Today's Real Estate Reality Blog
Last week’s news was relatively quiet with no data significant to mortgage lending until Wednesday, when the federal government announced a $138 billion budget deficit for May.
According to the U.S. Treasury this figure is 11 percent higher than for May of 2012, but the federal budget is expected to come in with less than a -$1 trillion deficit for the 2013 fiscal year, which runs from October to September.
The Treasury estimates that the 2013 budget deficit will come in at approximately -$642 billion, well below fiscal 2012′s deficit of -$1.1 trillion. The federal budget has been running deficits over -$1 trillion since 2008.
Employment Market Continues To Strengthen
Thursday’s Weekly Jobless Claims report brought good news; jobless claims fell from the prior week’s 346,000 jobless claims to 334,000 jobless claims. This was also less than expectations of 350,000 jobless claims. As more workers gain steady employment, this will enable more would-be home buyers to become active buyers.
May Retail sales also showed slight improvement as they moved from 0.60 percent from April’s 0.10 percent.
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average mortgage rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.91 percent to 3.98 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.03 percent to 3.10 percent with discount points holding at 0.70 percent.
What‘s Coming Up This Week
This week’s economic news schedule has a number of reports due including Wednesday’s FOMC statement and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s press conference. This meeting and press conference are significant as any move by the Fed to reduce or cease its current quantitative easing (QE) program could cause mortgage rates to rise further. Even the mention of ending QE program early will rattle the financial markets as happened the last time Bernanke testified in front of Congress.
Monday’s news includes the Home Builders Index for June. Tuesday brings the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May and the Core CPI, also for May. The indices measure prices paid by consumers for goods and services; the Core CPI eliminates the volatile food and energy sectors included in the CPI. Rising or falling consumer costs influence how much discretionary income consumers have for saving toward buying a home.
Thursday brings the Existing Home Sales Report, Weekly Jobs Report, Freddie Mac PMMS and Leading Indicators. These reports are expected to provide news about U.S. housing markets, mortgage rates and economic influences impacting consumers.
This is The Week Ahead for Mortgage Rates: June 17, 2013.
Quick general rule of thumb when keeping an eye on 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!
Whenever a scene in a film or television show takes place in a private home, have you ever thought about who owns that property? Well, it could be you!
The fact is that film and television production companies are always on the lookout for new locations where they can shoot their footage. If you advertise your property in the right way, your home could have its 15 minutes of fame as the set for a film or a television show episode.
Many production companies have been gradually switching over the last few years into filming at ‘authentic’ private properties rather than in film sets and studios.
You don’t have to own a stunning mansion or a historic property to rent out your home as a film location. Film and TV location scouts are looking for a wide range of different homes, from small condos to townhouses to log cabins and any other style of dwelling.
Turning Your Home Into Hollywood
Of course, the obvious advantage of renting out your property as a film location is that you can get paid hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars per day just for letting a film crew take over your kitchen or dining room. Also, you will have the prestige and excitement of being able to meet celebrities and see your home featured on the big screen.
However, the process may disrupt your routine for a day or two or possibly longer. The film crew might want to move furniture around and you might even find yourself having to move out for a while. If you need to stay in a hotel during filming, make sure that the amount you are getting paid is enough to compensate for the costs of accommodation.
If you think that renting out your home as a film set sounds like a good idea for you, there are a number of different websites where you can list the property and post photos. Sometimes your real estate professional can help refer you to a specialist in the local area who consistently works with location scouts and producers.
When you are making the arrangements, make sure that you draft up a contract that states your fee, how long the filming will take, the type of production and an agreement to return your house to the original state that it was found in.
If you are interested in purchasing a Northwest Indiana home that could be film-worthy, please contact one of the contributing local real estate professionals!
Many Northwest Indiana home buyers have found the perfect house, signed on the dotted line and may think they’ve watched enough home improvement shows to know if the home they’re getting is in good shape. Unfortunately, some buyers make the mistake of skipping a home inspection in order to save a little cash.
Even if a home has already stolen your heart and you’re ready to pay for it as-is, you need to bite the bullet and hire a home inspector to let you know what repairs and financial repercussions await you.
Why You Should Hire A Home Inspector
You might know a thing or two about home remodeling and repairs. However, most people are not experts on the inner workings of a home. That is why it’s important to hire a professional to search for potential furnace issues, electrical wiring mishaps, plumbing weaknesses or roofing deterioration to name a few.
While a home might look like it’s in perfect condition on the surface, there could be major issues hiding beneath its façade. That’s why it really is imperative for your safety that you hire an inspector to scrutinize the bones of your home. Understanding any imperfections may also help you budget for immediate and future repairs.
When to Schedule the Home Inspection
Once you’ve signed a purchase contract, you’ll want to schedule a home inspection before the inspection period has ended. Even though you’ve signed the offer, an inspector could just find something that you just cannot live with or afford to fix.
While you would normally schedule an inspection after you’ve signed a contract, it’s important to have an inspector or two picked out beforehand. Ask your real estate professional or friends and family for referrals and then contact the inspectors for pricing and a list of what they will and will not cover at the inspection.
Once again, remember that the cheapest price may not be the best deal on home inspections. Have a good understanding of what, and who, you are investing in.
Even if you do know a lot about the structure, plumbing and wiring of houses, don’t let your ego get the better of you. It’s important to shell out the additional money to hire an inspector and cover your assets. You would hate to end up with a home that needs major renovations and not have known about it.
For more information on hiring a professional for your Northwest Indiana home inspection or for a referral, please speak with one our local contributing real estate professionals today!
Filing your federal income taxes can be a complicated and confusing process. If you are a Northwest Indiana home owner you may have many different home tax deductions and tax credits to consider.
Since we recently passed the filing date for 2012 taxes, it may be a good time to plan for next year and get your tax tracking systems in place.
Check carefully to make sure that you are not making any of these common homeowner tax mistakes – which could cost you money or get you in trouble with the IRS.
Miscalculating Your Home Office Tax Deduction
If you work from home, you will be able to deduct a percentage of your housing costs for your home office. However, most people don’t know how to calculate this and don’t realize that it also has to be recaptured when you eventually sell your home. You will only want to claim it if it is worth it, so make sure you know exactly what you can write off.
Failing To Keep Track Of Home Expenses
Don’t forget to keep a record of home maintenance, repair expenses and any other relevant documents as you go along. The money you spend on improving your property can help offset future capital gains tax. Keeping good records will save you a lot of headaches when tax time comes around.
Forgetting To Pay Tax On Capital Gains
If you have to sell your primary residence this year, you will need to pay capital gains tax on any profit that you have received. Capital gains are the amount that you gained on the property’s value – so if you bought it for $150,000 and sold it for $300,000, your capital gains are $150,000. You may be able to exclude $250,000 of any profits for taxes, or $500,000 if you are a married couple if this exclusion stays the same as in 2012.
Deducting The Wrong Year For Property Taxes
Remember that you must take the tax deduction for your property taxes in the year that you have actually paid them. No matter what the date is on your property taxes bill, you should enter the amount that you paid in the calendar year. If you confuse this part, you might end up claiming the incorrect amount for the year.
These are just a few of the common mistakes that home owners can make when filing their taxes. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that you pay the right amount and avoid any hassle from the IRS. Also, please double-check all of these suggestions with a qualified, licensed tax preparer in the Northwest Indiana area.
The U.S. Department of Labor released its Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment Rate reports last Friday showing 175,000 jobs were added in May, which surpassed expectations of 164,000 new jobs and April’s reading of 149,000 jobs added. The jobs added in May were largely from the private sector.
However, the national unemployment rate for May was 7.60 percent, one-tenth of a percent higher than expectations and the April reading of 7.50 percent. The rise was attributed to more people entering the workforce as opposed to people losing jobs.
420,000 workers joined the workforce in May, which pushed the civilian participation rate in the labor market to 63.4 percent; the highest participation rate since October 2012. A rising participation rate suggests that more workers believe they can find jobs and have joined or returned to the labor market.
Economists were pleased to see jobs increasing against an environment of higher taxes, a soft global economy and budget cutbacks in the U.S. government.
A lingering issue for U.S. labor markets is the number of people looking for full-time work, but who are unable to find full-time employment. When these workers are added to the ranks of the unemployed who are actively seeking work, the actual unemployment rate almost doubles to 13.8 percent for May.
The national unemployment rate is based on workers who are actively seeking work. Many U.S. workers stopped looking for work after years of unemployment.
These reports don’t provide a clear indication of what the Federal Reserve may do regarding its current monetary policy; the Fed is currently purchasing $85 billion a month in U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This effort is intended to keep long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, lower.
The Fed has indicated that it will review its quantitative easing (QE) policy relative to improvements in the economy. In recent months, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve (FOMC) has discussed lowering or eliminating its QE efforts, but so far is maintaining its current level of QE and maintaining the federal funds rate at 0.250 percent.
While housing markets are improving, the jobs sector is moving at a slower pace. This suggests that home prices could rise even faster if more consumers had sufficient income for buying a home.