fi. This light can be controlled remotely through your phone or computer, where you can change its color and adjust the brightness without ever touching the bulb itself.

Baby Care: The Smart Onesie

You know those moments you need to yourself, when you step out of your baby’s room to let them sleep? Well, there’s now a device to help keep track of them even then. The Mimo Baby Shirt is a smart onesie. Its organic cotton is woven with sensors that monitor elements like your child’s temperature or sleep pattern and streams that info to your device through your home’s Wi-Fi. It can be fitted with a microphone, again linked to your phone and it’s machine-washable!

The Next Mouthful: The Smart Fork

Last but not least, there’s the HapiFork. This smart utensil monitors your eating habits how fast you’re eating, the time between meals, how many bites it takes to finish the meal. These tidbits can be uploaded to your laptop or phone, and can help you track and change how you eat.

As technology continues to progress, our homes are becoming smarter and smarter. Keep up with the tech by staying abreast of new developments starting with these five. Oh, and one last smart thing? Reaching out to your local real estate agent for more information, recommendations or just to chat about the future.

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S&P Case-Shiller: Home Prices Gain in August

Posted in Home Values by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 27th, 2016

Home prices gained in August per the 20-City S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Analysts said that home values continue to expand in spite of challenges including low inventories of available homes and strict mortgage qualification requirements.

National Home Price Index Near 2006 Peak

According to the national Case-Shiller Home Price Index, August home prices are 0.10 percent below their 2006 peak and all metro areas in the 20-City Home Price Index posted gains. Top gains in the 20-City Home Price Index were posted by Portland, Oregon with a year-over-year gain of 11.70 percent, Seattle, Washington home prices gained 11.40 percent and Denver, Colorado home prices gained 8.80 percent year-over-year.

All metro areas included in the 20-City Index posted year-over-year gains in excess of one percent. New York City had the lowest year-over-year price gain with a year-over-year reading of 1.70 percent in August. Washington, D.C. home prices rose 2.30 percent year-over-year. Home prices in the Cleveland, Ohio metro area increased by 2.90 percent year-over-year.

New Housing Bubble Unlikely

With home price gains close to peak prices seen before the housing bubble burst, concerns may arise over the potential for a new housing bubble to occur in coming months. Analysts say this is unlikely as home buyers are not taking out extreme levels of mortgage debt seen at the onset of the Great Recession. David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, said “There is no reason to fear another massive collapse is around the corner. The run-up to the financial crisis was marked with both rising home prices and rapid growth in mortgage debt.”

Possible Fed Rate Hike Won’t Cause Mortgage Rates to Explode

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve is expected to raise the Fed’s target federal funds rate in December. This action will lead to interest rate increases for consumer credit and mortgages, but not at levels that would make mortgage loans suddenly unaffordable. While gradual increases in federal interest rates would cause mortgage rates to rise over time, market conditions and related factors could potentially cause home prices to slow or even dip in some areas. Regional influences including employment and demand for homes are examples of factors contributing to home price growth or decline in specific areas.

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Master the Autumn Home Buying Season With Our Guide to Finding Local Real Estate Bargains

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 26th, 2016

Master the Autumn Home Buying Season With Our Guide to Finding Local Real Estate BargainsMost people have a good idea of the neighborhood they want to purchase a new home in. The problem is finding a great deal in the area, especially if it’s a neighborhood that’s very popular.

Thinking outside the box and avoiding the standard real estate listings can result in some bargain properties for sale that most people are completely unaware of.

Contemplate Investing In Foreclosed Homes

When the housing market boomed, many people tried to take advantage by investing in a second home that they couldn’t necessarily afford. This resulted in a huge market full of homes that were foreclosed on when mortgage payments could no longer be made.

This happens frequently whenever the housing market goes through a strong period and these houses and condos are owned by the bank and can be purchased at a great price.

Look At FSBO (For Sale By Owner) Homes

FSBO properties, homes that are being sold privately by the owner, are one of the best bets to find a great bargain. These homeowners have made the decision to try and sell their home without the use of a real estate agent in an attempt to save some money on the sale.

Local real estate agents will be aware of any homes in their neighborhood that are being sold privately and will be able to point you in the right direction. FSBO homes have the best chance of getting a good deal because offers can be made directly to the owner and the earliest offer may just be the most lucrative for them.

When All Else Fails, Take A Drive

Anybody who knows the area they want to invest in can be proactive and beat the market by simply taking a drive up and down the streets and looking at houses. Some owners haven’t taken the time to bother listing a home that they would love to get rid of.

These are either rental properties or family homes that have been willed and left neglected. They can be easily identified by the care that’s been given to the property. An overgrown lawn and overflowing mailbox is a sure sign the owner may be interested in a talk about selling.

After all, there’s nothing to lose.

Staying away from real estate listings to find a home can be tough. Thankfully, most local real estate agents will be tracking these houses so they can help their clients think outside the box. Contact your trusted real estate professional in your area for a better idea of how to make offers on these bargain properties.

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Forget Mortgage Apps: 5 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Use a Human Mortgage Broker

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 25th, 2016

Forget Mortgage Apps: 5 Reasons Why You'll Want to Use a Human Mortgage BrokerA mortgage broker can be a helpful tool in finding the right opportunity for you, but it can be tempting to deal with mortgage apps that may be able to consolidate all the information you need in one place. While many modern apps can be quite convenient, there are a few reasons you may want to use a knowledgeable mortgage professional to ensure the credibility of your most important purchase.

Up-To-Date On Credible Lenders

A mortgage app can certainly provide many mortgage insights, but it’s not necessarily an able replacement for a broker who has dealt with many different lenders and knows the ins and outs. While an app can point you in the right direction, a broker will be able to keep you informed of all the little details.

Access To Better Rates

There are no guarantees that working with a broker will get you a better deal, but because brokers work in conjunction with a variety of different lenders, they can often get lower rates or special deals which you may not be able to find on your own.

Saving On Fees

In addition to assisting you with finding the best rates, a broker may also be able to minimize fees like the application and/or appraisal fees so that you can knock some of the costs off your mortgage. Since brokers have an established relationship with lenders, this is something you can use to your advantage.

All The Available Options

It can be overwhelming to go through all of the available lenders, and even a detailed app may not be able to provide this information. However, instead of the most popular current options, a mortgage broker will have lending information available from all kinds of institutions so you can choose what will work best.

Making The Process Run Smooth

An app may seem like a time-saver with all the information at your fingertips, but having a broker to look through things for you can provide a lot of comfort and clarity. While you do have the option of diving in on your own, having an expert to help you over the hurdles can go a long way.

There are so many apps out there that can make life a lot easier, but mortgage apps may not be the place to start when it comes to your mortgage process. If you’re currently considering your options, contact your trusted real estate professional for more information.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 24, 2016

Posted in Mortgage Rates by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 24th, 2016

Last week’s economic releases included the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index along with reports on housing starts, building permits and sales of previously owned homes. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Dips amid High Demand for Homes

Home builder confidence in current housing market conditions dipped from September’s index reading of 65 to 63. September’s reading was the highest since the peak of the housing bubble. Any reading above 50 indicates a majority of builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions. Building new homes is essential to relieving intense demand for homes against short supplies of homes for sale. Builders cited obstacles including low supplies of land for development and workforce shortages, but expressed confidence in overall economic conditions that affect construction and sales of new homes.

Housing Starts Fall, Building Permits Rise

According to the Commerce Department, the reading for housing starts was nine percent lower in September than for August. 1.047 million starts were reported in September on a seasonally adjusted annual basis; August’s reading showed 1.150 million starts. Monthly readings tend to fluctuate due to weather, labor and materials supplies. Single family starts provided good news with a higher annual rate of 783,000 starts; this was 8.10 percent higher than August’s reading.

More building permits were issued in September than for August. Overall, 1.225 million permits issued on an annual basis. August’s reading showed 1.152 million permits issued. Building permits for single-family homes rose to 783, 000 on an annual basis, an increase of 8.10 percent over August. September’s increase in single-family permits indicates that builders are shifting their efforts toward single-family construction instead of multi-family construction. This signifies confidence in homeownership and suggests stronger housing markets as renters become homebuyers.

Sales of PreviouslyOwned Homes Increase

The National Association of Realtors® reported that previously owned homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 5.47 million sales in September as compared to a rate of 5.33 million sales in August. Pre-owned home sales rebounded after slowing in July and August. Home prices rose 5.60 percent year-over-year to an average of $234,200; this was the 55th consecutive month that home prices rose.

Sales of pre-owned home sales rose in all four regions rose year-over-year from 0.90 percent in the South to 5.80 percent in the Northeast. First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of sales, which was the highest participation rate in four years.

Mortgage Rates Higher

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rates were five basis points higher at 3.52 percent. 15-year fixed rates were three basis points higher at 2.79 percent. 5/1 adjustable mortgage rates rose three basis points to 2.85 percent. Discount points rose from 0.50 to 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and were unchanged at -.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were higher than expected at 260,000 claims; analysts expected 248,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 247,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the highest in six weeks, but analysts said that layoffs remain very low.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Case-Shiller home price data, readings on new and pending home sales along with reports on consumer confidence. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on their regular weekly scheduled.

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Don’t Trash This: 7 Common Home Items That You Can Repurpose and Give New Life

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 21st, 2016

Don't Trash This: 7 Common Home Items That You Can Repurpose and Give New LifeThere are untold benefits to reusing old household items instead of tossing them. Not only are you reducing your ecological footprint, but you can also save lots of money by recycling what you’ve already bought. Read on for some common items that are easily repurposed.

Finish The Milk, But Don’t Toss The Jug

Go for plastic milk jugs instead of cartons and easily repurpose them as, for example, watering cans. Simply, and carefully, use a nail and a hammer to poke several holes in the lid. Go for the 2-litre jugs if you only have one or two indoor plants, and the 4-litre if you have more.

Mason Jars, Beer Bottles And Applesauce, Oh My!

Glass containers are brilliant as storage, in the kitchen or elsewhere why not use a jar as a toothbrush or writing utensil holder? Beer bottles or other narrow-necked containers become flower vases. Jars with tight screw lids and a narrowing neck, like applesauce jars, can become a travel-sized water or juice bottle. And all of these containers can be covered in fabric or paint, to make them functional and beautiful.

Broken Dresser? Don’t Chuck The Drawers

So your dresser broke? That’s okay. Drawers never go out of style. Use old ones as under-the-bed storage, or stack and secure them with the bottom against the wall for a DIY shelving unit. You can also fill them with soil and use them as planters in your garden or yard.

A New Take On Hand-Me-Down Clothes

Clothing is one of the most ubiquitous household items which is perfect, because it’s also one of the most versatile. Cut up an old dress or collared shirt and, with a quick run through the sewing machine, you have a new baby dress or bib. If you use a scarf to wrap a present (for more info, look at “furoshiki” techniques), you’re giving an extra gift to your friend, and the planet.

Use Up The Floss And Break A Dish

Next time you’re travelling, finish up the floss first and use the container to store cash. This recycles the container and it disguises the money in case of burglars. And if you break a dish, don’t worry you can smooth the edges of the broken pieces and use them as mosaic tiles, or a garden border, or jewelry.

It’s simple. To start saving money, and the planet, use these easy ideas, or reach out to your local real estate agent for more tips and tricks on how to reuse old household items in funky, handy ways.

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Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn’t Appraise for Its Purchase Price

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 20th, 2016

Understanding Appraisals and What to Do If Your Home Doesn't Appraise for Its Purchase PriceIt can be a bit of a surprise if your home turns out to be valued at less than the purchase price offered, but this is the type of thing that can occur in an appraisal situation. While this can change everything from your contract to the amount of your down payment if your home has been appraised at less than you envisioned, here are some options you may want to consider.

Review The Appraisal Contingency Clause

If an appraisal contingency clause is built into the terms of your contract, this means that the terms of your contract can be re-evaluated and re-negotiated if an appraisal happens to come up short. While this is meant primarily to protect the homebuyer against a lower appraisal, it doesn’t mean that the terms of a new deal can’t be met for the good of both parties.

Get A Second Appraisal

It’s entirely possible that the initial appraisal is accurate, but it doesn’t necessarily hurt to get a second opinion in the event that the first appraisal seems too low. While you can work in conjunction with your lender to get a second appraisal, you may need to pay for it the second time around in order to get your initial purchasing price. Whether it happens to be good news or bad news, it can be worth the peace of mind to know how to proceed.

Consider A Lower Price

It’s less than ideal when your home is appraised for less than the purchase price, but this doesn’t have to be a deal breaker when it comes to selling it. While you may be able to get away with a higher price for your home in a hot real estate market, if things have cooled off, this can be an important time to re-negotiate the deal you’ve got. If a potential buyer likes your home and has already made an offer, they may be happy to decide on new contract terms.

It can be quite disappointing if your home is appraised at a value that is less than the offer you’ve received, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to put your home back on the market. Whether you and the potential buyer decide to re-negotiate or get a second opinion, there are options that can be beneficial for both parties. If you’re currently going through the appraisal process, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

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NAHB Housing Market Index Dips 2 Points

Posted in Housing Market by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 19th, 2016

According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder confidence in housing markets dropped two points in October to an index reading of 63. September’s reading of 65 was the highest posted since the housing bubble peak. Component readings for October’s housing market index were mixed; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 72. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell two points to 69. Builder outlook for buyer traffic in new home developments over the next six months fell by one point to an index reading of 46.

Approaching winter weather likely contributed to lower readings, but builder confidence remained strong. Any reading above 50 signifies that more builders are confident about specific index components than fewer. While home builders continue to be encouraged by low mortgage rates and a stronger job market, they also face obstacles including shortages of labor and buildable lots for development.

High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Present Ongoing Challenges

High demand for homes coupled with depleted inventory of available homes is sidelining some buyers. As demand continues to drive home prices higher first-time and moderate income buyers are faced with affordability and mortgage qualification challenges. Limited inventory also makes it difficult for home buyers to find homes they want and contributes to competition for available homes. Buyers depending on mortgage financing typically compete with investors and cash buyers for homes in high demand areas.

Real estate pros and analysts monitor home builder sentiment as an indicator of future home supplies, but builder sentiment and housing starts don’t necessarily correspond. Given high home prices and strict mortgage qualification standards that sideline some buyers, it appears that home builders are taking a moderate stance toward ramping up construction.

In addition to boosting real estate markets, building homes provides jobs and supports local economies. Building homes creates demand for construction materials and related products and services.

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Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It’s a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage Market

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 18th, 2016

Buy Your Home Today: Understanding Why It's a Bad Idea to Try and Time the Mortgage MarketIt’s often the case that people will opt to postpone home ownership until the best rates are available or it’s a more stable investment, but in an ever-shifting market it may not be the best decision to put such a sizeable investment off. If you’re wondering whether or not you should put off investing in a home, here are some reasons you may want to start putting your time into searching for a home.

Interest Rates Always Fluctuate

While interest rates are constantly changing and have certainly risen since the economic recession of 2008, they still remain relatively low and this can make investing in a home an even better financial decision. There are no certainties that market rates will remain low, but given a lower monthly payment and the easier qualifications nowadays to acquire a loan, the present may be the best time to start investing in your own place.

Investing Early Reaps Financial Rewards

It’s easy enough to wait for a lower home price or even improved interest rates, but there is no guarantee that the market will shift down. In the meantime, you may be spending at lot of your monthly paychecks on rent. If home ownership is one of your goals in life and you’re living month to month with a high rental payment, investing money into a home is a sure way to gaining equity for the future, even in the event that the market shifts up.

It’s A Good Time To Buy

When it comes to the market, there may always be a time coming when you’ll get a better deal, but the fact remains that homes tend to remain on the market a lot longer these days and it’s largely a buyer’s market. There are no guarantees that you’ll be able to find the house you want at the price you can afford, but there are a lot of good deals to be found these days and investing sooner is an opportunity to reap financial rewards down the road.

Many people hold off on home ownership because they are waiting for prices to come down or interest rates to change, but the sooner you invest in a home, the more you can benefit from investing into something that is entirely your own. If you’re currently perusing the market for a home at a price you can afford, contact your local real esatate professional for more information.

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