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Millennial Home Buyers’ Biggest Regret

  • August 15, 2018

Compared to previous generations, millennials have been slower to become homeowners.  Factors like high student debt, sluggish wage growth, and other residuals from the Great Recession have impacted their ability to buy homes.  Of the millennials who are homeowners (approximately 4 in 10), 68% have expressed buyer’s remorse, with the top concern being spending too much money on the down payment.

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Amazon Unlikely to Disrupt Mortgage Lending

  • August 14, 2018

Ecommerce giant Amazon is known for disrupting a broad spectrum of industries from book publishing to grocery shopping.  Its most recent acquisition of PillPack, the online pharmacy, marks its first significant reach into the healthcare industry and resulted in a collective loss of $14.5 billion in market valuation of six major healthcare-related stocks.  With Amazon tapping into so many industries, it’s not surprising that a rumor has started about a possible mortgage lending division.  Forbes contributor, Mike Eshelman, explained why the formation of an Amazon mortgage bank is unlikely.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Housing Market Index, and Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • August 13, 2018

Mortgage rates continued to hold steady last week.  This week, the home builders’ sentiment index will come out on Tuesday, along with the weekly mortgage application survey.  Housing starts and building permits are also scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Job Openings Up, Consumer Credit Mixed, Mortgage Apps Decline

  • August 10, 2018

Mortgage rates have not shifted significantly this week.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed job openings have increased to the third-highest level in the report’s 18-year history.  Revolving consumer credit fell slightly after last month’s surge, and nonrevolving credit increased.  Both new purchase and refinance applications declined.

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What determines your mortgage interest rate?

  • August 09, 2018

If you’re shopping for a home, you’re probably paying attention to what interest rates are doing.  There are numerous resources available to check average mortgage rates in your area.  Researching rates can give you an idea of what to expect, but the mortgage rate for your specific mortgage loan depends on several key factors. 

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Proposed Bill Could Mean Higher VA Loan Fees

  • August 08, 2018

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018 recently moved to the Senate after getting approved with a vote of 382-0 in the House of Representatives.  The bill would extend medical benefits to over 90,000 Navy veterans who served off of the coast of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  The veterans believe they were exposed to Agent Orange, a dangerous chemical weapon that has led to birth defects, learning disabilities, and ongoing health issues for those who were exposed.  To pay for the funding, which is estimated to cost $3.4 billion over the course of five years, the Veterans Administration would increase fees associated with the VA home loan program.

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Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Popular Again

  • August 07, 2018

All mortgage loans have either fixed-rate or adjustable-rate terms.  With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate will stay the same throughout the life of a loan.  With an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest rate will move up or down after a fixed period of an introductory rate that lasts three to seven years, depending on the length of loan.  Typically, adjustable-rate mortgages will have an interest rate cap that they will not be able to exceed. 

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Consumer Credit, Mortgage Applications

  • August 06, 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged and mortgage rates did not move much following the news.  This week, the Labor Department will release its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).  Consumer credit is also on the schedule.  The only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Pending Home Sales Jump, Case-Shiller Home Price Index is Up

  • August 03, 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and as expected, did not make any interest rate moves.  Most economists are predicting two additional rate hikes this year, one in September, then another in December.  The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) pending home sales index surged after several months of tepid data.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index continues to appreciate. 

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How to Really Retire Early

  • August 02, 2018

You probably see dozens of articles a day about how to save more money or manage your expenses better.  While bringing your lunch to work and ordering water instead of soda or beer when you go out can save you hundreds of dollars each year, simply saving money is not enough to build wealth.  If you’d like to convert your mattress stash to the extra cushion you really need to retire early, it’s not about how much money you save, but what you do with that savings.

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Rental Fraud Rising

  • August 01, 2018

Unlike buying a home, most renters are sourcing listings and touring properties without the guidance of a real estate agent.  Without the help of a trusted professional, some renters lack the awareness it takes to spot red flags.  Vacation and timeshare rental fraud typically target older renters, but younger renters like Millennials, are the prime audience for apartment and rental home schemes.  Based on data analyzed by Apartment List, renters aged 19 to 29 are 42% more likely to lose money due to rental fraud.  With many renters saving to eventually buy a home, these losses are even more financially detrimental.

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US Homeowners Staying Put Then Selling for Record Gains

  • July 31, 2018

As home values continue to rise, homeowners are reaping the profits.  Attom Data Solutions and Bloomberg report homeowners are occupying their home for an average of 8.09 years, the longest stretch of time since 2000.  Those who sold in the second quarter of 2018, recorded an average gain of $58,000, the largest profit margin in over a decade.  But while homeowners are cashing in, would-be first-time home buyers have been hit hardest by this trend.

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Market Forecast: FOMC Meeting, Pending Home Sales, and Case-Shiller Home Price Index

  • July 30, 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and release an announcement following the meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  The Fed is not likely to raise interest rates following this meeting, the market expects the next rate hike to take place later this year.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release its pending home sales index on Monday.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index comes out on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales Decline, Mortgage Apps Mixed

  • July 27, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week.  Low available for-sale inventory continues to impact housing activity.  Existing home sales and new home sales each declined.  Refinance mortgage application submissions increased, but new purchase mortgage application submissions dropped.

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Is it time to see a Financial Advisor?

  • July 26, 2018

What it comes to money matters, expertise counts.  You wouldn’t buy a home without working with a mortgage loan officer and you probably see a tax professional at least once a year to do your taxes.  But when does the average consumer need to consult a financial advisor?  When it comes to protecting your assets and planning for you and your family’s future, a financial advisor can help you chart your path.  Some major milestones where you should consider consulting a financial advisor include marriage or divorce, family expansion, wealth changes, and retirement. 

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Don’t Believe This Big Credit Card Myth

  • July 25, 2018

Lenders use the credit score to evaluate a potential borrower’s ability to repay the loan.  Your credit score is integral to your ability to qualify for a mortgage.  It can take years to build up your credit score and just a few mistakes to damage it.  One pervasive credit card myth many consumers believe could actually be hurting your credit score.  According to a report by CreditCards.com, over 43 million Americans, 22% of all consumers, have carried a balance on their credit card under the impression it will improve their credit score.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

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Homeowner Equity Hits Record High

  • July 24, 2018

This month, tappable homeowner equity, reached the highest level ever recorded.  Tappable equity refers to the value of the home minus the standard 20% lenders recommend homeowners keep as a security cushion.  As of July 2018, US homeowners have a total of $5.8 trillion in tappable equity.  In the past year, the average homeowner gained $14,700 and currently has an average of $113,900 available to withdraw.

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, Mortgage Apps, New Home Sales

  • July 23, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, continuing to hold steady.  The existing home sales report comes out on Monday, followed by the new home sales report on Wednesday.  The weekly mortgage application survey is also scheduled for release on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Housing Market Index Steady, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Housing Start and Building Permits Fall

  • July 20, 2018

Mortgage rates were largely unchanged again this week, not trending significantly up or down.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index did not move up or down, with builders staying positive about buyer demand.  Mortgage application submissions flipped, with new purchase applications down and refinance applications up.  Housing starts and building permits each declined. 

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For Sale by Owner: Proceed with Caution

  • July 19, 2018

Home sellers choose the “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) route because they believe they will earn a larger profit by not having to pay their real estate agent a commission fee.  FSBO transactions tend to become even more popular in a seller’s market.  In 2016, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported the average FSBO sales price was $185,000, compared to the average $245,000 for a home represented by a real estate agent.  A staggering $60,000 difference, even despite the commission cost for the real estate agent. 

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Teen Engineer Team Invents Solar-Powered Tent

  • July 18, 2018

An all-girl team of high school engineers has created a collapsible, solar-powered tent to help the homeless population in their hometown of San Fernando, CA.  Just in the past year, the homeless population increased 36% to approximately 7,094 people in the San Fernando Valley.  Unable to give monetary donations, Daniela Orozco and her classmates found a new way to improve the lives of homeless people in their community. 

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Two More States Now Offer Tax incentives for Down Payment Savings Accounts

  • July 17, 2018

As home prices and down payment requirements rise proportionately, the housing market has seen a significant decline in first-time home buyers entering the market.  In 2017, first-time home buyers accounted for only 32% of all buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), much less than the long-term average ratio of 40%.  With renters struggling to save for the down payment on a home, even with low down payment options, some states are offering tax incentives for “first-time home buyer savings accounts.”

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Mortgage Apps, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • July 16, 2018

With no significant mortgage rate movement to report, rates are holding steady this month.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its housing market sentiment index on Tuesday.  Housing starts and building permits are scheduled for release on Wednesday, along with the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Expands, More Job Openings, and Mortgage Apps Rebound

  • July 13, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly up or down this week.  It was a light week for housing news, but the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey showed a surge in new purchase mortgage applications.  Consumer credit also increased substantially.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) cooled down after reaching a record level in April.

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How to Buy a Home When You’re Self-Employed

  • July 12, 2018

Buying a home when you are self-employed or own your own business will require more documentation than if you are a salaried employee with a yearly W2.  In today’s increasingly mobile job market, more and more US workers are choosing self-employment over traditional payroll jobs.  Freelancing is growing in popularity as workplaces become more remote.  Buying a home when you’re self-employed or own your own business is possible, when you do your homework.  Freelancers and small business owners can follow these tips for a smooth home buying process.

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Feds Cracking Down on Uptick in Wire Fraud

  • July 11, 2018

Financial institutions around the country have seen an increase in wire fraud activity this year, especially through email phishing and ransomware.  According to the Verizon Business 2018 Data Breach Investigations report, ransomware was the fifth most prevalent cybersecurity threat, impacting more businesses than traditional malware, spyware, and the use of stolen credentials.  Email phishing and ransomware can have a devastating impact on the finances of consumers and businesses alike. 

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HomeFundMe Success featured in The Wall Street Journal

  • July 11, 2018

Reese and Kyle Rademacher weren’t sure how they would afford a down payment to buy a home until their real-estate agent mentioned an offbeat idea: crowdfund the money from friends and family.

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Young Home Buyers Facing Affordability Crisis

  • July 10, 2018

Home price appreciation is impacting summer selling season, especially for first-time home buyers.  New research from Freddie Mac shows young adults aged 24-35 are hit hardest by affordability constraints. The homeownership rate for this age group has fallen 8% since peaking in 2004.  Based on the survey, 700,000 young adults who did not purchase a home between 2000 and 2016 cited affordability as the main reason. 

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Job Openings, and Mortgage Applications

  • July 09, 2018

With the short week last week, mortgage rates did not move much up or down.  There are no significant housing reports scheduled for this week, other than the weekly mortgage application survey set for release on Wednesday.  The consumer credit report comes out on Monday and the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) will be released on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Up, Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Gains

  • July 06, 2018

Markets were closed on Wednesday of this week, in observance of the Independence Day holiday.  Mortgage rates did not move significantly up or down.  Construction spending increased, driven by spending on public projects.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey showed an increase in new purchase applications, but a decrease in refinance applications.  The ADP employment report was gainful, but less than expected.

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Should you work with a Real Estate Agent?

  • July 05, 2018

In the digital age, many home buyers feel they can skip partnering with a professional Realtor or real estate agent because of their access to listing websites and other online tools.  While listing sites like Zillow and Trulia can help a home buyer find out what’s for sale in their area and start shopping, there are still many advantages to continuing your search with an established Realtor or real estate agent. 

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How to Spot What’s Hiding in a Staged Home

  • July 04, 2018

Staging a home is a way for home sellers to show potential buyers what the home will look like when they live there.  A staged home can give the buyer an idea of where to put their furniture and how to decorate.  While home staging can accentuate a home’s nice features, it can also cover up some unwanted damage.  

 

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Fannie Mae Revises 2018 Income Limits for HomeReady Mortgage

  • July 03, 2018

Fannie Mae HomeReady® Mortgage is a low down payment loan with 95% and 97% financing options and cancellable mortgage insurance coverage.  The HomeReady® Mortgage is not limited to first-time home buyers and available for repeat home buyers seeking an affordable financing option.  The HomeReady® Mortgage also employs flexible underwriting and credit guidelines allowing rental unit and boarder income to be included in the debt-to-income ratio and allowing non-occupant borrowers, like a parent borrowing on behalf of a child.

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Applications, ADP Employment Report

  • July 02, 2018

Mortgage rates held steady last week, not moving much in either direction.  This week, markets are closed on Wednesday in observance of Independence Day.  In housing news, US construction spending comes out on Monday and the weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  The ADP employment report is also scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: New Home Sales Surge, Case-Shiller Home Price Index Increases, Pending Home Sales Decline

  • June 29, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, settling after a post-rate hike climb.  New home sales increased substantially, signaling strong construction activity.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index continues to appreciate.  The pending home sales index dropped off again. 

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First-Time Home Buyers: How to Compete in Today’s Market

  • June 28, 2018

Low inventory and an influx of home buyers has created a competitive housing market, especially for first-time buyers.  Starter homes are feeling the inventory crunch, with Baby Boomers living in their larger homes longer, reducing available move-up options for Generation X, and thus starter homes for Millennials. 

 

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Money-Saving Tips Everyone Can Try

  • June 27, 2018

Saving for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges first-time home buyers around the country face.  Whether you are getting ready to buy a home, or saving for something else, everyone could use some fresh ideas to save more effectively.  Lifestyle blog Refinery 29 partnered with Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, Mint, and TurboTax, to compile this list of money-saving tips everyone can try.

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Fannie and Freddie Privatization Back on the Priority List

  • June 26, 2018

Last Thursday, the Trump Administration released a proposal asking Congress to revisit the privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) that have been under conservatorship since 2008.  The proposal recommends converting the GSEs into fully private entities but placing them under the regulatory oversight of another federal organization with experience in the secondary mortgage market. 

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales

  • June 25, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, holding steady after the rate hike earlier this month.  This week, the new home sales report will come out on Monday, followed by the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, and pending home sales later in the week. 

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Market Recap: Housing Market Index Drops, Housing Starts and Building Permits Mixed, and Existing Home Sales Slip

  • June 22, 2018

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, trending slightly upward in some cases.  Home builder sentiment is down, amidst rising construction costs.  Housing starts increased, but building permits declined.  Existing home sales dropped slightly. 

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Coming Up: What to Watch in Housing

  • June 21, 2018

With last week’s rate hike in the books and more expected in the coming year, the lending landscape will undergo some gradual changes.  Buying and selling a home is a big financial commitment and one that should include the guidance of trusted real estate professionals.  Last week, HousingWire compiled a list of the top issues impacting real estate and mortgage lending over the next three to seven years based on the Counselors of Real Estate Chair Joseph Nahas’s predictions.

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Mortgage Application Denied? What to do Next.

  • June 20, 2018

A mortgage application can be denied for a number of reasons.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than going through the home shopping process only to have financing fall through.  LendingTree reports approximately 8% of mortgage loan applications are denied nationwide.  While it’s a setback, mortgage application denial does not have to mean the end of your home search.  Taking these proactive steps after having a mortgage application denied can help you with your future home search.

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Home Flipping Rate Hits 6-Year High

  • June 19, 2018

Home flipping, or the act of buying a home with the intention of selling for a quick profit, is on the rise.  ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data company, reports the home flipping rate hit a 6-year-high in the first quarter of 2018.  Some of the particularly hot flipping metros leading this increase include Baton Rouge, LA, up 70% quarter-over-quarter, Lincoln, NE, up 55% q-o-q, Madison, WI, up 55% q-o-q, Columbia, SC, up 48% q-o-q, and Atlantic City, NJ, up 43% q-o-q. 

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits, and Existing Home Sales

  • June 18, 2018

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate, and mortgage rates reacted accordingly.  This week will be a big week for housing news, with the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index scheduled for release on Monday, housing starts and building permits on Tuesday, and existing home sales on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Down, Retail Sales Surge, and Fed Raises Rates

  • June 15, 2018

In a highly-anticipated move the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate on Wednesday to a range of 1.75-2.0%.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending upward.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage applications took a downturn this week, after rising the previous week.  Retail sales were especially strong, suggesting sustained Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth into second quarter.

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Don’t Let Debt Defer Homeownership

  • June 14, 2018

During the mortgage loan application process, lenders review debt-to-income ratio to ensure that the applicant will be in a good position to repay the loan.  Unfortunately, many Americans, especially Millennial-aged first-time home buyers, believe they are too debt burdened to buy a home.  With record-high student debt, the national median age of first-time home buyers in 2017 was 32-years-old. 

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How Planning Ahead Can Save You Money on these Housing Expenses

  • June 13, 2018

Homeownership advocates will often tell you that owning a home is less expensive than long-term renting.  This argument, one of the oldest debates in real estate, holds true in most metros around the country where the average monthly mortgage payment is cheaper than the average monthly rental rate.  However, owning a home will come with other expenses that the home buyer should know account for before purchasing.  Planning ahead with the right mortgage and homeowner’s insurance and setting aside savings for maintenance and repairs can save you from unexpected costs down the line.

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HomeFundMe Surpasses $1 Million Milestone

  • June 13, 2018

HomeFundMeTM, the first and only approved down payment crowdfunding platform, celebrated $1 Million raised last week.  To date, HomeFundMe has helped 337 families purchase a home with a crowdfunded down payment.  The proprietary service is changing lives around the country, one closed loan at a time.   

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3 Debts to Watch When Interest Rates Rise

  • June 12, 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet today and tomorrow and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will host a press conference on Wednesday following the meeting.  Market analysts expect the Fed to raise the benchmark interest rate for the second time this year, and the seventh time since December 2015 when the Fed began more aggressively raising interest rates after several years of near-zero interest rates during economic recovery.  The Fed is expected to raise rates at least one more time this year and more economic growth is sustainable.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Applications, Retail Sales, and FOMC Meeting

  • June 11, 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week for their fourth semiannual monetary policy meeting of the year.  So far this year, the Federal Reserve has raised the benchmark interest rate once.  Earlier projections had slated three interest rate hikes this year.  Mortgage application submissions jumped last week, as interest rates started to subside.  Other market moving reports scheduled for release include retail sales, coming out on Thursday. 

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Market Recap: More Job Openings, Mortgage Apps Jump, Consumer Borrowing Slows

  • June 08, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, leveling off this month after climbing in May.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed recorded growth in job openings.  Both new purchase and refinance applications turned around after several weeks of declines.  Consumer credit growth was modest. 

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Rising Mortgage Rates Likely to Slow Home Price Increases

  • June 07, 2018

After several years of near-zero interest rates, the Federal Reserve has started to gradually raise rates.  As mortgage rates continue to rise, home buyers will likely see relief in terms of home price appreciation.  In busy metros like Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Francisco posting double-digit annual gains this reprieve will be especially welcome.  In fact, some housing experts attribute the past few years’ rapid home price appreciation to exceptionally low mortgage rates.

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Top 3 Reasons Mortgage Applications are Denied

  • June 06, 2018

Buying a home is an exciting experience, but there is nothing more crushing to a prospective home buyer than having a mortgage application denied.  To avoid unexpected bad news at the closing table, it is best to be prepared by meeting with a mortgage professional before starting your home search.  Online resource, LendingTree, analyzed over ten million mortgage applications to compile this list for Forbes of the top three reasons home buyers get denied. 

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Demand for Down Payment Assistance on the Rise

  • June 05, 2018

Saving for a down payment is the most commonly reported obstacle to homeownership.  With rents rising and student debt accumulating, the problem is even more exacerbated with first-time home buyers trying to enter the market.  As the down payment obstacle persists, the demand for down payment assistance has also continued to increase.  According to a Scotsman Guide interview with Down Payment Resource CEO Rob Chrane, as of the first quarter of 2018 there are approximately 2,503 down payment assistance programs nationwide, and the demand for down payment help is likely to continue.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Applications, and Consumer Credit

  • June 04, 2018

Mortgage rates have started to level off after climbing most of the first half of the year. This week will be a slow week for economic news, the only housing report scheduled is the weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  In employment news, the Labor Department will release its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) on Tuesday.  The consumer credit report comes out on Thursday.

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Market Recap: Home Prices Ease, Private Payrolls Slow, Pending Home Sales Drop

  • June 01, 2018

Mortgage rates continued their downward trend this week, though there was no significant movement to report.  The S&P Core-Logic Case-Shiller home price index showed home price appreciation has started to ease up as mortgage rates climb.  The ADP employment report continued to show a strong labor market.  Pending home sales declined, as limited for-sale inventory continues to create a competitive market.    

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Your Mortgage Shouldn’t be One Size Fits All

  • May 31, 2018

At this year’s Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Secondary Marketing conference, one of the most prevalent topics of discussion was the growing market for different types of mortgage loans besides common options like the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.  The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the cornerstone of American homeownership and has helped families nationwide become homeowners for almost a century.  As the housing market changes, interest rates fluctuate, and regulations evolve, newer, more innovative mortgage products are starting to emerge.  In today’s mortgage market, your mortgage should not be “one size fits all.” 

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Babcock Ranch, Florida Makes Solar Power Push

  • May 30, 2018

Babcock Ranch, Florida located just 15 miles northeast of Fort Myers, is calling itself the first- solar-powered city in the nation.  Syd Kitson, the former NFL player turned Babcock Ranch property manager, plans to eventually power 19,500 homes plus a downtown, schools, restaurants, shopping, and other facilities with solar power.     

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Will Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act Reform Dodd-Frank?

  • May 29, 2018

Congressional Republicans may finally make good on Dodd-Frank reform with the passage of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act last week.  On Thursday, President Trump signed the bill into law.

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, ADP Employment, Pending Home Sales

  • May 28, 2018

Markets are closed today in observance of Memorial Day.  Coming up this week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will reveal whether or not home price appreciation has started to slow down.  The ADP employment report is scheduled for release on Wednesday.  Thursday’s pending home sales index will help predict housing’s direction heading into the summer.

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Market Recap: New Home Sales and Existing Home Sales Decline, FHFA House Price Index Up

  • May 25, 2018

Mortgage rates trended downward this week.  New home sales are down month-over-month, but up year-over-year as buyer demand continues to outpace supply.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index ticked slightly upward.  Existing home sales declined.

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Your Moving Day Checklist

  • May 24, 2018

Congratulations on your new home!  It’s been a busy buying and selling season and after a hectic home search, there is nothing more satisfying then finally getting the keys to your new home.  While you’ve certainly completed a final home inspection and walk-through with your real estate team, there are a few things you might not have thought of yet.

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5 Biggest Student Loan Myths to STOP Believing

  • May 23, 2018

Student loan debt is one of the biggest barriers to homeownership for millennials.  Despite the ability to afford a monthly mortgage payment, many first-time home buyers are unable to buy a home because of their inability to save for a down payment due to student debt repayment. 

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Most Profitable States for Flipping Houses

  • May 22, 2018

House flipping, or the practice of buying a fixer-upper to renovate and sell at a higher price, reached an 11-year high this year. With buyer demand outpacing supply, and housing inventory near all-time lows, house flippers have an opportunity to replenish for-sale inventory by purchasing homes that are less desirable. 

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, FHFA House Price Index, and Existing Home Sales

  • May 21, 2018

This week will be packed with housing reports including new home sales, existing home sales, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index.  New home sales surged last month and are expected to continue to strengthen with sustained buyer demand.  Existing home sales increased less significantly last month, as home buyers are vying over many of the same house prices.  The FHFA house price index is expected to continue to appreciate, at a more moderate pace. 

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Market Recap: Housing Starts and Building Permits Down, but Home Builders are Optimistic

  • May 18, 2018

Mortgage rates continued to trend upward this week.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index increased by two points with builders maintaining a positive outlook.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey declined, pushed down by a drop in refinance applications.  Housing starts and building permits each fell, but single-family home construction was positive.

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How to Access Valuable Home Equity

  • May 17, 2018

A home’s tappable equity is equal to the current value of the home minus the mortgage balance.  In 2017, tappable home equity, or the amount of equity borrowers could withdraw from their homes, rose by a record $735 billion, the largest annual increase ever, to a national level of $5.4 trillion.  As home values continue to rise, many homeowners are considering tapping into their homes’ equity to pay for expenses like college tuition, healthcare, and home renovations or to pay down other debts or invest elsewhere.  A home’s equity can be a great financial tool, but it can also be a great way to save for the future.  

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California is the First State to Require Solar Panels on New Homes

  • May 16, 2018

Last week, California became the first state in the country to require solar systems on almost all new homes.  Most new homes built after January 1st, 2020, will be required to include a solar energy system.  The policy will apply to single-family houses and multifamily housing three stories or less, but will have some exclusions, including homes that are too shady to benefit from solar power. 

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Warning! Wire Transfer Fraud Prevention Tips

  • May 15, 2018

In the midst of the busy home buying and selling season, fraudulent activity becomes more prevalent.  Due to the recent increase in Wire Transfer Fraud activity, it is important to remain vigilant by staying aware throughout the transaction and reporting any suspicious activity immediately.

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Why Some Millennials are Skipping Starter Homes

  • May 15, 2018

One of the most prevalent discussions in today’s housing market is the shortage of available homes for sale.  Construction activity has yet to surpass its pre-Recession peak and in many metros, home buyers are vying over the same few available properties for sale.  Starter homes especially are feeling the inventory crunch.  With builders seeing more profit from larger luxury homes, they prefer to build big rather than replenish starter home inventory.  As Millennials, roughly those born between 1980 and 2000, start to enter the housing market as first-time home buyers, many are skipping starter homes altogether and buying these bigger homes. 

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Mortgage Applications, and Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • May 14, 2018

Mortgage rates started to level off last week, amidst influence from global economic changes.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its housing market sentiment index on Tuesday and it’s likely to remain positive.  Housing starts and building permits come out on Wednesday.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will also release its weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Consumer Borrowing Slows, Job Openings Up, and Mortgage Applications Decline

  • May 11, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week and then leveled off.  Consumer credit expanded more slowly than in recent months, suggesting consumers have enough assets and saving to offset borrowing.  Job openings exceeded expectations, and hirings dropped.  The weekly mortgage application survey decreased, driven mostly by a drop in refinance application submissions. 

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Why is renting perceived as the more affordable option?

  • May 10, 2018

A home is the first appreciating asset most Americans will own and the first step many will take toward building wealth.  With rents skyrocketing around the country, the average monthly mortgage payment is typically less than the average monthly rental payment in most regions.  According to a new Freddie Mac report, 67% of renters continue renting because they believe it is more affordable than buying a home. 

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NEVER Put These Expenses on Credit Cards

  • May 09, 2018

Credit cards are no longer the “emergency use only” tools they once were.  Outstanding consumer credit card debt surpassed $1 trillion in 2017, the highest it has ever been.   Unfortunately, not all consumers are borrowing responsibly.  According to NerdWallet, 86% of Americans who had or currently have credit card debt regret it.  Using a credit card responsibly is one way to positively influence your credit score.  However, not every expense should be put on credit cards.  Here are some of the big-ticket expenses Experian warns, should never be put on credit cards.

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Why Cash-Out Refinances are on the Rise

  • May 08, 2018

A cash-out refinance is a type of mortgage refinance where the homeowner refinances the mortgage into a larger loan in order to withdraw the difference between the loans in cash.  For example, if the homeowner still owes $200,000 on a $300,000 home and would like to withdraw $30,000, they could refinance the mortgage to a value of $230,000. Some of the ways homeowners use cash-out refinances is to pay off credit card debt, send their kids to college, or fund renovations on the home.

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Job Openings, and Mortgage Application Survey

  • May 07, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, holding steady after the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) decision to leave interest rates unchanged.  The consumer credit report comes out on Monday, and though the report excludes mortgage financing, it analyzes other consumer borrowing habits and consumer spending.  In employment news, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) will come out on Tuesday.  There are no significant housing reports scheduled for release this week, besides the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Down, Private Payrolls Grow, and Fed Holds on Hiking Rates

  • May 04, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, trending slightly upward from last week’s averages.  Total US construction spending dropped amidst higher home-building expenditures.  The ADP employment report showed the addition of 204,000 jobs, exceeding the market estimate.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on Tuesday and Wednesday and voted to hold the benchmark interest rate at the 1.5 – 1.75% range. 

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What Unmarried Couples Should Know When Buying a Home Together

  • May 03, 2018

The National Association of Realtors reported 16% of first-time home buyers in 2017 were unmarried couples, the largest share since the organization started tracking in 1981.  Committed couples buying a home together before marriage is a popular choice especially with mortgage rates, rental costs, and home prices on the rise.  Some couples are willing to own and start building equity, rather than waiting and risking higher rates or home prices. 

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Selling Your Home? Prepare for these Hidden Costs.

  • May 02, 2018

Need to sell your home this year?  With limited for-sale inventory, some housing professionals are calling it a seller’s market.  While many sellers stand to profit from the sale of their home, there are still costs associated with selling.  The majority of sellers who sold a home in 2017 had never sold a home before. 

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Credit Scores May Improve with Removal of Tax Lien Information

  • May 01, 2018

Earlier this month, all three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, announced they would exclude tax liens from consumer credit reports.  The move follows a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) decreeing the removal of public records for judgments or liens from credit reports could boost credit scores for 17% of American consumers.  In July of 2017, credit bureaus removed almost all civil judgment data and about half of tax lien data from credit reports.  As of April 16th, 2018, the rest of this tax data has been removed. 

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, ADP Employment Report, and FOMC Meeting

  • April 30, 2018

Average mortgage rates reached year-long highs last week, ahead of this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The Federal Reserve is expected to continue raising rates this year, but not at the upcoming meeting on May 1st and 2nd.  The US construction report comes out on Tuesday, followed by the ADP employment report on Wednesday.  Strong jobs reports are supportive of continued rate hikes, but core inflation has yet to break the targeted 3.0% threshold. 

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Up, Home Prices Appreciate, New Home Sales Surge

  • April 27, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week.  Existing home sales increased month-over-month but declined year-over-year.  Home prices continue to appreciate, as limited inventory strains for-sale availability.  New home sales surged, and revisions to the previous two months’ reports indicate that buyer demand in the first quarter of 2018 was stronger than originally thought.

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Subprime Mortgages Reinvented as Near-Prime and Non-Prime Options

  • April 26, 2018

Subprime mortgages sometimes carry a negative connotation because they are largely associated with the Financial Crisis in 2007 and 2008.  However, subprime lending, now rebranded as near-prime and non-prime, can benefit many borrowers who experienced a credit event and are looking to finance a home.  In the past decade, subprime mortgages had mostly dropped off, but Financial Times reports that subprime mortgage bond issuance has doubled from the first quarter of 2017, $666 million, to the first quarter of 2018, $1.3 billion.  Why is the demand for near-prime and non-prime mortgages on the rise again?

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HUD and VA Commit $43 Million Toward Housing Homeless Veterans

  • April 25, 2018

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a budget of $43 million toward funding permanent housing solutions for homeless veterans.  The funding will be distributed amongst 325 local public housing agencies with the hopes of housing over 5,200 homeless veterans. 

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3 Ways Home Buyers Can Stand Out in a Seller’s Market

  • April 24, 2018

Home buyers are hearing a lot about the “seller’s market” this spring – but what exactly does that mean?  A “seller’s market” occurs when the housing supply dips below a six-month supply.  Based on February’s existing home sales data, it would take just 3.4 months to exhaust all existing home inventory.  Many metros around the country today do not have enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand, creating an increasingly competitive market.  Some home buyers may be wary to enter today’s competitive market. However, there are ways to stand out in a seller’s market and get an offer accepted.

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Market Forecast Existing Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, New Home Sales

  • April 23, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward last week, and mortgage application submissions surged with many buyers looking to lock rates ahead of future increases.  This week, there are numerous important housing reports scheduled for release including existing home sales, new home sales, and the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index. 

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Market Recap: Retail Sales Surge, Housing Market Index Dips, and Housing Starts and Building Permits Rise

  • April 20, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, trending slightly upward according to some sources.  Retail sales rebounded with strength after several months of ticking downward.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index dropped by one point, but the reading was still positive.  Housing starts and building permits each increased.

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HomeFundMe iPhone and Android App Now Available

  • April 19, 2018

HomeFundMeTM, the first and only approved down payment crowdfunding platform, is now available as a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.  Home buyers can download the free app on the App Store or Google Play Store and launch HomeFundMe campaigns from the palm of their hands.

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Types of Refinance: Which One is Right for You?

  • April 19, 2018

Homeowners choose to refinance their mortgage for a number of reasons.  Homeowners may refinance if they have the opportunity to secure a better interest rate or need to change the repayment terms of the loan.  Cash out refinances allow homeowners to pull cash out of their loan, by raising the total loan value.  Cash in refinances enable homeowners to pay down the loan principal and lower their monthly payments.  Renovation refinances can be used to finance a home’s needed repairs or remodels through the monthly mortgage payment. 

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Community Reinvestment Through Crowdfunding

  • April 18, 2018

Detroit-based startup Cooperative Capital is making it possible for neighbors to reinvest in their communities by pooling smaller investments together to fund larger projects.  Like many former industrial strongholds, Detroit is plagued with blighted properties in need of repair or remodel.  Cooperative Capital’s mission statement is “to build up communities with the direct participation of the community.”  Through this funding program, community members are able to facilitate redevelopment, build stronger neighborhoods, and even profit from their investment. 

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Tax Day Warning: What happens if you don’t pay your taxes?

  • April 17, 2018

Today, April 17th, 2018, is the deadline for filing 2017 taxes.  When the default filing day, April 15th, falls on the weekend, the official filing deadline gets moved to the following non-holiday (April 16th is Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia).  Not filing taxes, or not paying taxes in the case of taxes owed, carry different penalties depending on the circumstances.  In some cases, tax payers have the option to file for an extension to avoid these fees. 

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Market Forecast: Retail Sales, Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • April 16, 2018

Last week, there was no significant mortgage rate movement to report.  This week’s important housing reports include the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index on Monday and housing starts and building permits on Tuesday.  Other market moving reports include the retail sales report, scheduled for release on Monday. 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Applications Down, FOMC Positive, and Job Openings Fall

  • April 13, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.   The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the minutes from its March meeting and the overall tone was optimistic.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed job openings dipped.

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Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement

  • April 12, 2018

As a large share of the population approaches retirement, one of the recurring debates is whether or not to downsize.  Americans are living longer than previous generations, and with that comes more expenses for medical, travel, and cost of living.  These expenses combined with the upkeep and maintenance of a large home could easily exceed retirement savings.  To ensure a more financially comfortable retirement, many Americans are choosing to downsize from larger homes to smaller homes.  TD Ameritrade reports 42% of Americans plan on downsizing when they retire. 

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MGIC Cuts Mortgage Insurance Like Many Other MI Providers

  • April 11, 2018

Like many other mortgage insurance providers recently, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. (MGIC) announced it has also chosen to cut its mortgage insurance premiums. MGIC explained the move was made to reflect the changes to the corporate tax rate earlier this year.   The reduction, set to go into effect June 4th, 2018, will likely make conventional loans more competitive than FHA loans, in many circumstances.

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How Student Loan Debt Prevents Homeownership

  • April 10, 2018

One of the most pervasive issues hurting first-time home buyers today is student debt.  The substantial cost of higher-education pushes many young Americans to take out high-balance loans and graduate with debt in the range of tens of thousands of dollars, or higher, depending on the degree.  Over 45 million Americans carry student debt, the average borrower owes more than $30,000 and one-fifth of borrowers owe more than $100,000.  Student loan debt is hurting homeownership in a number of ways, because it lessens the borrower’s ability to save for a down payment and closing costs, it increases the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, and in some cases negatively impacts the borrower’s credit score.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, FOMC Minutes, and Job Openings

  • April 09, 2018

This week will be a light week for housing news.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  The Federal Reserve will also release the minutes from its March Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday.  In employment news, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) will come out on Friday.  

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Up, Mortgage Apps Down, ADP Employment Strong

  • April 06, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week, amidst some stock market-related uncertainty.  Construction spending improved after last month’s flat numbers.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  The ADP employment report showed strength.

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Renovation Refinance: Setting Your Budget and Building Your Team

  • April 05, 2018

With low housing inventory creating a competitive housing market, some homeowners are opting the renovation route to turn the house they like into the home they love.  Refinancing with a renovation loan can help homeowners finance home improvements without taking on additional high-cost lines of credit.  Purchasing a home with a renovation loan can help potential home buyers expand their search and, in some cases, pay less for a fixer-upper to customize, compared to a move-in ready home.  Before considering a renovation loan, it is best to weigh your options, set a budget, and build the right renovation team.

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Advantages of Energy Efficient Upgrades

  • April 04, 2018

Adding energy efficient appliances, fixtures, and other systems to your home can not only cut utility costs, but also increase the value of the home.  With a continuously emerging energy efficient marketplace, plus the advent of smart home technology, some homeowners may be wondering where to start and which energy efficient upgrades will yield the best results. 

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Freddie Mac Eases Down Payment Requirements for 2-Unit Primary Residences and Second Homes

  • April 03, 2018

This week, Freddie Mac announced updates to its loan-to-value (LTV) ratio guidelines for purchases and “no-cash-out” refinance mortgages used for second homes, any 1-unit residential property owned by the borrower but only occupied for a portion of the year, and 2-unit primary residences, such as duplexes. 

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Most Millennials Will Spend Almost $100,000 on Rent Before Turning 30

  • April 03, 2018

The next largest generation to enter the housing market, the Millennials or individuals born between 1982 and 1996, are on track to become the most rent-burdened generation ever.  As rents continue to skyrocket, a RentCafé study shows that Millennials will likely continue to pay 45% of their total income toward rent, a figure closing in on $100,000, before turning 30. 

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Applications, and the ADP Employment Report

  • April 02, 2018

Mortgage rates have trended slightly downward in recent weeks, reacting to uncertainty surrounding global trade and plunging technology sector stocks.  This week, the US construction spending report comes out on Monday and the weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  The ADP employment report is also scheduled for release on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Up, Mortgage Apps Strong, Pending Home Sales Rebound

  • March 30, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week, following strong economic gains.  Home prices continue to appreciate, due to low housing inventory.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  The pending home sales index turned around after last month’s decline. 

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Pre-Purchase Planning for the Perfect Home

  • March 29, 2018

This spring home buying and selling season is expected to be one of the most competitive in over a decade.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that 61% of home buyers looking to buy in the next 12 months, have been searching for three months or longer, and their sample includes buyers looking for newly constructed and previously-owned homes.

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SXSW Housing Highlight: 3D-Printed Homes in Under One Day

  • March 28, 2018

Among the multitude of innovative tech debuted at this year’s South by Southwest, was, what is believed to be, the first fully up to code 3D-printed house.  The Vulcan printer was designed by Icon, a robotics construction company based in Austin, TX in collaboration with New Story, a Y Combinator-backed charity that works to provide shelter for people in emergency situations in developing nations.  The Vulcan printer is able to produce 800-square-foot 3D-printed houses that are easy-to-replicate and inhabitable in less than 24 hours. 

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4 Things We Learned from the Federal Reserve’s March Meeting

  • March 27, 2018

With a unanimous 8-0 vote, the Federal Open Market Committee hiked the federal funds rate target range to 1.5% to 1.75% at last week’s March meeting.  The much-anticipated rate hike is a reaction to current economic strength and an improved outlook for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Mortgage Apps, and Pending Home Sales

  • March 26, 2018

Mortgage rates continued to trend upward last week, but buyer demand remains strong.  Homes are selling increasingly faster, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in last week’s existing home sales report.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will review home price appreciation trends, and the pending home sales index will show what to expect in terms of sales in the coming months.  Additionally, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Improve, New Home Sales Slip, and FOMC Hikes Rates

  • March 23, 2018

Average mortgage rates did not move much in either direction this week. In a highly anticipated move, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate .25 bps.  Existing home sales rebounded, but new home sales fell slightly.

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Trulia’s Top Homeowner Regrets

  • March 22, 2018

Buying a home is the first step many consumers take toward building wealth, becoming a part of a community, and seizing a piece of the American dream.  But, some home purchases can lead to regret when buyers don’t do the appropriate research or make a hasty decision.  Real estate blog Trulia surveyed homeowners across the country to find out what went wrong with a past purchase, and how they would have handled the experience differently. 

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How to Raise Your Credit Score Before Home Purchase

  • March 21, 2018

Lenders use a home buyer’s credit score to determine credit risk and evaluate their ability to repay a loan.  A good FICO credit score is instrumental to securing a mortgage loan and, in some cases, getting a better interest rate.  Most mortgage professionals suggest potential home buyers start credit repair at least six months to a year before shopping for a home.  Remember, each hard credit pull, like the kind needed for a new line of credit like a mortgage, will impact the credit score!  A little credit repair now goes a long way when it comes to a high-dollar purchase later.

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Dodd-Frank Rewrite Could Improve Local Mortgage Lending

  • March 20, 2018

Last week, the Senate passed the most significant Dodd-Frank reform bill since the original legislation was enacted in 2010.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed to curb predatory banking activity and restore economic normalcy following the Financial Crisis.  However, since economic recovery, Dodd-Frank has not been changed despite the expensive regulatory burden it imposes on many financial institutions, especially smaller banks and lenders.  The bill passed with some bipartisan support and will now move on to the House of Representatives. 

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, New Home Sales, and FOMC Meeting

  • March 19, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward last week, following a few weeks of steady increases.  New tariffs on construction materials have caused political discord and could stall home building activity.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet Tuesday and Wednesday for their semi-annual monetary policy meeting.  A press conference with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled for Wednesday.  February’s existing home sales and new home sales reports are also scheduled for release.

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Market Recap: Retail Sales Drop, Housing Market Index Down, Construction Stalls

  • March 16, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week after a multi-week climb.  Some market analysts attribute the rate drop to this week’s tariff proposals and other political news.  Retail sales scaled slightly back in February, as is expected following the holiday season.  The housing market index dropped from last month’s 19-year high.  Housing starts and building permits slipped.

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Buyer Beware: Spot These Small Problems Before They Cost You Big Time

  • March 15, 2018

Shopping for a home is an exciting experience.  When a home buyer finds a home they love, it can be easy to get attached or even emotional about the home.  However, what seems like a dream house can turn into a money pit without a thorough inspection.  The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates a typical home inspection can cost anywhere between $300 to $500, depending on the region and condition of the home.  Before spending money on one or more home inspections, watch out for these simple clues that can be signs of costly damage beneath the surface. 

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Home Depot Invests $50 Million in Construction Worker Training

  • March 14, 2018

Last week, Home Depot announced a funding initiative to train 20,000 construction workers.  One of the major problems the construction industry faces today is a lack of skilled laborers.  Home Depot’s $50 million investment to the Home Builders Institute (HBI) is expected to go towards the training of veterans and soldiers soon returning to civilian life, high school students, and disadvantaged youths.

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IRS: Interest Still Deductible on Some Home Equity Loans and HELOCs

  • March 13, 2018

As home prices continue to appreciate, homeowners continue to build equity.  In 2017, American homeowners’ home equity hit a record $14.1 trillion.  With growing home equity, some homeowners may be considering home equity loans or home equity lines of credit (HELOC).  Following the release of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, some homeowners are unclear about whether or not their interest is tax deductible.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently weighed in on the issue to clarify what is and is not still deductible.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • March 12, 2018

Mortgage rates did not fluctuate greatly last week, leveling off after an upward trend.  Refinance mortgage applications picked up, but new purchase applications pulled back slightly.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its housing market sentiment index and housing starts and building permits will come out on Friday. 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Growth Strong, Consumer Borrowing Slows

  • March 09, 2018

Mortgage rates are not moving much this week, leveling out after inching slightly upward.  New purchase mortgage application submissions declined, but refinance application submissions improved.  The ADP employment report strengthened again, as the job market nears full employment.  Consumer credit expanded in January, but at a slower pace than in December, as expected.

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Staying Competitive Against a Cash Offer

  • March 08, 2018

With home buying and selling season on the horizon, some buyers are wary of the competitive nature of today’s market, due to limited homes for sale.  For buyers worried about competing against an all-cash buyer, know that your offer can still get accepted.  Review these strategies for competing against an all cash buyer and winning!

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Passive Houses Gaining Popularity Again

  • March 07, 2018

A passive house is defined as a house that is able to use approximately 86% less energy for heating and 46% less energy for cooling than neighboring homes.  Passive house design eliminates the need for extra heating and cooling by building airtight homes that do not let in outdoor air.  Using extra exterior insulation and multi-pane windows, the initial cost of building a passive house is greater, but the energy savings over time are expected to return the investment.

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Bipartisan Dodd-Frank Rewrite Advances in Congress

  • March 06, 2018

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155) is heading to the Senate for a vote this week.  The bill, with bipartisan support from 20 co-sponsors, would bring some of the most significant changes to Dodd-Frank legislation, since its passage almost ten years ago.  While Dodd-Frank reform has been a topic of discussion in the housing industry for years, neither a repeal nor a rewrite has survived both houses of Congress.  Last year, a previous bill, the Financial CHOICE Act (H.R. 10) died on the Senate floor after receiving only partisan support.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Applications, ADP Employment Report, and Consumer Credit

  • March 05, 2018

Last week, mortgage rates trended slightly upward.  This week, there are no significant housing reports, aside from the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other notable economic reports include the ADP employment report and consumer credit.  Job creation and consumer spending strengthen the overall economy, including housing activity. 

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Market Recap: New Home Sales Drop, Home Prices Go Up, Pending Home Sales Decline

  • March 02, 2018

As expected, mortgage rates continued to trend slightly upward this week.  Unseasonably cold winter weather stalled new home sales again this month.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated month-over-month and year-over-year.  The pending home sales index declined.

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Developers Communicate with Community through CoUrbanize

  • February 28, 2018

Some development projects fall through because of a vocal minority’s opposition.  Likewise, other development projects move forward against popular opinion, because only a small segment of the community is represented in community meetings and town halls.  CoUrbanize brings developers and members of the community together through an online tool that makes decision making more accessible and discourse as easy as a comment thread.   

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Why Rising Rates Aren't a Cause for Concern

  • February 27, 2018

Anyone who is in the market for a new home or considering a mortgage refinance is acutely aware of upcoming rate hikes in 2018.  After sustained economic recovery through quantitative easing, the Federal Reserve is on track to continue to gradually raise the benchmark interest rate.  After years of historically low interest rates, the expected rate hikes should not be cause for concern.  Just over a decade ago, the average mortgage rate was well over 6%, and twenty years ago, the average mortgage rate was nearly twice what it is today.  The coverage surrounding the impending rate hikes should not be misconstrued as negative.  Prospective home buyers looking to make a purchase or homeowners considering a mortgage refinance should know mortgage rates are still historically low, the Fed has had a long-term plan to restore interest rates since the Financial Crisis, and typically consumer confidence, low unemployment, and wage growth offset rising interest rates.

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Pending Home Sales

  • February 26, 2018

Mortgage rates continued to trend upward last week.  Heading into the end of February, this week brings some end-of-month reports including, new home sales, pending home sales, and the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.   

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Market Recap: Mortgage Applications Dip, Existing Home Sales Slump, More Rate Hikes Expected

  • February 23, 2018

Mortgage rates continue to trend upward but are averaging less than half of a percentage point higher than they were this time last year.  The weekly mortgage application survey showed a week-over-week decline, but a year-over-year increase.  Existing home sales scaled back, though not as drastically as they did in December.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the minutes from its January meeting, and the market expects the first rate hike of the year to take place in March. 

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FYI: What's PITI?

  • February 22, 2018

New to the mortgage process?  You are probably seeing a lot of new acronyms you may not be familiar with.  The monthly mortgage payment, for example, is comprised of “PITI” or Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance.  When budgeting for the cost of a monthly mortgage payment, home buyers should consider the cost of each of these components.

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Ecologist Converts Vacant City Lots to Wildflower Fields

  • February 21, 2018

Abandoned buildings and vacant lots are signature signs of urban decay and blighted neighborhoods.  They can also become environmentally hazardous from chemicals and construction waste piling up.  University of Maryland, Baltimore County, ecologist Chris Swan is experimenting with repurposing the over 14,000 vacant lots throughout the city of Baltimore by planting native wildflowers and redeveloping the unused land.

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Fannie Mae's Home Purchase Sentiment Index Positive in January

  • February 20, 2018

Despite what the groundhog said, some real estate professionals are seeing an early spring in the housing sector.  Gradual rate hikes and steady home price appreciation are pushing some home buyers to start shopping early.  In heated housing markets, like Denver, Colorado, a moderately priced home can see as many as 100 tours in a single weekend. 

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Low Down Payment Option: 100% Yours with as Little as 3% Down

  • February 19, 2018

Saving for a down payment is one of the most commonly reported obstacles to homeownership and continues to slow down the home buying process for creditworthy borrowers.  As rents and home prices continue to rise, almost every demographic, especially first-time home buyers, are experiencing difficulties in saving for a down payment. 

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Applications, Existing Home Sales, and FOMC Minutes

  • February 19, 2018

Most banks and markets are closed today in observance of Presidents' Day.  This will be a short week for economic data, though two important housing reports will be released.  The weekly mortgage application survey and existing home sales are scheduled to come out on Wednesday.  Additionally, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will release the minutes from its January meeting. 

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Market Recap: Retail Sales Pull Back, Housing Market Index Unchanged, Housing Starts and Building Permits Up

  • February 16, 2018

Mortgage rates continued to rise this week.  Next week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will release the minutes from its January meeting, the last meeting with Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chair.  Retail sales slumped slightly in January, after a gainful holiday season.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index was unchanged and housing starts and building permits surged.

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Why Millennials Aren't Moving

  • February 15, 2018

Americans aged 18 to 34 years old are moving at record-low rates.  Total household mobility across all age brackets stood at 10.9% in 2017, the lowest mobility rate in over 50 years.  While fewer Millennials are moving annually, their reasons for moving have become significantly more positive than during the Recession.  Following the Financial Crisis, most young Americans moved for negative reasons, like cheaper housing.  Since 2009, the reasons for moving have shifted toward more positive goals like moving to own not rent, to obtain new or better housing, or to relocate to a better neighborhood.

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New Buildings Made from Old Materials

  • February 14, 2018

Heading into 2018, housing continues to struggle with a lack of inventory.  In addition to difficulty hiring skilled laborers, rising construction costs are impacting the ability for builders to replenish the buyer demand for supply.  A Cleveland-based architecture firm, Redhouse Studio, is experimenting with a way to reuse construction materials and convert demolition waste, like timber, concrete, and asphalt, into new building materials.

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How the Dow Jones Impacts Mortgage Lending

  • February 13, 2018

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tracks stock price fluctuation of thirty major American companies and is used to gauge general market conditions. Last Monday, the Dow Jones saw some steep declines, setting a record for the most points lost in a day, though in the past it has seen larger losses by percentage.  The stock market is known for its volatility, and just one day after the plunge, the Dow Jones closed over 500 points higher.  How do falling stocks affect mortgage lending? 

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Market Forecast: Retail Sales, Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • February 12, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, and the likelihood of a March rate hike has dropped following some stock market volatility.  This week’s important housing reports scheduled for release are the home builders’ sentiment index and housing starts and building permits.  Though home builder confidence declined last month, home builders were setting record confidence levels most of the past year.  Housing starts and building permits were hurt last December by frigid winter weather.  Other market-moving reports include retail sales and retail sales excluding auto; consumer spending is a big driver of economic momentum.  

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Market Recap: More Job Openings, Mortgage Applications Mixed, Consumer Credit

  • February 09, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly either way this week.  Most market volatility took place in the Stock Market sphere, when after months of record-setting highs the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped the most points ever in a single day, and then proceeded to rebound the next day.  Job openings declined slightly, and the unemployment level remains historically low.  Refinance mortgage application submissions increased but new purchase applications were unchanged week-over-week.  Consumer credit expanded less significantly than it did the previous month. 

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Homeownership Rate Rises in 2017

  • February 08, 2018

Last week, the US Census Bureau reported the total homeownership rate in Q4 2017 improved to 64.2% from 63.9% in Q3.  Even after a year of gradual rate hikes and sustained home price appreciation, more American households are transitioning from renting to homeownership. 

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Teenager Uses Crowdfunding to Provide Solar Lamps for Hurricane Maria Victims

  • February 07, 2018

Since Hurricane Maria hit last fall, life without power has become standard for many Puerto Ricans.  Residents of small towns and rural areas outside major metros are some of the most afflicted.  Salvador Gomez Colón , a fifteen-year-old from San Juan, launched a crowdfunding initiative that has already raised more than $125,000.  Salvador and his organization C+Feel=Hope have donated 1,400 portable solar lamps to 840 households throughout Puerto Rico. 

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How Amazon HQ2 will Impact Housing

  • February 06, 2018

Amazon HQ2 is coming soon.  For the city chosen as the site for the expansion, that means strained infrastructure, increased home prices, and an estimate of 50,000 new jobs.  Amazon HQ2 will bring sweeping growth to its new home, but will it be a repeat of its original headquarters in Seattle?  Since its humble garage beginnings, Amazon has grown into the largest property taxpayer and private employer in Seattle.  With that, however, comes rapid home price appreciation, traffic congestion, and ongoing construction. 

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Applications, and Consumer Credit

  • February 05, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, after the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave interest rates unchanged.  This week, there will be no significant housing reports other than the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes out on Tuesday and consumer credit comes out on Wednesday.  Though they are not housing specific reports, labor market and consumer spending activity spur economic momentum and impact housing.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Index Appreciates, Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending Up

  • February 02, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move much in either direction this week, after the previous week’s upward trend.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met Tuesday and Wednesday, and as expected voted unanimously against a rate hike.  In housing news, home values continue to appreciate, the pending home sales index increased for the third month in a row, and US construction spending was strong.

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How Remodeling Impacts Home Values

  • February 01, 2018

With the current pace of home price appreciation and limited housing inventory, some homeowners are choosing to remodel and renovate their current homes instead of moving.  Many homeowners choose to remodel under the pretense that that their improvements will increase the resale value of their home.  While this is true to an extent, certain types of renovations have greater impact on home values than others. 

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Hospitals Helping Homeless with Subsidized Apartments

  • January 31, 2018

A new program pioneered by the University of Illinois Hospital and the nonprofit Center for Housing and Health aims to reduce the amount of emergency room visits by homeless patients with a new supportive housing program, Better Health Through Housing.  The pilot program has provided housing for 26 repeat ER visitors since 2015.  Since its inception, the per patient healthcare cost has decreased 18% each month and the hospital has plans to expand the housing. 

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Three Expectations for the Fed's First Meeting

  • January 30, 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet today and tomorrow for its first policy meeting of 2018.  This will be the last official meeting with Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chair; Jerome Powell will take over the position in February.  The FOMC is expected to leave rates unchanged following this meeting and there is no press conference scheduled for Wednesday’s announcement.  Based on December’s dot plot, the Fed will likely raise the benchmark interest rate multiple times in the coming year, though Fed officials are not in agreement as to how many rate hikes will take place.  Here’s what to expect from the upcoming meeting.

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, and US Construction Spending

  • January 29, 2018

Mortgage rates are continuing their upward trend.  The Federal Open Market Committee will meet Tuesday and Wednesday but will not hold a press conference following the meeting.  This will be the last meeting with Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chair.  Jerome Powell was confirmed as the new Federal Reserve Chair last week.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index comes out on Tuesday, pending home sales comes out on Wednesday, and US construction spending will come out on Thursday.

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Market Recap: FHFA Index Appreciates, Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales Drop

  • January 26, 2018

Mortgage rates continued their upward trend this week.  Based on this week’s housing reports, activity slowed down in December.  Cold winter weather across the country limited construction and stalled sales.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index appreciated, and existing home sales and new home sales each declined.

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Understanding the Appraisal Process

  • January 25, 2018

Purchasing or refinancing a home will typically require a home appraisal to determine its current value.  The appraisal should be conducted by a qualified appraiser who is licensed or certified in the state and familiar with homes in the area.  Fannie Mae requires an appraisal from an appraiser who has worked with similar properties in the area.  The appraiser operates independently from the buyer and seller to make an unbiased decision. 

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Green Spaces Can Save Cities Millions Annually

  • January 24, 2018

City planners incorporate tree canopies and other green spaces in urban design because of their proven ability to lower wind speed and energy consumption, reduce pollution and heat, and improve neighborhoods’ livability.  A new study from Ecological Modelling estimates planting trees can save cities as much as $505 million annually on costs related to air pollution, storm water drainage, energy, and carbon emissions. 

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How Government Shutdowns Impact Housing

  • January 23, 2018

On Saturday, the US government shut down over a budget dispute, for the first time since 2013.  Although the House of Representatives had approved a federal spending bill, many Senate Democrats opposed the bill because it did include funding for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) a program that prevents the deportation of approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the US illegally as children.  As of Monday afternoon, the Senate voted to reopen the government by advancing a stopgap spending bill that will keep the government open until February 8, 2018. 

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Market Forecast: FHFA House Price Index, Existing Home Sales, and New Home Sales

  • January 22, 2018

Mortgage rates trended upward last week, reacting to the end-of-year rate hike.  This week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) releases its house price index.  The existing home sales report comes out on Wednesday and the new home sales report comes out Thursday.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Up, Housing Market Index Down, Housing Starts and Building Permits Mixed

  • January 19, 2018

Mortgage rates trended upward this week, reaching the highest average level in the past 10 months.  New purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions each increased, home builder confidence scaled back, and housing starts and building permits felt the winter freeze.

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New IRS Federal Tax-Withholding Guidelines May Give Millions Higher Paychecks

  • January 19, 2018

According to the new income-tax withholding tables released by the US Treasury Department, approximately 90% of American workers should see a decrease in their income-tax withholding.  Once the new guidelines are implemented, this should result in more take-home pay. 

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Rental Recap: National Average Apartment Rent up 2.5% Year-over-Year

  • January 18, 2018

Traditionally, rapid rental rate appreciation is associated with large outlier markets like New York City, Washington DC, and San Francisco.  However, an annual survey by RENTCafe, suggests small and midsize cities may be experiencing greater year-over-year fluctuations in rental rates than larger markets.  According to the survey, the national average apartment rent increased 2.5% annually, and 24% in the past 10 years, to a rate of $1,359 per month at the end of 2017.

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A Look Back: Sustainable Design Progress in 2017

  • January 17, 2018

Builders and city planners made big strides in sustainable design in 2017.  Real estate blog Curbed ranked some of the most resourceful design trends: from shifts to solar and wind energy, to making cities more walkable, to paving better roads, sustainable development is having a positive impact across the country and the world.

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How Your City Will Look in 5-10 Years

  • January 16, 2018

The modern cityscape is changing.  With the growing popularity of moving to urban areas over the traditional suburban migration, American cities will look very different in as little as 5 to 10 years.  Among the changes, MarketWatch contributor and commercial real estate CEO, Brian Watson, predicts a shift from retail to residential building, more recycled and repurposed spaces, and less of a need for parking. 

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • January 15, 2018

Markets are closed today in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Mortgage rates are trending upward, heading into 2018.  This week’s important housing reports include the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey, the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index, and housing starts and building permits.

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Expands, Job Openings Drop, and Retail Sales Increase

  • January 12, 2018

Mortgage rates trended upward this week and both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions rebounded after a few slowed weeks.  Consumer credit expanded for the third straight month.  Job openings dropped off, as the market nears full employment.  Retail sales improved.

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What the New Tax Law Means for Homeowners

  • January 11, 2018

The end of year passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the most comprehensive tax code revision to take place since 1986.  While the tax reform changes will not impact your 2017 return, some workers might see the changes to their paychecks as early as next month. 

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HomeShare Startup Aims to Alleviate Rental Burden

  • January 10, 2018

In cities across the country, renters are feeling the burden of rising rental rates.  High-cost areas like large cities are hit especially hard by high rents.  A new startup, HomeShare, has partnered with 10 properties in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and New York City to match renters with roommates to share the space and cost of high-priced rentals.  HomeShare functions by converting living rooms into an extra bedroom, so roommates each get their own bedroom and closet, and in some cases a private bathroom, for a fraction of the market rental rate.

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Gary Cohn: Dodd-Frank Reform on First-Quarter Agenda

  • January 09, 2018

With tax reform successfully passed, one of the next economic priorities on the Trump Administration agenda is Dodd-Frank reform.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was put in place following the Financial Crisis to reduce predatory lending practices and irresponsible banking activity.  Despite economic recovery, the legislation remains unchanged since its establishment in July 2010.  Opponents of Dodd-Frank contend that its policies are too restrictive and are hindering economic growth.  Supporters of Dodd-Frank assert the legislation is necessary to ensure the Financial Crisis does not repeat itself.  In an interview with Bloomberg News, White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn suggested that Dodd-Frank reform could pass as soon as the first quarter of 2018.

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CMG Financial Attends NAHB International Builders' Show January 9-11

  • January 09, 2018

CMG Financial is attending the NAHB International Builders' Show in Orlando, FL from January 9th - 11th.  Visit us in the South Hall Booth S2640 and check out our new service HomeFundMe, the first and only approved down payment crowdfunding platform.

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Job Openings, Retail Sales

  • January 08, 2018

Last week, mortgage rates started to trend slightly upward.  This week, there are no significant housing reports scheduled, other than the weekly mortgage application survey.  Market-moving reports include consumer credit, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), and retail sales. 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Strong, ADP Adds Jobs, Mortgage Apps Mixed

  • January 05, 2018

This week was another short week with markets closed on Monday in observance of New Year’s Day.  Mortgage rates did not move much this week, starting their upward trend following the end of the year rate hike.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) resumed the release of the mortgage application survey.  US construction spending improved and the ADP employment report strengthened.

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Why Aren’t There Enough Homes for Sale?

  • January 04, 2018

Heading into 2018, the housing market is facing much of the same inventory problems, there are not enough homes for sale.  Limited inventory leads to home price appreciation and a competitive market.  First-time home buyers are hit especially hard as they struggle to save for a growing down payment amidst rising rents and sluggish wage growth.  So, why aren’t there enough homes for sale? 

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Fixing Traffic with Transit in Los Angeles

  • January 03, 2018

As the host of the 2028 Olympics, Los Angeles has a traffic problem to solve.  As the third most populous city in the United States, Los Angeles residents experience extreme traffic congestion every day.  In an effort to alleviate traffic, Los Angeles residents approved a sales-tax increase to give the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LA Metro) approximately $120 billion over the next 40 years.  In addition to adding bus and train lines, here are four other ways Los Angeles is improving its infrastructure.

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Outlook 2018: What to Expect with Availability, Affordability, and More

  • January 02, 2018

Heading into 2018, the housing outlook is positive.  Home price appreciation is expected to slow down, construction is picking up, and homeowners will have more equity to access for home improvement and debt repayment.  The Federal Open Market Committee expects two to three more rate hikes, but mortgage rates are still historically low.

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Apps, and ADP Employment

  • January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!  Markets will be closed today in observance of New Year’s Day.  This week’s important reports include US construction spending, the ADP employment report, and the weekly mortgage application survey.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Appreciates and Pending Home Sales are Up

  • December 29, 2017

Markets were closed on Monday, in observance of the Christmas holiday.  This week, the Mortgage Bankers Association did not release the mortgage application survey, and release of the survey will resume next Wednesday.  The Case-Shiller home price index continued to appreciate and pending home sales are up slightly. 

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Rising Rents Outpacing Mortgage Costs

  • December 28, 2017

The oldest debate in real estate may be whether to rent or buy.  Both renting and buying can be advantageous to the resident depending on their specific financial situation.  While buying a home will require a larger down payment than renting, some real estate professionals argue that owning is more affordable than long-term renting.  Zillow recently produced some data to back up this sentiment.

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FEMA Facing Financial Woes After Hurricanes and Wildfires

  • December 27, 2017

Since Labor Day, nearly 5 million Americans have registered for federal aid as a result of destructive hurricanes on the East Coast and devastating wildfires on the West Coast.  Despite the financial challenges the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) is facing, FEMA Administrator Brock Long is optimistic in solving FEMA’s problems.  In a statement he said, “I didn’t come up here to do the status quo, I’m ready to change the face of emergency management.”

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Millennials Trading Starter Homes for Fixer Uppers

  • December 26, 2017

With the housing market facing limited inventory, the starter home bracket is hit especially hard.  As first-time home buyers enter the market, they find themselves competing for the same limited selection of starter homes.  In heated markets especially, home price appreciation is pushing some home buyers to the higher-end of their budget.  Renovation loans, like the FHA 203(k) loan, are growing in popularity because they allow home buyers to purchase previously overlooked homes and have the budget to complete necessary repairs or desired upgrades. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Mortgage Apps, and Pending Home Sales

  • December 25, 2017

Markets will be closed today, in observance of the Christmas holiday.  There are some noteworthy housing reports scheduled for release, including the Case-Shiller home price index, the weekly mortgage application survey, and pending home sales.

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Market Recap: Home Builders’ Confidence Soars, Plus Housing Starts, Building Permits, and Existing Home Sales

  • December 22, 2017

Mortgage rates started to trend upward this week, following last week’s federal interest rate hike.  Tax reform took center stage, dominating most of the news circuit as the House of Representatives and the Senate hammered out the details of their plans and reached a compromise.  This week, home builder confidence hit an 18-year high.  Housing starts improved, but building permits declined slightly.  Existing home sales hit an 11-year high. 

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Don’t Let the End of Daylight Saving Time Get You Down!

  • December 20, 2017

The winter months bring colder weather and a lot less sunshine.  The end of Daylight Saving Time means earlier sunsets and more hours of darkness.  Homeowners looking to brighten things up through winter weather and beyond can consider these tips from Zillow. 

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Will it be possible to buy a home with Bitcoins?

  • December 19, 2017

Investors around the country are captivated with the debate surrounding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency.  Bitcoin, the first digital currency that does not require a bank or middleman, is traded online through a digital ledger.  In the past month, the valuation has soared from $5,870.37 per coin on November 12, to $16,650.01 per coin on December 12.  While some investors are warning of a “crypto bubble,” others are researching ways to integrate the cryptocurrency into the greater economy. 

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, Building Permits, and Existing Home Sales

  • December 18, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the benchmark interest rate last week, and mortgage rates have not yet reacted.  This year’s mortgage rate activity has been gradual, with rates continuing to hover historic lows.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release their housing market sentiment index on Monday, housing starts and building permits come out on Tuesday, and the existing home sales report comes out Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Job Openings Down, Fed Rate Hike, and Retail Sales Strong

  • December 15, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week, though there was no significant movement to report.  Job openings were down slightly from September to October.  As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the benchmark interest rate for the third time this year, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen gave the final press conference of her term.  Retail sales surged ahead of the holiday season.

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How Tax Reform Could Impact Home Prices

  • December 14, 2017

Last week, the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to go to conference committee to hash out the differences between the tax reform bills.  Among the points of interest most relevant to the mortgage industry is the issue of mortgage tax deduction.  Yale economics professor and co-creator of the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, Robert Shiller posits that the mortgage interest tax deduction will not impact the housing market greatly. 

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Legislative Proposals for a More Efficient Federal Regulatory Regime

  • December 13, 2017

Since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), mortgage lenders and other financial institutions have faced increased precautionary regulation.  Almost a decade after the Financial Crisis, and many of these regulations remain intact without any adjustment or review, despite economic recovery.  Last week, CMG Financial President and CEO Christopher M. George testified on behalf of the Mortgage Bankers Association before the US House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit in support of the Mortgage Fairness Act of 2017 and the Comprehensive Regulatory Review Act of 2017.

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The Smarter Way to Borrow with the All In One Loan

  • December 13, 2017

As a whole, the mortgage industry has largely stopped innovating.  In fact, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is a byproduct of the Great Depression.  As a method to kickstart the economy, lenders developed this type of financing to make homeownership achievable for Americans of all income brackets, by simply adding decades to the repayment schedule. And while the fixed-rate mortgage hasn’t changed since, arguably, the needs of homeowners has. In many cases, other types of mortgage financing could be better suited to fit the borrower’s financial profile, like CMG Financial’s All In One LoanTM.

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Avoid Making These Credit Card Mistakes

  • December 13, 2017

With the holiday season in full swing, many American consumers are swiping their credit cards more often to pay for gifts, travel, and other holiday-related expenses.  The New York Federal Reserve reports that revolving debt, typically comprised of monthly credit card debt, has hit the highest level in recorded history.  In June 2017, Americans had a collective outstanding balance of $1.021 trillion.  According to a TD Bank survey, nearly one-third of those credit card holders have never redeemed credit card rewards points and one-fifth have let credit card rewards points expire.  As credit card debt and delinquencies continue to rise, selecting the right credit card can have a significant impact on short- and long-term financial goals.

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Reform Resurfaces

  • December 12, 2017

Among the numerous issues up for reform in Washington, is the discussion of what to do with the government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Since the institutions were placed in conservatorship in the wake of the financial crisis, they have repaid their combined $187.5 billion debt and are profitable each year.  However, the government has yet to take the GSEs out of conservatorship.

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Market Forecast: FOMC Meeting, JOLTS, and Retail Sales

  • December 11, 2017

Last week, the Senate passed their version of the Republican tax reform bill.  The House and Senate will now go to a conference committee to discuss the differences between the bills and edit one version to send to President Trump.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen will hold a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.  On Monday, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes out and on Thursday the retail sales report will be released.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Up, ADP Employment Slower, Consumer Credit Surges

  • December 08, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  On Saturday, the Senate approved their version of the tax reform bill.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage applications increased.  The ADP employment report increased, but slightly less than last month.  Consumer credit expanded to one of the highest levels all year. 

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Gen X Boosts Homeownership Rate Recovery

  • December 07, 2017

The national homeownership rate has struggled to regain traction since the pre-recession housing peak.  Last month, a report from the Census Bureau showed the United States homeownership rate improved to 63.9% in the third quarter, up slightly from second quarter’s 63.7% and significantly from last year’s 63.5%.  One of the notable finds from the report was the resurgence in Generation X homeowners, the generation most impacted by the housing crisis.

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House Passes Flood Insurance Renewal

  • December 06, 2017

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was designed to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures and alleviate the financial burden caused by flood damage.  The program was set to expire on December 8th amidst ongoing negotiations in Congress.  This month, the House of Representatives passed the bill with a 237-189 vote.  With the new reauthorization, the bill, with changes, will remain intact for the next five years.

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Senate Approves Republican Tax Bill

  • December 05, 2017

Early Saturday morning, the Senate passed its version of major tax overhaul.  Changes to the bill came down to the wire, with some adjustments getting handwritten in margins on the 479-page document.  Now that the House of Representatives and Senate have each approved their versions of the tax reform bill, the next step is to go to a conference committee to finalize one version to send forward to President Trump.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, ADP Employment, and Consumer Credit

  • December 04, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward last week, ahead of December’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  With a low unemployment rate and steady inflation, the FOMC is expected to raise rates once more this year.  The only housing report this week is the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  The ADP employment report will come out Wednesday and consumer credit is scheduled for release on Thursday.

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Market Recap: Strong Gains in New Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Pending Home Sales

  • December 01, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week.  Several strong housing reports were released.  New home sales surged to a 10-year high in October, as post-hurricane recovery appears to be progressing.  The Case-Shiller home price index continued to appreciate.  Pending home sales were also strong, up 3.5% month-over-month. 

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How to Repurpose Closed Mall Space

  • November 30, 2017

If you are heading to your local mall this holiday season, you might notice some changes.  With retailers struggling to keep up with online sales, the landscape of the modern American mall is changing.  The once sprawling commercial centers are struggling.  Scott Crowe, chief investment strategist with CenterSquare Investment Management, told MarketWatch, “over 44% of current mall retail space will be either shuttered or repurposed over the next 5-7 years.”

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FHFA Increases Conforming Loan Limits

  • November 29, 2017

Last week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) increased the maximum conforming loan limits for the second year in a row.  This is only the second time since 2006 the FHFA has increased the maximum conforming loan limit.  In 2018, the limit will increase from $424,100 to $453,100 for most states, and from $453,100 to $679,650 in high cost areas including Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands.  

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CFPB Now Has Two Acting Directors

  • November 28, 2017

Last Friday, outgoing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray announced he would be leaving his position at the end of the day instead of the end of the month.  In his written statement, he promoted his chief of staff Leandra English to deputy director and appointed her to serve as acting director.  Following Cordray’s appointment, President Donald Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to serve as acting director.  On Sunday night, English filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration to block Mulvaney’s appointment.

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales

  • November 27, 2017

Last week was a short week, with markets closed on Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving.  This week, some of the final numbers from November are scheduled for release.  Noteworthy housing reports include, the new home sales report on Monday, the Case-Shiller home price index on Tuesday, and the pending home sales index on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Surge, New Purchase Apps Up, Refinance Apps Down

  • November 24, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move significantly during this short week.  Markets were closed on Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving, and the New York Stock Exchange is closing early today.  Existing home sales improved month-over-month, but decreased year-over-year.  New purchase mortgage applications increased and refinance mortgage applications declined.  The consumer sentiment index eased slightly.

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Surprising Reasons to Buy During the Holiday Season

  • November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!  Home buying and selling activity typically slows down this time of year, due to colder weather, hectic schedules, and holiday travel.  According to Realtor.com, with many home buyers delaying their search until the spring, the holiday season might actually be the perfect time to buy.

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Pittsburgh’s Microgrids Pave the Way for Green Energy

  • November 22, 2017

Traditional power networks typically depend on power from large sources that can be miles away.  A pilot “microgrid” program, recently launched in the Pittsburgh area, distributes local power through an independent grid that can run without electricity from the main power source, and will continue to operate, for example, if a storm disrupts the power plant.  If implemented on a larger scale, this microgrid technology could make it possible to integrate renewable energy sources and diversify the power supply.

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray Resigns

  • November 21, 2017

Last Wednesday, Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since 2011, announced his resignation.  His term was set to expire next summer, but now he will serve until the end of the month and did not disclose his reason for choosing to leave.  Some rumors in Washington insinuate he may be pursuing the gubernatorial race in Ohio.

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, Mortgage Applications, Consumer Sentiment Index

  • November 20, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward last week.  This week will be a short week with markets closed on Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving, and the New York Stock Exchange closing early on Friday.  In housing news, existing home sales comes out on Tuesday and the weekly mortgage application survey comes out Wednesday.  The consumer sentiment index is also scheduled for release on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Housing Market Index Up, Housing Starts Surge, Building Permits Increase

  • November 17, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward this week, ahead of next week’s holiday.  Retail sales activity slowed, but remains positive.  The housing market index surged, despite some home builders’ reservations regarding the proposed tax plan.  Housing starts soared and building permits increased as well.

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When to Consult a Mortgage Lender

  • November 16, 2017

Many would-be home buyers delay buying a home for a number of reasons including credit score, total income, and debt issues.  While these problems may not be solvable overnight, it is never too early to talk to a lender.  If you are a prospective home buyer, especially a first-time home buyer, meeting with a lender early can help you prepare for the home buying process and even learn some new strategies to put you a in a better position when you are ready to buy.

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Avoiding Wire Transfer Fraud

  • November 15, 2017

Buying a home can be an exciting and fulfilling experience.  It also tends to be one of the most expensive purchases someone makes in a lifetime.  Home buyers may spend years saving for the down payment on a home.  Once the transaction is in process, it can be financially devastating to lose those down payment funds to wire transfer fraud.  It is imperative for real estate professionals and consumers to remain aware when transferring large sums of money. 

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The Airbnb Effect on the Rental Economy

  • November 14, 2017

Airbnb, the popular home rental service that allows property owners to rent rooms or entire homes to vacationers, may be driving up home prices and long-term rental cost, according to a new study.  In the working study, currently under research by University of California Los Angeles and University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business professors and the National Bureau of Economic Research, a 10% increase in Airbnb listings may lead to a 0.39% increase in rents and a 0.64% increase in home prices.  This figure increases in metros with a tighter ratio of Airbnb to long-term rentals. 

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Market Forecast: Retail Sales, NAHB Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • November 13, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward last week.  The new GOP House tax proposal saw a few iterations as well as the release of the GOP Senate tax proposal.  This week, the retail sales report comes out on Wednesday, the National Association of Home Builders’ releases their housing market index on Thursday, and housing starts and building permits are scheduled for release on Friday. 

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Market Recap: Job Openings are Up, Consumer Borrowing Expands, New Purchase Apps Improve

  • November 10, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week.  There were no market moving housing reports released.  September’s job openings report showed little change.  Consumer credit greatly exceeded market expectations.  New purchase mortgage applications improved, but refinance applications declined.

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First-Time Home Buyers Hit Hardest by Home Price Appreciation

  • November 09, 2017

Home price appreciation has strained housing activity over the past few years, particularly the first-time home buyer demographic.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports, in 2017 home sales to first-time home buyers dropped 34%.  Among the other factors hampering first-time home buyer activity are student debt and lack of available inventory.

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HUD Considers Relocation for Displaced Puerto Ricans

  • November 08, 2017

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has opened the discussion on how to accommodate the displaced Puerto Rican population.  Since September, much of the island of Puerto Rico remains without power, drinking water, and other essential utilities.  Many buildings are irreparably damaged from the storm, as are thousands of miles of roads.  Any relocation efforts face significant logistical challenges.

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New Tax Plan and Mortgage Interest Deduction

  • November 07, 2017

On Thursday, Republican lawmakers introduced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a bill proposing major tax overhaul across income brackets, corporate taxes, and tax deductions.  The long-awaited proposal may still incur some changes before it becomes law, but if passed the changes are scheduled to take effect January 1st, 2018. 

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Market Forecast: JOLTS, Consumer Credit, Mortgage Apps

  • November 06, 2017

Housing activity typically slows down during the fall and winter seasons, with predictions for next year starting to come in.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) forecast that new purchase origination volume will increase next year and refinance origination volume will start to decrease.  Coming up this week are job openings, consumer credit, and the weekly mortgage application survey.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Up, Construction Spending Rebounds, and No Rate Hike

  • November 03, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much either way this week.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on Tuesday and Wednesday and, as expected, voted to leave interest rates unchanged.  On Thursday, President Trump announced Jerome Powell would be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve, after current Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s term expires in February 2018.  The Case-Shiller home price index appreciated and US construction spending rebounded slightly.

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Self-Employed and Saving for a Down Payment

  • November 02, 2017

Saving for a down payment continues to be one of the most pervasive obstacles to homeownership today.  Even with low down payment options available, down payment amounts are increasing as home prices appreciate due to limited available inventory and strong buyer demand.  

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Humble Design Helps Recently Homeless

  • November 01, 2017

Humble Design is a non-profit organization that helps recently homeless families rebuild their new homes through furnishings and design services.  Since 2009, Humble Design has served 832 families throughout the greater Chicago and Detroit area.  Humble Design’s mission is to give recently homeless people a sense of pride and ownership as they transition out of homeless shelters and into new living situations. 

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MBA Predicts Increase in 2018 New Purchases, Decrease in Refinances

  • October 31, 2017

Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) issued a forecast of $1.2 trillion in purchase mortgage originations during 2018.  Despite the expected 7.3 percent increase in new purchases, the MBA predicts a 28.3 percent decrease in refinance originations.  The combined predictions would result in a composite decrease of $1.60 trillion in total originations.

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Construction Spending, and FOMC Announcement

  • October 30, 2017

Mortgage rates trended upward last week, ahead of this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The FOMC meets Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss monetary policy.  The FOMC was in the news last week, as the finance world speculated on what move President Trump will make when Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s term expires in February 2018.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index comes out on Tuesday and US construction spending comes out Wednesday.

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Market Recap: New Home Sales Surge, Pending Home Sales Unchanged, and GDP Grows

  • October 27, 2017

Mortgage rates are trending upward again this week.  New home sales hit record highs, climbing to the highest level in a decade.  Pending home sales were unchanged from August to September.  Third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded expectations and grew at an annual pace of 3%.

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Trump Will Decide on Federal Reserve Chair “Very Shortly”

  • October 26, 2017

Current Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s term is set to expire in February 2018.  The election of President Trump led to considerable speculation as to whether or not, Yellen would serve out the duration of her term, and who would be her successor.  With the end of her term nearing, the president is considering five other candidates, including Yellen, to take over as Federal Reserve Chair.  On Monday, President Trump announced, “I will make my decision very shortly, pretty shortly.”

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Rising Sea Levels Threaten Coastal Properties

  • October 25, 2017

This year’s particularly active hurricane season brought to light the issues with coastal communities.  Coastal dwelling is not just limited to luxury homeowners.  Many homes along the coasts of the Southeastern United States, and along coastlines across the country, fall into the median or low-cost price ranges.  However, rising sea levels threaten many coastal and even inland properties.

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2018 MBA Officers, including Chairman-Elect Christopher George, Sworn in at MBA Annual

  • October 24, 2017

The Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Convention and Expo is underway in Denver, CO.  This annual event features leadership seminars, speaking sessions, and networking opportunities with professionals from across the single-family real estate finance industry.   The convention kicked off with the swearing in of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 2018 officers.

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales, and GDP

  • October 23, 2017

Mortgage rates are trending upward, heading into the seasonal winter slowdown.  This week, the new home sales reports comes out Wednesday and pending home sales index comes out Thursday.  The first estimate for third quarter’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be released Friday morning. 

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Market Recap: Housing Market Index Improves, Housing Starts and Building Permits Down, Existing Home Sales Up

  • October 20, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week.  The home builders’ housing market index improved to a six-month high.  Housing starts and building permits declined slightly, but single-family housing permits are strong.  Existing home sales recovered after hurricane-related slowdown. 

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The Future of FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

  • October 19, 2017

Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) is the insurance policy associated with FHA loans.  FHA borrowers have the option to pay the total cost of mortgage insurance at the time of closing with an “upfront” MIP (UFMIP) or pay annually through the entire duration of the loan.  In January, the outgoing Obama administration lowered MIP nationally to help lower payments for FHA borrowers.  Shortly after, the decision was reversed by the incoming Trump administration.  Since the reduction was suspended, the issue has not yet been revisited.

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Building a Better Life for Refugees with Blockchain

  • October 18, 2017

Blockchain, defined as a shared digital ledger where transactions are made in cryptocurrency and can be exchanged but not altered, is a growing topic of discussion amongst financial firms.  Proponents of blockchain emphasize the efficiency, transparency, and security of the payment system.  In May, blockchain made its debut at grocery stores in a refugee camp in Azraq, Jordan, to allow 36,000 Syrian refugees access to a food stipend from the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP). 

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Disaster Declaration for Northern California

  • October 17, 2017

Last week, President Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for California, in response to California Governor Jerry Brown’s requested federal assistance.  Deadly wildfires have swept across more than 217,000 acres of Northern California, damaging more than 5,700 homes and businesses.  At this time, at least 40 deaths have been reported, hundreds of injuries, and at least 200 people are still missing. 

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, Building Permits, and Existing Home Sales

  • October 16, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward last week.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its housing market index on Tuesday. The housing starts and building permits reports will come out on Wednesday.  Existing home sales is scheduled for release on Friday. 

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Market Recap: Job Openings Slide, Mortgage Applications Drop, and Retail Sales Recover

  • October 13, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week, though there are no significant changes to report.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) declined slightly as the unemployment rate dropped to a historical low.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported both new purchase and refinance applications declined last week.  The Commerce Department reported that retail sales are up.

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Generation Z Renters Gearing Up for Homeownership

  • October 12, 2017

Generation Z (Gen Z) renters include people born between the late 1990s or 2000s are more interested in homeownership than the preceding generation, the Millennials, according to a new survey.  Zillow reports 57% of Gen Z renters are confident they will own a home, compared to 55% of Millennials.  The discussion of Millennials delaying homeownership has been prevalent throughout the housing industry.  Now with a new demographic of young home buyers vying for starter homes, the housing market might just get more competitive. 

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Could solar be the solution in Puerto Rico?

  • October 11, 2017

Last week, reports surfaced that Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Inc. and Chairman of Solar City, had a proposal for rebuilding the hurricane-damaged power grid of Puerto Rico.  Since back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island, Puerto Ricans have been struggling to rebuild and regain utilities.  As of October 7th, the governor’s office in Puerto Rico was reporting about 88% of households were still without power.  Since the water system is linked with the power grid, many of these households are still without running water as well. 

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CNBC Profiles HomeFundMe: A new way to buy a home

  • October 10, 2017

Since its official launch, HomeFundMe has garnered attention from real estate industry professionals around the country.  Emmy Award-winning journalist and Real Estate Correspondent Diana Olick recently profiled the down payment crowdfunding platform for CNBC’s Realty Check. 

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, JOLTS, and Retail Sales

  • October 09, 2017

Markets will be closed today in observance of Columbus today.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will release the minutes from its September meeting.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes out Wednesday.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will also release its weekly survey of mortgage applications on Wednesday.  The retail sales report comes out Friday. 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Up, New Purchase Apps Improve, ADP Employment Grows

  • October 06, 2017

Mortgage rates held steady this week.  Construction spending improved after the previous month’s declines.  New purchase applications increased, but refinance applications declined.  The ADP employment report was not hurt greatly by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but still trended downward.

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HomeFundMe: Crowdfunding Platform for Mortgage Down Payment Has Launched

  • October 05, 2017

First approved platform for savvy homebuyers to increase down payment & home buying opportunities

CMG Financial, a privately held mortgage-banking firm, today announces the launch of HomeFundMe; the first industry approved crowdfunding service providing homebuyers the support, education and platform they need to crowdfund a mortgage down payment.

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How to Help Las Vegas Shooting Victims

  • October 04, 2017

A horrific shooting shocked the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night, marking the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.  A lone gunman opened fire on concert-goers attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival, killing at least 58 and wounding over 500.  As our nation comes together to grieve this monumental loss, Americans around the country are trying to find ways to help the victims and the community. 

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Secretary Mnuchin: GSE Reform Delayed to 2018

  • October 03, 2017

In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed the reform of government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  He agreed the issue of reform is of great importance.  The GSEs have remained under federal conservatorship since the Financial Crisis nine years ago.

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Applications, and ADP Employment Report

  • October 02, 2017

There was no significant mortgage movement last week.  This week, US construction spending will be released on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its weekly mortgage application survey and the ADP employment report comes out.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Up, New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Drop

  • September 29, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week, as housing and construction activity begins to normalize following the destruction of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Limited housing inventory continues to impact the housing market.  The Case-Shiller home price index increased again, and new home sales and pending home sales each declined.

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Breaking the Cycle of Long-term Renting

  • September 28, 2017

A decade after the 2007 housing market crash, some metros are still struggling to recover to pre-crisis housing activity.  2016 marks the highest rental rate since 1965.  Home price appreciation is causing many renters to delay homeownership.  In most metros, only about 45% of renters could afford a median-priced home, and this ratio drops in expensive markets like the West Coast, Northeast, and Florida. 

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Simple Adjustments to Save Big on Your Electric Bill

  • September 27, 2017

Electric bills tend to rise during the summer months because of hot weather and air conditioners working overtime.  Energy efficient appliances and other home renovations can reduce electricity consumption, but may be costly to install.  Before splurging on energy efficient upgrades, make a few changes to daily behaviors.  

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Home Flipping Makes a Comeback in Many US Housing Markets

  • September 26, 2017

Home prices are on the rise.  This month’s Case-Shiller home price index continues to show home value appreciation across the country, specifically markets in the West and Pacific Northwest.  Rising home values and low mortgage rates are spurring a new house “flipping” trend.  According to Realtor.com, 193,000 single family homes were flipped in 2016. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales

  • September 25, 2017

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee met for its semiannual economic policy meeting and voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged.  This week, the Case-Shiller home price index, new home sales, and the pending home sales index are all scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Rates Hold Steady, Housing Activity Slows

  • September 22, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave rates unchanged at its September meeting, last Tuesday and Wednesday.  Housing activity has slowed across the board, with almost every report showing declines.  The housing market index dropped, housing starts and existing home sales declined, but building permits increased.

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Reduce Hurricane Damage by Rebuilding Smarter

  • September 21, 2017

The financial cost of recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is still adding up, as coastal residents in Texas and Florida return home and assess damages.  Many of those who live in the southeastern United States and along the Gulf Coast face the unique threat of hurricanes every year.  However, as climate conditions worsen and hurricanes strengthen the threat becomes greater.  Rebuilding smarter now may lessen hurricane damage later.

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Hurricane Impacting Loan Funding

  • September 20, 2017

As the industry continues to cope with the property damage from Hurricane Irma, many prospective home buyers were caught in limbo. Each loan type and each agency has different funding requirements with respect to a federally-declared natural disaster zone. A segment of Florida home buyers that were planning on financing through a FHA recently experienced a delay in closing and some confusion. One of the requirements of funding a FHA loan after a disaster is that a reinspection is completed after the established end date. Once that occurs lenders can quickly reassess the property condition and finalize the funding and closing process.

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Federal Open Market Committee Not Expected to Raise Rates

  • September 19, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets today and tomorrow and a press conference with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will follow on Wednesday.  The market forecasts no changes to the benchmark interest rate.  The most anticipated move from this meeting will be what happens with the Fed’s $4.4 trillion balance sheet.  Discussion of reducing the balance sheet has been going on most of the year, and an announcement is expected.

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, FOMC Meeting, and More

  • September 18, 2017

 This week will be a full week for housing with numerous important housing reports scheduled.  On Monday, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release the housing market index.  On Tuesday, housing starts and building permits comes out.  On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release the existing home sales report.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday and a press conference with Fed Chair Janet Yellen will follow on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Job Openings Up, Mortgage Applications Surge, Inflation Slow

  • September 15, 2017

Mortgage rates are starting to increase, after dropping to year-long lows earlier this month.  Mortgage applications reacted with both new purchase and refinance submissions increasing significantly.  Job openings increased again, but the labor market remains tight.  The consumer price index exceeded expectations but inflation subdued.

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Will the Fed raise rates next week?

  • September 14, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to meet next Tuesday and Wednesday.  Markets are expecting the FOMC to leave rates on hold after this meeting.  In December 2016, Fed Chair Janet Yellen projected three rate hikes in 2017.  Since then, the Fed has raised interest rates twice, in March and in June. 

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Hurricane Relief Continues Across the Southeast

  • September 13, 2017

Last week, the Southeastern United States incurred more storm-related damage as Hurricane Irma plowed through Florida and Georgia.  With Texas and Louisiana still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma damage just starting to get assessed, discussion of the National Flood Insurance Program is fervent among homeowners, disaster relief agencies, and housing professionals.

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Equifax Data Breach: What You Need to Know

  • September 12, 2017

Equifax, one of the three largest credit reporting bureaus in the country, reported that due to a data breach, approximately 143 million Americans may have their personal information compromised.  Data such as names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers are all at risk.  Additionally, Equifax estimates the hackers stole 209,000 credit card numbers and 182,000 other documents containing personal information.

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Market Forecast: JOLTS, Mortgage Applications, and the Consumer Price Index

  • September 11, 2017

Mortgage rates are trending downward and mortgage application submissions are up.  Homeowners and home buyers are looking to lock rates ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting next week.  This week, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) comes out on Tuesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday, and the Consumer Price Index comes out on Thursday.

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Market Recap: Hurricane Watch Continues, Fed Beige Book, and Mortgage Applications

  • September 08, 2017

Mortgage rates dropped slightly this week.  Hurricane Harvey recovery is underway in Texas and the government agreed to a short-term debt ceiling extension, in part to help fund the relief effort.  Additional hurricanes are forming in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.  Mortgage application submission increased amidst rising rates.  The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book on Wednesday.

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The Appraiser Challenge

  • September 07, 2017

The housing industry had a busy 2016, with low mortgage rates, rising home values, and a steady volume of mortgage applications throughout the year.  However, not every segment of the industry is keeping up with this volume.  Appraisers, in particular, are facing staffing and training issues leading to missed deadlines, longer turn-times, and in some cases, higher appraiser fees.  Appraisers are facing many challenges in 2017, such as meeting turn time expectations, an aging workforce, and competition from low fee appraisers.

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Small Business Administration to Issue Hurricane Harvey Disaster Loans

  • September 06, 2017

Earlier this week, Houston’s mayor announced that many Houston-area businesses are starting to reopen.  With floodwaters receding, Houston residents are returning home also.  The Small Business Administration (SBA) is actively coordinating with other federal agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to distribute loans to aid hurricane victims.  The agency announced it would distribute $3.3 billion in disaster loan funds to help uninsured residents and business owners rebuild.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Sets New Goal for Tax Overhaul

  • September 05, 2017

Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin set August as a tentative deadline for tax reform.  After slowed healthcare reform and other political setbacks, Secretary Mnuchin has adjusted his earlier deadline and now projects tax reform will take place by the end of 2017.  

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Market Forecast: Hurricane Harvey Cleanup, Fed Beige Book, Mortgage Applications

  • September 04, 2017

Last week, Hurricane Harvey caused major damage across the Gulf Coast.  Southeastern Texas and the Houston metro area suffered heavy flooding and parts of the region are still underwater.  American Red Cross President Brad Kieserman expects cleanup to last through December.  Markets are closed today in observance of Labor Day.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Up and Construction Spending and Pending Home Sales Down

  • September 01, 2017

This week, Hurricane Harvey devastated much of Texas’s Gulf Coast and other parts of the Southeastern United States.  Mortgage rates did not shift drastically and the Federal Reserve is reconsidering further rate hikes this year, as the greater Houston area begins the process of rebuilding.  Tightened housing inventory has led to an increase in home prices and a decrease in pending home sales.  Construction spending decreased overall, but the residential housing segment improved. 

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Uninsured Hurricane Harvey Victims Face Billions in Damages

  • August 31, 2017

Over the past week, Hurricane Harvey has caused costly damage across south Texas.  Over 30,000 south Texas residents are already expected to be displaced as the storm continues to pummel the Gulf Coast including Louisiana.  Relief efforts are currently underway and Texas has mobilized its entire National Guard.

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How to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

  • August 30, 2017

Last weekend, Texans faced the worst hurricane in recorded history when Hurricane Harvey ravaged the coast.  Weather analysts are reporting over 11 trillion gallons of rain fell across over Southeastern Texas.  Thirty-three counties are under a disaster declaration, and 30,000 people are expected to be seeking temporary shelter due to flood damage.

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File Your Hurricane Harvey Insurance Claims before Friday

  • August 29, 2017

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Harvey throughout the Texas area.  If you or someone you know has had a home or business impacted by Hurricane Harvey, it is imperative that you file an insurance claim before Friday.

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales Index, US Construction Spending

  • August 28, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, and continue to hover year-long lows.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index comes out on Tuesday.  The pending home sales index comes out Thursday and US construction spending will be released Friday. 

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Market Recap: FHFA House Price Index Up, New Home Sales and Existing Home Sales Down

  • August 25, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, hovering year-long lows.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index appreciated.  New home sales and existing home sales each declined amid low housing inventory and a competitive housing market.

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Will Home Prices Cool Down this Fall?

  • August 24, 2017

With mortgage rates still historically low, housing demand shows no sign of letting up.  According to Redfin, listings for homes are down 11% from July 2016 to July 2017, the lowest level since 1982.  In the midst of peak selling season, prices continue to appreciate.  Will home buyers catch a break this fall?

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More Trees Improve Local Weather and Save Energy

  • August 23, 2017

Adding greenery to cities and neighborhoods is more than just an aesthetic choice.  According to researchers at the University of British Columbia, adding trees to neighborhoods actually improves the weather by reducing the impact of wind.  Researchers designed a computer model and tested the impact of trees on a Vancouver neighborhood.  Based on the data, trees could save the neighborhood modeled up to 15% on energy bills in the summer and 10% on energy bills in the winter.

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Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium Starts Thursday

  • August 22, 2017

This week, the world’s top central bankers, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and representatives from more than 40 other countries, meet for an annual economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  This year’s summit is especially important as central banks from around the world are implementing policy changes after years of financial recovery.

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Market Forecast: FHFA House Price Index, New Home Sales, and Existing Home Sales

  • August 21, 2017

Mortgage rates dropped last week to a post-election low.  This week will be a heavy housing week with reports on the Federal Housing Finance Association’s (FHFA) house price index, existing home sales, and new home sales.

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Market Recap: Retail Sales Improve, Housing Market Index Up, Housing Starts and Building Permits Down

  • August 18, 2017

Mortgage rates dropped to a new post-election low, but did not translate into increased housing market activity.  Housing starts and building permits each dropped, but the housing market index improved.  Retail sales exceeded expectations.

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HomeFundMe: How it Works

  • August 17, 2017

HomeFundMe is a crowdfunding platform designed specifically for the down payment on a home.  Home buyers get prequalified, share their story, and raise funds all through one platform.  Here’s how it works…

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How Greensburg, IN Crowdfunds Community Projects

  • August 16, 2017

Faced with budget restrictions, Greensburg, IN residents found a new way to make their city beautiful.  The residents wanted more art and streetscape items like benches to improve their community’s aesthetic.  According to Wendy Blake, executive director of Main Street Greensburg, “if there are things that we want, we might have to make them happen on our own.”

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Crowdfunding Encourages Community Engagement

  • August 15, 2017

Crowdfunding is defined as the process of raising money from a large number of people, typically through a website, for a project or small business (Dictionary.com).  Crowdfunding has gained popularity over the past decade, especially since the advent of crowdfunding websites, making it easier for users to reach larger networks outside of their inner circle of family and friends. 

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Retail Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • August 14, 2017

Mortgage rates are trending slightly downward.  On Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its August housing market index and the July retail sales report also comes out.  On Wednesday, July’s housing starts and building permits data will be released.  

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HomeFundMe: Fund Your Way Home

  • August 14, 2017

Did you know saving for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges renters face?  According to Zillow, nearly 70% of renters report saving for a down payment as the biggest obstacle to homeownership.  If you are interested in owning a home, but unable to save a down payment, this new program can change your life.  It’s called HomeFundMe. 

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Expands, Job Openings Increase, Mortgage Apps Improve

  • August 11, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week.  Consumer credit expanded more modestly than the previous month.  Job openings surged to a record high.  Mortgage applications improved after declining last week.

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Watch Out: Hidden Costs of Homeownership

  • August 10, 2017

Traditionally, owning a home is one of the ways Americans can build wealth and financial security.  Homeownership does not come without a cost, as Zillow researchers pointed out in a recent article on the hidden costs of homeownership.  According to budgeting experts from Zillow, Thumbtack, and UtilityScore the average American homeowner incurs $9,080 in expenses each year, broken down as unavoidable costs and maintenance expenses.

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Sustainable Real Estate

  • August 09, 2017

As a leading real estate industry trade association, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is at the forefront of sustainable real estate practices.  Last year, the NAR launched the official NAR Sustainability Program to spearhead sustainability research and collaborate with other organizations like the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the Council of MLS (CMLS). 

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Why Home Buyers are Buying Homes “Site Unseen”

  • August 08, 2017

When a buyer makes an offer on a home “site unseen,” this means they are making an offer without visiting the property.  Making an offer site unseen can expedite the buying process by reducing the time it takes for one or more walk-throughs or property visits.  According to Redfin’s sample of 3000+ home buyers in May 2017, one in three purchased their property without physically seeing the home.

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, JOLTS, and Mortgage Apps

  • August 07, 2017

Mortgage rates slid slightly last week, as expectations for additional 2017 rate hikes have dropped.  This week, there are no significant housing reports scheduled other than the weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  On Monday, consumer credit comes out and on Tuesday the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) will be released. 

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Market Recap: Pending Home Sales Up, Construction Spending Down, and the ADP Employment Report

  • August 04, 2017

Mortgage rates edged downward this week. The pending home sales index turned around this month, but total construction spending dropped slightly.  The ADP employment report was positive but below expectations. 

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Homeownership Rate on the Rise

  • August 03, 2017

Household formation is strong so far, this year, after the second consecutive quarter of gains.  The US Census Bureau reported the homeownership rate improved by 0.1% quarter-over-quarter and is up 0.8% year-over-year, hitting a three-year high.  With rates still historically low, more first-time home buyers are entering the market with confidence and boosting the homeownership rate.

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The Self-Building House

  • August 02, 2017

As hype builds around self-driving cars, one UK engineering firm took the concept of autonomous construction a step further with self-building houses.  The uBox by Ten Fold Engineering assembles itself automatically without the use of tools or machinery.  Once unfolded, the homes measure up to 645 square feet.  When folded, the homes are easily stackable and shippable. 

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Home Seller Profits Hit Record Highs

  • August 01, 2017

Last week, the Case-Shiller home price index and FHFA house price index each showed home values are continuing to increase.  In addition to home price appreciation, homeowners are occupying their homes longer.  The average homeowner occupancy time of a home sold in Q2 2017 was eight years compared to just four years in the mid-2000s.  Homebuilders are facing challenges as well with rising costs of construction materials and labor shortages.  These combined factors have created the most profitable seller’s market in over a decade.

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Market Forecast: Pending Home Sales Index, Construction Spending, and ADP Employment

  • July 31, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much last week.  There were mixed housing numbers with a decline in existing home sales and an increase in new home sales.  This week, the pending home sales index comes out on Monday, US construction spending comes out Tuesday, and the ADP employment report comes out on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Decline, New Home Sales Increase Slightly, Case-Shiller Home Price Index

  • July 28, 2017

Mortgage rates ticked back upwards this week, though there are no significant changes to report.  Existing home sales declined after last month’s positive numbers.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index continues to improve.  New home sales increased, only slightly.

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Over Half of All Home Buyers Put Down Less Than 20%

  • July 27, 2017

For most first-time home buyers, the biggest challenge when buying a home is saving for the down payment.  However, the 20% down payment is not as rigid of a requirement as it has been in the past.  Low down payment programs, especially those targeting first-time home buyers, are growing in popularity. 

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Window Coverings Can Cut Utility Costs

  • July 26, 2017

With record heat waves rolling in, air conditioners across the country are working overtime.  The Department of Energy (DOE) reports that the right window treatments can reduce home heat gain by up to 77%.  Outdoor additions like awnings, or indoor curtains and drapes can reduce utility costs and lower inside temperatures. 

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Granite Countertops, Wood Cabinets, and Stainless Steel Appliances Top Renovation Wish Lists

  • July 25, 2017

Zillow reports that buyers are more open to “fixer uppers” than ever before.  With the rising popularity of home renovation shows, limited available housing inventory, and budgetary restrictions, first-time home buyers, especially millennials, are exploring options in need of repair or renovations over starter homes. 

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and New Home Sales

  • July 24, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward last week.  There are numerous housing reports scheduled for this week, including last month’s existing home sales and new home sales reports, and May’s Case-Shiller home price index.  Last week’s reports showed positive gains in mortgage applications filed, housing starts, and building permits issues.  This week’s reports will reflect whether or not that momentum persists. 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Applications, Housing Starts, and Building Permits Rebound

  • July 21, 2017

Mortgage rates started to trend downward this week, following Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s dovish remarks at her semiannual testimony last week.  The housing market index dropped slightly, but remains positive.  Mortgage applications turned around after last week’s Independence Day slow down.  Housing starts and building permits also rebounded.

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Download Case Study: Staying Competitive with a Smaller Down Payment

  • July 20, 2017

It is possible to get your offer accepted in a heated housing market, even with a smaller down payment. According to Smart Asset, the average down payment for first time home buyers now ranges between 5 and 10%.

 

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Texas Town 100% Powered by Renewable Energy

  • July 19, 2017

A little change goes a long way in Georgetown, Texas, located about thirty miles north of the state capital, Austin.  Georgetown is one of the first cities in the United States to be completely powered by renewable energy.  To date, Texas produces more wind energy than the next three leading states combined. 

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Major Lending Changes Impact Mortgage Market

  • July 18, 2017

Changes from the three major credit rating agencies, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac will impact mortgage lending and the ability for borrowers to secure loans.  Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian announced they will drop tax liens and civil judgements from consumer profiles when the information is not complete.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are raising their debt-to-income ratio limit to allow borrowers with higher levels of debt to qualify for conventional mortgage financing.

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • July 17, 2017

Mortgage rates were trending upward last week, then edged downward after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semiannual testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) releases its housing market index on Tuesday.  Housing starts and building permits come out Wednesday, along with the weekly mortgage application survey. 

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Expands, JOLTS Increases, Retail Sales Drop

  • July 14, 2017

This week, mortgage rates started to fall after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks at her semiannual testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.  Expectations of a September or December rate hike have dropped.  Consumer credit expanded at the fastest pace in seven months, there were fewer job openings than expected and retail sales declined.

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Counting the Costs of Rehab Projects

  • July 13, 2017

Investing in a home to sell is one way to earn a profit on a real estate investment.  “Home flipping” is gaining popularity through shows like Flip or Flop.  Christina El Moussa, star of Flip or Flop, sat down with Zillow to discuss the costs of rehabilitation projects that potential flippers need to consider.

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“Smishing” Scams Target Texters

  • July 12, 2017

Smishing scams are similar to email phishing scams, but they are delivered through SMS text messages.  Unsuspecting recipients tend to trust text messages more than emails.  However, responding to a smishing text that looks like it is from a bank, store, or other official organization can lead to financial fraud.

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CFPB Finalizes TRID Updates

  • July 11, 2017

In April 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) opened discussion on updates to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule or the “Know Before You Owe” rule, after the mortgage industry called for further clarity.  In July 2016, the CFPB released the proposed updates and gave the industry roughly three months to submit comments on the proposal. The CFPB also released a limited follow-up proposal to address when a creditor may use a Closing Disclosure instead of a Loan Estimate.

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, JOLTS, and Retail Sales

  • July 10, 2017

Mortgage rates started to increase last week.  This week, there are no monthly housing reports scheduled, but several other important reports on consumer activity and job openings.  On Monday, the consumer credit report comes out, on Tuesday, job openings will be released, and retail sales comes out on Friday. 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Unchanged, Mortgage Apps Up, ADP Employment Numbers Positive

  • July 07, 2017

Mortgage rates started to trend upward after a few weeks of holding steady.  This month, US construction spending remained unchanged and private-sector jobs grew less than anticipated.  New purchase mortgage applications rebounded after last week’s declines, and refinance applications decreased slightly. 

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Secretary Carson Advocates Responsible Homeownership Goals

  • July 06, 2017

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson hosted a questions and answer session last week on Facebook Live.  In his discussion, he addressed homeownership as a core component of the American dream and avoiding a repeat of the Financial Crisis of 2008. 

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5 Affordable Locations for Vacation Homes

  • July 05, 2017

Vacation homes and investment properties can be used as a “home away from home” and also potentially become a source of rental income when occupied.  The cost of the vacation home largely depends on the location. 

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Average American Credit Score Highest in 12 Years

  • July 04, 2017

The FICO credit score ranks consumers’ credit-worthiness on a scale of 300 (poor credit) to 850 (excellent credit).  The FICO score is the most widely accepted credit score used by lenders and other financial institutions.  The average FICO score hit a record-high, reaching 700 for the first since tracking began 12 years ago. 

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Applications, and ADP Employment Report

  • July 03, 2017

Mortgage rates trended slightly higher last week, but there are no significant changes to report.  This week, markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of Independence Day.  In housing news, US construction spending comes out on Monday and the weekly mortgage application survey comes out Wednesday.  It will also be a big week for job news with the ADP employment report scheduled for release on Thursday and several other employment reports on Friday.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Up, Pending Home Sales Down, GDP Expands

  • June 30, 2017

Mortgage rates started to trend upward this week, though there are no significant changes to report.  Home prices are continuing their steady trend of appreciation and contracts signed declined slightly as limited housing inventory continues to strain housing activity.  The third revision for first quarter’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came out Thursday, with a positive expansion.

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Financial Gap Widens Between Homeowners and Renters

  • June 29, 2017

Home prices are on the rise, as limited housing inventory causes demand to outpace supply.  In May, the median price of an existing home sold was $252,8000, up 5.8% from May of last year.  55% of homes were sold in less than a month.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports the average time on the market was just 27 days in May, down from April’s figure of 29 days, a new record low. 

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Beware: Home Improvement Scams

  • June 28, 2017

Did you know, in 2016 over 32,000 home improvement-related scams were reported to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?  The average cost of these scams was $1400.  Be prepared to avoid falling victim to dishonest contractors, repairmen, or other service professionals.

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Banks Pass Federal Reserve Stress Tests

  • June 27, 2017

Last week, the Federal Reserve conducted the annual stress test of 34 participating financial institutions’ ability to survive another recession.  For the third year in a row, all banks passed the stress test, indicating they will be able to maintain a minimum capital level of 3% to continue lending to households and businesses in the event of severe recession.

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales and GDP

  • June 26, 2017

Mortgage rates stayed low last week, trending slightly downward according to Mortgage News Daily.  Housing market activity picked up with gains in both existing home sales and new home sales.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index comes out Tuesday, the pending home sales index comes out Wednesday, and on Thursday we get the third estimate for first-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

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Market Recap: Gains All Around with Existing Home Sales, New Home Sales, and FHFA House Price Index

  • June 23, 2017

Mortgage rates stayed low this week, trending downward according to Mortgage News Daily, despite the June rate hike.  The final numbers from the spring selling season were mostly positive, with existing home sales and new home sales rebounding and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index also improving. 

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How Credits Impact Buyers and Sellers

  • June 22, 2017

Buyers may request seller credits, like property inspection credits, after the contract is signed.  Asking for credits is somewhat common, so sellers should be prepared to avoid unexpected costs.

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How the High Line Network Helps Cities

  • June 21, 2017

The High Line is a public park that spans along an elevated former freight rail line on Manhattan’s West Side.  The urban oasis stretches from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues and is a popular destination for tourists and local New Yorkers. 

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Housing Market Sees Record May

  • June 20, 2017

Spring is typically the busiest season for buying and selling homes, and this spring was no different.  According to research by Redfin, speed and competition hit new highs in May, as limited housing inventory continues to cause home price appreciation and shorten the time on the market.

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, Existing Home Sales, and FHFA House Price Index

  • June 19, 2017

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate to a level of 1.00% - 1.25%, the second rate hike of 2017.  This week, the final numbers from the spring selling season will be available including existing home sales, new home sales, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index.

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Market Recap: Rate Hike, Home Builders Confidence Declines, and Housing Starts and Building Permits Drop

  • June 16, 2017

As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate.   Mortgage rates did not change drastically following the announcement, increasing slightly according to some sources.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index declined slightly.  Housing starts and building permits declined.

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Rental Risks You Could Face This Summer

  • June 14, 2017

Considering renting a beach-house this summer? Summer is the prime season for rental homeowners to make some extra income, especially in vacation hotspots like Florida and California.  According to Airbnb, reservations in Destin, FL are up 232% from this time last year.   Before venturing into the short-term rental market, consider these five common risks hosts face.

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What to Expect from Mortgage Rates this Year

  • June 13, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is hosting its policy meeting today and tomorrow.  The Fed is widely expected to raise the benchmark interest rate from 0.75% to 1% to 1% to 1.25% following this meeting.  At the end of 2016, the Fed projected three rate hikes for 2017 and has since raised rates once in March.  How will this week’s expected rate hike impact mortgage rates and lending?

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Market Forecast: FOMC Meets, Home Builders’ Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • June 12, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward last week, ahead of this week’s Federal Reserve policy meeting.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday and hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release the home builders’ sentiment index on Thursday and housing starts and building permits come out on Friday.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Rebound, Job Openings Surge, Consumer Credit Slows

  • June 09, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward this week.  There were no major housing reports scheduled, aside from the weekly mortgage application survey.  Job openings surged and consumer credit growth was sluggish.  The labor market and consumer spending patterns influence the housing market.  When consumers are gainfully employed and confident in the labor market, they are more inclined to spend and borrow.

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The Case for the 10% Down Payment

  • June 08, 2017

One of the most common misconceptions home buyers face is the iron clad 20% down payment.  There are many flexible mortgage financing programs available that do not require a 20% down payment.  Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan offered his thoughts on the 20% down payment in an interview with CNBC.

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CMG Financial Ranked as One of the Nation’s Top Mortgage Lenders

  • June 07, 2017

Scotsman Guide, the leading resource for mortgage originators, named CMG Financial one of the top mortgage lenders of 2016. CMG Financial was ranked among entries from hundreds of mortgage companies across the country, in three categories: Top Overall Volume (15), Top Wholesale Volume (9), and Top Correspondent Volume (7).

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Financial Incentives of Going Green

  • June 07, 2017

Following last week’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, there have been many discussions on energy efficiency and housing sustainability.  Environmental preservation and protection efforts are not limited to international decrees, and can start right at home.  Here are three ways homeowners can reduce carbon emissions and also save some money.

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House Votes on Financial CHOICE Act Tomorrow

  • June 06, 2017

The Financial CHOICE Act will go before the House of Representatives for a debate and vote on Wednesday.  The Act, said to be the leading option to replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, was passed by the Financial Services Committee in May in a partisan vote. 

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Market Forecast: JOLTS, Mortgage Apps, and Consumer Credit

  • June 05, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, hovering the year-long low.  This week will be light on housing news, aside from the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other significant economic reports include the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the consumer credit report.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller House Price Index Increases, Pending Home Sales and Construction Spending Decline

  • June 02, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week and are holding near year-long lows.  The Case-Shiller house price index appreciated to the highest level in over two years.  Pending home sales and construction spending each declined.

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Help Wanted: Home Builders

  • June 01, 2017

As the housing industry struggles with tightened inventory, one problem facing home builders is a shortage of skilled laborers.  Throughout the country, builders are struggling to fill open positions and this is causing rising labor costs, increased construction time, and higher home prices.

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Fannie Mae Offers Healthy Housing Rewards

  • May 31, 2017

Last week, Fannie Mae announced a new program designed to give price breaks to developers who provide healthier living options for tenants in multifamily rental properties.  Multifamily housing faces unique challenges in sustainable design.  The Healthy Housing Rewards program’s goal is to encourage innovation to improve housing conditions and communities.

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CMG Financial Recognized as 2017 Best Places to Work in the Bay Area

  • May 30, 2017

This month, CMG Financial was named one of the 2017 Best Places to Work in the Bay Area.  CMG attributes this honor to its strong culture of success.  CMG’s culture depends on all team members working together to deliver the right loans, for the right reasons, in a way that exceeds all expectations. 

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Shortage of Space Hurts Downtown Housing

  • May 30, 2017

Housing inventory shortage has remained a consistent problem in the housing industry for the past decade.  Among the causes of constrained housing inventory are labor shortages, building material price appreciation, and land availability.  As more Americans move closer to city centers, builders are restricted to vacant lots in urban neighborhoods. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, and Construction Spending

  • May 29, 2017

Markets are closed today in observance of Memorial Day.  This week’s scheduled reports will include the final numbers of May and the first numbers of June.  The Case-Shiller home price index comes out Tuesday, pending home sales index comes out Wednesday, and construction spending comes out Thursday.

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Market Recap: Existing and New Home Sales Disappoint, FHFA House Price Index Improves

  • May 26, 2017

This week, mortgage rates hovered year-long lows.  New home sales and existing home sales flattened, each declining month-over-month but still improving year-over-year.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index appreciated slightly.

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Download Case Study: Types of Mortgages

  • May 25, 2017

Every borrower has a unique financial profile with different needs. To facilitate the American dream of homeownership, there are numerous loan programs and types of mortgages available. A qualified lender will match their borrower with the best loan to achieve their financial goals.

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Tesla’s Solar Roof System for Consumers

  • May 24, 2017

Advancements in engineering and energy-saving incentives has prompted companies like Tesla and Solar City to improve the upon the concept of solar roof panels.  Earlier this month, Elon Musk announced the launch of Tesla’s solar roof tile system for consumer purchase.

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Freddie Mac: Rates Expected to Stay Low

  • May 23, 2017

Mortgage rates are reflective of the economic atmosphere.  When the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) raises the benchmark interest rate, mortgage rates tend to follow.  Other events like politics can influence the economy as well.  After dropping last week, amidst turmoil in Washington, Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti predicts rates will remain low.

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, FHFA House Price Index, and Existing Home Sales

  • May 22, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward last week, amidst some political turmoil in Washington.  This week, there will be some significant reports on the first numbers from second quarter including new home sales and existing home sales.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will release its house price index, also. 

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Market Recap: Home Builders Positive Despite Drop in Housing Starts, Building Permits, and Mortgage Apps

  • May 19, 2017

Mortgage rates are down from last week, hovering year-long lows.  The home builders’ sentiment index posted positive numbers in May after a decline in April.  Housing starts and building permits each dropped, and both new purchase and refinance mortgage applications decreased.

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Housing Predictions from the MBA National Secondary Market Conference and Expo

  • May 18, 2017

Earlier this month, housing professionals from around the country gathered in New York City for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) National Secondary Market Conference and Expo.  One exclusive panel included a discussion with Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti, Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan, and MBA Chief Economist Mike Frantantoni. 

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Increase in Credit and Debit Card Fraud Alerts

  • May 17, 2017

A new survey reports that the number of credit and debit card fraud alerts received by cardholders has spiked from 2015 to 2016.  This increase is not necessarily a result of more fraudulent activity, rather more diligent fraud reporting.

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Home Builders Swap Luxury for Starter Homes

  • May 16, 2017

With millennials entering the housing market slowly, luxury homes are not on their radar.  The Wall Street Journal reported home builders are switching gears and building smaller.  The newest generation is shopping small, so home builders have put their focus on starter homes rather than luxury homes.

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Market Forecast: Housing Starts, Building Permits, and Housing Market Index

  • May 15, 2017

Mortgage rates trended upward last week following continued uncertainty surrounding tax and healthcare reform.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release their monthly housing market index, housing starts and building permits come out Tuesday, and the weekly mortgage applications survey comes out Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Applications Up, Retail Sales Up, Job Openings Stall

  • May 12, 2017

Mortgage rates trended upward this week, but remain near year-long lows.  Both new purchase and refinance applications increased, after last week’s lack of rate movement.  Job openings remained unchanged from February to March.  Retail sales improved, but were less than expected. 

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Slow Growth, Soft Start for Q1 2017

  • May 11, 2017

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged due to slowed growth in the first quarter of 2017.  The soft start does not necessarily translate into economic weakness.  Last week’s solid April jobs report and the onset of home buying season can trigger economic momentum. 

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MIT Debuts 3D Printer for Buildings

  • May 10, 2017

Since their inception, 3D printers have been used to recreate everything from household objects to prosthetic limbs.  Recently, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a large enough 3D printer to build the basic structure of a building in less than fourteen hours.

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Renovation Resurgence

  • May 09, 2017

Millennials are delaying buying a home for numerous reasons including student loan debt, home price appreciation, and housing availability.  Until new home construction offsets heightened demand, many prospective homeowners are facing inventory constraints.  According to the 2016 Houzz and Home Survey, millennials and first-time homebuyers are spending more on renovations after home purchase. 

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Market Forecast: No Rate Hike, JOLTS, Mortgage Apps, and Retail Sales

  • May 08, 2017

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) left rates unchanged after their meeting.  As a result, mortgage rates trended slightly downward.  This week, the Labor Department releases its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) puts out a weekly mortgage applications survey, and the retail sales report comes out Friday. 

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Construction Spending Drops, ADP Falls Short

  • May 05, 2017

Mortgage rates decreased slightly, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to not raise the benchmark interest rate.  US construction spending showed gains in residential construction, but not much elsewhere and the ADP employment report posted modest gains.

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Download Case Study: Down Payment Assistance Options

  • May 04, 2017

The largest financial obstruction homebuyers face is the down payment. Saving for a down payment while paying rising rents can be difficult. There are down payment assistance programs available to help both new and previous homebuyers afford a down payment and obtain mortgage financing.

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MBA Supportive of PACE Loan Regulation

  • May 03, 2017

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans are a type of financing homeowners use to fund the installation of solar panels or other home efficiency improvements, like air conditioning and window insulation.  The loan is a lien paid back through property tax payments, requires no underwriting, and often has high fees and interest rates.  Currently, these loans are not subject to federal consumer protection requirements, even though they have all the attributes of a mortgage product.

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New Fannie Mae Policy to Help Borrowers with Student Loans

  • May 02, 2017

The national homeownership rate is hovering record lows.  Many millennials are delaying buying a home for a number of reasons, including student loan debt.  Fannie Mae recently announced three new policies designed to alleviate the impact of student debt and help young millennials finance home loans.

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Market Forecast: FOMC Meeting, Construction Spending, and ADP Employment

  • May 01, 2017

Mortgage rates trended upward last week, after hitting year-long lows earlier in the month.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet for the third time this year.  There is not a press conference scheduled after this meeting, but there will be an official announcement released on Wednesday at 2 PM.   Also scheduled for release this week, are the US construction spending report and the ADP employment report.

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Market Recap: Home Prices Increase, New Home Sales Surge, Pending Home Sales Decline

  • April 28, 2017

Mortgage rates trended upward this week.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and new home sales report each posted significant gains.  Pending home sales declined slightly, due to mixed regional numbers.

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Will the Canadian Lumber Tariff Impact Homebuilders?

  • April 27, 2017

This week, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that his agency will impose new anti-subsidy tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports.  The tariffs are said to average 20%, and the move will impact the $5.66 billion worth of imported construction material.  American homebuilders will be most impacted by the new tariff.

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Secretary Carson’s Listening Tour is Underway

  • April 26, 2017

In an effort to better understand the state of American public housing, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson is traveling the nation to get an up close look at local communities.  

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Spring Cleaning Your Finances

  • April 25, 2017

We clean out our closets, clean up the garage, why not add your finances to your spring cleaning list?  With tax season in the rearview, spring is an excellent opportunity to clean up your finances. 

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Market Forecast: Home Price Index, New Home Sales, and Pending Home Sales

  • April 24, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, after hitting a year-long low earlier in the month.  There will be a full schedule of housing reports this week including the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, new home sales, and pending home sales.

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Market Recap: Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • April 21, 2017

Mortgage rates did not fluctuate much this week, hovering the year-long lows they hit last week.  The housing market index gave a positive reading.  Housing starts declined, but building permits ticked up.  Existing home sales surged to the highest level since 2007.

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Inventory Shortage Explained

  • April 20, 2017

A consistent theme amongst housing professionals this year and last has been “inventory shortage.”  With demand outpacing supply, houses are selling faster and at higher prices than earlier in the decade. 

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Beware! Common Real Estate Scams

  • April 19, 2017

Scammers target homebuyers or sellers because of the amount of money at stake during the real estate transaction.  Using trusted real estate professionals, keeping communication open, and staying aware throughout the process can help reduce the risk of fraud. 

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Survey: Down Payment Biggest Obstacle to Homeownership

  • April 18, 2017

A recent Zillow survey reveals nearly 70% of renters report saving for a down payment as the largest barrier to homeownership.  With rents reaching record highs, the average rent costs nearly 50% of the median income in many cities.  Even with the delay in buying a home, most renters cite homeownership as a goal.  63% of survey respondents are confident they will someday own a home, 25% believe it will happen in the next three-to-five years.

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Market Forecast: Low Rates, Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales and Starts and Permits

  • April 17, 2017

Last week, Freddie Mac reported mortgage rates dipped to new 2017 lows.  The lower rates bode well for the spring home buying season, typically the busiest of the year.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release the housing market index on Monday.  On Tuesday, housing starts and building permits come out and on Wednesday there will be the existing home sales report.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Rates Drop, Consumer Sentiment Soars, and More

  • April 14, 2017

This week, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed-rate average interest rate dropped to the lowest level of the year so far, driven down by the political climate.  Job openings increased, but hiring declined.  The consumer sentiment index continued to surge and retail sales dropped.

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Financial CHOICE Act 2.0 Outline Debuts

  • April 13, 2017

Nearly seven years have passed since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was enacted, and now the House Financial Services Committee is drafting proposed changes.  A memo reportedly from the committee’s chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling details the potential changes in the Financial Choice Act 2.0. 

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April is National Fair Housing Month

  • April 12, 2017

The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) was established on April 11, 1968, when President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law.  This act prohibits the discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on the race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, and family status of the buyer or renter. 

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Home Buyers are Springing Ahead

  • April 11, 2017

Home prices are on the rise in some regions, but buyers are not holding back.  CoreLogic reports that home prices will continue to rise into 2018 due to inventory restrictions and rising rates.  However, this price appreciation is not significant enough to stop home buyers from making a move.

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Market Forecast: JOLTS, Consumer Sentiment, Retail Sales

  • April 10, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward last week.  This week, economic reports of significance include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the consumer sentiment index, and retail sales report. 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending and ADP Employment Improve

  • April 07, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward this week after an uptick last week.  US construction spending increased, mortgage applications returned mixed numbers, and the ADP Employment report posted a sizable gain.

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HELOCs on the Rise Again

  • April 06, 2017

Last week, the Case-Shiller home price index reported a 31-month high in January’s home prices.  The 20-city composite index appreciated 5.7% during the three-month period ending in January, for a 5.9% increase year-over-year.  Home values saw significant appreciation in 2016.  Black Knight Financial Services reported an annual home price appreciation of 5.5% during 2016, bringing the number of mortgage holders with “tappable equity” up to 39.5 million. 

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Joining the 800+ Credit Club

  • April 05, 2017

Lenders use credit scores to determine a borrower’s ability to repay debt like mortgages and vehicle loans.  Credit scores impact lending terms, mortgage rates, and financing eligibility.  Typically, scores above 700 are considered good.  TransUnion reports only about 20% of Americans have a score above 780 and even fewer rank above 800.  How can consumers improve their credit score and reach these elite ranges?

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Suburban Migration Back on the Rise

  • April 04, 2017

The US Census Bureau estimates that for the year ending on July 1, 2016, the population in metro areas grew by 0.7%, while the population in surrounding suburban areas grew by 1%.  This marks the first time after a decade of recession that suburban growth surpassed metro-area growth.

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Apps, and ADP Employment Report

  • April 03, 2017

Mortgage rates continued to hold steady last week, trending slightly upward according to Mortgage News Daily.  This week will be light on housing news and heavy on jobs reports.  Jobs reports, like this week’s ADP employment report, are still relevant to the housing market because labor market growth triggers spending and borrowing by gainfully employed consumers.

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Market Recap: Home Prices, Pending Home Sales, and Consumer Spending Gain

  • March 31, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much this week, trending slightly upward from last week.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index surged at a record pace, pending home sales increased, and consumer spending improved also.

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Pros and Cons of Paying Points

  • March 30, 2017

Points, also known as discount points or origination points, are fees paid to the lender to secure a reduced interest rate for the life of the mortgage loan.  Points are an optional fee that are beneficial to some buyers, especially those who will be living in the home long-term. 

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MBA Opens Doors Foundation

  • March 29, 2017

We truly believe home is where the heart is.  For those suffering from illnesses, having a place to call home can be just as healing as the hospital.  Unfortunately, unexpected medical expenses have the potential to cause major financial damage to families.  The MBA Opens Doors Foundation is here to help. 

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Fannie and Freddie Reform Unlikely this Year

  • March 28, 2017

When Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin cited Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform as a Trump administration priority, housing professionals across the country began speculating about how reform of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) should take place.  Many lobbyists have called for GSE reform for several years, however new information suggests that GSE reform has been pushed back again due to more pressing policy reform issues. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, and Core Inflation

  • March 27, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward last week.  When the Federal Reserve raises the short-term interest rate, long-term rates like mortgage rates may not react immediately. This week, there will be the S&P Case-Shiller home price index, the pending home sales report, and the consumer spending, personal income, and core inflation report.

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Market Recap: FHFA House Price Index Unchanged, Existing Home Sales Down, New Home Sales Up

  • March 24, 2017

Mortgage rates continued to trend downward this week.  There was a mixed bag of housing news.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index was unchanged, existing home sales dropped, and new home sales increased.

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How Rising Rates Influence Saving and Lending

  • March 23, 2017

Last week the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate, a move that will impact the global economy, just not all at once.  In December 2008, the Fed dropped rates to 0 and has taken a gradual approach to raising rates to achieve economic recovery.  This year, the Fed is expected to raise rates two more times.  Here’s what that means for Americans.

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Your Home Insurance Checkup

  • March 22, 2017

From flooding in California, to tornadoes in the Midwest, to last week’s Northeastern snow storm, 2017 has already seen its fair share of inclement weather.  Each season and region is susceptible to its own natural disaster and homeowners’ insurance is not one size fits all. 

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The “Goldilocks” of Home Buyers

  • March 21, 2017

Why do homeowners want to move?  According to a survey conducted for Trulia by Harris Poll, most American homeowners are not satisfied with the size of their current home.  The survey found that less than 32% of homeowners would purchase a home that is the same size as their current residence.

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Market Forecast: FHFA House Price Index, Existing Home Sales, and New Home Sales

  • March 20, 2017

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate.  In response, mortgage rates trended downward.  Long-term interest rates will move more slowly than short-term rates in reacting to movements by the Fed.  This week, there will be several important housing reports including the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s house price index, existing home sales, and new home sales. 

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Market Recap: Record Home Builders’ Reports and a Federal Rate Hike

  • March 17, 2017

Happy St, Patrick’s Day!  As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise interest rates.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending down.  The home builders’ sentiment index increased at a record pace and housing starts also posted gainful numbers.  However, building permits declined. 

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Download Case Study: Buying vs. Building

  • March 16, 2017

One of the major decisions prospective home buyers face is whether to buy an existing home or build a new home. Buying and building each have advantages, and the decision to buy or build is largely dependent on the buyer’s timeframe and budget.

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Warning: Four Common Household Fire Starters

  • March 15, 2017

House fires are devastating tragedies that may lead to substantive loss of property and even injury or fatality.  The National Fire Protection Association attributes electrical failure or malfunction as the cause of over 47,000 fires annually. 

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Federal Open Market Committee Meets Today and Tomorrow

  • March 14, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to meet today and tomorrow for their second policy meeting of 2017.  Based on economic strength, many forecasters are predicting the first rate hike of the year will take place after this meeting.  The market is already pricing in a rate hike, but no official actions have taken place.

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Market Forecast: Federal Open Market Committee Meets Tuesday and Wednesday

  • March 13, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet this Tuesday and Wednesday and vote on whether or not to raise the benchmark interest rate.  Last week, the European Central Bank voted to leave interest rates unchanged.  In the United States, Mortgage rates were on the rise last week as the market priced in a federal interest rate hike.

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Market Recap: Will Robust Job Growth Lead to Rate Hike Next Week?

  • March 10, 2017

Mortgage rates were on the rise this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  After this week’s positive job numbers from the ADP employment report, many economists are predicting a rate hike will take place next week.

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5 Questions to Ask a Potential Mortgage Lender

  • March 09, 2017

JD Power reports that 21% of home buyers said they had buyer’s remorse over choosing the wrong lender.  The loan officer is just as important as every other member of the real estate team.  Choosing the right loan officer facilitates transparent communication and enables the borrower to have an accurate and expeditious loan closing.

 

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How to Protect Personal Information When Filing Taxes

  • March 08, 2017

Tax season is an opportune time for hackers to gain access to an abundance of secure information.  Consumers are transmitting sensitive data and many are anticipating refund payments.  The IRS estimated that it halted more than $4 billion in fraudulent refunds, on 787,000 tax returns during the first nine months of 2016.

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: No Change to Mortgage Interest Deduction

  • March 07, 2017

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin addressed the Trump tax reform plan in an interview with Fox Business Network.  He clarified that mortgage interest and charitable contributions would not change after the policy changes.  Before the president took office, Mnuchin had alluded to plans to cap the amount of mortgage interest homeowners can deduct from their taxes. 

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Market Forecast: MBA Mortgage Applications, Consumer Credit, and ADP Employment

  • March 06, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, trending upward according to some surveys.  There are no major housing reports scheduled this week, except for the weekly Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) purchase application survey.  Other notable economic reports include consumer credit and the ADP employment report.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Improves, Pending Home Sales and US Construction Drop

  • March 03, 2017

There was not much movement from mortgage rates this week, trending upwards according to some sources.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index improved, but the pending home sales index and construction spending declined.  On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Meeting later this month. 

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Download Case Study: The History of Mortgage Rates

  • March 02, 2017

Even with the Federal Reserve interest rate hikes of 2015 and 2016, mortgage rates remain at historic lows. Since the advent of the modern American mortgage in the 1930’s, mortgage rates have fluctuated dramatically, peaking at an unprecedented 18.5% during the 1980’s. Mortgage rates are largely dependent on economic activity, inflation, and the guidance of the Federal Reserve.

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Ikea’s Build Your Own Urban Garden

  • March 01, 2017

Furniture retailer Ikea, popular for its do-it-yourself assembly, released a new structure through its innovation lab Space10 called Growroom.  This spherical, wooden planter is designed to facilitate gardening in dense urban areas where many residents do not have backyards. 

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Avoid These Paint Colors When Selling Your Home

  • February 28, 2017

A fresh coat of paint on your home’s interior or exterior is a relatively inexpensive way to revitalize your home when it is on the market.  An exterior update can rejuvenate an older home and interior paint jobs can add dimension and diversity to the rooms.  According to the Institute for Color Research, people tend to judge an environment within 90 seconds of initial viewing, based strictly on its color.  Avoid these swatches when you are repainting your home for sale. 

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Market Forecast: Pending Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Construction Spending

  • February 27, 2017

Mortgage rates did not change significantly last week, and trended downward according to some sources.  This week includes the end of February and the beginning of March, bringing some important monthly housing reports.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) pending home sales index and US construction spending will forecast what to expect for housing in the coming months. 

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Surge, New Home Sales Rebound, and FHFA House Price Index

  • February 24, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward this week.  New home sales and existing home sales each showed signs of strength and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index increased.  New Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin addressed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform is on the agenda but stated that it was not the number one priority.

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No Substitute for the FICO Score

  • February 23, 2017

One of the first steps in securing a home loan is determining the borrower’s credit score.  With multiple credit bureaus reporting on different factors, the borrower may see multiple versions of their credit score.  Additionally, lead generation websites are constantly phishing consumers to get their free “credit scores.”  HousingWire reports that new research suggests that the VantageScore is not the same as a FICO score despite claims asserting otherwise.

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Alert: Increase in Utility-Related Phone Call Scams

  • February 22, 2017

The number of phone scammers posing as heating or electric companies increased 109% in 2016.  The top five companies phone scammer claim affiliation with are General Electric, Duke Energy, ConEd, Georgia Power, and Consumers Energy.

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Welcome Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

  • February 21, 2017

Last week, former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin was sworn in as Treasury Secretary.  Key responsibilities the new Treasury Secretary will face include tax reform, trade deals, and review of financial services regulatory agencies. 

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Market Forecast: FHFA House Price Index, Existing Home Sales, and New Home Sales

  • February 20, 2017

Last week, Steve Mnuchin was sworn in as Treasury Secretary, Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested an interest rate hike is coming soon, and mortgage rates started to rise. This week’s important housing reports will include existing home sales, new home sales, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) House Price Index.

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Market Recap: NAHB Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • February 17, 2017

This week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen delivered her semiannual testimony on the Fed’s monetary policy.  Because of her hawkish tones, economists have increased March’s rate hike expectations to 35%.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index dropped this month and housing starts declined, but building permits increased.  Retail sales posted modest increases as well.  

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Download Case Study: Buying vs. Renting

  • February 16, 2017

“Is it better to rent or buy?” Real estate professionals face this question rather frequently and each side presents its own financial benefits. However, evidence supports that homeownership is more affordable than long-term renting.

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Homes for Hope Designed to House Homeless Population

  • February 15, 2017

The homeless population in Los Angeles, CA has grown so substantially, that the mayor declared a state of emergency. In November, voting citizens approved a $1.2 Billion bond to build 10,000 apartments to help house the chronically homeless over the next ten years. At this time, an estimated 50,000 people sleep on the streets every night.  Homes for Hope is trying to reduce that number.

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Rates on the rise? Not just yet.

  • February 14, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) closed 2016 with a vote to raise the benchmark interest rate, for the second time in ten years.  The FOMC projected three additional rate hikes in 2017.  As expected, there was no interest rate movement after February’s meeting.  Some economists are questioning if the three rate hike forecast was an overestimate.

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • February 13, 2017

Mortgage rates dropped somewhat last week.  Rates in 2017 have stayed relatively unchanged following volatility toward the end of 2016.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release a housing market index.  Other scheduled reports include retail sales, housing starts, and building permits. 

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit and Mortgage Apps Up, JOLTS Down Slightly

  • February 10, 2017

After some volatility earlier in the month, mortgage rates started to drop this week.  Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave interest rates unchanged.  This week, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) dropped slightly, and consumer credit posted modest gains.  Mortgage applications also increased this week, following a drop last week.

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The MBA on GSE Reform

  • February 09, 2017

As it stands, comprehensive reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is largely considered the last piece of unfinished business of the financial crisis.  In 2008, Fannie and Freddie accepted a $188 Billion bailout and became government-sponsored enterprises (GSE).  The bailout has been long repaid, yet the financial institutions remain GSEs.  With policy reform on the horizon, the Mortgage Bankers Association released a paper on how GSE privatization might take place.

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Pittsburgh Area Mall Sold for $100 at Foreclosure Auction

  • February 08, 2017

Pittsburgh Mills, a 1.1 million-square-foot mall in Frazer, Pennsylvania, sold at auction for just $100.  The sprawling shopping center once valued at $190 Million in 2007 was foreclosed by Wells Fargo in November 2015, when its developers did not pay back the $143 Million owed.  

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Breaking Down Dodd-Frank

  • February 07, 2017

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform is the legislation that was enacted after the financial crisis to reduce predatory lending and regulate the banking industry.  On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order to reconsider post-financial crisis regulations, like Dodd-Frank.

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Market Forecast: No Rate Hike, Jolts Report, and Consumer Credit

  • February 06, 2017

Mortgage rates fluctuated only slightly last week, and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to not raise interest rates.  This week, the Labor Department releases its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the consumer credit report for December comes out, and the MBA releases its weekly mortgage purchase application index.

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Market Recap: Housing Numbers are Up and No Rate Hike, Yet

  • February 03, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much this week, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) decision not to raise interest rates.  Despite a week-over-week drop in new purchase and refinance mortgage applications, monthly housing numbers posted strong gains.

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Download Case Study: Benefits and Risks of Investing in Real Estate

  • February 02, 2017

Real estate investment is widely regarded as a less volatile investment than the stock market. While the stock market is subject to dramatic fluctuations based on the economic climate, the housing market is relatively predictable. Homes tend to appreciate in value over time and build equity with responsible mortgage repayment. In the case of buying to sell, investors can use the profits from one project to fund another.

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Ultra-Affordable Housing

  • February 01, 2017

Hex House, not to be confused with the Tulsa’s most terrifying haunted attraction of the same name, is an affordable housing solution that reduces the cost of design and construction.  Each home is assembled on-site, by the buyer, much like do-it-yourself furniture.

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Federal Open Market Committee Meets Today and Tomorrow

  • January 31, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will have its first meeting of 2017 today and tomorrow.  This meeting will not be followed by a press conference with Chair Janet Yellen.  The FOMC typically does not raise rates at meetings that are not followed by a press conference, the first meeting with a press conference will take play March 14-15. 

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Market Forecast: FOMC Meets, Pending Home Sales, and Case-Shiller Index

  • January 30, 2017

Mortgage rates experienced some volatility last week.  On Tuesday, Dr. Ben Carson’s nomination for the Secretary of the Department of Housing was approved by the Senate Committee.  On Wednesday morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 20,000. This week the Federal Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Upcoming housing reports include pending home sales and the S&P Case-Shiller home price index. 

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Market Recap: Carson Approved, Dow20K, and Mortgage Movement

  • January 27, 2017

Mortgage rates experienced some volatility this week, opening with a decline and then climbing throughout the week.  The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee approved Dr. Ben Carson’s nomination for the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The next step in his proceedings will be facing the entire Senate vote.  On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 20,000 for the first time ever.  Important housing reports that were released this week include existing home sales, new home sales, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index.

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Meeting the Demand for Housing

  • January 26, 2017

There has been continued discussion about “tightened inventory” in the housing community over the past year.  Home prices are appreciating, new home buyers are entering the market, and demand is on track to outpace supply.  However, there are other factors besides inventory availability influencing the tight housing market.

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How ReGen Village is Pioneering Sustainability

  • January 25, 2017

Self-sufficiency is not a new concept.  Before the modern age communities thrived for centuries without relying on trade and export from around the world.  Today, disconnecting from the grid is a new concept and one that challenges the idea of sustainability in housing and development.

 

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Ben Carson’s To-Do List

  • January 24, 2017

Last week, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs began its hearing for Dr. Ben Carson’s appointment as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This morning, his nomination was approved. Past HUD secretaries chose to take on flagship issues during their terms.  With Dr. Carson’s background as a neurosurgeon and his abundant contributions to the medical field, housing experts predict that “health and housing” will be one of his signature issues.

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, FHFA House Price Index, and New Home Sales

  • January 23, 2017

Mortgage rates went up last week and the Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended their plan to cut mortage insurance premiums on Federal Housing Administration Loans.  This week, there will be important housing reports including existing home sales, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index, and new home sales.

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Market Recap: New Administration Overturns Mortgage-Fee Cut

  • January 20, 2017

The Federal Housing Administration had planned to reduce annual Mortgage Insurance Premium starting January 27th.  However, the new Trump administration suspended this change.  Still, homebuilders remain confident, and housing starts are up but building permits dropped slightly. 

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Download Case Study: The Credit Score

  • January 19, 2017

Lenders use credit scores to determine the risk of a borrower before they issue a loan.  Prospective homebuyers should begin credit clean-up about six months to a year before the purchase of a new home. 

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Benefits of More Walkable Neighborhoods

  • January 18, 2017

As the car-centric world starts shifting toward the walkability trend, neighborhoods are seeing property values rise and quality of life improve.  Enabling pedestrianization of a neighborhood is the first step toward urban renewal, commitment to a better environment, and a revamped sense of community. 

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The Case Against GSE Privatization

  • January 17, 2017

Among the list of impending policy changes under the new administration, there has been ample talk about the privatization of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  The lenders became government sponsored entities in the wake of the financial crisis, accepting a $188 Billion bailout.  Since they were placed under conservator-ship, the GSEs have repaid their bailout and more to the US Treasury.  With the housing market rising to pre-recession strength and mortgage rates hovering historical lows the question arises, is it time to take Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae out of government conservator-ship? 

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Market Forecast: Short Week with Big Housing News

  • January 16, 2017

It is going to be a short news week with markets closed today in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and no major events scheduled on Friday because of Inauguration Day.  Looking ahead there will be important housing numbers released with the National Association of Home Builders’ housing market index, and housing starts and building permits.  The consumer price index is scheduled for release Wednesday morning.

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Market Recap: Consumers Confident, Job Openings are Up, and Retail Sales are Soft

  • January 13, 2017

Mortgage rates opened the week with a slight week-over-week decline and did not change much from Monday to Friday.  This week, the Federal Reserve released its consumer credit report, the Bureau of Labor released the JOLTS Survey, and the retail sales report for December came in.  Several incoming cabinet members sat for their confirmation hearings this week including Dr. Ben Carson for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Rents Rise Nationwide

  • January 12, 2017

As home prices continue to appreciate, rents are also on the rise.  Apartment search engine ABODO released their annual study surveying over 1 million rental listings across the country to calculate the average rental rate of a 1-bedroom apartment.  The analysis showed that the average monthly rent change last year was .67% for a total increase of $85 from January to December. 

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Federal Housing Administration to Cut Mortgage Insurance Premium

  • January 11, 2017

The Federal Housing Administration announced a plan to reduce mortgage insurance premiums in order to make mortgage financing more accessible.  Borrowers who close FHA mortgages after January 27 will pay 25 basis points less for their mortgage insurance premium which affects their monthly housing payment for the life of the loan, adding up over time. For example, on a $300,000 loan with a 3.5% down payment the new monthly insurance premium would be only $137.50 per month compared to the old premium of $200. This can save new home buyers $750 per year.

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CFPB Fined Equifax and TransUnion $23 Million+

  • January 10, 2017

Equifax and TransUnion, two major credit reporting bureaus in the United States, have been fined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for falsely representing credit scores and luring consumers into paid subscriptions.  The bureaus’ combined restitutions and fines top $23 Million total. 

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Job Openings, and Retail Sales

  • January 09, 2017

Last week, mortgage rates opened the year with a week-over-week decline.  This week is the first full week of the new year with several important economic reports including consumer credit, JOLTS, and retail sales.

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Market Recap: ADP Employment Gains and Increase in Construction Spending

  • January 06, 2017

Mortgage rates started the New Year with a drop from the previous week and dropped further by the end of the week.  In housing news, US Construction spending increased somewhat and mortgage applications dropped.  The ADP Employment report was also released this week, showing continued steady job growth.

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Download Case Study: Building Wealth Through Homeownership

  • January 05, 2017

Home values, like other economic measures, are cyclical.  It is widely accepted that buying a home is an investment in the future.  Even in periods of recession, homes can increase in value.  The government puts forth affordability initiatives to close the homeownership gap, emphasizing its fundamental role in providing financial security.  When construction slows and available inventory lessens, sellers of existing homes have an advantage as their homes’ value goes up. 

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New York Pledges $8 Million for Community Redevelopment

  • January 04, 2017

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York and former HUD Secretary, announced Tuesday the disbursement of $8 Million for the construction, rehabilitation, and repair of homes across the state of New York.  The funds will be administered by the state’s Affordable Housing Corporation to make improvements to existing owner-occupied homes, to acquire and rehabilitate homes for sale, and to construct new homes for sale.  

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Home Equity Continues to Improve

  • January 03, 2017

CoreLogic reported US homeowners with mortgages saw their equity increase by $227 Billion in Q3 of 2016, up 3.1% annually.  This growth is associated with the improvement of the average loan-to-value ratio.  The average LTV ratio was 55.4%, down from 56% in mid-2016 and 57.3% in 2015.

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Market Forecast: Rates Drop, US Construction Spending, and ADP Employment Report

  • January 02, 2017

Happy New Year!  Mortgage rates started to drop last week, after a steady climb following the election and the FOMC rate hike.  This week is a short week with markets closed on Monday in observation of New Year’s Day.  US construction spending comes out Tuesday, the weekly MBA purchase applications survey comes out Wednesday as well as the ADP employment report.  

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller HPI Increases and Consumer Confidence Soars

  • December 30, 2016

Markets were closed on Monday in observation of the Christmas Holiday.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index hit a new high, pending home sales dropped, and consumer confidence is up again.  Mortgage rates dropped slightly this week, after hitting a year-long high following the rate hike.   

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Is Mortgage-Interest Tax Deduction the Better Way?

  • December 29, 2016

One of the more hotly contested contentions in the Better Way program is a tax reform blueprint that impacts the mortgage-interest tax deduction.  Proponents of the policy suggest that it will double the standard deduction taxpayers receive, and make the mortgage interest deduction unnecessary.  Opponents suggest that it diminishes the value of homeownership. 

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HUD Grants $132 Million for Revitalization

  • December 28, 2016

Distressed neighborhoods in Boston, Denver, St. Louis, Louisville, and Camden will each receive a share of a $132 Million revitalization fund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  More than 50 million Americans live in distressed neighborhoods, typically characterized by a high housing vacancy rate, a concentrated poverty rate, and a population that is out of work and lacking in education.

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Market Forecast: Steady Rates, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Pending Home Sales

  • December 27, 2016

Last week, mortgage rates did not change much, dropping a few hundredths of a percent according to Mortgage News Daily. This week’s announcements include the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller home price index and the consumer confidence survey today and pending home sales tomorrow.

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Market Recap: Steady Mortgage Rates, Existing Home Sales Surge, and GDP Gains

  • December 23, 2016

Mortgage rates did not change much this week, dropping a few hundredths of a percentage point according to Mortgage News Daily.  Existing home sales posted sizable gains, the third quarter GDP was revised up, and new home sales improved as well. 

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42% of REALTORS® Report Clients Interested in Smart Home Devices

  • December 22, 2016

Devices like learning thermostats and smart home security systems are changing the way homeowners integrate technology into their homes.  Smart home devices are having such a significant impact, that the National Association of REALTORS® released its first report on smart homes last month. 

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Matching Gift Announced for Year End Campaign

  • December 21, 2016

There is still time to help out this holiday season.  The Cancer Support Community of the San Francisco Bay Area announced, “all gifts made during the Campaign for Hope (through December 31, 2016) will be matched dollar-for-dollar because of the generosity of Christopher George.”

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Will Trump and Yellen Work Together?

  • December 20, 2016

As it stands, President-elect Donald Trump is set to take office next month and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen fully intends to serve the remainder of her term that ends in February, 2018.  On the campaign trail, Trump simultaneously disavowed and defended the actions of the Federal Open Market Committee.  Now that Trump and Yellen are set to fulfill their terms in Washington, the question arises “will they work together?” 

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Market Forecast: Rates Rise, GDP Growth, Existing and New Home Sales

  • December 19, 2016

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee raised the benchmark interest rate and mortgage rates reacted accordingly and increased.  Some sources reported the highest reading of the year.  This week, the GDP revision comes out on Thursday.  Third quarter numbers were strong and this momentum is expected to carry into the end of the year.  Existing home sales and new home sales are also slated for release. 

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Market Recap: FOMC Confirms Rate Hike, Home Builder Confidence Soars

  • December 16, 2016

As expected, the FOMC raised key interest rates 0.25 bp to 0.5% - 0.75%.  The strengthened labor market and expectations for accelerated inflation warranted the rate increase.  FOMC Chairwoman Janet Yellen affirmed, “it’s important for households and businesses to understand that my colleagues and I have judged the course of the US economy to be strong.”  The rate increase will have a continuing impact nationally and internationally.  Following the Fed rate increase, mortgage rates ticked upward as well. 

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Not Suburban – Surban Growth Coming in 2017

  • December 15, 2016

Zillow’s predictions for the 2017 housing market include a growth in “surban” style communities.  Not to be confused with suburban-style sprawl, surban communities are the result of denser housing arrangements and urban amenities. 

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Helping Homeless Hawaiians with Microhousing

  • December 14, 2016

Last Tuesday, the County of Hawaii took a big step in housing its homeless citizens with the opening of a micro housing project.  Hale Kikaha, located in the Old Kona Industrial Area, contains 23 ADA compliant units including four that are handicap accessible.  The first tenants started moving in at the beginning of December.

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Potential Privatization Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

  • December 13, 2016

During the financial crisis Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bailed out for approximately $188 Billion and have remained under government conservator-ship since then.  However, President-elect Trump’s incoming Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has said, “we’ve got to get them out of government control.  […] In many cases, this displaces private lending in the mortgage markets, and we need these entities that will be safe.”

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Market Forecast – FOMC Meeting, Home Builders’ Index, and Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • December 12, 2016

Mortgage rates started to slide back down last week after reaching year-long highs earlier in the month.  The National Association of Home Builders release their housing market index for December on Thursday.  Housing Starts and Building Permits are slated for release on Friday.  The biggest news of the week will take place on Wednesday following the Federal Open Market Committee’s Meeting.  All signs point to an interest rate hike, the FOMC has held off on hiking rates all year, and economic conditions are favorable.

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Market Recap - New Purchases Up, Refinances Down, Solid Consumer Credit, and a Rate Hike Next Week

  • December 09, 2016

Mortgage rates inched downward this week, with no significant changes to report.  According to the MBA, new purchase applications were up and refinances were down.  Consumer credit expanded modestly.  The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to meet next week, and an interest rate hike is all but guaranteed. 

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5 Predictions for 2017 Housing Market

  • December 08, 2016

The real estate market tends to slow down this time of the year with cold weather setting in and holiday travels on the horizon.  This is a good opportunity to evaluate the state of the market and make predictions for 2017.

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Starbucks is “Lighting Up” King County to Stop Homelessness

  • December 07, 2016

In an effort to fight homelessness this holiday season, Seattle-area Starbucks stores are asking for donations to the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign and matching those donations up to $1 Million.  According to a recent report from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, there are 4,000 homeless people in Seattle including 500 families. 

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Breaking News: First Increase in Loan Limits Since 2006

  • December 06, 2016

Since the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008 established the baseline loan limit of $417,000 there has not been an increase in loan limits.  When instituted, HERA stated the baseline loan limit would not rise until the average US home price rebounded to a pre-decline level.  Until this year, the average US home price was below the level achieved in Q3 of 2007. 

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Monday Market Forecast: MBA Applications, Consumer Credit, and the Fed’s Balance Sheet

  • December 05, 2016

Mortgage rates went up last week, but are still hovering historic lows.  This week’s reports include MBA mortgage applications, consumer credit, and the Fed’s balance sheet.

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Market Recap: Job Market Strengthens, Construction Improves, and Rates Continue to Rise

  • December 02, 2016

Mortgage rates started to decline slightly this week, and then ticked back up.  The ADP Employment report showed substantial job growth, pending home sales posted a modest increase, and construction spending increased to a 7-month high.

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Can you buy a new home if you haven’t sold your current home?

  • December 01, 2016

You have to relocate for a job, and you only have two weeks.  Family circumstances make your spouse relocate but you are still looking for work in the new location.  You found the home of your dreams and don’t want it to go off the market before you’ve sold your current home. 

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Delaware Becomes Third State to End Veteran Homelessness

  • November 30, 2016

Veterans Day has come and gone, but we still have a civic duty to serve those who have served.  This month, Delaware became the third state to end veteran homelessness.  Delaware’s State Housing Authority has found housing for 415 displaced veterans over the past two years. 

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Meet the Incoming Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • November 29, 2016

The Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is a member of the president’s cabinet and leads the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  HUD’s Secretary is expected to execute the mission to “increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.”  This position directly influences the housing industry and is currently held by Julian Castro.

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Market Forecast: ADP Employment, Pending Home Sales, and Construction Spending

  • November 28, 2016

Mortgage rates hit year-long highs last week, breaking the 4% mark according to some sources.  This month brought positive housing reports building momentum to close out the month strong.  Coming this week are the ADP Employment report, pending home sales, and construction spending. 

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Surge, FOMC Minutes, and Rising Rates

  • November 25, 2016

Mortgage rates are still rising but not as drastically.  This week brought mixed housing market news and the release of the FOMC minutes.  While existing home sales are up, new home sales are down. 

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Copia Feeds the Hungry and Reduces Restaurant Waste

  • November 23, 2016

A chance encounter with a homeless veteran inspired UC Berkley undergrad Komal Ahmad, to conquer the hunger crisis head on.  Five years later, she is giving back with her app-based company Copia, a service for on-demand food donations. 

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The Future of Housing Policy Under President Trump

  • November 22, 2016

The inauguration of President Trump is still two months away, but the president-elect is busy building his cabinet and outlining the broader details of his plans for policy.  From the Federal Reserve to Dodd-Frank, here are some of the changes proposed by the president-elect that will impact the housing market and the mortgage industry. 

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Monday Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, New Home Sales, and FOMC Minutes

  • November 21, 2016

Mortgage rates are fluctuating at a steadier pace following last week’s drastic spike.  Following solid gains in housing starts and retail sales, this week brings the existing home sales report for October to be released on Tuesday and the new home sales report for October to be released on Wednesday.  Also scheduled for release on Wednesday are the FOMC minutes from the November 2nd meeting.

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Market Recap: Solid Retail Sales, Surge in Housing Starts, and Rising Rates

  • November 18, 2016

Mortgage Rates are on the rise this week, but have leveled out a bit after sharp increases.  According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage rates saw the biggest week over week increase since June 2013, and surpassed the highest level since January of this year.

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Rent vs. Buy: 3 Questions to Consider

  • November 17, 2016

Do you build equity with every home purchase?  Is renting just throwing money away?  How long do you have to stay in a home to build equity?  Are rents more stable than mortgage rates?

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Texas Volunteers Give the Gift of Green Housing to Veterans

  • November 16, 2016

Volunteers in Montgomery County, Texas are converting unused shipping containers into sustainable housing for homeless veterans.  Green Zone Housing provides a permanent living space at a low construction cost.  All homes are built out of 40-foot shipping containers and veterans take part in the project management of their new homes.

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Coming Soon: Repeal of Dodd-Frank?

  • November 15, 2016

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank law gave regulators the administrative power and tools they needed to shut banks without resorting to bailouts.  Because of Dodd-Frank, regulators were able to restrict risky lending and also protect consumers from deceptive marketing of financial products. 

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Monday Market Forecast: Retail Sales, Home Builders’ Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • November 14, 2016

Mortgage rates experienced a steeper spike last week, the most significant change in recent months, partially due to the election.  Scheduled reports for this week include retail sales on Tuesday, home builders’ index on Wednesday, and housing starts and building permits on Thursday.

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The Millennials Next Door

  • November 10, 2016

Market analysts have a lot to say about Millennials, but did you know they may be moving in next door?  Zillow recently reported that about half of new home buyers are under the age of 36.  The current housing market is saturated with first-timers with 47% buying and 63% selling a home for the first time.

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit, MBA Purchase Applications, and President Trump

  • November 10, 2016

The market initially saw deep post-election declines but bounced back.  Mortgage rates are rising more quickly than they have in recent weeks.  The nation’s choice of commander-in-chief decreases the odds for a December rate hike, which have now dropped to 50%. 

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Reviving the Rustbelt: Detroit’s Road to Recovery

  • November 09, 2016

According to recent reports, there are still about 30,000 vacant homes and buildings in the Detroit metropolitan area.  The former manufacturing hub was hit hard by job loss and the foreclosure crisis.  

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