Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows to 20-Month Low

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slows to 20-Month LowHome price growth slowed to its lowest rate in 20 months according to the 20-City Home Price Index issued by Case-Shiller. After years of dismal readings, Las Vegas, Nevada led the cities included in the index.

Top three cities for August included Las Vegas, Nevada where year-over-year home prices grew by 13.90 percent. San Francisco, California saw home prices increase by 10.60 percent year-over-year and Seattle, Washington home prices rose by 9.60 percent year-over-year. August’s 20-City Home Price Index overall reading fell below six percent for the first time in a year.

Cooling Home Price Growth Helps Balance Housing Markets

Cooling home prices have been forecast for months, but August’s reading indicated that home prices have peaked and that current home price growth rates may ease pressure on overheated real estate markets, where high home prices, limited inventories of homes for sale and rising mortgage rates have limited buying opportunities. Home price growth remained above current rates of wage growth and inflation, but slower appreciation of home values will help balance the housing market from an extreme sellers’ market to more moderate market conditions.

Rising Mortgage Rates Not Sole Cause of Easing Home Prices

Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan recently said that rising mortgage rates were not the only cause of slowing growth of home prices. Mr. Kaplan said that multiple factors including rising building costs, labor shortages and rising mortgage rates combined to ease record demand for home; Mr. Kaplan said that the Fed is closely monitoring the economy and housing markets and mentioned that he had previously forecast slower housing markets as 2019 approaches.

Recent stock market sell-offs boosted the 10-year Treasury note price, but this momentum appears to be settling. Fixed mortgage rates are connected to yields on 10-year Treasury notes. Yields rise as note prices decline. Mortgage rates rise as the 10-year Treasury yield rises. While nothing is set in stone, this situation indicates that mortgage rates could continue to rise.

Rising mortgage rates and strict mortgage lending requirements have barred home buyers concerned with affordability and less than perfect credit profiles. As prospective home buyers abandon their home searches, demand for homes should ease and may further reduce gains in home prices.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss current financing options.

Real Estate Crowdfunding Investment Is Trending

Real Estate Crowdfunding Investment Is TrendingAlthough the real estate market is currently booming, the last housing bubble burst remains relatively fresh in investors’ minds and that has many taking a long look at crowdfunding.

One of the lessons that came out of the burst and ensuing Great Recession was that investors were blind to where their money went. If you watched the Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” then you at least understand Hollywood’s hyperbolic explanation of the subprime mortgage crisis. You may be asking: what does this have to do with real estate crowdfunding real investing? Well, everything.

Among the key reasons that the financial collapse occurred was the fact that investors had no clue what was in the AAA collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Most people didn’t know what was in them and others simply did not care. At the end of the day, Americans lost massive amounts of wealth because they were not hands-on about investing.

That’s a primary reason why real estate crowdfunding platforms are trending. Crowdfunded real estate investments tend to be more of an open book. Consider the transparency differences between crowdfunding and a real estate investment trust (REIT).

Transparency: Crowdfunding Or REIT

Let’s assume that you are not particularly keen on buying an investment property and becoming a landlord. Although renting yourself has its benefits, it can also be labor intensive at times. That being said, wealth-building alternatives such as REITs and crowdfunding present opportunities that require less effort.

REITs tend to be the more hands-off than crowdfunding. That’s because REITs are generally traded funds. Dating back to 1971, the FTSE Nareit REIT index reportedly yielded a return of 9.72 percent. Some REIT investments do quite well in specific sectors such as self-storage and office space among others.

But REITs can be widely diversified, and some have non-real estate assets embedded in them. An REIT with hundreds of moving parts can be onerous to track. That makes them feel a lot like the CDOs. This is not to imply that REITs are a scam like those CDOs. It’s just that crowdfunding investments are more clear.

When investors opt for crowdfunded real estate investments, it falls on their shoulders to select specific properties for their portfolio. Unlike an REIT in which you just buy in and someone else manages the entire fund, crowdfund investors pick real estate options one at a time. In many ways, it is like becoming a landlord, just with someone else doing the legwork. At the end of the day, there’s less need for transparency because you picked all the assets yourself.

Why Consider Real Estate Crowdfunding?

Besides not having to do the heavy lifting, real estate crowdfunding generally avoids much of the volatility of the market-driven REITs and stocks. Everyday people are not investing the market per se, just the select properties you feel confident about. Also, the IRS reportedly allows investors to deduct depreciation.

But what makes real estate crowdfunding increasingly popular is that it allows people to invest directly into tangible properties without having to take on landlord responsibilities. Simply put, you know what you are buying.   

Checking your credit and becoming pre-approved are important first steps for most home purchases. It is important to discuss other factors, including seasoning of funds, when considering options like crowdfunding. These are all steps your trusted home mortgage professional can help you navigate. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 29th, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 29th, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings on sales of new homes and pending home sales. A reading on consumer sentiment was also released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Sales of New Homes Slide to Near 2 – Year Low

According to Commerce Department readings on new home sales, the pace of sales slipped close to a two-year low in September; new homes sold at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 553,000 sales.

September’s reading was 5.50 percent lower than for August and was 13.20 percent lower year-over-year. Analysts expected a reading of 620,000 sales; August’s reading showed an annual pace of 585,000 new homes sold.

Real estate pros reported a 7.10-month supply of available homes, which was a six-year high. A six-month supply of homes for sale is considered a normal inventory in many markets.

Home prices had a median of $320,000 in September, which was 3.50 percent lower year-over-year. Strong demand for homes coupled with limited supplies have caused home prices to rise and buyers to compete with cash-buyers and ever escalating home prices. Rising mortgage rates and few choices of available homes have sidelined moderate and first-time buyers.

Pending Home Sales Rise in September

The National Association of Realtors® reported rising pending home sales, which provided hope for lagging home sales. Pending sales are sales for which a purchase contract is signed but the sale has not yet closed. Pending home sales had an index reading of 104.6 in September as compared to 104.1 in August. No change from August’s reading was expected in September. The pending sales index pending home sales index was one percent lower year-over-year.

Pending sales rose 4.40 percent in the West; The Midwest posted a gain of 1.20 percent and the South posted a negative reading of – 0.40 percent. The South posted a negative reading of -1.40 percent in pending home sales.

Pending home sales are considered a predictor of completed sales and new mortgages.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose one basis point to 4.86 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose three basis points to 4.29 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was four basis points higher at 4.14 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose last week to 215,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected no change from the prior week’s reading of 210,000 new claims filed. The University of Michigan reported a dip in its consumer sentiment index for October. September’s reading was adjusted from and index reading of 99 to 100.1. October’s reading was 99.  Lower consumer sentiment was based on stagnant wage growth according to analysts.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings from Case-Shiller on home prices, Labor sector reports on private and public sector employment and the national unemployment rate.

Could Fed Interest Rate Hike Help Home Buyers?

Could Fed Interest Rate Hike Help Home BuyersNews of the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates appears to have caused unnecessary panic among people poised to purchase a first home or a larger one for a growing family.

Headlines and news reports that talk about interest rates being at their highest since 2014 can be alarming. Announcements from the Fed that rates would increase four times in 2018 and again in 2019 seems downright scary. After all, isn’t it logical that increased interest rates mean that monthly mortgage payment could be substantially higher?

As it turns out, neither the click-bait headlines about dramatic rate increases or higher monthly premiums are real-life concerns. A thoughtful look at interest rates and rational thinking about homeownership indicates that today’s market could be an excellent time to buy.

Interest Rates Are Not Frighteningly High

Americans have largely come to recognize that the media thrives on scare tactics to get you to tune in or click a link. Stating that interest rates are the highest since 2014 is a fair statement, on its face. But the reality behind the numbers is entirely different if you take a long look at historical rates.

Homebuyers that stepped into the market as the economy began to surge in 2017 did a fine job of positioning themselves. That’s because they took full advantage of tremendously low rates while moving into a stable jobs environment. It’s important to keep in mind that low Fed standards of 1.5 percent had already increased from the historic low.25 percent set in 2008 to stimulate the horrific economy.

As the Great Recession hit, unemployment started its climb to 10 percent in 2009 and things were generally bad. Wonderfully low interest rates were of little use when people were out of work and those who were employed lacked job stability. The Fed’s goal was to gradually increase rates as the economy steadily recovered. The common wisdom was to raise rates to 3 percent by 2020.

But if you look back over rate data from the 1970s until the Great Recession, rates tended to be at 5 percent or higher. The Fed’s reported intentions would likely leave potential homebuyers in a better position than most over the 40-50 years. That’s because the country is in the midst of an economic surge that appears to have legs.

Fed’s Hike Won’t Deter Many Buyers

The Chicken Little’s of the housing sector may be crying the sky is falling, but nothing could be further from the truth. The modest increases planned by the Fed do not substantially change a potential homeowner’s buying power.

For those with a specific monthly mortgage payment window, the rate increase could slightly change the listing price options moving forward. On the other side of the coin, rate hikes tend to flatten or at least slow asking prices. While buyers cull together a down payment, home prices may be slowing. That could prove very beneficial in terms of securing a dream home.

The basic point about the Federal Reserve raising rates is that this should not necessarily be viewed as a negative. The Fed reportedly had a long-term plan that followed alongside our economic recovery. If you compare the current rates against wage increases, low unemployment, and a juggernaut economy, home buyers are in the driver’s seat right now.

Whether you are interested in buying a new property or refinancing your current property, contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about the current financing options available.

3 Budgeting Tips to Help Make Your New Mortgage Payments Easier

3 Budgeting Tips to Help Make Your New Mortgage Payments EasierBuying a new home is an exciting time, but excitement can easily turn to stress if there isn’t enough money to pay the monthly mortgage bill. The added expense can take some time to get used to, but there are ways to make the payments easier, especially in those first few months when money is the tightest.

Prioritize The Mortgage Bill And Pay It Immediately

This may seem like a counterintuitive tip for anybody looking for help making mortgage payments, but it is easily the best one and the one that provides the most trouble for homeowners.

Late mortgage payments come with hefty fees that make it harder and harder to pay the next mortgage bill in full and on time. It’s a slippery slope that can end in foreclosure if the mortgage bills go unpaid for too long.

Don’t Get Carried Away With Household Spending

What’s the first thing most couples do after finally purchasing their first home? If they moved in from a smaller apartment, filling in the empty space will probably be at the top of their list.

Spending sprees are all too common after moving into a new home. There are extra rooms that need to be furnished and extra space that needs to be filled in with a larger television or another sofa.

These purchases will severely limit the mortgage budget and could lead to late payments right from the start for anybody who gets carried away. Put a budget in place for new furniture and stick to it so that there is always money for the mortgage.

Limit Spending In The First Few Months

The biggest change for anybody moving into a new home may be the extra expenses they aren’t used to paying. Water, power, heat, air conditioning, internet and cable are all things that could be included when renting and once those bills start coming in, it can be alarming.

It doesn’t matter how careful they are, budgeting can take a huge hit if new homeowners are expecting to pay the same as they were in their previous home. Always wait the first few months before making any purchases to get used to the new monthly bills that will be waiting.

Making successful mortgage payments starts with getting a mortgage you can actually afford. Make sure you consult with a trusted mortgage professional who will be able to help you find the best deal and get a mortgage that won’t break the bank each month.

5 Reasons To Sell Your Home This Fall

5 Reasons To Sell Your Home This FallThough the real estate business never stops, most people associate its busy periods of the year with the spring and summer seasons. And while this is true to a large extent, those who think that selling a home in the fall is a bad decision are sorely mistaken.

Just as families want to get into new homes before the school year starts, which makes spring and summer busy seasons, there’s also an urgency to get into new homes prior to the holiday season. It’s one of the reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to list your home in the fall season.

Here’s a look at five more reasons why it’s smart to list your home in the fall:

1. Demand Is Still There

It’s a seller’s market out there, which means that there’s still high demand for quality homes. So don’t think that buyers have put their searches on hold until next spring, because they’re still out there. You’ll take advantage of this continuous demand by listing in the fall.

2. You Can Enjoy The Summer

You can enjoy next summer, that is. Yes, while sellers that list in the spring and summer are constantly cleaning, tidying up and exiting the home for showings, you can get out ahead of the game this fall so you can spend next summer enjoying your next home. 

3. Buyers Are Serious

In the spring and summer months, it’s not unusual to get a lot of traffic from people who are thinking about buying. While any kind of activity is usually a positive, these types of would-be buyers aren’t exactly the strongest prospects to make an offer. With how busy the fall season is for many families, you’re likely to get showings with buyers who are serious, and thereby more likely to make an offer if they like what they see. 

4. You Can Enhance Your Curb Appeal

Fall is characterized by cooler temperatures and changing colors. The former can really help green up your lawn, while the latter can make your house stand out if there are trees on the property. Aside from your home, the fall foliage can also enhance the appeal of your entire neighborhood.

5. There’s Fewer Home Sellers

A final reason to list in the fall is that you’ll have less competition on the market. That is, there are fewer available homes. If your home is attractive and sought after, you can potentially create a bidding war among interested buyers, which can help you net more off the sale.

Your trusted real estate professional can give you all the tips and tricks to prepare for a successful fall listing.

NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Market Ticks Up in October

NAHB Builder Confidence in Housing Market Ticks Up in OctoberHome builder confidence in national housing market conditions rose one index point for a reading of 68 in October. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders are confident about market conditions. Rolling three-month averages showed mixed results. The Northeastern region gained three points for an index reading of 57; the Midwestern region lost two index points with a reading of 57 and the Southern region posted a gain of one point with a reading of 70. The Western region held steady at 74.

Readings for sub-categories of the Housing Market index showed a one-point gain to 74 for current market conditions, Builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months also gained one point for a reading of 75 index points. Builder confidence in buyer traffic rose four points to 53. This was remarkable as historical readings for buyer traffic rarely rose above the benchmark reading of 50.

Demand for Homes Rises

The National Association of Home Builders reported that demand for homes increased regardless of high home prices, rising mortgage rates and low inventories of available homes. Labor shortages and high cost of buildable lots continued to weigh on builder confidence. Analyst predictions that home prices have peaked did not impact October’s builder confidence readings.

Home Builders Look Toward Affordable Housing

When the current housing boom started, builders concentrated on building high-end homes as cash buyers and investors fueled demand. Home prices rose quickly as inventories of homes for sale dwindled; first-time and moderate-income home buyers were sidelined as affordable homes were quickly snapped up. Strict mortgage qualification requirements presented challenges to buyers with credit problems. Consumers struggle with home price growth that exceeds inflation and wage increases.

As analysts report that home prices may have hit their peak the highest reading for builder confidence in recent months was 74 in December 2017. Slowing increases in home prices have signaled builders that favorable housing market conditions may have reached a tipping point. If another recession occurs, those who bought their homes at the top of the market and who have little equity are most at risk. Analysts cited high priced coastal areas as ripe for this risk. Meanwhile, builders are looking to create more affordable housing in response to signals of slowing growth in residential real estate markets.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out about about the market trends specific to your area and how those conditions may impact your financing options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 22nd, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - October 22nd, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings on home builder confidence,sales of pre-owned homes and housing starts.  The Commerce Department also issued a report on building permits issued; weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Homebuilder Confidence Rises One Point

The National Association of Home Builders reported a reading of 68 for October,which surpassed August’s reading of 67. Any reading over 50 indicates most home builders are confident about housing market conditions. Builders cited ongoing headwinds including higher prices for materials,shortages of lots and labor and rising mortgage rates. Builders sought ways to provide more affordable housing options as they faced higher costs.

Regional readings of builder confidence readings,which are tracked on a three-month rolling average,were missed. The northeastern region gained three points for a reading of 57; the southern region gained one point for an index reading of 70. The midwestern region lost two points for a reading of 57. The western region was unchanged from September’s reading of 74.

Sales of Pre-owned Homes Slip toward 3 Year Low

The National Association of Realtors® reported fewer sales of pre-owned homes in September;5.15 million sales were reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis as compared to August’s reading of 5.33 million sales. Analysts expected a reading of 6.27 million sales for September. Faced with high home prices and slim inventories of available homes,would-be buyers sidelined their searches for homes. Housing starts were 3.40 percent lower month-to-month and hit their lowest rate since November 2015.

According to the Commerce Department,housing starts also fell in September to 1.201 million starts on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. August’s reading was 1.268 million starts. Year-over-year,housing starts were 3.70 percent higher.,but fewer housing starts were bad news for housing markets as demand continued to exceed supplies of available homes. Building permits issued also fell in September to 1.242 million permits issued as compared to August’s reading of 1.249 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates,New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were five basis points lower at 4.85 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged three basis points lower at 4.26 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was three basis points lower at 4.10 percent.

First-time jobless claims also fell last week to 210,000 new claims filed,which matched expectations but was lower than the prior week’s reading of 215,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings on new and pending home sales along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Winterizing Your Yard: 3 Landscape Tips

Winterizing Your Yard: 3 Landscape TipsIn some parts of the country, it has already started snowing! But, even if you live in an area with a moderate climate, your lawn and garden are about to take a “winter break.” 

Here are 3 tips to assure that your yard will not only survive the winter, but flourish during the dormant season. They’ll assure that your landscape will greet spring full of life and beauty.

Fertilize The Lawn As Recommended

Most types of grass and landscape plants have a kind of built in “alarm clock” that helps them prepare for the changing seasons and the onset of winter. Many lawns, though, benefit greatly from a a fall “feeding” in order to supply proper nutrients to help roots survive during the cold and be ready to start growing again above ground in the spring.

Applying the proper fertilizer this fall is a simple and cost-effective way to get a jump on next year’s beautiful lawn. When and whether you fertilize will depend on your specific type of grass and your location.

Baby Your Plants

Autumn is the time you’ll want to pamper your plants — from rose bushes to winter squash, kale or potatoes — and different plants require varied treatments to protect them from the cold and frost. If you’re not a master gardener yourself, your local nursery should be able to offer advice. The top three things to remember are that plants need to be well-hydrated in order to prevent stress, that they might need extra nutrition (fertilizer) during the cold season, and that most plants like an extra blanket (in the form of additional mulch) during the winter.

Again, specific solutions will depend on the types of plants in your garden, but a little extra effort this fall will help even your traditional flower garden bloom even more beautifully come spring!

Extend The Growing Season

If you have a backyard vegetable garden or a raised bed full of herbs and spices, and you live in an area with mild to moderate winters, you might be able to extend the growing season indefinitely by covering your beds or tenting the garden. Learn how to protect your plants from freezing by using a frost blanket or rotating row covers. It’s not really that difficult, and the difference of only a few degrees can make a big difference. 

Although frost blankets can top plants directly, you can make them even more effective if you build a simple framework — something like a miniature greenhouse — to give your plants a winter home that allows air to circulate.

For additional information, check with a local greenhouse or nursery, or just experiment with different ideas. No matter what you plan to do, the time to begin is now!

If you are interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current property, be sure to contact you trusted mortgage professional to find out about your best financing options.

 

Tech Jobs Driving House Flipping Projects

Tech Jobs Driving House Flipping ProjectsReality TV shows about house flipping make it look easy. But behind every lucrative renovation project, there are factors that impact profitability such as buying price, labor costs, unforeseen setbacks and perhaps most importantly, location.

There is no escaping the old real estate adage of “location, location, location.” Home-flipping entrepreneurs must take into account whether polishing up a blighted building is in a viable resale neighborhood. One of the location factors some house flippers are following is the trend in tech jobs.

Because the tech industry does not necessarily rely on interstate highways, commercial hubs or seaports, computer-oriented businesses are taking advantage of once vibrant manufacturing areas that have fallen on hard times. Property values in these areas seem to be trending behind some of the nation’s hotspots despite having many desirable community living aspects such as parks, walking trails, waterfronts, restaurants, and a vibrant arts scene.

Rust Belt Resurgence

Following the decline in industrial work in areas throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois and others, once highly sought after cities and towns saw mass population declines. The lack of good-paying jobs left large numbers of wonderful homes and commercial buildings under-occupied.

Tech companies have been putting some economic lifeblood back into these communities in recent years. House flippers have been hot on their heels to renovate properties as high-paying workers migrate into the communities. Some of the numbers coming out of cities such as Pittsburgh and Buffalo have been impressive.

In Pittsburgh alone, house-flipping profits exceeded 162 percent in the second quarter, and Buffalo topped 100 percent. Considering the national average for this sector stands at about 44 percent, chasing tech outfits appears to be rewarding. Pennsylvania is reportedly now the second best place for home-flipping profits at 132.7 percent statewide.

Tech Trends Nationwide

The former mill and mining areas of the Rust Belt are among the top trending regions for flipping homes as Internet-based companies set up shop. There are also smaller pockets of tech-driven opportunities for contractors and real estate professionals to turn profits.

In New England, small cities such as Providence, RI, are seeing an upsurge in old mills being converted into online and tech business spaces. In Massachusetts, technology jobs have been on the rise in the region north of Boston. Former manufacturing hubs are seeing properties move as high-paying jobs increase. The opportunities for home flippers are growing.

Nashville, Tennessee, is reportedly outpacing tech-heavy Seattle in terms of employment growth. The professional networking website LinkedIn reported that 85 in 10,000 members relocated to Nashville through September. Approximately 118 in 10,000 moved to Austin and 96 to Denver. It appears the country is in the midst of tech-industry migration.

This trend is likely to continue, and house-flipping entrepreneurs are likely to have robust opportunities in these emerging housing markets across the country.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to learn about your current finance options.