Real Estate, Home Ownership and Living in Coastal Virginia
Last week’s weeks economic releases included readings on the NAHB Housing Market Index, housing starts and building permits issued and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.
NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Market Holds Steady in February
The National Association of Home builders reported an index reading of 72 for its Housing Market Index in February. January’s reading was also 72; readings over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer are confident about housing market conditions.
Three readings comprising the overall NAHB HMI reading include builder confidence in current market conditions, which was one point lower in February at 78. Builder confidence in housing market conditions in the next six months rose two points to an index reading of 80.
This was the highest reading for future housing market conditions since before the recession. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments was unchanged at 54.
Builders surveyed cited strong labor markets and short supplies of pre-owned homes as fueling confidence in current market conditions, but identified ongoing labor and lot shortages and rising materials costs as concerns for builders.
Housing Starts, Building Permits Issue Rise in January
High builder confidence was reflected in readings for housing starts and building permits issued in January. Housing starts rose to their highest level in more than 10 years. The annual pace of housing starts reached 1.326 million starts.
January’s reading exceeded expectations of 1.324 million starts and December’s reading of 1.209 million housing starts. January’s starts reflect strong builder confidence readings and may also signal future relief for short supplies of available homes and high demand for homes in many metro areas.
High demand for homes has caused rapid appreciation in home values and sidelined first-time and moderate-income buyers in areas with high home values. According to the Commerce Department, building permits issued rose to 1.396 million from December’s1.380 million starts annually.
The University of Michigan reported the second highest reading for consumer sentiment in 14 years. February’s reading of 99.9 was higher than expectations for a reading of 95.3 and January’s reading of 95.7Analysts said that recent tax cuts likely stabilized consumer outlook in spite of volatile financial markets.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates for all three types of mortgages it tracks in its Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose an average of six basis points to 4.38 percent.
The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was seven basis points higher at an average of 3.84 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.63 percent, which was six basis points higher than the prior week.
New jobless claims were higher last week with 230,000 new claims filed, which matched expectations and exceeded 223,000 new jobless claims filed the prior week.
This week’s economic releases include readings on existing home sales along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Financial markets were closed on Monday for President’s Day.Read More
Whether you are purchasing a new home or you are considering applying to refinance your home, chances are the lender will require an escrow account. These accounts are often a source of confusion for homeowners. In reality, these accounts benefit the homeowner and help protect the lender.
What is an escrow account?
Escrow accounts are sometimes called “impound” accounts. These accounts are set up to help manage payments of property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Depending on the individual requirements of the lender, you may be asked to pay as much as one-quarter of these upfront and they will be put into the account for the purposes of making payments.
Who controls escrow accounts?
Lenders have complete control over escrow accounts. However, homeowners are entitled to receive an annual statement advising them of their escrow balance. If there is an increase or decrease in insurance payments through the year, a homeowner may request the lender evaluate the escrow account and change the amount that is paid.
Is interest paid on escrow accounts?
There is no mandate to pay interest on escrow accounts. When you refinance your home, the funds for your taxes and insurance are calculated into your overall payment. The portion that is to be used to pay taxes and insurance is placed in escrow. Federal laws do not require lenders to pay interest on these accounts.
What happens if I sell my home or refinance?
When you sell or refinance your home, your escrow account will be credited at closing. The amount may be used to lower your out-of-pocket costs or may be turned over to you as a direct payment.
What happens if there is not enough/too much money in escrow?
If your lender has underestimated your escrow payments, they may request you send an additional payment to make up the difference. In the event you are paying too much into escrow, your lender has the discretion to release the overage amount directly to you. In most cases, shortfalls or overages of $50 or less are typically not a major concern.
If your lender requires you to have an escrow account for the taxes and insurance portion of your mortgage payment, it can be very helpful. Escrow accounts help ensure you do not have to come up with a large payment once a year for insurance or quarterly for taxes.
In some cases, if a lender does not require an escrow account, as a borrower, you may request they escrow your taxes and insurance for convenience.Read More
Homeowners insurance and title insurance may not be the only kinds of insurance you need when you buy a home. Many buyers also have to purchase mortgage insurance, which lenders require for mortgages with a down payment of less than 20 percent. Take the time to understand what you’re buying and how long it will affect you.
Mortgage Insurance Protects the Lender
Most types of insurance will pay you if you make a claim. Mortgage insurance, though, is solely for the lender. If you were to stop making payments and the lender foreclosed on your home, the mortgage insurance would pay the lender the difference between the profit from selling your home and the amount you still owed on your mortgage.
Types of Mortgage Insurance
When you have a mortgage with a traditional lender, you get private mortgage insurance, often abbreviated PMI. This insurance is provided by a third party, although your lender will typically dictate who provides the insurance. When you get an FHA mortgage, the federal government provides the mortgage insurance and you pay mortgage insurance premiums, often abbreviated MIP.
Mortgage Insurance Amount
You can generally expect to pay 0.5 percent to 1 percent of your loan balance each year for private mortgage insurance. FHA mortgage insurance premiums are set by the federal government, and as of 2017, are 1.75 percent of the loan balance up front, plus 0.45 percent to 1.05 percent of the loan balance each year, depending on the type of loan.
How to Stop Paying Mortgage Insurance
FHA loans have mortgage insurance until the loan is paid off, either through regular payments or by refinancing. Traditional loans automatically cancel mortgage insurance when you have reached the point on your amortization schedule where the loan balance drops below 78 percent of the purchase price. You also may be able to apply to cancel mortgage insurance as soon as your loan balance is less than 80 percent of your home’s current appraised value.
How Can You Get Around Paying Mortgage Insurance?
When purchasing a home, the only way to avoid having to buy mortgage insurance is to get a mortgage for less than 80 percent of the home’s purchase price. However, the cost of mortgage insurance may be something you’re willing to pay for the opportunity to buy now without a down payment of 20 percent.Read More
Are you starting to get the renovation itch? With spring on the way, you might be tempted to launch those home improvement projects that you contemplated over the winter. However, as with any project, you will want to get things right. Let’s take a look at four renovation shortcuts that can lead to disaster and the steps you can take to avoid them.
Shortcut #1: Not Understanding Your Home’s Structure
Before you undertake any renovation involving your home’s structure, you must be confident that you know exactly what is where. For example, do you know what is inside of your walls? You might be surprised to learn what is hiding behind those pieces of painted drywall. Electrical wiring, plumbing, structural supports, insulation and possibly even soundproofing material can all be damaged by misplaced nails or cuts. You might also discover damage caused by pests, mold or water which needs to be repaired.
Shortcut #2: Not Measuring Everything (At Least) Twice
You have likely heard this tired cliché: “measure twice, cut once.” However, what you may not realize is that was intended for professionals. If you are new to renovating, you will want to measure at least twice, if not three times or more. A small measuring mistake of one-half-inch can mean the difference between your new cabinets fitting and not fitting. Or your tiles lining up with one another or not.
Shortcut #3: Not Using Quality Tools And Materials
Another shortcut that homeowners try to take when starting do-it-yourself home projects is using cheaper materials or whatever tools they have handy. Keep in mind that you are investing in your home and that you are saving money by not paying for the labor. Use those savings on top-quality materials that will withstand the test of time.
Shortcut #4: Not Calling A Professional After You Mess Up
Finally, one shortcut that must be avoided at all costs is not calling a professional if you have made a significant mistake. If you end up drilling into the wrong wire, or you damage something else beyond your repair skills, don’t try to patch it up. Swallow your pride and make the call. You will be able to sleep soundly knowing that whatever was damaged isn’t at risk of failing later.
Renovating your home is the best way to increase its value, but even the smallest mistake can blow up into a major problem in the future. To learn more about your home’s value, contact us today. Our real estate sales team can help you assess your home and share how much it will sell for if you decide to list.Read More
Are you thinking about placing your home up for sale in the near future? If you dwell too much on the process itself, selling your home may seem a bit daunting. You have to deal with photos, listings, open houses, bids, counteroffers and much more. One of the decisions you will be faced with is setting the selling price for your home. In today’s blog post we will discuss pricing and how to set a price that will attract potential buyers.
You Are The Most Important Factor
It might seem a bit strange to think of it this way, but in many cases, the homeowner is the most important factor in finding the right price. For example, do you need a quick sale because you are moving for work? If you want a fast sale, you may need to list your home at a bargain price. Conversely, if you can afford to have your home on the market for a few months while you field offers you may price closer to market value.
Researching The Local Market
Next, you will want to research local market conditions to get a feel for the right pricing range. Are there other recent home sales in your neighborhood? On average, did they sell above or below the asking price? Are there many listings on the market now or is there just a few listings which may indicate intense buying pressure?
The market will play a significant role in choosing the right price. Don’t overlook it.
Don’t Get Greedy
The best possible real estate sale is ‘high and fast’, meaning your home sold quickly and for a high price. The reality is typically much different. You may get some buyers bidding, but all with low offers. Alternatively, you may only have one potential homebuyer come to your first open house. Whatever the case, keep in mind that you do not want to get greedy. Yes, it is great to sell high. However, you also want to close the sale so you can move on.
Too Much Trouble? Enlist Professional Help
If you feel that all of this is just a bit too much to bother with, don’t fret. Your best course of action is to enlist the help of a professional real estate agent who has extensive home selling experience. When you’re ready to sell your home, give us a call. We’re happy to share our insight into the local market and advise you on the best listing price to get your home sold quickly.Read More
Jerome “Jay” Powell was sworn in as Chair of the Federal Reserve amidst wild fluctuations in U.S. stock markets. Analysts attributed sliding stock prices to fears over inflation.
Mr. Powell, who follows former Fed Chair Janet Yellen, introduced himself via a video clip on the Fed’s website. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.
New Fed Chair Promises “Transparency“ in Video Introduction
In a video introduction posted on the Fed’s website, new Fed Chair Jay Powell promised that the Fed would explain “what we are doing and why we are doing it.” Mr. Powell did not address stock market volatility but said that monetary policy decisions would be made based on the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and price stability along with economic growth.
Mr. Powell took leadership of the Fed as the national unemployment rate dipped to 4.10 percent.
Mr. Powell is an attorney by profession and is the first Fed Chair not to hold a PhD in economics in more than 30 years.
Former Treasury Secretary Advises Against Raising Rates Too Fast
Former Obama administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers cautioned against raising rates too fast: “If the Fed raises rates sufficiently to assure financial stability, there is a risk that the economy will slow too much.
When the Federal Reserve raises its target federal funds rate financial institutions, mortgage lenders and retail lenders usually follow suit.
Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 10 basis points higher at 4.32 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 3.77 percent.
The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage gained four basis points to 3.57 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent, 0.50 percent and 0.40 percent respectively.
New jobless claims fell to their lowest level since the 1970s. 221,000 first-time claims were filed as compared to 232.000 new claims expected and the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new claims filed.
This week’s economic news releases include readings on inflation, retail sales and the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Indices. Readings on housing starts and building permits issued will also be released, along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims.Read More
Are you listing your home for sale this year? If so, you may be wondering just why you need the services of a real estate agent. Sure, it is theoretically possible to handle the entire process yourself and be successful. However, if you’re inexperienced, you may end up stumbling. Let’s explore four reasons why you will want to enlist the services of a professional real estate agent when you sell your home.
Do You Know How To Price Your Home?
Choosing the right listing price is a decision that requires research, intuition and a day-to-day understanding of how the local real estate market is moving. Unless you work in real estate, it is unlikely that you have your finger on the pulse of the market. Without a real estate agent’s help, you might end up pricing too high, which means that your sale takes much longer, or too low, which means you leave money on the table. Setting the right price is critical and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Have You Ever Marketed A Property Listing?
Do you have experience with marketing a property listing? If not, it is crucial that you work with an experienced real estate team. Today’s market requires website listings, social media advertising and other tactics to ensure success. It’s best to leave marketing to those who understand it.
Are You Good At Dealing With Strangers?
Do you consider yourself a ‘people person’? If not, you probably aren’t going to like the home selling process very much. Every open house means new people are walking through your home – potentially dozens of them. Your real estate agent is there to take care of dealing with strangers so you don’t have to.
Is Negotiating One Of Your Strengths?
Finally, don’t forget that real estate transactions almost always end up in some sort of negotiation. It is rare for a buyer to walk up and pay your listing price, although it does happen. However, it’s more common to receive a lower bid to try to draw you into submitting a counteroffer. In other cases, you may end up with multiple buyers fighting a bidding war to buy your home. In all of these situations, you will want an experienced negotiator on hand to help.
These are just a few of the many reasons that working with a professional real estate agent is in your best interests when you sell your home. To learn more about the sales process, or to list your home for sale, contact us today. Our team is dedicated to ensuring you have a fast, stress-free sale.Read More
Home prices increased in November, with national home prices up 0.70 percent month-to-month and 6.20 percent higher year-over year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index rose by 0.70 percent in the three-month period ending in November; nationally, home prices grew 6.20 percent year-over-year.
Seattle, Washington held first place in home price growth with a year-over-year increase of 12.70 percent. Las Vegas, Nevada home prices followed with year-over-year home price growth of 10.60 percent. San Francisco, California home prices grew by 9.10 percent year-over-year. Slim supplies of homes for sale drove rising home prices and sidelined would-be borrowers as affordability remained out of reach.
Home Prices Get a Pre-Recession Do-Over in Some Cities
David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that Los Angeles and San Diego, California along with Las Vegas, Nevada and Miami, Florida are repeating fast-paced price gains that they had prior to the recession.
Mortgage Rates, Building Costs Impact Supply of Homes and Affordability
Combined effects of high mortgage rates and rapidly rising home prices could dampen buyer enthusiasm over time, but the time-worn proclamation that what goes up must come down has not applied to home prices in high demand metro areas. Home buyers may rush to close their home loans before rates rise, but more buyers may delay buying a home due to few options, higher home prices and rising rates.
Lower taxes and rising wages may encourage renters to buy homes, but home prices continued to outstrip income for many potential buyers.
Building more homes is the only relief in sight for low inventories of homes for sale, but builders face rising materials costs, shortages of lots suitable for building and insufficient workers. Other factors impacting home building and buying homes include poor weather in some areas during December, and further shortages of homes caused by natural disasters in 2017.
2018 may see high-priced local areas develop affordable homeownership programs as current prices continue to rise above interested buyers’ financial resources.Read More