Case Shiller Home Price Index Shows Rising Prices For May 2013

Case Shiller Home Price Index Shows Rising Prices For May 2013The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index (HPI) released Tuesday presented solid evidence that the housing recovery continued during the month of May.

The Case-Shiller 20-City Index showed increasing home prices for all 20 cities.

Highest Year-Over-Year Gains Included Theses Cities:

  • San Francisco, CA 24.50 percent
  • Las Vegas, NV 23.30 percent
  • Phoenix, AZ 20.60 percent
  • Atlanta, GA 20.10 percent
  • Los Angeles, CA 19.20 percent

In surprising news, Dallas, TX and Denver, CO posted record year-over-year price gains that surpassed their pre-crisis peaks.

Year-over-year home prices in Dallas increased by 7.60 percent and Denver home prices increased by 9.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Home prices grew by 12.20 percent on a year-over year basis in May; this reading fell short of expectations of 12.40 percent, but moved slightly ahead of April's reading of a 12.10 percent year-over year increase.

The Case-Shiller HPI is based on a three-month rolling year-over-year average of home prices in the cities surveyed.

Cities Post Month-To- Month Price Gains 

On a seasonally-adjusted month-to-month basis, home prices rose by 1.00 percent in May as compared to April. Expectations were for a 1.40 percent increase over April's reading, which came in at 1.70 percent.

Top Gains From April To May Were Posted By These Cities:

  • San Francisco, CA 4.30 percent
  • Chicago, IL 3.70 percent
  • Atlanta, GA 3.40 percent
  • San Diego, CA 3.10 percent
  • Seattle, WA 3.10 percent

Analysts noted that home prices for two metro areas in Florida surpassed year-over-year gains in Washington, D.C.; this illustrates home values shifting geographically.

Miami home prices posted a month-to gain of 2.00 percent and a year-over-year gain of 14.20 percent.

Tampa, FL home prices posted a month-to-month gain of 1.80 percent on a year-over-year gain of 10.90 percent.

Washington, D.C. home prices gained 2.00 percent month-to-month in May, but only gained 6.50 percent year-over-year.

Rising Mortgage Rates Could Slow Price Momentum

It's important to understand that the data in the Case-Shiller HPI lags a couple of months behind current market conditions; the latest numbers were compiled prior to mortgage rates spiking. Economists expect that the impact of higher mortgage rates won't be seen in home prices until fall.

Higher mortgage rates are expected to slow home sales. If the demand for homes falls due to higher mortgage rates, inventories of available homes would expand, which would create competition among home sellers and potentially lead to lower home prices.

For any questions regarding your mortgage rate and buying a home feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.


Questions To Ask Your Home Inspector Before Buying Your Home

Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector Before Buying Your HomeImagine how frustrated you'd be to find out that the hot water heater wasn't working - in the middle of your very first shower in your new home!

This, among other very good reasons, is why you should have a home inspection before you buy your home.

When you buy a home, you need to know exactly what you're buying.

A home inspection is an important part of buying your home. Before you hire a home inspector, ask candidates a few questions to make sure you hire a trustworthy inspector.

What Does Your Inspection Cover?

Not all inspections are the same. Ask for copies of previous home inspections so you can see exactly what they will check inside the home.

If you are concerned about something specific, like a leaky faucet in the bathroom, mention that to the inspector so they can check it out.

Are You Licensed Or Certified?

If you live in a state that licenses home inspectors, ask to see their license. Most reputable home inspection professionals provide this information right at the start of your home inspection.

At the very least, choose a home inspector who belongs to American Society of Home Inspectors. This shows a level of professionalism and education that you can trust.

What Kind Of Report Will You Give Me?

You should expect a written report detailing what the inspector found. Most inspectors will give you a typed report within a week of the inspection.

Many even take digital color photos of any issues with the home in order to make their report as clear as possible. Make sure the inspector will be available to explain anything on the report that doesn't make sense to you.

Will I Be Able To Attend The Inspection?

If the inspector refuses to let you be present during the home inspection, find someone else. This is your chance to know exactly what you are buying and what potential repairs you or the seller will have to make.

Please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today to answer this and any other question you have on the home buying process.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -- July 29, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 29, 2013Last week brought a mixed bag of economic news, but most notably, average mortgage rates fell.

New home sales surpassed expectations and consumer sentiment rose for July; these readings among others suggest that the economy continued to improve and that consumer confidence in the economy improved as well.

Monday: Existing home sales in June were reported at 5.08 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. While this fell short of expectations of 5.25 million existing homes sold, the expectation was based on the original reading of 5.18 million existing homes sold for May; this was later revised to 5.14 million homes existing homes sold in May.

Tuesday: FHFA reported that May prices for homes with mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac remained consistent with April's reading of a 7.30 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Home prices rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April's revised reading of 0.50 percent. 

Wednesday: The U.S. Census Bureau revealed that June sales of new homes came in at 497,000, which surpassed both expectations of 483,000 new homes sold and May's reading of 449,000 new homes sold.

Thursday: Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 3.31 percent with 0.8 percent in discount points.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 3.39 percent with discount points of 0.8 percent as compared to last week's report of 3.41 percent. Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point from 3.17 percent to 3.16 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.

In other economic news, June's report for Durable Goods Orders nearly doubled to 4.20 percent over expectations of 2.30 percent.

Friday: Consumer Sentiment for July rose to 85.1 as compared to expectations of 84.0 and June's reading of 83.90 percent. That consumers continued gaining confidence in the economy could indicate that more would-be home buyers will become active homebuyers seeking to buy amidst a short inventory of available homes. 

This Week's Busy Economic Calendar

Readings for several significant economic and housing related indicators will be released this week.

Pending Home Sales are due out today; Tuesday brings the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the Consumer Confidence Index. Wednesday's news includes the ADP report (useful for tracking private sector job growth) and an FOMC statement after its meeting ends.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also scheduled to give a press conference Wednesday. As always, any remarks concerning projected changes to the Fed's quantitative easing program (QE) could impact financial markets and mortgage rates. 

On Thursday, construction spending data will be released in addition to Freddie Mac's weekly report on average mortgage rates.

Friday's news includes several employment-related reports. The monthly Non-Farm Payrolls and Unemployment report will be released; collectively these two reports are frequently called the Jobs Report.

Data on personal income and consumer spending will round out the week's economic news.


How To Bring More Natural Light Into Your Home

How To Bring More Natural Light Into Your HomeOne of the biggest improvements that you can make to your home is to bring in more natural light.

Sunlight is a powerful mood enhancer and a home design that brings in a lot of natural light will automatically look and feel much more pleasant. Not only will it boost your mood, bringing in natural light will also increase the value of your home.

So how can you shed some light on your home's interior?

Here are a few ways:

Add More Reflective Surfaces

Whenever you add a light and reflective surface to your home, you increase the number of times that daylight bounces around inside the room.

Try painting your ceilings and walls with light or off-white colours. Matte finishes are actually better than glossy surfaces, as they reflect light in all directions at once. Add some metal accents and some mirrors to the space, which will also reflect the light.

Move Your Furniture Around

Do you have furniture that is blocking natural light from coming in? Move your furniture away from the windows so that it will not get in the way of the sunlight streaming into your home.

Add A Glass Door

Is there anywhere in your home where you can exchange a solid door for one with glass in its design? This will allow the light to flow through the doorway and increase the feeling of brightness in your home.

There are plenty of glass doors with superb security features, so they will be just as safe as any other door. Also, if you have a yard or a patio to look out on, adding sliding glass doors will be a great way to let the light in and enjoy the view.

Expand Your Windows

Is it possible to increase the size of any of your windows? If yes, the windows on the south side of the house, will bring a significant amount of sunshine into the home.

Add A Skylight

Adding skylights to your home will bring a lot of natural light into the interior. Also, they are much more private than windows because anyone passing by will not be able to see through them. They also add overhead lighting, so that you will not need to use electricity during daylight hours.

These are just a few ways that you can let the sunshine in and bring more natural light into your Atlanta home.

If you have any other home questions, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.


What Should You To Do In Advance To Prepare For Your Mortgage Application

What Should You To Do In Advance To Prepare For Your Mortgage Application

If you are applying for a mortgage to buy a home, doing your homework in advance before you submit the application means that you will stand a better chance of getting accepted at a desirable mortgage rate.

According to mortgage experts, it is a good idea to gather up all of the needed documents in advance before launching your house hunt, as this will make the application process a lot easier.

The housing burst has resulted in much harder lending standards, which means that it could possible take weeks or sometimes even months to secure a loan.

Here are a few important steps that you should take in advance:

Consider What You Can Really Afford

Before you start the entire house hunting and mortgage application process, you should consider what you can really afford to buy.

It might be tempting to buy a house at the upper end of your price range, but consider the fact that it will be more of a struggle to make your mortgage payments and it will take much longer to pay down the mortgage. Assess your finances and be honest with yourself.

Buying a home that is more comfortably within your price range will ensure that you can easily manage your monthly budget over the years.

Save Up A Down Payment

The bank will want to see that you are able to make a down payment of at least 20% of the value of the home.

In order to save up this amount of money, it will be easier if you start in advance and save a small amount every month. The more you can pay for a down payment, the less your mortgage will be and the more money you will save over the length of the loan.

Do Your Research

Take your time to do lots of research in advance and seek out impartial advice on the mortgage market. There are so many options to choose from and a lot to consider, so the more knowledge you have the more prepared you are to make an informed decision.

Consider Your Credit

Before applying for a mortgage loan, you should take a look at your credit report.

Your lender will look at it when you are making an application and they will use it to consider whether or not to offer you the loan and what type of interest rate to give you. If you spot any errors or issues with the credit report, it is a good idea to get them fixed now before you apply.

These are just a few things to consider before applying for a mortgage. To find out more about mortgages or buying a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.


Existing Home Sales: Second Highest Level Since 2009

Existing Home Sales Second Highest Level Since 2009

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, national sales of existing homes in June came in at 5.08 million.

June's reading was reported to be the second highest since November of 2009; this should calm concerns about a lapsing recovery in housing markets.

Summer typically produces the highest prices for existing homes sold, as families seeking larger homes frequently move during summer months.

The June inventory of existing homes improved by 1.90 percent to 2.19 million homes or a 5.20 month supply. June's number of available homes was 7.60 percent lower than in June 2012.

The shortage of available homes has been causing buyers to turn from existing homes to new homes in areas where both available homes and/or land for new construction are in short supply.

Average Home Prices Continue Their Climb Nationally

So the news of more existing homes for sale is good news for home buyers and housing markets that have been held back by an excess of buyers seeking a short supply of available homes.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that inventories of existing homes are expected to "broadly favor sellers and contribute to above-normal price growth."

This trend was supported by June's national average price for existing homes at $214,200, which represented a year-over-year increase of 13.5 percent. Rising home prices and mortgage rates continue creating financial challenges for first-time buyers and others seeking affordable home prices and mortgage loans.

Distressed home sales were down from 18 percent in May to 15 percent in June; this is the lowest market share since tracking began in 2008. June sales of distressed homes were significantly lower than in June 2012's reading of 26 percent of existing homes sold.

The National Association of REALTORS® noted that falling levels of distressed sales are contributing to higher prices for existing homes.

FHFA Reports Home Prices Rise In May

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported Tuesday that prices for homes financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April's downwardly revised 0.50 percent increase in home prices.

According to the FHFA Housing Price Index (HMI), home prices were up by 7.30 percent year-over-year in May, and are roughly equal to home prices reported for January 2005. May's home prices remained 11.20 percent below peak prices reported in April 2007.

May's FHFA data demonstrated steady growth of home prices for all nine census divisions on a year-over-year basis with home prices increasing from 2.70 percent to 15.80 percent in May.


First Things First, What To Do Upon Moving Into Your New Home

First Things First What To Do Upon Moving Into Your New HomeIf you have purchased a new home and are going to move in soon, what are the first few things that you will need to do upon moving into your new home?

Moving can be very stressful, but having a checklist can make your move effortless.

Here are 6 easy steps that can eliminate any frustration and help you feel safe and secure: 

Change Your Address

You will need to change your address for all magazine subscriptions, bills and other services. You can update your mailing address online or visit your local post office to find out what needs to be done.

Set Up The Utilities

When you move into a new home, you may get all of the contact information from the previous home owner or real estate agent for the utility companies. Be sure to change the services into your name before you move in, such as gas, cable, electricity, internet, telephone, sewer and water.

Change The Locks

You have no way of knowing who the old home owners gave a copy of the key to, so having the locks changed is something that you should do right away when you move into your new property.

Have The Carpets Cleaned

Get your life in the new house off to a fresh start by having the carpets steam cleaned before you move your furniture in. You could either rent a steam cleaner or pay a carpet cleaning service, but either way this will make the house feel really clean and new.

Figure Out Your Breaker Box

Another important first step to owning your new home is to figure out which breakers control each part of your home.

Knowing how the breaker box works will ensure that you can flip the right switch when you need to. You might need to ask someone to help you by standing in another part of the house and letting you know which lights come on or off when you flick the switches.

Check Your Smoke Alarms

The smoke alarms and CO monitors in your home might not have been checked recently, so make sure that they are functioning properly. Depending on how old they are, you might need to change the batteries. This is an important maintenance task for your own safety.

These are just a few of the important first steps that you should take when you first move into your brand new home.

For more information about buying a new home, feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 22, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 22 2013Last week's economic news was a mixed bag with retail sales and housing starts coming in lower than expected, but home builder confidence in housing markets increased.

Weekly jobless claims fell, and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate, saying that falling gold prices were an indication of increasing confidence in the economy, but that it was "way too soon" to say when the Fed's quantitative easing program would be reduced.

Monday: Retail sales for June came in lower than expected at 0.4 percent. Economists estimated a reading of 0.9 percent based on May's reading of 0.5 percent.

Tuesday: June's Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in as expected at 0.5 percent against May's reading of 0.1 percent. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July gained five points for a reading of 57, which exceeded expectations of a reading of 52. Builders cited a short supply of existing homes and falling materials prices as factors contributing to June's stronger reading.

Wednesday: Housing starts in June fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 836,000 against expectations of 950,000 and May's revised reading of 928,000. Regional weather and a surplus of unused building permits were seen as contributing to fewer housing starts in June; analysts did not see the dip in housing starts as a sign of softening housing markets.

Thursday: Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate as noted above and was careful to emphasize that economic data received after the last FOMC meeting indicated that it is "way too soon" for the Fed to change its monthly volume of Treasury bonds and MBS purchases. This is good news for mortgage markets, and possibly for mortgage rates, which fell this week.

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 14 basis points to 4.37 percent; average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 12 basis points to 3.41 percent; these rates include average discount points of 0.7 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 ARM was 3.17 percent with discount points of 0.6 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an affordable alternative to rising fixed mortgage rates.

Friday: No significant economic news noted.

What's Coming Up

This week's schedule includes Existing Home Sales on Monday; on Tuesday, the FHFA releases its Home Prices report. New Home Sales will be released on Wednesday; Thursday brings weekly jobless claims and the Durable Goods report. The week will finish with the Consumer Sentiment report on Friday.


5 Important Tips To Protect Your Home From Burglars When You Are Away

5 Important Tips To Protect Your Home From Burglars When You Are AwayAny family would feel violated after coming home to a ransacked house. Burglars look for specific things when choosing a home to break into, and many homeowners are unknowingly inviting criminals through the front door.

Below are five ways you can avoid drawing the eyes of thieves and deter your home from becoming a target.

Beware Of Selling To Strangers

If you're wanting to sell items on Craigslist or another internet-based classified ad website, attempt conducting your transactions outside of the home.

If you must meet at home, screen the person over the telephone to ensure that they are truly interested in the item you're selling. Thieves have been known to make appointments just to check out your home.

Be Careful If You Tweet About It

Not all of your friends protect their social media information, or may not have the most virtuous acquaintances. If you share your upcoming vacation or big event, then a mischievous friend of a friend will know the perfect time to forcefully check out your home.

Learn how to limit your social media posts to only your trusted contacts.

Mind Your Trash

Be careful when it comes to taking out the garbage, especially around holidays. Criminals will drive around nice neighborhoods and specifically look for empty boxes of high-price items. Then all they have to do is wait for you to leave the house before they force their way in and nab the goods.

Break down boxes and conceal them in garbage bags or trashcans.

Prepare For Your Vacation

Make sure when you leave on vacation that you put a few lights on timers and have someone collect your mail. A home that is obviously vacant is every burglar's dream.

And if you're on an extended holiday, ensure you also hire someone to take care of the lawn - overgrown grass is a no-one-is-home indicator.

Secure The Safe

Just because you put your valuables in a safe doesn't mean they're secure. If the safe isn't installed in a wall or bolted to the floor, then a burglar can just carry it through your front door. They can figure out how to break into it later.

Make the additional time investment to ensure your safe can't walk out the door.

With a little common sense and by following the advice above, you'll reduce the risk of your home being targeted by burglars. If you would like more information about keeping your Marietta home secure, please call your trusted real estate professional today.


Home Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level Since January 2006

Home Builder Confidence Rises To Highest Level Since January 2006The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose in July.

Home builder confidence in the market for newly constructed single-family homes rose six points to a reading of 57. NAHB reports that this was the third consecutive rise in the HMI and its highest reading since January 2006.

Three components used in compiling the HMI reading include current sales, which gained five points for a reading of 60.  Confidence in prospective buyer traffic rose from 40 to 45, and sales expectations for the next six months rose from a reading of 60 to 67.

HMI: All Regions Post Gains

Regional data reflected gains in builder confidence for all U.S. geographic regions. Regional data is based on a three-month rolling average of builder confidence in each region.

The Northeast gained four points for a reading of 40; the Midwest gained eight points for a reading of 54. The South gained five points for a reading of 50, and the West gained three points for a reading of 51.

Readings of more than 50 indicate that more builders view conditions as good than poor. NAHB Economist David Crowe indicated that growing confidence is driven by factors including lower prices for building materials and more buyers vying for fewer available homes. A shortage of building space and available existing homes is improving markets for new homes.

Housing Starts Decline In June

In spite of growing home builder confidence, housing starts for June fell to their lowest level in nearly a year. Regional weather conditions contributed to the dip in housing starts, which surpassed June 2012 housing starts by 10.40 percent.

June's housing starts fell to 836,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, and fell shy of economist's expectation of 950,000 housing starts. Expectations were based on May's original tally of 914,000 housing starts, which was revised upward to 928,000 on Wednesday.

Building permits for single family homes moved up by 0.60 percent to a rate of 624,000; this is the highest rate since May, 2008. A significant backlog of unused permits contributed to June's lower number of building permits issued.

Economists are confident that the housing market continues its recovery, but may face obstacles if the government changes the mortgage interest tax deduction.

Another concern involves the pending "tapering" of the Fed's quantitative easing program (QE). The QE program, which involves the Fed's purchase of Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) was designed to support mortgage markets and also helps to keep mortgage rates low.

For specific details on local home building activity in and around Alpharetta , please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.


3 Common Home Financing Problems And How To Avoid Them

3 Common Home Financing Problems And How To Avoid ThemGetting the best mortgage financing for your new home can sometimes be a complicated process and, unfortunately, things can go wrong. Using a licensed and trusted mortgage loan specialist can help alleviate many of these challenges.

There are certain mistakes that many homebuyers make when applying for their mortgages that can seriously damage their chances of being approved. If you are aware of the most common mortgage issues, you will be better able to prevent them when applying for your own mortgage.

Make sure that you keep the following tips in mind when applying for a mortgage:

Making Large Purchases Before Closing On The Mortgage

Many homebuyers think that they are in the clear once the mortgage deal is approved and they move forward on another large purchase such as a car or home furnishings. However, it is best to hold off on all major purchases until the mortgage is finalized, as additional debt will change your "debt-to-income ratio" which could mean that you no longer qualify for the loan.

Many lenders pull your credit information right before funding, so avoid any big-ticket items until you have signed on the dotted line.

Switching Jobs During The Mortgage Loan Process

When deciding whether or not to approve your loan, the lender will look at your salary and your job stability. If you make a career move during the process of applying for the loan, this could make your income seem unstable and could cause the bank to decline your loan.

Stay in your job through your home closing date to reassure the bank that you have a stable income; you can always switch careers later.

Having No Credit Card

You might think that the fact that you have gotten by without a credit card for this long would be a positive thing in the mind of lenders. However, having no credit history at all makes lenders nervous, as they don't know how you will handle credit when you have it.

Instead, get a credit card that you repay in full every month, which will help to show them you can manage your credit responsibly.

These are just a few examples of major mistakes that home buyers make when applying for a mortgage. If you can avoid these issues, you will find it much easier to buy a Alpharetta home.

As always, call your trusted home mortgage financing professional today to discuss your personal situation and get the best advice on your upcoming home purchase!


What Are the Hot Home Decor Trends for 2013?

Hot Home Decor Trends 2013Just like fashion designs and hair styles, home decor trends are constantly changing and evolving. Each new season brings a new must-have feature for your home.

In order to keep your home looking fresh and chic, what are the hot trends for 2013 that you can incorporate into your decor?

Here are a few ideas:

Bright Paint Colors

Vibrant (and even neon) hues are very popular in fashion at the moment and they also look really chic on your walls. If you are looking for a way to freshen up a dull room, a bright pop of color can really do the trick.

It doesn't have to be overwhelming if you keep the rest of the room neutral and use the bright color as an accent.

Original Artwork

Decorating your home with unique and original works of art from funky local artists is a hot trend this year. You could find such pieces at a local art fair or on online craft auction websites.

You could also check out a local art school or university art program in your area, where you can buy some student artwork at cheap prices.

1920s Inspired Designs

With the Roaring 20s being revitalized on the silver screen in the show Boardwalk Empire and the film The Great Gatsby, designs from the 1920s are becoming more popular. Why not incorporate some gorgeous Art Deco furniture or decoration into your home?

Check out auctions to find authentic vintage pieces for cheap prices.

Simple Wood

Another hot trend for 2013 is unfinished exposed wood furniture, with a very natural texture and feel. These simple wood pieces give your home a natural beauty that compliments any color. It works well with neutral accents to give the home a very peaceful and welcoming atmosphere.

Stripes and Graphic Prints

Crisp patterns, graphic prints and stripes are popular at the moment in everything from fabrics to wallpaper to furniture. If you really want to make your home décor look cutting edge, incorporate some of these eye-popping graphic designs into your décor.

These are just a few of the hottest home décor trends of the year 2013. Which ones will you incorporate into the décor of your home?

For more information about buying or updating your Atlanta  home, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today!


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 15, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates July 15 2013The Fed's release of the minutes for the June FOMC meeting was the most noteworthy economic event last week; the minutes repeated the Fed's recent statement concerning the wind-down of its current monetary easing policy.

The minutes indicated that about half of meeting participants wanted to end the quantitative easing (QE) policy by year end, while "many others" preferred to end the program in 2014.

This split suggests that days are numbered for the Fed's monthly purchase of $85 billion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The minutes also revealed that the Fed would not be selling off MBS as QE is ended. This would likely prevent additional potential for mortgage rates to increase as demand for bonds would decline when the Fed stops its monthly purchases.

Mortgage Rates Typically Rise When Bond And MBS Prices Fall

U.S. financial markets showed little reaction to the Fed minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw a quick gain of about 40 points that quickly retreated. The Wall Street Journal interprets the lackluster response to the Fed minutes as investors growing accustomed to the eventual end of the QE program; it's also possible that the markets interpreted the FOMC minutes as "old news," as the minutes contained information included in the Fed statement given after June's FOMC meeting.

The FOMC minutes reported that details of tapering the QE program will be given by Chairman Ben Bernanke during his customary press conference after the Fed presents the FOMC meeting statement. The minutes also asserted that the Fed will closely monitor economic and financial developments as part of their decision-making for ending QE.

The minutes stated that the current Federal Funds rate of 0.00 to 0.25 percent will remain in place for some time after QE is ended.

Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved to 4.51 percent from last week's 4.29 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.53 percent from 3.39 percent. Discount points for both types of loans rose from 0.70 percent to 0.80 percent.

Rising mortgage rates suggest that borrowers may soon return to adjustable rate mortgages or hybrids such as the 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which was reported at an average rate of 3.26 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent.

What's Coming Up

On Monday, retail sales for June will be released. This is an important indicator for the general economy. Tuesday's news includes NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for July.

On Wednesday, Housing Starts for June will be released. Thursday's news includes weekly Jobless Claims and Leading Economic Indicators. No economic news is scheduled for Friday.


Can That Killer Home Theater Add Value To Your Home?

Can A Killer Home Theater Add Value To Your HomeMany home owners dream of having a home theater - an entire room of the home dedicated to enjoying television and film. These rooms are usually equipped with a large flat screen television or projector, comfortable seats, mood lighting and perhaps even a bar or a snack fridge.

They are very comfortable and the perfect place to relax after a hard day. They are also lots of fun for entertaining, as you will be able to watch the big game or the hottest new release with your friends in style.

However, will spending the money on renovating your home to create a theater room be a smart investment? Does this type of home improvement add a lot of value to the property, or will it turn off potential buyers?

Buyers Interested In Tech-Equipped Homes

These days luxury home buyers are becoming much more tech-savvy and they are demanding more networked or 'smart' homes than ever before. They are looking for a house which is outfitted with the latest in technology, so a modern home theater will be a desirable selling point. If you are targeting your home to this luxury market, the home theater could give you an edge over the competition.

It is difficult to determine the amount that the home value is affected when you add a high tech home theater, but most real estate professionals will agree that when there are many houses for sale at any given time, the one with an impressive home theater room will be more likely to sell first.

Don't Take Over Valuable Home Space

The only situation in which the home theater could detract from the value of the home is if it overpowers a medium sized or smaller home that just barely had enough space in the first place. If your home cannot spare the extra room, taking up a lot of space with a home theater will mean fewer bedrooms or living spaces and a potential decrease in value.

However, you might be able to get around this problem with clever solutions that allow you to conceal the home theater unless it is being used. You could hide the large screen behind specially designed cabinets and set up the furniture so that the room can be a living space when not in use as a theater.

Remember that a home theater system is something that will generally only increase the value of your home for certain buyers, as opposed to something like a bathroom renovation or a garage which will be valuable to almost every buyer.

To find out more about upgrades that affect the value of your Atlanta home, contact your trusted home financing professional today.


FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed May Curb Economic Support Program Before Year End

FOMC Minutes Reveal Fed May Curb Economic Support Program Before Year EndFOMC Minutes Suggest QE Tapering by Year-End

The minutes for June's meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that committee members are mostly in agreement that the current quantitative easing program (QE) should begin winding down by year end, but the committee minutes are very clear concerning the committee's intention to monitor inflation and ongoing economic and financial developments before taking action to reduce the current rate of QE.

The Fed currently purchases $85 billion monthly in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Investors fear that if the Fed rolls back QE too soon or too fast, it could cause long term interest rates such as mortgage rates to rise faster.

The Fed minutes indicate that factors the Fed will continue monitoring before making changes to QE include:

  • Labor market conditions
  • Indicators of inflationary pressures
  • Readings on financial developments

FOMC members also agreed that the Fed would not sell MBS it has accumulated after the economic support program ceases. When the Fed ceases QE, demand for mortgage-backed securities is expected to fall. If the Fed were to sell off MBS holdings in addition to stopping QE, MBS prices could fall sharply. In general, when MBS prices fall, mortgage rates rise.

The FOMC minutes indicate that the Fed intends to maintain the Federal Funds rate at 0.000 to 0.250 percent "for a considerable time after the monthly asset purchases cease."  To be clear, the minutes do not reveal any specific dates for starting to wind down the program.

Concerns over financial conditions in Europe highlight the Fed's intention to monitor global economic developments were discussed. Potential "spillover" of negative sentiments in response to Europe's economic woes to U.S. financial markets were seen as a potential threat to the U.S. economic recovery.

Committee members found that although the economy showed moderate improvement since its last meeting, the national unemployment rate remains high at 7.60 percent. Members also noted that the numbers of long-term unemployed and those working part time jobs but wanting full time jobs remain higher than average. These conditions traditionally keep consumers from buying homes.

Housing: Upside-Down Mortgages Decreasing

Due to rapid increases in home values, the committee noted that fewer homeowners were under water on their mortgage loans. This is good news as homeowners can rebuild household wealth as their home equity increases. Having home equity also provides homeowners with the flexibility to sell or refinance their homes.

While housing is driving the economic recovery, high unemployment will likely keep the Fed from changing its QE policy in the short term.

Now may be a very good time to take advantage of still historically low mortgage interest rates before they rise. If you have specific questions on purchasing or refinancing your home mortgage loan and how these changes may affect you, please contact your trusted mortgage professional today.


Is It Possible That Your Gender May Influence Your Home Mortgage Approval?

Is It Possible That Your Gender May Influence Your Home Mortgage ApprovalIf you are applying for a joint mortgage on your property with your spouse or partner, the name that goes first could have more of an impact than you might think.

A 2010 study by the Woodstock Institute showed that mortgage lenders were inclined to show favoritism when men were the lead borrowers on joint applications. The study was undertaken within the Chicago area and it tracked joint applications for refinancing as well as home purchases. Over 250,000 applications were studied in the year 2010.

Surprisingly, the study showed that home purchase applications that listed the female partner as the primary borrower were 24 percent less likely to be approved.

When it came to mortgage refinancing, the application would be 39 percent less likely to be approved if a woman was in the primary position. The study was controlled in order to account for the size of the loan and the borrower's income.

What Does This Mean?

The researchers at Woodstock are still carrying out more studies and analyzing their findings, but they say the results so far are quite troubling. They theorize that the discrimination might be totally unconscious and a symptom of wider discrimination against women.

Many lenders have declined to comment, but Terry Francisco, President of Bank of America, claimed that there was no policy in the mortgage underwriting process that would differentiate based on the order of the applicants names in the documents.

The findings are not complete enough at the moment to draw any conclusions. Additional data will be collected, such as age, credit scores, property values and much more in order to provide a more full and complete picture.

Increase Your Chances of Getting Approved

Regardless of the findings of this study, there are a number of ways that you can make your mortgage application more likely to be approved no matter what your gender. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don't change jobs right before applying. Lenders want to see financial stability, so it is better if you have been with the same employer for as long as possible.
  • Repay your other debts, including your store cards, credit cards, overdrafts and more.
  • Check your credit report. If there are any errors that are making your credit score lower than it should be, you may be able to correct them.
  • Avoid making any large purchases on your credit cards while you are applying for a mortgage. When the lender looks at your credit, this could affect their calculations of your debt to income ratio.

To find out more about getting the best home mortgage approval to buy or refinance your property, please feel free to contact your trusted mortgage professional today.


The Best And Worst Times Of The Year To Sell Your Home

The Best And Worst Times Of Year To Sell Your HomeDoes the time of year when you put your home on the market affect how well it will sell?  What about the final sales price?

According to many studies in housing trends, the answer is yes. The time of year when you sell your home can have an effect on how many people are interested and how much the home will sell for.

Of course, if you need to move and sell your home at any point of the year, you will still be able to find buyers and negotiate a price that works for you. In some areas of the country, the currently swift moving housing market can help overcome poor timing.

However, if you have the ability to plan for a more advantageous time, it makes sense to make the most of your flexibility.

The Best Times Of The Year To Sell A Home

One of the best times of the year to sell your house is in the late spring and early summer -- like right now.

The school year is over for most families, and many people will be looking to purchase a home that they can move into over the summer and get settled before school begins again in the fall. Housing sales peak during this time, as studies show that 60% of people tend to move during the summer.

If you can sell your home during the spring or early summer period, it will typically be on the market for a shorter amount of time and you may have many more offers to choose from.

The Worst Times Of The Year To Sell A Home

One of the worst months of the year to sell a home is December. There are a number of reasons why trying to sell a home during the Christmas holidays can be difficult.

Most people aren't thinking of moving this time of year. Their energies are focused on decorating their houses, preparing for the holidays, visiting friends and family and enjoying their time off work.

Another difficult time is the beginning of the school year, typically in September.

Children will have just started school and most families will not be considering moving at this point. If you attempt to sell your home during this time of year, you will be much less likely to get the the same pool of buyers that you might see in a more "move friendly" time of year.

Of course, these are just guidelines to help you plan your next home sale. No matter what time of year it is, if you need advice on selling your Atlanta home, call your trusted real estate professional right away. 


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 8, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 8 2013Last week saw a relatively quiet week due to the 4th of July holiday, but there were some housing-related developments:

Monday: The Department of Commerce reported that overall construction spending increased by 0.50 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $874.9 billion. Residential construction grew by 1.20 percent, and May 2012 construction spending was 5.40 percent higher than in May 2012.

More spending in residential construction can indicate builder confidence in housing markets; added construction could help ease low inventories of available homes.

Tuesday: CoreLogic reported that May national home prices increased by 12.20 percent over May 2012, and grew by 2.60 percent in May including sales of distressed properties. Excluding distressed properties, home sales rose by 2.30 percent in May for a year-over-year increase of 11.60 percent.

States hardest hit in the economic downturn are showing good recovery; Nevada home prices rose by 26 percent year-over-year. While double-digit increases in home prices are good news, economists note that home prices remain approximately 20 percent below their peak in 2006.

Employment Data: More Jobs, Less Unemployment

Employment data are important for housing markets; employment is closely tied to home buyers' ability to qualify for mortgage loans. Last week ended with several important jobs related reports:

Wednesday: ADP reported that 188,000 private-sector jobs were added in June for the highest increase in four months. This number surpassed expectations of 160,000 new jobs and May's revised figure of 134,000 jobs added.

Freddie Mac's mortgage rates survey had some good news as average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.46 percent to 4.29 percent with discount points also falling from 0.80 to 0.70 percent. Average rates for a 15-year mortgage fell from 3.50 percent to 3.39 percent, with discount points moving from 0.80 percent to 0.70percent.

Friday: The Labor Department released Non-farm Payrolls and the national Unemployment Rate for June. Non-farm matched May's level of 195,000 jobs added, which surpassed expectations of 155,000 jobs added. The unemployment rate remains at 7.60 percent, just over expectations of 7.50 percent.

The Federal Reserve has cited a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a criterion for raising the federal funds rate and reducing its current quantitative easing policy; this news may help slow mortgage rates as the Fed isn't likely to modify its programs based on the current unemployment rate.

Looking Ahead

This week's economic news includes today's report on consumer credit. Tuesday brings Job Openings for May, and Wednesday brings the minutes from the recent FOMC meeting. The minutes should clarify exactly what the committee discussed concerning quantitative easing and their plans for modifying it.

Thursday, Freddie Mac will release weekly mortgage rates. The federal government will release weekly jobless claims and will update the federal budget. The week's economic news will conclude with release of the Producer Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI for June, along with Consumer Sentiment for July.


Go Green By Faking It With Artificial Grass

Go Green By Faking It With Artificial TurfThe summer heat is starting to take its toll on you and your thirsty lawn. Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars every summer striving to grow healthy grass and keep it green.

If you're sick of trying to maintain a manicured lawn, then you can go green another way. Install artificial turf.

The Grass is Always Greener

Today's artificial grass is made out of polypropylene, nylon, or polyethylene threads that are sewn into a mesh backing that allows for water drainage. This is then usually laid on top of compacted gravel and tied down at the perimeter.

Modern artificial lawns can mimic many varietals of grass and some even have a thatch layer to give it a more realistic look.

Sick Of Maintenance

Homeowners have many reasons for wanting to be free of their demanding lawns, such as high summer water bills and the constant use of pesticides. With a fake lawn, you won't have to water, which is especially good for high-heat areas, you won't have to mow and you can quit worrying about how the weather will affect it.

Considering The Costs

While installing artificial grass can cost a bit up front, it'll be maintenance free for the next 15 to 20 years. You won't have to worry about water bills, purchasing grass seed, buying fertilizer or getting gas for the lawnmower, which can add up to a couple hundred dollars every year.

Potential Drawbacks

While a maintenance-free yard does have some appeal, there are a few drawbacks to take into consideration. Fake lawns don't absorb pet waste, so you have to hose them off regularly.

They can also heat up in direct sunlight. Planting shade trees will help with this issue. And, artificial lawns cannot be recycled, which is an issue that the industry is looking to remedy.

Saving water and reducing the use of pesticides is great for the environment. However, you have to like the look of artificial grass and make sure you're ready for the investment.

If you've been considering going green by switching to year-round green grass, talk with a local installer for grass options and cost comparisons.


7 Smart Tips To Painting Your Own Home This Summer

7 Smart Tips To Painting Your Own Home This SummerWinter may have taken a toll on your home's exterior this year. You've been noticing the cracking paint for months, but you don't want to shell out the big bucks to hire a professional painter.

Don't fret! With the weather warming and the nice summer weekends, it's the perfect time to tackle that project of painting your home.

While this might seem like an insurmountable task, especially if you have a multi-story home, it's not. It just takes the right tools and a bit of hard work. Below are step-by-step instructions to having the outside of your house looking shiny and new.

Test For Lead

Homes built before 1978 could have used lead paint, so be careful if you have an older home. They make kits that test for lead paint. If your home tests positive, then ensure you take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your neighbors safe.

Scrub It Up

You need to wash the exterior of your home before painting. Mildew thrives under new paint, so kill it with a solution of water and phosphate-free cleaner.

Scrape And Sand

Take a scraper to your home's exterior to remove any peeling paint. Spraying water under the paint as you scrape helps speed up the process. Then sand down any rough spots, so that you have a smooth canvas.

Apply The Primer

Paint on the primer immediately after you've prepped the wood. This will provide and even base for your topcoat of paint.

Buy Some Caulk

You'll need to caulk all the joints to prevent water penetration and air leakage. Plus, caulk does a great job of filling in blemishes in your siding.

Pick Out Your Paint

Choose a water-based latex paint. It's easier than applying oil-based paints. However, if your home already has an oil-based paint, you'll have to stay with it. Once you've selected your favorite paint color, just grab a brush or rent a sprayer to start painting your home.

Maintain your exterior.

Be sure to check your home annually for any potential problems. Replace cracked caulk, remove mildew and patch any peeling paint before it spreads.

Utilize the beautiful summer weekends to get started on painting your home. Understand that this process normally takes two weekends, so be patient. Plus, by not hiring a professional, you'll save a significant sum of money and have bragging rights when you receive compliments on the condition of your home.



Liberate Yourself From Your Mortgage With This Simple Plan

Liberate Yourself From Your Mortgage With This Simple PlanWhat if you could accelerate the mortgage payment on your home so that you own your property several years earlier than your 15 or 30 year term?

Making your final mortgage payment and owning your house is an incredibly good feeling and there is a simple way that you can bring about that rewarding day much sooner.

By making one extra mortgage payment every year, you will be able to pay off your mortgage years earlier without putting a lot of stress on your present day finances. Although it might not seem like a lot, just one extra payment per year can help you to significantly reduce the length of your mortgage.

For example, if you have a 30 year mortgage with a fixed rate, it could be possible to pay off your loan in 25 years instead of 30 when you make an extra payment per year. You will also very likely be able to save thousands of dollars over the years in interest charges.

How to Fit the Extra Payment Into Your Budget

If you think that your budget is too tight to squeeze in the extra yearly payment, it's time to start thinking about what adjustments you can make. With a bit of clever budgeting, you can find the extra cash needed.

First of all, break the extra payment down by dividing it by 12. For example, if your monthly mortgage payment is $1600, you will need to save an extra $133 per month to be able to make a full extra payment every year. Or, you could think of it as $33 per week or $4.75 per day.

Surely you can survive on $4.75 per day less than you are spending right now, right?

There are many ways that you could find this extra money. It's the difference between eating at a restaurant or cooking at home once or twice per week, bringing home-brewed coffee to work in a thermos rather than going to the expensive coffee shop, or cancelling a cable TV package that you never watch. Take a look at your budget so that you can determine where you can cut your expenses.

Once you make your goal of an extra payment every year, not only will you see that the savings program was easier than you thought it would be, but you might decide to accelerate even more so that it will be even sooner when you have the satisfaction of owning your home.

For more information about the optimal plan for the mortgage on your Marietta home, feel free to contact me by phone or email.


What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - July 1, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 1, 2013The past week was active for economic news and mortgage rates. The aftermath of the Fed's indication that it may start dialing back its multi-billion dollar monthly purchases of Treasury and mortgage backed securities has sent mortgage rates to record highs.

If you're thinking of buying a home, this may be one last chance for finding the best deal on mortgage rates; meanwhile, home prices continue trending up as well.

Here's the scoop on last week's activity affecting real estate markets:

Tuesday's Case-Shiller Composite Indices for April demonstrate the momentum of recovery in many housing markets. As of April, national home prices had increased by 12.10 percent as compared to April 2012. April's reading also exceeded March's reading of 10.10 percent year-over-year.

FHFA released its home prices report for April and noted that the average price for homes with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac increased by 7.40 percent, which slightly surpassed the March reading of 7.20 percent.

The Department of Commerce released New Home Sales for May and reported 476,000 new homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. This exceeded expectations of 453,000 new home sales and also surpassed April's reading of 454,000 new homes sold.

Wednesday brought the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report for the first quarter of 2013. The GDP grew by 1.80 percent against expectations of 2.40 percent and the previous quarter's growth, also 2.40 percent.

Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) brought the days of bargain basement mortgage rates to a halt as average mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage moved from last week's 3.93 percent to 4.46 percent. Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 3.04 percent 3.50 percent. This was the largest weekly jump in mortgage rates in 26 years. 

Home buyers may also consider a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, which provides an average 5 year fixed rate of 2.74 percent.  The fixed mortgage rate converts to an adjustable rate after five years.

The National Association of REALTORS ® reported that Pending Home Sales in May rose by +6.70 percent to their highest level in 6 years.

Last week ended on a positive note with the Consumer Sentiment Index for June beating expectations of 83.0 and coming in at 84.1. May's reading was 82.1; higher consumer confidence is likely driving demand for available homes.

What's Ahead This Week

Next week's scheduled economic news includes Construction Spending due on Monday and the ADP private sector jobs report is set for Wednesday.

Thursday the financial markets are closed as we celebrate the July 4th holiday.

Friday brings the Department of Labor's Non-farm Payrolls Report and the National Unemployment Rate. If the unemployment rate stays steady at 7.60 percent, this may reduce fears that the Fed will start reducing its monetary easing program any time soon, which should help to slow the recent increases in mortgage rates.