Archive for January, 2021

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue Rising in November

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 29th, 2021

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue Rising in November

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported a year-over-year national home price gain of 9.50 percent for November 2020. Home prices continued to grow in response to high demand for homes and homeowner relocations in response to the covid-19 pandemic. Inventories of pre-owned homes remained low. Home prices rose at a slower pace in November but remained strong in most areas.

20-City Home Price Index Reports Home Price Gains in 19 of 20 Cities

November’s edition of the 20-City Home Price Index reported the highest year-over-year home price gain of 13.80 percent in Phoenix, Arizona, which held first place for the 18th consecutive month. Seattle, Washington reported year-over-year home price growth of 12.70 percent, and San Diego, California held third place with year-over-year home price growth of 12.30 percent. Home prices rose 1.50 percent from October to November.

Lower numbers of mortgage applications indicated that demand for homes may be slowing, but analysts expected demand for homes to continue driving home prices up. Factors contributing to slowing home sales include affordability and less inclination to relocate as businesses and employers reopen. Low inventories of available pre-owned homes limited prospective buyers’ choice of homes; home builders faced rising materials and labor costs that impact their ability to produce affordable homes.

FHFA Reports Home Price Growth Exceed Post-Recession Pace

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that prices of single-family homes owned or financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac grew by one percent between October and November; home prices were up by 11 percent year-over-year. November was the sixth consecutive month for home price growth reported by FHFA. Data supplied by FHFA is based on house purchases and does not include refinancing transactions. 

Dr. Lynn Fisher, Deputy Director of FHFA’s Division of Research and Statistics, said “House prices have risen by at least one percent for six consecutive months. The acceleration has been slowing, but annual gains now outpace the prior housing boom. Current conditions can be explained by fundamentals including low rates and tight housing supply, which have been  intensified by the pandemic.”

Year-over-year home price growth within the nine federal census divisions ranged from 0.30 percent in the West South Central Division to 14.00 percent growth in the Mountain Division. Home price growth in the mountain west continued to grow as homeowners in costly and congested coastal areas moved to more affordable neighborhoods in cities including Phoenix, Arizona,  and Boise, Idaho.

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4 Steps To A Smooth Mortgage Refinance At A Rock-Bottom Rate

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 28th, 2021

4 Steps to a Smooth Mortgage Refinance at a Rock-Bottom RateRight now is the best time to look at refinancing your home. Even if your current mortgage is as young as a year old, you might find that a refinance is in your best interest.

Be Sure That A Refinance Makes Sense

With today’s rates, refinancing makes sense for many homeowners, but it might not be the right move for you. Depending upon your mortgage, you may pay a penalty if you prepay early. Also, if you’ve paid heavily into your mortgage, refinancing into a new 20 or 30 year mortgage could cost you money over the long-term. The bottom line is to carefully read through your loan documents or even call your loan company to find out the details of the impact of a refinance.

Consult With A Professional

Once you’ve determined that a refinance makes sense in theory, it’s time to talk with an objective professional, i.e., not your loan rep. Seek out a fiduciary, who has receives no gain whether or not you refinance. Have the professional run the numbers so you can see in black and white where you will stand financially after a refinance.

Compare Rates

If you and your financial professional decide that a refinance is the way to go, now it’s time to compare rates. Even with rates at rock bottom prices right now, you’ll find that you might save even more money just by shopping around. Also, remember that if your credit is excellent, you have more negotiating power. If you have a preference with working with a certain company, ask them to match the interest rate you’ve been offered by a competitor. 

Protect Your Investment

Now that you’ve improved your mortgage situation with a refinance, it’s time to consider what your heirs will be left with when you’re no longer here to provide for them. Make sure that your loved ones can reap the benefit of your savvy financial planning by taking out a life insurance policy. There are many variations on life insurance policies, so by sure to compare and contrast benefits, terms and rates.

As a homeowner, you should always be on the lookout for ways to maximize your investment. Use these refinancing tips to get the most out of your home’s value.

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Inspect And Maintain Your Garage

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 27th, 2021

Inspect And Maintain Your GarageIn most parts of the country, garages are especially appreciated at this time of year. Even if you don’t live in a colder climate, it’s important to do an annual inspection and routine maintenance to keep everything in working order.

Make sure yours is doing its job well by following the care tips below.

Check The Tracks

You’ll want to make sure the garage door can go up and down smoothly. Get your leaf blower and blow any cobwebs, bugs or leaves from the track.

With older doors, you’ll also need to oil the metal rollers, hinges and tracks in order to keep everything moving easily.

Inspect For Pests

This time of year, pests are searching for a warm place to take shelter and find food. Look along the walls where they meet the foundation and double-check any spots where you’ve had moisture problems.

If you see chewed wood or trails of sawdust, call an exterminator because they could be signs of termites or carpenter ants.

Insulate Your Garage

If you have a workshop or gym located out in the garage, then insulating this space is a must for colder climates. Not only will it make your home warmer, but also it will reduce your electricity bills. You can buy DIY kits for under $100.

However, be careful if your door is over nine feet wide, because the extra weight can be too much for some opening mechanisms.

Spend Time On The Floor

Don’t actually get down on the floor, but definitely give it some care. Move everything out and hose down the entire surface. Patch any gaps to prevent tripping. Then give the foundation a good inspection.

If you notice mold or major cracks, call a contractor to come take a look and see if you have settling or water drainage issues.

Consider Replacing The Doors

You’ll know it’s time to replace your door when the panels are rusted and scratched or there are wooden ones that are warped. There are many decent replacement options, including wood, steel or aluminum.

The prices can range from high to reasonable depending on the quality of the material. If you decide to do a replacement, talk to an expert and take your climate into account.

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Understanding The Role Of A Mortgage Prepayment Penalty Fee

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 26th, 2021

Understanding The Role Of A Mortgage Prepayment Penalty FeeWhen people take out a home loan, it is important to think carefully about how the home loan works. At first, the majority of the monthly payment is going to go towards interest. For example, it is not unusual for 90 percent of the monthly mortgage payments go toward interest during the first year. Then, during the latter part of the loan, most of the payment is going to go towards paying off the principal.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a lot of homeowners are looking for ways to reduce the amount of Interest they pay on a home loan. 

For example, some homeowners consider putting a larger down payment on the home in order to reduce the amount of money they have to pay in the form of interest. Another possibility involves paying off the mortgage early; however, a mortgage prepayment fee may apply. 

What Is A Mortgage Prepayment Fee?

A mortgage prepayment fee is exactly what it sounds like. This is a fee that some homeowners have to pay if they end up paying off their mortgage early. For lenders, they know that a lot of the money they are going to make comes in the form of interest. Therefore, they also understand that if their home loan gets paid off early, they are going to lose a significant amount of money. Therefore, as a way to disincentivize homeowners from paying off their home loan early and posting them interest, they apply a mortgage prepayment fee. 

When Will A Mortgage Prepayment Fee Apply?

Of course, it is also important for homeowners to take a look at the contract carefully and see when a mortgage prepayment fee applies. For example, if homeowners are paying one extra monthly payment per year, then it is highly unlikely that a mortgage prepayment fee is going to apply when the home loan gets paid off early. On the other hand, if a homeowner is looking to pay off an entire home loan in 3 years, then there is a high chance that a prepayment fee is going to apply. In order to avoid this mortgage prepayment fee, every homeowner has to take a look at their contract carefully.

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 25, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 25th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - January 25, 2021Last week’s economic reporting included readings from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, along with Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The National Association of Realtors® reported on sales of previously-owned homes; weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builders’ Housing Market Index Falls in January

Homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions fell three points to an index reading of 83 in January. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index expected a reading of 85 for January as compared to December’s index reading of 86. Increasing covid-19 cases and rising materials costs caused builder confidence to fall as builder concerns rose.

The NAHB Housing Market Index remained strong as any reading over 50 indicates positive builder sentiment toward housing markets. Component readings for January’s Housing Market Index also fell; builder confidence in current market conditions fell two points to an index reading of 90. Homebuilder confidence in market conditions for the next six months also fell two points to 83. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments dropped five points to an index reading of 68. Readings of more than 50 for buyer traffic were rare until the covid-19 pandemic started.

Conflicting factors impacted home builder confidence readings. Home sales rose as urban homeowners sought new and larger homes in the suburbs and rural areas, labor shortages, and rising materials expenses worried home builders.

Housing Starts and Building Permits Rose in December

The Commerce Department reported a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.67 million housing starts as compared to November’s reading of 1.547 million starts. Building permits issued rose in December with 1.709 million permits issued annually as compared to November’s reading of 1.635 million housing starts.

The National Association of Realtors® reported 6.76 million sales of previously-owned homes sold as of December on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Home sales are increasing although demand exceeds available inventory and home prices continue to rise.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Lower

Mortgage rates fell last week with the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages two basis points lower on average at 2.77 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.21 percent and were two basis points lower. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.80 percent and 32 basis points lower. 

First-time jobless claims fell to 900,000 claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 926,000 new claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims were also lower last week with 5.05 million continued claims filed as compared to 5.18 million claims filed the previous week. 

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the FHFA House Price Index, and the Federal Reserve’s Statement from its Federal Open Market Committee. Monthly readings on new home sales and consumer sentiment will also be published. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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How To Stretch Home Improvement Dollars The Most

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 22nd, 2021

How To Stretch Home Improvement Dollars The MostThere are lots of homeowners who are looking for a way to improve the quality of their home while also increasing the value of their property. Unfortunately, a lot of home improvement ideas can be prohibitively expensive. It is not unusual for homeowners to spend six figures on a renovation project. On the other hand, there are also home improvement ideas that will not break the bank.

What are a few of the top ideas that homeowners should consider? 

Start With A Few Quality Ceiling Fans

First, homeowners should consider starting with a few quality ceiling fans. Because a lot of homeowners do not look up at the ceiling on a regular basis, they may not realize just how old their ceiling fans are. Therefore, homeowners should consider updating their ceiling fans. Ceiling fans should be hung between 7 and 8 feet above the floor. Now, there are advanced Energy Star ceiling fans that will help homeowners lower their utility bills while also increasing the value of their property. Finally, even advanced ceiling fans are not that expensive. 

Consider Planting Some Trees In The Yard

Another idea that homeowners need to consider involves planting trees. Planting trees will not only prevent erosion from the property but can also lower energy costs. Trees can protect the property from rain, wind, and the sun. Furthermore, as trees grow over time, they also increase the curb appeal of a property, driving up the value of the home. Even though a lot of people say that money does not grow on trees, planting a few trees in the yard can help homeowners save a lot of money while also boosting their home’s value. Fortunately, planting trees are also not that expensive. 

Increase The Quality Of The Insulation In The Home

Finally, a lot of homeowners neglect the quality of the insulation in the home. Even though this might not be as attractive as a complete kitchen or bathroom remodel, upgrading the insulation of the home reduce its utility bills. Furthermore, upgrading the installation is not that expensive. Homeowners should consider taking a closer look at the insulation of their homes every few years. There may be ways to save a significant amount of money.

 

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The Top Ways To Upgrade The Exterior Of The Home On A Budget

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 21st, 2021

The Top Ways To Upgrade The Exterior Of The Home On A BudgetThere are a lot of people who are spending more time at home these days. As the temperature starts to warm up once again, there are some homeowners who are looking for ways to upgrade the outside of their home. Even though there are some people who are looking at installing a brand new patio or deck, this can be extremely expensive. Fortunately, there are ways that homeowners can completely transform the exterior of their home without breaking the bank. Take a look at a few of the top ideas below.

Consider Adding An Outdoor Rug

First, homeowners should consider adding an outdoor runner or rug to the exterior of their home. Because this run is going to be outside, try to go with bright colors. Furthermore, there are also specific runners and rugs that have been designed specifically to stand up to the wear and tear of the outdoors. Consider adding a rug that leads from the patio door to the deck. Or, think about placing an area rug underneath the table outside. This can completely change the look of the patio.

Think About Installing A Swinging Chair

For those who are looking for a way to relax outside, consider installing a few swinging chairs. In some situations, homeowners might be able to attach a swinging chair directly to the awning outside. In other situations, it might be a smart idea to install a swinging chair that hangs from a tree in the yard. It is important to make sure the awning or the tree is able to support the chair before it is installed. Then, add a bright cushion to the chair and relax outside with a great book! 

Use Citronella Candles

Anyone who likes to spend evenings outside under the stars should consider using candles. Specifically, think not using citronella candles. Citronella candles will help keep the mosquitoes away in addition to adding a majestic fuel to the outdoors. Think about using them on top of poles that line the walkway. This is a great way to add a little bit of ambiance to an evening party.

Consider a few of these ideas to completely change the exterior of the home in a budget-friendly way.

 

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Buying a New Home in the City? The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home on a Busy Street

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 20th, 2021

Buying a New Home in the City? The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home on a Busy Street Finding the perfect property is an exciting feeling, but its relative location can leave a lot of room for worry. Buying a home in the city is a venture that comes with an entire assortment of advantages and disadvantages. While the location might be close in proximity to businesses, services, and other people, it’s easy to worry about the other aspects of city living. What are the great and not-so-great facets of living on a busy street?

Pro: Access to Businesses and Schools

The chances are high that anyone living in a busy area is within walking distance of any store, shop, or service. Likewise, children have a range of options for education in busier areas; there are often multiple schools to choose from in any given busy area.

Pro: Access to Many Internet/TV Providers

In highly populated areas, a large number of internet and TV providers can co-exist. This means residents have a number of options when the time comes to choose providers. Luckily, it’s often difficult for providers monopolize densely populated areas.

Pro: Sense of Community

Many people that live in busy areas will be quick to share that they adore the sense of community. In fact, a large population is often one of the biggest reasons that people choose to move to bigger areas.

Con: Noise Level

As a street sees more activity, there’s no doubt that the noise level will also be a bit higher than usual. Residents that own homes on busy streets not only hear lots of noise from outside traffic, but they also often hear police sirens, animals, conversation, and more.

Con: Higher Price

It’s no secret that busy areas are a bit more expensive to live in. As anyone would expect, the convenience of city living comes with a higher price. Expect to hand over quite a bit more for a property in a highly populated area.

Con: Parking

Depending on the location of the neighborhood, parking can also be a problem. If street parking isn’t allowed, a resident in a big city might have to sacrifice their vehicle or park it a long distance from the property. This can be off-putting for many buyers.

If you’re on the fence about purchasing a property on a busy street, get more information from your trusted real estate agent before making a decision. A professional agent can provide valuable information about the property, neighborhood, chances for resale in the future, and much more. Don’t proceed any further without an agent’s advice!

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 19, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 19th, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - January 19, 2021Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation, retail sales, and a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

 Inflation Rises as Retail Sales Fall, Fed  Says Current Monetary Policy Won’t Change

The Consumer Price Index rose to 0.40 percent in December as compared to November’s reading of 0.20 percent. The CPI measures inflation and the Core CPI measures inflation without the volatile sectors of food and fuel. December’s Core CPI reading fell to a rate of 0.10 percent growth from November’s reading of 0.20 percent.

Retail sales were dampened by the coronavirus, but December’s negative reading of -0.70 percent sales was lower than the    -1.40  percent rate reported in November.  December sales excluding the automotive sector were -1.40 percent lower in December as compared to November’s reading of -1.30 percent.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell dispelled fears of rising inflation and said that the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will not raise its current federal interest rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent any time soon. Chair Powell also said that the Fed would not decrease its purchase of Treasury Bonds as a further measure to stabilize the economy.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by 14 basis points to 2.79 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.23 percent and were seven basis points higher. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose by 37 basis points to 3.12 percent on average. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for  5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 965,000 claims filed last week as compared to the prior week’s reading of 784,000 initial claims filed. Ongoing jobless claims also rose with 5.27 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of  5.07 million continuing claims filed.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index was lower in January with a reading of 79.2.  Analysts expected an index reading of 79.2 based on the December reading of 80.7.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builder’s Housing Market Index and reports from the Commerce Department on housing starts, building permits issued. Sales of pre-owned homes will also be reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

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Tips For Getting A Mortgage Application Approved

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 15th, 2021

Tips For Getting A Mortgage Application ApprovedRight now, mortgage rates have fallen to rates that haven’t been seen in years. This opens the door for many people to apply for a mortgage that they previously may not have been able to afford. Sadly, not everyone who applies for a mortgage is going to be approved. There are a few steps that applicants can take to increase their chances of getting their mortgage application approved.

Increase The Credit Score

Applicants need to make sure that their credit scores are as high as possible when they apply for a mortgage. The greater the credit score is, the more trustworthy they look to lenders. In general, applicants are going to need a credit score of 620 or higher to qualify for a home loan; however, those who want to get the best interest rates possible need to make sure their credit score is as high as possible. Try to ask for a free copy of the credit report from one of the major credit bureaus and correct any inaccuracies that might be present. Then, pay down as much debt as possible before applying for a mortgage.

Add More To Savings

Those who want to qualify for the best interest rates will need to be willing to put more money down. The only way to make this happen is to increase the amount of money in the savings account. Lenders are more willing to provide people with a home loan if they know the potential homeowner is supplying some of the capital as well. Delaying the home search by a month or two to collect more money in a savings account can dramatically improve someone’s chances of getting approved.

Increase Employment History

The longer someone has been employed, the better the chances of the application being approved. Lenders want to make sure that the potential homeowner is going to be able to pay back the loan. The longer the applicant has been employed, the greater the chances that he or she is going to remain in that position. A longer employment history could help someone qualify for lower interest rates.

Get A Mortgage Application Approved

These are a few steps applicants can take to improve the strength of their application. That way, they can get the home of their dreams.

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