What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 31st, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 31st, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 31st, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller Housing Market Indices, National Association of Realtors® on pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.  

The Commerce Department’s reading on sales of new homes was delayed due to the federal government’s shutdown.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Lowest in Two Years

Home price growth was nearly nil with October’s month-to-month reading of 0.40 percent; The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index showed a year-over-year home price growth rate of 5.50 percent, which matched September’s year-over-year reading. Las Vegas, Nevada led home price growth in the 20-city index with a year-over-year increase of 12,80 percent; San Francisco, California had home price growth of 7,90 percent and Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by 7.70 percent year-over-year in October.

While San Francisco, California, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon dominated the top three spots in the 20-City Home Price Index in recent years, the latest home price growth rates indicate that the West Coast may be easing off on its rapid home price gains. High-cost metro areas risk reaching a tipping point when there are few properties available with very high prices and buyers competing.

,Affordability and slim choice of available homes can cause would-be buyers to sideline themselves while they await more options and lower prices. Rising mortgage rates caused concern among buyers concerned with affordability and qualifying for mortgage loans under strict lender requirements.

Pending Home Sales Improve, But Remain in Negative Territory

Future home sales slipped in November, but less so than they did in October. Pending sales registered in negative territory with a reading of -0.70 percent in November as compared to October’s reading of -2.60 percent.

Analysts and real estate pros view pending sales as an indication of future completed sales and mortgage activity; falling numbers for pending home sales suggest slowing home sales that could impact housing markets. Pending sales are considered sales for which purchase contracts have been signed, but that have not closed.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower averaged fixed mortgage rates with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by seven basis points at 4.55 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 4.01 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 4.00 percent. Falling mortgage rates could induce discouraged home buyers to look for homes again.

First-time jobless claims dropped by 1000 claims to 216,000 new claims filed. Analysts predicted a reading of 217,000 mew claims filed, which was unchanged from the prior week’s reading.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending, non-farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time unemployment claims are also scheduled. Please note that some scheduled readings could be delayed due to the federal government shut-down.

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4 House “Flaws” You Can Safely Disregard

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 28th, 2018

4 House Flaws You Can Safely DisregardWhen you walk through a house with your real estate agent, you’re seeing if you and your family would be happy living there. But you’re also probably looking for signs of trouble that might spell big expenses later on. Be careful, though. It’s important to see the “bones” of the house rather than focusing on minor issues.

Here are four flaws you can safely disregard.

1. Stained Carpet

Stained carpet is more an indication of the owner’s poor cleaning habits than of any real problems with the house. It’s so easy to replace carpeting that it’s not worth even paying attention to when you’re viewing a house for sale. In fact, once you pull up that carpeting, you could discover beautiful hardwood flooring!

2. Funky Paint Colors

They say that there’s no accounting for bad taste. If you’ve seen enough houses with your real estate agent, you’re bound to encounter some less than traditional paint colors. However, paint can easily be painted over. You can safely ignore the flamingo pink bathroom walls or the putrid brown bedroom color.

3. Lack Of Curb Appeal

Every homebuyer wants to pull up to a house for sale and think, “How charming!” Unfortunately, a lack of curb appeal gives a sour first impression. However, don’t let that deter you from see the house for its true value. The inside might be magnificent. You can always add your own curb appeal later with pretty landscaping, shutters or window boxes.

4. Outdated Kitchen

If the kitchen is a little dated but the rest of the house meets your expectations, it’s okay to overlook this “flaw.” It’s fairly easy to update a kitchen with new or refinished cabinets, new appliances and a fresh coat of paint. Yes, it will cost a bit, but the outdated kitchen might be reflected in a lower selling price. Ask your real estate agent for their recommendation in this regard.

Sometimes it’s challenging to find the right house in the right location. When you do find one that checks all the boxes, don’t let any of these minor “flaws” deter you from making an offer. The little things won’t keep you from enjoying your new home, and you’ll be glad you focused on the things that really matter!

 

 

 

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5 First Steps For New Homeowners

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

5 First Steps For New HomeownersAs a new homeowner, now is the time to take control and organize your house for safety and security. The following first five steps should be carried out in the first few weeks if possible.

1. Change The Locks

There’s no way of knowing if the previous owners gave copies of the house keys to a friend, neighbor or cleaning staff. The very first thing you should do when you take ownership is to re-key the locks on all the doors, including the garage and any outbuildings there may be on the property.

Alternatively, you can install brand new locks. Either way, a locksmith can take care of this for you.

2.  Locate Shut-Off Valves

Don’t wait until a water leak to run around searching for the main shut-off valve. Instead, take a few minutes to locate all the shut-off valves for your new home. Write down their locations and post the list next to your circuit breaker.

3. Label The Circuit Breaker Switches

As the new homeowner, you’ll want to know what each circuit breaker switch controls. Work with a family member to methodically go through and flip each switch off and on to figure out the controls. Then carefully label each switch so you never have to guess again.

4. Place Fire Extinguishers

Be ready for a small fire emergency by placing fire extinguishers in each room of your new home. For the kitchen and garage especially, be sure to purchase the correct type of fire extinguisher. The labels on the extinguishers will guide your decision. Even bedrooms could have at least a small extinguisher handy, in case of an electrical malfunction. 

5. Survey The Land

It pays to walk the land around your property to visually survey it. You’ll want to know about potential issues, such as poison ivy growth or a broken fence panel. You might also find some happy surprises like a hidden rosebush or a nest of birds.

Taking the time to do these five steps will assist in making your new home more enjoyable for your family. They will also help you to familiarize yourself better with your new property. 

Your trusted real estate agent will be there to assist you from beginning to end of your homebuying experience. Be sure to contact this valuable resource as soon as you are ready to start your search.

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FOMC Raises Key Rate, Forecasts 2 Rate Hikes in 2019

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

FOMC Raises Key Rate, Forecasts 2 Rate Hikes in 2019During its post-meeting statement, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced that its target range for the Fed’s key interest rate would increase one quarter percent to 2.25 to 2.50 percent. While this rate hike was not expected by the Executive branch, it met analyst expectations.

FOMC said in its customary post-meeting statement that members expect to make two interest rate hikes in 2019 as compared to three rate hikes in 2018 and the Committee’s original forecast of three rate hikes in 2019. Given current economic conditions, the Fed forecasted only one rate hike for 2020.

Hawks And Doves: Federal Reserve Leaders Differ On Interest Rate Projections

Six FOMC members indicated support for three rate hikes in 2019 and the FOMC statement cited a need for future interest rate hikes while some economists expected that no mention of potential rate hikes would be included in the statement. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said, “Policy at this point does not need to be accommodative. It can move to neutral.”

FOMC’s statement cited “cross currents” impacting the economy, but expects “solid growth next year, declining unemployment a healthy economy.” The Fed specifically listed strengths in labor markets, household spending and a healthy economy influenced the committee’s decision to raise the Fed’s benchmark interest rate range.

Recent volatility in global affairs and the economy prompted FOMC to say that they would be reviewing ongoing global economic and financial developments and assess their implications for the global economic outlook.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell: Fed Is About To Embark On A Delicate Balancing Act

Chairman Powell said that current economic conditions have helped the Fed meet its dual mandate of maintaining maximum employment and stable economic growth, for which the Fed has set a benchmark of two percent annual growth for inflation. Current inflation is lower than expected and unemployment is near record lows. The Fed faces balancing interest rate increases with closely monitoring economic “cross currents”.

Chairman Powell said the Fed expects the median rate of economic growth to slow to 2.30 percent in 2019 as compared to 2018’s rate of 3.00 percent. The National Unemployment rate is expected to fall from its current rate of 3.70 percent to 3.50 percent by the end of 2019. Mr. Powell said that no course of action is predetermined and that Fed leaders will monitor economic and global developments on an ongoing basis.

 

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 24th, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 24th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 24th, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and National Association of Realtors® report on sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builders Lose Confidence as Housing Crunch Continues

Homebuilder confidence fell to a 36 month low in December as homebuilder concerns over rising home prices, high mortgage rates and decreasing inventories of available homes sidelined home buyers. The NAHB Housing Market Index fell four points to 56.

Components of the Housing Market Index reading also fell as builder confidence in current market conditions fell six points to an index reading of 61; builder confidence in new home sales over the next six months fell by four points to a reading of 61. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new home developments dipped two points to 43.

While any reading over 50 is considered positive, buyer traffic readings under 50 are not unusual.

Analysts and real estate pros often consider the Home Builders Housing Market Index as an indicator of future new home construction and sales. Rising home prices and mortgage rates were cited as reasons contributing to the drop in home builder confidence.

Existing Home Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued Rise in November

Sales of pre-owned homes rose in November with 5.32 million sales reported on an annual seasonally adjusted basis. Analysts expected a reading of 5.17 million sales based on October’s sales pace of 5.22 million sales.

Three out of four regions reported gains in sales of pre-owned homes. The Northeast reported a gain of 7.20 percent; the Midwest reported a year-over-year gain of 5.50 percent and sales of pre-owned homes were 2.50 percent higher in the South. The West lost traction in existing home sales with a negative reading of -6.30 percent. Known for high home prices, it may be that home prices have peaked in the West.

The Commerce Department reported housing starts at the rate of 1.25 million in November; analysts predicted a rate of 1.230 million starts based on October’s reading of 1.217 million starts. November building permits rose to 1.328 million permits issued as compared to a reading of 1.265 million permits issued in October.

Analysts said that more apartment homes were being built; this trend could be a further indication of home prices being out of reach for would-be home buyers.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 4.62 percent and were one basis point lower than in the prior week.  15-year fixed mortgage rates were unchanged at an average of 4.07 percent.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was six basis points lower at 3.98 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 206,000 claims filed. Analysts predicted 218,000 new jobless claims based on the prior week’s reading of 206,000 new unemployment claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Government shutdown may impact some readings.

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Top 5 Ways To Pick A High Quality Real Estate Agent

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 21st, 2018

Top 5 Ways To Pick A High Quality Real Estate AgentYour real estate agent can be the difference between a successful home buy and a bad purchase. Take a look at the characteristics of a good real estate agent and how you should vet your next partner in real estate.

Patience

Does the real estate agent immediately tell you to give up your rights to audit a home for a quicker sale? You may want to move on. The best real estate agents realize how big of a commitment a home is, and they are willing to walk you through the process at whatever pace you are comfortable with.

Localized Knowledge

There are major differences in the buying process between cities. You need a real estate agent with a knowledge of local ordinances, building and zoning laws and culture. This will save you a great deal of money, believe it or not.

Negotiation Skills

You will go through a number of negotiations with opposing parties during the course of buying or selling a house. You can take them on yourself, but they can be difficult considering that you will likely be facing a real estate agent on the other end. It is usually advisable to have a professional with similar experience on your side. Pick a real estate agent who is not afraid to fight for you at the closing table.

Connections

The best deals in any real estate market may not be public knowledge. You may not even be able to get into certain neighborhoods or business districts unless you know somebody. Your agent should be able to help you in this regard. Pick an agent who is established in your marketplace and well connected.

Other Clients’ Experiences

No real estate agent worth his or her salt will have a problem showing you testimonials and reviews of clients that they have served in the past. You may ask to speak to other clients of that real estate agent if you would like to know their experience buying or selling their home.

Sometimes the best indicator of success is the stories of other people who have been in your shoes. Also, look at the ratings, reviews and testimonials of your agent on their website or other review sites. These are great resources to learn about other clients’ experience.

Once again, a high quality real estate professional can make all the difference in your home buying or selling experience.

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6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your Lifestyle

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 20th, 2018

6 Ways To Find the Right Neighborhood For Your LifestyleChoosing a neighborhood you live in is almost as important as the house you buy. The right neighborhood can make your house feel even more like a home. But how do you find the right neighborhood to shop for your next home?

1. Evaluate Your Own Lifestyle

The first step in finding the right neighborhood is to figure out what you’re really looking for. Do you crave a sense of community, or do you prefer not seeing any other houses when you open your front door? Knowing yourself is the key to identifying what kind of neighborhood you’ll be most happy in.

2. Are There Children In The Picture?

If you have kids now or are planning to have some in the future, that will impact your choice of neighborhoods. You’ll want your children to have neighborhood friends. You’ll also want to know your kids are safe playing outside. Look for neighborhoods where families reside. Ask your real estate agent about the quality of local schools.

3. Would You Prefer A Single Family Home Or A Townhouse?

Different neighborhoods have different housing types. You can often do a process of elimination by pre-determining what kind of home you’re looking for. This is something that your real estate agent can do for you.

4. What Will Your Commute Look Like?

You’ll be going to work everyday. That will significantly impact your daily lifestyle. Pin your work address on a map. Then draw a ring around it that represents the distance you’re willing to commute. Neighborhoods within that circle will be candidates.

5. Are You Looking For Nightlife?

If you want to be able to walk out your door and land at a cafe, bookstore, shopping center, bar or someplace else, then your neighborhood will need to reflect that desire. Avoid buying in an area where everything is a 20-minute drive. Your real estate agent will be able to apprise you of neighborhood culture so you’ll have a better idea of where to buy.

6. What Do You Miss Most?

Is your current neighborhood lacking something, such as bike trails, a park or community events? Seek these out when you go home shopping so your life feels more complete when you move.

These six tips will help you find the best neighborhood for the way you want to live. Remember, your real estate agent is knowledgeable about the various neighborhoods in their service area. Use your agent as a valuable resource while you search for that perfect home.

 

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How Tech Can Change the Real Estate Process

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

How Tech Can Change the Real Estate ProcessVirtual reality, artificial intelligence and drone video are just a few of the ways that technology is changing the real estate industry. If you are in the market for a property, understanding these new processes can help you in many ways.

Using Artificial Intelligence

Doing business with an AI-infused process helps you more quickly identify properties that meet your standards. AI also reduces human error in the closing process. Agents using AI can get you more information about properties more quickly, and they can also cut the fat out of the close, possibly saving you money.

Using Virtual Reality

Taking a virtual reality tour of a property can save you a lot of gas, time and effort. You no longer have to physically be at a location to understand its potential – you can see everything that you need to see online. Of course you can follow up in person, but you save huge amounts of time by visiting only the properties that have impressed you online.

Organizing Big Data

Buyers and sellers have access to more information than ever – information that was once only available to full time professionals in the industry. Dealing with it can be quite overwhelming, but you must in order to be a sophisticated investor. In many cases, your agent serves as your information filter, keeping you from becoming distracted by false or misleading information.

Remote Transactions

A growing number of real estate transactions are being done without ever meeting the other party involved. The entire process can be conducted online from search to close if need be. Buyers and sellers can save a great deal of money through reduced overhead with remote transactions. Biometrics help to maintain the security of the transaction.

The technologies above are just a few of the new things that are changing the real estate process for the better. Keep your ear to the street, because the landscape is always changing.

Contact your trusted real estate agent today to find out what new technology methods are available to help you find or sell your home.

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4 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 18th, 2018

4 Ways to Improve Your Curb AppealYou have about five minutes to impress (or not) prospective buyers at a showing. For curb appeal, you get about five seconds for buyers to decide whether they want to go inside.

Here are four tips to help you get the wow factor from your home’s street-facing views.

Update Entryway Hardware

A wall-mounted mailbox, chic house numbers and a pretty porch light add interest to your entryway. However, dated and dinged hardware impress no one. In a perfect world, all your hardware matches in style, color and finish. Of course, it should also tie-in to the style of your house. Brushed nickel house numbers look fabulous on a modern home but might clash with your Victorian-style house.

Splash On The Color

A gallon of high-quality paint costs about $25 and should cover the front door, trim and shutters. This simple upgrade gives the whole property a fresh look. Of course, if the street-facing side of your home has peeling or faded paint, you’ll have to paint that too. If you end up painting the facade, it’s best to do the entire house at the same time to maintain color conformity. 

Plant Power

A walkway trimmed in plants and flowers creates an inviting look. You can buy pre-planted greenery at your local home and garden center for an easy makeover of your walkway. For a less labor-intensive effect, install window boxes to add color and perk up your home’s exterior. Be careful to maintain them, since dying plants don’t increase curb appeal.

Create An Outdoor Living Space

If you have plenty of space on your patio or porch, use it to create a comfortable seating area. An outdoor rug, loveseat, chair and small table give buyers the idea that they could relax and entertain in this space. Colorful cushions in outdoor fabrics provide durable color and long-lasting wear the new owners can also enjoy. Make sure existing furniture is clean and maintained since moldy cushions and broken lawn chairs are not the upscale look you’re going for. 

The main point of curb appeal is to attract prospective buyers who can’t resist the charm of your home. This makes it far more likely they’ll like what the see on the inside.

For help with preparing your home for sale, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 17th, 2018

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 17th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 17th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on inflation and retail sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Retail Sales Grow, Inflation Unchanged in November

November retail sales grew by 0.20 percent in November as compared to expectations of 0.10 percent and October’s reading of 1.10 percent growth. Core retail sales, which exclude automotive sales, grew by 0.20 percent and met expectations. Analysts said online stores pushed retail sales growth in November.

Inflation held steady in November as expected. Inflation grew by 0.30 percent in October. Core inflation, which excludes volatile fuel and food sectors, rose by 0.20 percent, which matched October’s reading. Lower fuel prices contributed to the higher Core Price Index reading.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week, which caused an uptick in demand for homes. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by 12 basis points and averaged 4.63 percent. Mortgage rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped 14 basis points and averaged 4.07 percent.

Rates s for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 4.06 percent and were three basis points lower than the prior week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Last week’s average mortgage rates were the lowest in three months and prompted would-be be home buyers to enter the market.

First-time Jobless claims fell to 206,000 new claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected 226,000 new claims to be filed. The surge in unemployment claims during the prior week was connected to an early Thanksgiving holiday.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Sales of previously owned homes will be reported.

The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will issue its post-meeting statement along with economic projections for 2019. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with a monthly report on consumer sentiment.

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