Real Estate, Home Ownership and Living in Coastal Virginia
Homebuilder confidence in housing market conditions dipped two points in January; ongoing challenges including labor shortages and materials costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders, which provides monthly readings on home builder sentiment. Three component readings of the Housing Market Index declined by one point each. Readings for current sales conditions, housing market conditions for the next six months and for buyer traffic within new single-family housing developments were 79, 78 and 54 respectively.
Readings over 50 indicate positive builder sentiment. The reading for buyer traffic seldom exceeds 50. Current readings support continued builder confidence in current and future housing market conditions. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said housing demand should continue to grow in 2018 based on the gauge of future market conditions remaining in the 70s range. Real estate pros have repeatedly cited slim inventories of homes for sale as driving rapidly rising home prices.
NAHB estimated 1.125 million housing starts for 2018, which was 2.70 percent higher than for2017. The Commerce Department released its annual rate of housing starts in December at 1.192 million starts; Building permits were issued at the annual rate of 1.302 million permits issued in December, based on November’s annualized reading of 1.303 million permits issued.
Regional Builder Confidence Readings Rise
Regional readings for builder confidence were higher in all four regions tracked by NAHB. Calculated on a three-month rolling average, the Northeast gained five points for an index reading of 59; The Midwest posted a one-point gain for a January reading of 70. The South posted a one-point gain for an index reading of 73 and the West reported a two-point gain for a reading of 81.
Analysts said throughout 2017 that building more homes would be the only way to solve the housing shortage and resulting challenges including rapidly rising home prices that eliminate first-time and moderate-income home buyers out of affordable home prices and home financing options.Read More
Last week’s economic news included readings on home builder confidence, housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released; the week wrapped with the University of Michigan’s report on consumer sentiment.
Home Builder Confidence Dips, Remains in Positive Territory
According to the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence dropped two points in January to 72, but high demand for homes continued to provide builders with positive outlooks on housing market conditions. While continued concerns over labor and lot shortages were cited, home builders surveyed for January’s Housing Market Index said that High demand for homes and recent tax legislation kept more builders confident than those who were not. Any reading over 50 indicates positive builder sentiment.
Housing Starts, Building Permits Fall in December
Housing starts fell 8.20 percent in December according to the Commerce Department. 1.192 million starts were forecast on a seasonally- adjusted annual basis; analysts expected a reading of 1.280 million starts based on November’s reading of 1.299 million starts. 1.302 million building permits were issued in December on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. November’s reading was higher at 1.303 million building permits issued.
Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates for the second week in a row. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.49 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.46 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims were lower with 220,000 new claims filed as compared to estimates of 250,000 new claims. 261,000 new claims were filed the prior week. Consumer sentiment was lower in January with an index reading of 94.40. Analysts expected the consumer sentiment index to reach 98.00, based on December’s reading of 95.90 percent, but uncertainty over tax benefits connected with recent legislation and rising interest rates contributed to the lowest consumer sentiment index reading since July.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on new and existing home sales along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.Read More
Are you thinking about buying a new home? If you are going to take out mortgage financing, one consideration you will have is your down payment, which is the amount you pay up front in cash to cover some of the purchase cost. Let’s consider a few points that will help you to decide how much is the right amount for your down payment.
How Much Do You Have?
The most obvious question you will need to answer is: how much do I realistically have to place as a down payment? Keep in mind that your down payment is money that you aren’t going to see again until you sell your home. While you want to invest a significant amount for reasons we will share below, you still need to maintain a cash cushion of a year’s salary or so in case you fall ill or lose your job.
More Down, Less Monthly
The main case for putting as much as you can into your down payment is that the more you invest, the less you have to borrow. This means that over time, you will pay less interest and you will also have lower monthly payments. Keep in mind that with today’s low interest rates it’s a bit less of a burden to carry a large mortgage. However, these rates may swing upwards over the years, which will increase your costs.
The Need For Private Mortgage Insurance
If you’re going to put less than 20 percent down on your home, you’re almost certainly going to be required to purchase mortgage insurance. There are numerous options available to you, including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration or FHA. Your mortgage lender will share this and other private insurance policies that will protect you.
Don’t Forget About Lost Opportunity Cost
Finally, don’t forget to factor in the lost opportunity cost that comes with investing a large down payment. Unless you have a terrible money manager, your mortgage interest rate is likely to be less than you would be able to make investing the difference in your financial portfolio. If you’re thinking about putting an extra $50,000 in your down payment, consider that you might be able to make 5 to 10 percent on that over the next decade. There are no guarantees in investing, so speak with a professional for further guidance.
If you are ready to start shopping for your dream home, contact your trusted real estate professional today.Read More
Are you the type of person that struggles with remembering to pay their bills on time? You’re not alone. People across the country regularly submit late monthly payments, inflicting terrible damage to their credit. Let’s take a quick look at how paying your loan or other monthly payments late can have a negative impact on your mortgage.
Your Credit Score Is At Risk
As you already know, almost all banks, credit cards, mortgage companies and other lenders rely on your credit score to help assess the risk of lending money to you. Paying any of your payments late – even something as small as your mobile phone bill or a department store credit card – can result in negative marks showing up on your credit report. If you are late enough times or fail to repay the late payment in full, then your score will start to drop.
Refinancing Can Be Affected
If you already have a mortgage, then a lower credit score can be a problem when you try to refinance. The process of refinancing involves taking out a new mortgage, in which your lender will reassess your risk using your credit score as one of the indicators. If you have been making late payments, you might end up having to settle for a higher interest rate or you may even be declined for the new mortgage.
Making A Late Payment? Contact Your Lender
If you are caught in a bind and have to make a late payment, it is best to call your lender as soon as possible. First, there may be a grace period in which you can be a few days late without any penalty. If that little bit of breathing room is all you need to get caught up, you’re set. If not, you can let them know your circumstances and discuss what options you have.
It is essential to pay your monthly payments on time, even if it means making some small sacrifices in other areas. The better your credit score looks, the more opportunities you will have to make positive financial moves in the future. Ready to start looking for your next home? Contact your local real estate professionals today.Read More
Are you in the market for a new house? In a buyer’s market, finding and closing on a beautiful home can seem very easy. However, if you are shopping when the market is hot, you may end up fighting bidding wars and losing your dream home to a competing buyer. Let’s take a look at four tips that you will need to be successful when house hunting in a hot local real estate market.
Tip #1: Do Your Research Ahead Of Time
It should go without saying that in a hot market you will need to move quickly. Making an effort to do all your research ahead of time will ensure that you do not have to later, once you’ve found the perfect dream home. Check in with your real estate agent to find out what paperwork and other material will be needed.
Tip #2: Get A Mortgage Pre-approval
Once you have found your dream home, you may discover that other buyers are interested or have submitted bids. In this case, it is crucial that you can demonstrate that you have your mortgage financing pre-approved. Remember that the seller wants to close their sale quickly and for the best price. Showing up with pre-approved mortgage financing proves that you are serious about buying their home.
Tip #3: Be Ready To Pounce (But Don’t Be Hasty!)
Speaking of being serious, it is essential that you are ready to pounce on the right listing. A hot market means that you won’t be the only potential buyer checking out a home. The last thing you want to do is find the right house, then end up losing the chance to buy it because of unnecessary delays.
Tip #4: Small Sacrifices Are Okay
The final tip to keep in mind is that sometimes you will have to make a small sacrifice to close the deal. For example, the seller may want some special terms added to the agreement. Alternatively, they might ask you to pick up some of the closing costs. Whatever the case, keep in mind that a hot market means that you lose a bit of leverage. If it’s a small sacrifice, it might be worth it.
Buying a house in a hot real estate market can be challenging, but a little preparation will go a long way in ensuring you are the winning bidder. When you are ready to buy your next home, get in touch with your local real estate professionals.Read More
Last week’s economic releases on inflation, core inflation, and retail sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.
Inflation and Retail Sales Ease in December
Consumer prices fell from November’s reading of 0.40 percent growth to o.10 percent growth in December, which matched expectations. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, dropped to 0.30 percent from November’s growth rate of 0.40 percent. Analysts expected a Core CPI reading of 0.20 percent for December.
Retail sales were lower in December as compared to November’s reading of 0.90 percent growth month-to-month; December’s retail sales grew by 0.40 percent. Core retail sales, which excludes automotive sales grew by 0.40 percent in December as compared to November’s growth rate of 0.90 percent. Analysts expected retail sales to increase by 0.50 percent. Retail sales excluding automotive sales also grew by 0.40 percent as compared to an expected reading of 0.30 percent and November’s growth rate of 1.30 percent.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week with rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaging four basis points higher at 3.99 percent. Mortgage rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were six basis points higher at an average of 3.44 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point higher at an average of 3.46 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
First-time jobless claims rose to 268,000 filings as compared to 248.000 new claims expected and 258,000 new jobless claims filed the prior week. Last week’s new jobless claims.
This week’s economic releases include readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and a report on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.Read More
These gray, dreary winter days can really sap your energy and dull your enjoyment of life. To survive the winter doldrums, brighten your home.
Use These Easy Tips:
- Open your home’s window treatments during the day to let the light brighten and warm your room. Close them again as soon as night falls to retain heat.
- Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture.
- Add a mirror. Wherever a mirror reflects light in a room, it visually doubles that light. Place a mirror opposite a window to immediately brighten your space. No window? Hang a large mirror above a console table and place a pair of lamps in front of the mirror.
- Install higher watt bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
- Eliminate dark corners by adding recessed lighting.
- Use full spectrum lighting in areas where you read, knit or do other up-close work.
- Lighten living areas with colorful throws and pillows.
- Lift the winter blues by adding flowers and plants to your decor. Colorful indoor blooming plants include the African violet, Cyclamen, Orchid and desert cactus. Use tropical flowers to transport yourself mentally to climates where the sun always shines.
- Do A Little Winter Cleaning:
- Wash the inside of your windows. Fireplace and candle soot coats windows with a dingy film that blocks the sun.
- Polish your furniture. Shiny furniture reflects ambient light.
- Wash ceiling light fixtures in soapy water. Light is muted when filtered through dirty light fixtures.
Lighting can change how you (and potential buyers) feel about your home. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways to quickly improve the ambiance of your home.
If you’d like to sell your home, I can help. Contact your real estate professional today.Read More
Have you been thinking about listing your house or condo for sale? As you are likely aware, the seasons play a role in our local real estate market and how busy it is. Nicer weather brings out the most in any real estate market, with buyers spending their evenings and weekends touring open houses and finalizing shortlists. Many markets cool off a bit in the winter, but that does not mean that the buyers disappear.
In today’s blog post we will explore why selling your home during the winter can beat waiting for the real estate market to warm up in the spring.
Interest Rates Are On The Way Up
One key consideration this year is that interest rates are trending upward. While it is impossible to predict the movements that the Federal Reserve will make, there is every sign that rates will tick upward soon. Mortgage interest rates tend to rise along with the Federal Reserve’s upward movements, so selling now means selling while mortgages are a bit cheaper.
There Is Less Competition In The Market
Another great feature of listing your home for sale during the winter is that you are likely to face less competition from other home sellers. Fewer homes in the local inventory mean fewer options for buyers that need to close on a home quickly. If your house is clean, in top condition and adequately staged, you can rest assured that it will stand out from the other available options.
It is true that there may be fewer potential buyers shopping for a new home during the winter. However, you will tend to find that winter buyers are serious about finding and purchasing a home. They are much less likely to be ‘window shopping’ or passing through viewing open houses.
Holiday Staging Is That Much More Fun
Finally, it is worth mentioning that staging can be a lot more fun during the holidays. Selling your home in the summer means trimming the lawn, keeping the garden looking clean and maintaining your curb appeal. Selling your home over the holidays means Christmas lights, decorations, baked goods and a more festive atmosphere.
Selling your home in the winter might seem a bit counter”intuitive, but with the market easing up and less inventory available you will find serious, interested buyers. When you are ready to list your home for sale, contact us. Our friendly real estate sales team is ready to help ensure that you receive top dollar for your home.Read More