Last week’s economic news was abundant with releases on home builder sentiment, housing starts, building permits, sales of previously owned homes. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve released its customary statement at the conclusion of its meeting; Fed Chair Janet Yellen also gave a press conference. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were released as usual.
NAHB: Builder Sentiment Increases in September
Home builder confidence in housing market conditions increased in September according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. Builder confidence rose five points to 65; analysts expected a reading of 60 based on August’s reading of 59. NAHB said that September’s reading was boosted by more “serious” buyers entering housing markets.
Components used to determine NAHB HMI readings were also higher. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose six points to 71; builder confidence in housing market conditions over the next six months rose by five points to 71. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments rose four points to 48. Buyer traffic readings have not reached 50 since 2005; 50 is a neutral benchmark for NAHB HMI readings.
Home prices continue rising at a higher pace than wages; this is pressuring first-time and moderate income buyers out of the market. An ongoing shortage of available homes is pressing prices higher as demand increases. Analysts pay close attention to the NAHB HMI as building more new homes is a key factor in easing the shortage of homes for sale.
Housing Starts, Building Permits Lower
Commerce Department readings on housing starts and permits issued were lower for August Housing starts were lower in August at 1.142 million starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual pace. Analysts expected 1.182 million housing starts based on July’s reading of 1.212 million starts. Regional readings showed a dip in starts in the South. Severe flooding in Louisiana contributed to the lower reading for housing starts. August’s reading for housing starts was 5.80 percent lower than July’s reading and 0.90 percent lower than for July 2015.
Building permits issued were nearly flat in August; this was likely due to the prime building season winding down 1.139 million permits were issued as compared to 1.144 million permits issued in July. Single-family starts were six percent lower than for July and were 1.20 percent lower year-over-year.
Existing Home Sales Dip: High Demand, Low Supply Cited
Sales of pre-owned homes fell by 0.90 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million sales. Analysts expected a reading of 5.48 million sales; July’s reading for sales of pre-owned homes was 5.38 million sales.
Low inventory of available homes continues to impact housing markets as demand for homes increased and prices rose; the national average home price was $240,000 in August. Rising home prices continued to be driven by high demand and low supplies. These conditions also impacted first-time and moderate income home buyers who were pressured to keep up with rapidly rising home prices.
While mortgage rates remain relatively low, higher home prices and tight mortgage credit requirements remain obstacles for first-time buyers.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Lower
Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 3.48 percent; the average rate for a15-year fixed rate mortgage fell on one basis point to 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was lower by two basis points at 2.80 percent.
Analysts expected new jobless claims to remain flat at the prior week’s reading of 260,000 new claims, but 252,000 new claims were filed for the lowest reading since July. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims fell by 22250 claims to 258,500. The four-week reading is considered a less volatile reading than week-to-week readings.
Federal Reserve: No Increase in Fed Rate
The Federal Open Market Committee said in its post-meeting statement that the target federal funds rate would not be raised. In a press conference given after the FOMC statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that although the economy continued to improve, the Fed had concerns over the labor market and decided not to raise rates. Any increase in Federal Reserve rates triggers increases in consumer lending rates.
This week’s readings include Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, readings on new and pending home sales and weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
When people buy a new home they have a right to be informed of the problems that they may face on the property and any issues that the home previously experienced.
However, as a seller it can be difficult to know whether the required information is being disclosed. Nobody wants to appear misleading, especially when it can impact a sale, and making sure all the proper information is finding its way to the buyer is imperative to make the deal go through.
What Needs To Be Disclosed?
Disclosures are not handled at the Federal level except for the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, which requires all sellers to have their home inspected for lead paint if it was constructed before 1978.
Other possible disclosures include any legal issues with the property title, mold and water leaks, problems with the plumbing or sewage on the property, and issues with the roofing, air conditioning and heating systems.
Disclosure Laws Differ From State To State
While it is best to err on the side of caution when dealing with home seller disclosures, every state’s laws are different and some are more stringent than others. A seller may believe they are disclosing everything that is required and still find themselves on the wrong side of a lawsuit.
When deciding what to disclose to a buyer it’s best to always consult a local real estate agent. Any professional will know the specific laws to their area and will be sure to let you know if you have left something vital off the list.
When Disclosing Can Be A Positive
All disclosures are not created equal and in some situations they can even work in the favor of the seller. When the seller tells the buyer about an issue from the home’s past that has been repaired it can be a huge benefit.
Not only is the buyer being informed about the home’s history, they are being shown that the seller was a responsible home owner who took care of the property and fixed the issues as they came up. This can give them a sense of security and confidence that the home was well maintained.
If you are in the process of selling your home but can’t figure out what you need to disclosure legally and what you should disclose morally, speak with your local real estate agent. They will be able to walk you through the process so nothing is left off the list.
If you’re just getting into the real estate market, you may have heard that 20% down is the ideal percentage in order to lower your monthly payments and get your mortgage application approved. However, while 20% is often suggested, many people struggle to come up with this amount of money. If you’re staving off home ownership, here are some reasons you may not need to hold off as you long as you thought.
Minimizing Your Insurance Costs
Putting down 20% of the total purchase price of your home is often suggested, but it doesn’t definitively mean that your application won’t be approved if you don’t. If you have a good credit score and are in good financial standing, putting less than 20% down means you’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI); however, it can be worth paying the extra funds in order to get into the real estate market sooner and start paying into your most significant investment.
Mortgage Programs For Less Than 20%
It may seem less possible to buy a home if you only have 5 or 7% of the purchase price, but there are many programs in the United States that enable those with limited funds to apply for a mortgage. From the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, there are many lenders that can offer you mortgage programs that will work for your situation. While higher rates come in tandem with a lower down payment, there are options out there for those who haven’t saved quite enough.
Why Put Down 20%?
Putting down 20% is not a necessity for mortgage approval or purchasing a home, but it can be a great means of saving money in the long run and reducing your interest rates. If you’re raring to get into the real estate market and don’t want to wait for the bills to stack up, that’s OK, but if you want to hold off and save up additional funds before diving in, this can mean more money and a more solid investment in the future.
20% is often the magic number when it comes to a down payment on a home, but you don’t require this percentage of your home’s price in order to get approved for a mortgage. If you’re currently considering diving into home ownership and would like to know more about the opportunities in your area, contact your local real estate professional for more information.
Every insurance policy is different and can provide certain levels of protection tailored towards the needs of the policy holder. However, there are some standard types of coverage that are included in most basic home insurance policies.
Basic Levels Of Protection
Most homeowner insurance policies will include some basic levels of protection and coverage. The main dwelling will be protected from many forms of damage and the insurance company will pay to repair the damaged dwelling. This will extend to other smaller structures on the property, like sheds and separate garages, but the level of coverage will differ.
Damage is one important aspect of insurance, but protection for personal belongings is equally important and is also included in a standard home insurance policy. The monetary value of items in the home will be covered in case of damage or theft, so it’s a good idea to keep track of valuables. Every insurance company will have a different limit on the amount covered, so it’s wise to compare the value of belongings against the level of coverage.
The third aspect of home insurance policies is liability protection. This will cover any personal injuries that are incurred on the property by people who do not live there. It may seem silly, but having protection in case of a lawsuit can go a long way to saving a family financially as attorney fees and medical bills add up.
What Is Not Included?
Although each insurance company has different policies that cover different parts of the home, almost all of them do not include one important aspect in their policies. Damage caused by floods, earthquakes and war will not be included in most standard home insurance policies and may be important depending on the geography of the area.
Another important note is that flood damage does not just apply to natural flooding in the region, but will also include water damage from broken pipes or backed up sewage lines. It’s an important distinction because many first-time home owners assume this water damage will be covered under their basic insurance policy.
The right insurance policy can be difficult to figure out for first-time home owners. There are many questions to ask about the property to determine the right policy and it’s a good idea to consult your local real estate agent to get their insight into what additions may be needed.
If you’re preparing to sell your home you’ve likely heard many tips and tricks to help close quickly, however few people will ever tell you what you’re doing wrong.
Don’t be your own roadblock to success! Avoid these common seller-mistakes to ensure that your home leaves a lasting impression on buyers, instead of sending them running for the hills.
1) Dirt: It’s A Don’t
Perhaps one of the biggest turn-offs in real estate, dirt gives the impression that your property is not well maintained. A dirty home is simply not aesthetically appealing and can often be the root cause of other turn-offs, such as bad odors. Keeping a clean, clutter-free home will show potential buyers that your property is a beautiful, healthy place where they can live comfortably without any foul surprises.
2) It’s Nothing Personal
While you may love looking at family photos, funky trinkets from travelling, or your colorful assortment of bath products, personal items such as these should be stored away during an open house. Showings are for buyers to see if they can see themselves living in your home, which is difficult to imagine when there are someone else’s belongings scattered throughout the house. If you’re serious about selling, pack away any items that send the message that this is your space.
3) Old News
Most often when people are looking for a new home they’re looking for just that: a NEW home! Having old, dated fixtures in your house tells prospective buyers that your property is stuck in the past, rather than prepared for the future. Make your property a place that anyone can move forward in.
4) Street Style
You may have spent so much time and effort making the inside of your home immaculate for a sale that you’ve completely forgotten that the outside is equally as important. Curb appeal is the very first impression that your home will have on buyers, and it’s essential that your property looks just as nice from the street as it does inside.
5) Snoopy Seller
You know your home better than anyone else, and you want to sell it to someone who genuinely cares about your property. While this statement may be true, it is counterproductive for you to participate in showings, pointing out all the great features of your home to interested buyers and grilling them on their intentions for when they purchase it. Give buyers space they need to see if your home is the right fit for them, and you’ll be selling it in no time.
Interested in receiving more advice on selling your home? Contact your trusted real estate professional today.
Last week’s economic news included reports on retail sales, inflation, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
Retail Sales Slip as Consumer Prices Inch Up
Retail sales dipped into negative territory in August with a reading of -0.30 percent as compared to expectations of -0.10 percent and July’s reading of +0.10 percent. Retail sales excluding auto sales were better at +0.30 percent. Analysts expected a reading of +0.20 percent based on July’s reading of -0.40 percent. August’s negative reading for retail sales was the first negative report since March.
Inflation fared better than retail sales with August’s Consumer Price Index reading at 0.20 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 0.10 percent; July’s reading was flat. Core Consumer Price Index readings for August are less volatile, as the Core CPI does not include readings for food and energy costs. August’s Core CPI reading was 0.30 percent. A reading of 0.20 percent was expected; July’s reading was 0.10 percent. It appears that inflation is creeping upward, but remains well below the Fed’s target reading of 2.0 percent.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates across the board last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 3.50 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 2.76 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose one basis point to an average of 2.82 percent. Average discount points were 0.50 for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Low mortgage rates have helped home buyers, especially first-time and moderate income buyers, meet affordability challenges. Home prices have risen due to low numbers of available homes and high demand for homes. If mortgage rates continue to rise, fewer buyers will be able to qualify for mortgages and or afford asking prices for available homes.
Next week’s meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee is expected to bring news of a Fed decision on raising the target federal funds rate. If the Fed raises its rate, consumer interest rates for mortgages, vehicles and other goods can be expected to increase as well.
This week’s economic news includes the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and a Fed Statement at the conclusion of its Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is also slated to give a press conference after the FOMC statement. The National Association of Realtors will also release a report on sales of previously owned homes.
Curb appeal is the first impression that your home will have on potential buyers, so it’s important to make it a good one. Try these simple budget upgrades to give your home the “WOW” factor that buyers are looking for!
As simple as it sounds, it is extremely important to make sure that your house is nice and clean on the outside. This is overlooked by sellers more than you’d think as they become so focused on perfecting the inside of their home that they forget about the exterior!
Dirt streaks running down stucco or siding give the impression that your home isn’t well kept, and smudges on windows will prevent them from sparkling in the sun. Remember: you want your home to be their dream home. Spruce up the outside to impress buyers before they even set foot in the door.
Another important design feature of your outer home is the front door as it is one of the only features of the exterior that buyers will be forced to look at up-close. A new door will not only look great from the curb, the details of its quality will inevitably be seen by anyone who enters the home. Make sure your door is in tip top shape before you start your showings!
Raise The Roof!
If your roof isn’t in good condition;or looks like it isn’t in good condition, then upgrading it is an absolute must. Most buyers are quickly turned off when they see a roof that’s in poor condition because it can be an expensive fix. It’s important that when buyers first see your home they don’t see more dollar signs than they expected.
Patio furniture is an easy and inexpensive way to differentiate your home from the rest! Add a pop of color to a neutral-colored house by placing vibrant chairs and planters on the front porch as featured pieces, or add a cute table and chairs to your lawn to show how useful the space can be.
That being said, be careful not to overdo it, as too much patio furniture or potted plants may give the illusion that your home is cluttered, which is a major no-no in the real estate world.
Need more advice on how to better prepare your home for a sale? Contact your local trusted real estate professional today.
While many people may be hesitant to consider real estate as a viable long-term investment, owning property has a steady historical track record and isn’t as volatile as other investment markets can be.
Any investor who hasn’t seriously considered it as an option should take a closer look at the benefits of owning real estate and why it is the ultimate long-term investment strategy.
It Becomes A Consistent Source Of Income
Investing in rental property has the added benefit of being able to show regular returns in the form of rental income. Unlike other long-term investments that require a level of patience in order to profit, real estate can provide a large sum return in the future while still providing financial benefits on a monthly basis.
An Investment That Anybody Can Participate In
Many forms of investment require a level of skill or familiarity in order for first timers to jump straight into it with any level of confidence. Real estate is one investment that anybody can enjoy, thanks in part to the insight that can be gained from family and friends who have gone through the same process.
The level of knowledge that’s required to invest can be gained with some simple investigating to learn more about local areas that have increased in value and the kinds of homes that are popular. A real estate professional can take that information and add to it, providing invaluable expertise to the process.
Consider It To Be A Guaranteed Retirement Plan
Saving for retirement has become harder to commit to as each year goes by. Money being left in a savings account or an easy to sell investment can be dipped into at any point, leaving very little when retirement starts to roll around.
Using property as a long-term retirement plan requires a level of commitment to the investment and upkeep to the property that guarantees there will be something tangible to bank on later in life.
While investing in real estate may seem simple, especially when compared to other investment markets, it’s still recommended to consult with a professional before making any decisions. A local real estate professional will have a level of knowledge about which areas will be the wisest to invest in depending on how long in the future you are looking to sell. If you are interested, contact a local real estate professional in your area today for more information.