NAHB: Builder Confidence Hits Highest Rate in 9 Years; Fed Doesn’t Raise Rates

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reported that home builder confidence rose by one point to a reading of 62 for September. This was the highest reading since November 2005, when the NAHB reported a reading of 68 for home builder confidence.

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Whats AheNAHB Builder Confidence Hits Highest Rate in 9 Years Fed Doesnt Raise Ratesad For Mortgage Rates This Week September 8 2015The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reported that home builder confidence rose by one point to a reading of 62 for September. This was the highest reading since November 2005, when the NAHB reported a reading of 68 for home builder confidence. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than those who are not.

NAHB notes that builder confidence has been growing at a moderate pace since July 2014; this is in line with economic conditions in general. Relatively low mortgage rates and stronger labor markets are helping would-be buyers with their decisions to buy homes now.

FOMC Statement and Fed Chair Press Conference: No Rate Hikes Yet

The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve revealed that Fed policymakers have decided to wait on raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25 percent. While the FOMC statement indicated that policy makers acknowledge moderate progress in economic growth, a majority did not feel that the economy is ready to withstand a rate hike. When the Fed does raise rates, consumers can expect to see higher mortgage rates as well as increases in lending rates for credit cards and loans.

FOMC members said that housing markets were growing at a steady but moderate pace, but that inflation was lagging below the Fed’s benchmark 2.00 percent level due to transitory effects of lower energy and import prices. The Fed expects that inflation will reach its 2.00 percent goal over the medium term and will not likely raise rates until FOMC members are confident that inflation will rise as expected.

FOMC members continued to assert that any decision to raise rates will be based on close review of domestic and global financial and economic trends and will not be based on meeting the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.

Committee members also said that economic conditions could continue to warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below normal levels for the longer term.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave a press conference after the FOMC statement concluded. She addressed questions about the Fed’s decision not to raise rates and said that concerns over global developments contributed to Fed policy makers’ decision not to raise rates. Ms. Yellen explained that a stronger U.S. dollar has caused deflationary pressures and increased competition for U.S. exports. The Fed isn’t overly concerned about global conditions at present, but changing circumstances could change the Fed’s likely intention to raise rates before year end.

First-Time Home Buyer? 3 Budgeting Tips to Help Make Your Mortgage Payments Easier

Buying 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.

First-Time Home Buyer? 3 Budgeting Tips to Help Make Your 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 then 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 is 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 mortgage payments starts with getting a mortgage you can actually afford. Make sure you consult with a professional who will be able to help you find the best deal and get a mortgage that won’t break the bank each month.

Ignore ‘The Bubble’ Talk – 3 Reasons Why This is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate

While a gloomy outlook on the real estate market can strike fear in some hearts and may deter a purchase until a later date, the fact is that this is an excellent time to purchase property. In fact, there are three good reasons why potential buyers may want to start moving forward with their buying plans soon.

Ignore 'The Bubble' Talk - 3 Reasons Why Summer 2015 is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate It is common for those who are interested in buying real estate in the near future to tune into news stories about the real estate market, and many may have heard that there is speculation about a real estate bubble that may pop soon. While this gloomy outlook on the real estate market can strike fear in some hearts and may deter a purchase until a later date, the fact is that this is an excellent time to purchase property. In fact, there are three good reasons why potential buyers may want to start moving forward with their buying plans soon.

Low Interest Rates

Most who have plans to purchase real estate will need to apply for a mortgage loan to complete their transaction, and today’s low interest rates are highly competitive. Low interest rates make the cost of borrowing money to purchase real estate lower, and this means that the mortgage payment that may be locked in may be lower. There is some speculation that interest rates will rise in the coming weeks or months, and this means that now may be a great time to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Great Deals Available

More than that, there are some great real estate deals available for buyers to take advantage of. Real estate values in many areas have rebounded in recent years, but some areas are still off historic highs. In addition, there may be foreclosures, short sales and other types of transactions that can result in buyers saving money on their property purchase.

The Benefits Of Home Ownership

Another benefit associated with making a purchase now is that home buyers can start enjoying the financial benefits of home ownership sooner. These benefits include the ability to build equity through debt reduction and value appreciation as well as tax benefits associated with owning property. These are benefits that can have a true impact on a person’s financial situation, and it may be financialy advantageous to have access to these benefits sooner rather than later.

There will always be speculation about what the real estate market may do in the coming weeks, months and years, but it is impossible to accurately determine how the market may act. With this in mind, it may be best for buyers to take advantage of currently great market conditions rather than attempt to time the market in the future. Home buyers can get more information about market conditions by speaking with their trusted mortgage professional.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding the Math Behind Your Mortgage Closing Costs

It’s amazing that in a year with extremely low mortgage rates being reported around the country, closing costs are up by as much as 6% from the previous year. Part of the reason for this is that the stricter regulations on loans have increased the costs to banks, and they always find a way to pass on new costs to the consumer.

The Quick and Easy Guide to Understanding the Math Behind Your Mortgage Closing CostsIt’s amazing that in a year with extremely low mortgage rates being reported around the country, closing costs are up by as much as 6% from the previous year. Part of the reason for this is that the stricter regulations on loans have increased the costs to banks, and they always find a way to pass on new costs to the consumer.

Understanding Third-Party Closing Costs

When closing on a mortgage the borrower will notice a long list of additional fees that they are expected to pay for. These can range from insignificant into the thousands of dollars depending on the state and the deal. When looking at these fees you will notice that some are third-party fees.

This is not out of the ordinary and you are not being taken advantage of. These costs are for services rendered by outside companies at the request of the mortgage lender to make sure everything is in order with the property.

Closing Costs You Can Expect To Pay

Anybody going through the mortgage process for the first time should expect to see several odd sounding terms on the bill. The first is ‘origination’ or ‘processing’ which is the primary fee the lender charges for creating the mortgage.

Other fees include discount points, flood certification, title insurance, credit report and appraisal. These are all necessary for buying a home and should be expected to appear when closing.

The Trick Behind Zero-Closing Cost Mortgages

With closing fees adding up it may seem like a good idea to opt for a mortgage that has absolutely no closing costs if it’s offered. While no money will be required up front, it adds up in the long run.

This is because the lender is making a deal. They agree to pay all the closing costs for the borrower in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate, which will pay out for them over the course of the mortgage.

The amount you can expect to pay really depends on the cost of living and real estate market where you’re buying. A mortgage specialist will be able to talk to you in advance of applying for your mortgage to give you a better idea of what you are looking at paying for closing costs. Contact one today for more information on why you have to pay closing fees and the amount you should be budgeting for.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 14, 2015

A short week after the Labor Day Holiday provided a slack schedule for economic news. Bloomberg reported that residential investment for the second quarter of 2015 represented 3.34 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Compared to the long-term average reading of 4.56 percent, analysts said that the Q2 15 reading suggested pent-up demand in the housing market that could help propel the economy through any setbacks that could occur when the Fed raises rates.

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week September 14 2015A short week after the Labor Day Holiday provided a slack schedule for economic news. Bloomberg reported that residential investment for the second quarter of 2015 represented 3.34 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Compared to the long-term average reading of 4.56 percent, analysts said that the Q2 15 reading suggested pent-up demand in the housing market that could help propel the economy through any setbacks that could occur when the Fed raises rates.

Pent-Up Housing Demand a Plus when Fed Raises Rates

Job openings rose in July to 5.75 million as compared to June’s reading of 5.32 million. This is a positive indicator for the economy and for the housing sector, as consumer confidence in terms of buying a home typically relies on stable employment and a strong labor sector.

While economic indicators are looking good for housing construction, analysts note that a shortage of construction workers could affect construction of new residential units. Analysts said that children born during the 1980’s will lead the next wave of first-time home buyers, with millennials following. This trend could last for the next 10 to 15 years and is expected to bolster housing markets.

More lenient mortgage lending requirements and rising confidence among home builders were also cited as positive indicators for housing.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average fixed mortgage rates rose by one basis point to 3.90 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 3.10 percent for 15-year mortgages. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.91 percent. Average discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were unchanged at 0.60 percent and rose to 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and to 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Job Openings Rise as Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

July job openings rose to 5.75 million from June’s reading of 5.32 million; this was the highest number of available jobs since records have been kept. Analysts said that the high number of job openings clearly indicate that the labor force is not able to supply the workers needed by employers. Jobs available range from professional to service related work; this suggests a universal trend rather than hiring challenges within specific job areas.

Hiring activity fell in July to 4.98 million from June’s reading of 5.18 million. July separations also fell, which suggests that employers are having problems finding skilled workers and are holding on to experienced workers.

Weekly jobless claims fell to 275,000 from the prior week’s reading of 281,000 new jobless claims.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic reports include Retail Sales, Consumer Price Index and Core CSI along with the NAHB Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee will issue its customary statement on Wednesday, followed by highly-anticipated press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

What is HARP 2.0 And How Do I Know If I Qualify To Refinance With It

If you’re looking for home refinancing options, you may have had difficulty in the past – especially if you owe more than your home’s value on your mortgage. Getting refinancing consumes much of your home equity, which is in short supply for people who already have a mortgage. But with the government’s extension of the HARP Program, you may now be able to refinance your home with a variety of lenders.

You Ask, We Answer: What is 'HARP 2.0' And How Do I Know If I Qualify For HARP?If you’re looking for home refinancing options, you may have had difficulty in the past – especially if you owe more than your home’s value on your mortgage. Getting refinancing consumes much of your home equity, which is in short supply for people who already have a mortgage.

But with the government’s extension of the HARP Program, you can now refinance your home with a variety of lenders – even if you owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth. This ‘HARP 2.0’ is a great way for responsible borrowers to find mortgage relief.

But how does the program work, and who’s eligible for it? Here’s what you need to know.

HARP: Affordable Refinancing For Low-Equity Borrowers

HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, is a government initiative that was created in 2011. The program is designed to help homeowners who owe mortgages worth more than their home equity – so-called “underwater” homeowners. Under the original HARP program, homeowners with little or no home equity could refinance their home and benefit from lower interest rates – something that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

HARP 2.0, an updated program, was released in 2012. HARP 2.0 is different from the original program in two critical ways. First, it allows borrowers who have mortgage insurance to refinance their homes. Second, it absolves lenders of any responsibility for fraud on previous loans (which removes barriers to issuing new loans).

Do You Qualify? Eligibility Requirements For The HARP 2.0 Program

HARP 2.0 lists several criteria that applicants must meet in order to be eligible for refinancing.

In order for you to be eligible for HARP 2.0, your mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. If you signed your mortgage with another provider, it must have been sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae either on or before May 31, 2009. You must also have no previous refinances under HARP.

(Exception: Fannie Mae loans refinanced under HARP between March 2009 and May 2009 are still eligible for HARP 2.0).

You need to be able to prove your income, employment history, credit history, and assets. Some lenders will require a minimum credit score to qualify for HARP 2.0, although this may not be the case in all instances.

Are you underwater on your mortgage? If you qualify for HARP 2.0, you could refinance your home at a lower interest rate and get the relief you need. Contact your trusted mortgage expert to learn more about how HARP 2.0 can make your mortgage more affordable.

The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash When You Buy Your Next Home

With mortgage bubbles and real estate issues still in recent memory, one might feel that their best option is to buy their next home using cash instead of borrowing the necessary funds. In today’s article we’ll explore the pros and cons of paying cash for that next house or condo.

The Pros and Cons of Paying Cash When You Buy Your Next HomeWith mortgage bubbles and real estate issues still in recent memory, one might feel that their best option is to buy their next home using cash instead of borrowing the necessary funds. In today’s article we’ll explore the pros and cons of paying cash for that next house or condo.

The Pros Include A Feeling of Complete Ownership

There’s a feeling of pride and joy that comes with owning a home outright. There are several other reasons for paying cash instead of signing on the dotted line and getting and being strapped to a 30-year mortgage. Perhaps the best reason is having 100 percent equity in the home.

The cash will be there to borrow in case of an emergency. Having cash on hand is great if a water pipe bursts or there’s a huge car repair bill. In addition, instead of paying a monthly mortgage, that money could be used to start a college fund, to grow savings or to invest.

And, credit problems wouldn’t be an issue since there wouldn’t be a need to check credit history in the first place. The homeowner may be able to negotiate a better price, which may result in a likelihood of a smoother sale, and attract more prospective buyers.

The Not So Great Reasons To Pay With Cash

Buying a home is one of the largest financial investments a person will make in his or her lifetime.

However, buying a home outright most likely means that a significant percentage of cash will be tied up in the house. Less cash will be on hand for savings, college funds, and emergencies like a plumbing malfunction or an expensive car repair.

While paying in cash may result in a mortgage life, if the property value drops for whatever reason, there’s no purchase protection. For instance, if the market value of a $100,000 home loses 10 percent that will be a loss of $10,000. Take this example and apply it to a mortgage down payment. If the market value falls, there’ll be a loss of $10,000, but the bank would take a loss for the remainder of the property value.

Also, when paying with cash, there is no third party property evaluation to ensure the buyer isn’t overpaying for the home. Banks will send a professional to provide a property evaluation check to verify the correct home value.

Buying a home is a significant personal decision. In today’s tough economy, homeowners are finding ways of cutting back on expenses. Owning a home outright, without the stress of mortgage payments can be extremely liberating. Comminting a large amount of your cash to this large of an investment needs careful planning.  Sit down with your trusted mortgage professional today before making the decision to use cash to pay for a home.