Author Archives: Mike Domines

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Homeowner Equity Continues To Increase

When you buy a house, you’re not just purchasing a place to live. You’re also making an investment in the real estate market. Which means, as your home’s value grows, so does your equity. Equity, of course, refers to the amount a property is worth minus the amount still owed on the mortgage. Put simply, if your equity is growing, that’s good news. Which is why new numbers from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System are encouraging. That’s because they show homeowner equity on the rise. In fact, the total value of homeowner equity has increased $1.2 trillion over the past year and reached $14.4 trillion in the fourth quarter of last year. In short, that means homeowners are seeing the value of their homes, and their investment, grow. Whether you’re a current homeowner or are about to become one, this is a positive sign – as it indicates that the real estate market is strengthening and offering Americans a good opportunity to find a place they can, not only call home, but also a good financial decision. More here.

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The Best Markets For First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a house in a competitive market can be challenging, even for buyers that have been through it before. Getting into a bidding war with another buyer means possibly pushing your budget, or worse, losing the house you set your sights on. But finding and buying a house in a competitive market is especially intimidating for a first-time buyer, who may already be a little overwhelmed by the process. The good news is that, though there are generally fewer homes available to buy across the country, not all markets are equally competitive. For example, a recent analysis of housing markets looked for those that have available homes, smaller down payments, and a strong home appreciation forecast – in other words, areas that would be favorable for first-time buyers. According to the rankings, cities like Tampa, Orlando, Houston, Atlanta, and Las Vegas have more opportunities to buy an affordable, entry-level home than in other markets where inventory is tighter and there is higher demand. In short, there are still opportunities for buyers, so it’s a good idea to look into the dynamics of your desired neighborhood before talking yourself out of buying this year. More here.

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Income Has Risen But Will It Lead To Home Sales?

A rising number of Americans surveyed for Fannie Mae’s monthly Home Purchase Sentiment Index say their income is higher than it was last year at this time. But has more money made them more likely to buy or sell a house? Well, according to February’s survey results, it’s hard to say. That’s because, after an increase in January, housing sentiment fell in February – with respondents expressing less confidence in a number of categories. In fact, the number of participants who said it’s a good time to buy a house was down, as was the percentage of participants who said it was a good time to sell. But if January saw increases in housing confidence, why the drop in February? Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist, says some of the uncertainty has to do with changing economic headlines. “Volatility in consumer housing sentiment continued in February, with the new tax law beginning to impact respondents’ take-home pay and the stock market creating negative headlines due to early-month turbulence,” Duncan said. In short, people have more money but they’re still a bit unsure of what lies ahead for the market. More here.

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The Top Sacrifices Millennial Buyers Say They’ll Make

Buying a house is a major financial transaction and, for most Americans, the largest one they’ll ever undertake. So pulling the necessary resources together to be able to afford the upfront costs, in addition to the ongoing obligations, maintenance, and upkeep can be difficult. Especially for first-time home buyers who don’t have the benefit of being able to sell a home to help fund their down payment. For this reason, many millennials who aspire to homeownership have decided it’s worth making a few sacrifices in order to help save money to buy a house. In fact, according to a recent survey from ValueInsured, there are some common sacrifices young Americans say they are willing to make in order to buy their first home. For example, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they would cut down or give up eating out – which made giving up restaurants the most popular sacrifice among survey participants. Other common sacrifices included taking a second job, not going on vacations, moving back in with their parents, and giving up shopping for clothes. More here.

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Nearly 60% Of Homeowners Plan Home Improvements

If you’re a homeowner, you know the to-do list is never ending. And, if you’re a buyer, you’ll know soon enough. That’s because, owning a home means maintaining a home. Proof of that can be seen in the fifth annual LightStream Home Improvement Survey. According to the results, 58 percent of surveyed homeowners say they’re planning to spend money on home improvement projects in 2018. And the number who said they plan on spending $35,000 or more has doubled from last year. But though there are more homeowners planning projects this year, the list of projects hasn’t changed all that much. Once again, outdoor upgrades remain the most popular, with decks, patios, and landscape projects topping the list. Kitchen and bathroom remodels, of course, also rank high, coming second and third on Americans’ home improvement, to-do list. So how are these homeowners planning on paying for all these upgrades and renovations? Well, the vast majority said they were paying for their projects out of savings. However, another way homeowners are saving on their home improvement bills is by doing, at least, some of the work themselves. More here.

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Buyers Expand Search In Quest For Affordable Homes

It’s no secret that home prices have been increasing lately, and especially in the nation’s most populous metropolitan areas. So what are home buyers doing to ensure they find – not only a house they love – but one that fits well into their budget? Well one strategy is to look beyond the priciest locations for a more affordable neighborhood in the surrounding area. In other words, home buyers are getting creative in their search for a great home at a great price. And while this usually means moving to the suburbs, in some cases potential buyers are moving even further out. “Buyers have traditionally sought refuge in the suburbs during times of high home prices,” Javier Vivas, director of economic research for the National Association of Realtors’ consumer website. “But with today’s record highs even the suburbs have gotten pricey, which has demand flooding outward as options disappear and prices move further out of reach in top job hubs.” In short, expanding your search radius might be a good way to find a home that’s within reach of both your budget and your job. More here.

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Stronger Job Market Keeps Home Buyers Hopeful

There are a lot of different factors that play a role in determining whether or not you can buy a house and how much house you should buy. Current mortgage rates, home prices, your personal debt, income, and financial situation can all factor into your decision. That means, calculating whether or not now is the right time for you to pursue homeownership requires thinking a little bit about each. For example, home buyer demand remains elevated despite reports of affordability challenges in markets across the country. Why is that? Well one explanation is that a stronger job market has helped Americans feel more secure in their financial situation, which has made them willing to take on the commitments that come with buying a house and becoming a homeowner even with recent price and rate increases. In fact, according to one recent survey, the number of Americans who want to buy was up nearly 5 percent in January – which is typically a slow month for home sales. In other words, Americans feel more confident in their jobs and it’s fueling enthusiasm for buying a house. More here.

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New FHA and VA Loan Limits in 2016

FHA anThe Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced new maximum loan limits for 2016. For FHA, loan limits have increased in 188 counties around the country. VA loan limits have increased in 39 counties, and are the same as the Federal Housing Finance Agency loan limits for 2016.

FHA and VA loans are great options for many people.

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and are open to all qualified home purchasers. FHA loans also offer low down payment options and more flexibility than many other types of financing. While there are limits to the size of FHA loans, they are generous enough to handle moderately-priced homes almost anywhere in the country.

The VA helps service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. While the VA doesn’t specifically provide home loans, the VA provides a guarantee for a portion of the home loan. VA loans offer competitive rates and often require little or no down payment. d VA loan limits have increased in certain counties around the country.

Source: New FHA and VA Loan Limits in 2016

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What is the Velocity of Money and How Does it Impact Home Loan Rates?

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If you’ve been watching the economic news, you’ve probably noticed that market experts and traders have been keeping a close eye on the Commerce Department’s Personal Spending and Personal Income reports. Obviously, those reports provide insight into the health of our economy, but did you know they also influence home loan rates? That’s right, personal spending can actually influence the interest rates that are available when you purchase or refinance a home.

Here’s why. It has to do with something called the velocity of money. Even though the government keeps pumping money into the system, nothing happens until that money is spent or lent – and passes from one hand to another or one business to another. The speed at which this money passes between parties is called the velocity of money.

With the job market still very sluggish, consumers aren’t spending much money these days, and businesses are still reluctant to spend money to make investments in their business. With the present velocity at low levels, inflation remains subdued and that’s good for home loan rates. That’s because rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds and inflation is the archenemy of Bonds, so low inflation is good for Bonds and rates. However, once velocity increases, the excess money in the system will cause inflation – which is bad for rates, since even the slightest scent of inflation can cause home loan rates to worsen.

While we certainly want to see better economic recovery news in the near future, we have to remember that there’s an inverse relationship between good economic news and Bonds and home loan rates. Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, which helps Bonds and home loan rates improve. Strong economic news, on the other hand, normally has the opposite result.

Currently, home loan rates are at a historically low level, but that situation won’t last forever. That means now is an ideal time to purchase a home or refinance before the velocity of money – and rates – change. If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about the current economic situation and how to take advantage of historically low home loan rates, then please contact me.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 19, 2015

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Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week October 19 2015Last week’s economic reports included Consumer Price Index and Core index for September, the minutes of the FOMC meeting held September 15 and 17, and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:

FOMC Minutes Hint at Looming Rate Hike as Inflation Lags

Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September suggest that while Fed policy makers have reservations about low inflation and labor markets, they may go ahead and raise the target federal funds rate from its current range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the fed does raise rates, consumers can expect to see higher mortgage rates as well as loan rates on products such as personal loans and credit cards. FOMC members also expressed concerns over lagging inflation below the FOMC benchmark of 2.00 percent.

September’s Core Consumer Price Index report showed a slight reduction as consumer prices fell by -0.20 percent which matched analyst’s expectations and was lower than August’s reading of -0.10 percent. The reduction in consumer prices was caused by falling fuel prices. The Core Consumer Price Index for September, which does not include readings for energy or food prices, rose by -0.20 percent which exceeded predictions of an 0.10 percent increase and August’s reading of +0.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that fixed mortgage rates rose while rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage held steady last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by six basis points to 3.82 percent while the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.03 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.88 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims fell to 255,000 against expectations of 270,000 and the prior week’ reading of 262,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims fell by 2250 new jobless claims and reached its lowest level since 1973.

In other jobs-related news, job openings fell from July’s reading of 5.70 million to 5.40 million in August. The Labor Department also reported that the hiring rate and quit rates held steady at 3.60 percent and 1.90 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news releases include The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, September Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

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