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Buying a Home for the Holidays

  • December 05, 2019

During the holiday season, most home buying and selling activity tends to slow down.  People are traveling, the weather is colder, and home buyers and sellers have other things on their mind.  However, if you’re on a timeline to start a new job or move for a family obligation, you may still need to buy or sell a home during the holiday season, even if it’s not the ideal time.  After October’s rate cut, the third one of 2019, home buying and selling may pick up into the end of the year.

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Commonly Overlooked Home Hazards

  • December 04, 2019

You don’t have to save your cleaning for the spring!  With a new year approaching it’s the perfect opportunity to start fresh.  Is there a musty smell in your basement?  When was the last time you changed your smoke detector batteries?  Do you even have a carbon monoxide detector?  Zillow researchers narrowed down the top five household hazards and how you can avoid them.

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Federal Housing Finance Agency Increases Conforming Loan Limits

  • December 03, 2019

Last Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced it is raising the conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac again in 2020.  This historic move marks the fourth straight year of loan limit increases. 

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

  • December 02, 2019

There was not much mortgage rate movement during last week’s shortened holiday week.  This week in housing news, US construction spending and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey are both scheduled for release.  In employment news, the ADP employment report comes out on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Home Values Up, New Home Sales Down, Pending Home Sales Fall

  • November 29, 2019

It was a short week this week, with markets closed on Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  Home price appreciation has started to pick up.  New home sales and pending home sales both declined month-over-month, but climbed year-over-year. 

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4 Reasons to Consider Buying a Multi-Family Home

  • November 28, 2019

Your investment in real estate starts with the purchase of your first home.  The major advantage of buying over renting, is that when you own your home, every mortgage payment goes toward building home equity.  You can take your real estate investment a step further by buying a multi-family home like a duplex or triplex instead of just a single-family home. 

 

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How Personal Loans Help Some Consumers Pay Off Debt Faster

  • November 27, 2019

When you’re getting ready to apply for a mortgage, you’re going to want to improve your credit score and lower your debt-to-income ratio if needed.  Lenders use financial data like your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio to evaluate how you manage your other debt and determine your interest rate. 

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More Young Home Buyers are Choosing VA Loans

  • November 26, 2019

The VA Loan is one of the most affordable ways for qualifying Veterans and Active-Duty Military to purchase a home.  The VA Loan does not require a down payment, doesn’t have mortgage insurance, and typically will have a below-average interest rate.  The VA Loan was created in 1944 to help soldiers returning from World War II put down roots and buy homes.  However, it tends to be underutilized as a mortgage option.  Recent data shows, both Millennial and Generation Z home buyers have led to a resurgence in VA Loan usage. 

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

  • November 25, 2019

It will be a short week for economic news, with markets closed on Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday and none scheduled on Friday.  In housing news, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the new home sales report are both scheduled for Tuesday.  The pending home sales index comes out on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Housing Market Index Pulls Back, Housing Starts and Building Permits Jump, Existing Home Sales Increase

  • November 22, 2019

Mortgage rates are historically low, and likely to remain low into the end of the year.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index dropped one point in November, but the reading is still positive.  Both housing starts and building permits increased.  Existing home sales turned around. 

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Tips for a Stress-Free Home Renovation

  • November 21, 2019

Recently, many homeowners are using cash-out refinances to reinvest in their homes.  Through a cash-out refinance, you can withdraw a portion of your home’s equity to finance other expenses.  Home repair or renovation projects are commonly financed through a cash-out refinance because they are a way for you to reinvest in your home.  You should not withdraw equity from your home unless you’ve built up a cushion of at least 20%.  When used responsibly, a cash-out refinance can be a way for you to increase the resale value of your home. 

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Do you have a high enough credit score to get a mortgage?

  • November 20, 2019

One of the things every lender looks at when you apply for a loan is your credit score.  Your credit score reflects how well you manage your debt based on your repayment history, outstanding balance, and other factors.  Recent data from the Federal Reserve showed 90% of US mortgages were issued to borrowers with a score of 650 or higher.  Further, 75% of US mortgages were issued to borrowers with a score of 700 or higher. 

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Homeowners: What to Know Before End-of-Year Tax Time

  • November 19, 2019

With today’s low mortgage rates, many homeowners are refinancing their mortgages to get a lower interest rate or get cash out.  A cash-out refinance is an opportunity to withdraw your home’s equity to improve your home, pay down other debt, or finance another need.  Home repair and renovation projects are a good way to reinvest in your property and potentially increase its resale value.  This year, Americans are on track to spend $425 billion on home improvement projects.  You may even be able to claim tax benefits on some home upgrades. 

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

  • November 18, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, trending slightly downward according to some sources.  There are several important housing reports scheduled for this week ahead of next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index is scheduled for release on Monday, followed by housing starts and building permits on Tuesday, and existing home sales on Thursday. 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Up, Consumer Price Index Accelerates, Retail Sales Climb

  • November 15, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly lower this week, continuing to hover near year-long lows.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey reacted with an increase in both new purchase and refinance mortgage applications.  Both the consumer price index and core CPI increased.  Retail sales are also up.

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Real Estate Investing: Single-Family Homes vs. Apartment Buildings

  • November 14, 2019

When you invest in residential real estate you either buy to rent or buy to sell.  Buying to rent means you will have to pay for and maintain the property overtime, while renting to a tenant who will ideally offset the cost through the rental payment.  Buying to sell means you buy the home to renovate, repair, and resell for a profit.  When buying to rent, you have the option to buy a single-family home or multi-family units like a row of townhouses or apartment building, depending on your upfront capital and ongoing commitment.  When you are deciding whether to go single-family or multi-family on your residential real estate investment, consider these four points: vacancy, management, maintenance, and capital. 

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How to Take Control of Your Energy Needs

  • November 13, 2019

With last year’s devastating wildfires in our recent memory, PG&E recently made the decision to temporarily shut down power services in high-risk areas.  Power lines taken down by high-speed winds can cause sparks that ignite exceptionally dry foliage.  Downed PG&E power lines have been linked to the 2018 Camp Fire that ripped through Northern California towns like Paradise.  PG&E’s decision to shut off power sheds light on another issue, our reliance on utility companies.  With climate change escalating and more climate-related problems expected to occur, it’s a good time to consider options to take control of your home’s energy needs.

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5 Home Improvement Trends from the Home Improvement Research Institute

  • November 12, 2019

Homeowners and home buyers are going to be busy with home improvement projects in 2020.  Many homeowners are taking advantage of lower mortgage rates to refinance and get cash out to reinvest in home improvement projects and many home buyers are choosing to renovate a home they buy rather than wait for the perfect home to go up on the market.  The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) hosted a summit earlier this summer to discuss home improvement trends and make predictions for 2020. 

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales

  • November 11, 2019

There are no economic events scheduled today in observance of the Veterans Day holiday.  On behalf of everyone at our organization, we’d like to thank our Veterans and active-duty military for their service to our country.  The only significant housing report scheduled for this week is the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey scheduled for release on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the consumer price index and retail sales.

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Market Recap: Job Openings Down, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Consumer Credit Report Mixed

  • November 08, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week but continue to come in at historic lows.  Job openings dropped for the fourth straight month.  New purchase mortgage application submissions declined, and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  Revolving credit declined but non-revolving credit increased. 

 

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7 Inexpensive Ways to Add Value to Your Home

  • November 07, 2019

When you’re staging a home for sale the details matter. A couple of inexpensive changes can make a big difference to potential buyers who are touring your home.  Your Realtor or real estate agent is the expert when it comes to staging your home, but here are some ways you can up the perceived value of your home before you list.

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Are you financially prepared for an emergency?

  • November 06, 2019

Many Americans are unprepared for an emergency like a car accident or unexpected medical cost.  Traditionally, financial experts recommend having at least six-month’s worth of income saved as an emergency fund to cover costs in case of a financial emergency or job loss.  However, new research reveals the new magic savings number may be lower than you think.  A study of 70,000 lower-income households found that $2,467 may be the magic number when it comes to emergency savings.

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How the Fed Rate Cut Influences Mortgage Rates

  • November 05, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to lower the Federal benchmark interest rate.  As a result, average mortgage rates have trended lower.  When you’re shopping for a new home, you know you’re supposed to pay attention to FOMC decisions, but how exactly does the recent rate cut influence your future mortgage rate?  The Federal benchmark interest rate does influence the cost to borrow to money for a mortgage or other loan, but there are other factors that impact how mortgage interest rates are determined.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, Consumer Credit

  • November 04, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted in favor of a rate cut and mortgage rates reacted by trending lower.  This week, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) is scheduled for release on Tuesday and the consumer credit report comes out on Thursday.  The only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Fed Cuts Rates, Home Price Appreciation Slows, Pending Home Sales Jump

  • November 01, 2019

As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to lower the federal benchmark interest rate to a targeted range of 1.5-1.75%.  Mortgage rates will likely trend downward as a result.  The S&P Core-Logic Case-Shiller home price index depreciated month-over-month and moved up just slightly year-over-year.  The pending home sales index climbed. 

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Warning: 7 Outdated Home Décor Trends According to Real Estate Experts

  • October 31, 2019

When you’re selling your home, you want potential buyers to be able to picture themselves living there.  Staging your home is an important part of that and so is avoiding or changing outdated décor trends.  Apartment Therapy interviewed real estate agents, brokers, and Realtors from around the country to define these top trends to avoid.

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Teaching Your Kids About Money Can Start Early

  • October 30, 2019

You may not think you need to start talking to your kids about money until they get their first job or start applying for college.  However, introducing your kids to financial concepts early can help them develop a stronger understanding when it’s time for them to start earning and spending their own money.  Children as young as toddlers are able to comprehend simple concepts like spending, saving, and earning, when you lay the groundwork early.  Here are some concepts you can introduce to your kids early, so they understand money later.

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Looking to flip homes? Look in the Midwest!

  • October 29, 2019

Home flipping, or buying a home at a low price to sell for a profit, is one of the ways real estate investors make money.  The practice is usually popular in markets experiencing rapid home price appreciation, like Las Vegas or Miami.  A new study from Realtor.com found that one of the best markets for flipping homes may not be where you expect – St. Louis, MO. 

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

  • October 28, 2019

This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will give a press conference on Wednesday following the release of the FOMC announcement.   In housing news, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the pending home sales index are both scheduled for release on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Down, Mortgage Apps Fall, New Home Sales Slip

  • October 25, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  Existing home sales declined in September.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions are down.  New home sales also declined. 

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Why Your Home Might Sell for Less than you Expect

  • October 24, 2019

The last thing you want to happen when you’re selling your home is for it to sell for less than you expected.  If you’re selling your current home, you’re probably in the process of buying a new home.  Selling your home for $5,000 or even $10,000 less than you expected to sell it for can seriously shrink your moving budget. 

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Are you making this big money-saving mistake?

  • October 23, 2019

Chances are if you’re working, you are saving for retirement.  Most employers have a retirement savings program where employees can set aside pretax money directly out of their paycheck and save it in a retirement account.  While most of us know we are “saving for retirement,” we may forget we are actually “investing for retirement.”  The money you deposit in your 401(k), Roth IRA, or other retirement account is typically invested in the stock market so your money grows. 

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Expect Bidding Wars this Fall

  • October 22, 2019

After an unseasonably slow Spring, and two late-in-the-year rate cuts, many real estate professionals are expecting a busy Fall, bidding wars included.  Typically, bidding wars tend to drop off when the housing market cools down in the Fall and Winter months, dropping about 15 percentage points from March to September. However, Redfin reports in September 2019, 11% of offers written by the firm faced a bidding war, up from 10% of offers in August.  This figure may be down substantially from the 41% of offers facing a bidding war in September 2018, but the trend goes against the seasonal pattern the market has seen from 2013-2018.  

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

  • October 21, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, trending slightly downward according to some sources.  This week will be a big week for housing with both the existing home sales and new home sales reports scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey will come out on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Home Builder Sentiment Improves, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Housing Starts and Building Permits Declined

  • October 18, 2019

Mortgage rates did not change significantly this week, trending slightly downward according to some sources.  Home builder sentiment reached the highest level in almost two years.  New purchase mortgage application submissions declined, and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  After strong numbers in August, housing starts and building permits declined. 

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Investing in Real Estate vs. Stocks

  • October 17, 2019

Real estate is often considered a more stable investment than stocks, but why?  While all investments come with varying degrees of risk and reward, the advantage of investing in real estate is that it tends to appreciate over time, and it is a useable, tangible asset.  Before moving forward with any investment, you should consult a financial advisor.  Investing in real estate is a good option for some and investing in stocks is a better option, although it depends on your how much you are investing and your short-term and long-term goals. 

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Many Seniors Prefer Multigenerational Housing

  • October 16, 2019

Multiple generations living in the same home is growing more common.  In 1980, only 12% of Americans lived in a home that included adults from two or more generations.  In 2018, that figure had risen to 20%.  Living in a multigenerational household can help seniors stay active, healthy, and involved.  Multigenerational housing is becoming so common, that it’s not just family members living together.  Developers are designing co-living spaces to house multiple generations and meet this preference. 

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Medical Debt May Be Hurting More Potential Home Buyers Than Student Debt

  • October 15, 2019

In recent years, student loan debt has been one of the biggest obstacles to saving for the down payment on a home, especially for Millennials and younger first-time home buyers.  A recent Zillow survey of 13,000 households nationwide reveals that another type of debt may be hurting home buyers and renters of all ages, even more than student loan debt.

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

  • October 14, 2019

Mortgage rates are not expected to move significantly this week and continue to remain historically low.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index is scheduled for release on Wednesday, followed by housing starts and building permits and new home sales on Thursday. 

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Expands, Refinance Applications Up, Job Openings Dip

  • October 11, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week and remain historically low.  Consumer credit growth expanded at a somewhat weaker rate, driven by a drop in credit card borrowing.  Mortgage application submissions were mixed.  Job openings declined.

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How to Buy a Home Out of State

  • October 10, 2019

Any move can be stressful, but moving out of state comes with added intricacies.  Whether you’re moving for a career change, family reasons, or a change of scenery, your new home purchase should not be something to worry about.  Follow these steps to simplify your next big out-of-state move.

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Airbnb Invests in Affordable Housing

  • October 09, 2019

Airbnb, the popular short-term rental service, announced a $25 million investment in affordable housing efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County.  San Francisco and Los Angeles among other metro areas in the western United States, has experienced rapid home price and rental rate appreciation in recent years.  San Francisco specifically has experienced sustained home price appreciation over the years because of the prevalence of job opportunities, especially tech jobs, and the limited supply of housing. 

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Over Half of Millennial Home Buyers Finance with PMI

  • October 08, 2019

Private mortgage insurance or PMI is typically required when the home buyer finances with a conventional loan and puts down less than 20% for the down payment.  Not to be confused with homeowner’s insurance, private mortgage insurance is insurance for the lender, in case you default on your mortgage.  PMI is usually added on top of the monthly mortgage payment and this extra cost can quickly add up, especially for first-time home buyers that may not fully understand PMI.  

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

  • October 07, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly lower last week.  This week, the only directly related housing report is the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will release the minutes from its last semiannual monetary policy meeting giving economists a better understanding of what to expect for the rest of the year.  Other market-moving reports include consumer credit and the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).  

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Up, Mortgage Apps Rebound, ADP Employment Report Down Slightly

  • October 04, 2019

Mortgage rates trended lower this week, continuing to touch down on year-long lows.  US construction spending increased slightly, but residential construction spending specifically jumped.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions are up.  The ADP employment report was lower than expected. 

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Why School Districts Matter, Even if You Don’t Have School-Age Children

  • October 03, 2019

When you’re looking at listings for your new home, you’ll often find the local school district rating featured right beside crime statistics and other important local data.  Even if you do not have school-age children, the ranking of your neighborhood school district matters because it will influence the overall value of your home and when it comes time to sell, may even help sell your home faster and earn a larger profit.

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Average Consumer FICO Score Reaches 706

  • October 02, 2019

Consumer credit scores continue to recover in the wake of economic recovery, most recently hitting a new record high FICO score of 706.  The FICO credit score is the most widely accepted credit score used by banks and lenders to assess a consumer’s credit risk and ability to repay a loan or a line of credit.  By comparison, just ten years ago, at the end of the Great Recession, the average FICO credit score was only 686. 

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What Not to Do When the Fed Cuts Interest Rates

  • October 01, 2019

Last month, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted for a quarter-point interest rate cut, the second one this year.  When the Fed cuts the Federal benchmark interest rate, all interest rates will react by trending lower.  The cost of borrowing money, like the average mortgage rate, will fall, but the return on your savings account will also be lower, and can hurt some savers expecting to earn interest income. 

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

  • September 30, 2019

Average mortgage rates are still historically low following the two recent Federal Reserve rate cuts.  This week in housing news, US construction spending comes out on Tuesday and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Sunday.  In jobs-related news, the ADP employment report is scheduled for release on Thursday. 

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Slows, Pending Home Sales Rebound

  • September 27, 2019

Average mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week, but still remain close to year-long lows.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index was unchanged from June to July, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index increased slightly.  Pending home sales increased.

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Profile of Today’s First-Time Home Buyer

  • September 26, 2019

Do today’s first-time home buyers look drastically different from the first-time home buyers of twenty years ago?  In some ways they do but in many ways they don’t.  Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies analyzed over twenty years of housing data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and American Housing Surveys to evaluate what today’s first-time home buyers look like, what trends have persisted, and what’s new.

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Did you know your homeowner’s insurance may cover this?

  • September 25, 2019

You get homeowner’s insurance to protect your family and your property from fire, thefts, and weather damage, but did you know it may also cover other unexpected hazards?  Consumer Reports collaborated with the Insurance Information Institute and found six surprising incidents your homeowner’s insurance may cover. 

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Home Buyers Rank Air Conditioning Over Proximity to Family and Friends

  • September 24, 2019

We’ve all heard the familiar real estate mantra “Location, Location, Location,” but today’s home buyers and renters are consistently ranking this home feature as the most important.  Zillow Group’s 2018 Consumer Housing Trends Report found that air conditioning was the most important housing feature ranked even above proximity to family and friends. 

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

  • September 23, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to cut the Federal benchmark interest rate, and mortgage rates responded by trending lower.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index are both scheduled for release on Tuesday.  The pending home sales index will come out on Thursday.

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

  • September 20, 2019

As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to lower the benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to a target range of 1.75% to 2%.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending lower.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index ticked upward.  Housing starts and building permits each turned around.  Existing home sales climbed to a 17-month high.

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Listing Your Home? Emphasize These Features if You’ve Got Them

  • September 19, 2019

When you’re selling your home, you’re likely on a deadline.  You have to get an offer on your current home, make an offer on your new home, and move all within a relatively tight timeline, especially if you live in or are moving to a busy market.  Selling your home faster can be as easy as emphasizing certain features that buyers find appealing.  Zillow analyzed 4.6 million home sales across the country from 2017 to 2018 and found that these features tended to sell homes faster and, in some cases, net a greater profit.

 

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Watch Out: 6 Common HOA Rules You May Accidentally Break

  • September 18, 2019

In communities managed by a Homeowners Association (HOA), homeowners typically have to adhere to certain guidelines and rules known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).  If you break one of your HOA’s CC&Rs you may face a fine in addition to your monthly or yearly dues.  When you move into a new home, it’s important to read your HOA CC&Rs thoroughly.  Seemingly routine changes to your home’s exterior or a friend visiting in a Recreational Vehicle may violate the rules and leave you with a fine or worse.

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A Buyer’s Market Likely Coming this Fall

  • September 17, 2019

Fall home buyers may be in luck.  This summer, mortgage rates touched down to the lowest levels in three years.  Whether or not the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) votes for a rate cut tomorrow, mortgage rates will likely stay historically low through the end of this year.  Additionally, appraisals have gotten harder, and many buyers are making more cautious decisions.  Thus, sellers are not able to price their home as high as they did earlier this year.

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

  • September 16, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, continuing to hover around historic lows.  The Federal Open Market Committee will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and is expected to cut interest rates.  In housing news, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) housing market index is scheduled for release on Tuesday, followed by housing starts and building permits on Wednesday, and existing home sales on Thursday.

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Expands, Job Openings Down, Mortgage Apps Up

  • September 13, 2019

Mortgage rates stayed near year-long lows this week, skewing slightly higher according to some sources.  Consumer credit expanded in July, powering overall economic growth.  Job openings are down and voluntary quit rates are up, as the labor market stays strong.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions are up. 

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Do the Math: How much do you need to save for a down payment?

  • September 12, 2019

When you’re ready to buy a home, one of the first questions that will come to mind is naturally “how much do I need to save for a down payment?”  The amount needed for the down payment will vary depending on the type of loan you choose.  Many home buyers believe a 20% down payment is needed to buy a home, but that’s not always the case.  In 2018, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 55% of all home buyers bought their home with a down payment of 6% or less, and 72% of first-time home buyers used a down payment of 6% or less.  To determine how much you will need to save for a down payment, start with these equations.

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Think You’re Saving Money on that Fixer-Upper? Think Again!

  • September 11, 2019

Many home buyers choose to buy a fixer-upper for financial reasons.  They often expect the cost of the home combined with the cost of the needed improvements will still be less than buying a comparable move-in ready home.  A recent survey of 1,069 homeowners from Porch.com, found that although buyers who bought a fixer-upper spent on average $50,000 less than their counterparts who bought move-in ready homes.  But they tended to spend that difference, or more, on renovations and repairs to make their home livable.

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Would a Recession Impact Today’s Housing Market?

  • September 10, 2019

Lately, numerous networks have been broadcasting news about an impending recession.  The economy ebbs and flows through various economic cycles, and there are times when sustained growth is followed by a downturn.  After the longest period of economic expansion in American history, a recession would not be unusual.  When we hear “recession” today, many of us may immediately recall the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 and the ensuing Great Recession.  The Great Recession was brought on in part by irresponsible lending practices and the housing market collapse.  However, if a recession takes place soon, it will likely not have the same impact on housing as the Great Recession.   

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, JOLTS, and Mortgage Applications

  • September 09, 2019

There are no significant housing reports scheduled for this week, aside from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the consumer credit report and the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Improves, Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Report Beats Predictions

  • September 06, 2019

Markets were closed on Monday in observance of the Labor Day holiday.  Mortgage rates continued their downward trend this week, touching down on year-long lows.  Construction spending improved in July.  New purchase application submissions were up, but refinance application submissions were down.  The ADP employment report exceeded expectations.

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How Soon is too Soon to Sell Your Home?

  • September 05, 2019

The home you buy today is not always going to be the home you live in forever.  Sometimes the need to move may come sooner than you expect.  Most real estate professionals recommend waiting at least five years after buying a home before selling it to make sure you recoup the cost of the home purchase.  However, circumstances vary, and in some cases, you could benefit from selling your home sooner rather than later.  Realtor.com contributor, Larissa Runkle, identified three times when you should break the “5-year rule.”

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Tesla Tests Rental Solar Panels in Six States

  • September 04, 2019

Since Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016, residential solar panel installations have stalled.  High installation costs create a financial barrier for many homeowners to switch to solar panels, despite the long-term energy savings.  To make its solar panels more accessible, Tesla is pioneering a rental program in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Mexico, with no installation costs and no time commitment. 

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Trump Administration Prepared to Release Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Reform Plan Soon

  • September 03, 2019

The Trump Administration is expected to release its plan to return Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private-shareholder ownership early this month.  Although Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin initially pledged housing finance reform was a top priority when he took office, the issue has taken a backseat to other policy matters throughout the Trump presidency.  This proposal was expected to be announced earlier this summer but was delayed by revisions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

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

  • September 02, 2019

Markets are closed today in observance of the Labor Day holiday.  This will be a short week with lots of news.  The US construction spending report comes out on Tuesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday, and the ADP employment report comes out on Wednesday.  

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Slows, Pending Home Sales Decline

  • August 30, 2019

Mortgage rates trended downward this week, touching year-long lows according to some sources.  Both the Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index showed a slowdown of home price appreciation in June.  Pending home sales declined. 

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4 Ways to Reduce Your Biggest Expense During Retirement

  • August 29, 2019

Whether it’s your mortgage payment or your monthly rent, housing is most retirees’ biggest recurring expense.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household headed by an adult 65 or older spends nearly 34% of their income on housing and housing-related expenses like insurance, property taxes, maintenance needs, and utilities.  For many, retiring means a fixed income and the prospect of monthly housing costs may seem daunting, especially added onto other needs like medical expenses and travel.  Financial contributors at the Motley Fool compiled this list of four ways to reduce your biggest expense during retirement. 

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Low-Cost Ways to Make Your Bathroom Feel Brand New

  • August 28, 2019

Whether you just moved into your home or have lived there for years, renovations do not have to be costly.  Bathrooms are one of the most popular rooms to renovate following kitchen renovations.  There are ways to spruce up your bathroom without breaking the bank.  If you’re not ready for a full bathroom makeover, try some of these ideas.

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Millennial Homeowners Driving Home Improvement Spending

  • August 27, 2019

Determined to become homeowners in today’s competitive housing market, Millennials have found a new way to get what they want out of their home purchase; home improvement.  In many metros, especially high-cost areas with rising home prices, first-time home buyers like Millennials have found choosing to buy a home that needs renovation or repair allows them to become a homeowner sooner and start building valuable home equity from their real estate investment.  CNBC reported last year, homeowners who had mortgages experienced an 8% annual equity increase, adding up to $678 billion in excess home equity or approximately $9,700 per homeowner. 

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

  • August 26, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, continuing to hover near historic lows.  This week, two readings on home price appreciation trends will be released.  Both the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index are scheduled for release on Tuesday.  The pending home sales index comes out on Thursday.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Flat, Existing Home Sales Increase, New Home Sales Decline

  • August 23, 2019

Mortgage rates flattened out this week, not moving significantly in either direction.  As a result, mortgage activity was slow.  Existing home sales increased in July, possibly triggered by this summer’s lower mortgage rates.  New home sales fell sharply.

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Reasons Not to Get a Mortgage Online

  • August 22, 2019

The idea of a totally digital mortgage experience may sound alluring to anyone with a busy schedule of daily demands.  But when it comes to a six (or more!) digit transaction, there is an advantage to having a real person on your side to advocate on your behalf.  Even if you prefer to get started filling out your application online or through our mobile app, working with a real loan officer and not a customer service hotline empowers you to cross the finish line with confidence.

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6 Ways to Start Your Winter Home Maintenance this Summer

  • August 21, 2019

If you’re kicking back by the pool, the last thing on your mind is colder weather ahead.  But fast forward to the winter months and imagine going out to check your gutter leak in the chilling wind.  Preparing your home for the winter months during the summer can save you tons of aggravation, and even reduce the need for expensive repairs. 

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Trump Administration Moves to Restrict FHA Mortgage Refinance Limits

  • August 20, 2019

In lieu of the Federal Reserve’s rate cut, many homeowners are considering a mortgage refinance.  Refinancing your mortgage could help you lower your monthly mortgage payment through a lower interest rate, reduce or eliminate mortgage insurance, change loan programs or terms, or get cash out.  When homeowners get cash out, they are able to use their home’s equity to finance other needs like a home renovation project or to pay down higher interest debt. 

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

  • August 19, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to trend lower, reaching year-long lows in many cases.  This week, both the existing home sales and new home sales reports are scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.

 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Climb, Home Builder Sentiment Improves, Housing Starts Decline but Building Permits Increased

  • August 16, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, staying near year-long lows.  Lower rates led to a significant increase in refinance mortgage applications.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) housing market index improved.  Housing starts fell but building permits jumped. 

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FHA Issues New Condominium Approval Rule

  • August 15, 2019

With new guidelines set to become effective on October 15, 2019, condominium financing will become more accessible for FHA borrowers.  Previously, to finance a condominium unit with an FHA loan the condo project had to meet approval requirements.  With the new policy, individual condo units that are not part of an FHA-approved condo project can still be eligible for FHA financing.  The policy change is a response to the need for more affordable options for first-time home buyers in today’s competitive market. 

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Choosing the Right Size Home: Floor Plan vs. Square Footage

  • August 15, 2019

After budget and location, the number of rooms and the square footage are among the top factors home buyers consider.  However, when you’re buying a new home, bigger isn’t always better.  Touring the actual homes you’re considering purchasing, rather than just relying on the reported square footage, allows you to see how the home is setup.  A larger home with poorly used space won’t serve you as well as a smaller home with the right layout.  When you see a home within your budget and a larger than expected square footage, take a tour with your Realtor or real estate agent.  Make sure the layout suits your needs and you don’t get stuck with unusable space.

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5 Most Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes, According to Realtors

  • August 14, 2019

When you’re buying a home, especially for the first time, working with a Realtor or real estate agent can help you avoid any rookie mistakes.  Lifestyle blog, Apartment Therapy, polled real estate agents from around the country to identify the most common first-time home buyer mistakes, and how you can avoid them. 

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FHA to make financing easier for condo owners

  • August 14, 2019

Announces long-awaited changes to eligibility requirements that include individual unit approval.

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More Americans Qualifying for Jumbo Mortgage Loans

  • August 13, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) revealed it was easier to get a jumbo loan in June 2019 than it has been in the past eight years.  All types of mortgage loans saw increases in credit availability, but jumbo loan credit availability marked the 6th straight month of increases.  Home buyers use jumbo loans to finance homes with purchase prices higher than the conforming loan limits. 

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

  • August 12, 2019

Mortgage rates have fallen to year-long lows, amidst the Federal Open Market Committee’s vote to cut rates.  This week, there are several important housing reports ahead including the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey, the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index, and housing starts and building permits. 

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Market Recap: Job Openings Down Slightly, Refinance Apps Surge, Consumer Credit Expands

  • August 09, 2019

Mortgage rates trended downward this week, reaching year-long lows according to some sources.  Job openings slipped slightly.  New purchase mortgage application submissions declined but refinance mortgage application submissions are up.  Consumer credit expanded less than expected.

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Forbes Real Estate Council’s Realtor Recommendations

  • August 08, 2019

Choosing the right Realtor or real estate agent will greatly influence how your home purchase goes.  Your Realtor or real estate agent will connect you with the right listings in your community and be your number one advocate when it’s time to make an offer.  Forbes polled leading real estate executives from its Forbes Real Estate Council and found these top five things to look for when choosing a Realtor or real estate agent.

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Save Money by Never Buying These 5 Things New

  • August 07, 2019

We all have savings goals we are trying to reach.  While we generally can’t change when we need to buy something, we can change how we buy it.  Buying used instead of new can help you save substantially on some more expensive necessities.   Whether you’re saving to pay down student loans, buy a home, or invest elsewhere, these simple strategies can help boost your savings efforts. 

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Mortgage Delinquency Rate Falls to 20-Year Low

  • August 06, 2019

The latest CoreLogic monthly Loan Performance Insights Reports revealed Americans are better at making their mortgage payments on time than they have been in the past two decades.  A delinquent mortgage is defined as a mortgage that has been past due for 30 days or more.  As of April 2019, the national mortgage delinquency rate dropped to 3.6%. 

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

  • August 05, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted for its first rate cut in 10 years.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending downward.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and consumer credit. 

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Market Recap: Rate Cut, Home Appreciation Slows, Pending Home Sales Up

  • August 02, 2019

In a widely anticipated move, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to cut the federal benchmark interest rate by .25 bps.  Mortgage rates trended slightly lower following the announcement.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index showed home price appreciation has continued to slow down in many metros across the country.  Pending home sales continued to increase.

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Build-to-Rent Housing Growing Popular

  • August 01, 2019

With foreclosure and distressed property sales at an all-time low, investors are looking for new ways to satisfy the growing demand for single-family rental homes.  Today, distressed properties account for just 2% of home sales, down substantially from the high of 49% in March 2009.  At the same time, renters are shifting away from apartments and multifamily living and seeking single-family homes.  Home builders around the country are seizing this opportunity to build homes to rent.

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Solar Panels Could Increase Your Home’s Resale Value

  • July 31, 2019

Homeowners switch to solar panels to reduce energy costs and lower their environmental impact.  As an added bonus, Zillow researchers uncovered that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more on average that similar homes without solar power.  The value of adding solar panels to your home varies depending on the market.  On the lower impact end of the spectrum, homes in Riverside, CA sold for an average 2.7% or $9,926 more.  Comparatively on the higher impact end of the spectrum, homes in New York, NY sold for an average 5.4% or $23,989 more.  

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How Tomorrow’s Federal Open Market Committee Vote Impacts You

  • July 30, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets today and tomorrow and most analysts are expecting a quarter-point rate cut based on messaging in the Fed’s Beige Book released earlier this month.  If the Fed votes for a rate cut, all interest rates will react accordingly.  The cost to borrow money will decrease, possibly making it more affordable for you to take out a mortgage to buy a home or finance a vehicle purchase.  However, the interest you earn from your savings account will also decrease. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales Index, and Federal Open Market Committee Meeting

  • July 29, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and a rate cut is widely expected.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will host a press conference at 2:30 ET on Wednesday.  In housing news, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the pending home sales index will both be released on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Slows, Existing Home Sales Decline, New Home Sales Increase

  • July 26, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved drastically this week, trending somewhat lower according to some sources.  Home price appreciation has also slowed, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index.  Existing home sales fell, but new home sales rebounded. 

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House Flipping Myths You Might Believe

  • July 25, 2019

One of the ways to make money through a real estate investment is to buy a home to sell or “flip.”  Although some flips, especially the ones featured on reality television, involve distressed or foreclosed properties, this will vary greatly depending on the property you buy.  Buying a distressed property may mean a lower buy-in price but buying a livable home in an area with rapid home price appreciation could also yield a sizable profit.  With the popularity of house flipping shows plus a surge in house flipping following the Financial Crisis, many potential real estate investors have false preconceived notions about what goes into the purchase and resale of a home for profit.  Realtor.com contributor, Terri Williams, reveals some of the most common house flipping myths you might believe. 

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Are you making these air conditioning mistakes?

  • July 24, 2019

Things are heating up this summer, and chances are your energy costs are inevitably going to go up.  Home-energy monitoring company, Sense, reports the average cost to air condition a home in the United States is about $147.82.  This figure varies widely based on geography, with a median cost of $292.90 per home in the Sun Belt and $95 per home bordering Canada.  Most homeowners need to air condition their homes at least for some part of the summer, but there are ways to do so and save.

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Price Gap: What’s for Sale vs. What Buyers Want

  • July 23, 2019

Mortgage rates may be on a downward trend, but home buyers in many metros are still facing out of budget home prices.  Researchers at Realtor.com found half of today’s home shoppers are expecting to purchase a property under $288,000.  Unfortunately, that’s 9.1% or $27,000 lower than the median sales price of homes on the market.  In order to bridge that price gap, Realtor.com estimates the market needs roughly 94,000 more homes priced between $100,000 and $340,000, a 15% inventory increase on a market already starved of inventory.

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

  • July 22, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to stay low last week, especially with speculation about a rate cut later this year.  This week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency will release its housing market index.   Additionally, existing home sales and new home sales are both scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Builder Sentiment Improves, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Housing Starts and Building Permits Decline

  • July 19, 2019

Mortgage rates are continuing to trend downward ahead of this month’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index improved.  New purchase mortgage application submissions declined but refinance application submissions improved.  Both housing starts and building permits declined.

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover – What’s Hiding Beyond Your Dream Home’s Exterior

  • July 18, 2019

It’s easy to fall in love with a home at first sight – there’s a reason they call it curb appeal!  Looking beyond a beautiful exterior could help you find costly dangers lurking within.  Some of the common reasons home sales fall through include pending permits, undisclosed insurance claims, pests, water damage, and structural damage.  A home inspection should unearth most potential problems but doing your due diligence before you make an offer can also protect you from falling for the wrong home.

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The Cost of Selling to an “iBuyer”

  • July 17, 2019

In a busy market, selling your home through real estate startups that buy homes directly from buyers may be a tempting offer.  Startups like Knock, Offerpad, and Opendoor solicit bids from “iBuyers” willing to buy its customers’ homes.  A recent MarketWatch investigation found that sellers who sell their homes this way, net 11% less than sellers who sell their homes the traditional way on the open market.  Especially when fees and other costs are considered.  

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Over 8 Million Borrowers Could Save with a Mortgage Refinance

  • July 16, 2019

After a steady climb throughout 2018, 2019 has seen the opposite in mortgage rate activity.  Average mortgage rates continue to trend lower.  Mortgage software and analytics firm, Black Knight, reported that at the end of June, approximately 8.2 million homeowners could benefit from a mortgage refinance.  This figure is nearly 4.5 times greater than the number of potential refinance candidates at the end of November 2018.

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

  • July 15, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, trending slightly lower amidst speculation that the Federal Open Market Committee may vote to cut the federal benchmark interest rate.  Coming up this week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its monthly housing market sentiment index.  Housing starts and building permits, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey are also scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Up, Job Openings Down, Mortgage Applications Mixed

  • July 12, 2019

Mortgage rates stayed low this week, trending downward according to some sources.  Consumer credit expanded for the second month in a row.  Job openings fell in May, but could bounce back, especially after the strong jobs report last week.  New purchase mortgage applications increased but refinance applications are down. 

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Can you afford to buy a home?

  • July 11, 2019

When it comes to buying a home, the first question most home buyers ask is “can I afford to buy a home?”  There are numerous factors that influence whether or not you can afford to buy a home.  Home prices may be rising rapidly in one area but may be level just a half-hour drive away.  One loan program may mean high monthly payments, but another could be closer to your budget.  If you find yourself answering “no” to the question of whether or not you can afford to buy a home, consider these solutions below. 

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Most Common Money Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • July 10, 2019

When it comes to financial decisions, consumers’ biggest disadvantage is lack of financial education.  Feeling more comfortable and confident with financial decisions will help you get the most out of your money, save for your future, and better understand your financial picture.  Certified Financial Planner® and the Motley Fool contributor, Matt Frankel, revealed the top money mistakes he sees his clients make and how you can avoid them.

 

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What Parents Want When Buying Homes

  • July 09, 2019

The need to buy a home is often triggered by milestones like starting a family, children reaching school age, or career movement.  It’s not surprising that almost half of all home buyers and one-third of renters who moved in the past year had children under 18 living at home.  Zillow’s 2018 Consumer Housing Trends Report found that buyers with young children were more likely to go over budget than buyers without children.  Having children significantly changes home buyer wish lists and, in some cases, makes it more difficult to compromise. 

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Job Openings, MBA Applications

  • July 08, 2019

Mortgage rates are still hovering around year-long lows, following dovish remarks by the Federal Open Market Committee at their June meeting.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include consumer credit and the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Declines, Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Adds Job

  • July 05, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to swing lower, amidst growing speculation surrounding a Federal rate cut later this year.  Construction spending pulled back.  New purchase mortgage application submissions increased, and refinance mortgage application submissions decreased.  The ADP employment report added fewer jobs than expected but was positive. 

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6 Garage Renovation Ideas

  • July 04, 2019

Own a home with a garage?  Realtor.com reports garage space ranks just as high as an updated kitchen for some prospective home buyers.  If you are interested in upgrading your garage before selling your home or just looking for ways to repurpose unused garage space, review these top garage renovation ideas.  Keep in mind the temperature of your garage, especially during the summer. Most of these renovation ideas may require an HVAC upgrade or other heating and cooling system. 

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Buying a home with a pool? Read this first!

  • July 03, 2019

Summer is in full swing and if you’ve spent any time waiting in line or shelling out fees to use a community pool, you may be day dreaming about having a pool of your own.  Buying a home with a pool could mean endless summer fun and even a higher resale value when it’s time to move.  It could also be a potential pitfall if you don’t do your due diligence or properly maintain the pool.  Realtor.com contributor Sally Herigstad compiled this list of crucial lessons she learned when buying a home with a pool seven years ago.  Take note!

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Why Young Home Buyers are Facing Limited Inventory and What They’re Doing About It

  • July 02, 2019

For the past few years, home buyers have faced a competitive market with a limited number of homes for sale.  One of the chief factors impacting housing supply is the Baby Boomer generation.  Baby Boomers are staying in their homes longer, instead of downsizing or moving into retirement communities.  This trend has kept previous generations, who are homeowners, in their starter homes longer, preventing would-be first-time home buyers from entering the market. 

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

  • July 01, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to trend lower.  This week in housing news, US construction spending comes out on Monday followed by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the ADP employment report.

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Flat, New Home Sales Decline, Pending Home Sales Improve

  • June 28, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to swing lower, amidst the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to leave rates unchanged.  Home price appreciation was flat month-over-month but up marginally year-over-year.  New home sales declined, but pending home sales are up.

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You’re Closing on Your Mortgage! Avoid These 5 Things.

  • June 27, 2019

You’re almost there!  You’ve found the perfect home, you’re approved for your mortgage, and you’ve even picked out your new doormat to welcome everyone to the housewarming party you’re planning.  It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get to your final closing date and certain financial missteps could jeopardize your transaction.

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Are you making these common house hunting mistakes?

  • June 26, 2019

Buying a home can be an emotional experience, especially for first-time home buyers.  Your new home is going to be the place where you host your holidays, raise your family, and make happy memories.  It’s easy to get caught up in the home search.  However, a seemingly simple mistake could cost you when it comes to the closing table. 

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Many Consumers Overestimate Mortgage Requirements

  • June 25, 2019

With today’s historically low rates, you may be considering buying your first home.  Buying a home is the first step most Americans take toward building wealth in the form of home equity.  A recent Fannie Mae survey of 3,647 consumers revealed that a staggering number of respondents vastly overestimate what it takes to get a mortgage. 

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

  • June 24, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged.  Mortgage rates reacted by holding steady.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, new home sales, and the pending home sales index are all scheduled for release. 

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VA Thought of the Week: Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan Transactions

  • June 24, 2019

In the first 4 installments, we covered overall refinance rules and a detailed review of cash-out refinance rules.  In this installment, we will cover the specifics of an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan transaction.

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Home Builder Sentiment Drops, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • June 21, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  As a result, mortgage rates trended downward.  Home builder sentiment fell slightly.  Housing starts declined and building permits increased. 

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Benefits and Risks of Home Sharing

  • June 20, 2019

A new practice called “house hacking” is a new name of an old concept, that is getting popular again, especially in expensive markets.  Homeowners rent out one or more rooms in their home, through short-term rental sites or other rental agreements, to help with the cost of their mortgage and even make a profit.  Some homes, like duplexes or homes with mother-in-law suites, are more conducive to renting, while others may require some modifications. 

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What to Know About Friends and Family Loans

  • June 19, 2019

Lending money to friends and family, when you are financially able, can be a good way to help someone out and can also be a tricky subject depending on the outcome.  Children may borrow money from parents to attend college or buy a car, siblings may borrow money from each other to pay for an unexpected healthcare cost, and a friend may borrow money to start a business.  If you are considering lending money to a friend or relative there are ways to help them out and still protect yourself. 

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38% of Home Buyers Exceed Their Budgets

  • June 18, 2019

One of the first steps to buying a new home is setting a reasonable budget.  Getting preapproved for mortgage financing will help you determine how much home you can afford and where you should start looking.  Most mortgage professionals recommend setting a budget below the amount of loan you qualify for, to avoid stretching your finances.  The cost of buying a home comes with the down payment, closing costs, and other ongoing maintenance and renovation costs that may come up during the first few years of homeownership.  A new study from real estate brokerage, Owners.com, found that an alarming 38% of home buyers exceeded their self-imposed budgets over the past four years.

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

  • June 17, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, continuing to hover around historically low levels.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  Some economists are suggesting a rate hike is warranted, as inflation slows and economic growth loses steam, while others predict the Fed will hold its course of leaving rates unchanged.  Other important housing reports scheduled for release include the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) housing market sentiment index, housing starts and building permits.

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VA Thought of the Week: An in-depth Review of the Comparison Certification

  • June 17, 2019

VA created 2 forms for the Comparison Certification.  The first is the estimated or proposed comparison and the second is the final comparison.  Like a Loan Estimate, the proposed comparison must be accurate, but not necessarily perfect.  It can be changed if the circumstances change, and then reissued.  The final comparison is just as important as the final Closing Disclosure.  It must be accurate without exception.

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Market Recap: Job Openings Hold Steady, Mortgage Applications Jump, Consumer Price Index Increases

  • June 14, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly up or down this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions surged amidst low mortgage rates.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed job openings declined slightly.  The consumer price index increased marginally.

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How much is too much for your down payment?

  • June 13, 2019

It’s no secret, accumulating a down payment is the biggest obstacle many first-time home buyers face.  Between rising rents, higher home prices, and the pervasive myth that you need to put down at least 20% to buy a home, determining how much you need to save for a down payment varies.  A larger down payment will usually reduce or eliminate the cost of mortgage insurance, and may lower the monthly mortgage payment, but you don’t need to put everything you have saved toward your down payment.  Buying a new home will have costs associated with it like urgent upgrades, home maintenance, and the closing costs on your mortgage. 

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How Smart Home Tech Can Help Retirees Age In Place

  • June 12, 2019

The thought of smart home devices may conjure the idea of tech-savvy millennials using smart thermostats to regulate temperatures or smart appliances to maximize efficiency.  However, smart home technology can also help older homeowners.  As more and more retirees plan to age in place rather than downsizing or moving into a retirement community, smart home technology is making the transition easier.

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House Members Push for Higher SALT Deduction Cut in Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

  • June 11, 2019

One of the major changes to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) may soon be up for debate in Congress.  Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) recently addressed state and local tax (SALT) deduction limits at a town hall in Bloomfield, NJ.  Under the TCJA, taxpayers, regardless of income, cannot deduct more than $10,000 of total state and local taxes, including property taxes.  This deduction cap disproportionately impacts residents of higher tax areas, like New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere. 

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VA Thought of the Week: The Net-Tangible Benefits Test

  • June 10, 2019

VA has established 8 different possible Net Tangible Benefits (NTB).  All new Type II Cash Out refinance loans must meet at least 1 of the 8 possible NTB options.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall, Construction Spending, ADP Employment Report, and More

  • June 07, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to fall this week.  US construction spending was unchanged.  New purchase mortgage applications declined, but refinance applications are up.  The ADP employment report added fewer jobs than expected.

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What’s the right rate to refinance?

  • June 06, 2019

After trending upward throughout 2018, 2019 has seen very little interest rate movement.  In fact, average mortgage rates continue to trend toward year-long lows.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell announced the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) would pause raising interest rates for the rest of the year.  With today’s low rates, many homeowners could benefit from a rate and term refinance, or a refinance that lowers the mortgage rate or shortens the mortgage term.  Making the decision to refinance your mortgage loan could help you lower your monthly mortgage payment, remove mortgage insurance, or even take cash out to fund a renovation project or other expense.  Keep in mind, a mortgage refinance is a new loan origination and with that comes closing costs.  With interest rates at 2019 lows, many homeowners are wondering, is it time to refinance my mortgage loan?

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3 Habits That Could Improve Your Credit Score

  • June 05, 2019

Your credit score is influenced by five differently-weighted components including payment history (35%), total amount owed (30%), credit history (15%), credit mix (10%), and new credit (10%).  Banks and lenders use your credit score to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for a loan or a line of credit.  Even if you are not planning to buy or refinance a home this year, it’s good to practice to build positive credit habits to maintain a positive score. Most financial experts recommend taking six months to a year to improve your credit before you apply for a mortgage loan. 

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Market Forecast: JOLTS, Mortgage Apps, and Consumer Price Index

  • June 05, 2019

The only housing report of significance this week will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the consumer price index.

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FHFA Director Mark Calabria Addresses GSE Reform

  • June 04, 2019

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria shared his thoughts surrounding the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) Regulatory Issues Forum.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became government-sponsored entities (GSE) following the financial crisis and despite returning to profitability years ago, the two remain under government control.  Advocates in favor of releasing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from conservatorship believe private ownership will lead to a more competitive mortgage market.  Those who oppose worry we will see a repeat of the financial crisis, especially if the proper precautions are not taken.

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

  • June 03, 2019

Mortgage rates are still low and have not moved much in recent weeks.  This week in housing news, the US construction spending report comes out today and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  The ADP employment report is also scheduled for release.

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VA Thought of the Week: What’s new with Type II Cash Out Refinance Loans?

  • June 03, 2019

Type II Cash Out Refinance Loans are very close to the original VA Cash Out refinance loans, but there are a lot of new rules in place to ensure the loan is in the best interest of the Veteran.

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Gainful, but Slower. Pending Home Sales Decline

  • May 31, 2019

Average mortgage rates continued their downward trend this week.  Both the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index indicated that home price appreciation is also slowing down.  Pending home sales are down.

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Is there such thing as “Good” and “Bad” debt?

  • May 30, 2019

You may have heard the terms “good debt” and “bad debt” used before.  Certified Money Coach, TED Speaker, and author, Tammy Lally defines “’good’ debt is an investment of money that grows in value or generates long-term income” and “’bad’ debt works against you from the onset.”  Americans take out loans and lines of credit to finance all kinds of purchases from weekly groceries to a new home.  As a consumer, it’s important to understand the differences between these types of debt and how to use credit responsibly to maintain a good credit score and get approved for future loans and lines of credit.

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How Multi-Generational Living Impacts Home Design

  • May 29, 2019

Today, it’s not uncommon to have multiple generations living in the same home.  Between adult children returning after college and parents living longer, Baby Boomers are often called the “sandwich generation” as they simultaneously care for their children and parents.  In fact, 41% of American home buyers consider the need to accommodate an elderly parent or adult child when they are shopping for a home.  After decades of building detached single-family homes, some home builders are shifting gears toward accommodating multiple generations under one roof.

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Are Parents Hurting Homeownership?

  • May 28, 2019

Millennials may have an even harder time shaking the “parents’ basement dwellers” moniker after recent data from an Urban Institute study.  While a large share of recent college graduates move back into their parents’ homes with the intention of saving money in a no-or-low-rent environment, they may actually be hurting their chances at homeownership.    From the study, young adults who live with their parents between the ages of 25 and 34 are significantly less likely to be homeowners ten years later.

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

  • May 27, 2019

Markets will be closed today, in observance of Memorial Day.  Coming up this week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index are scheduled for release on Tuesday.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release its pending home sales index on Thursday. 

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VA Thought of the Week: What general terms did the VA change with the new Cash Out Refinance regulation?

  • May 27, 2019

Over the coming weeks, we will review a number of issues on VA Cash Out Refinance loans.

First, we will cover the general terms that the VA changed with the new Cash Out Refinance regulation.

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

  • May 24, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly lower this week and continue to hover around year-long lows.  Existing home sales dropped in April.  New purchase mortgage application submissions decreased but refinance application submissions increased.  New home sales are also down.

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Retire in place or move somewhere new?

  • May 23, 2019

When we retire, we get the freedom to stay in our current home or move somewhere else.  Both choices come with their own advantages and challenges.  Staying in the same home means your mortgage may already be paid off, you’ll be close to your existing community, and you will not have to deal with the cost and stress of moving.  Moving somewhere new may give you the opportunity to downsize or move into a home that better suits your changing needs, connect with a new community, and gain a new experience.  MarketWatch contributor, Erin Rook, interviewed retirees around the country to find out what factors they considered when choosing to retire in place or move somewhere new. 

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Natural Disasters Highlight Millions of Underinsured Homes

  • May 22, 2019

In 2018, the United States suffered 14 natural disasters spanning coast to coast from wildfires in California to hurricanes in Florida.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports natural disasters cost the United States $91 billion in damage, marking the eighth consecutive year that eight or more natural disasters resulted in billion-dollar level damage.  As climate change continues to warm the atmosphere, natural disasters are only expected to increase in frequency and severity and home insurers are lagging behind.  Rising construction costs lead to costlier repairs that many home insurers are not prepared to cover. 

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5 Challenges Home Sellers Face in 2019

  • May 21, 2019

No matter what the market is doing, home sellers will face various challenges throughout the process.  Forbes contributor and CEO of Las Vegas Homes by the Brooks Team, Jim Brooks, outlined five specific challenges home sellers will face in 2019. 

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, Mortgage Apps, Jobless Claims

  • May 20, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to trend downward, amidst some uncertainty surrounding global trade tensions.  There are very few economic reports scheduled for release this week.  In housing news, existing home sales and the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage application survey are scheduled for release.  The weekly jobless claims report comes out on Thursday.

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VA Thought of the Week: Does the VA Funding Fee cost the Veteran too much?

  • May 20, 2019

Some Veterans may believe the VA Funding fee on a VA loan costs too much, making the FHA and Conventional loans better options.  This is a mortgage myth!

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Down, Housing Market Index Positive, Housing Starts and Building Permits Improve

  • May 17, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to follow a downward trend this week.  However, both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  Home builder sentiment improved.  Housing starts and building permits each increased.

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2 Ways to Make Money from Real Estate Investments

  • May 16, 2019

Real estate investment is a common choice for those who are looking to invest in something more stable than the stock market.  While stocks go up and down, most homes tend to steadily appreciate over time, and when there is a change in a housing market it’s typically gradual.  Before you choose to invest in real estate, it’s important to understand how to make money from your real estate investment. 

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Keep These Phrases OUT of Your Offer Letter

  • May 15, 2019

When you’re buying a home in a competitive market, some home buyers choose to write a personal letter to accompany their offer to make an emotional connection and stand out to the seller.  Buying a home is a personal experience, especially if the seller has lived there for many years.  A personal letter could be the extra push you need to get your offer accepted; it could also sour the deal. 

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1 in 6 Home Buyers Get Down Payment Assistance from Seller

  • May 14, 2019

It’s no secret that the down payment is the biggest obstacle would-be home buyers face.  Saving for a down payment has become increasingly difficult as home prices rise, rents go up, and student loan debt reaches record highs.  While it may not be surprising that home buyers are using down payment assistance, it may be surprising that some of that assistance is coming from home sellers themselves.

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

  • May 13, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved much this week and will likely stay low for the rest of the year, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to pause rate hikes.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its housing market sentiment index.  Housing starts and building permits and the weekly mortgage application survey are also scheduled for release. 

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VA Thought of the Week: What is the maximum VA loan amount in your area?

  • May 13, 2019

What is the maximum VA loan amount in your area?  $484,350… $690,000… $726,525?

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

  • May 10, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave rates unchanged.  Job openings increased, as the labor market continues to show strength.  Consumer borrowing slowed but was still positive.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions turned around after several weeks of declines.  

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How to Save Money on Your Mortgage

  • May 09, 2019

You know you’re going to finance your new home purchase with a mortgage, but where do you start?  There are plenty of ways to save money on your mortgage and it all starts with working with the right mortgage lender. 

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4 Times to Invest When Buying a Home

  • May 08, 2019

Buying a home is a big financial commitment, and it’s no secret that it gets expensive, between the down payment, closing costs, and other fees.  When you are making this big of a purchase, you will probably be looking for ways to save.  Apartment Therapy contributor, Kate Streit, interviewed real estate experts nationwide to compile this list of the top four things you should never skimp on when buying a home.

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Survey: Home Buyers of All Ages Looking for Lawns

  • May 07, 2019

What do you love most about your home?  A recent survey conducted on behalf of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) suggests it may be your lawn.  From the survey, 81% of Americans have a lawn or yard and 79% say that a lawn or yard is one of the most important features when buying or renting a home.  A nice sized lawn ranked second behind a kitchen renovation, and the sentiment was shared by all generations.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Consumer Credit, Mortgage Applications

  • May 06, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  Mortgage rates reacted accordingly but did not move significantly.  This week, the only housing-related report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and consumer credit.

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VA Thought of the Week: Pest Inspections: Who can pay for them?

  • May 06, 2019

Most mortgage and real estate professionals may believe that a Veteran cannot pay for the pest inspection on a home purchase using a VA Guaranteed home loan. However, that’s one of the most misunderstood issues in the industry today! 

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

  • May 03, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee met on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  In turn, mortgage rates did not move significantly.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated at the slowest clip since September 2012.  The pending home sales index exceeded expectations. 

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Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

  • May 02, 2019

When you’re done purging your closets and clearing out the garage or basement, remember the rest of your home!  Spring is the perfect time of the year to tackle some home maintenance tasks you may have put on hold during the busy holiday season or colder winter months.  Your home deserves a facelift too!

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5 Questions to Ask that Could Save You Money

  • May 01, 2019

Whether you are paying down student debt, saving for the down payment on a home, or trying to achieve another financial goal – sometimes asking a simple question could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.  CNBC contributor Alicia Adamczyk identified these five questions many Americans have not asked, or did not know they could ask, that can help them save money.

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Home Equity Hits Record High – Why Aren’t Homeowners Using it?

  • April 30, 2019

Home equity increases over time as the homeowners makes payments toward their mortgage balance and their home appreciates.  As home values continue to rise, tappable home equity has increased substantially.  In the fourth quarter of 2018, Black Knight reported that American homeowners had a collective $5.7 trillion in tappable equity.  In fact, CoreLogic data showed from 2017 to 2018, the average homeowner gained almost $10,000 in home equity. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales Index, and Federal Open Market Committee Meeting

  • April 29, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, continuing to hover near year-long lows.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and pending home sales index are also scheduled for release. 

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VA Thought of the Week: What is a VA joint loan?

  • April 29, 2019

 

Did you know that a Veteran can buy a home with a person that is not a Veteran and not their spouse?  It’s called a VA Joint Loan.  

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

  • April 26, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly up or down this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The FOMC is not likely to raise interest rates during this meeting.  Existing home sales are down but new home sales are up.  Home price appreciation continues to slow. 

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Analysis of Today’s First-Time Home Buyer

  • April 25, 2019

Despite some obstacles that first-time home buyers face when starting their home search, a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests the share of first-time home buyers has remained stable over the past 17 years.  On average, first-time home buyers make up a little less than half of total home buyers on the market, 46% in 2016.  To help lenders and other real estate professionals cater to first-time home buyers, the New York Fed released this analysis of today’s first-time home buyer and their specific needs.

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Natural Disasters Have Lasting Impact on Credit Scores

  • April 24, 2019

As natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires grow more prevalent each year, researchers have compiled the data to show their lasting financial impact.  The Urban Institute identified zip codes where households received financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individuals and Households Program to determine the long-term effects natural disasters have on residents’ credit scores and finances.

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60% of Home Shoppers are Willing to Renovate

  • April 23, 2019

A recently released study from Move.com showed 60% of home shoppers are willing to consider a home renovation project after they purchase their home.  Whether it’s the HGTV effect, or limited homes for sale, more than half of survey respondents are willing to spend in excess of $20,000 on home renovation and 28% are willing to spend between $10,000 and $20,000.  Additionally, 95% of respondents expect a return on their renovation investment.

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

  • April 22, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward last week but continue to hover around year-long lows.  This week, the existing home sales and new home sales reports are both scheduled for release.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency will also release its home price index.

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Market Recap: Builder Sentiment Improves, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Housing Starts and Building Permits Decline

  • April 19, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week.  Home builder sentiment hit a 6-month high.  New purchase application submissions increased, but refinance application submissions declined.  Housing starts and building permits are down.

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6 Signs You’ve Found the Perfect Home

  • April 18, 2019

Are you looking for a home in today’s busy market?  Buying a home can be an emotional experience, and it’s easy to get swept up making such a big decision.  Whether you’re in the middle of your home search or just starting, look for these seven signs you’ve found the perfect home. 

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Built for Zero: How 9 Cities Ended Veteran Homelessness

  • April 17, 2019

Earlier this year, the city of Abilene, Texas joined a growing number of communities to end Veteran homelessness.  With the help of a national program called Built for Zero, Abilene city officials were able to leverage community data to track homeless Veterans on a case-by-case basis, identify the causation of their chronic homelessness, and allocate resources effectively. 

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Zillow Invests to Improve Zestimate Technology

  • April 16, 2019

Zillow, a free real estate marketplace resource, has invested in improving the accuracy of its popular “Zestimate” tool.  When it launched in 2006, the price estimate feature had a margin of error of about 14%, giving some homeowners and home buyers unrealistic expectations when it came time to buy or sell.  Today, that margin of error has improved to about 4.5%.  In 2017, Zillow launched a competition to improve the accuracy of the Zestimate.  Approximately 4,000 teams of data scientists and engineers from 91 countries participated.  Zillow hopes to reduce its margin of error to 4% by the end of this year.

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

  • April 15, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, trending slightly upward after this year’s initial decline.  Looking ahead this week, the National Association of Home Builders will release its housing market sentiment index on Monday and housing starts and building permits are scheduled for release on Friday.  Weekly reports include the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) mortgage application survey.

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Market Recap: Fewer Job Openings, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Consumer Price Index Jumps

  • April 12, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, trending slightly upward according to some sources.  There were fewer job openings in February than in January, as expected.  Mortgage application data was mixed, with refinance applications falling off and new purchase applications up slightly.  The consumer price index increased, due to rising electricity and gasoline costs.

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How Many Homeowners Would Benefit from a Rate Refinance?

  • April 11, 2019

Mortgage rates are trending downward, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) decision to pause raising rates this year.  As rates fall, more and more homeowners could benefit from a mortgage refinance.  According to a recent report from Black Knight, 4.9 million American homeowners could reduce their mortgage rate by at least 0.75% if they refinance now, a 1.6 million week-over-week increase.

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One Mistake Could Cost You Your Down Payment

  • April 10, 2019

MarketWatch contributor Kari Paul recently profiled an unsuspecting Seattle home buyer, who lost his $123,000 to an unfortunate wire fraud scam.  Aaron from Portland received email instructions to wire the down payment funds to someone impersonating a representative from his title insurance company.  He completed the request, and the money was wired to a scammer’s bank account instead of the title company.  Today, the defrauded home buyer is a spokesman for the title company, sharing his story with others as a warning. 

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Report: Healthy Housing Market this Spring Home Buying Season

  • April 09, 2019

Spring is in the air – and so are “For Sale” signs.  Traditionally, Spring and Summer are the busiest seasons for home buyers and sellers, thawing out after the slower winter months.  Housing professionals anticipate this Spring to be especially busy, with improved affordability for home buyers.  While 2018 ended with higher mortgage rates and home prices, the early months of 2019 have brought lower mortgage rates plus a slowdown in home price appreciation.  Recent data shows consumer house-buying power has increased 2.3% from December 2018 to January 2019, and the trend is expected to continue.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, Consumer Price Index

  • April 08, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to trend lower last week, leading to a surge in refinance mortgage activity.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the consumer price index.

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Up, Mortgage Apps Surge, ADP Employment Adds Fewer Jobs

  • April 05, 2019

Mortgage rates trended downward again this week and will likely stay low throughout the Spring home buying and selling season.  US construction spending picked up in February.  Mortgage application submissions surged, driven by refinance activity.  The ADP employment report added fewer jobs than expected.

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Average Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Tops $700,000

  • April 04, 2019

Earlier this quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported the average size of a fixed-rate mortgage nationwide was $280,900 and the average size of an adjustable-rate mortgage nationwide was $688,400.  A fixed-rate mortgage will retain the same interest rate throughout the term of the loan, whereas an adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate based on market conditions and other factors.  Adjustable-rate mortgages typically have a lower introductory interest rate than fixed-rate mortgages of the same size and terms and may be a more affordable option for homeowners who plan to move or refinance the loan after a few years. 

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Tax Day 2019 Checklist: Did you get all your home-related deductions?

  • April 03, 2019

Tax Day, or the last day for tax payers to file their income taxes, is Monday, April 15th.  If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, it’s time to get started!  Early last year, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the most sweeping tax reform legislation in decades.  The biggest change was the increase in the standard deduction: $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly.  Since the standard deduction has increased so significantly, homeowners may need to more closely calculate their home expenses to determine whether or not their total sum exceeds the standard deduction. 

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Trump Calls to End Conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

  • April 02, 2019

Last week, President Trump signed a memorandum calling for an “overdue reform of the housing finance system,” including an end to the conservatorship of the Government-Sponsored Enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  In Wednesday’s White House release, the president expressed a desire to work with Congress to initiate comprehensive housing finance reform and increase competition in the mortgage market. 

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

  • April 01, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to fall, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s March meeting.  Coming up this week in housing news, the February construction spending report comes out on Monday, followed by the weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the ADP employment report. 

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90% of Americans couldn’t answer this straightforward tax question

  • March 29, 2019

As tax season heats up, many Americans are still unclear as to how recent changes to the law could affect them. A 2019 survey found about 28 percent say they don’t understand the ins and outs of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed in December 2017.

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Market Recap: Housing Starts and Building Permits Pull Back, Case-Shiller Home Price Index Slows, New Home Sales Climb

  • March 29, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to slide downward, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to ease back on rate hikes this year.  After an exceptionally strong January, February’s housing starts and building permits declined.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index posted the slowest annual rate of growth in seven years.  New home sales exceeded expectations. 

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45.5% of Home Sellers Didn’t Know Who Paid the Buyer’s Agent

  • March 28, 2019

If you’re in the market for a home, or if you’ve bought or sold a home, you probably know that the Realtor or real estate agent does not get paid commission until the transaction is complete.  A new report from Clever Real Estate, an online platform that connects home buyers and sellers with agents, had some startling results.  Out of 1,000 homeowners selling their home around the country in 2019, an astounding 45.5% thought the home buyer paid the buyer’s agent’s commission. 

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Flooding in Midwest Could Have Lasting Impact

  • March 27, 2019

Heavy rains and rapid snowmelt following last week’s “bomb cyclone” have caused severe flooding throughout the Midwest including Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and others.  The flooding has already impacted over 8 million people in 14 states and could damage farmland from Nebraska to Iowa to Illinois down to Louisiana.  National Weather Service meteorologists predict the flooding could last into the Spring, causing substantial damage to homes throughout the region. 

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Home Renovation Spending to Exceed $450 Billion

  • March 26, 2019

According to a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, Improving America’s Housing 2019, home renovation and remodeling increased 6.5% from 2016 to 2017, and more than 50% since the Recession ended.  In fact, remodeling spending accounted for 2.2% of total national economic activity in 2017.  Homeowners staying in their homes longer combined with aging housing stock and appreciating home values has led to a surge in renovation and remodeling spending, and it’s only expected to keep growing.

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This is how your life changes when you become a homeowner

  • March 25, 2019

You signed the papers, got the keys and opened the front door. Now, that quaint little place is all yours.

But more freedom comes with more responsibility. A lot changes once you’re a homeowner. Here’s how to prepare for a few of the adjustments — emotionally and financially.

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Market Forecast: Housing Starts and Building Permits, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and New Home Sales

  • March 25, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged last week and signaled a pause on raising rates for the rest of the year.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending downward, following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s statement.  After government shutdown-related delays, February’s housing starts and building permits and new home sales reports are all scheduled for release.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Home Builder Sentiment Unchanged, Existing Home Sales Jump

  • March 22, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met Tuesday and Wednesday and voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged. In turn, mortgage rates plunged following the news, hovering around year-long lows.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index was unchanged in March.  Existing home sales surged to the highest level in almost a year. 

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Stop asking ‘how are you?’ Harvard researchers say this is what successful people do when making small talk

  • March 22, 2019

“How are you?” These are the three most useless words in the world of communication. The person asking doesn’t really want to know, and the person responding doesn’t tell the truth. What follows is a lost opportunity and meaningless exchange with zero connection.

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How This Mortgage Can Help Grow Your Retirement Savings

  • March 21, 2019

When you are shopping for a mortgage loan, one of the factors that will influence the overall cost is the length of the mortgage term.  Mortgages are available with a range of terms, most commonly 30-year and 15-year terms but can be as short as a 10-year or 7-year terms.  The length of your mortgage term will impact how much your monthly payment is and how much interest you pay over time.  A longer term mortgage will have lower monthly payments, but you will pay more in interest during the term. 

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Lock N Shop Rate Protection Program Now Available

  • March 20, 2019

What’s your biggest concern when shopping for a new home?  Your mortgage rate.  Mortgage rates fluctuate for a number of reasons, including the greater economic climate.  Once you are preapproved for mortgage financing, the last thing you want to worry about are changes to your approval amount.  With CMG Financial’s new Lock N Shop Rate protection program, you can lock your rate from 60 to 90 days.  Get the peace of mind to shop with ease.  Know that if rates rise, you are protected, and if rates fall, we will automatically lower your rate! 

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Fire-Resistant Construction Could be Coming Soon

  • March 20, 2019

Approximately 14,000 homes were destroyed in two of California’s worst wildfires in 2018, equating to $19 billion in damage to residential and commercial real estate.  After a year of dangerous wildfires, home builders are experimenting with more fire-resistant construction techniques.  While a fully fireproof home might not be possible at this time, investing in more fire-resistant construction could prevent future damage. 

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VA Loan Originations More than Double for First-Time Home Buyers

  • March 19, 2019

The VA Loan, a mortgage loan issued by lenders but partially insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs, has become the loan of choice for first-time home buyers who have served or are actively serving in the US military.  In 2007, VA Loans were used by approximately 30% of first-time home buyers who were service members.  By 2016, that figure has increased to 78%, with roughly three-fourths of all service members using a VA Loan to purchase their first home.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Construction Spending, New Home Sales

  • March 18, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved drastically this month, even trending downward according to some sources.  This week in housing news, US construction spending and new home sales data are finally catching up, following report release delays due to the partial government shutdown.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey is also scheduled for release.

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NFL player who saves nearly 90% of his income teaches a money class at Penn called ‘Life 101

  • March 18, 2019

New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland, 27, knows that his football career has an expiration date. “It’s guaranteed football is going to be over one day,” the NFL star told ESPN in 2017.

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I’m 65, my mortgage is paid off and I have $370,000 in savings, so why I am still worried about money?

  • March 15, 2019

Why do I worry so much about money? I’m not a wealthy guy, but I am pretty blessed. I have my military pension of $45,000 annually, savings of $370,000, I own my home valued by Zillow  at $300,000 and it’s mortgage-free. I have little to no health-care costs because I am 65, I have Medicare and Tricare for Life, and I have a long-term care policy in place. Oh, I also have zero debt because I rarely use my one credit card and pay off the balance each month.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Up, Construction Spending Increases, New Home Sales Dip

  • March 14, 2019

Mortgage rates continued their downward trend this week.  Mortgage applications reacted, with new purchase application submissions increasing and refinance application submissions down only slightly.  US construction spending is up.  New home sales are down.

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The Next Big Housing Trend May Be Small

  • March 14, 2019

Recent data shows the next most popular single-family home may be a townhouse.  National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) chief economist Robert Dietz noted that over the past year, “the single-family attached market is up 24%.  It’s growing eight times as fast as the overall single-family market.”  Rising home prices, limited land ability, and an influx of first-time home buyers are some of the major reasons townhouses are becoming more popular.

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Caution: Home Inspection Myths You Might Believe

  • March 13, 2019

The home inspection is one of the most important steps in the home buying process.  You may think you have found the perfect home, but a home inspection could reveal costly and even dangerous problems that you could face down the road.  When you are buying a home, it’s important to understand what a home inspection actually is, what a home inspector does, and what a home inspector does not do.  Realtor.com identified some of the most common myths first time home buyers and even some repeat home buyers believe.

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

  • March 13, 2019

Mortgage rates have trended downward this month, amid notes from the minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in January.  This week, the FOMC will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, but is not expected to raise the Federal benchmark interest rate.  In housing news, the housing market index comes out on Monday and existing home sales will be released on Friday.

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NAMB Asks FHA to Rework Mortgage Insurance Premium Structure

  • March 12, 2019

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) sent a letter to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Brian Montgomery asking him to consider changing the FHA’s current Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) structure to make the product more competitive against low down payment conventional mortgage options like HomeReady by Fannie Mae and Home Possible by Freddie Mac.  In the letter, 2019 NAMB President Richard M. Bettencourt Jr. explained with more low down payment mortgage options on the market, the “credit quality of borrowers using an FHA loan has deteriorated.” 

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6 Essential Productivity Hacks From the CEOs of the Fastest-Growing Companies in America

  • March 11, 2019

Whether it's getting up at 4 a.m. or going to bed at dawn, entrepreneurs have their own trusted productivity rituals. To get a sense for what the leaders of fast-growth companies do, we asked the CEOs of several 2018 Inc. 5000 companies. Here are their top productivity habits:

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7 years ago, Google set out to find what makes the ‘perfect’ team — and what they found shocked other researchers

  • March 08, 2019

Put five, eight, 12 or more people together in a room, and it’s a crapshoot as to how well they’ll function as a team. The larger the group, the more difficult it becomes.

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Down, New Home Sales Up, ADP Employment Report Up

  • March 08, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, trending downward according to some sources.  Construction spending declined in December, after posting strong numbers in December.  New home sales surged to a seven-month high.  The ADP employment report was positive. 

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Zillow vs. Redfin: Who has the Most Accurate Estimate?

  • March 07, 2019

Real estate websites like Zillow and Redfin are a great resource for home buyers or homeowners looking to get an idea of the value of a home they are interested in buying or refinancing.  Like any free tools, Zillow and Redfin’s valuation estimate tools are not 100% reliable.  Homeowners upgrade homes over time, some neighborhoods have homes with comparable attributes, while other homes are more spread out and very different from their nearest neighbors.  Understanding that free real estate resources will not be perfect every time, who has the most accurate estimate tool: Zillow or Redfin?

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Alert: Most Americans Unprepared to Cover Cost of Emergencies

  • March 06, 2019

Despite an increasing frequency in weather-related natural disasters ranging from wildfires in California to hurricanes in the Southeast, many Americans are financially unprepared to cover the cost of emergencies.  Personal finance website GoBankingRates.com, compiled a list of the average cost of eight emergencies based on data from the Census Bureau, FEMA, HomeAdvisor, Insurance.com, and other reputable sources.  The calculations reveal that emergencies are more expensive than Americans anticipate, and many Americans are woefully underprepared.

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson Announces Decision to Leave Position After First Term

  • March 05, 2019

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced he plans to leave his position after President Trump’s first term.  During a Monday evening interview on Newsmax TV, Secretary Carson stated, “I will certainly finish out the term.  I would be interested in returning to the private sector because I think you have just as much influence, maybe more, there.”

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How sweat equity and a little home DIY can help you avoid a down payment on mortgage loan

  • March 04, 2019

Saving a down payment is challenging for many first-time home buyers, and even if they manage it, more obstacles lie ahead.

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, New Home Sales, and the ADP Employment Report

  • March 04, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this month and continue to hover around year-long lows.  Economic indicators are finally catching up, after many reports including the new home sales report and US construction spending were delayed by the partial government shutdown.  This week, December’s US construction spending report comes out on Monday, followed by December’s new home sales report on Tuesday.  In labor market news, the ADP employment report is scheduled for release on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Housing Starts and Building Permits Mixed, Case-Shiller Home Price Index Appreciates, and Pending Home Sales Go Up

  • March 01, 2019

Some economic indicators continue to be delayed by the partial government shutdown earlier this year.  In the housing sector, January’s new home sales report originally scheduled for Tuesday and January’s US construction spending originally scheduled for Friday, were both delayed.  Of the reports released, housing starts declined and building permits inched up, home price appreciation continues to slow down, and pending home sales increased.

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Your tax refund might be smaller than usual this year. Here's why

  • March 01, 2019

Each year, millions of tax filers eagerly await money back from the IRS. The majority of filers, in fact, walk away with refunds during tax season, and in recent years, the average refund has been rather substantial.

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The Surprising Home Renovation That Usually Pays for Itself

  • February 28, 2019

Investing in a home renovation or remodel can improve the livability of your home and even increase the resale value when it comes time to sell.  When you choose to renovate your home, you may want to consider what projects will garner the most return on investment, even if you’re not selling anytime soon.  Remodeling magazine released its 2019 Cost vs. Value Report, comparing the cost and return on many common home renovation projects.  Out of all of the repairs evaluated, replacing a standard garage door with an upscale model, tended to recoup 97.5% of the cost when it came time to sell. 

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How Net-Zero Energy Homes Work

  • February 27, 2019

Six years ago, home builder De Young Properties built a single-family home that was a net-zero energy building.  Net-zero energy refers to a building that has the potential to produce as much energy as it would consume over the course of a year.  Today, there are approximately 5,000 net-zero energy single-family homes throughout the country.  With new building mandates in California, there could be as many as 100,000 by the end of 2020. 

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2019 Buyers Have the Most Options in 5 Years

  • February 26, 2019

After years of an increasingly competitive market, home buyers are starting to see more options this year.  According to Zillow, US for-sale home inventory is up 1.2% year-over-year, meaning for the first time in over five years the housing market opened the year with more homes for sale than the previous year.  28 of the 35 largest markets saw inventory increases over the past year.  The most significant inventory increases took place in the busy West Coast markets, that were experiencing some of the most severe inventory constraints.

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When it makes financial sense for married couples to file their taxes separately

  • February 25, 2019

While most couples benefit from filing a joint tax return, there are some exceptions.  Filing separate tax returns can complicate matters for married couples. But some will benefit from going through the process.

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Market Forecast: Housing Starts and Building Permits, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Pending Home Sales

  • February 25, 2019

Average mortgage rates trended downward last week, reaching 12-month lows in some cases.  After getting delayed due to the partial government shutdown, the December housing starts and building permits report will come out this week.  Other important upcoming housing reports include the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) pending home sales index.  The new home sales report, originally scheduled for release on Tuesday of this week, will be delayed.

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Your tax refund might be smaller than usual this year. Here's why

  • February 22, 2019

Each year, millions of tax filers eagerly await money back from the IRS. The majority of filers, in fact, walk away with refunds during tax season, and in recent years, the average refund has been rather substantial.

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El Niño has arrived. What does that mean for weather in 2019?

  • February 22, 2019

 

El Niño has arrived in 2019. So far, it's pretty weak. That doesn't mean it will stay that way. 

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Market Recap: Builder Optimism Improves, Housing Starts and Building Permits Delayed, Existing Home Sales Decline

  • February 22, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week.  Home builders are feeling optimistic to start out the year, as rates start to level off and economic conditions remain favorable.  The release of the housing starts and building permits report was delayed, due to the lasting effects of the partial government shutdown.  Existing home sales fell.

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What credit score do you need to qualify for a mortgage?

  • February 21, 2019

Part of applying for a mortgage is building your credit or improving your score.  Lenders use your FICO® credit score to determine your creditworthiness and whether or not you are a good candidate for mortgage financing.  Before the Financial Crisis, you could get a mortgage or other line of credit, with very little credit history, a low score, or even no score.  Today, lending standards have improved greatly, and you will need higher credit to finance your home purchase.  What credit score do you need to qualify for a mortgage?

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Red Flags the IRS will be Watching

  • February 20, 2019

Tax season is upon us and American taxpayers are in the process of filing for returns, receiving refunds, and paying taxes due.  A harmless mistake or deliberate misinformation may lead to your tax return being audited.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) chooses taxpayers to audit based on anomalies that are detected in comparison to similar returns.  A taxpayer may also be audited if a relative or business partner is being audited.  The IRS audits returns up to three years old.  If inaccuracies come up, the taxpayer may have to pay a fee, up to $5,000 in some cases.  In other cases, the taxpayer may face criminal charges like tax evasion or tax fraud.

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The All In One Loan: Now Available for Investment Properties

  • February 19, 2019

Investing in real estate is one of the most predictable investments you can make.  Unlike riskier investments like the stock market, real estate almost always tends to appreciate.  Most real estate investors will finance their investment, at least initially, with a mortgage.  Using the right mortgage financing for your investment property can help you increase your return even more.

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How Millennials are Transforming Real Estate

  • February 19, 2019

After years of sitting on the sidelines, Millennials are getting into the housing market, in full force.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported in the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Study, Millennials made up the largest share of home buyers compared to any other generation for the fifth consecutive year.  Millennials are facing a far different housing market than previous generations and thus are changing the way the game is played in several different ways.

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All the best Presidents Day sales for the home

  • February 18, 2019

Presidents Day, originally established to celebrate the birthday of the first U.S. president George Washington, is also the first big holiday of the year for shopping. If you’re in the market for something new for your home—especially mattresses, furniture, and appliances—this weekend is a good opportunity to score some major deals. We’ve rounded up the best sales announced so far, organized by category for your browsing convenience.

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

  • February 18, 2019

Markets are closed today in observance of the Presidents Day holiday.  It’s a busy week ahead for housing news with the home builders sentiment index, housing starts and building permits, and existing home sales all scheduled for release. 

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Facebook just bought a furniture shopping startup

  • February 15, 2019

 

Facebook has acquired GrokStyle, a shopping startup that uses AI to help you buy furniture and other items for the home.

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Market Recap: More Job Openings, Mortgage Apps Decline, Consumer Price Index Unchanged

  • February 15, 2019

The job market continues to fire on all cylinders, with the Labor Department reporting an increase in job openings, up to 7.53 million in December.  New purchase mortgage application submissions fell and refinance application submissions were almost unchanged.  The consumer price index increased year-over-year but was unchanged month-over-month as inflation cools.

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3 Things First-Time Home Buyers May Not Know

  • February 14, 2019

Your first home – how exciting!  Whether you are looking to buy your first home now, or sometime in the future, it’s never too early to do your research.  With the abundance of educational materials available, you may not know where to start.  Forbes contributor and Certified Financial PlannerTM, David Rae, pointed out these three things that first-time home buyers should know, before they start shopping.

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Seniors Have Student Loan Debt Too

  • February 13, 2019

The faces of student debt in America are aging.  While you may associate student debt with current students and recent graduates, almost every demographic is burdened with student debt.  The Wall Street Journal reports Americans 60 years and older owe a collective $86 billion in student loan debt.  From 2010 to 2017, the average student loan debt owed by a senior has surged 44% to a level of $33,800.  According to TransUnion, total student debt for this demographic is up 161%, the largest increase of any age group.

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American Incomes Hit Highest Levels Since 2010

  • February 12, 2019

After years of stagnant wage growth, many Americans are starting to see a bump in their paychecks.  In December 2018, the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index found that 24% of Americans reported their incomes were higher than one year ago, the highest jump since June 2010. 

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, and the Consumer Price Index

  • February 11, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward last week, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to slow down on interest rate hikes at the end of January.  The only significant housing report this week will be the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market moving reports include job openings and the consumer price index.

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Here’s the most common mistake people make that compromises their online security

  • February 11, 2019

Amazon founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos accused the National Enquirer of politically motivated blackmail late Thursday, and published a threatening email from an executive at the supermarket tabloid’s parent company. One of the many lessons from that controversy is don’t take photos that might compromise your privacy and, if you do, don’t send them via text message or email to another party. Many people would refrain from doing so.

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Market Recap: Refinance Applications Up, Jobless Claims Down, Consumer Credit Expands

  • February 08, 2019

Mortgage rates trended downward this week, following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the end of January.  Refinance mortgage application submissions inched upward, but new purchase application submissions are down.  Jobless claims dropped from the previous week.  Total outstanding consumer credit exceeded $4 trillion for the first time.

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A Maximalist's Response to Marie Kondo's Minimalist Mandate

  • February 08, 2019

“I have to go home and Marie Kondo my kitchen,” my friend Max told me last Monday, standing up from the dinner table and heading to his apartment, where all culinary nonessentials would be tossed into the garbage.

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Don’t Forget the Closing Costs

  • February 07, 2019

Most first-time home buyers are prepared for the cost of the down payment, but not as familiar with closing costs.  Self-made millionaire and experience real estate investor Barbara Corcoran said, “the biggest mistake that first-time homeowners make is they forget they need closing costs – not just the down payment of say 10 or 20 percent.”

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3 Outdated Financial Tips You Might Still Believe

  • February 06, 2019

As the economy changes, the way we buy and sell homes changes as well.  What made sense for your parents, or even yourself, twenty or thirty years ago may not be relevant to today’s economic conditions.  We reviewed three common real estate misconceptions that might be preventing you from making real estate moves.

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Builders Cutting Prices to Stay Competitive

  • February 05, 2019

With the Spring buying and selling season on the horizon, predictions are already rolling in.  2018 marked an overall slowdown for housing, after several years of rampant activity.  However, Zillow Research found that some home builders are starting to lower prices on newly constructed homes, to stay competitive in their markets.  The study found that 25.1% of newly constructed homes experienced a price drop in Q4 of 2018, up from 19.2% in Q1 of 2018.  Home shoppers looking to buy a new home in 2019 may be able to get a deal, depending on where they are shopping.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Jobless Claims, and Consumer Credit

  • February 04, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee announced it would be slowing down on gradual interest rate hikes over the course of the next year.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending slightly downward.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the weekly mortgage application survey, scheduled for release on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports coming up include the weekly jobless claims report and consumer credit.

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80 percent of people missed a step related to taxes in 2018, and it could affect their refund

  • February 04, 2019

The new GOP tax bill, which was passed in December 2017, made some sweeping changes. Most of those went into effect in the 2018 tax year, for which filing season officially starts on January 28.

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Market Recap: Home Price Index Mixed, Pending Home Sales Down, No Rate Hike

  • February 01, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) announcement to slow down on interest rate hikes this year.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell asserts the decision to stop hiking rates has nothing to do with the strong US economy, rather a global economic slowdown taking place in Europe and China.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index showed that home price appreciation has slowed, giving some buyers a much-needed break.  The pending home sales index declined. 

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From vegan to keto, Whole30 and more: Super Bowl party foods for popular diets

  • February 01, 2019

Sticking to a diet is already hard enough, but now you're invited to a Super Bowl party and you have to stick to your diet? Blasphemous.

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Reasons to Refinance, Even When Rates Rise

  • January 31, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate this week, but further gradual rate hikes may be on the horizon.  When the Fed raises rates, the cost of borrowing money will start to rise, including the cost of mortgage financing.  Although rising rates may discourage some homeowners from refinancing, there are still many reasons to refinance, even when rates rise.

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8 Changes Impacting Your 2018 Tax Return

  • January 30, 2019

Despite the recent government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the official tax season opened Monday, January 28th.  This year will be the first year tax payers’ returns are impacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).  When you file your 2018 return, expect it to be influenced by some or all of these 8 changes.

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Why Mortgage Points are Getting Popular Again

  • January 29, 2019

Mortgage points or discount points are fees paid to the lender at closing to buy down the interest rate.  One point is equal to 1% of the total loan amount.  As mortgage rates gradually rise, the practice of buying mortgage points may start to become popular.  Whether or not points will benefit you financially depends on how long you plan on staying in your home, and your loan. 

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Trump says deal reached to temporarily reopen the federal government

  • January 28, 2019

On the 35th day of the U.S. government shutdown—after Coast Guard, TSA, air traffic control, national parks employees, and hundreds of other federal employees have gone without pay—it looks like some relief may be coming, as President Donald Trump said Friday that a deal has been reached to reopen the federal government, at least temporarily.

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

  • January 28, 2019

The US partial government shutdown ended last Friday, as the White House and Congress reached a three week spending agreement while they continue to hash out a border security deal.  The shutdown had delayed the release of some economic indicators over the past five weeks.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Tuesday and the pending home sales index comes out on Wednesday.  The Federal Open Market Committee will also meet this week but is not expected to raise the benchmark interest rate.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Down, Home Prices Up, New Home Sales Delayed

  • January 25, 2019

The partial US government shutdown continues, delaying the release of some economic indicators, including this week’s new home sales report.  Existing home sales declined, as expected, following a slow winter season.  Home prices appreciated more than expected. 

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The 15 Best DIY Bathroom Projects

  • January 25, 2019

You don't have to completely overhaul your bathroom to make a big impact. Check out these fresh ideas, from tiny swaps to easy projects, that will increase your home value.

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Why Rental Data Matters – Especially for Home Buyers

  • January 24, 2019

For many, buying their first home is the end of renting.  When you are shopping for a new home, especially if you are a repeat buyer, keeping an eye on the rental market may not seem relevant to you.  However, data suggests that rental prices tend to increase or decrease more rapidly than sales prices and can be a better indicator of the overall health of a housing market.

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CFPB Reverses Course: Seeks Compliance Authority on Military Lending

  • January 23, 2019

During his tenure as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, made the decision to stop supervising lending to active duty service members.  Instead, Mulvaney ordered the CFPB to wait for complaints from service members and their families to instigate investigations.  The recently confirmed CFPB Director, Kathy Kraninger, sent a letter to congress last week asking for “clear authority” to supervise for compliance with the Military Lending Act.

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Single Female Homeowners Outnumber Single Male Homeowners

  • January 22, 2019

According to a new LendingTree study, single women are outpacing single men in becoming homeowners.  Single women own 22% of homes nationwide, compared to just 13% owned by single men.  Out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas across the country, single women own an average of 70,000 more homes than single men do.  With most women earning an average of only 80% of their male counterparts, the new homeownership data may be surprising to some.  Despite the fact that many young homeowners are delaying milestones like marriage and children, they are still taking advantage of the wealth-building opportunity of home purchase. 

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

  • January 21, 2019

Markets are closed today in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The US government remains in a state of partial shutdown, delaying the release of some economic indicators, including the new home sales report.  The existing home sales report is scheduled to come out on Tuesday and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index is scheduled for Wednesday. 

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The Difference Between an Entrepreneur and a Businessperson Is This

  • January 21, 2019

People sometimes ask me what I think is the defining characteristic of an entrepreneur. What they really want to know, I believe, is the one quality that distinguishes a true entrepreneur from any other business­person. I've thought about that quite a bit myself, and I've decided, if I had to narrow it down to one trait, it would be the ability to see things differently. A true entrepreneur is able to look at a situation and identify an opportunity, or a solution to a problem, or a path around an obstacle that, for some reason, everyone else has missed.

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5 Things to Give Up at the Office in 2019

  • January 18, 2019

Now that you've probably (like everyone else) given up on your New Year's resolutions, here are some common workplace habits that are easy to dump resulting in a huge positive effect on your life and career.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Up, Builder Sentiment Improves, Housing Starts and Building Permits Delayed

  • January 18, 2019

As of Friday, 1/18/19, the US government remains partially shutdown.  Due to the government shutdown, the release of the housing starts and building permits reports have been delayed.  Mortgage application submissions increased across the board and builder sentiment has improved.

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Getting to Know a New Neighborhood

  • January 17, 2019

When you are buying a new home, you may get so excited about the experience you forget about the neighborhood.  Although it may seem obvious to some, real estate professionals warn new home buyers, “you can change the house, but you can’t change the location.”  If you are shopping for a new home in 2019, don’t forget to look around the neighborhood before getting emotionally invested in a property.  Here are six red flags Realtor.com contributor Jaime Wiebe advises prospective home buyers to watch for. 

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Can you get a mortgage with a credit freeze?

  • January 16, 2019

With cybersecurity of the utmost concern, all major credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – offer free credit freezes for consumers who believe they are at risk.  A credit freeze prevents lenders from accessing your credit report, with the intention of stopping a thief from opening fraudulent lines of credit with your personal information.   While a credit freeze can protect you in the case of a stolen identity or other stolen personal information, it will also prevent legitimate lenders, like your mortgage lender, from accessing your credit report to complete a mortgage application for a new home purchase or mortgage refinance.

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

  • January 14, 2019

As the partial government shutdown enters its fourth week, Congress and President Trump have yet to reach an agreement over a budget dispute regarding border security and the possible construction of a border wall along the United States – Mexican border.  Due to the government shutdown, the release of the housing starts and building permits report may be delayed.  Other housing-related reports scheduled for this week include the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey and the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index.

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Millennial couples are being smarter about money than their parents in this key way, experts say

  • January 14, 2019

Over half, or 53 percent, of millennials (classified here as those aged 18-34) discussed how they would handle their finances with their partners before getting married, according to a new SunTrust survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll. That’s something 88 percent of Americans believe is important but, in practice, generally find hard to do.

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

  • January 11, 2019

The US government is still in a state of partial shutdown, delaying the release of some economic indicators.  Mortgage rates have recently trended downward, resulting in a spike in mortgage application submissions.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed the number of job openings have declined.  Consumer credit expanded to a total outstanding debt of $3.98 trillion. 

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A college professor who taught a course on 'adulting' says millennials don't consider themselves adults until a milestone they're delaying longer than ever

  • January 11, 2019

The typical college kid may legally be an adult, but that doesn't mean they feel like one.

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7 Tips for Buying a Home This Year

  • January 10, 2019

Whether you are buying your first home, moving up, or downsizing, buying a home should be an exciting experience.  The best way to reduce stress is to have the support of the right real estate team.  Internet media company, Buzzfeed, surveyed its community of Realtors and real estate agents to compile this list of the top 7 tips your agent wants you to know before you start searching for a new home. 

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What’s the rush? Why paying off this debt might actually HURT your credit score.

  • January 09, 2019

If you are like 44 million Americans nationwide, you probably owe a share of the national $1.5 trillion student loan debt.  In 2016, the average graduating student owed $37,172 in student loan debt.  For most Americans, student loan debt is the first time they will take out a loan or line of credit, and the first step toward building credit.  If you are eager to pay off your student loan debt early, you may want to wait.  Closing a student loan account may actually hurt your credit score, because it will shorten the length of your credit history. 

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Report: Average Apartment Size Shrinking

  • January 08, 2019

Do you feel like apartments are getting smaller and smaller?  Unfortunately, you may actually be right.  A recent study by RentCafe confirms average apartment sizes are getting smaller, and more expensive, in many major metros around the country.  According to the study, the top five cities with the smallest apartments nationwide (ranging from 737 square feet to just 711 square feet on average) are Seattle, WA, Manhattan, NY, Chicago, IL, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Consumer Credit, Mortgage Apps

  • January 07, 2019

The only significant housing report scheduled for release this week is the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and consumer credit.

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How to accomplish your biggest career goals this year

  • January 07, 2019

Whether you’re looking for a promotion, raise, or new job, use these six steps to make 2019 the year it happens.

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

  • January 04, 2019

The US government is still in a state of partial shutdown, delaying some of this week’s economic indicators like US construction spending.  Of the reports released, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey declined, and the ADP employment report exceeded expectations.

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Will buying coffee every day keep you from getting rich? Here’s what Kevin O’Leary and other experts say

  • January 04, 2019

If you’re like many Americans, you enjoy a nice cup of coffee each morning before work. And if you’re like me and you buy that coffee instead of brewing drinks at home, the habit can get pretty costly.

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A Better Market for Buyers in 2019

  • January 03, 2019

2018’s year-end data showed housing activity has started to slow.  With both existing home and new home sales falling, there are finally less buyers competing on the crowded market.  After six years of sustained price gains, home price appreciation started to slow this year, dipping below 6% for the first time in six years.  Managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, David Blitzer, predicted, “throughout next year, prices will continue to rise on a national basis in most cities around the country, but the pace of increase will continue to slow.”  This trend could be welcome news for home buyers, especially first-time home buyers. 

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Don’t Make this Home Renovation Mistake

  • January 02, 2019

In the spirit of new beginnings, you may be considering a home remodel or renovation this year.  A home renovation is a great option to add resale value to your home or adapt the layout or design to fit your current lifestyle.  If you are planning a home renovation, don’t make this big mistake.  In 2017, 1 in 3 homeowners paid for some or all of their renovation project with a credit card.  With homeowners spending a median of $10,000 on renovation projects, this is a dangerous debt to take on.

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Real Estate Predictions for 2019

  • January 01, 2019

As we ring in the new year, the predictions are in for 2019.  After several years of a red-hot housing market, activity is expected to slow, and that’s good news for home buyers.  Expect home price gains to slow and less competition.  Here’s what the top economists and forecasters from across the industry expect to see next year.

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These Are the 25 Worst Passwords of 2018

  • December 31, 2018

Everyone knows that internet security is important and the first line of defense is a strong password, but when every single website, online store, and app requires a password sometimes people get a little lazy. After all, who is going to hack the account you set up that website to get your dog’s face printed on socks or, say, your Marriott account? Well, maybe you’ll get lucky and no one will hack your account, but if you make your password too easy it just might end up on SplashData’s annual list of Worst Passwords of the Year.

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Market Forecast: ADP Employment, Mortgage Applications, Construction Spending

  • December 31, 2018

The US government is still partially shutdown, due to a spending dispute regarding a proposed $5 billion border wall.  This week, markets will be closed on Tuesday in observance of New Year’s Day.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its mortgage application survey on Thursday, after last week’s hiatus.  The ADP employment report and US construction spending are also scheduled to come out on Thursday. 

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Market Recap: Government Shutdown Delays New Home Sales Report

  • December 28, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, trending slightly downward.  Markets were closed on Tuesday in observance of the Christmas holiday.  The US government has been partially shutdown since Thursday 12/20, following a budgetary dispute in Congress.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index was released on Tuesday, as planned.  New home sales were delayed due to the partial government shutdown. 

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The best comfort entertainment of 2018

  • December 28, 2018

 

If you're going to face the world every day and also somehow stave off the existential dread, you'll need a reliable library of comfort content to keep you going. Some series and films are as essential as a mug of cocoa or a soft blanket – something safe and reliable, which feels like coming home.

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Federal Government Shutdown: What you need to know

  • December 27, 2018

As the partial government shutdown continues, the overall effect on loan programs has been minimal. Each federal and government sponsored entity within the mortgage industry has been affected differently. Here is the breakdown of the effect on loan programs and processes in the coming days.

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Should you make an extra mortgage payment?

  • December 27, 2018

If you are a homeowner wondering how to responsibly spend a holiday bonus or upcoming tax return, consider paying it into your home.  When your budget allows, making an extra payment toward your mortgage can be beneficial.  You can reduce interest costs and lower your overall debt.  Making extra payments is not the right move for every financial situation, so consult a mortgage professional or financial advisor before making a decision.

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How the New Tax Law Impacts Your Vacation Home

  • December 26, 2018

As the year comes to an end, taxpayers are starting to review how the new tax law will impact their 2018 tax returns. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) implemented early last year, was the most sweeping tax reform passed in decades and impacted everything from corporate taxes to the size of tax deduction. However, for those who own vacation homes or rental properties, the tax law will remain largely the same.

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Airbnb Enters Home Building Business

  • December 25, 2018

Airbnb, the popular service for home sharing and short-term vacation rentals announced its plan to enter the home building business and start building homes designed for sharing.  The new project, called Samara: Backyard, will be headed by Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia and begin building in 2019.  The goal of Samara is to prototype a new way for homes to be “designed, built, and shared” that better caters to Airbnb’s service.

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

  • December 24, 2018

Markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of the Christmas Holiday.  Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the Federal benchmark interest rate, as expected.  This week will bring some closing housing numbers heading into the end of the year.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Wednesday, followed by new home sales on Thursday, and the pending home sales index on Friday. 

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21 pets who love cozy, gorgeous homes as much as you

  • December 24, 2018

Nothing says home-for-the-holidays like a furry pet snuggled up in its favorite spot around the house (okay, there are also festive decorsplendid gifts, and actual human family, but stay with us here.) To that end, we've rounded up a bunch of dogs and cats that have found amazing perches in all kinds of home, as seen on Instagram. Dreamy interiors just got a million times better!

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

  • December 21, 2018

In a highly anticipated move, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the Federal benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%.  Mortgage rates are expected to move upward to reflect the rate hike.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index declined in December.  Both housing starts and building permits increased.  Existing home sales also increased.

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How Instant Pot became a kitchen appliance with a cult following and a best-seller on Amazon

  • December 21, 2018

Robert Wang just wants to be the Steve Jobs of kitchen appliances.

 

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Will buying coffee every day keep you from getting rich?

  • December 21, 2018

If you’re like many Americans, you enjoy a nice cup of coffee each morning before work. And if you’re like me and you buy that coffee instead of brewing drinks at home, the habit can get pretty costly.

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Federal Open Market Committee Raises Hikes Rates, Lowers 2019 Projections

  • December 20, 2018

Yesterday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate 25 basis points to a level of 2.25 % to 2.5%.  The final rate hike of the year brings 2018’s total up to four rate hikes, one more than projected in the Federal Reserve’s December 2017 statement.  The highly anticipated move is reflective of strong job growth and solid consumer spending.  Business investment, however, has started to moderate.  At this time, the Fed predicts two additional rate hikes in 2019.

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How Builders Can Plan Ahead for Deconstruction

  • December 19, 2018

In 2012, the United States had 7.4 million abandoned homes, a historical high.  When homeowners vacate their homes, commercial abandonment follows, leading to blighted neighborhoods and eventually cities.  To prevent the level of regional blight that followed the Financial Crisis, urban planners and construction researchers are thinking ahead.  Through the study of “domicology,” the lifecycle of the built environment, builders are building structures that once deconstructed can be repurposed or recycled. 

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Trend: Millennials Buying First Homes in Cities Over Suburbs

  • December 18, 2018

As Millennials segue into homeownership, housing professionals are studying whether or not their preference for city living will continue.  While Millennials have tended to rent near city centers early in their careers, some forecasters suspect once marriage and children come into the pictures, they will migrate to suburbs to purchase homes.  However, recent data from the Journal of Planning Education and Research shows Millennials are 21% more likely to buy their first home in an urban area compared to Generation X counterparts.

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FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery to Serve as Interim HUD Deputy Secretary

  • December 18, 2018

This week, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Pam Patenaude, announced her resignation.  Her departure has been met with kind words from the housing community and HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who accepted the resignation.  In her statement, she wrote, ““It has been my honor to serve President Trump and Secretary Carson and I am deeply grateful to both for this opportunity.  Thank you to my HUD family and fellow “housers” for helping Americans access decent, safe and affordable housing.”

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

  • December 17, 2018

It will be a full week of housing news, heading into the end of the year.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will have its final semiannual monetary policy meeting of the year on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a press conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.  Although the stock market has experienced some volatility in recent weeks, the Fed is still expected to raise interest rates following this meeting.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index is scheduled to come out on Monday, followed by housing starts and building permits on Tuesday, and existing home sales on Wednesday.

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Secrets of people who don’t get stressed during the holidays

  • December 17, 2018

Their house is decorated the day after Thanksgiving, cards sent weeks in advance, presents bought and wrapped with plenty of time to spare. And the most astonishing part is that they don’t even seem frazzled! How do they do it?

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Market Recap: More Job Openings, Mortgage Apps Up Again, Retail Sales Increase

  • December 14, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  This week’s only significant housing report, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey, was positive with both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increasing.  Job openings are up and retail sales data signals the holiday spending season has started.  

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67 Crafty Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas

  • December 14, 2018

Save money and creatively tackle your gift list this year with our ideas for one-of-a-kind gifts you can create for him, her, the kids and even the family pet.

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How Home Builders Building Smaller Could Help Home Buyers

  • December 13, 2018

The phrase “inventory crunch” has become common in today’s housing market, with more and more buyers competing over a limited number of homes for sale.  Some of the causes of the inventory crunch are homeowners choosing to stay in their homes longer and home builders building larger.  Baby Boomers opting to age in place are choosing to renovate or adapt their current homes rather than downsize or migrate, while home builders facing affordability issues with the rising cost of construction materials are choosing to build larger homes to increase their profit margin.  However, with more first-time home buyers in the market for smaller homes, builders may need to build smaller to keep up with buyer demand.

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VA Increases Loan Limits in 2019

  • December 13, 2018

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced an increase in VA Loan limits for all loans closed on or after January 1, 2019.  The VA reviews loan limits every year and adjusts according to market conditions and housing affordability. 

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How to Protect Yourself and Your Home Following a Fire

  • December 12, 2018

Most California homeowners have insurance to protect themselves and their homes against fire damage.  Following a massive blaze, like the recent destructive fires across Northern and Southern California, insurers may be looking to minimize payouts.  Joshua Heffner, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in fire-related claims, explained, “in a mass loss, they’re looking at their overall payments.  They’ll do what they can to keep payments down.  And they’re getting very smart about paying less.”

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Kathy Kraninger Confirmed as Next CFPB Director

  • December 11, 2018

Last Thursday, the Senate voted along party lines to confirm Kathy Kraninger as the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Following Richard Cordray’s resignation last year, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, has served as interim director for the CFPB.  Now, a little over a year later, Kathy Kraninger will take over the role. 

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Couple Trades Traditional Wedding Registry for Down Payment Fundraising Platform, HomeFundIt

  • December 11, 2018

Recently engaged Minneapolis couple Conner and Ashley were working full time, coaching after school, attending grad school, and wedding planning, simultaneously. With winter approaching, they were on a timeline to find the right home closer to work to reduce the length of their commute. After hearing about their home search, Conner’s father suggested that they use HomeFundIt in lieu of a traditional wedding registry.

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Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says this childhood obsession fueled his business success

  • December 10, 2018

LinkedIn co-founder and investor Reid Hoffman, sometimes called the "oracle of Silicon Valley," is a known business strategist. That passion for strategy, says Hoffman, stems from a childhood obsession with board games, one the billionaire says was the "most interesting predictor" of his later success as an investor and businessman.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, Retail Sales

  • December 10, 2018

Mortgage rates have trended slightly downward this month, heading into the slower home buying and selling season.  The only significant housing report of the week will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and retail sales.

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This 75-year Harvard study found the 1 secret to leading a fulfilling life

  • December 07, 2018

Prioritizing what’s important is challenging in today’s world. The split focus required to maintain a career and a home, not to mention a Facebook feed, can feel overwhelming.

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

  • December 07, 2018

Mortgage rates have trended slightly downward, and mortgage activity has reacted.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  US construction spending is down month-over-month, but up year-over-year.  The ADP employment report was strong.

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Besides FHA, What Other Low Down Payment Options Do Home Buyers Have?

  • December 06, 2018

Last month, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Brian Montgomery announced that despite economic momentum, the FHA would not be cutting mortgage insurance premiums this year.  FHA Loans require an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) payment, plus mortgage insurance throughout the life of the loan.  Any reduction to Mortgage Insurance Premiums makes FHA Loans more affordable.  FHA Loans are popular amongst first-time home buyers because of their low down payment requirements. 

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Can you afford to buy a home? How much to spend on housing.

  • December 05, 2018

For most Americans, both renters and homeowners, housing is their largest expense.  But how much is too much to spend on housing costs?  Whether you rent or own, financial commentator and co-founder of AE Wealth Management, David Bach recommends, not spending more than 35% of your annual after-tax income on housing costs.

 

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Mortgage Debt Reaches 10-Year High, FHFA Raises Conforming Loan Limits

  • December 04, 2018

The Federal Reserve announced outstanding mortgage debt totaled $10.2 trillion in the second quarter of 2018, up 2.7% from the previous year, and near the all-time high of $10.7 trillion set over a decade ago.  Although some may be wary of rising mortgage debt, when the economy strengthens and the population increases, total debt tends to rise.  Rather than worrying about the debt, economists urge consumers to look at both sides of the ledger, debt and assets.

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

  • December 03, 2018

Heading into the end of the year, mortgage rates have levelled out after rising following September’s interest rate hike.  This week in housing news, US construction spending comes out on Monday and the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the ADP employment report.

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Endless Summer: Warm Winter Getaway Ideas

  • December 03, 2018

Winter might be coming, but if you're the kind of person who wants to chase an endless summer, now's the time. For travelers who yearn to burn their puffy coats, here are some warm weather destination inspirations.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Slows, New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Decline

  • November 30, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week.  Recent comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggest that the Fed may be slowing down rate hikes, as interest rates reach a neutral range.  Both new home sales and pending home sales declined in October, heading into the slower buying and selling season.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index has also started to slow, giving buyers a break from home price appreciation. 

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$1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot still unclaimed—here's what happens if no one comes forward by the deadline

  • November 30, 2018

In late October, Mega Millions announced that someone had won its $1.5 billion jackpot. But three weeks have passed and no one has come forward to claim the record-setting prize, reports ABC News.

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3 Common Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

  • November 29, 2018

Existing home sales make up the majority of real estate transaction, especially for Millennials and first-time home buyers.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported 9 out of 10 Millennials bought a property that was previously owned.  The 2018 Chase housing sentiment survey showed almost 70% of those home buyers expected to spend at least $20,000 on renovation projects.  

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Community First Focus Helps Rehabilitate Homeless

  • November 28, 2018

The “housing first” model of addressing homelessness emphasizes the importance of stable housing before other issues like chronic unemployment and substance abuse are addressed.  Real estate developer Alan Graham has taken the “housing first” approach a step further with the Community First! Village – a mix of RVs and micro-homes that shelters and employs formerly homeless people 10 miles northeast of downtown Austin, TX.  Community First! Village has been so successful, that last month a 24-acre expansion began, which will include 110 RV sites, 200 more micro-homes, and a 20,000 square foot health facility.

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When a "Bargain" Really is a Bargain

  • November 27, 2018

Finding a home listing described as a “bargain” could be good news for savvy shoppers.  However, the description could also be misleading, depending on where you are located.  Real estate website Trulia reviewed listings from around the country to determine when a “bargain” really is a bargain.

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FHFA Increases Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conforming Loan Limits for Third Time

  • November 27, 2018

For the third time in three years, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has increased the conforming loan limits securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  After ten years of not increasing the maximum conforming loan limits on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, the FHFA has increased loan limits for three years in a row. 

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Disaster relief is dangerously broken. Can AI fix it?

  • November 26, 2018

In 2014, Stanford student structural engineer Ahmad Wani was visiting family in his native Kashmir when a catastrophic flood struck. The rising waters stranded him and his family for seven days without food or water, during which they watched their neighbor’s home collapse, killing everyone inside.

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

  • November 26, 2018

There was not much movement from mortgage rates last week, markets were closed on Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving and some markets were closed or closed early the following Friday.  This week closes out November with several important housing reports including the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, new home sales, and the pending home sales index.

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Market Recap: Home Builder Confidence Slides, Housing Starts Improve, Existing Home Sales Increase

  • November 23, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly up or down this week.  Markets were closed yesterday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, and some banks are closed or closing early today.  Home builder sentiment fell in November and builders lowered their expectations for the new year.  Housing starts increased but building permits declined.  Existing home sales exceeded expectations.

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5 Fireplace Facts to Know this Fall

  • November 22, 2018

Getting cozy by the fire after Thanksgiving dinner?  According to Zillow, fireplaces are one of the most sought-after home features.  In addition to heating your home and enhancing your décor, a fireplace may actually add value to your home.  Before you fire up this holiday season, here are the answers to the top five fireplace questions:

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Transit Agencies Improve Impact on Homeless Population

  • November 21, 2018

As many of us give thanks this week for our loving families and happy homes, it’s important to remember those who are more vulnerable and experiencing hardships like homelessness.  Partnerships like “Hub of Hope” between Philadelphia’s SEPTA transit system and Project HOME, a social service agency, strive to reach homeless transit passengers and intervene with assistance to help them overcome their crises. 

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The Predictions Are In: Home Sales to Rise in 2019

  • November 20, 2018

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts home sales will increase in 2019, while home price appreciation starts to slow.  Following 2017, the best year for home sales in over a decade, existing home sales are expected to close out 2018 down a slight 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.345 million transactions.

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

  • November 19, 2018

This week will be a short week, with markets closed on Thursday and closing early on Friday, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  However, there is a full week of housing news ahead with the National Association of Home Builders’ housing market sentiment index, housing starts and building permits, and existing home sales all scheduled for release.

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What Amazon’s HQ2 will mean for house prices

  • November 16, 2018

Having Amazon as a neighbor could result in very different consequences for homeowners and renters.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Slide, Consumer Price Index and Retail Sales Surge

  • November 16, 2018

Mortgage rates continued to hold steady last week and did not move significantly up or down.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  The consumer price index had the biggest increase in nine months and retail sales exceeded expectations.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell gave a speech to the Dallas Fed on Wednesday and shared his optimistic economic outlook heading into 2019.

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HomeFundIt: Not Your Parents’ Wedding Registry

  • November 15, 2018

Congratulations, you’re getting married!  As soon as you’ve staged the perfect engagement photos and built your wedding website you’re probably inundated with the “Where are you registered?” question.  What are you going to register for?  When’s the last time you got up early enough to make waffles?  Do you really need another blender?  Do you think you’re going to use that pizza stone before just ordering online?  Chances are you don’t really need all of the stuff people traditionally use their wedding registry for. 

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Child Identity Theft is On the Rise

  • November 14, 2018

You know you need to protect your social security number, but did you know your children may be at risk too?  Credit-reporting bureau Experian announced more than $1 million children have their identities stolen each year and warned one in four children will be a victim of identity theft before adulthood.  Child identity theft can be especially detrimental to your children’s credit scores, because often it is not noticed or reported until much later, when they go to open their first bank account or apply for student loans. 

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As Boomers Age in Place, What Happens to Housing?

  • November 13, 2018

Less than a decade ago, housing professionals were expecting the “great senior selloff” when Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, started downsizing and selling their larger family homes.  However, a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies forecasts a growth in remodeling projects as more Baby Boomers choose to age in place.  According to the study, out of the 80% of Baby Boomers who own homes, two-thirds of them expect to stay in their homes and make modifications to accommodate them as they age.  Rather than a glut of housing for sale, today’s buyers are instead facing a tight market.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Consumer Price Index, and Retail Sales

  • November 12, 2018

Some markets are closed today in observance of Veterans Day, which was yesterday.  This week, the only significant housing news to report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market moving reports include the consumer price index and retail sales. 

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Honoring veterans has a special connection to World War I

  • November 12, 2018

Sunday is Veterans Day. This annual event often gets overlooked on the calendar in the run-up to Thanksgiving and the December holidays. But this Veterans Day is special. It’s the 100th anniversary of the unofficial end of World War I.

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Market Recap: Federal Reserve Holds on Hiking Rates, Job Openings, Mortgage Apps

  • November 09, 2018

This year’s Midterm Elections boasted record turnouts, breaking the record set in 1966.  No significant mortgage rate movement this week, as the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged.  Job openings slipped slightly but continue to outnumber unemployment reports.  Mortgage application submissions declined.

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Red Hat's co-founder was unemployed and working in a closet when he started the company IBM is buying for $34 billion

  • November 09, 2018

In 1993, Bob Young was unemployed and working out of his wife's sewing closet on a new company he co-founded. This week, that company sold to IBM for $34 billion in the tech giant's largest acquisition ever.

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You Can Contribute More to Your 401(k) and IRA in 2019

  • November 08, 2018

Workers will be able to contribute more to their retirement accounts in 2019.

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Saving for a Down Payment Might Take up to 7 Years or More

  • November 08, 2018

According to a new Zillow report, it will take an average American approximately seven years to save for a 20% down payment on an average-priced home.  This report assumes the worker earns the median income and saves 10% of their total earnings each month.  This seven-year saving period is the longest since early 2008.

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Soccer in the Streets Converts Unused Public Space into a Place to Play

  • November 07, 2018

Public transit, like Atlanta’s MARTA stations, tend to take up a lot of land, leaving vacant expanses.  In the late 70s, Atlanta’s public transit operator installed an amphitheater at the Five Points station with the hope of revitalizing the neighborhood and making the entertainment center accessible through public transit.  However, the amphitheater failed to draw crowds and sat largely unused for decades.  Today the space has been converted into a soccer field, the first of its kind to sit inside of a transit station, and the first of a network of fields sprouting up throughout Atlanta.

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Unnecessary But Awesome Things Everyone Wants in Their Lottery Dream Home

  • November 07, 2018

It is a truth universally acknowledged, as Jane Austen might have said, that a lottery winner in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a gigantic master closet. And a waterbed. And probably a tiny personal railroad that runs around his property. 

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Veteran Homelessness Down Nearly 50% Since 2010

  • November 06, 2018

After increasing last year, veteran homelessness decreased in 2018 and has plummeted since 2010; in some states, veteran homelessness has even been completely eradicated.

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How the Rust Belt is Attracting Millennial Home Buyers

  • November 06, 2018

Midwestern states including Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, sometimes known as the Rust Belt, are experiencing a revival. After the decline of manufacturing bases like Detroit, this region suffered economically.  As coastal home prices increase, and more companies and businesses are choosing to migrate to the Midwest and Great Lakes regions for lower taxes and affordable housing more, causing more Millennials are to put down roots in the Rust Belt.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Applications, and FOMC Meeting

  • November 05, 2018

Election Day is tomorrow, don’t forget to exercise your right to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections!  Election results sometimes influence economic markets, so rates may experience some volatility this week.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets Wednesday and Thursday and will release a statement Thursday afternoon.  It will be a slow week for housing news, the only directly-related housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) on Tuesday.   

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Slows, ADP Employment Strong, Construction Spending Flat

  • November 02, 2018

The US economy looks like it’s heading toward a strong finish for 2018.  The ADP employment report was stronger than expected and construction spending was unchanged overall, but residential spending improved.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated, but price appreciation has started to slow. 

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Perfect towns for a weekend trip in every state

  • November 02, 2018

Alabama: For a quiet escape, head to Mentone, a picturesque mountain town located in northeast Alabama. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike in DeSoto State Park, kayak in Little River Falls or ski at the Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort, depending on the time of year. If strolling and shopping are more your scene, there are plenty of shops to explore in downtown Mentone. And no visit is complete without a stop at the quaint Wildflower Cafe, which is best known for their tomato pie. If you’re flying in from out of state, plan a trip for September, which is the cheapest time to visit the state of Alabama. Wildflower’s Famous Tomato Pie: $5

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How To Be As Happy As A Billionaire? Hint: Be Happy Before Becoming One

  • November 01, 2018

There’s a Mega-Millions lottery winner. The winner’s taking is $1.537 billion. With that South Carolina just doubled its number of billionaires. Now there are two.

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Should you get a 15-Year or a 30-Year Mortgage?

  • November 01, 2018

Mortgage loans are available with a variety of terms and interest rates to suit every financial situation.  Mortgage terms can range anywhere from 5, 7, 10, 15, and 30 years and usually have either a fixed interest rate or an adjustable interest rate.  The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage tends to be the most common type of mortgage loan, a stalwart for home buyers since the 1930s and 1940s.  However, in some cases the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage might be the better option. 

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New FICO Scoring System Could Boost Millions of Credit Scores

  • October 31, 2018

The FICO credit score is the most widely accepted credit score used by banks and lenders to determine a borrower’s ability to repay a loan or line of credit.  The FICO credit score is influenced by five factors: payment history (35%), total amount owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), credit mix (10%), and new credit (10%).  Early next year, FICO plans to adjust their scoring system to include how consumers manage the cash in their checking, savings, and money market accounts, the most significant change to the scoring system since the early 1990s. 

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Buying a Haunted House

  • October 31, 2018

Realtor Dana Bull was doing a final inspection on a two-family property in Salem, Massachusetts, on behalf of a buyer who wanted to live in one unit and rent out other. The second unit already had tenants in it, and the buyer needed to decide whether to let them stay or try to find new ones.

 

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CMG Financial Introduces 3-2-1 Buydown Loan to Increase Access to Affordable Mortgage Financing Solutions

  • October 31, 2018

San Ramon, CA – CMG Financial, a privately-held, well-capitalized mortgage banking firm headquartered in San Ramon, CA, announced its new 3-2-1 Buydown Loan that allows consumers to secure a lower interest rate and lower the monthly mortgage payment during their first three years of homeownership. The home buyer earns these lower payments through a “buydown fee” that can be paid by an interested third party like a home builder, seller, or Realtor, or by the home buyer. 

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Why it might be better to take Social Security at age 66 instead of 70

  • October 30, 2018

Conventional wisdom about Social Security bites the dust—again.

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Could College Towns Be the Next Best Place to Retire?

  • October 30, 2018

Before flocking to Florida, Arizona, or another retirement hotbed, retiring Americans could consider relocating to college towns.  College towns could be the next best place to retire because they are known for affordable housing, walkability, arts, cultural, and sporting activities, plus accessible healthcare services.  The Balance evaluated college towns around the country to compile the top 10 for retirees. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, ADP Employment Report, and Construction Spending

  • October 29, 2018

Heading into the end of the month, there are a couple more housing reports scheduled for this week.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Tuesday and the US construction spending report comes out on Thursday.  In other market-moving news, the ADP employment report is scheduled for release on Wednesday. 

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Can you cancel 10 credit cards without damaging your credit score?

  • October 29, 2018

"I became ill suddenly and had to retire at 62. When I was divorced at 45 I had nothing. I re-grouped, saved, saved and saved, put two children through college and rose through the ranks at work.

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How to Register to Vote in Each State as Deadlines Approach

  • October 26, 2018

Election Day is Nov. 6, but voter registration deadlines in many states are well before that.

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Market Recap: FHFA House Price Index Up, New Home Sales Down, Pending Home Sales Index Improves

  • October 26, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its house price index and indicated home price appreciation has started to slow.  New home sales declined, but the pending home sales index recovered. 

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How many houses should buyers see in a day?

  • October 25, 2018

With words like “competitive” and “inventory crunch” in the news lately, home buyers may be feeling the pressure to look at as many listings as they can.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported it takes an average of 10 weeks for home buyers to find the right home, down from the average of 12 weeks five years ago.  While it’s always a good idea to keep your options open, real estate agents caution against viewing too many homes in one day.  Overdoing it with home tours may cause you to forget details about specific houses and mix properties up. 

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Local Climate Actions = Big Impact

  • October 25, 2018

A landmark report released by the U.N. last week has laid out the stakes of a warming planet more starkly than ever. Warming of just 1.5 degrees Celsius could bring on the most severe consequences of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

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Save up to $100 on Holiday Flights - Just in Time!

  • October 24, 2018

Flying around the holidays isn't cheap, but if you fly on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day (November 22 and December 25, respectively), you can save hundreds of dollars.

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Denver Experiments with Accessory Dwelling Units

  • October 24, 2018

Denver is one of the most heated housing markets in the nation, consistently leading the Case-Shiller home price index with double digit rates of annual appreciation.  In 2016, over 1,000 families were reportedly moving to Denver every month.  Such a sustained influx of residents has put a crunch on available housing inventory.  As a result, the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative has proposed a new plan that creates more places to live without building more homes.  Through the initiative, homeowners become landlords by renting out detached units on their property known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or sometimes “granny flats.” 

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Generation Z Home Buyers Entering the Market with Help from Family

  • October 23, 2018

With so much focus on Millennial home buyers, the next incoming generation of buyers has been slightly overlooked.  According to Zillow, 3% of last year’s home buyers were born after 1995, meaning over 100,000 homeowners across the country are 23 and younger.  “I’m a little surprised to see the numbers as large as they are,” commented Rob Dietz, chief economist and senior vice president for economics and housing policy for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). 

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Five Trends About American Pet Owners

  • October 23, 2018

Nearly half of US households have a pet, but we have few data on pet ownership and how it may interact with housing and demographic trends. While working with data from the 2017 American Housing Survey (AHS), we housing finance researchers were surprised to come across a question about pets; specifically whether respondents would need help with their pets in case of a disaster.

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How Stripe Became the $20B Startup Driving Apple, Amazon, and Facebook

  • October 22, 2018

On a hot summer’s day in a lush, green Cairo garden just a stone’s throw from the Nile, 29-year-old Mostafa Amin is talking about bread. He’s speaking with the kind of reverence usually reserved for celebrities, football teams or minor miracles like manna - the small, doughy rolls dropped from on high to help the Israelites flee the Pharaoh, according to the Bible.

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

  • October 22, 2018

Average mortgage rates have started to plateau, after climbing earlier this month.  Although rates have started to trend upward, they are still near the lowest levels in the past decade.  This week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will release its house price index and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release the new home sales report and the pending home sales index. 

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What if paying rent on time boosted your credit score?

  • October 19, 2018

For the growing number of Americans–around 43 million households–that rent their homes, nonpayment of monthly fees can lead to disastrous consequences, including eviction. Paying late can create bad blood with landlords over time. While those people who do pay rent on time are more likely to be able to remain in place, those renters see few other benefits. Unlike owning a home, which enables people to build wealth and benefit from tax deductions, renting often feels akin to dropping one’s paycheck through a sieve. And there’s another crucial difference between owning and renting a home: On-time mortgage payments are factored into individual credit scores, and rent payments are not.

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Market Recap: Builder Confidence Improves, Housing Starts Fall, Existing Home Sales Decline

  • October 19, 2018

Mortgage rates held steady this week with no significant movement to report.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index improved, with builders optimistic about solid buyer demand.  Housing starts fell and building permits slipped slightly.  Existing home sales declined. 

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How to Be a Landlord When You Retire

  • October 18, 2018

Many Americans choose to downsize their home when they retire.  Larger homes tend to require more maintenance.  Aging Americans may have difficulty with the ongoing upkeep of a large home, especially when they face health changes.  Some retirees also choose to relocate, either to a warmer climate or to be closer to family.  A new trend is emerging among retirees who choose to downsize in retirement, converting their former home into rental properties.  According to a MarketWatch survey of 6,000 landlords, nearly 10% were of retirement age.

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The 10 top emerging trends that will shape real estate in 2019

  • October 18, 2018

It’s complicated. In the course of compiling its annual Emerging Trends report, the Urban Land Institute found that the only certainty in its outlook for 2019 was uncertainty. Expert analysis points to a more complex, multi-layered series of overlapping trends, with unpredictable results, as opposed to a few strong narratives.

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30 Sofas Made for Hours of Lounging

  • October 17, 2018

Ready to curl up for some TV binging or a page-turning book? Check out these 30 stylish, comfortable sofas that are ready for hours of lounging time.

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Mortgage Fraud Risk Up 12% Since Last Year

  • October 17, 2018

In a recent report, CoreLogic found mortgage fraud risk increased 12% since last year.  Based on the data, one out of every 109 mortgage applications had indications of fraud ranging from undisclosed real estate liabilities to questionable down payment sources to income falsification. 

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The 5 people you must have in your network

  • October 16, 2018

The role and impact of mentors may vary, but the generally accepted business practice is that people need a mentor. It’s time to challenge that wisdom.

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What Judge Kavanaugh Confirmation Means for the Future of the CFPB

  • October 16, 2018

Earlier this month, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, solidifying a conservative tilt.  The latest balance shift has many in Washington revisiting the question of what will happen to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) leadership structure. Previously, Kavanaugh has written that he believes the way the CFPB is currently structured is unconstitutional.   He also authored the Court of Appeals decision in the PHH Corp. vs CFPB case that declared the CFPB leadership structure unconstitutional in 2016. 

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

  • October 15, 2018

There is a busy week of housing news ahead, with important data scheduled for release including the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index, housing starts and building permits and existing home sales.  Builder sentiment was positive last month, unchanged from the previous month.  Housing starts jumped, but building permits tapered off.  Existing home sales were also unchanged. 

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Self-made millionaire Ramit Sethi: Don't buy a house without asking yourself this question

  • October 15, 2018

Millennials are buying homes at lower rates than previous generations, but that might not be the worst thing for their investment portfolios.

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This is how competition affects your brain, motivation, and productivity

  • October 12, 2018

You want to boost sales this quarter, so you launch a competition among your sales team. The person who can get the most sales this quarter will win a free weekend getaway! All the salespeople scramble to get their strategy in place, they call on their clients, sales go through the roof, and the competition heats up.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Applications Down, Unemployment Hits All-Time Low, Consumer Price Index Increases

  • October 12, 2018

Some markets were closed on Monday in observance of Columbus Day, thus it was a slow week for housing news.  The only housing-related report was the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports included the weekly jobless claims report and the consumer price index.

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3 hot cities where jobs are plentiful yet housing is still affordable (for now)

  • October 11, 2018

The more people that live, and clamor to live, in a given city, the higher housing prices tend to go. In San Francisco, for example, one of the most populous cities in the country, the median home value is $1.3 million and median monthly rent is $4,500.That's more than six times the national median home value of $216,700 and two-and-a-half times the $1,655 national median rent.

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Lowering Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

  • October 11, 2018

Debt-to-income ratio or DTI is one of the key components of your financial profile lenders review when evaluating whether or not you are a good candidate for mortgage financing.  DTI thresholds vary depending on the lender and the type of mortgage loan.  Generally, the lower your DTI the better, so lowering your DTI by paying down long-term debts and limiting credit card use is a good idea before you apply for mortgage financing. 

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Simple Street Change Saves Pedestrian Lives

  • October 10, 2018

Pedestrian traffic deaths reached a 25-year high last year.  According to the Governors Highway Safety Association almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2017.  The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is working to reverse this figure with a simple street redesign currently popping up at intersections in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.  By adding rubber bumpers to intersections, drivers who are turning left are forced to slow down, and even lessen the sharpness of their turn, reducing the risk of vehicle-pedestrian Collison. 

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Do 21 Million Under 40 Renters Know Their Homeownership Potential?

  • October 10, 2018

Saving for a down payment is a considerable barrier to homeownership. With rising home prices and interest rates and tight lending standards, the path to homeownership has become more challenging, especially for low-to-median-income borrowers and potential first-time homebuyers.

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16 Cases Where a Credit Card Beats Cash

  • October 09, 2018

Amassing credit card debt under exorbitant interest rates can spell financial doom. But there are times it makes sense to use that little piece of plastic. For some consumers, maximizing rewards is reason enough; others like paying a single bill at the end of the month. For those who are not convinced, here are a baker's dozen situations when paying with a credit card pays off.

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Average FICO Credit Scores Climb Again

  • October 09, 2018

Nearly ten years into economic recovery, the average American FICO score climbed again, hitting a record high of 704.  2018 marks the eighth year of credit score increases, since the average FICO score hit an all time low of 686 in the wake of the Great Recession.  All age brackets saw their average FICO score increase, led by Baby Boomers and Generation Xers.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Jobless Claims, and Consumer Price Index

  • October 08, 2018

Some markets are closed today in observance of the Columbus Day holiday.  Mortgage rates have started to trend upward in reaction to last month’s Federal Reserve rate hike.  Mortgage applications reacted to the news, with new purchase application submissions increasing and refinance application submissions declining last week.  Other market-moving reports scheduled for release this week include the weekly jobless claims report and the consumer price index.

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20 Pieces of Chic Fall Decor All Under $50 (ghosts and goblins not included!)

  • October 08, 2018

Given how obsessed we are with fall, it's unusual that there's not more fall decor readily available.

Right? You head to some of your favorite stores in search of cute, seasonal items, only to be bombarded with witches and goblins and jack-o-lantern-inspired tablescapes.

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Harvard and Cornell Researchers Find that People like You More than You Think

  • October 05, 2018

If you're hard on yourself about how you come off in social situations, especially when it comes to making first impressions, you're not alone. But there's good news. A recent study published in the Association for Psychological Science suggests that the people you meet probably like you more than you think.

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

  • October 05, 2018

Mortgage rates were little changed this week, following last week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) rate hike.  US construction spending improved slightly.  Residential construction spending was down month-over-month but up year-over-year.  Mortgage application submissions showed little week-over-week change.  The ADP employment report exceeded expectations.

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Celebrate Autumn with Fall's Best Porches and Patios

  • October 04, 2018

Have Fall at Your Doorstep

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What does your home insurance cover?

  • October 04, 2018

Earlier this month, Hurricane Florence caused an estimated $20 to $30 billion of damage to commercial and residential properties throughout North and South Carolina.  Unfortunately, an estimated 85% of residential property losses were uninsured, and less than 10% of properties in North Carolina had flood insurance.

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The Comeback of the Mid-Sized American City

  • October 03, 2018

A major urban migration is underway. Since 2000, more than 5.5 million Americans have left just our three largest cities for smaller cities like my own Oklahoma City. Many metros like mine have grown significantly faster than our nation’s top 10 metros. Even smaller cities between 250,000 and 1,000,000 like Boise, Fort Collins, Madison, and Fayetteville have grown over 10 percent in a half-decade. Think of it: One in ten citizens of many cities like these have moved there in just the last few years.

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Update: Credit Freeze Now Free in All States

  • October 03, 2018

In the wake of last year’s Equifax data breach, a new federal law will allow consumers to freeze and unfreeze their credit for free with all major credit bureaus.  Previously, credit freezes and unfreezes cost consumers anywhere between $3 and $12 each.  A credit freeze prevents lenders from pulling a credit report, thus preventing criminals from taking out new lines of credit with a stolen identity. 

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Four Ways Jeff Bezos’s $2 Billion Could Make the Biggest Impact on Homelessness Among Children and Families

  • October 02, 2018

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced a $2 billion investment last week that will fund organizations fighting childhood homelessness and develop high-quality preschools in low-income communities. As this news thrusts the issue into the national spotlight, it’s important to underscore that homelessness is a solvable problem. A lack of funding and political will, not a lack of solutions, are the biggest obstacles to ending homelessness. And this kind of funding infusion could move the needle closer to reaching that goal.

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Why Millennials Are Making This Huge Money Mistake

  • October 02, 2018

An alarming trend is emerging among young Millennial workers around the country.  According to a recent survey from ETrade, over a third of Millennials are making withdrawals from their 401(k) plans or retirement accounts.  They are using the money for everything from paying down debts, making large purchases, and going on vacations.  401(k) and other retirement plans compound interest overtime, thus increasing in value.  When young workers withdraw from retirement accounts prematurely they are losing the interest they could have gained. 

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

  • October 01, 2018

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the benchmark interest rates, and mortgage rates reacted accordingly.  This week in housing news, US construction spending report comes out on Monday and the weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  The ADP employment report comes out on Wednesday.

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These Tiny Prefab Cabins Let You Live Anywhere in the World

  • October 01, 2018

When Cabin Spacey first came onto the tiny home scene in 2016, it had the noble goal of solving the very real urban problem of under-utilized space. At the time, the Berlin-based startup imagined its 370 square foot tiny homes sitting on rooftops or in parking lots, effectively extending a city’s usable housing stock by building on top of what already existed.

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The World's Largest Ocean Cleanup Starts Now

  • September 28, 2018

Ambitious dreams have now become a reality as the Ocean Cleanup deploys its $20 million system designed to clean up the 1.8 trillion pieces of trash floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Check out another Forbes piece on how Ocean Cleanup aims to reuse and recycle the ocean plastic.

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Market Recap: Fed Raises Rates, New Home Sales Spike, Home Prices Appreciation Slows

  • September 28, 2018

This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the federal benchmark interest rate for the third time this year.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell cited a strong labor market and continued economic expansion as reasons for the rate hike.  In housing news, new home sales jumped, and home price appreciation slowed.

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What Happens to Your Mortgage if Your Home is Hit with a Natural Disaster

  • September 27, 2018

In the wake of last week’s hurricane and with an especially active hurricane season expected, disaster preparedness is more important than ever.  When hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters damage your home or impact your ability to pay your mortgage you have several options.  Before disaster strikes, review these ways to stay safe, physically and financially.

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New Paint Startup Poised to Revamp Interior Design

  • September 27, 2018

Nicole Gibbons knows good design. The former global director of PR and events for Victoria’s Secret turned interior designer has penned a popular design blog, operated her own high-end interior design firm, and been featured in print, online and on-screen for Elle DecorBetter Homes & Gardens, TLC, HGTV and Oprah Winfrey’s OWN. But for her, knowing good design wasn’t enough if it didn’t scale beyond the work she could do as a creative practitioner. She had ideas to build something bigger, build something that could become a household name. So, in December 2017, she raised $2 million to launch Clare, a direct-to-consumer paint brand targeted at digital savvy millennials who are keen on aesthetics, sensitive to the environment and pragmatic with how they spend their time.

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One Year Later: How Designers are Rebuilding Puerto Rico

  • September 26, 2018

Maria Gabriela Flores, an architect based in San Juan, was home when Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico with 155-mile-per-hour winds and, in some areas, 20 inches of torrential rain. She was fortunate. Her home, an older structure in the Miramar area, was built from reinforced concrete and survived with no major damage. But just three miles away in Caño Martin Pena—a dense, low-lying area adjacent to the Caño Martin Pena canal and filled with informal construction—the effects were far worse. Winds ripped roofing—often nothing more than galvanized metal sheets—off 1,200 houses.

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Improving Shared Spaces Starts with Keeping Sidewalks Clean

  • September 26, 2018

Many metros across the country from the Bay Area to our nation’s capital have experienced a recent influx of new sidewalk clutter in the form of dockless electric scooters.  Bird, Lime, and other startups have “dropped” e-scooters in urban areas to relieve busy public transportation and give pedestrians a new, more efficient way to commute.  Curbed correspondent, Sarah Goodyear, describes the dropping of these scooters to the way an unruly teenager drops laundry around the house.  The new trend of “docklessness” revives the question as old as cities themselves, “who owns the sidewalk and who is responsible for keeping it clean?”

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Rushing to Pay Off Your Mortgage? Why New Tax Laws Might Make You Want to Wait.

  • September 25, 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted earlier this year provided the most sweeping changes to the tax code in decades.  One of the most relevant changes for homeowners was the new cap for mortgage interest deductions.  With tax cuts increasing wages, the savings rate improving, and the economy booming, some homeowners may consider paying off their mortgage sooner, especially with the changes to the mortgage interest tax deduction.  MarketWatch columnist, Peter Morici, suggests, “The new tax law should cause many folks to consider paying off their mortgages but that is hardly best for everyone.”

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Improve Your Employer Benefits: Add HomeFundIt to Your Employee Package

  • September 25, 2018

Today, most companies offer their employees medical and dental, paid vacation, and 401K options.  In one of the tightest labor markets in decades, relying on industry standard offerings to remain competitive is not a sustainable solution.  With wage growth stagnating, you need more than the same type of benefits to attract and retain top employees. 

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

  • September 24, 2018

The Federal Open Market Committee will meet this Tuesday and Wednesday and markets are pricing in a rate hike.  Sustained economic growth, a healthy labor market, and strong consumer spending have all pushed the inflation rate toward the Federal Reserve’s benchmark and support the case for raising the benchmark interest rate.  In other housing news, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Tuesday and the National Association of Realtors’ new home sales report comes out on Wednesday. 

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Loan Officer Ranked as Top Job in Annual Report

  • September 24, 2018

US News & World Report just released its rankings of the 100 Best Jobs in 2018, and thanks to employment growth and flexibility, loan officer made the cut.

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More Bike Lanes and Trees Make Greener Cities

  • September 21, 2018

City streets and sidewalks in the United States have been engineered for decades to keep vehicle occupants and pedestrians safe. If streets include trees at all, they might be planted in small sidewalk pits, where, if constrained and with little water, they live only three to 10 years on average. Until recently, U.S. streets have also lacked cycle tracks—paths exclusively for bicycles between the road and the sidewalk, protected from cars by some type of barrier.

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Market Recap: Housing Starts Surge, Existing Home Sales and Housing Market Index Unchanged

  • September 21, 2018

Construction activity boomed in August, housing starts posted a significant increase.  Building permits, however, declined.  The National Association of Home Builders’ housing market index was unchanged but remains positive.  Existing home sales were unchanged month-over-month but down year-over-year. 

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Low Down Payment Mortgage Options

  • September 20, 2018

As home prices rise, so do mortgage down payments.  Many potential home buyers are dissuaded from starting their home search because of the myth of the 20% down payment.  According to Down Payment Resources, home buyers younger than 37-years-old put down an average of 7%.  Looking to buy a home but lacking the 20% down payment?  Consider one of these popular low down payment mortgage options.

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Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos's Fortune Compounding Faster than He Can Donate It

  • September 20, 2018

Amazon.com Inc.’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in modern history, on Thursday stepped up his plans for major philanthropic giving by pledging $2 billion to set up the charitable “Bezos Day One Fund.”

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How This San Francisco Homeowner Sold for Twice the Purchase Price

  • September 19, 2018

After years of renting in San Francisco and Oakland, we bought a home in Walnut Creek (a small city in the Bay Area) for $545,000 in 2010—when the market was relatively slow. The house was the smallest model in a 1960s neighborhood at 1,445 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. But it sat on a spacious 9,375-square-foot lot. It was a dream cosmetic fixer. Over seven years, we made it our own. We installed new interior doors and baseboards, gave away the wall-to-wall carpeting on Craigslist, and refinished the original hardwood floor. We painted the interior and exteriors, removed popcorn ceilings, and remodeled both bathrooms and the kitchen. 

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Buyer Beware: How to Spot Down Payment Wire Transfer Fraud

  • September 19, 2018

Buying a home is the biggest purchase most Americans will make in a lifetime and saving for a down payment is the biggest obstacle to making that purchase.  Often, the down payment will include a significant portion of the home buyer’s life savings, especially for first-time buyers. Earlier this month, CNBC reported on a new variant of wire transfer fraud schemes targeting home buyers at the time of closing, in some cases wiping out their entire down payment savings with no chance of recouping the funds.

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Compare and Contrast: How Much Money Each Age Group Has in Their 401(k)s

  • September 18, 2018

Contributing to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan is an effective way to save for retirement: You get significant tax advantages, the money is automatically taken from your paycheck before you have the chance to spend it and, often, companies offer a match, which is essentially free money.

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Millennials Delay Marriage, Not Homeownership

  • September 18, 2018

Millennials may be delaying marriage but not homeownership, according to a recent study.  In 1985, 75% of first-time home buyers were married couples.  Today, married couples make up 57% of first-time home buyers.  The National Association of Realtors’ managing director of survey research commented, “it’s absolutely a trend.  People feel fine purchasing a home without a ring.”

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

  • September 17, 2018

There is a full week of housing news ahead, with the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index on Monday followed by housing starts and building permits on Wednesday and existing home sales on Thursday.

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New Apple iPhones Designed to Reduce E-waste

  • September 17, 2018

 

After completing a switch to 100% green energy earlier this year, Apple is trying to pack more renewable materials into its latest iPhones.

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

  • September 14, 2018

Average mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, trending downward according to Mortgage News Daily.  Both revolving and nonrevolving consumer borrowing increased.  Job openings surged to a record high.  New purchase applications were up but refinance applications were down.

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Affordable Housing Becomes Part of Florida Hurricane Recovery

  • September 13, 2018

Jaimie Ross, president of the Florida Housing Coalition, remembers the exact moment in September 2017 that she connected with Maggie Whitcomb, who was soon to become the founder of the Florida Keys Community Land Trust.

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What to Look for in Your New Neighborhood

  • September 13, 2018

The famous line Location, Location, Location is not a joke when it comes to choosing the right neighborhood for your new home.  Whether you are a first-time home buyer or moving up into your forever home, where you buy matters.  Before you start your home search, determine where you want to buy.  Narrow down the right neighborhood by reviewing these major influencers.

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Girl Scouts Swap Cookies for Tiny Houses

  • September 12, 2018

A new five-day Girl Scout Camp in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota resulted in two habitable tiny houses built entirely by Girl Scouts in grades 6 to 12.  The first Power Girls camp was hosted by the Girl Scouts River Valleys and Dunwoody and took place in Camp Lakamaga.  The goal of the camp was to teach girls the skills they needed to build a home from start to finish.  The products of the camp will be donated to an organization chosen by the proud Girl Scouts.

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Welcome Home! What to Do in the First 24 Hours in a New Place

  • September 12, 2018

The first 24 hours in a new place are vital — they can make a difference on how the first few months go and set the tone for the rest of the time you live there. So how should you spend the first 24 hours in a new place? Consider this list as your guide for those precious first hours.

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6 Ways to Lower Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

  • September 11, 2018

If you’re struggling to qualify for a personal loan, your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio could be to blame.

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1 in 4 American Homes Now Equity Rich

  • September 11, 2018

Last month, ATTOM Data Solutions released a report showing 24.5% of all mortgaged properties were equity rich in Q2 2018.  “Equity rich” is defined as a home with a loan-to-value ratio of 50% or lower.  Collectively, American homeowners have accrued over $15 trillion in home equity, over a trillion and a half dollars more than the highest levels before the recession.  What are they doing with it?

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Man's Best Roommate: How Furry Friends Influence Housing Decisions

  • September 10, 2018

While homebuyers look for homes of all different shapes and sizes, data reveals that most of them have one major thing in common.

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

  • September 10, 2018

Market-moving reports this week include consumer credit, scheduled for Monday, and the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), scheduled for Tuesday.  Both consumer borrowing and job creation drive economic and housing market momentum.  In housing news, the weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.

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

  • September 07, 2018

Construction spending improved in July, led by a surge in residential spending.  New purchase mortgage applications increased while refinance applications decreased.  The ADP employment report showed the addition of 163,000 jobs in August.  Mortgage rates trended slightly upward.

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Used Plastic Becomes New Furniture

  • September 07, 2018

Plastic Whale is a professional plastic fishing company that offers boat trips during which tourists — while sightseeing — will pick up plastic from Amsterdam's canals. The plastic bottles that are being collected get turned into office furniture, in collaboration with Vepa.

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The Simple Productivity-Boosting Method You're Probably Overlooking

  • September 06, 2018

By now it's no secret that there's a direct link between sleep and work performance. The numbers are staggering: The National Safety Council has estimated that fatigued employees cost employers about $136 billion a year in lost productivity.

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How to Dispute a Low Home Appraisal

  • September 06, 2018

You will need a home appraisal when you’re buying a new home, selling your current home, or refinancing your mortgage.  Home appraisals are conducted by an independent appraiser to determine the value of the home.  When you are selling your home and the appraisal comes in lower than expected, you could run into some difficulty including the buyer backing out of the sale or the lender denying the buyer the loan they need to purchase the home.  If you’re selling your home and you get a lower appraisal than expected, here are the steps you can take to dispute it.

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Renovation Rundown: When to DIY or Hire the Pros

  • September 06, 2018

It’s the question every handy homeowner getting ready to embark on a renovation asks themselves: How much can I actually do myself? If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, it may be more than you think. Curbed spoke with experts including DIY home renovators, contractors, and architects to determine the realistic DIY projects in your house, and what is better left to the professionals.

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IRS Ruling Allows 401(k) Student Loan Benefits

  • September 05, 2018

On Aug. 17, the Internal Revenue Service released a private letter ruling that could make it easier for employers to use their 401(k) plans to assist their employees who are repaying student loan debt.

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Trees Do More Than Lower Heat in Dallas Neighborhood

  • September 05, 2018

After an exceptionally hot summer, urban planners are investigating more ways to reduce temperatures in cities around the country.  Because of the “heat island” effect, urban areas tend to be 10 to 20 degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas.  AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist, Tom Kines, explains, “it’s kind of like a brick fireplace; even when the fire goes out, the heat is still in the bricks.  This is the same thing in a city.” 

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First-Time Home Buyers Outnumber Repeat Buyers

  • September 04, 2018

Despite the down payment obstacle, first-time home buyers continue to dominate the housing market.  For the past decade, first-time home buyers have comprised the largest share of home buyers, even though affordability concerns, specifically related to the down payment, have caused many would-be first-time home buyers to delay home purchase. 

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US Banking Regulator to Rewrite Community Lending Rules

  • September 04, 2018

A federal banking regulator said on Tuesday it will begin soliciting input on decades-old rules on bank lending in low-income communities, kicking off a long awaited and potentially contentious rulewriting process.

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The Best Places to Retire State by State

  • September 03, 2018

Most of those who move in retirement chose to stay within the same state. In recognition of that fact, Forbes has developed its first-ever list of the best two places to retire in each of the 50 states—even those with high costs and taxes that we generally avoid in our annual Best Places To Retire list.

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

  • September 03, 2018

Markets are closed today in observance of the Labor Day holiday.  In housing news, the US construction report comes out on Tuesday and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  Other market moving data includes the ADP employment report.

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Why Former President Jimmy Carter Still Lives in a $167,000 House

  • August 31, 2018

Former President Jimmy Carter might have once called the white mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home, but now, he lives in a much, much more modest abode.

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Market Recap: Home Prices Up, Mortgage Apps Down, Pending Home Sales Decline

  • August 31, 2018

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, trending slightly upward following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s Jackson Hole Symposium speech.  The Fed is expected to continue raising rates to keep up with strong economic growth.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated in June, but at a slower pace.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  Pending home sales fell for the seventh straight month. 

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Millennial Super Saver's Tips to Banking $250,000

  • August 30, 2018

Collectively, Americans are struggling to set aside money for retirement: 21 percent have nothing saved at all for their golden years.

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Getting the Best Return on Investment for Your Remodel

  • August 30, 2018

With home prices rising in most regions, homeowners are staying put longer.  Whether you have recently moved in or lived in your home for many years, it could be the right time to adapt your home to fit your changing needs.  A home renovation project not only improves the livability of the home, it can also increase the resale value.  If you are considering a home renovation in the near future, keep these tips in mind for getting the most return on your investment.

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Is paying off your home saving for retirement?

  • August 29, 2018

For most Americans, a home is the first appreciating asset they will own.  Unlike stock market investments, the housing market is relatively stable, and most homes tend to appreciate over time.  This fact has some Americans asking the question, “is paying off your home saving for retirement?”  To some extent, the answer is yes.

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Mortgage Market Rebounds: 3 Charts

  • August 29, 2018

Every year, researchers look forward to the release of the most extensive publicly available mortgage market data: the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data. This rich dataset has been instrumental in revealing critical developments in mortgage lending across the nation.

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Why do Americans think buying a home is so stressful?

  • August 28, 2018

Applying for college, going on a job interview, and hosting Thanksgiving dinner can all be stressful life events, but according to a recent survey, none of those compare to buying a home.  Out of 2,000 Americans surveyed by Homes.com, 40% of respondents cited buying a home as the most stressful event in modern life and 33% admitted to shedding tears at some point in the home-buying process.

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Senate Banking Committee narrowly passes Kraninger as next CFPB director

  • August 28, 2018

The Senate Committee on Housing, Banking and Urban Affairs narrowly passed a vote nominating Kathy Kraninger as the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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New Home, New Landscaping

  • August 27, 2018

New homeowners take notice, your landscape needs to be an early priority. Whether your home is brand new or new to you, landscaping is a key part of making it your own. Your landscape shows off your style and is your “welcome home” at the end of the day. Well done landscaping can quickly boost the perceived value of your home, and may inspire your neighbors to take on their own landscaping challenges. Enjoying a great yard is one of the best parts of owning a home. 

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

  • August 27, 2018

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly for the past two weeks, even trending downward according to some sources.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Tuesday and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) pending home sales index will come out on Wednesday.

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

  • August 24, 2018

Mortgage rates have not moved much this week, trending downward according to some sources.  Steady mortgage rates triggered some mortgage activity, with both new purchase and refinance applications increasing.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey increased 4.2% week-over-week.  Existing home sales and new home sales each declined and the FHFA house price index appreciated. 

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How to Manage a Bidding War

  • August 23, 2018

If you’ve found the home you love, chances are someone else loves it too.  In today’s busy housing market, most home sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes in a few short weeks, sometimes leading to a bidding war.  For home buyers starting their home search, the best way to handle a bidding war is to be prepared, plan ahead, and set realistic expectations.

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If You Live in a Flood Zone, Read This

  • August 22, 2018

Even if your home is not located on a shore or beach, you may be living in a flood zone.  According to the Environmental Research Letter, over 41 million Americans are currently living in flood zones, and this includes seemingly landlocked locations.  In the wake of last year’s particularly devastating hurricane season, Flood Insurance is at the forefront of many homeowners’ minds.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid over $8 billion to homeowners with flood insurance policies in 2017. 

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More First-Time Home Buyers Using Retirement Money for Down Payment

  • August 21, 2018

As more Millennials start to enter the housing market as first-time home buyers, an alarming trend has emerged.  According to a recent Bank of the West survey of 600 homeowners ages 21-34 from, one in three took out loans against their retirement account to pay for their down payment.  Saving for a down payment is one of the most commonly reported obstacles to homeownership.  In fact, almost 70% of renters consider it the greatest barrier to homeownership.  However, borrowing against or withdrawing savings from a retirement account could set the home buyer up for long-term financial consequences.

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

  • August 20, 2018

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward last week.  There are several important housing reports scheduled for this week, including existing home sales and new home sales.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index is also slated for release. 

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Market Recap: Builder Confidence Wanes, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase

  • August 17, 2018

Mortgage rates trended downward this week.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index dropped by one point, but builders remain largely optimistic.  New purchase mortgage applications declined, and refinance mortgage applications were unchanged.

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Should you buy first or sell first?

  • August 16, 2018

Most home sellers are concurrently looking for a new place to live.  Before you put your home on the market, the big question to answer is “should you buy first or sell first?”  Each route has its own advantages, depending on your situation.  If you have plans to sell your home soon, consult a mortgage loan officer to see if you should buy your new home first or sell your current home first.

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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

When 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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HomeFundIt 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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HomeFundIt Surpasses $1 Million Milestone

  • June 13, 2018

HomeFundItTM, the first and only approved down payment crowdfunding platform, celebrated $1 Million raised last week.  To date, HomeFundIt 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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HomeFundIt iPhone and Android App Now Available

  • April 19, 2018

HomeFundItTM, 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 HomeFundIt 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 HomeFundItTM, 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 HomeFundIt: A new way to buy a home

  • October 10, 2017

Since its official launch, HomeFundIt 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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HomeFundIt: 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 HomeFundItTM; 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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HomeFundIt: How it Works

  • August 17, 2017

HomeFundItTM 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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HomeFundIt: 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 HomeFundItTM, formerly known as HomeFundItTM

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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 re