Archive for April, 2020

Case-Shiller: February Home Prices Gained Before Coronavirus Outbreak

Posted in Market Outlook by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 30th, 2020

Case-Shiller February Home Prices Gained Before Coronavirus OutbreakHome prices continued to grow in February according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. National home prices grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.20 percent as compared to national home price growth of 3.90 percent in January. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index showed higher home price growth rates in February with average annual home price growth of 3.50 percent. January home prices grew by 3.10 percent for cities included in the 20-City Index.

The lowest year-over-year home price growth rates were posted by Chicago, Illinois with 0.70 percent; New York City posted 1.50 percent growth, and Dallas, Texas with 2.50 percent home price growth.

Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate e of 7.50 percent; Seattle, Washington home prices grew by 6.00 percent year-over-year. Tampa, Florida’s home price growth was tied with Charlotte, North Carolina’s home price growth rate of 5.20 percent. Analysts said that long-standing market conditions of high buyer demand, low inventories of available homes, and mortgage rates near record lows contributed to February’s home price growth.

Gains Across 20 City Composite

Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said February results “were broad-based with gains in every city in our 20-City Composite; 17 of 20 cities saw accelerating prices.”

February readings were based on home sales completed before the Coronavirus impacted the U.S. economy and government restrictions on all but essential activities reduced buyer traffic and slowed home sales. Areas supported by tourism and recreation were expected to see sharp declines in home prices and sales.

Fed Promises to Use All Remedies as Coronavirus Crisis Grows

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee said it would use all available tools to steady economic conditions destabilized by the Coronavirus pandemic. The FOMC said in its post-meeting statement that “The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook in the medium term.”

Committee members did not change the current federal interest rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent and pledged to hold the Fed rate steady until the economy has weathered the public health crisis and was on track to achieve the Fed’s dual mandate of full employment and price stability.

 

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How Does A Home Appraisal Work?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 29th, 2020

How Does A Home Appraisal WorkWhether you’re a buyer or a seller, a home appraisal is a critical component of the home selling process. An appraisal is also required in situations where a home is gifted to a family member, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of what it entails. 

What Is A Home Appraisal?

A home appraisal is an unbiased estimate of a home’s fair market value conducted by a professional appraiser. All 50 states require that appraisers be licensed and/or certified and demonstrate knowledge of the specified area. The purpose of a home appraisal is to determine whether the home’s asking price is appropriate based on its location, condition, size, and amenities.

Appraisals are done in almost all purchase, sale and refinance transactions, with the exception being when a buyer uses cash and doesn’t have a mortgage. They are typically coordinated by the mortgage lender to ensure the loan isn’t too large in relation to the home’s value.

How Are Appraisal Values Determined?

Licensed appraisers calculate a home’s value based on comparable recent sales in the area and current market trends. Factors such as the home’s floor plan, size, number of rooms, and any upgrades or amenities are also considered. Upgrades and amenities could include things such as a pool, an expanded garage, or a remodeled kitchen.

The appraiser conducts a visual inspection to appraise a home, noting the home’s condition and whether any major repairs are needed. It’s important to note that this differs from a home inspection in that the appraisal assesses a home’s value, while an inspection assesses its condition. In an inspection, the home inspector actually makes repair recommendations. During an appraisal,the appraiser notes any necessary repairs but does not make recommendations.

When Is An Appraisal Done?

After an offer is made, an appraisal is one of the first steps in the closing process. Everything will proceed as planned as long as the appraisal value comes in at or above the price in the contract. If it appraises for below that amount, closing can be delayed or canceled altogether.

What Does A Home Appraisal Cost?

Costs vary based on the mortgage type, but a home appraisal generally costs $300-500. It is almost always paid for by the borrower as part of closing costs.

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How Do Mortgage Points Cut Your Interest Costs?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 28th, 2020

How Do Mortgage Points Cut Your Interest CostsThose who are involved in the real estate industry likely know that mortgage rates are at an all-time low. At the same time, nobody wants to pay more for a house than they have to. Some of the most important factors that dictate how much someone is going to pay for a house include points and interest rates.

While interest rates are incredibly low, there is a way to make them lower. This comes in the form of points. This is additional money that is paid upfront to get a better deal over the life of the loan. Even though this sounds great in theory this might not be the best option for everyone. There are a few important points to keep in mind.

What Are Points?

Often, the lender is going to offer someone the option of paying points when the mortgage is created. This should be viewed as paying interest on the loan in advance. In exchange for paying interest upfront, the lender should offer to lock in a lower interest rate over the life of the loan. The more points someone purchases, the better the rate.

For example, paying one point of interest may reduce the interest rate on the loan by 0.25 percent. This is standard. Take, for example, a $200,000 home. One point on this loan would cost someone about $2,000. In exchange, the interest rate on the loan is going to drop by 0.25 percent. This might be worth it in the long run.

Discount Points

Other people might have heard about something called discount points. This is another term for mortgage points. The two terms can be used interchangeably. Typically, people can purchase as many discount points as they want, up to the limit of the lender. 

An Overview Of Origination Points

Another type of points that people might have heard about is origination points or origination fees usually expressed by a percentage of the loan amount. These are points that are charged to the borrower to cover the of processing, or originating, the mortgage loan. These fees are included in the total closing costs disclosed when you apply for your home loan.

Origination points are almost always negotiable. The number of origination points that a lender is going to charge can vary from place to place. Therefore, always be sure to ask about origination points. There might be a way to get these points waived, saving the borrower a significant amount of money.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 27th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 27th, 2020

http://bringtheblog.com/i/07-Whats-Ahead.jpgLast week’s scheduled economic news included readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes and consumer confidence. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

COVID-19 Requirements Impact Home Sales

Widespread state and local requirements for sheltering at home negatively impacted home sales in March. New homes sold at an annual pace of 627,000 sales as compared to 741,000 sales reported in February. Analysts estimated 628,000 sales for March according to the Commerce Department.

The National Association of Realtors® reported lower sales of previously-owned homes in March with an annual pace of 5.27 million sales. February’s annual sales rate was 5.76 million homes. Sales of pre-owned homes exceeded analysts’expectations of 5.24 million existing homes sold annually.

Annual sales calculated for March were 8.50 percent lower than February’s reading. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors®, said that the organization expected home sales to fall in March and expected fewer home sales in April.

The COVID-19 outbreak impacted both home sellers and buyers as restrictions on open houses and home tours limited sellers’ability to show their homes; prospective buyers delayed their home shopping activities due to COVID-19 restrictions and job losses related to business closures.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported higher fixed mortgage rates last week; rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages dropped. The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose two basis points to 3.33 percent; rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose six basis points and averaged 2.86 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell by six basis points on average to 3.28 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims remained far above average last week but were lower than the prior week. 4.43 million initial unemployment claims were filed last week as compared to 5.24 million claims filed the prior week. Analysts expected a reading of four million new claims filed last week.

April’s Consumer Sentiment Index reading fell to an index reading of 71.8 from the March reading of 89.1 Analysts expected a reading of 69.3. The University of Michigan said that the Index reading from March to April showed the steepest drop in Index history. Analysts said that April’s reading indicated an economic recession.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, pending home sales, and the post-meeting statement of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a press conference after the FOMC statement. Construction spending data will be released along with weekly readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

 

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Mortgage Relief Refinance Programs For 2020

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

Mortgage Relief Refinance Programs For 2020There are lots of people out there who are searching for options for mortgage relief. A quick search will reveal options for programs such as FMERR and HARP; however, many of the articles regarding these programs are a bit outdated. This makes them misleading. Sometimes, people might think they can apply for these programs when, in reality, they cannot. These programs have expired. Fortunately, there is another option for HIRO.

What Is HIRO?

HIRO is the mortgage relief refinance program for 2020. Run by Fannie Mae, this program does have some similarities to its ancestors (HARP and FMERR); however, it also allows homeowners to refinance even if they don’t have any equity. Furthermore, there isn’t a maximum LTV (loan to value) ratio. The biggest difference between HIRO and prior programs is that only people who currently have mortgages through Fannie Mae are able to qualify.

Some of the other conditions of this program include:

  • The loan must have been originated on or after October 1, 2017
  • There is a long history of making payments on-time
  • There cannot have been any more than one late payment in the prior year
  • There cannot be any late payments in the last six months
  • The loan to value ratio is at 97.01 percent or above

If these conditions are met, someone might be able to find mortgage refinance relief through HIRO.

Reasons To Refinance

Of course, if someone is looking to apply for this program, there must be some tangible benefit. Some of the reasons why someone might want to refinance include a lower monthly payment, a loan with an earlier end date, or a transition from a risky adjustable-rate mortgage to a much safer fixed-rate mortgage. These are a few of the common reasons why someone might want to refinance through HIRO.

Options For Government-Backed Loans

If someone has a mortgage through a government program such as USDA, VA, or the FHA, they will need to apply for other mortgage relief programs. This means looking for streamline refinances. These are specific refinance programs that are meant for people with loans backed by the government. These programs often have less paperwork because there is no need to verify income or employment. Furthermore, there is no need to get the home appraised.

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How To Retain Your Sanity While Working From Home

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 23rd, 2020

How To Retain Your Sanity While Working From HomeThere are a lot of people who enjoy working from home; however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who are not used to working from home are forced into this new arrangement. It can be hard for individuals o stay focused when they are stuck in the environment at home. Particularly if the kids are home from school, it is easy to get distracted. Fortunately, there are a few ways people can retain their sanity as they work from home.

Get Into A Routine

One of the first steps people need to follow is to find a routine. It can be tempting to sleep in every day, procrastinate while watching TV, and take long breaks for meals; however, it is critical to remember that there is still a job to do. Try to wake up at the same time every day. Start work at a consistent hour. Take a consistent break for lunch. Finding a routine will make working from home feel more like a job than a vacation.

Take Advantage Of Technology

Even though working from home can feel lonely, it doesn’t have to be this way. With technology, it is easy for people to stay in touch with their partners from work. Use technology to talk to people. Check up on others and see how they are doing. Ask for help when it is needed. Communicate with multiple people at a time. This is incredibly important for those who work in a team. At the same time, those who typically work alone should make sure this doesn’t become a distraction. Talking to others can be a great way to break up the monotony of the day.

Learn Something New Every Day

Finally, take the time to learn something new! Those who no longer have a morning or evening commute are going to wind up with some extra free time on their hands. Take this opportunity to learn something new. Even though some people might feel like they are being forced to work from home, turn this situation into a positive one. use the extra time wisely and find a way to expand those horizons ever so slightly. Learning new skills can pay big dividends down the road.

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Wealthy Seniors Can Benefit From Jumbo Products

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 22nd, 2020

Wealthy Seniors Can Benefit From Jumbo ProductsIndividuals who own their homes with a considerable amount of equity should consider looking into proprietary jumbo reverse mortgages. These can be helpful tools that may allow seniors to either pay down an existing mortgage or fund their retirement. 

These tools are particularly helpful in areas of the country that have high property values, such as California and New York. In these states, jumbo reverse mortgages may provide seniors with up to $4 million in potential loan proceeds. These funds can be applied to a variety of possible purposes.

A Changing Thought Process Surrounding Reverse Mortgages

In the past, mentioning reverse mortgages was seen by many as an option of last resort; however, it seems like this reputation was largely gained because they were new and unfamiliar to most people. Over the past few years, financial experts have done a tremendous amount of research into reverse mortgages and have uncovered their potential to help someone’s financial portfolio.

There are numerous ways that reverse mortgages can help someone’s retirement portfolio ride the ups and downs of the market. Reverse mortgages can even be used to help someone postpone the claiming of Social Security benefits. 

A Potential Use Of Reverse Mortgages

One potential use of reverse mortgages follows a simple formula. The goal of this formula is to buy low and sell high. When the market goes up, draw on the retirement account for income. After all, the market is high, so shares of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are going to be at their greatest value.

When the market starts to drop, avoid using the assets in the retirement account. Wait for those assets to come back up before using them. During this time, it is better to use a reverse mortgage and draw on the equity in the home instead.

A Mountain Of Untapped Equity

Proprietary reverse mortgages are becoming more popular in locations that have high housing values. In these locations, retirees might be sitting on a large amount of equity and might not even know it. In these locations, jumbo reverse mortgages can help individuals and families who might be short in their incomes. For this reason, retirees should consider using a jumbo reverse mortgage to help cover their living expenses and long-term care needs.

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The ‘Golden Girls’ Strategy? Elderly Adults Share Home Ownership

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 21st, 2020

The 'Golden Girls' Strategy Elderly Adults Share Home OwnershipThe “Golden Girls” trend got its name from the popular television sitcom about four elderly women who live together to share expenses. It is becoming a popular way in real life for elderly adults to share homeownership and it has many benefits.

The cost of assisted living is quite high. The median cost in the United States for assisted living is $4,051 per month. In many parts of America, that amount makes a substantial mortgage payment. Rather than pay that high price to live in an adult assisted-living community, many able-bodied elderly are choosing to pool their resources and live together in a large home that they own together.

Buying A Home To Share

The homes that work well for this are those that have many bedrooms, each with a private bath, and are on one-level. Three- or four-bedroom homes are ideal because the cost of the home and the operating expenses can be shared among three or four elderly adults to reduce each person’s cost compared to what they would spend if they were alone.

It Is Fun To Share

The communal areas for a shared-living arrangement are the main living room, dining area, and kitchen. Many find that by sharing the cost of a home, among like-minded peers, that the quality of life is very nice. The pooling of resources usually creates enough money to pay for the expenses and to pay for in-home personal assistance as needed. Most importantly, loneliness is reduced, which sometimes leads to serious depression in the elderly who live alone.

Many baby boomers are now entering retirement. Estimates are that seven out of 10 will need some form of assisted living care. Females still live longer than men on average, so that is why this trend is more about elderly women living together than men. However, the concept works just as well for both sexes.

Multigenerational living is also becoming popular for the same reasons. It costs so much to own and maintain a home that it is not as easily accomplished by households with one or two workers who contribute to pay for the expenses. Most situations benefit from having a third or a fourth contributor, which reduces the average contribution for all.

Get Competent Legal Advice

When considering any shared ownership of a home, it is very important to use the services of a competent legal counsel to draw up the ownership agreement. Shared homeownership is a type of partnership and benefits from having a “buy-sell” provision in the agreement that allows any remaining co-owners to buy out the portion held by a co-owner who dies or otherwise becomes physically unable to continue living in the home.

Summary

Most baby boomers had roommates when they went to college to share expenses. Embracing a “Golden Girls” strategy to share home ownership is like returning to a style from the younger times. It is wise to be very careful about who is chosen to form a home-ownership partnership; however, with proper legal documentation and prudence in choosing who to live with, this can be a very satisfying way to spend your golden years.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 20th, 2020

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 20th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -March 9th, 2020Last week’s scheduled economic reporting included readings on home builder sentiment, housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and initial jobless claims were also released

NAHB: Homebuilder Confidence Crashes as Coronavirus Impacts Construction

Homebuilder sentiment concerning housing market conditions dropped significantly in April according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index.

April’s index reading of 30 was the largest month-to-month drop recorded since the Housing Market Index started 30 years ago. Homebuilder confidence was 42 points lower than the March reading of 72 and was the lowest reading since June 2012.

Index readings over 50 indicate that most builders are confident in current market conditions.

Sub-index readings also fell considerably in April; builder confidence in current market conditions dropped from 79 to 36. Builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months dipped to an index reading of 36 in April as compared to the March reading of 75.

Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new single-family housing developments dropped from an index reading of 56 in March to a reading of 13 in April; builder sentiment readings about buyer traffic don’t usually exceed an index reading of 50 but had done so in recent months. Homebuilders also said that federal assistance for builders wasn’t distributed consistently;  Builders need federal financial help to maintain payrolls and other expenses.

Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued dropped in March. Housing starts progressed at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.216 million starts as compared to February’s pace of 1.564 million housing starts.

Analysts expected a March reading of 1.290 million housing starts. Building permits issued were lower at 1.353 million permits issued as compared to 1.452 million permits issued on an annual basis in February. Analysts expected a March reading of 1.250 million building permits issued.

 

Mortgage Rates Near All-Time Lows as Initial Jobless Claims Slow

Freddie Mac reported mixed results for mortgage rates last week; rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.31 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.80 percent and were three basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages fell by six basis points and averaged 3.34 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week but remained much higher than readings reported before the COVID-19 outbreak. 5.25 million initial claims were filed, which surpassed expectations of 5 million new claims filed. 6.60 million claims were filed the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on new and existing home sales, consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

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Why Most People Use A Real Estate Agent Or Broker To Buy A Property

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 17th, 2020

One might wonder if the continued improvement in the access to online information about properties for sale has removed the need for working with a qualified real estate agent or broker. It has not.

The trends reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) are interesting. Buyers are finding a home to purchase by searching online in larger numbers than before. In the NAR survey of homebuyers, the home was found online by the buyer for more than half of the homes purchased, with only 28% of the homes purchased suggested to the buyer by a real estate agent.

Even so, NAR also reports that 87% of buyers made their home purchase with the help of a real estate agent or broker. This trend is increasing. In 2001, only 69% of home buyers bought a home with the involvement of a real estate agent or broker. Why the upward trend of working with a real estate professional when buying a home?

The explanation is surprising. One is the cost of buying a home that is for sale by owner (FSBO) may be very close to the price of the same type of home bought with the help of a real estate agent. An FSBO home sale may put a little more money in the pockets of the seller but little of that savings on the real estate commission goes to the buyer. Moreover, the FSBO process creates a disadvantage when trying to market a home without a real estate professional’s help. These trends are making FSBO properties decrease.

Additionally, using a real estate professional may help the transaction go more smoothly. A real estate agent handles the buying and selling of properties all the time. A homebuyer does this less often and therefore may not have the skills to manage a real estate transaction effectively.

Summary

When buying a home, it is the preference of the vast majority of buyers to work with a real estate professional. The process is likely to be easier with less chance of costly mistakes. The price paid for the home will likely be around the same as trying to close a deal without the benefit of using a real estate agent.

For sellers of a home, working with a professional real estate agent comes along with advice about market pricing, how to stage a home for better resale value, and the benefits of using effective marketing strategies that get the home seen by more prospective buyers.

For buyers and sellers, it becomes clear that working with a real estate agent is vastly preferable. This is why so many are using the services of a licensed professional to buy or sell a home.

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