Archive for June, 2021

How Much Will Your Child Tax Credit Be?

Posted in Taxes by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 22nd, 2021

How Much Will Your Child Tax Credit Be?There are millions of homeowners that are parents waiting for their advance child tax credits to arrive; however, they might not be sure exactly how much money they are going to get. This makes it difficult to set a budget. Some parents could expect to receive $300 per month between now and December. The rest of the credit should arrive after filing their tax returns next year. How much will parents receive?

The Process Of Calculating A Child Tax Credit

Because of recent changes in federal tax laws, the expanded child tax credit has increased the limit from $2,000 (the limit in 2020) to a maximum of $3,600; however, not every parent is going to receive $3,600.

Children under the age of five years are eligible for the maximum amount of $3,600. Children who are in secondary school (between the ages of six and 17 years) are eligible for a maximum payment of $3,000 per child. Children who are 18 years of age or in college full-time (up to age 24) are eligible for a one-time payment of $500 each.

In addition, these payment amounts will vary depending on the adjusted gross income of the family. Keep in mind that these numbers are estimates only and could vary from family to family. Anyone with questions or concerns about how much money they are going to receive should speak with a tax professional for more information.

Will Expanded Child Tax Credits Be Expanded In The Future?

Fortunately, there are online payment portals available, saving families the trouble of filing an amended tax return for these payments; however, will these payments be extended into the future? There is a possibility that Congress could decide to extend the duration of monthly child tax credits in upcoming stimulus bills. With millions of people still collecting unemployment benefits, the government might be forced to extend child tax credits to make life easier for the millions of people who are suffering.

Right now, families should not assume these tax credits are going to get extended until Congress passes formal legislation. While the government might decide to pass another law similar to the American Rescue Plan, passed earlier this year, nothing is guaranteed. Families should budget for this year’s child tax credit accordingly.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 21, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 21st, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 21, 2021Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing markets and  Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also published.

NAHB: Home Builder Sentiment Slips Amid High Materials Prices, Labor Shortages

The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index fell two points to a May index reading of 81. Readings above 50 indicate that most home builders are confident in market conditions, but builder sentiment has fallen from its peak reading of 90 before the pandemic. The NAHB Housing Market reached its lowest reading of 37 during the pandemic. Readings above 50 indicate that most builders surveyed were confident about housing market conditions.

Homebuilder confidence slipped due to higher home prices caused by high demand for homes. Builders have pulled back the pace of building homes due to rising lumber prices and potential buyers facing affordability concerns. While lumber prices remain high compared to pre-pandemic levels, they were 42 percent lower year-over-year.

Chuck Fowke, chairman of the NAHB, said, “These higher prices have priced new homes beyond the budget of prospective buyers,  which has slowed the strong pace of home building.” Low mortgage rates prompt buyers to enter the market, but home prices in many areas require mortgage loans that many buyers cannot afford.

Homebuilders continued to face shortages of skilled carpenters and other workers. These shortages also impact the price of homes and building pace. Shortages of new and pre-owned homes created high levels of buyer competition with multiple offers on available homes. In addition, some metro areas are seeing more cash offers, which make buying homes more difficult for buyers who depend on mortgages to purchase homes.

In related news, the Commerce Department reported 1.57 million housing starts in May on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. 1.52 million starts were reported in April and 1.63 million starts were expected in May. Building permits issued in May fell to 1.63 million permits issued on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. 1.73 million building permits were issued in April and analysts expected the same number of permits to be issued in May.

Mortgage Rates Fall; Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week with rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 2.93 percent and three basis points lower. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were one basis point higher on average at 2.24 percent; rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were three basis points lower on average at 2.52 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless claims were mixed last week as new jobless claims rose to 412,000 first-time claims filed from the previous week’s reading of 375,000 initial claims filed. Continuing jobless claims were unchanged at 3.52 million claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes, inflation, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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FOMC Statement: Fed Predicts 2 Interest Rate Hikes in 2023

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 18th, 2021

FOMC Statement: Fed Predicts 2 Interest Rate Hikes in 2023The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve said in its post-meeting statement that the Federal Reserve expects to raise its benchmark interest rate range twice during 2023. No rate changes will be made during 2022 as the economy continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Fed’s current interest rate range is 0.00 to 0.25 percent.

Fed Expects “Transitory” Inflation

The Fed’s post-meeting FOMC statement said that although Committee members adjusted their forecast for raising the Fed’s benchmark interest rate range, members did not predict long-term inflation and described current upward inflation as “transitory.”

The Consumer Price Index reported that the cost of living jumped in May and drove inflationary growth to a 13-year high of five percent.

11 of 18 FOMC members currently expect two or more rate hikes in 2023; in March, seven members expected one rate hike in 2023. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said that the Fed needs to reconsider its monetary policies based on the two stimulus payments provided to Americans. The Fed has held its benchmark interest rate range to 0.00 to 0.25 percent and continued its monthly purchases of $80 billion in Treasurys and $40 billion in Mortgage-Backed Securities in efforts to support the economy and stabilize financial markets.

The Committee will follow economic news and developments through readings on public health, labor market conditions, inflation, and financial and global news to determine monetary policy adjustments.

Fed Chair Suggests Future Tapering of Bond Purchases

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in his post-FOMC meeting press conference that members had their first discussion of tapering the Fed’s bond purchases. Although the Fed has indicated it wants to see “substantial further progress” in the economy before it starts to taper its bond purchases, analysts expected further discussion of tapering bond purchases in FOMC’s July meeting. Reducing bond purchases is considered the first step in moderating the Fed’s accommodative stance on monetary policy.

Chair Powell said that the FOMC will continue to develop monetary policy in consideration of the FOMC’s dual mandate of achieving maximum and an annual inflation rate of two percent over the longer term. Inflation has run below two percent for some time before the pandemic; so a current inflation rate running above two percent would help raise the average inflation rate to the two percent requirement.  

The unemployment rate is improving as businesses and other employers open their doors and restore service to full capacity. Chair Powell cautioned that the economy remains strongly connected to how the Covid-19 virus progresses and said that monetary policy would be adjusted according to how the pandemic impacts the economy.

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

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 17th, 2021

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

Review The Appraisal Contingency Clause

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

Get A Second Appraisal

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

Consider A Lower Price

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

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

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Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your Home

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 15th, 2021

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your HomeHomeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale in the coming weeks or months may be focused on improving their home to help it sell more quickly, but there also may be a focus on adding value to the home in the process. While each home is unique, there are a few projects that most homeowners would benefit from. In fact, these are a few simple and easy projects that can typicaly be completed over the course of a weekend; that can add value and desirability to the home.

Replace The Front Door

The front door has an impact on curb appeal, and it also is one of the primary features that buyers will see when they approach your home to take a tour. Replacing an older door that lacks style or that is plagued with signs of wear and tear can improve property value and curb appeal alike. Many homeowners who have basic tools and some do-it-yourself experience with other projects will be able to replace the front door without additional help from a contractor.

Update The Kitchen Back Splash

A kitchen is a key selling point in a home, and the back splash is among the most visible features in this space. Replacing the back splash with stylish tile can improve the look and can instantly make the home more desirable. This can be a relatively simple type of home renovation project, if you have experience with tile work, that may be completed within just a few hours.

Repaint The Walls And Baseboards

Few things can improve the look of a home more easily than a fresh coat of paint. If the walls are showing signs of wear or the colors do not have modern or universal appeal, applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and baseboards is a simple enough project to tackle. For the best results, focus on the rooms with the most undesirable paint colors, in the most visible rooms of the home or in areas where the paint is in generally poor condition.

Each of these projects can have a dramatic impact on the homes appeal and can influence the value of the home itself.   Each of these prjects under most circomstances can be completed with minimal time and cost to the homeowner. Those who are ready to improve their home in a short period of time can consider which of these projects will yield the most significant results in their home. Consulting with a real estate professional about improvements that may be desirable in a specific home can help the homeowner in choosing what to tackle first.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 14, 2021

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 14th, 2021

Last week’s economic reporting included readings on job openings, inflation, and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

Job Openings Increase as Employers Struggle to Fill Positions

Job openings rose in April according to the Labor Department, but workers were quitting jobs in record numbers. 9.30 million openings were reported as compared to expectations of 8.20 million job openings and 8.30 million job openings reported in March. Increasing job openings indicate a stronger post-pandemic economy as businesses and service providers return to full capacity. 

Employers faced multiple obstacles to filling job openings including early retirements taken during the pandemic, difficulty in finding childcare options, and continued fear of covid-19. Generous covid-19 benefits and jobless benefits delayed workers’ return to their jobs. Job openings in restaurants and hotels rose by 349,000 openings in April. About one-third of all job openings were unfilled in April. 

In other news, the Consumer Price Index, which tracks inflation, rose by 0.60 percent in May as compared to April’s reading of 0.80 percent growth. Analysts expected a reading of 0.50 percent for May. May’s reading was the fourth consecutive monthly increase in inflation since the pandemic. Higher used-car prices accounted for approximately a third of May’s inflation growth. 

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 14, 2021The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.70 percent in May and was 3.80 percent higher year-over-year for a 29-year high.

Mortgage Rates and Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell three basis points to 2.96 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by four basis points to 2.23 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 2.55 percent and were nine basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.60 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. 

Initial jobless claims fell last week with 376,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 370,000 new claims and the previous week’s reading of 385,000 first-time claims filed. Continuing jobless claims also fell with 3.50 million ongoing claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 3.76 million continuing claims filed.

The University of Michigan released initial results for its June Consumer Sentiment Index. June’s index reading was 86.4 as compared to the expected reading of 84.4 and May’s index reading of 82.9. 

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic readings include the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index along with Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will release its usual post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a press conference. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

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Is Now The Time To Move Into A Retirement Home?

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 11th, 2021

Is Now The Time To Move Into A Retirement Home?There are thousands of people who turn 65 every day, which is the typical retirement age. Before the development of the pandemic, most people had to wait to retire before they could move to their retirement homes. Due to the pandemic, a lot of people are working remotely, giving them a chance to move to their retirement homes before they actually retire. Is it a smart idea to move before retiring? If the next phase of life is calling, now might be a time to make the move to a retirement home, whether this is a home on the beach or a sprawling property located in the countryside.

Workers Can Be Just As Productive Working From Home

While the pandemic was unexpected, workers have been gradually becoming more remote during the past few years. The pandemic simply accelerated this trend, showing that employees can be just as effective working from home. Therefore, you may see more people buying retirement homes before they actually retire. A lot of people who retire have paid off their current homes, allowing them to make a significant profit if they decide to sell now and relocate to their retirement home using the equity they already have. If they are able to work remotely from there, it might be possible for people to move to a retirement home before they actually retire.

Many Homeowners Are Moving To Their Retirement Homes Now

Due to the health crisis that just happened, many people have become acutely aware of the importance of spending time with family members and friends. Many have not seen their family members and friends since the pandemic started, and moving closer to them is one of the biggest reasons why people relocate. In addition, making the move to a retirement home now can reduce expenses, start a new phase of life, and provide access to better weather.

With mortgage rates still very low, this could be a great time for workers nearing the retirement age to move into their dream homes. Then, they can continue to work virtually from there during the next few years, getting a head start on the next phase of life.

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Looking to Close Faster? Follow This Easy Guide to Speeding Up the Mortgage Process

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 10th, 2021

Looking to Close Faster? Follow This Easy Guide to Speeding Up the Mortgage ProcessIf you’re buying a home, you’ll want to try to get your mortgage processed as quickly as possible. Improperly filed mortgage applications are one of the biggest reasons why home sales get delayed, and if you have a hard move-out date already set, it’s critical that your mortgage process goes smoothly.

With careful planning, though, you can shorten the mortgage process and get your financing approved faster. Here’s what you need to do to speed up the approval.

Get Your Paperwork in Order Before You Apply

One of the biggest reasons why mortgages get delayed is because the applicant is missing a vital piece of paperwork. Something like a missing pay stub or a forgotten home insurance document can hold up the mortgage process, so make sure you have everything you need before applying for your mortgage.

When you apply for your mortgage, you’ll need pay stubs dating back four weeks, plus a bank statement for the last 30-60 days. Note that you’ll need the actual statement from your bank – online screenshots don’t qualify. You’ll also need a homeowner’s insurance declaration document and any legal documents pertaining to your finances, like a divorce decree.

Keep Your Finances Consistent Once You’ve Applied

Once you’ve started the mortgage approval process it’s critical that you keep your finances fairly consistent, as major changes will mean your mortgage lender will need to restart the evaluation process. Try to avoid making larger than usual bank deposits, and don’t take out a new loan or credit card. Keep your credit card usage similar to where it’s been in the past.

If you do end up making major changes to your finances, make sure you send the proper documentation to your lender as soon as you can. Call ahead of time to make sure you know what you need to send.

Don’t Forget to Mention Assets and Debts

Before your mortgage is approved, your lender will want to take a thorough look at your existing debts and assets. If you exclude information, your lender will need to spend extra time untangling the situation and determining your proper finances. Make sure you tell your lender about any and all investment properties you own, mortgages on other homes, or loan and credit card balances that are past due.

Getting a mortgage is a complicated process, but having your documents in order can speed things up and ensure you get your mortgage on time.

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What Are The Top Ways To Win A Bidding War?

Posted in Real Estate Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 9th, 2021

What Are The Top Ways To Win A Bidding War?Right now, there are not a lot of houses for sale, as inventory and new home construction continue to lag behind buyer demand. In addition, low mortgage rates are accelerating demand, meaning that in many situations the sellers are receiving multiple offers. Therefore, it is important for potential buyers to do everything they can to win a bidding war. What are a few ways buyers can give themselves an advantage?

Get Pre-Approved For A Home Loan

The first thing interested buyers need to do is to get pre-approved for a home loan. Because many sellers have options, they might be more willing to take a cash offer because they know the money is going to be there. In order for potential buyers to compete with cash offers, they need to get pre-approved for a home loan, which tells the seller that the buyer has already been approved for a home loan by the lender. Getting pre-approved can make buyers more competitive.

Present The Best Offer First

Because many properties are receiving multiple offers, buyers need to be ready with their best offer at the outset. If they can convince the seller to forgo listening to other offers, they have a better chance of securing the home. Therefore, buyers have to work with experienced professionals who can help them figure out what their budget is, what comparable homes are selling for, and how they can make a competitive offer that could convince the seller to say yes quickly.

Act As Quickly As Possible

Finally, buyers have to be ready to act fast. Properties are not staying on the market as long as they once did. For example, one site says that homes are spending 20 days fewer on the market now than they did one year ago. Therefore, buyers do not have time to wait. If they have trouble getting their work schedules set, traveling to the area, or lining up a showing, the home could be off the market by the time this is done. Buyers must act as quickly as possible.

Get Ready To Win A Bidding War

These are just a few of the most important steps buyers need to take in order to win a bidding war. While the market is hot, it is possible to find a home at a fair price.

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Dealing with the Summer Heat? How to Keep Your Home Cool Without Using a Ton of Energy

Posted in Around The Home by Michigan Real Estate Expert on June 8th, 2021

Dealing with the Summer Heat? How to Keep Your Home Cool Without Using a Ton of EnergyMany people look forward to the long, relaxed, sunny days of summer, but they also dread opening up their energy bills throughout the summer months. Cooling a home can be costly, and many are searching for convenient ways to lower cooling costs without sacrificing on comfort inside the home on the warmest days of the year. These are just a few of the cost-effective and convenient options that can help homeowners to reduce cooling costs throughout the summer.

Keep The Blinds Closed

A significant amount of heat can enter a home through the windows, and blinds and curtains provide an extra layer of insulation between the window glass and the interior of the home. Some types of blinds and curtains are more effective at blocking heat than others, and homeowners may consider making an upgrade for the best results. For example, wood blinds can block significantly more heat than thin, almost translucent sheers.

Run The Ceiling Fans

Another way to keep cooling costs lower throughout the summer months is to run ceiling fans regularly. Ceiling fans help to circulate the air, and this helps the central cooling system function more efficiently. In addition, ceiling fans also can make those who are in the room feel cooler, and this may mean that homeowners can keep the home’s thermostat set at a slightly higher level than it otherwise would need to be set at for comfort indoors.

Use Heat-Generating Features At Night

There are numerous appliances and types of equipment that may be used indoors throughout the summer that can generate a considerable amount of heat, and running these at night can reduce the need to run the central cooling system as much during warm days. Consider that everything from running the washing machine and dryer to using the dishwasher and oven or range can emit heat in the home, and these serve to counteract the work that the cooling system is doing. When possible, limit the use of these features to cooler nighttime hours.

Keeping the home cool throughout the summer is a top priority for most, and the good news is that there are easy ways to reduce the cost associated with keeping a home cool. These ideas all can be beneficial in a homeowner’s quest to reduce energy costs during the summer.

If your current home is a real energy hog and you are ready to move into a more energy efficant option, make sure to speak with your trusted real estate professional for a look at newer energy efficant homes in your area.

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