What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 6, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week May 6 2013Mortgage rates fell last week and approached or reached record low levels.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) fell from 3.40 percent to 3.35 percent. Average rates for a 15-year FRM moved from 2.61percent to 2.56 percent.

Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) fell to 2.56 from last week’s average of 2.58 percent Discount points for last week’s mortgage rates ranged from 0.7percent for 30 and 15 year FRM loans to 0.5 percent for a 5/1 ARM.

Rock-bottom mortgage rates can offset the impact of rising home prices.

Last Week Was A Strong Showing For The US Economy

Last week’s economic news provided further indications of economic recovery, with housing related reports contributing to overall confidence in a stronger economy.

Highlights of last week’s news include:

Monday: Pending home sales moved up to 1.50 percent in March from February’s -1.07 percent. This reading also surpassed Wall Street’s forecast of 0.90 percent for March.

Tuesday: The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for February reported that the national average home price had increased by 9.3 percent year-over-year between February 2012 and February 2013. By comparison, the average national home price between January 2012 and January 2013 increased by 8.1 percent year-over-year. Rising home prices are contributing to the economic recovery, but in some areas demand for homes exceeds supply, which also contributes to rising home prices.

Wednesday: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) issued its scheduled statement after its meeting concluded. Committee members noted signs of an improving economy, and cited housing markets as a leading contributor to the recovery. The FOMC statement also indicated that economic conditions were not sufficiently improved for the FOMC to change or cease the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy. The Fed’s goal for its current quantitative easing program is keeping long-term interest rates including mortgage rates low.

Thursday: The weekly Jobless Claims Report brought better-than-expected news with new jobless claims coming in at 324,000, less than the expected reading of 345,000 new jobless claims and also higher than the previous report’s reading of 342,000 new jobless claims.

Friday: The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its monthly “Jobs Report,” which consists of the Non-farm Payrolls Report and the national Unemployment Rate. Again new jobs added exceeded expectations for April with 165,000 jobs added against expectations of 135,000 new jobs added. April’s reading also surpassed the March reading of 138,000 new jobs.

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent as compared to a consensus of 7.6 percent and last month’s reading of 7.6 percent. To put this reading in perspective, the FOMC has targeted an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent as a benchmark for adjusting its current policies including quantitative easing.

What To Look For This Week

This week’s economic events include latest Jobless Claims report on Thursday. It will be interesting to see if this week’s reading will be lower than last week’s reading of 324,000 new jobless claims.

On Friday, the Federal Budget will be released; this could influence financial markets depending on what programs and services are cut or reduced.

Can The Right Color Help Sell Your Home Faster?

How To Choose The Right Paint Colors For Selling Your HomeWhen it comes to selling your home in Southlake , you’ve probably thought of the most common staging tricks, such as clearing out the clutter to make your rooms look bigger and bringing in more light to brighten things up.

However, have you considered that the colors in your house might affect whether buyers are interested?

First impressions are everything when you are selling a house, so think about how the colors you choose will likely influence your potential buyers. A new coat of paint could be a simple and effective way to make your house more appealing.

Here are a few additional tips:

Choose Mellow, Neutral Shades

When a potential buyer is looking at your house, they want to be able to imagine themselves living there. If your walls are painted in lime green or hot pink, it can be difficult for a buyer to relate the house to their own tastes.

Instead, use neutral colors, such as cream, olive, beige and ivory. Then the walls become a blank canvas where prospective buyers can project their own style preferences.

Create the Illusion of Space

In order to make a space within your home feel larger, you can use a very light neutral color such as white, tan or pale grey. This will reflect more light and give the impression of a more expansive interior.

You can also try painting the moldings the same color as the walls, which will make the ceilings look higher.

Dont Forget About Exterior Color

It’s easy to focus on the interior of a house and forget about the outside, but the front of the house is the first thing potential buyers will see. Curb appeal can be a huge factor in their decision.

Caution: Lead-Based Paint

One important word of caution regarding the paint in your home is the issue of lead-based paint.

Lead-based paint was most common in homes built or painted prior to 1978. If your home falls in that age category, it may require further testing to ensure that the paint covering your walls is free of lead.

Color has a psychological effect on people, whether they are aware of it or not. You’ll be amazed at the difference the right colors can make in selling or improving your home.

If you would like more home staging and selling tips, please contact your trusted real estate professional today!

Fed Meeting Statement Points To Continuing Low Interest Rates

Fed Meeting Statement Points To Continuing Low Interest RatesWednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement indicates the Federal Reserve’s commitment to keeping long term interest rates and inflation under control.

The Fed will continue monitoring inflation, but does not expect inflation to rise more than 0.50 percent above its target rate of 2.00 percent over the next one to two years.

Ongoing monitoring of inflation and unemployment, as well as developing economic news, will guide the Fed in its future determinations concerning policy for its present iteration of quantitative easing (QE3).

Currently, the Fed purchases $85 billion of treasury securities and mortgage –backed securities each month with the goal of keeping long-term interest rates lower.

This includes mortgage rates, which can assist homebuyers with qualifying for mortgage loans in an environment of increasing home prices. Other goals include stabilizing the labor market, and limiting inflation.

Job Growth To Be Determining Factor On Fed Interest Rate Action

The statement also noted that the Fed will keep its interest rates between 0.00 and 0.25 percent, until the Fed sees the national unemployment rate fall below 6.50 percent.

While noting that the housing sector is improving, the Fed stated concerns about ongoing high unemployment rates. Jobs are a key aspect to supporting the economy, as 70 percent of the U.S. economy involves the purchase of goods and services by consumers. 

The Fed also repeated its position to evaluate the efficacy of its quantitative easing program; if the agency finds that the program is not achieving their desired objectives, changes to the program can be expected.

While a clear majority of FOMC members voted to keep current policies intact, one member voted against this course of action citing the potential for continued quantitative easing at current levels to fuel inflation.

The bottom line for today’s statement is that the Fed continues its “wait and see” position concerning quantitative easing and low federal interest rates.The committee also re-asserted its intention to gradually reduce quantitative easing when it’s time for a change.

In addition, the Fed is committed to monitoring a wide range of economic data with an eye toward adjusting its policies in the best interest of economic recovery. 

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Post Highest Growth Rates Since 2006

Case-Shiller Posts Highest Gains Since 2006Housing markets continue to improve according to the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Indices released April 30 for February’s data.

The Indices consist of a 10-City Composite Index and a 20-City Composite Index with housing markets for each city reported based on a three-month rolling average of home prices.

Case Shiller Posts Highest Growth Rates Since 2006

The data released yesterday comprised the Indices’ highest growth rates since May 2006.

For the 12 months between February 2012 and February 2013, the 10-City Composite Index reports that average home prices posted a gain of 8.6 percent and average home prices for the 20-City Composite Index grew by 9.3 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. 

All 20 cities posted a year-over-year gain for at least two consecutive months.

The 10-City Composite Index grew by 0.4 percent between January and February, while the 20-City Composite Index grew by 0.3 percent for the same time period.

16 of the 20 cities reported rising annual growth rates for home sales between January and February 2013, while four cities including Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix saw decreases between -0.1 and -0.4 percent in annual home prices between January and February 2013 readings.

Longer-term readings provide a more positive light, as with the example for Phoenix, Arizona.

The month-to-month reading of annual home prices indicated a decrease, but the reading for Phoenix year over year indicates a + 23.0 percent increase in average home prices.

Ten Metro Areas Gain Double Digits Over Past Year

10 cities posted double-digit year-over-year growth rates; they include Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa.

San Diego and Tampa have joined the double-digit cities in February with average home prices increasing for each city of just over 10 percent.

Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta posted the highest year-over-year gains in average home prices.

Three older cities, New York, Boston and Chicago posted the lowest year-over-year rates in average home price readings.

Atlanta and Dallas achieved the highest annual growth rates since the inception of the 10-City Composite (1991) and the 20-City Composite (2001).

Improving Housing Markets Seen As Beacon Of Economic Recovery

Improving housing markets are considered a leading indicator of overall economic recovery as home ownership typically increases wealth and leads to more spending.

Economists note that while current news for housing markets is good, average home prices remain at 2003 levels, which can be very good for new home buyers.

Shortages of available homes in some areas and news that apartment construction is increasing can impact availability and ultimately, the sale of single-family homes.

 

Understanding And Purchasing Distressed Property For Profit

Understanding And Purchasing Distressed Property For ProfitAccording to the the latest Foreclosure Inventory Analysis showed nearly 1.5 million properties were currently in the foreclosure process or being held by banks as Real Estate Owned.

This was up 9 percent from the first quarter of 2012, but down significantly from the apex of foreclosure activity — 2.2 million units — in December 2010.

What Is Distressed Property?

“Distressed property” is a blanket term for homes in foreclosure, short sale or that are REO (Real Estate Owned).

Below are definitions of different types of distressed real estate, so that you can be familiar with the terms.

  • Foreclosure: When a homeowner has defaulted on their mortgage for a specified period of time, the bank takes possession of the real estate.
  • Short Sale: A homeowner facing foreclosure may request a short sale from their lender to sell the property for less than what is owed.
  • REO: Real Estate Owned properties have gone through foreclosure and are held by the bank. This increases the possibility of purchasing these homes at a discount because maintaining an REO is costly for a lender.

All three scenarios offer opportunities for substantial savings, yet all include stipulations with regard to the contract and terms of purchase.

Special Requirements With Distressed Property Purchases

When you buy this type of property, you are dealing with a financial institution instead of a private seller, so it may take more time to get to the closing table.

Be prepared for a longer than normal communication cycle as there are often delays when working with the bank or mortgage lender to come to a decision on an acceptable offer and closing date.

Unfortunately, many distressed properties have more deferred maintenance and repair issues

If you are willing to take the chance and be patient, a distressed property could pay off in terms of a lower purchase price.

Additionally, most buyers of distressed properties see an increase in the value of their Southlake real estate within a short time of purchase.

In the end, it is strongly advised that buyers work with an experienced property expert when interested in distressed properties because of the additional paperwork and requirements to complete the transaction.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 29, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 29 2013Mortgage rates fell again last week and are again near record lows.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage did achieve a record low of 2.61 percent as compared to 3.1 percent one year ago.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.40 percent and near the record low of 3.31 percent.

Low mortgage rates are helping homeowners with refinancing and are boosting housing markets as more buyers can qualify for mortgage loans.

Home Values Continue To Rise

Last week’s economic news was mixed; The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, released its Home Price Index for February.

According to this index, home prices increased by 0.7 percent between January and February, and increased by 7.1 percent year-over-year on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, existing home sales for March fell short of the expected 5.03 million and came in at 4.92 million existing homes sold on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

This reading was also 0.7 percent shy of February’s reading of 4.95 million existing homes sold.

Some homeowners may be taking a wait-and-see stance as they wait for home values to continue rising.

Employment Numbers Gaining Steam

Weekly jobless claims fell to 339,000 and were short of the consensus of 351,000 and the prior week’s 355,000 jobless claims filed.

As more workers gain employment, those able to buy homes increases.

The economy in general also benefits as households gain income they can use for purchasing goods and services.

Consumer Sentiment rose by 2.1 points to 76.4 over the March reading of 72.3 percent.

April’s reading also surpassed expectations of 74.0 percent.

As consumers gain confidence in the economy, they are generally more likely to buy homes and make other major purchases that contribute to the U.S. economy.

Coming Up this Week

This week’s economic news calendar includes several reports that impact the housing sector as well as the general economy:

  • Monday: Personal Income, Consumer Spending and Pending Home Sales reports are due for release.
  • Tuesday: The Case Shiller/Wells Fargo Home Price Index for February and Consumer Confidence for April will provide data concerning national and regional home prices and indicate how consumers view the economy.
  • Wednesday: The customary statement by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is set for release at the conclusion of its meeting. The ADP Employment Index for April and Construction Spending for March provide data on jobs and trends in construction spending.
  • Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims report
  • Friday: The Non-farm Payrolls Report and Unemployment Rate for April, collectively known as the Jobs Report, will be released.

While we can’t predict what will happen with mortgage rates, some industry analysts indicated that they expect rates to remain low in the near-term.

These lower rates should continue to support growth in the Southlake real estate market for home buyers and sellers as well as those looking to refinance their home.

7 Tips To Get Your Home In Tip Top Selling Condition

Study Shows 568% ROI On Home Cleaning InvestmentA clean, uncluttered home is very likely the single most important thing to get your home sold quickly and for top dollar.

In fact, a recent survey by HomeGain showed a whopping 568% return on investment for money put toward cleaning and organizing a home for sale!

And other experts say that a well-put-together home can shorten the time on market drastically as well.

Before your real estate agent lists your Southlake home, it’s essential for it to look its best.

7 Tips To Get Your Home In Tip Top Selling Condition

Examine your living space and see it as a buyer would — then double check this list of staging tips to make sure you haven’t overlooked these important details.

  • Clear out the clutter. Tidy up counter tops, bookcases, garages and closets.
  • Pack up your sentimental items. Personal photos and knick-knacks should be boxed up for moving day.
  • Get a storage unit. Open up space by moving furniture and boxes into storage — it will make the rooms appear bigger.
  • Remove appliances and fixtures that you want to keep. If you are taking the dining room chandelier or the built-in microwave, remove them before the house goes on the market.
  • Make minor repairs. Check that faucets don’t leak, doors close properly and holes in the walls are patched.
  • Make it pretty! Windows, floors and bathrooms should be sparkling. Dust every surface, hang up fresh towels in the bathroom and make sure there are no lingering odors.
  • Don’t forget the yard. Curb appeal starts at the curb — go figure — so mow the yard, wash down walkways and add some bright flowers near the front door to trigger the emotion to buy.

There are so many different ways to give your home an advantage over the competition in the spring buying market.

Plus, nice looking properties are more appealing for real estate agents to show their clients, so your well-taken-care-of home may get a lot more exposure.

In the end, the better your property looks, the faster it’s going to sell…and get you the most for it.

How To Have the Best Garage Sale Ever At Your Home

How To Have The Best Garage Sale EverIt’s getting close to that time of year again — time to have a garage sale at your home!

Here are a few tips to help you have your most successful garage sale ever.

Advertise Your Sale In Local Newspapers And Online

Many of the habitual Saturday morning garage sale patrons around Southlake use the paper to plan their treasure hunts.

They do this to make sure they hit all of the sales in certain neighborhoods.

In the ad, mention your home address, date and time of your garage sale and any big or popular items you’ll be selling.

Open Your Sale Early

It’s best to open early, such as around seven in the morning a sales tend to taper off in the afternoon.

Don’t disappoint early shoppers who are typically your best buyers.

They have a busy schedule and a lot of stops to hit.

Open on time or even a few minutes before the time you advertised.

Make Plenty Of Signs To Guide Customers In

If your yard is difficult to see or is not on a main road, be sure to post signs pointing the way.

If allowed, attach a few balloons to it which will catch the attention of passing motorists.

Have Everything Labeled With Reasonable Prices

You’ll get some customers who try to haggle, but for most customers, not knowing the prices is a quick way to have them moving on to another sale.

Keep in mind that these shoppers are looking for a bargain and price accordingly.

You can individually label each item, or use an easily readable color-coded chart.

For instance, a blue sticker means 25 cents, red stickers mean 50 cents and yellow stickers mean $1.

Offer Specials At Different Points During The Garage Sale

You can offer a 2-for-1 sale or a twenty percent off special.

At the end of the day, you may want to have an unadvertised special such as fill a bag for $1 to get rid of as much as possible. 

It’s always a good idea to have a “free box” for items that are already low-priced and don’t move during the first half of the sale.

Donate Leftovers

Make your life easier and do something for others by donating any items that don’t sell.

If you plan carefully, you can schedule a pick up by your local charitable organization at the end of your garage sale.

Garage sales are a great way to get the clutter and unused collection of items out of your house while recycling them at the same time.

Using these tips, you’re well on your way to having your best garage sale ever.

Existing Home Sales Numbers Show Value Gains Across America

Existing Home Sales Show Price Gains March 2013The National Association of REALTORS® released its Existing Home Sales report for March on Monday.

Sales dipped from February’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.95 million to 4.92 million existing homes sold in March, a decrease of 0.6 percent month-to-month. 

This reading was lower than Wall Street’s consensus of 5.03 million existing homes sold, but there is also good news.

Sales of existing homes are up by 10.3 percent as compared to March 2012.

Economists note that existing home sales have performed within a narrow range of 4.90 to 4.96 million since November 2012.

This illustrates the impact of lower numbers of existing homes available for purchase in Texas and around the country.

The National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index reports builder concerns including rising materials costs, tight construction credit and lack of available developed lots for building.

Demand for Homes, Fewer Distressed Properties Driving Median Home Price Gains

The national median price for existing homes was $184,300; this is an 11.8 percent increase over March 2012. 

This was the largest year-over-year price increase since November 2005.

Low inventories of available homes for sale and fewer distressed properties on the market are supporting rising home prices.

Distressed home represented 21 percent of existing home sales in March, which was their lowest market share since data collection started in 2008.

Distressed home sales decreased from a 29 percent market share in March 2012. 

With fewer “bargain-basement” homes on the market, homeowners waiting to sell may be more willing to list their homes which could add to the numbers of existing homes available.

Regional Median Home Prices Rise

Existing home sales declined in two of four U.S. regional markets, were unchanged in one market and rose in one market.

Sales of existing homes are calculated on an annual basis.

Northeast: Sales volume for March was unchanged at 630,000 homes sold annually. The median price is $237,000. This represents a year-over-increase of 6.8 percent since March 2012.

Midwest: Sales increased by 1.8 percent to 1.16 million homes. The median price rose to $141,800, an increase of 7.8 percent year-over-year.

South: Sales volume dropped by1.5 percent to 1.95 million homes. The median home price is $161,700. This is a 10.4 percent increase as compared to March 2012.

West: Sales volume declined by 1.7 percent to 1.18 million homes. This represents an increase of 4.4 percent in existing home sales over March 2012. The median home price in the West has risen by 26.1 percent year-over-year to $258,100. This dramatic increase is attributed by high demand for homes caused by very low home inventories.

While regional median home prices rose across the board in March, regional sales volumes were varied; this suggests that if there were more homes available, there would be more buyers.

5 Important Questions To Ask Before You Invest In Solar Power For Your Home

Investing In Solar Energy For Your HomeIf you’ve been considering taking your home in a green direction, April is the perfect month to make an environmentally friendly update.

Installing a solar energy system may be a very smart way to help the environment.

Plus, solar panels turn sunlight into energy that can save you money!

The federal government and many states are now providing tax incentives and rebates for installing solar panels in 2013 which make this an excellent opportunity to go green this spring.

However, there are many installers that might not have the necessary experience, so be sure to ask the questions below when searching for your solar energy system.

How many solar panel systems have they installed?

You want to make sure to find a reputable company that has significant solar experience and has successfully completed at least 50 installations.

Ask for references before you sign anything.

What is the output in kWh per year?

Many times, solar panel brands will claim to be more efficient than others.

You’ll want to weigh the annual output against the price to determine what system is going to be the most cost effective for your Southlake home.

It is important to note that you should do an energy audit to see how you are using the power in your home before sizing the solar power replacement system.

You may be able to install a significantly smaller, and less costly, system if you learn how you can cut your power consumption prior to installing your new solar panels.

How long is the warranty on the panels?

Most high quality solar panel systems have a warranty of at least 25 years.

Top-of-the-line panels usually guarantee an output of no less than 90 percent after ten years and no less than 80 percent after 25 years.

Be wary of any company whose panels don’t come with a warranty.

Do they include a warranty on labor?

Many states require a warranty on labor in order to receive your rebate.

Reputable installers should have no problem including at least a 10-year warranty.

What is the final price?

Don’t get separate pricing for the parts, labor and rebates.  Get a comprehensive price, so you can directly compare the total cost and kWh per year among providers.

Also, pay attention to the difference between purchasing your solar power system versus the leasing options available. 

Leasing has become popular due to the low — or possibly no– up-front cost, but most experts agree that purchasing the system leads to a quicker payoff and return on your investment.

Taking into consideration warranties and servicing fees, the outcome should be that you choose whoever can give you the most output at the best price.