Home Builder Sentiment Unchanged in November

According to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index for November, builder sentiment was unchanged at a reading of 63. Readings above 50 indicate that a majority of builders are confident about housing market conditions. Readings for three sub-indexes used to calculate the Housing Market Index Readings for builder confidence in current market conditions and market conditions within the next six months were posted at 69. The reading for buyer foot traffic in housing developments was 47. Buyer traffic has not reached the benchmark reading of 50 since the peak of the housing bubble approximately 10 years ago.

NAHB Chair Ed Brady noted that survey information provided by most participating builders was gathered prior to the presidential election. Mr. Brady also noted that Housing Market Index readings have exceeded 60 for the past three months, which indicates slow but steady growth in housing markets.


Analysts: Builder Sentiment and Building Activity Inconsistent

While positive builder sentiment readings seem to contribute to stronger housing markets, analysts pointed out that housing starts are not consistent with high builder sentiment levels. Reasons for fewer home starts than the Housing Market Index suggests include approaching winter weather and ongoing shortages of labor and buildable lots.

Real estate pros count on building more homes (and building them faster) as the only solution to tight supplies of available homes and rising demand. These conditions create highly competitive markets that present obstacles to moderate income and first time home buyers. NAHB said that rising incomes, expanding labor markets and relatively low mortgage rates are fueling demand for homes. While mortgage rates have remained near historic lows, home prices have risen quickly in high-demand areas. This creates affordability challenges for home buyers, who also face strict home loan approval requirements.


3 Month Rolling Averages Show Regional Confidence Readings

NAHB reported its three-month rolling averages according to four regions included in Housing Market Index readings. The Northeast reading was 45; the Midwest region’s confidence reading was 58 and the Southern region reported a reading of 66. The West, which includes high-demand metro areas such as Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California, had a November builder confidence reading of 77.

Staging Tips: 5 Interior Paint Colors That Will Help You Sell Your Home Faster

Staging Tips: 5 Interior Paint Colors That Will Help You Sell Your Home FasterIt’s important to remember that when a home is put up for sale it should appeal to as many people as possible. Sometimes those flashy paint colors the owners grew up with will not charm new buyers.

Here are five ideas for paint colors that will help any home sell quickly.

Keep It Neutral For A Reason

The first thing everybody hears when they try and sell their home is to paint in neutral colors. There is a good reason for this. Every person who walks through the front door should be able to picture living in the home and not think about the people who had lived there before. Neutral colors provide a blank canvas for buyers to paint their future on

Creams Photograph Better Than Almost Any Shade

Neutral colors are not just the standard beiges everyone is used to. Rooms painted in creams tend to look better in pictures, which helps out tremendously when listing the house online. Since most people’s first impression of a home is the online photographs, this technique helps a house stand out from the very beginning.

Using Gray To Expand The Space

Making rooms appear larger is one technique to help sell a home quicker. A light gray can help make large, clean rooms appear even larger to visitors. This works on rooms that are clutter free and do not have much furniture in them. As an added technique, try painting the moldings the same color of gray so that the walls appear higher.

Accent Natural Surroundings With Earth Tones

Anybody who owns a house that has a lot of brick, stone or wood should take a moment to browse through some earth tones to accent the room. These colors, while still neutral, are found in nature and accent the natural surroundings of the room. Sienna and umber are two popular choices.

Give A Splash Of Green In A Sunny Room

When the rest of the home is in neutral tone, it provides the opportunity to spring a room to life with a dash of color. A light green is perfect for an indoor patio or den that overlooks a garden. This is one way to give a natural and earthy feel to a room that has plenty of sunlight.

Before painting, talk to your local real estate agent to walk through your home with you and give you some pointers on which colors they think will work and which ones may be problematic.

Applying for a Mortgage? 3 Easy Ways to Make the Process Easier — and Reduce Your Stress

Applying for a Mortgage? 3 Easy Ways to Make the Process Easier -- and Reduce Your StressThere are more than enough details involved in getting a mortgage and moving into your own home that you’ll want to know how to make the process as seamless as possible beforehand. However, there’s a chance you might not be aware of the things you can do to make it a little easier on yourself. If you’re currently looking for a home and are wondering how to streamline the approval process, here are some things to do before applying to minimize mortgage-related stress.

Get Electronic Documentation

In order to get approved for your mortgage application, you’ll need to provide documentation that will likely include bank statements, federal tax returns and recent paystubs, but providing or acquiring all of these documents in paper form can require a lot of drudgery. Instead of paper, get your documentation together and ensure it’s in electronic form so it can be easily accessed or sent from anywhere. This means you’ll have it on hand as soon as it’s needed.

Choose A House You Can Afford

As a potential homebuyer on the market, it’s easy to be swayed by your dream home, but if your dream home doesn’t come with an acceptable price tag, it’s important to move on to the next best opportunity. It can be very easy to be invested enough in a particular home that you can convince yourself you’ll budget for it, but the market can shift and this can push your monthly payment from difficult to not-doable. Choosing a home at an affordable cost will not only improve your chances of approval, it will also minimize your stress after the move-in date.

Have Your Down Payment Ready

It may be all well and good to know that your down payment money is in the bank, but it’s important that it’s in the appropriate account at least 3 months prior to your application submission so you can ensure you’ll be seen as financially sound. While it’s great to have money held in investments and RRSPs, it’s important that this down payment money is kept in an easily accessible account where it can be withdrawn without any time delays or financial losses.

There are many different steps and small details associated with obtaining a mortgage, but by having your electronic documentation and down payment ready, you’ll be well on your way to an approval. If you’re currently on the market for a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 14, 2016

Last week’s economic news included readings on job openings, consumer sentiment and the Federal Reserve’s monthly survey of senior loan officers. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released. Freddie Mac noted that last week’s primary mortgage market survey did not include post-election readings as the survey information was gathered prior to election results.

Loan Officers Survey: High Demand for Home Loans, Commercial Lenders Raise Standards

As demand for mortgage financing and homes increase, the Federal Reserve reported last week that banks are tightening the screws on commercial lending requirements. This could present challenges to home builders; they’ve been consistently pressured to build more homes at a faster pace. Less availability of commercial financing may impact home builders and their suppliers. The survey indicated that demand for home and consumer loans also increased.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless Claims Fall

Mortgage rates rose across the board on average. Freddie Mac reported the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose three basis points to 3.57 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased four basis points to 2.88 percent, which equaled the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 254,000, which was lower than the expected reading of 260,000 new claims. Last week’s reading was also lower than 265,000 new claims filed the prior week. Job openings held steady at 5.50 million in September.

According to the University of Michigan’s monthly consumer sentiment index, November’s reading rose 91.60 in November as compared to an expected index reading of 88.00 and October’s reading of 87.20. This reading falls in line with strengthening labor markets. Improving economic conditions can influence consumers who want to buy homes.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include releases from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and weekly releases on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving Tips

Reduce Your Home's Carbon Footprint With These Energy-Saving TipsDo you believe that humans are changing the climate? As of today, the debate over carbon dioxide and climate change continues to rage. But regardless of your political standpoint, there’s always a case for reducing electricity use. Because who doesn’t like saving money, right?

Let’s explore a few ways that you can save energy while reducing your home’s carbon footprint.

Leverage The Power Of Automation

The technology behind home automation is improving at an amazing rate. Thermostats from companies like Nest make home heating and cooling simple. They learn from your use to automatically set temperatures up and down as needed. Going to be home late from work? No problem — you can use your smartphone to ensure your heat doesn’t come on until later.

Wash Cold, Hang Dry

You might not be aware of this, but cold water washing makes sense. Most washing machines and detergents are just as efficient with cold water as hot. So it makes sense to switch to washing in cold, especially if you have a newer washing machine.

To cut back even more, hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. The technology behind clothes dryers hasn’t improved much over time. They still rely on warm air, forced ventilation and spinning around. All of which use a lot of energy.

Note: if you have to use your dryer, add a clean, dry towel to each load. Adding a towel will help your clothes to dry faster, thus saving you both time and money.

Modernize Your Home Lighting

Have you made the switch to power-efficient LED light bulbs yet? This one change can save an immense amount of electricity depending on the size of your home. And you can take things a step further by automating your home lighting as well. Systems from companies like Philips allow you to turn lights up, down and off as needed. You can also control these from your smartphone.

Kill Off The Vampires

Finally, watch for appliances and accessories that draw power when they’re not in use. ‘Electricity vampires’ like smartphone chargers, laptops and televisions can draw power 24/7. It’s a bit of a pain to have to unplug everything all the time. Instead, consider having these appliances plugged in to power bars. When you’re finished using them, you can switch the power bar off and go on with your day.

The above are just a few ways that you can reduce your home’s carbon footprint. If you’re interested in upgrading to a power-smart home, talk to your trusted mortgage professional to get started today.

3 Ways That You Can Leverage Mortgage Financing to Build a Real Estate Investment Portfolio

3 Ways That You Can Leverage Mortgage Financing to Build a Real Estate Investment PortfolioReal estate may be one of the most important things that you will ever invest in, but it can also be a useful means of increasing your financial well-being. If you’re getting into the real estate game and are wondering how you can make use of investing in homes to improve your net worth, here are three ways you can successfully work towards a real estate investment portfolio that will make you proud.

Home Equity Line of Credit Loan

Also known as HELOC, this is the type of loan where a homebuyer taps into the equity of their home while they are still paying off their mortgage. As the equity that has been paid into the home is available without the homebuyer having to apply for it, this allows those who invest in real estate to borrow against equity to renovate the property or pay for a deposit on another property.

Pick Properties That Will Appreciate

It goes without saying that most people want to invest in a property that will increase in value, so as an investor you need to be especially careful about what you invest in. Since you may have problems paying all your property fees if the value of one decreases, try and be aware of future market trends and neighborhood hotspots. This means diversifying the properties you invest in and including a buffer in your payment plan so that, even if the market takes a turn, you can still pay off your amount owing.

Investing In Under Market Value

There are few better ways to improve the financial feasibility of your investment portfolio than investing in a property that is under market value. Not only will you have an automatic gain with the purchase price, you will be able to invest that money into improvements in order to bump up the market price even more. While finding this type of property can be difficult for the newcomer, looking for neighborhoods with potential or properties that require little maintenance can be a good place to begin.

There are few better things to invest in than real estate, but it can be hard to know where to put your money in the beginning. Whether through a home loan or purchasing a property under market value, there are plenty of ways to bump up your net worth. If you’re currently considering an investment in real estate, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down Payment

Buying a Home This Autumn? 4 Unconventional Ways to Save up for Your Down PaymentAutumn is a popular time for new home buyers to start looking for their first house or condo. But with that down payment looming, everybody could use a bit of help saving up to make that bulk payment a little less intimidating.

There are plenty of unconventional ways to save up that may seem small, but will quickly add up and put a dent into that down payment.

Create A High Interest Savings Account

Talk to the bank about creating a secondary savings account with a higher interest rate. These super savings accounts usually come with the caveat that no money can be removed for a designated period of time. Using this account for the down payment works in everybody’s favor because it guarantees those extra dollars cannot be used for any other purpose.

Discard One Guilty Pleasure

Enjoy Starbucks coffee? Grab a pint every happy hour? Choose one vice and put the amount that would be spent on it into a jar. Most people will be surprised on how much money they spend each month on one guilty pleasure that can easily be cut out of their life. Every perk that’s cut will increase the amount by a decent margin.

Put Away Any Bonus Money

Holiday bonuses from work, tax refunds, birthday or Christmas presents, income from side gigs, any and all extra dollars that come in from any source outside of the main paycheck should be considered ‘down payment dollars.’ Sure it’s tempting to use that nice bonus or tax refund on a weekend trip or a night out, but all extra income should be saved away for that initial down payment.

Bring On The Roommates

People who already own a home and are looking to relocate can take this unconventional approach. Decent housing is hard to find so anybody with an extra room can rent it out and put that money towards the new house. Having a roommate can be a pain, but it’s for a limited time and can add up quickly.

While saving for a down payment can be stressful, you don’t have to go through the process alone. Your trusted mortgage professional will be able to guide you and provide some helpful tips for how to make that down payment without breaking the bank. These men and women have seen countless couples go through the same thing and their experience can make a world of difference.

Reverse Mortgages 101: How This Unique Financial Product Can Make Your Life Easier

Reverse Mortgages 101: How This Unique Financial Product Can Make Your Life EasierIf you’ve been in your home for a while and have considered other loan options, you may have heard the term reverse mortgage without being aware of how this product can benefit you. While this type of mortgage works for those who have a high amount of equity in their home, here are the details on reverse mortgages and how this product may work for you.

What’s A Reverse Mortgage?

The reverse mortgage was created in 2009 as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) and is something that can be used by those who are older than 62. As this type of mortgage does not require the homeowner to pay monthly mortgage payments, it enables those who use it to repay their loan after they move out or pass on. If the cost of maintaining your home is manageable and you don’t plan on moving, this can be a useful option.

The Requirements For Reverse Mortgages

Beyond the age requirement, those who want to utilize this product need to own their current property or have a high amount of equity in it. They must have the ability to pay any insurance and property tax on the home, and they must comply with the standards that are set by the Federal House Administration (FHA). This means that applicants may require documentation like bank statements to confirm their financial security, or even pay stubs if they are still receiving a monthly income.

The Pros And Cons

A reverse mortgage can be an option for those who don’t want to make a regular monthly payment on their home and would like to turn it into a source of additional funds while still owning it. While this can be an option to for those who want to stabilize their monthly expenditures, it’s also important to be aware that there can be higher costs associated with a reverse mortgage. In addition to a higher interest rate, reverse mortgages incur a higher overall interest payment since monthly payments are deferred until the loan is paid in full.

There are many types of mortgage products out there on the market, but you may not be aware that a reverse mortgage or the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase (HECM) can be a useful option for many seniors. If you are wondering if this option is right for you, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 7, 2016

Last week’s economic news included reports on inflation, construction spending, the Federal Reserve’s announcement regarding interest rates and several labor and employment related releases. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s survey of interest rates were also released.

Construction Spending Rises, Fed Holds Steady on Interest Rates, Suggests December Increase

Construction spending remained in negative territory for September according to the Commerce Department. The month-to-month reading decreased by 0.40 percent against the expected reading of +0.40 percent and August’s reading of -0.50 percent. Approaching winter weather is a likely reason for less spending, but ongoing challenges with shortages of buildable lots and labor are also factors. Spending on residential construction rose 0.50 percent, which is good news in terms of a persistent shortage of available homes.

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced that it would hold federal interest rates in the target range of 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. Analysts have been monitoring Fed policymaker pronouncements in anticipation of a rate increase. With strengthening labor markets and other economic indicators, policy makers hinted at raising the Fed target rate in December.

Labor Data: Slower Job Creation, Lower Unemployment

ADP payrolls showed that only private-sector jobs 147,000 jobs were created in October as compared to September’s reading of 202,000 jobs created. The Labor Department reported 161,000 government and private-sector jobs were added in October as compared to an expected reading of 175,000 jobs added and September’s reading of 191,000 jobs created. Healthcare, professional jobs and financial sector jobs showed the highest job gains.

National Unemployment met expectations with an October reading of 4.90 percent. September’s reading was 5.00 percent Unemployment readings are reported as a percentage of workers seeking work and do not include workers who’ve left the workforce. New jobless claims rose last week to 265,000 as compared to expectations for 258,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 258,000 new jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. 30-year fixed rate loans had an average rate of 3.54 percent, an increase of seven basis points. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 2.84 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 2.87 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages held steady at 0.40 percent.

Low mortgage rates have helped to offset the effects of high demand for homes and rapidly rising prices; if mortgage and refinance rates continue to rise, affordability and mortgage qualification issues are likely to arise for some home buyers.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include job openings, consumer sentiment and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in Order

Buying a New Home? Use This Checklist to Ensure Your Finances Are in OrderBuying a home is a significant expense. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time buyer or have experience. Unless you have a large pile of cash, you’ll need to ensure your finances are in order before closing. In this post we’ll explore four financial items you’ll want to check off before buying a new home.

Figure Out Your Current Monthly Budget

First, you’re going to want to sort out your monthly budget. If you’ve never done a budget before, start with something basic. Open up a spreadsheet or take out a piece of paper. Make two columns: ‘income’ and ‘expenses’. Fill in each column with the amounts that you make or spend each month. Bank, credit card and other statements can help with this process. It’s a good idea to go back at least 3 months to ensure you’re capturing your true spending.

Make A Debt Management Plan

Do you have any debts? If so, you’ll want to make a plan for how you’re going to manage these when you buy a new home. For example, you may have a car payment, student loans, a line of credit or credit card debt. Write down your debts, how much you owe and when payments are due. If any debts are due monthly, make sure you include those in your budget.

Keep in mind that your outstanding debts may impact your ability to borrow for a mortgage as well. If you plan on taking out a mortgage to pay for your new home, it’s best to get your debts figured out beforehand.

Understand All Your Real Estate Costs

Next, you’ll want to determine what all your real estate costs are going to be. If you’re not yet close to the bidding or closing process, this might be a bit challenging. But ask your real estate agent for a breakdown of what you can expect to pay for a home in your price range.

Set Up An Emergency Savings Cushion

Finally, you’ll want to set up a financial cushion in case of emergencies. It’s not much fun to think about, but losing a job or having a health event is possible. Most financial experts recommend having at least six months of expenses saved up. Of course, this is always easier said than done. What’s important is that you have at least some cash tucked away, just in case. If you can, save a bit extra each month or from each pay check and add to this emergency fund.

When you’re ready to buy a new home, your trusted mortgage professional is your best bet for success. Reach out to us today and learn more about how affordable a new home in your community will be!