Today's Real Estate Reality Blog

The Week Ahead For Mortgage Rates – December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Housing news was boosted by the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, which posted its highest readings since July of 2002. In other news, the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the federal funds rate and Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a press conference. Mortgage rates rose and weekly jobless claims fell.

Home Builder Confidence Highest in 14 Years, Home Construction Lags

According to the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence in housing market conditions reached its highest rate since 2002 in December. The NAHB Housing Market Index reading topped out at 70 as compared to November’s reading of 63. Analysts said that December’s high reading resulted from a post-election bump in builder confidence. While high builder confidence could bode well for supplies of new homes, construction rates continued to lag strong economic indicators such as low unemployment and high demand for homes. While builders gained confidence in current and projected housing market conditions, they continued to face shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Fed Raises Rate

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced it would raise the federal funds range by 0.25 percent to 0.50 to 0.75 percent. FOMC said strengthening job markets, lower unemployment and rising household spending supported the decision to raise the federal funds rate. Inflation, while below the Fed’s target of 2.00 percent, is gradually moving toward the Fed’s medium term goal. FOMC’s statement indicated that the Fed’s monetary policy would remain accommodative.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen held a press conference and cited “considerable progress” toward the Fed’s dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability as factors supporting the decision to raise the target federal funds range. Labor markets continue to improve; Chair Yellen said that the economy has added 180,000 jobs per month over the last three months. 15 million jobs have been added in the past seven years. Inflation is growing gradually, and the Fed expects to achieve its target inflation rate of 2.00 percent over the next two years.

Month-to-month consumer spending readings held steady at 0.20 percent growth. Core consumer price index data, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, rose from 0.10 percent to 0.20 percent in November.

Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates were higher last week, but Freddie Mac said that its survey data was collected before FOMC raised the federal funds rate. Analysts at Freddie Mac suggested a wait-and see position on rate forecasts due to the changing political climate. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 4.16 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 2.37 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.19 percent. Average discount points for fixed rate mortgages held steady at 0.50 percent and dipped to 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

New jobless claims were lower last week at 254,000 claims filed. Analysts had expected a reading of 250,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 258,000 new claims filed. Volatility in weekly readings for new jobless claims can be expected due to seasonal hiring and layoffs.

Whats Coming Up In The Week Ahead For Mortgage Rates: December 19, 2016

Next week’s economic releases include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, inflation and consumer sentiment. Readings for mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

This Is The Week Ahead For Mortgage Rates: December 19, 2016.

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QUICK GENERAL RULE OF THUMB WHEN MONITORING MORTGAGE RATES

Strong Economic News: $$$ from Bonds —> Stocks = Home Loan Rates Go Up

Weak Economic News: $$$ from Stocks —> Bonds = Home Loan Rates Go Down

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying a home, the combination of low home loan rates and affordable home prices make this an ideal time to buy a home. Want to know if you can afford a new home? Call or text me at 512-522-7284 to discuss your personal situation and your home loan options!

Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in Order

December 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in OrderBuying a home is a significant expense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time buyer or have experience. Unless you have a large pile of cash, you’ll need to ensure your finances are in order before closing. In this post we’ll explore four financial items you’ll want to check off before buying a new home.

Figure Out Your Current Monthly Budget

First, you’re going to want to sort out your monthly budget. If you’ve never done a budget before, start with something basic. Open up a spreadsheet or take out a piece of paper. Make two columns: ‘income’ and ‘expenses’. Fill in each column with the amounts that you make or spend each month. Bank, credit card and other statements can help with this process. It’s a good idea to go back at least 3 months to ensure you’re capturing your true spending.

Make A Debt Management Plan

Do you have any debts? If so, you’ll want to make a plan for how you’re going to manage these when you buy a new home. For example, you may have a car payment, student loans, a line of credit or credit card debt. Write down your debts, how much you owe and when payments are due. If any debts are due monthly, make sure you include those in your budget.

Keep in mind that your outstanding debts may impact your ability to borrow for a mortgage as well. If you plan on taking out a mortgage to pay for your new home, it’s best to get your debts figured out beforehand.

Understand All Your Real Estate Costs

Next, you’ll want to determine what all your real estate costs are going to be. If you’re not yet close to the bidding or closing process, this might be a bit challenging. But ask your real estate agent for a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for a home in your price range.

Set Up An Emergency Savings Cushion

Finally, you’ll want to set up a financial cushion in case of emergencies. It’s not much fun to think about, but losing a job or having a health event is possible. Most financial experts recommend having at least six months of expenses saved up. Of course, this is always easier said than done. What’s important is that you have at least some cash tucked away, just in case. If you can, save a bit extra each month or from each pay check and add to this emergency fund.

When you’re ready to buy a new home, a professional mortgage agent is your best bet for success. Reach out to us today and learn more about how affordable a new home in your community will be!

Why You Might Avoid Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

December 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Not so Fast: 3 Reasons Why You Might Want to Avoid Paying Off Your Mortgage EarlyThe burden of debt, especially when it comes to the high price tag of a home, can be a significant worry to many people. However, what many homeowners may not be aware of is that paying your mortgage off early can actually have a negative impact on your financial health. Whether you’ve recently come into money or you’re working hard to bump up your monthly mortgage payments, here are some reasons you may want to hold off on paying it off too quickly.

Creating A Credit History

It can certainly be a weight off your mind to pay down your mortgage if you inherit a substantial sum of money, but your monthly payment actually has the added benefit of positively impacting your credit history. While paying down debt may free up your mind to think about other things, the month-to-month payment of your mortgage will prove your reliability to a lender and enables you to take advantage of the tax breaks associated with consistent mortgage payments.

A Limited Disposable Income

It may be fulfilling to pay down your debt by foregoing some of your monthly expenditures, but a very strict budget can be very limiting. Forcing yourself to save money on a consistent basis and sticking with a budget are good in the long run, but cutting back on all the things you love in order to pay off more debt can make for unhappiness and added stress. It’s important to find a balance between paying down debt and enjoying life.

Extra Money To Invest

The feeling of being debt-free is a good one, but putting most of your money into your mortgage will likely leave you with nothing to invest or save. Many homeowners think that the savings will make up for the money that’s not being invested, but this is not necessarily the case. According to Elle Kaplan, CEO of LexION Capital Management, “A smart investment plan is very likely to outmatch any savings you’d get from paying off a home early.” Instead of putting all your funds into your mortgage, set some aside for saving and investing.

Many homebuyers think it’s a good financial move to pay down their mortgage early, but it can actually be better for your credit and bank balance to make consistent payments and start investing early. If you’re currently in the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Get a Mortgage Approval

December 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Self-Employed? Here's What You'll Need to Get a Mortgage ApprovalThere’s a lot of flexibility and personal freedom associated with self-employment that can be a great benefit to your lifestyle and your pocketbook. However, because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of self-employment, it can make acquiring a mortgage a little more difficult. If you’ve recently become self-employed or have been in the game for a while, here are some things you may want to consider before submitting your mortgage application.

Putting More Money Down

20% is often considered the magic number when it comes to the down payment because this will allow you to avoid homeowner’s insurance. However, if you’re self-employed, you may want to consider putting even more money down as this will be an even stronger signifier to lenders that you’re prepared for homeownership and in control of your finances. While your down payment will provide you with equity instantly, a higher payment will also lower your monthly cost and make your finances even more secure from month to month.

Minimizing Your Debt

The amount of debt a potential homeowner has can adversely affect any mortgage application, but in the event you’re self-employed, a high debt load means even more money is being paid out of a salary that is not necessarily predictable. By paying off the debts you can before applying for your mortgage, you’ll be able to invest that much more of your hard-earned money into your monthly payment without breaking the bank and cutting monthly expenditures.

A History Of Self-Employment

Being self-employed means you’ll have more to prove to your lender, but if you have a spotty self-employment history and long periods without bringing in any income, this will make it even harder. Instead of jumping into the mortgage market soon after becoming self-employed, try and have at least two years of successful self-employment behind you. By being able to prove this, the lender will see that you’re a solid financial bet and an experienced professional who will be able to find work when it’s required.

The nature of being self-employed and the fluctuations in income that can come along with it can make a mortgage lender nervous. However, by having a solid history of self-employment behind you and minimizing your debt load, you’ll be able to prove to the lender that you’re serious about home ownership. If you’re currently perusing the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other Landscaping

December 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Winter's Coming: Learn How to Prepare Your Plants, Trees and Other LandscapingFrom the approaching holiday season to the New Year, there are a lot of things to prepare for when it comes to the winter. It’s important, though, not to forget about the needs of your lawn for the upcoming cold season. If you’re wondering how to ready your trees, your plants and your yard, here are some tips for saving your vegetation until the springtime.

Fertilize For Grass Growth

It might seem like a waste of time to fertilize your grass going into the winter months, but this is actually the perfect time to prep it for spring. As fertilizer will provide much-needed nutrients to the grass in the months when there is less growth, it will actually stimulate improved growth down the road. It’s just important to ensure that you provide a consistent amount of fertilizer so a patchy-looking yard can be avoided. Since weeds scale back in winter, like most other varieties of plants, it can also be an ideal time to apply a herbicide.

Garden Plants And Perennials

While plant maintenance duties like pruning can be done in the spring or fall months, it can actually be a better idea to give your plants the summer months to grow before diving in. Cutting them back will enable the plant to focus its energy on maintenance through the cold winter months, so it’s a good idea to get to work in before the first signs of cooler air set in. If you happen to have plants that won’t last through the winter, you’ll want to compost them so they can be used for soil in the next gardening season.

Clearing Away The Wood

Beyond the garden and the lawn, it’s also worthwhile to provide a little care for your favorite trees before the winter hits. While you’ll want to be cautious about what you do and may want to consult with a gardening professional, clearing away dead branches can help your tree retain its health throughout the year. You may notice the difference in your trees when the spring rolls around again, as they’ll likely have a revitalized look and show signs of new growth.

Winter is a busy time for many people, but it’s important to make the time to fertilize your grass and prune your perennials so your yard will be ready for spring.

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