mortgage financing and programs

Archive for June, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 16, 2014

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 16 2014Last week’s economic news was quiet in the housing sector, but retail sales and employment-related reports provided indications of less consumer spending and reduced consumer confidence.

On Monday, James Bullard, St. Louis Fed President, commented that inflation appears to be rising. Although not a voting member of the Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC), inflation has been a topic of concern to the FOMC in recent years. Mr. Bullard had previously noted that inflation was stable.

His remarks set the stage for this week’s FOMC meeting and press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Analysts expect the Fed to continue tapering its asset purchases as it winds down its quantitative easing program.

Labor related reports were mixed last week. Job openings in April rose to 4.46 million in April; this was the highest reading since September 2007 and exceeded the March reading of 4.17 million job openings in March.

More good news came from the U.S. Labor Department, which 4.71 million hires in April. This was the highest rate of hiring since June 2008 and represented a year-over-year increase of 6.00 percent. At the start of the recession at the end of 2007, about 5 million job openings were reported.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Weekly jobless claims were reported at 317,000 as compared to expectations of 310,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 312,000 new jobless claims. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims rose by 4,750 new claims for a total of 315,250 new jobless claims. The four-week gauge of jobless claims evens out weekly volatility and is viewed by analysts as a better indicator of labor market trends.

Mortgage rates were higher according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 4.20 percent; discount points rose from 0.50 to 0.60 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose by eight basis points to 3.32 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from last week’s reading of 2.93 percent to 3.05 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.40 percent.

The Fed’s quantitative easing program was implemented to control long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates. Gradual tapering of this program is allowing mortgage rates to rise. Other influences include investor concerns over recent decisions made by the European Central Bank.

Consumer sentiment slipped slightly for June according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. June’s reading was 81.20 as compared to an expected reading of 82.80 and May’s reading of 81.50.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index for June and Housing Starts for May. These readings are important indicators for housing supplies, as a lack of builder confidence can translate to fewer housing starts. Housing markets were impacted by high demand for homes against low inventories of available homes during 2013 and into 2014.

Also noteworthy is the FOMC post-meeting statement and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference. The FOMC sets the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and is expected to announce further tapering of the Fed’s quantitative easing program. It will be interesting to learn the Fed’s perspective on inflation, which has been stuck below the Fed’s target level of two percent.

Friday’s release of Leading Economic Indicators for May round out this week’s economic reports.

What Are The Closing Costs Of Real Estate?

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What Are The Closing Costs Of Real EstateYou’ve found the perfect property and a great mortgage loan with the best interest rate you can find. What’s next in the home buying experience? Signing the contracts and paying the closing costs. But what exactly are closing costs?

Here Is A List Of The Most Common Closing Costs:

  • Titling Fees – These include the title search and title insurance, and the associated attorney fees. These costs are usually paid by the seller but can be assigned to the buyer.

  • Recording Fees – The government charges a fee to record the change in ownership of the [city] real estate. This can be paid by either the seller or the buyer.

  • Survey Fee – A survey fee can be required by the lender. It is a fee for the survey of the land or lot, and its structures, to determine that it matches the property description.

  • Mortgage Application Fees – Occasionally mortgage application fees are included in the closing costs, but usually are paid prior to closing by the buyer.

  • Appraisal And Inspection Fees – An apriaisal and inspection are required by the lender to ensure that the value of the property is equal to that of the loan, and to make sure there aren’t any underlying problems that detract from the property value. These fees are usually paid by the buyer.

  • Points – Points are equal to one percent of the principal of the loan. These discount points are paid by the buyer to the lender to reduce the final interest rate of the loan.

  • Brokerage Commission – The seller pays the real estate agent the brokerage commision fee for listing, showing the property, and handling the contract negotiations. The commission is usually a percentage of the sale price of the property, and determined in advance by the seller and the real estate agent.

  • Underwriting Fees – The buyer pays underwriting fees to the lender to pay for the costs of determining if the buyer qualifies for the mortgage loan.

  • Property Tax – County property taxes are usually required to be paid for six months in advance at the time of closing. The buyer is responsible for these fees.

DIY Or Hire It Done, Renovating Real Estate Investment Properties

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DIY Or Hire It Done Renovating Real Estate Investment PropertiesSometimes, when buying – or even thinking about buying real estate for investment purposes, you’re faced with the need to fix up the property. 

The question then arises: Should I fix it up myself or hire it done? Unfortunately, no one can give you the right answer. However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help decide the issue:

1. Do I Have The Time?

Time is an issue that many people forget about, but it should be one of the deciding factors. Some renovations, such as handles, hinges or kitchen hardware can take very little time to do. Others, like retiling a bathroom, can take hours, or even days to accomplish. 

If you don’t have the time to do these things personally, you’ve already answered the question.

2. Do I Have The Money?

Obviously, money is as important a factor as time. Often, if you don’t have the time, you do have the money to hire someone. However, if you have neither the money nor the time, you may need to reassess whether you can really afford the real estate you’re thinking of buying. 

You may want to continue looking to find something that needs fewer repairs or that you can get at a lower price.

3. Do I Have The Know-How?

Granted, there is a lot of do-it-yourself information out on the Internet. However, if you don’t have the necessary knowledge to understand what they’re saying, you’ll either have to research more, or hire someone. 

Being knowledgeable on what you’re doing may not be so important when, say, you’re painting the living room, but it’s incredibly important if you need to rewire a room or want to knock down a wall.

The main key when deciding on what property to buy, what renovations need to be made and whether to do it yourself is simple: Be realistic. Be honest with yourself.

Can you really do this? Can you really afford it? Remember, if the answer is “no,” it could just mean “not right now.”

Don’t be afraid to wait until you have everything in place before picking your investment properties. If you’re careful with your time and money management, you may find yourself able to buy that dream real estate investment property.

How To Build The Ultimate Tree House For Your Children In Just Seven Steps

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How to Build the Ultimate Tree House for Your Children in Just Seven StepsBuilding a tree house is a time honored tradition for many families. One of the benefits of having a yard is the ability to build a tree fort for your children.

If you’re planning to build a fun fort for your kids, here are seven steps to help you create the ultimate tree house.

The Ultimate Plan For The Perfect Playhouse

The best projects are often the most thought out. Sit down with your children and lay the plans for their tree house. Let them contribute their thoughts and ideas so they feel a part of the planning process.

Although you won’t need an engineering degree to build a quality tree fort, it’s important to calculate all the measurements and specifications of the build.

A Solid Foundation For Your Tree House

Prepare the location for your future tree house by trimming away any precarious branches or boughs on the tree you plan to build on. Ensure that your tree house will be well supported, and reinforce any questionable spots.

If your tree fort is being built from the ground up, make sure you’re working with a level foundation.

Have The Right Tools For The Job

Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to construct your tree house. Power tools and construction equipment can be borrowed from friends and neighbors or rented from your local hardware store.

When the time comes to gather your building supplies, be creative and consider re-purposed supplies. These materials are less expensive and add character and charm. You can find recycled and salvaged items at various recycled construction supply companies and through online classifieds like Craigslist.

Construct Your Tree House With Confidence

When you’re constructing your tree house, make sure it’s structurally sound. Watch tutorials online – you’d be amazed at the things you can learn from watching YouTube videos!

Make sure to measure twice and cut once. Using the proper cutting tool for each cut will help you achieve cleaner, more precise cuts. Also make sure to obtain any permits that may be required for the project.

A Personalized Theme Encourages Creativity

Choose a theme that relates to your child. If they love fairies, use that as the inspiration for your design. Pirate forts and superhero lairs are perfect places to spark imaginative play and creativity.

Incorporate cannons, cupboards and ropes with pulleys to create a unique and fun space for your children to play.

A Colorful Paint Job Brightens The House

When the walls are up and the building is done, it will be time to choose paint colors. Bright colors are a great way to brighten and liven up an outdoor space.

You could even consider creating a mural. Choose something that fits with the theme. This is something that you and your child can do together, or that you can do on your own as an added surprise.

Perfecting Your Child’s Play Space

Once your tree house is built, it’s time to get it ready for play. Decorate the space with fun decor and functional items. Throw pillows and rugs can add color and personality to a child’s play space. Window coverings can be made from scrap fabric or bed sheets.

Creating a tree fort for your child is a memorable experience and a labor or love. A unique space that sparks imagination and nurtures creativity is a wonderful gift to give a child.

4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your Home

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4 Tips To Lower Homeowners Insurance For Your HomeWith the prices for everything skyrocketing these days, every penny counts. This includes your homeowner’s insurance costs. If you’re thinking of buying a home and need homeowner’s insurance, here are a few tips on getting quality insurance for a fair price:

Tip #1: Shop Around

Ask family and friends about their homeowner’s insurance. Check the Yellow Pages, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the state insurance department. 

Other places to shop for insurance include consumer guides, insurance agents and online insurance quote services. Don’t just look for lower prices, however. You need a fair price for the services you need.

Tip #2: Raise Your Deductible

The deductible is how much you have to pay before the insurance company starts to pay a claim on your home. The higher the deductible, the lower the premiums. If you live in a disaster-prone area, your policy may have a separate deductible for specific types of damages. 

Make sure, when reading the policy, you carefully go over damage-specific information.

Tip #3: Use The Same Insurer

Some companies will take five to fifteen percent off your premium if you buy more than one policy from them. If the insurer offers homeowner’s, auto and liability coverage, you stand a chance of having a lower premium than if they only offer one or the other. 

The key is to make sure that the combined price is lower than if you bought them separately.

Tip #4: Improve Home Security

By installing a sophisticated fire sprinkler system and a fire/burglar alarm that rings the monitoring stations, some companies will cut your premium as much as fifteen or twenty percent. 

For a smoke detector, burglar alarm or deadbolt locks, you can usually get at least a five percent discount. Check with your insurer to make sure that the system you’re installing will lower your premiums, though; the systems aren’t cheap and not all of them qualify for a discount.

Read everything carefully before you sign, to make sure the policy covers your insurance needs without adding on hidden fees. Even a little money saved can go a long way toward making it easier to live within your budget. 

Ready to buy a home? Let me help you find the perfect home and get it at the best terms and price. Call or email your trusted real estate professional.

Understanding Your Credit Score And How It Impacts Your Home Ownership Prospects

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Understanding Your Credit Score And How It Impacts Your Home Ownership Prospects

Understanding your credit score and how it impacts your home ownership prospects your credit score is an important part of your financial profile. It has a direct impact on your ability to take out loans.

The score itself is a numerical reflection of your credit history. It gives lenders a way to discern your reliability before approving a loan like a mortgage for instance.

Though this is the basic function of a credit score, it can also have a far-reaching influence over other aspects of home ownership.

Mortgage Loan Approval: Will Your Score Make the Cut?

First and foremost, the status of your credit score is a deciding factor in whether or not you are approved for a loan.

Even if you put down a large down payment on your home, a low credit score can still cause the loan to be rejected. For this reason, it’s best to wait until you’ve built up a good credit score before looking to purchase a house.

Mortgage Interest Rates: The Lower The Score The Higher The Rate

High interest rates are another reason to hold off on purchasing a home until you’ve obtained a very good credit score. While applying for a loan with the minimum credit score required might get the loan approved, it also means having to pay higher interest rates.

Shooting for a credit score above the bare minimum before applying for a mortgage will increase the likelihood of receiving a much lower interest rate. A higher credit score demonstrates a credit history of timely payments and the ability to successfully pay off debts, which are key factors in mortgage approvals.

Homeowner’s Insurance Approval And Premium Rates

An insurance broker running a credit check might seem a little out of the ordinary, but in actuality when is comes to home insurance, companies frequently run credit checks on prospective clients. When an insurance company inquires about your credit history, all they receive is your credit score and nothing more.

The nitty-gritty details of your credit history remain private. So, why are insurance companies running credit checks in the first place? Credit scores are an integral part of the scoring system they use to determine premium rates for each client.

Though your credit score might seem irrelevant in determining how likely you are to file an insurance claim, the industry argues that there is a documented connection between those who are more likely to file insurance claims and the lowly state of their credit scores. This trend has led insurance providers to offer higher insurance premiums to those with lower credit scores.

In some cases companies may refuse to insure a client based on a poor credit rating. Credit scores have a profound influence over financial transactions. You ability to make a large purchase like a new home can be severely hindered by a poor credit score.

If you have a low credit score, consider taking some time to repair your credit history before applying for large loans. Correct any lingering errors on your credit report and get into the habit of making consistent, timely bill payments.

Addressing these issues could dramatically improve your credit score in a year’s time, putting you in a much better position to tackle home ownership.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 9, 2014

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Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week June 9 2014

Last week’s economic news was mixed. Construction spending grew, but fell below the expected level. CoreLogic reported that April home prices continued to rise, but did so at their slowest growth rate in more than a year. Employment reports for private sector and government jobs indicated fewer jobs, but the national unemployment rate was steady. Here are the details:

Construction Spending, Home Price Growth Slows

Construction spending reported by the Department of Commerce reached $953.5 billion annually, and increased by 0.20 percent month-to-month against expectations of an 0.80 percent increase and the March reading of 0.60 percent growth.

According to CoreLogic, the rate of home price growth slowed to 10.50 percent year-over-year in April as compared to the 11.10 year-over-year rate of increase in April 2013. Home prices increased by 2.10 percent over March; these gains in home prices were the slowest posted in more than a year, but there was good news.

No states posted a drop in home prices, and eight states posted new record highs for home prices.

CoreLogic said that although a short supply of available homes has driven home prices up, price gains lost momentum due to affordability; CoreLogic expects home prices to increase at a slower pace and projects that home price growth will reach a pace of 6.30 percent by April 2015.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates for fixed rate mortgages rose while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased by two basis points to 4.14 percent; discount points fell to an average of 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also increased by two basis points to 3.23 percent; discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.93 percent, a drop of three basis points. Average discount points rose from 0.30 to 0.40 percent.

Jobs, Unemployment Data Suggest Economic Strength

Labor markets impact consumer decisions to buy homes; several labor-related reports released last week indicated that the economy continued to gain strength as more jobs were added and fewer workers filed jobless claims.

ADP reported that 179,000 private-sector jobs were added in May as compared to 215,000 jobs added in April. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Non-farm Payrolls report for May; 217,000 jobs were added as compared to projections of 210,000 jobs added and 288,000 jobs added in April.

New weekly jobless claims were reported at 312,000 as compared to expectations of 311,000 new jobless claims and the previous week’s 304,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of weekly jobless claims fell by 2250 new claims to 310,250; this was the lowest reading since June 2007, and was 10 percent lower than the reading for the same week in April 2013 and was 17 percent lower than for the same week in 2012.

Another sign of economic growth was reported last week. Continuing jobless claims dropped to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 2.60 million for the week ended May 24; this was the lowest reading reported since October 2007.

The national unemployment rate for May matched April’s reading of 6.30 percent, and was lower than projections of 6.40 percent for May. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve (FOMC) has repeatedly cited an unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as a benchmark indication of economic recovery; it appears likely that the Fed may continue its tapering of asset purchases as it winds down its quantitative easing program.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales, Retail Sales without vehicle sales, and the Producer Price Index. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and Weekly Jobless Claims will be released Thursday, and the University of Michigan will release its Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday.

Which Type Of Pool Is Right For You? We Look At The Best Designs For Your Backyard

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Which Type of Pool Is Right for You? We Look at the Best Designs for Your BackyardThe decision to install a pool is generally one that is applauded by at least certain members of the family. Whether you have children or not, however, having a pool at home is certainly something you can enjoy for yourself.

But what if you don’t think your yard is particularly suited to a pool? Don’t rule out the idea just yet; instead, consider some of these different pool designs to suit different sizes and styles of backyards.

Make The Most Of Your Small Backyard

For a relatively small backyard, you should always choose the right pool design that will ensure you make the most of the space.

A particularly good option for a smaller backyard is opting for an above-ground pool and having a custom wood deck built around one side of it. The addition of the the wood deck will offer easy access for the kids to get into the pool, and will also give you a place to sunbathe while watching the kids splash around.

Single-Use, Modern Yard: Fiberglass Pool

For an ultra-modern backyard that is relatively small, and especially for a single-use backyard that is going to be dedicated to your swimming pool, a fiberglass pool might be your best option. Since the pool arrives in one single piece, already fully finished, the installation process is very quick and efficient.

Offered in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and styles, you can surely find a fiberglass pool that fits your single-use yard, and you could even have it ready to use within one week. You’ll find that the smooth surface of a fiberglass pool is appealing. These pools are also easy to maintain as only a few chemicals are required for cleaning.

With this type of pool that you’ll commonly find in vacation homes with modern, polished concrete backyards, you can turn your home into your favorite holiday destination, and much quicker than you might have guessed.

Customizable Concrete Pool For A Large Yard

If you have a large yard and aren’t concerned about using up too much space by having a swimming pool put in, why not opt for the most customizable concrete variety? A concrete pool can be constructed in virtually any shape or size you choose, allowing you to put your best creativity to use.

You can opt for texturized pool surfaces as well as well as plenty of add-ons and built-in features, such as a custom entry or a ledge for sunbathing. Customized concrete pools usually take about 12 weeks to build. You can also opt to have a concrete or tile surface installed around the pool, while still leaving plenty of grass and gardening space in your backyard.

These pools are also a great option for irregular backyards, as they can be customized to fit into virtually any shape, just as long as your yard is large enough.

When it comes to house shopping, you can opt to buy a house that already has a pool. Or if you’d prefer to be more involved in the process, you can simply look for a house with a suitable yard.

How Pre-Qualifying Helps You Find the Right Home

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How Pre-Qualifying Helps You Find the Right HomeToo often, home buyers are disappointed when they find their dream home only to discover they are not able to get a mortgage to purchase the property. There are methods that potential buyers can use to ensure this does not happen to them. One of these options is to ensure you obtain a pre-qualification from your lender.

It is important to understand the difference between a pre-approval and a pre-qualification. While both are helpful, they do not carry the same weight.

What Are The Differences Between These Options?

A pre-qualification allows a borrower to determine how much money they may be able to borrow. For most borrowers, this allows them to start the house-hunting process with a mortgage amount in mind. Borrowers should understand, while the loan amount can be calculated, changes in interest rate as well as the borrowers credit are not evaluated in this process. In general, the lender will request specific information from the borrower including income and expenses as well as ask about their credit. None of this information is verified by the lender before sending a pre-qualification letter.

On the other hand, a pre-approval requires the borrower to provide a number of documents to the lender, typically the same documents borrowers need to apply for a loan. Oftentimes, this leads borrowers to speculate as to whether a pre-qualification is useful.

Why Pre-Qualification Helps

There are many valid reasons why potential homebuyers should ask about pre-qualifying for their mortgage. Some of these include:

  • Home prices – if a borrower is eligible for a mortgage of $200,000 they will know they will have to seek homes in a specific price range. If a borrower is only able to put down 10 percent, they know the maximum home price they can afford is $220,000.
  • Down payments – in most cases, borrowers who can afford to put down a large down payment will have more options available to them. In some cases, understanding how much mortgage a borrower may qualify for beforehand allows them to save additional money for a down payment.
  • Estimates of dollars needed – another advantage to pre-qualifying is borrowers can get an idea of what additional closing costs they may need to qualify for a mortgage. This can be very helpful for a first time home buyer.

Pre-qualifying for a loan can save a home buyer from being disappointed. There are few things that are more upsetting than finding a home you love only to discover you are not eligible for the loan you need in order to purchase that home.

If you’re contemplating a pre-qualification, call your trusted mortgage professional today for more information.

Thinking About Buying An Investment Property? 6 Tips To Ensure You Don’t Get Fleeced

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Thinking About Buying an Investment Property? 6 Tips to Ensure You Don't Get FleecedPurchasing an investment property is one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever be a part of. As such, it’s a necessity to make your decisions with only the most careful of consideration.

Here are the six tips that you need to heed in order to ensure that you don’t get fleeced.

Find The Right Property At The Right Price

Yes, this is a whole lot easier said than done. However, it’s not impossible. All it takes is some patience and research.

You have to determine what everything in your area is selling for in order to be able to spot a bargain! Further, you need to know that various property classes will outperform each other. For example, land and home units will appreciate differently.

Figure Out The Cash Flow

It’s always a good idea that you know how to maintain your mortgage repayment obligations over the long term. It’s recommended that you analyze the cost of servicing any loan only on an after-tax basis. By taking this approach, you have the power to calculate and put the cost into actual terms that make sense for you.

Look For A Good Property Manager

Finding a good property manager who is a professional in his or her field is vital. Your property manager’s job will be to make certain that everything is in order between you and any of your tenants. A good property manager can extract the best possible value for you from your property and help to keep your tenants in line as well.

Choose The Appropriate Type Of Mortgage

There are many options available for financing the investment property that you choose, so it’s best to get sound advice. Options such as a variable rate loan and a fixed rate loan are both popular choices, but your specific circumstances will dictate what’s most suitable for you. Consider that variable rates often end up being cheaper over time, yet fixed rates at the right time are ideal.

Take Equity From Another Property

Leverage the equity from your residence or another investment property. Doing this is actually an ideal way to purchase your investment property. Equity can be calculated by way of calculating any difference between what you owe on your mortgage and the overall value of your property.

Comprehend Both The Market And Dynamics When Buying

It’s best to analyze what other properties are available in the area when you’re looking at an investment property. It’s very advisable to actually talk to both local people and real estate agents in the neighborhood. They can give you hints on small, yet vital, things like which side of a street is considered more desirable.

These are the six tips to help make sure that you don’t ever get fleeced when buying an investment property. They can make the difference between purchasing a great property that has a high return on investment and purchasing a lemon.

Call your trusted mortgage professional today for some answers and more information.

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