Archive for April, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 30th, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 30th, 2018

What's ahead for mortgage rates april 30 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new and existing home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Rise to Near Four-Year High

February home prices rose 6.30 percent year-over-year and 0.50 percent month-to-month. Home prices rose just shy of a record set in 2014. The 20-City Home Price Index reported home prices were 6.80 percent higher year-over-year and rose 0.80 percent month-to-month in February. The year-over-year reading surpassed the peak reading in 2006. Home prices accelerated in contrast to analyst expectations that they nay slow as buyers deal with a short supply of homes for sale.

Cities with the three highest readings in year-over-year home price growth were Seattle, Washington with 12.70 percent growth, Las Vegas, Nevada home prices rose 11.60 percent, and San Francisco, California home prices rose by 10.10 percent according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index for February.

Severe shortages of homes and high demand in the west and in areas impacted by the housing bubble burst are driving the rapid rise of home prices; while it appears that homebuyers may be sidelined by high home prices, increasing home sales suggest that buyers may be buying before higher prices cut them out of the market.

Sales of New and Existing Homes Surpass Expectations in March

Sales of pre-owned homes rose to 5.60 million sales on a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year basis. Analysts expected a reading of 5.52 million sales based on February’s reading of5.54 million pre-owned homes sold. Sales of new homes also exceeded expectations with a sales rate 0f 694,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected a reading of 634,000 new hone sales. February’s reading was 667,000 new home sales. As with the boost in sales of pre-owned homes, analysts said that buyers are anxious to buy before they’re priced out of the market or cannot qualify for mortgage loans.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates for the third consecutive week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.58 percent and were 11 basis points higher. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 8 basis points higher at 4.02 percent; The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was seven basis points higher at 3.74 percent. Rising Treasury yields were driven by higher commodity prices drove mortgage rates higher.

Economic indicators have steadily strengthened, which traditionally boosts home prices. While analysts have shown concerns over rapidly rising home prices and mortgage rates, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported mortgage applications were 11 percent higher year-over-year.

New jobless claims fell to 209,000 first-time claims filed as compared to expectations of 230,000 new claims, and the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new claims filed. Lower jobless claims indicate fewer layoffs and strengthening labor markets.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic releases include readings on inflation, job growth, and national unemployment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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How Do You Tell If A Neighborhood Is The Right One To Settle In?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 27th, 2018

How Do You Tell If A Neighborhood Is The Right One To Settle In?Choosing the perfect home to settle in can be a tough decision. You have to weigh in on many factors including price, size, features and amenities, number of bedrooms and baths, design, and so on. However, all these factors are not enough to give you a great home ownership experience if you fall into the wrong neighborhood.

Picking the right neighborhood not only guarantees you happiness and comfort, but also helps with home appreciation for the sake of future re-sale value. In most cases, though, it can be tougher to find the perfect neighborhood than it is to find the right house.

Here are some factors that can help you find the right neighborhood:

Schools

If you have kids and the quality of their education is a priority, consider a neighborhood with a reputable school district. Even if you don’t have kids, such a neighborhood will most likely boost your home’s appreciation. You may also find it easier to find a buyer if you decide to move away from the neighborhood.

Crime Rate

No one wants to live in a neighborhood with high crime rates. This is one of the basic factors that you must consider when searching for a new neighborhood. Check the area’s crime statistics from the local authorities, search online, or ask your potential neighbors.

Transport

This is also a key factor to consider. How far do you have to drive to work from the new neighborhood? How much traffic will you encounter in the area?

If you don’t drive, are there adequate public transportation networks in place? How will your kids travel to school? Make sure that the new neighborhood meets all your transportation needs.

Basic Amenities

Is the neighborhood close to basic amenities that you are used to or that you rely on? Such amenities may include a nearby hospital, pharmacy, grocery store, bank or ATM, and law enforcement center. 

Recreational Amenities and Activities

Does the neighborhood have a park where you can go for a picnic with your partner or where your kids can play and make friends? Are there cultural attractions such as concerts, art exhibits and film shows?

Are there bars, movie theatres and restaurants close by? Are there malls or stores where you can go shopping during the weekends? What about a library, gym or community swimming pool?

If you are fun-loving person, make sure your neighborhood can provide as much fun as possible. You don’t want to start having regrets about a boring neighborhood in less than a year after settling in.

Community Engagement

Are you looking for a neighborhood with a sense of anonymity or a sense of belonging? In some neighborhoods, neighbors hardly know each other while in others, block parties and community events are a common thing. Which one would you prefer?

It is not easy to find everything you want in one place, but you can definitely get most of it in a certain neighborhood if you search well enough. Create your wish list and contact your trusted real estate professional so that they can help you find your dream house in the best neighborhood for you. 

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The Basic Facts About Short Sales

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 26th, 2018

The Basic Facts About Short SalesAs a potential home buyer, you are probably familiar with what a typical sale looks like. You probably also have a basic understanding of what a foreclosure is and how it works. Another type of sale that may be less understood is called a short sale.

These sales are not as popular in the market, but you may come across a few. You may even fall in love with a home that is listed as a short sale. What does this mean for you as the buyer? These are the basic facts that you need to know about these homes and the process for purchase. 

What Is A Short Sale?

A short sale is negotiated when the lender for the current homeowner’s mortgage agrees to list the house for a smaller mortgage payoff amount. This means that they will be taking in less money than what is owed on the property in order for it to sell quickly on the market.

This usually happens when the current owner of the property, the seller, is in a distressed financial state. There are many reasons why a seller may have lost the ability to pay their mortgage, such as losing income or unexpected expenses. Maybe the owners are going through a complicated divorce and need to unload the property. Regardless of the reason, the lender has an incentive to remedy this situation.

How Does It Work For The Buyer?

When it comes to purchasing a short sale property, the process is not much different than purchasing any other home on the market. The lender will want to make sure that you will be able to complete the purchase, especially under these circumstances, so you will likely need to be preapproved or prequalified before your offer can be accepted. 

One major difference is that the process is typically more drawn out than if you were making a traditional home purchase. Even though it is called a short sale, it is not something that happens very quickly. In fact, it can take an average of 2 to 4 months for a short sale to be approved and for the actual closing to take place. 

Now that you understand the basics of a short sale and how it works, you can decide if it is something that may fit into your criteria and timeline. If so, and you do find a home you love, you should not let something like a short sale stop you from getting it. Your real estate agent can help navigate you through the process to make it as simple as possible. 

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Should You Pay Discount Points When You Get Your Mortgage?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 25th, 2018

Should You Pay Discount Points When You Get Your MortgageOne of the challenges you will face when deciding how much money to put down on your new home is whether to put down a larger down payment or to take a bit of money from your down payment and use it to buy “discount points” to lower your interest rate.

There are pros and cons to doing both and each borrowers situation will be different so it’s important to understand which option is best for your individual situation. Some factors you should consider include:

  • Cost of borrowing – generally speaking, to lower your interest rate will mean you pay a premium. Most lenders will charge as much as one percent (one point) on the face amount of your loan to decrease your rate. Before you agree to pay points, you need to calculate the amount of money you are going to save monthly and then determine how many months it will take to recover your investment. Remember, closing points are tax deductible so it may be important to talk to your tax planner for guidance
  • Larger down payment means more equity – keep in mind, the larger your down payment, the less money you have to borrow and the more equity you have in your new home. This is important for borrowers in a number of ways including lower monthly payments, better loan terms and potentially not having to purchase mortgage insurance depending on how much equity you will have at the time of closing
  • Qualifying for a loan – borrowers who are facing challenges qualifying for a loan should weigh which option (points or larger down payment) is likely to help them qualify. In some instances, using a combination of down payment and lower rates will make the difference. Your mortgage professional can help you determine which is most beneficial to you

There is no answer that is right for every borrower. All of the factors that impact your mortgage loan and your overall financial situation must be considered when you are preparing for your mortgage loan.

Talking with your real estate professional and where appropriate your tax professional will help you make the decision that is right for your specific situation.

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Thinking About Buying A Fixer-Upper? Know These Top Resources To Make The Most Profit

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 24th, 2018

Thinking About Buying A Fixer-Upper? Know These Top Resources To Make The Most ProfitIf your financial situation is limited, yet you’re handy with a hammer and nails, then purchasing a fixer-upper home can be an attractive option. Fixer-uppers typically require a bevy of updates and repairs to bring the home up to current market conditions. Because of this, the listing price is often considerably less than a move-in ready home.  Your trusted real estate professional can help you find the best projects to buy and sell.

Getting Started

Fixer-uppers aren’t for everyone, but there are plenty of resources available if you plan to do most of the repair and upgrades yourself. Let’s take a look at a few top resources to tap into if you’re in the market for a fixer-upper or if you’ve already purchased one and you are ready to get started.

  • At Home: A Blog by Joanna Gaines: Chip and Joanna Gaines are well known HGTV personalities who’ve made it their mission to fix up homes. A visit to Joanna Gaines’ blog is a gateway to renovation and decorating tips, products and real-time photos of projects in action. It’s a great place to go for inspiration.
  • Hands-On Workshops: If there’s a Home Depot near your home, chances are you frequent it for many of your hardware needs. There’s another reason you should stop in: Hands-On Workshops. If you want guidance on things like installing bath vanities, tile backsplashes, hanging ceiling fans, or measuring and installing flooring, there’s likely an upcoming workshop at the store that can give you the know-how and confidence necessary to do it yourself.
  • Jeff Patterson’s Home Repair Tutor: This YouTube channel boasts almost 120,000 subscribers and its how-to videos have racked up more than 30.5 million views. Videos include everything from how to tile a shower floor to installing a motion sensor light switch. If you need detailed step-by-step instructions on how to perform a particular job, chances are good this channel has it.
  • The Craftsman Blog: Written by DIY fixer-upper and author Scott Sidler, this blog is packed with how-to advice for home improvement and restoration projects as well as general tips and information about repairs like painting, plastering and restoring windows. This is a blog for a DIY fixer-upper written by a DIY fixer-upper. 
  • Your local hardware store: The big box hardware stores are great for finding just about any sort of tool you’ll need and for hosting how-to workshops. Generally, however, it’s your local, smaller hardware store that can really give you some great one-on-one advice as it pertains to your projects. These stores are typically family owned, and part of the reason they’re able to stay in business is because of their high level of customer service. This often includes guiding you on certain projects.

A fixer-upper can seem like a daunting project when you are getting started. Knowing where to look for the right resources can make a big difference.  Your trusted real estate professional is available to assist you and offer additional advice on your new endeavor.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 23rd, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 23rd, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 23rd, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on builder confidence, housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Drops by One Point

The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence dipped by one point in April to an index reading of 69. While any reading over 50 indicates positive builder sentiment, NAHB noted that builder sentiment has decreased for the past four months.

During the housing bubble of 2004 and 2005, builder confidence in market conditions averaged 68, but analysts said that the post bubble crash in home values was preceded by several months of decreasing builder sentiment. 

Builders are maintaining a steady approach to housing starts despite high demand in many markets. Short supplies of available homes are driving prices higher and causing issues of affordability for would be buyers. Home builders continued to face shortages of buildable lots and rising materials prices. This could account for decisions not to ramp up home construction enough to meet demand.

Housing Starts, Building Permits Rise

According to the Commerce Department, housing starts and building permits issued rose in March. 1.319 million starts were reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to 1.1,295 million starts in February. Analysts expected housing starts to drop in March to 1.255 million, due to rising materials costs and concerns over trade wars. Housing starts were 10.90 percent higher year-over-year.

Single-family housing starts were lower by 3.70 percent lower than for February, but were 8.00 percent higher year-over-year. This suggests that aside from seasonal fluctuations, home builders are boosting their efforts to keep up with demand for homes.

Building permits issued increased in March to 1.354 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis; the February reading showed 1.321 million building permits issued. Building permits issued in March were 2.50 percent higher than for February and 7.50 percent higher year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates, Jump, New Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising by five basis points to 4.47 percent. This was the highest average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages since January 2014 and the highest weekly rate increase since February. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.94 percent and increased by seven basis points.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was six basis points higher at 3.67n percent. Discounts points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower last week with 232,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 230,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic reports include readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, sales reports for new and previously-owned homes, and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims. A monthly reading for consumer sentiment will be released Friday.

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Steps To Take To Prepare Your Home For Sale

Posted in Home Selling Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 20th, 2018

Steps To Take To Prepare Your Home For SaleOnce you have decided that you want to put your home up for sale, you should start taking the steps necessary to get it ready to go on the market. While some homes may be almost picture perfect and ready for a showing, there are others that may need some work.

It is always a good idea to evaluate the condition of your home as soon as you know you will be selling. Use these steps to not only determine what you need to do but to also guide you through your home sale preparation. 

Tips To Prepare Your Home For Sale

 

  • Have a home inspection done. Many things can be identified that are cosmetic in nature just by taking a walk around the inside and outside of your home. Often times, the best way to detect underlying problems that you will need to fix before selling your home is to rely on a professional home inspector. This is a great way to know exactly what needs to be improved and to avoid uncovering any surprising, and potentially costly, repairs during the commission of the sale. 
  • Make all necessary repairs. Once you know what needs to be done around the home, you should start prioritizing and making the necessary repairs. Some of the repairs may be costly so creating a budget and a plan of action can help you stay organized and efficient as you make these necessary improvements. 
  • Clean up the yard. If your home has a yard, it should look clean and tidy. You do not need to have the whole yard professionally landscaped but mowing the lawn and removing any unsightly tree limbs or shrubbery will help with the curb appeal and first impression of your property.
  • Clean up the exterior and interior of the home. It is essential that your home is clean and tidy as well so that your real estate agent can take quality pictures that will appeal to the most buyers and for your home to be ready for showings. If you are residing in the property, you should remove any personal effects, such as photos. This can make it easier for potential buyers to imagine this space as their own. You will also want to make sure to avoid clutter including dirty dishes or laundry. The home should not look lived in because you want the viewers to be able to see themselves living in the property. 
  • Consider adding new paint. It is amazing how much of a difference a new coat of paint can do for a property. You may want to consider painting all of the interior rooms as well as the exterior of the home. Fresh paint is an easy way to present a clean, fresh face-lift for your property. Keep in mind that neutral tones in paint color will appeal to the most buyers. 

As you can see, there are quite a few things that need to happen before a property is ready to go on the market. Your trusted Real Estate Professional can guide you through this process and offer additional tips to help you achieve a successful home sale in your area. 

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Manage These 3 Items Before Applying For A Mortgage

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 19th, 2018

Manage These 3 Items Before Applying For A MortgageMortgage lenders weigh the risk of getting their principal and interest paid back by looking at the qualities of the prospective borrrower. And due to the amount of money being requested and lent to purchase homes, those requirements can become daunting.  Working with a trusted and qualified mortgage professional makes this sometimes confusing process a little clearer.

To this end, there are three things that a potential homebuyer can do to prepare for the mortgage approval process.

Manage Debt And Credit Levels

For many homebuyers, managing their credit score is the biggest challenge. Mortgage lenders like buyers with strong credit. While getting strong credit usually isn’t something that can be done overnight, paying bills on time, all of the time can help to build a positive profile.

Using as little credit as possible is also helpful, since high utilization of existing credit lines can harm a borrower’s score. Having less debt can also reduce monthly payments, making it easier to qualify for a larger mortgage.

Manage Income And Qualifying Ratios

Lenders look for two things when it comes to a borrower’s income:

  1. Stable incomes are preferred, so being able to prove the income with a W-2 form or other documentation is usually required. Self-employed people will typically need to prove their income with their tax returns, so taking high write-offs can make it harder to qualify.
  2. A borrower’s income should be significantly higher than his total monthly debt payments. Lenders divide a borrower’s monthly payments — including their proposed mortgage — into the gross monthly income. If the payments exceed a set percentage, the lender will shrink the mortgage until it considers the payment affordable.

Collect Required Paperwork Early

To qualify for a mortgage, borrowers typically need to submit a comprehensive file of supporting documentation. This can include tax returns, pay stubs and bank and investment account statements.

Since lenders frequently want some historical data, it can be a good idea for people considering applying for a mortgage to start collecting documentation before they actually begin the mortgage application process. Once again, working with a qualified finance professional will make this process a lot more comfortable.

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Solar Roof Panels: A Mainstream Option For Homeowners?

Posted in Homeowner Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 18th, 2018

Solar Roof Panels A Mainstream Option For HomeownersDo rooftop solar panels add value to a home, and are they cost-effective in terms of energy savings? The short answer is yes, say the experts. Although more than a million U.S. homes boasted solar panels in 2016, the percentage of solar-equipped households is still miniscule. 

That may change, however, as domestic prices for solar installations continue to decrease and property values rise.

The Pros And Cons Of Solar

While there is global agreement on the need to encourage cost-effective, non-polluting renewable energy sources, it is also acknowledged that solar effectiveness is not equal in all locations or situations. 

Several Southwestern states boast abundant sunshine, a high percentage of roofs that face in the proper direction for solar capture, and high consumption of electricity, including the the need for air conditioning. Experts predict that California could supply 74 percent of its total electrical needs if its roofs were clothed in solar panels.

On the other hand, Nevada, with a much smaller population and a different climate, only has the ability to supply 14 percent of its total need. The truth is that solar is not equally beneficial in all locations.

Solar Costs On Par With Grid Electricity

Even so, according to information provided by the Union of Concerned Scientists, more than half of U.S. states have reached or are close to the point where rooftop solar costs are on par with grid costs for electricity. In areas where utility companies offer net metering, solar producers can return excess energy for credit, which results, in the best of cases, in a monthly electricity bill that is extremely low, perhaps even zero.

Before committing to rooftop solar panels, homeowners should ask some pertinent questions. An investment in solar is still pricey, even though installation costs have dropped by about 50 percent over the past decade. With government incentives of various kinds, the total cost may dip to $10,000 or below for an average size home.

On average, the payback on that initial investment will be long-term, even though monthly savings on electrical bills can be immediate. Panel leasing is a popular option, with no initial down payment required, although the lease term may extend for 10 or even 20 years. Another option in some areas is to invest in a solar farm or cooperative.

Important Questions For Homeowners

Pertinent questions include personal motivation: Are solar panels simply a way to save money or do they demonstrate eco-consciousness and a concern for quality of life? Owners should also consider how long they plan to own a specific home before investing in rooftop panels.

Current data suggests that buyers will pay a premium for solar-equipped homes. A study by Energy Sage confirms that buyers in some states are more “pro-Solar” than other U.S. residents, but notes that the national value boost is around $15,000 for an average solar home, and higher in select locales. That equates to between $3 and $4 per kilowatt of solar power generated.  

Even though the added value is not uniform throughout the country, it is obvious that rooftop solar panels are emerging as mainstream home amenities.

 

 

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Best Tax Deductible Home Improvements for Homeowners

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 17th, 2018

Best Tax Deductible Home Improvements For HomeownersBefore delving into tax-deductible home improvements, it’s important to understand that these tax deductions won’t be applied immediately. In most cases, homeowners can only benefit, tax-wise, from their home renovations later, when they sell their home.

It’s important for homeowners to keep receipts for their improvements, though so they have proof of the improvements they made, even if it’s years later when they sell their residence.

Typical Renovations/ Home Improvements That Can Yield Eventual Tax Benefits

A home improvement is any project that substantially adds value to a home. It can include adapting it to be more useful or be improvements that allow it to be used differently. The following are some general home improvements that can yield tax savings when a home is sold for a profit.

  • Room additions.
  • Upgrades to plumbing.
  • Kitchen improvements.
  • A new roof.
  • New bathrooms.
  • Upgraded landscaping.
  • Improvements to fencing.
  • New decks.
  • Improved wiring.
  • New walkways.
  • Driveway improvements.
  • Plumbing upgrades.

How Delayed Tax Benefits Work

While a homeowner can’t take the amount of money they spent on one of the above home improvements and deduct it that same tax year, they can sometimes benefit from the investment in their home. This is true because a homeowner can effectively reduce the amount of taxes they have to pay if they sell their home for a profit down the road.

When an improvement is made, the cost of those improvements are added to the tax basis of a home. The basis is the investment in a home for tax purposes. The greater this number becomes, the less the profit is from selling a home.

The following explains it a little better:

Example Of Tax Basis And Home Improvement Tax Savings

A fictional homeowner purchases their home for $600,000 and sells their home 20 years later for $1,000,000. Their original “profit” from the sale would have been $400,000, which would have been taxable income at the time of the sale. However, throughout the 15 years when they resided in the home, this homeowner made around $60,000 worth of home improvements, including a roof improvement and a kitchen update. The $60,000 is then added to the original investment this homeowner made in their home, bringing their tax basis to $660,000.

The homeowner’s profit when they sell their home is then reduced from $400,000 to $340,000. Many homeowners use home improvements as a way to reduce the amount of taxes they will one day have to pay when they sell their home for a substantial profit.

Other Ways For Homeowners To Benefit From Their Home This Tax Season

Homeowners can make their home work for them each and every tax year by qualifying for the home office deduction. This only works if they own and operate a legitimate business out of their home, though. A part of the home must be used either regularly or exclusively for the business to qualify.

The above is some pertinent information on how homeowners can use home improvements to reduce their tax burden.   As always, check with your trusted tax professional for accurate advice on your personal situation.

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