3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a Wedding

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a WeddingYou may not see the connection right away, but buying a home and planning a wedding are two experiences that require certain skills and challenge you in similar ways. Check out the three key similarities below!

1. Budget

Whether you’re buying your first home or planning a wedding, you are likely facing one of the biggest financial obligations of your life. That’s why, in both cases, it is essential that you pick a realistic budget and stay within it.

Sounds simple, but in either case it can be difficult! Unexpected obstacles may force you to spend more than you planned, or you may find yourself wanting to overspend as you find things that would be “just perfect” additions even though they don’t fit your budget. These temptations can be expected, but it’s important to remember the big picture. When it comes to your budget, pick it and stick it.

2. Details

When it comes to a home purchase or a wedding, there are countless details to consider. It’s not a simple, pre-packaged purchase, there will always be big decisions that you have to make and if you overlook something you may regret it later on.

Some decisions that you face will be similar in both experiences: Does the location work for you? Does it work for your friends and family? What is the parking situation? Is it appropriate for the climate? Will you be satisfied with your decision in the long-term?

Other details will be more unique to the situation: Do you need a cocktail hour? Do you need a walk-in closet? What style of photography would you like? Is there too much traffic noise?

Either way you’ll have lots to think about, and you’ll become acutely aware of ‘the little things.’

3. You’ve Got Style

Both your wedding and your home say something about you, they’re a reflection of your personal style. When being presented with so many choices that are particularly catered towards your personal taste, you’ll learn what you like and what you don’t. However, you’ll also learn what it is that you absolutely need, and what you’re willing to budge on.

Whether you’re choosing a wedding dress that is both gorgeous and functional for your ceremony or deciding whether or not you need an extra bedroom in your home, you’ll learn what it is that you’d want in a perfect world, and what is absolutely necessary for your current situation.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 5, 2016

Last week’s economic news was plentiful with releases on Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and pending home sales. Readings on government and private sector jobs created, the national unemployment rate and weekly readings on new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates survey were also released.

CaseShiller: Western Cities Dominate Home Price Growth

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index reported that Seattle Washington topped year-over-year home price growth with an increase of 11.00 percent. Portland, Oregon followed closely with a reading of 10.90 percent, and Denver Colorado held third place with year-over-year home price gains of 8.70 percent.

San Francisco, California, which had posted high home price gains in recent years, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year gain of 5.70 percent. Analysts said that this reading was evidence that home prices in high cost areas were topping out. Affordability, strict mortgage requirements and low inventories of available homes continued to present obstacles to home buyers.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Pending Home Sales Dip

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, pending home sales dipped in October to 0.10 percent as compared to a growth rate of 1.50 percent in September. Winter weather and holidays can cause would-be home buyers to postpone their home searches until spring.

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week, although the 10-year treasury rate, which is tied to mortgage rates, was unchanged from the prior week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was five basis points higher at 4.08 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by nine basis points to 3.34 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.15 percent. Mortgage rates have risen by 51 basis points in three weeks. This trend, coupled with high home prices, doesn’t bode well for first-time and modest income home buyers.

Consumer spending for October increased by 0.30 percent as compared to predictions for a reading of 0.50 percent and September’s 0.70 percent reading. The core inflation reading for October was unchanged and in line with analyst expectations at 0.10 percent. The core reading excludes volatile food and fuel sectors.

Labor Reports: Job Creation Grows, Unemployment Rate Lower

According to the Labor Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls report for November, 178,000 government and private sector jobs were created as compared to expectations of 200,000 jobs created and October’s reading of 142,000 jobs created in October. According to the Commerce Department, the national unemployment rate for November was 4.60 percent as compared to the expected reading of 4.90 percent and October’s reading of 4.90 percent. Analysts noted that while a lower reading could indicate good news, it was also the result of fewer workers in the work force. The unemployment rate is based on unemployment claims filed by those actively seeking work; it does not include those underemployed or those who have stopped seeking work.

First-time jobless claims rose to 268,000 as compared to expectations of 250,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 251,000 new claims filed.

In spite of higher mortgage rates and dubious labor reports, the Consumer Confidence Index rose to 107.1 in November from October’s reading of 100.8; Analysts had expected an index reading of 102.5.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include releases on job openings and consumer sentiment along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Should You Pay Your Mortgage Bi-weekly or Monthly? Let’s Take a Look

Should You Pay Your Mortgage Bi-weekly or Monthly? Let's Take a LookMost homeowners look at their monthly mortgage payment as their largest cost per month, and something they must do to maintain a good credit history. However, you may have heard of bi-weekly mortgage payments and their ability to lower your debt load and help you pay off your mortgage more quickly. If you’re wondering if bi-weekly payments are too good to be true, here’s some information worth consideration.

What Difference Does Bi-Weekly Make?

Making a bi-weekly mortgage payment may seem to mean that your interest will be automatically reduced, but because the lender is not necessarily receiving that payment until the end of the month, this is not necessarily the case. However, while a typical monthly payment will equate to 12 mortgage payments per year, a bi-weekly payment means 26 half payments will be made each year, which equates to 13 months of payments and an additional month. As a result, this can reduce the amount of interest paid on the principal.

Consider More On A Monthly Basis

Bi-weekly payments have the ability to shave a bit off the principal and thereby lower overall interest, but that doesn’t mean you have to switch to paying every two weeks. Instead of bi-weekly, consider dividing your monthly mortgage amount by 12 and adding that amount to your monthly payment. This will bump up your mortgage cost per month, but it will also reduce the total amount you owe. For example, if your mortgage payment is $1200 per month, divide it by 12 to get $100, and add this to your payment, bumping it up to $1300 each month.

Be Aware Of The Options That Work For You

In the event that you decide to make bi-weekly payments, be aware that there may actually be additional fees associated with this offering that will nullify your money savings. As a homeowner, it’s important to stay aware of changes on the market and new mortgage offerings that can benefit you. However, it’s also important to ensure that whatever you choose, you’re aware of the risks involved so they can make for a positive financial shift.

Making a bi-weekly payment on your mortgage may have the benefit of lowering your overall home cost, but you may be able to get this benefit from simply bumping up your monthly payment. If you’re currently looking for a mortgage lender, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Mixed for September

September’s 20-City Housing Market Index from Case-Shiller showed signs that rapidly rising home prices in some metro areas may be losing momentum. San Francisco, California, posted a month-to-month reading of -0.40 percent and a year-over-year reading of 5.70 percent. Home prices stayed flat in Seattle Washington from August to September, but posted the highest home price gain of 11.00 percent year-over-year. Slowing home price growth in high-demand areas suggest that affordability concerns are impacting rapid gains in home prices seen in recent years.

Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index achieved its highest gain with a reading of 5.50 percent as compared to August’s reading of 5.10 percent.

YearoverYear: Western U.S. Holds Highest Gains in Home Prices

In addition to Seattle’s year-over-year home price growth rate of 11 percent, Portland, Oregon closely followed with a year-over-year reading of 10.90 percent. Denver, Colorado rounded out the top three cities in the 20-City Home Price Index with a year-over-year growth rate of 8.70 percent. September was the eighth consecutive month that the top three cities held their places in the 20-City Index. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index posted a year-over- year gain of 5.10 percent.

September Home Prices Cap Recovery, Usher in New Progress for Housing Market

According to David M. Blitzer, Chairman of S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, September’s record national reading for home prices marks a transition from housing recovery to “the hoped for start of a new advance.” Mr. Blitzer cited recent data on sales of new and pre-owned homes and said that housing starts reached a post-recession peak.

September’s peak in national home prices was 0.10 percent above the pre-recession peak set in 2006. Adjusted for inflation, the September peak remains approximately 16 percent below the pre-recession peak. During the recession, national home prices reached a trough that was 27 percent lower than Case-Shiller’s September reading. Analysts expressed some caution and noted headwinds to housing markets including slower-than-normal rates of homes construction, higher mortgage rates and strict mortgage approval requirements.

Let’s Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your Home

Let's Talk Basements: How to Finish Your Basement so It Adds Value to Your HomeAre you on the hunt for home renovations that will boost usability and value? Look no further than that unfinished basement. In this article, we’ll show you how to turn that dusty cave into an amazing new living space.

Note: finishing a basement isn’t the easiest job. For most basements, it’s a lot more than a weekend do-it-yourself project. If you’re not comfortable with construction be sure to enlist the help of a professional.

Step 1: Plan Everything Out

The first step is to plan out how you’re going to use the space. Are you going to make an office? A full suite? Is there any plumbing or wiring involved? Will you need to create full walls? Map out how you plan to use the available space so you have an idea of what you’ll need.

Step 2: Measure And Deal With The Floor

Once you figure out how you’ll use the space, you’ll need to measure everything out. Height can be an issue — especially in basements not designed as a living space. You can solve height problems by digging out the concrete slab. Once you get down deep enough, you pour a new slab.

Step 3: Frame Everything In

Is the basement at a good height? Next you’ll need to start framing everything in. Depending on how you have your walls mapped out, this might take a while. You may also need permits or to enlist licensed tradespeople, such as an electrician. If you’re just framing in a single room to add walls, it will be easier.

Step 4: Insulate And Install The Walls

After the framing process, you’ll insulate everything before installing the walls. Adding insulation can drive energy and heating costs down by a lot. So much so that in colder areas of the country, new homes must have insulated basements. After the insulation is in place, you’ll install the drywall and ready the walls for painting.

Step 5: Paint, Carpet And Finish Up

The final step is to get everything painted and finished. If you chose to go with a carpeted floor, you’ll want to save this for last. Once the painting is complete, install the carpets, baseboard and trim. Touch up any final areas and you’re all set.

Finishing your basement into a usable space is an excellent way to add value to your home. To learn more about building your home’s equity, give us a call.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 29, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included new and pre-owned home sales, new jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rates survey.

Home Sales Mixed in October

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of previously owned homes reached a seasonally adjusted annual level of 5.60 million sales, which exceeded expectations and October’s reading of 5.49 million sales. Analysts had expected a rate of 5.44 million sales.

October sales of preowned homes rose 2 percent over September’s reading and were 5.90 percent higher year-over-year. This was the highest reading for sales of pre-owned homes since February 2007. High demand for homes is driving housing markets in spite of obstacles including rising mortgage rates and tight mortgage approval requirements.

Sales of new homes were lower in October, which indicated continued ups and downs in the economic recovery. October’s reading of 563,000 sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis was lower than expectations of 595,000 sales and September’s downwardly revised reading of 574,000 new homes sold.

New home sales were 17.80 percent higher year-over year and 12.60 percent higher year to date, but analysts said that housing markets continue to be constrained by a short supply of available homes. Inventories of available homes are slowly increasing, which is expected to help curtail rapidly rising home prices caused by pent-up demand.

The median price of a new home was $304,500 in October as compared to September’s median price of $314,100 and October 2015’s median price of $298,700. There were 246,000 new homes for sale in October, which was the highest quantity of new homes on the market since September of 2009.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates jumped last week in response to an increase in the 10-year Treasury note rate. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose nine basis points to 4.03 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 11 basis points higher at 3.25 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points higher at 3.12 percent. Last week’s readings were the first time in 2016 that mortgage rates exceeded four percent.

New jobless claims were also higher last week with 251,000 claims filed as compared to expectations 248,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 233,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading marked the 90th consecutive week of new jobless claims less than the benchmark of 300,000 new claims, an event that hasn’t occurred since 1970.

Whats Ahead

Economic reports scheduled this week include Case-Shiller Housing Market Indexes, pending home sales and construction spending. Readings on inflation and labor will also be released along with weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Refinancing Your Mortgage? Know These Key Terms Before You Sign Your Paperwork

Refinancing Your Mortgage? Know These Key Terms Before You Sign Your PaperworkWhen it comes to your mortgage, there are a lot of key terms that are important for every homebuyer to know, and this is no less true than when it comes to refinancing your most important investment. Instead of leaving what’s unknown up to chance, it’s important to be aware of exactly what you’re looking at so you can get the best mortgage product available. If you’re currently considering refinancing and don’t want to get snared by unknown terminology, here are some terms you’ll need to watch out for.

Cash-Out Refinance

This type of refinance is a transaction where the home’s mortgage amount is higher than the existing mortgage amount, and cash-out refers to the extraction of equity from the homeowner’s home. While this type of refinancing can be a means of tapping into extra cash to help you with monthly expenses, it also means that the cash you take out of your equity will be added to the balance you already owe on your home.

Rate-and-Term Refinance

This type of mortgage transaction involves the refinancing of an existing mortgage so that you can take advantage of a different interest rate. While this type of change will not alter the amount of your home loan, it will adjust the interest which means that your monthly payments may be lowered and your may have a shorter amortization period due to overall reduced costs. These types of loans can often come with lower interest rates than cash-out refinances.

Streamline Refinancing

This type of refinancing is offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it is also offered by certain financial institutions. While this type of refinancing has its own set of stipulations, it is directed at those who want to take advantage of low interest rates or get out of an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). While you may need to have a financial appraisal done in order to qualify for this option, it’s also possible that this will not be required to qualify.

There are a lot of key terms that go along with having a mortgage and refinancing it, but if you’re considering your options it’s very important to know what all of them mean so you can be sure you’re making the best decision. If you’re currently considering refinancing your home and need helpful advice, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Five Ways to Make Your Home’s ‘Curb Appeal’ Better Than Your Neighbors’

Five Ways to Make Your Home's 'Curb Appeal' Better Than Your Neighbors'Curb appeal, or how your home looks from the street, is an essential part of preparing to sell your house. It’s also where comparison with your neighbors’ homes is inescapable which poses a problem if you’re both on the market. Read on for five ways to boost your own curb appeal.

Open Up: Garage Doors With Impact

In most homes, the external facade is taken up largely by the garage door which means it’s a big influence on how people see your home. Embrace that. Style your garage door to suit your home, touch up the paint or trim, or even do a full overhaul with a brand-new door.

Balance Out: The Appeal Of Symmetry

Not only is a symmetrical design visually appealing, it’s also quick and easy to do. If your home doesn’t allow for large symmetrical designs because of its structure — if it has a garage on one side, for example — focus in on specific elements. Consider the front door, maybe, where fixtures are easier and cheaper to update.

Sit Back: Inviting Outdoor Seating

A great way to attract buyers is to think like them and what search-weary buyer doesn’t enjoy a moment to relax? Arrange an aesthetically pleasing seating area outside your home. It will become a welcoming space that can offer buyers the chance to sit down and dream about owning your home. A clear and attractive walkway is also very inviting, so be sure to spruce yours up or install a whole new one to, literally, lead buyers to your door.

Admire The Art: Accent With Outdoor Pieces

Put a little of your home’s personality out front to attract the interest of like-minded buyers. Weather-resistant art pieces are a great way to accent your lawn or entrance. Consider the welcoming sound of wind chimes, or a sculpture or two. Even birdbaths can provide simple but effective artistic highlights.

Look Critically: Get Outside Eyes

When you’re close to your home, it can be hard to view it as a buyer would in other words, critically. This is an essential step, though, in creating effective curb appeal. So, consider getting another person involved. Someone who can look at your home objectively and provide a clear assessment of your home’s strengths and weaknesses.

First-time Home Buyers: Here’s a Quick and Easy Guide to Your First Mortgage

First-time Home Buyers: Here's a Quick and Easy Guide to Your First MortgageDelving into the real estate market for the first time can be a very intimidating thing with all of the mortgage and housing options available. Whether it’s market conditions or the amount you should be spending, there are a number of factors you’ll need to be aware of. If you’re just starting out and not sure where to begin, here are some points to consider that will set you on the right path.

Is It The Right Time To Buy?

Many people try to time the market, but the right time to buy a home is when it works for you. If you have a solid down payment and you’re truly prepared for home ownership, it’s probably the right time to start looking. While a good home and low interest rates can certainly push you in this direction, if it’s not quite the right time, hold off until it’s right for you.

What’s Your Payment Plan?

It’s easy for a first-time buyer to be taken in by their dream home, but it’s important to be clear on all the costs associated with home ownership like property tax, insurance, maintenance and other fees that will bump up the monthly payment. If you can formulate a budget that includes all of your monthly costs and is feasible in the long term, you’re good to go.

What Documentation Is Required?

Having your personal documentation in order and available will be one of the most important steps in your application, but there are a number of things you’ll need. Beyond recent paystubs, tax returns and bank statements, you’ll also need your credit report, so take a look over it to ensure that it’s correct and displays your financial history in a positive light.

Starting the Search

You may be ready to move as soon as you start looking, but buying your first home can be a rather lengthy process. Instead of being sucked in by too much house or taking the first home that appeals to you, ensure that you have a good sense of the size, neighborhood and style of house you want so you can get out there and find the home that works for you.

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to buying your first home, but by being ready to invest and having your finances in order you’ll be well on your way. If you’re currently in the market for a home, contact your trusted mortgage professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 21, 2016

Last week’s economic reports included readings on the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on Housing Starts and Building Permits issued and weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.

 

Builder Sentiment Holds Steady, Demand for Homes Pushes Builders

November’s reading for the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index held steady with a reading of 65. Any reading above 50 indicates that a majority of home builders surveyed has a positive view of current and future housing market conditions. Tight supplies of available homes, steep competition for homes in desirable metro areas and rising home prices pressure home builders to produce more homes, but builder sentiment and housing starts are not always aligned, but data released by the Commerce Department indicates that builders are ramping up construction.

The Commerce Department reported that October’s reading of 1.323 housing starts exceeded September’s reading of 1.054 million starts and also surpassed the expected reading of 1.170 million starts. This suggests that builders are ramping up construction to quench ongoing demand for homes. October’s reading was 25.50 percent higher than September’s reading, which was the highest number of housing starts posted since 2007. Starts for multi-family homes of five units or more jumped 75 percent and starts for single family homes of four units or less increased by 11 percent.

Building permits issued in October rose to 1.229 million as compared to September’s reading of 1.225 million permits issued. Approaching winter weather and holidays typically cause slowing of construction.

 

Mortgage Rates Rise after Election

Last week’s survey of mortgage rates was mostly completed by the time presidential election results were released; this week’s readings showed higher rates for all types of mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage increased from 3.57 percent to 3.94 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 2.88 to 3.14 percent and the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages was also higher at 3.07 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.88 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Low mortgage rates have helped home buyers qualify for financing they need to buy homes; if rates continue to trend upward, demand for homes is likely to ease.

New jobless claims reached a 43-year low last week. 235,000 claims were filed as compared to expectations of 255,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 254,000 new jobless claims. Low layoff rates point to stronger economic conditions; job stability can encourage first-time home buyers to enter the market and existing home owners to buy larger homes.

 

What’s Ahead

Readings on new and pre-owned home sales, the Federal Reserve’s post meeting FOMC statement and reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released this week.

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