Archives for June 2016

Fed Monetary Policy: No Rate Increase in June

According to its post-meeting statement issued Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve voted not to increase its target federal funds rate. The target federal funds rate will remain at 0.250 to 0.50 percent.

Based on review of current and anticipated financial and economic events, the Committee cited slowing job growth and momentum of inflation-based compensation as reasons supporting its decision. While the national unemployment rate recently fell to 4.70 percent, FOMC members saw room for growth in employment. Unemployment rates are calculated based on active workforce members and do not include those who are under-employed or who have left the workforce. Global influences on the Fed’s monetary policy include uncertainties about China’s economy and the possibility that the United Kingdom may exit the European Union.

Housing markets and household spending improved, but the Fed cited lagging business investment and dismal jobs growth as concerns that led to a unanimous decision not to raise the federal funds rate.

Analysts characterized FOMC members as being “dovish” as compared to previous meetings. Only one member expected a single rate increase this year at the April meeting, but six members expected only one rate increase at June’s meeting.

In a post-statement press conference, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that while a rate increase is possible at FOMC’s July meeting, she noted that there is no post-meeting press conference scheduled, which would make it more difficult for the Fed to explain its decision. Analysts also said that a rate increase is unlikely in September in advance of national elections in November.

Inflation remains below the Fed’s goal of two percent and is expected to do so for the short to medium term.

Fed Chair Cites Changing Economic Conditions, Forecasts Incremental Rate Hikes

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said during her post-meeting press conference that current economic conditions indicate that gradual rate hikes are needed to ensure ongoing economic growth. Rate hikes, when and if they occur, would increase very slowly and are expected to remain “accommodative.”

Clair Yellen said that each FOMC meeting is “live,” which means that meeting agendas and actions can flex according to current developments that influence monetary policy. The FOMC has repeatedly said that its decision-making is primarily based on members’ constant evaluation of developments affecting domestic and global economies.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Second Home to Rent

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Second Home to RentWith the ever-fluctuating cost of housing, buying real estate can be one of the best investments a person can make. However, a lot of important factors can be left out of the final decision when it comes to purchasing a home as rental property.

If you are taking the initial steps to invest in a second home, here are some important things to consider before you make the financial commitment.

The Distance To A Destination

Many people who purchase second homes to rent out choose to buy in places that are sought after, whether it’s a trendy area or beachfront property. While buying a home in a popular area may end up being good for your bank account, areas like this can often be out of the way and will take a little bit of car time to get to. If you’re doing the landlord duties on your own, this may take up a lot of precious evening and weekend time.

A Potential Vacation Home

There is certainly a great financial boon to be found in a home that you can rent out year round, but if you’ve purchased in an enviable location, this can also be a great place for you to take your family for a couple weeks out of the year during low-rental season.

While this may mean no rental income for a time, the savings of having a home at which to hang out can make up the difference. Of course, if it’s a place you won’t want to vacation, it may not be the right choice for you.

The Possibility Of Additional Income

If you’re planning to purchase in a cool new area or by a university, there’s a good chance you’ll have no issues finding a good renter as long as you have a nice property. However, while renting out a home can seem pretty straightforward, it’s necessary to consider how many months out of the year the place will actually be rented.

Many people go into this type of purchase expecting it to be occupied all year around, but demand can shift from season to season and this will directly impact the upside of your investment.

There are a number of benefits associated with owning a second home for rental property, but it’s also important to be aware of the financials downsides that can come from taking on another property.

If you are currently considering an investment property, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

Boomerang Home Buyers: 4 Things to Consider Before Stepping Back into Homeownership

Boomerang Home Buyers: 4 Things to Consider Before Stepping Back into HomeownershipWhether you’ve gone back to renting for the sake of money saving or recently downsized to a more compact space, the idea of owning a home can be a big responsibility that may require more than you’re willing to give. If you’re considering jumping back into the fold of home ownership, here are a few things to contemplate before re-entering the market.

Is It Affordable?

Many people avoid home ownership for a long time because of the high cost of a down payments and the associated property taxes and maintenance fees, but it can be easy to forget these extras if you’ve been out of the game. Instead of being blindsided, sit down and determine these additional costs before putting an offer down on anything.

Is It Really What You Want?

With all of the conversation around the market that says it’s best to buy now, it can seem like having a home is a necessity for a secure financial future. However, if home ownership is something you feel pressure to do, it may not be worth such a sizeable purchase. Instead of jumping in, ensure you’ve determined what such a significant investment means to you first.

Does Home Ownership Match Your Lifestyle?

It’s easy to be aware of the financial benefits of buying a home up front, but simply because it may suit your pocketbook doesn’t mean it serves the life you’re living now. You should first consider the things in your life that have changed, as a new home may not have all the nearby amenities you’re used to and there may also be a lot of maintenance and yard work you’ll have to take on.

Is It A Good Investment?

If you’ve decided that delving into another home is really the right thing for you, you’ll want to make sure it’s the kind of purchase that’s really going to be fruitful down the road. It can be easy to buy in a popular neighborhood or by the beach, but instead of going for what’s right now, consider communities that will be popular in the future as this may maximize your investment potential.

Many people make a second foray into home ownership for a reason, but it’s worth being clear on what your expectations really are so you don’t end up with an investment you’re not interested in holding onto. If you’re currently considering your housing options, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 13, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 13, 2016Last week’s economic news was highlighted by Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech in Philadelphia. Although Chair Yellen alluded to future Fed rate hikes, she did not specify when Fed policymakers would next raise the target federal funds rate. 

Increases in the fed funds rate typically signal increases in consumer credit and home mortgage rates. Last week’s speech was seen as a precursor to the Federal Open Market Committee statement that will occur at the conclusion of next week’s FOMC meeting. 

Chair Yellen is also scheduled to give a press conference after the FOMC statement next Wednesday.

Mortgage rates and new jobless claims also fell last week.

Fed Chair Speech: Fed Rate Increases Likely, but Subject to Economic Developments

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said that remarks would be “largely favorable” although economic developments were “mixed.” Chair Yellen cited economic progress toward the Fed’s dual goal of achieving maximum employment and price stability. Labor benchmarks included national unemployment below five percent, rising household income and indications of rising wages were cited as positive signs for economic expansion.

Slowing job growth and inflation staying below the Fed’s goal of 2.00 percent were cited as signs that the U.S. economic recovery is underway, but Chair Yellen also said signs of slower job creation along with uncertainties in global economic conditions and oil prices prevented short-term predictions about how the economy would perform.

Fed Chair Yellen also repeated her usual caution that Fed policy is not set in stone, but instead is subject to FOMC members’ ongoing review of economic developments and related readings.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower at 3.60 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.87 percent, which was five basis points lower than the previous week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was six points lower at 2.82 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for all three loan types tracked by Freddie Mac.

New jobless claims were also lower at 264,000 new claims filed against expectations of 270,000 new claims and 268,000 new claims filed in the prior week.

What’s Ahead This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the Fed’s post-meeting FOMC statement and press conference, reports on the consumer price index and core CPI, housing starts and the NAHB Housing Market Index. Reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released according to their weekly schedule.

Economic indicators such as price inflation, rising mortgage rates and housing data impact housing markets and consumers’ ability or willingness to buy homes.  

The Pros and Cons of Mortgage Rate Locks

The Pros and Cons of Mortgage Rate LocksIf you’re just jumping into the game of home purchasing, you are likely considering all of your loan options and may even have heard the term mortgage rate lock. For those who don’t like to gamble, a mortgage rate lock can offer a bit of reassurance, but there are also some downsides to this type of protection. Before signing off on this, here are the details on rate locks so you can make an informed decision.

What Is A Rate Lock?

For many people who are buying a home in such a tumultuous market, the idea of interest rates can make the heart race a little faster, but this is the purpose of rate locks which offer consistency in a market in flux.

Instead of having to deal with day-to-day fluctuations of the rate – which increases or decreases what you owe – a rate lock is a lender promise that you will be held to a specific rate or your rate will not rise above a certain number.

Easy Balancing Of The Budget

The easy thing about utilizing the rate lock, especially for a buyer who is less familiar with the market, is that it will enable you to instantly determine your monthly payments based on that rate. Instead of having to pay more per month, you’ll be able to estimate exactly what your payment will be and it won’t rise above the limit you’ve set for yourself. While daily fluctuations can be a drag, a mortgage lock takes the guesswork out of the day-to-day.

The Added Cost Of Security

It might seem like a rate lock is an option that everyone would utilize, given the stability, but lenders charge for this type of offer because of the risk factor. While lenders can certainly stand to gain if your rate lock is higher than the interest rates, in the event that they rise beyond this point, they will end up losing money. So, while a 30-day rate lock may not end up costing you, this type of lock stretched over a longer period may actually end up costing you more than fluctuating rates.

If you’re not familiar with the world of investing and interest rates, a mortgage rate lock can sound like a great idea; however, there are downsides to this offer and they’re worth considering before getting locked in. If you are currently on the hunt for a home, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

4 Negotiation Tips for Home Sellers

4 Negotiation Tips for Home SellersWhen you’ve already placed your home on the market, it can seem like the stress is over once you’ve received the offer, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Instead of being caught off guard when the time comes to negotiate, consider these tips that will assist in making the sale.

Rely On Your Agent

Once you’re at the point where you’ve received an offer and are unsure as to whether you should take it, it’s a good idea to sit down and discuss the options with your agent. Because a real estate professional will have plenty of experience with this part of the process, they’ll be able to guide you through what’s an acceptable offer and what you should pass on.

Sell Until It’s Signed

It’s very exciting to receive an offer on your home, but a verbal offer is not set in stone so don’t forget about other interested parties that are still in the mix. Since a buyer’s purchase of your home won’t be official until they’ve signed a contract and put down a deposit, make sure you to keep in touch with other potential buyers that might have an offer if your best option backs out.

It’s Not Just About Money

It’s great to receive the asking price you’re looking for, but there are many things to consider with the sale of your home. In the event that your home inspection has come up with a few maintenance flaws, you may need to adjust the price for your buyer. As well, it’s possible your buyer may not be ready to move in when you’re ready to move out, so be sure to consider any issue that may impact the final sale.

Don’t Hold On To Your Price

There are no set rules when it comes to price, but if you haven’t received any offers and your house has been on the market for more than 60 days, there’s a good chance it’s time to sit down with your agent. While it’s great to know all of the negotiation rules, if your price is set to high for the market, you’re not going to have the opportunity to get to the table.

There are plenty of negotiation strategies to consider when it comes to selling your home, but staying in the game and trusting your agent can go a long way towards a successful sale. If you’re planning on putting your home on the market, contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

Refinancing to Pay for Renovations? Consider the VA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

Refinancing to Pay for Renovations? Consider the VA's Energy Efficient Mortgage ProgramMaking renovations that are energy efficient is not just a great way to reduce energy output, but it’s also an effective way of decreasing monthly utility costs. It serves as a one-time investment that will save money in the long run.

However, renovations are costly and not everybody has the extra finances required to make energy efficient changes. This is where the VA’s energy efficient mortgage (or EEM) program comes into play.

The program is designed to allow veterans to apply for a new mortgage or refinance an existing one with extra funds to renovate the home to be up to energy efficient standards.

The Three Tiers Under The VA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

The VA has three tiers for the cost of renovations to be done under the EEM program. The lowest, and easiest to be accepted for, is for improvements that will total under $3,000. A list of costs or a contractor’s quote may be required in the application process.

The second tier is for renovations that will cost between $3,001 and $6,000. This will require the homeowner or homebuyer to get a Home Energy Rating System report to detail how efficient a home is currently and what can be done to decrease its HERS rating.

The final tier is for any improvements to the home that will cost over $6,000. This is the most difficult tier to receive acceptance for as both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the private lender will need to approve the renovations.

Types Of Improvements Under The EEM Program

The program covers a variety of renovations for the home. These include: new insulation to walls, floors and ceilings, solar powered heating and cooling systems, thermal doors, thermal windows and new caulking and weather stripping.

There are also items that will not be covered by the program, including new roofing, vinyl siding and air conditioning units.

Using The EEM Program To Receive A Larger Loan

Any veteran or currently active military member looking to buy a brand new home can still benefit greatly from the energy efficient mortgage program. If a new home undergoes a HERS report and passes as being energy efficient, this can be applied to a VA mortgage to receive as much as $6,000 extra on the loan.

Speak with your local mortgage professional to go into more detail on the intricacies of refinancing under the EEM program and whether or not your home will qualify. 

How Technology Is Creating an Easier Mortgage Approval Process

How Technology Is Creating an Easier Mortgage Approval ProcessFrom saving up for a down payment to sussing out the ideal lender, there are so many things involved in purchasing a home that can make it seem like a rather complicated undertaking. However, like a lot of things in our lives, technology has streamlined the process in recent years. If you’re currently searching for a home on the market, here are some new technological advancements that may make buying a little easier for you.

The Smart Phone Advantage

The paperwork and requirements associated with a mortgage may not have changed much in recent years, but smart phones have provided us with the instant ability to see all the necessary documents from anywhere. While there was once a time it required a lot of time in front of a computer, smart phones have enabled people to fill in, review and reply to documents on the go, which makes for a much more efficient – and mobile – process.

The Implementation Of The E-Signature

It may seem like something that has been around for a while, but up until recently an approving signature on a document had to be provided in person. With all the mortgage documents that are needed to get the ball rolling, this type of approval took up a lot of extra time. Nowadays, instead of having to rush out to sign a paper, our mobility and legal laws enable anyone applying for a mortgage to be able to provide an e-signature, which means there is no waiting around on the backend.

Consult Your Local App

Almost everything has an app these days, and the mortgage process is no different. While there is still a lot of paper and information required in order to get approved, the growing availability of mortgage apps enables you to instantly determine how much your monthly payments will be and what the real cost of your home is when it’s all added up. Instead of the guesswork, these apps can help you answer the question of whether or not a home is the right price.

The mobility and ubiquitous nature of today’s technology has made a lot of things much easier, and the mortgage process is no exception. From apps that can better manage your mortgage to the use of e-signatures, there’s no reason getting a mortgage loan has to be rife with stress. If you’re looking into buying a home, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 6, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 6, 2016Last week’s housing related news was limited to Construction Spending and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey, but labor reports suggested an economic slowdown may be in the works.

Construction Spending Slips in April, Mortgage Rates Mixed

According to the Commerce Department, overall construction spending slipped in April to -1.80 percent as compared to March’s reading of +1.50 percent and May’s expected reading of +0.70 percent. Residential construction spending was 1.50 percent lower, which doesn’t help ongoing shortages of available single-family homes. Builders have repeatedly cited labor shortages and lack of developed lots as obstacles to building more homes. Year-over-year construction spending was 4.50 percent higher.

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed-rate mortgages while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was one basis point lower at 1.87 percent. Rates for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage averaged two basis points higher at 3.66 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgages were three basis points higher at 2.92 percent. Average discount points were unchanged for all loan types at 0.50 percent.

Labor Reports Indicate Slowing Jobs Market And Economy

According to the Non-farm Payrolls report for May, U.S. jobs increased at their lowest rate in five years with 38,000 new private and public sector jobs added. Temporary hiring also hit its lowest reading in seven years, which was seen as a negative as temporary jobs often transition to permanent positions.

Analysts said that May’s extremely low reading for jobs created indicates that a revision is likely. This inconsistency was supported by the national unemployment rate of 4.70 percent, but the lower jobless rate was attributed to workers leaving the labor force.

ADP’s May reading for private sector jobs rose to 173,000 jobs against expectations of 165,000 jobs and April’s reading of 268,000. This reading was further evidence that the Non-farm Payrolls report was likely inaccurate.

Last week’s new jobless claims fell to a five-week low of 267,000 as compared to expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims.

What’s Ahead This Week

Economic news scheduled for this week include a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Monday; this speech could foreshadow the Fed’s decision to raise or not raise the Fed’s target federal funds rate during its FOMC meeting later this month.

Readings on job openings and consumer sentiment will be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

4 Financial Benefits of Home Ownership

4 Financial Benefits of Home OwnershipHome ownership may be one of the most familiar goals of adulthood, but there’s more than one reason why so many people flock towards this type of investment and leave the rental market behind. If you’re trying to decide if you should make the big plunge towards buying, here are some benefits of saving up for a down payment and finding the right place to settle in.

It’s More Economical

Many people eschew home ownership simply because it can be hard to wrangle together the funds for a down payment. However, while a monthly rental is money you’ll never see again, the money you put down on a mortgage is being invested back into your home, making for a solid investment you can capitalize on later.

Instant Tax Deductions

The interest that you pay on your mortgage payment can be one of the most tumultuous aspects of purchasing a home, but you may not know that you actually have the ability to deduct many associated costs on your taxes. From origination fees to property taxes, there are plenty of costs that go along with your home that can be claimed for a refund when tax time comes!

Paying A Lower Price

The real estate market fluctuates every day, but one thing is for the certain: the median price of a home is on the rise. While low inflation rates may not be ideal if you’re selling, they can mean a better deal if you’re delving into the market for the first time. Just remember, it’s important to buy a home you can afford as anything that goes beyond your budget is not a solid investment.

A Built-In Savings Account

It may be important to have liquid assets outside of the equity you have in your home, but many people struggle to pay off their home and save money at the same time. While saving outside of your monthly mortgage payment is still important, putting money down on a home is an act of investing, and it’s one you’ll likely make a solid profit on when you decide to sell.

There can be many financial benefits to renting in the short term, but purchasing a home is a more solid financial decision when it comes right down to it. If you’re considering a home and would like to know more about your options, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.