Highlights of economic news from last week, include a survey of senior loan officers from U.S. and foreign banks doing business in the U.S.
They indicated that banks were gradually easing lending standards for business and consumer loans, but viewed lending criteria for home loans as more restrictive than other types of loans.
According to CoreLogic, U.S. home prices increased at their fastest pace since February 2006. Mortgage rates rose incrementally, and the Weekly Jobless Claims report came in lower than the expected 339,000 at 333,000 new jobless claims.
Monday: Bank loan officers surveyed indicated that while mortgage lending requirements have been eased for low risk mortgage loans, it remains challenging for those with less-than-stellar credit to qualify for home loans.
Bankers noted some concern that easing credit standards may signal to the Fed that it’s time to taper the quantitative easing program that’s designed to keep long term interest rates, including mortgage rates, low.
Tuesday: The CoreLogic Home Prices report for June showed that home prices rose 1.90 percent in June, and rose by 11.88 percent year-over-year. 48 states showed rising home prices while only Mississippi and Delaware showed a decline.
Nevada led the list of higher home prices with a 27.00 percent gain year-over-year; Nevada home values were among the hardest-hit in the economic downturn.
Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims came in at 333,000, which were higher than last week’s reading of 328,000 new jobless claims. The four-week average is considered a less volatile indicator of unemployment trends.
The four week rolling average for new jobless claims decreased by 6250 to 335,000. This was the lowest reading for the four-week rolling average since November 2007.
Freddie Mac’s weekly report on mortgage rates brought not-so-good news; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 4.40 percent, while the average rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 3.43 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.19 percent.
Discount points for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 15-year fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at 0.7 percent, while average discount points for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped to 0.5 percent.
What’s Coming Up
This week’s economic news includes the federal budget for Monday. Retail Sales and Core Retail Sales will be reported on Tuesday; the Producers Price Index (PPI) and Core PPI will be out on Wednesday.
Thursday’s news includes weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates update. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI (excluding volatile food and energy sectors) will also be released. The NAHB Home Builders Housing Market Index (HMI) is also due Thursday.
Friday’s scheduled economic news includes Housing Starts, Building Permits and Consumer Sentiment for July.
Summer always brings with it a hard choice: Do you turn down the thermostat to stay cool and resign yourself to high power bills? Or, do you sweat it out to save some dough?
If you’ve been struggling with this dilemma, don’t fret.
With a programmable thermostat, you can beat the heat and save money, too. They are easy to install and can save you over $100 a year.
The key is that they have different temperature settings for certain times of the day. The latest models can be self-installed, are easy to program and can be controlled over the Internet.
This is obviously the biggest perk. Not only are you helping the environment, you’re also helping your monthly budget.
You can preset the thermostat to adjust the temperature when you’re away from the house, so you’re using less energy. Then it can kick back on just before you arrive home.
You’ll immediately see a difference in your utility bills when you set your programmable thermostat to turn off for eight-hour periods while you’re at work. Every little bit counts!
Save Yourself The Frustration
If you’re going to be home early from work or are arriving back from a week long vacation, don’t worry about coming home to a sweltering sauna of a house.
Most modern thermostats allow you to access their controls online through a computer, or even your smart phone. With the touch of a button, you’ll arrive to a perfectly comfortable home.
Save Even More
Below are a few tips to keep bills down and your thermostat running efficiently.
Make sure you place the thermostat away from air vents, open doorways and windows with direct sunlight.
Try to set temperatures for longer increments, such as when you’re at work or while you’re asleep.
Every time you hit the buttons you’re using more energy.
If your thermostat runs on batteries, change them once a year.
Don’t waste any more energy! Make the investment in a programmable thermostat and start saving this summer. The convenience and lower utility bills will make you glad you did.
For more tips on home maintenance and savings, reach out to your trusted real estate professional today.
U.S. housing markets continue to drive the economic recovery according to data released by RealtyTrac Inc.
National home prices rose by 11.90 percent year-over-year for June.
48 states reported rising home prices with only Delaware and Mississippi reporting lower home prices. Nevada led the states with a 26.50 percent gain over June 2012.
Cities also fared well on housing prices; 99 of the 100 largest U.S. cities reported gains in home prices.
Rising Home Prices And Mortgage Rates, Short Supply Of Homes
According to Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic, home price trends are rising at their fastest pace since 1977. While good news for sellers, homebuyers may find fewer affordable options over time while also contending with rising mortgage rates.
In spite of rapidly rising home prices, national home prices remain about 19 percent below their peak in April 2006.
Why The Shortage Of Available Homes?
Some homeowners are hoping to recoup losses on their homes before listing them for sale. This could be a risky decision, as many economists have previously characterized the last peak of the housing market to be a “bubble,” or an abnormal spike in home values.
In some markets cash buyers are snapping up homes and making it difficult for mortgage-dependent homebuyers to compete.
Another common scenario that presents challenges to home buyers in areas where homes are in high demand occurs when there are multiple purchase offers for one home.
Buyers who rely on mortgage loans for financing their home purchase can improve their chances by being pre-approved for a mortgage before shopping for a home.
Fewer Foreclosed Homes Contribute To Rising Home Prices
RealtyTrac estimates that 500,000 home mortgages will be foreclosed this year. This is approximately 25 percent lower than the number of 2012 residential foreclosures.
Bank-owned homes are typically offered at lower prices and with incentives such as direct financing, but most are sold as-is with no warranties or guarantees as to their condition. Multiple foreclosed homes within a community can drag down home prices, so fewer foreclosed homes is positive for homeowners and communities alike.
Want To Buy A Home? Don’t Give Up
Rising mortgage rates and home prices can present challenges, but working with your local real estate professional can help with finding an affordable home. Programs are available for assisting eligible first-time buyers with their down payment and closing costs.
Adjustable-rate mortgage loans that provide a low fixed rate for a specified introductory period provide an alternative to higher payments required of a fixed-rate mortgage. An adjustable-rate mortgage may be a good option for first-time buyers who plan to “move up” within a few years.
For assistance in finding an affordable home please feel free to reach out to your trusted real estate professional today.
If you’re looking to purchase real estate, keep in mind that the homes you are considering might be in need of repairs or improvements.
In a recent study done by a major home inspection company, at least 40 percent of previously owned homes on the market have at least one serious issue or defect.
When buying real estate, you should have a professional inspection performed on the property to look for any issues that might not be visible to the untrained eye.
It’s better to identify this damage before you buy so that you are not stuck with budget-busting renovations.
Below are a few major red flags you should look for when buying a home.
Look at the slope of the yard. If the land slopes towards the house, this could be causing water to run down into the foundation, which will result in moisture damage. Take a look at the foundation for any bulges or cracks that could indicate serious issues.
Your home inspector should be sure to check the electrical wiring — especially if it is an older house. If there are any flickering lights, circuits that don’t work, or warm outlets, these are telltale signs of wiring issues that might be expensive to fix.
This is usually a sign that something in the house is leaking. Ceiling stains are common underneath bathrooms when a toilet, shower or bathtub has a leak. A leaky roof could be an even more expensive repair.
When you are negotiating to buy a house and damage is discovered, you can either change your mind about the sale or renegotiate for a lower price that factors in the cost of repairs. Either way, it is always worth having the home professionally inspected to identify red flags and avoid any surprises.
Please call me, your trusted real estate professional for more information about buying your next Chicago home.
What happens if you go through a tough financial period and you find yourself behind on your mortgage payments for your home?
If you are missing mortgage payments and are having difficulty paying, this can become a serious problem. Even just one missed payment can be difficult to catch up on, and if you are in this situation it is important to get help right away.
Contact Your Lender
The first step in this circumstance should be to get in touch with your mortgage lender to explain the situation. Simply leaving things alone and not explaining why you have missed a payment will just make things worse.
When people are struggling financially, they avoid calling their creditors for as long as they can. This is usually the wrong strategy to have if you want to make sure that you keep your home.
When you speak to the lender, you can explain why your payment is overdue. For example, perhaps you were laid off from your job or you have been sick and unable to work. If you have a good payment history and you are the one to initiate contact, the lender may be more likely to consider options for you to repay the mortgage.
Consider All Of Your Options
Is there a relative or a friend who could lend you enough money to pay off your missed mortgage payment? Could borrow from your insurance policy? Is there a way you can sell something that you are not using or cut back on other expenses?
Perhaps you could work a part time job on the side to earn more money. There are a number of ways that you could come up with the extra cash and make the mortgage payment.
However, be careful with payday loan companies or other short term lenders, as they may charge extremely high interest that can make it even more difficult to get out of debt later.
In some circumstances, you might be able to arrange with your loan servicer to permanently change one or more of the terms of your mortgage contract so that your mortgage payments will be more manageable for you.
This could include reducing your interest rate, adding the missed payments to the loan balance or extending the term of the loan. A loan modification can be a good idea if you are facing a reduction in your income that will last for an extended period.
If you are struggling financially and you have missed a mortgage payment, don’t panic. Instead, follow these steps to make sure that you deal with the situation well and get back on track.
To find out more about handling the mortgage on your Chicago home, contact your trusted real estate professional today.
The past week brought encouraging economic news from several sources.
The FOMC statement indicated that the Federal Reserve has not set a date for rolling back its quantitative easing program and ADP reported more private sector jobs added than expected.
While weekly jobless claims were fewer than expected, the national unemployment rate remained elevated:
Monday: Pending Home Sales: The National Association of REALTORS reported that sales contracts fell in June due to rising mortgage rates and a tight inventory of available homes.
Tuesday: The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed that national home prices increased by 12.2 percent annually.
All 20 cities used in the 10 and 20 city home price indices posted gains in average home prices. Average U.S. home prices remained approximately 25 percent below their peak in 2006.
Consumer confidence dropped in July to a reading of 80.3 as compared to a revised reading of 82.1 in June. Higher mortgage rates and stubbornly high unemployment rates likely contributed to a cooling of consumer enthusiasm.
Wednesday: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said in its statement that based on its reading of current economic conditions,the committee had not set a date for beginning to reduce the Fed’s monthly asset purchase of $85 billion in Treasury securities and MBS.
The program, known as quantitative easing (QE), is intended to keep long-term interest rates including mortgage rates lower.
ADP reported that job growth for private-sector jobs exceeded expectations for July; the adjusted reading of 200,000 for July beat expectations of 185,000 jobs added and also surpassed June’s reading of 198,000 new jobs added.
The ADP jobs report is viewed by economists as a preview of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Non-farm Payrolls and National Unemployment reports, which are collectively known as the “Jobs Report.”
Thursday: Weekly jobless claims came in at 326,000. This was lower than expectations and the previous week’s reading, both of which were reported at 345,000 jobless claims.
Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates rose, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage coming in at 4.39 percent as compared to last week’s 4.31 percent.
Average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage came in at 3.43 percent over last week’s 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 3.18 percent and two basis points higher than the previous week’s 3.16 percent.
Friday: The July Non-farm Payrolls report showed that only 162,000 jobs were added as compared to expectations of 180,000 jobs added and June’s reading of 188,000 jobs added. While housing markets are showing strong improvement, high unemployment continues to be a drag on the economy.
The national unemployment rate for July was 7.40 percent and was lower than expectations of 7.50 percent and June’s reading of 7.60 percent.
What’s Coming Up This Week
This week’s economic news includes the Senior Loan Officer Survey set for Monday, the U.S. Trade Deficit and Job Openings reports for June on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a report on Consumer Credit will be released and the Weekly Jobless Claims will be out Thursday, along with Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates report. No mortgage or related news is scheduled for Friday.
Summer seems to be slipping away quickly. And, while you’ve hosted many barbecues on your back deck, you might not have had time to properly take care of it.
August is the perfect month to conduct a deck inspection and make any repairs before the time comes to prepare it for winter. Below are tips on some issues to watch for and how to fix them.
Inspect The Deck
It’s important to do a thorough inspection of your deck every summer. You don’t want to step through a rotted board or have a railing break away from under you.
Be sure to pay extra attention to places close to the ground or near water sources, such as under planters and next to the water spigot.
Check For Rot
Take a screwdriver and poke areas of the deck that look like they could be rotting.
If you can push the screwdriver in a quarter inch or more, then you’ll need to consider replacing the board. However if the hole is smaller than the size of a tennis ball, you can fill it with wood preservative and save some money.
Go under the deck if possible. You’ll need to check the supporting beams for any serious problems. Dangerous scenarios occur when the structure of the deck is compromised.
If you find an issue with a beam that cannot be removed because it’s holding up the deck, then reinforce it on both sides with pressure-treated lumber. Then scrape away the decomposing area.
Shake It Up
Give the railings a good shake to make sure they are structurally sound. Check for cracking around screw and nail holes.
If you find one, then remove the screw or nail, seal with exterior adhesive and drill a new hole to secure again.
Look For Cupping
Cupping occurs when wood absorbs and releases moisture, which may cause the floor planks to bow and warp. You want to make sure that guests and your family don’t trip over unruly slats. It might be a good idea to rent a professional-quality sander and even out the imperfections.
Perform a deck inspection to make sure your outdoor area is in suitable condition. Serious injuries can occur when homeowners don’t take the time to properly inspect and maintain their outdoor living spaces. Not to mention, it saves money to catch issues early and not have to replace the entire structure.
For more helpful tips on periodic home maintenance, please feel free to contact your trusted real estate professional today.