BlogMORTGAGE BLOG

Market Recap: New Home Sales Down, Home Prices Appreciate, Pending Home Sales Fall

Posted On October 30, 2020

Mortgage rates trended downward this week and continued to touch historic lows. New home sales and pending home sales dropped for the first time in four months, while home prices saw the biggest gain in more than two years.

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How to Take Advantage of a Cash-Out Refinance

Posted On October 29, 2020

Many home buyers have been taking advantage of record low interest rates the past several months by refinancing their mortgages. Refinancing your mortgage while interest rates are low is a great opportunity to lower your mortgage rate, change your loan terms, switch your loan type, or even withdraw equity to fund other expenses with a cash-out refinance.

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4 Easy Tricks to Help You Avoid Wire Fraud Cheats

Posted On October 28, 2020

It’s hard to believe that October is almost over. Holiday fever is heating up, fall air is cooling down, and candy stocks are running low. If you haven’t voted yet, you still have time; but if you haven’t gotten your Halloween candy yet, you’re probably going to be that house handing out mint gum and stale Oreos. Luckily, trick or treat isn’t the threat it used to be – at least on the streets. On the web, however, tricksters are on the rise.

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How Each Presidential Candidate Could Influence the Housing Market

Posted On October 27, 2020

As we discussed last week, the election as an event will not likely affect the busy housing market. However, our next president and their policy agenda will influence the market It’s hard to believe that Election Day is just one week away, and housing market experts predict that a change is coming, regardless of who wins.

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

Posted On October 26, 2020

Last week, mortgage rates remained relatively unchanged, but are still in the historically low range. This week, there are several important housing reports scheduled for release. The new homes sales index is scheduled for release later today. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index is scheduled for release on Tuesday, and the pending home sales index will be released Thursday.

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Market Recap: Home Builder Sentiment Hits Record High, Housing Starts and Building Permits Climb, Existing Home Sales Surge

Posted On October 23, 2020

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week, but still remain in a historically low range. The home builders’ sentiment index reached a record high for the third month in a row. Housing starts and building permits increased. Existing home sales rose for the fourth consecutive month.

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When to Choose a 30-Year Fixed Over a 15-Year Fixed

Posted On October 22, 2020

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is America’s Sweetheart of loans — we know her, we love her, and we just can’t get enough of her. For decades, people have depended on the 30-year fixed-rate loan to help finance their home purchases, but the recent record-breaking low mortgage rates might be swaying some home buyers toward the 15-year loan instead.

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Does Your Credit Score Matter in Retirement?

Posted On October 21, 2020

Your credit score can make or break many financial opportunities – mortgage loans, car loans, getting hired for a job, and more. For years, you’ve been carefully paying your bills on time, keeping your credit balance low, avoiding debt, and doing everything you can to maintain a good credit score. Now, as you head into retirement, you have a fully owned home, a paid-off car loan, no outstanding debt, and no intention of getting a full-time job.  You don’t think you’ll be borrowing money anytime soon and you begin to question if you really need to keep up with your credit score once you head into retirement.

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Will the Presidential Election Impact Home Sales?

Posted On October 20, 2020

When an election is approaching, all of America’s attention is focused on the candidates and the future of our nation – the only house that people are concerned about is the one on Pennsylvania Ave. As is expected, many home buyers and sellers are currently wondering how the upcoming presidential election will impact the housing market. 

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

Posted On October 19, 2020

Mortgage rates trended downward last week and continued to touch historic lows. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) releases the housing market sentiment index today. Housing starts and building permits are scheduled for release on Tuesday, and existing home sales will be released on Thursday.

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Market Recap: Consumer Price Index Down, Mortgage Applications Slow, Retail Sales Surge

Posted On October 16, 2020

Mortgage rates trended downward this week and touched some of the lowest levels in the past 12 months. The consumer price index showed the smallest increase since May. Mortgage application submissions dropped slightly. Retail sales rose for the fifth month in a row.  

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Market Recap: Consumer Price Index Down, Mortgage Applications Slow, Retail Sales Surge

Posted On October 16, 2020

Mortgage rates trended downward this week and touched some of the lowest levels in the past 12 months. The consumer price index showed the smallest increase since May. Mortgage application submissions dropped slightly. Retail sales rose for the fifth month in a row.  

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All Hands on Deck: 6 DIY Projects for You and Your Family Before Winter

Posted On October 15, 2020

As we roll into the eighth month of the global pandemic, you may be wondering, how many more games of Monopoly can I play?  From bike rides to hikes, movie nights to game nights — you’ve done everything in your power to keep the family entertained.

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How Many Credit Cards is Too Many?

Posted On October 14, 2020

When it comes to credit cards, more isn’t always merrier. Most financial advisors recommend limiting your number of credit cards to one or two in order to avoid taking on too much debt. When used responsibly, having multiple credit cards is a good way to maximize your rewards, increase your credit limit, and allow for financial flexibility.

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What to Expect This Fall, According to the Experts

Posted On October 13, 2020

In recent months, home sales have been rising at a record pace. In August, existing home sales surged to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6 million – the fastest pace in 14 years. New home sales also reached record-highs in August, surpassing 1 million for the first time since 2006. “Buyers are moving forward in record numbers,” said Adam Contos, CEO of real estate brokerage RE/MAX Holdings. The housing demand is booming right now, but how long will it last?

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

Posted On October 12, 2020

Mortgages rates continued to touch historic lows last week. This week, there will be no major housing reports. Scheduled for release on Tuesday is the consumer price index. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday, and the retail sales report comes out on Friday.

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Market Recap: Job Openings Down, Mortgages Apps, Consumer Credit Mixed

Posted On October 09, 2020

Mortgages rates trended slightly upward this week but continue to come in at historic lows. Job openings slipped marginally. New purchase mortgage application submissions declined while refinance applications surged. Revolving consumer credit dropped but nonrevolving credit increased.

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Low Down Payment Options: FHA Loan vs. Freddie Mac Home Possible Loan

Posted On October 08, 2020

You grew up dreaming of the day that you trade in the treehouse and purchase a home of your own. You’ve done the research, found the perfect place, but there’s one thing still standing in between you and your American Dream come true: the down payment. 

 

 

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5 Painting Mistakes Amateurs Make

Posted On October 07, 2020

Staring at the same walls all summer may mean you’re seeing things in a new light.  Maybe you want to brighten up your new home office (bedroom) or give the conference room (dining room) a new look.  One of the easiest ways to spruce up your space is to add a fresh coat of paint.  Painting is an inexpensive way to improve a room, but it can also be a costly mistake. 

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Prepare for Bidding Wars this Fall

Posted On October 06, 2020

In August, over half of the home offers made by Redfin-represented buyers facing competing offers for the fourth month in a row. Despite the fact that home sales tend to slow down in the fall and winter months, this year’s continued increase in buyer demand and limited home supply suggests that bidding wars are likely to persist.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Applications, Consumer Credit

Posted On October 05, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to trend downward last week. 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: Home Prices Appreciate, Pending Home Sales Jump, Construction Spending Up

Posted On October 02, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to hit record lows this week. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index showed sustained appreciation in July after no changes in June. Pending home sales soared to a new record high. Construction spending increased for the second consecutive month.

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Tips for the Perfect Home Office (In Any Room!)

Posted On October 01, 2020

When employees began working from home, everyone set up shop wherever they could — kitchens, dining rooms, bedrooms, or any other rooms with outlets and a work surface. You thought it would just be a couple of weeks, but six months later and your kitchen table is covered with empty soda cans, open laptops, endless pens, loose papers, and more cords than you can count.

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What is the 30/30/3 Rule for Buying a Home in Uncertain Times?

Posted On September 30, 2020

Buying a home is always a significant investment, but during uncertain economic times, buyers should be especially careful to not overstretch their finances.  Unlike the stock market, real estate is often considered a more stable investment since it tends to appreciate over time.  However, if you lose your job or suffer an income reduction, you want still to be able to cover the cost of your mortgage, at least temporarily, so you do not fall behind on payments, or worse, go through a foreclosure. 

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Nearly 2 Million Telecommuting Renters Could Now Become Homeowners

Posted On September 29, 2020

Many renters are considering a home purchase lately, and you may know (or be) one of them.  In addition to historically low mortgage rates, many companies have adopted work-from-home models, meaning their employees are commuting less or not at all.  Zillow estimates nearly 1.92 million renting households could become homeowners this year because of the growing popularity of working remotely and the flexibility that goes with it. 

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

Posted On September 28, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to touch historic lows.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will be released on Tuesday, followed by the pending home sales report will come out Wednesday, and the US construction spending report will come out Thursday.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Climb, FHFA House Price Index Appreciates, New Home Sales Surge

Posted On September 25, 2020

Mortgage rates trended downward this week. Existing home sales climbed for the third month in a row. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index appreciated from June to July. New homes sales surged to the highest level in 14 years.

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Should You Build a New Home or Renovate a Fixer-Upper?

Posted On September 24, 2020

Average mortgage rates have reached historic lows, giving many prospective buyers an added incentive to purchase now. However, if you’re one of many people on the hunt for a new home, you’re likely going to face stiff competition, limited options, and higher home prices. To navigate the challenges of the current housing market, you may want to consider these alternatives to buying a move-in ready home: building a new home or renovating a fixer upper. Both are viable options, but here are some pros and cons of both to help determine which is best for you.

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Why Your Credit Score Matters, Even if You’re Not Buying a Home

Posted On September 23, 2020

If you’re thinking about buying a new home or refinancing an existing mortgage, you’re probably taking a closer look at your credit score and ways to improve it.  Your credit score, specifically your FICO® credit score, is used by lenders and financial institutions to determine whether you will be a good candidate for a loan, or a line of credit based on how you currently manage your debt.  Many non-bank institutions also look at your credit score.  Your credit score matters, even if you’re not actively making mortgage moves, and could impact your ability to rent an apartment, get a new phone, or even influence your car insurance premium. 

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Selling Your Home When Interest Rates are Low

Posted On September 22, 2020

You know low interest rates are an incentive for home buyers, but a low interest rate environment can actually benefit home sellers as well.  When you sell your home when rates are low, you can usually count on strong buyer demand and multiple offers.  As the seller, this will give you more negotiating power and you can typically net a higher profit since you won’t have to lower your asking price to compete for buyers.  You may also to be able to sell your home shortly after listing, rather than having it linger on the market waiting for the right buyer.  If you’re buying a new home yourself, you’ll also be able to lock in a relatively low interest rate on your new mortgage. 

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

Posted On September 21, 2020

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the federal funds rate unchanged.  Mortgage rates continue to trend lower.  This week, the existing home sales and new home sales reports are both scheduled for release.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will also release its house price index. 

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Market Recap: Rates Stay Low, Home Builder Sentiment Improves, Housing Starts and Building Permits Decline

Posted On September 18, 2020

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and, as expected, did not move interest rates.  As a result, mortgage rates remain historically low.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index improved.  Housing starts and building permits declined slightly in August after strong gains in July. 

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4 Things that Happen to Your Finances When You Buy a Home

Posted On September 17, 2020

Buying a home, especially your first home, is a lifechanging event and a big financial investment.  You know buying a home will come with the upfront costs of the down payment and closing costs, but do you know about all of the ongoing financial implications?  Buying a home impacts your credit score, your savings, and your tax bill, but it also becomes a vehicle for you to build wealth in the form of home equity. 

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All American Homes Assigned Flood-Risk Score

Posted On September 16, 2020

In the wake of the recent devastation of Hurricane Laura, you may be thinking about your home’s flood insurance policy.  Even if you do not live in a coastal area vulnerable to hurricane damage, stronger and more frequent hurricanes plus other climate-related natural disasters could put your home at a greater risk now than when you bought the home.  To keep home buyers and homeowners informed and aware, nonprofit research and technology group, First Street Foundation, has designed an interactive website to host flood risk data on over 142 million homes.  Additionally, Realtor.com will now include the flood-risk score on its online home listings.

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Federal Reserve Announces New Approach to Inflation and Interest Rate Policy

Posted On September 15, 2020

The Federal Reserve announced revisions to its policy in the way it reviews inflation and the labor market.  These changes will impact how much interest consumers earn on savings accounts and pay on lines of credit and loans like credit cards and mortgages. 

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

Posted On September 14, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to trend lower last week and remain near the lowest levels in the past twelve months.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and no major interest rate movement is expected.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release the housing market sentiment index on Wednesday.  Housing starts and building permits are scheduled for Thursday.

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Market Recap: Consumer Borrowing Accelerates, Mortgage Apps Up, Job Openings Increase

Posted On September 11, 2020

Mortgage rates trended downward this week and remain within a historically low range.  Consumer borrowing accelerated to a pre-pandemic pace.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  Job openings increased for the third straight month.

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5 Things to Consider Before Fleeing the City for the Suburbs

Posted On September 10, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has many city dwellers considering a suburban migration.  With cultural hotspots closed or operating at limited capacity and many companies imposing work-from-home orders and distance-learning procedures, living close to city centers may no longer be as important as it once was. 

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Do You Have a Bad Credit Score?

Posted On September 09, 2020

If you’re thinking about buying a home or refinancing your existing mortgage in the near future, you’ve probably reviewed your credit score recently.  Mortgage lenders use your FICO® credit score to evaluate how you’ve managed your loans and lines of credit in the past and how likely you will be to repay your new home loan.  While you do not need perfect credit to qualify for a mortgage, a lower credit score can lead to higher interest rates or worse, the inability to qualify at all. 

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Predictions for the Fall Housing Market

Posted On September 08, 2020

Following an unprecedented Spring and Summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Fall housing market is going to look different this year.  Historically, buyers tend to buy and sell homes more frequently in the Spring and Summer when it’s more convenient for children to change schools, warmer weather is more favorable for home tours and travel, and home builders are busy.  After an economic standstill in March and April, and a slow reopening across the country, many housing professionals are expecting an exceptionally busy Fall.  Mortgage rates are historically low, builders have been busy, and buyers are returning to the housing market. 

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CMG Financial’s Candace Baima Recognized as 2020 HousingWire Insider

Posted On September 08, 2020

San Ramon, CA – National mortgage media group HousingWire announced its 2020 HousingWire Insiders, an annual list honoring the unsung heroes of the housing industry working behind the scenes to drive their companies to success.  This year, CMG Financial’s Candace Baima, Vice President, National Underwriting Manager, was honored among only 50 winners nationwide. 

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Mortgage Apps, Job Openings

Posted On September 07, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to touch down to historic lows, hovering around the lowest levels in the past 12 months.  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 Up, Mortgage Application Submissions Down, ADP Employment Growth Slow

Posted On September 04, 2020

Mortgage rates trended lower this week and are expected to stay low.  Overall US construction spending increased marginally, but residential spending increased substantially.  Both new purchase and refinance application submissions declined.  The ADP Employment report showed hiring has tapered off.

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Preparing for Your VA Loan Purchase

Posted On September 03, 2020

The VA Loan is one of the most important benefits offered to active duty military and veterans. It was designed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to give returning World War II veterans an affordable pathway to homeownership because it is available with no down payment and flexible underwriting requirements.   

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Demand for Clean Home Technology on the Rise

Posted On September 02, 2020

Smart home technology has become an increasingly more common home buyer demand, especially as the internet of things evolves.  Home buyers are looking for features like smart thermostats, self-closing blinds, and doorbell cameras among other home enhancements.  In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a new type of smart home technology is on the rise.  Home buyers, especially new home buyers, are inquiring about self-cleaning and sanitizing technology.

 

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

Posted On August 31, 2020

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward last week, but overall remain historically low.  This week, the US construction spending report is scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday, along with the ADP employment report.

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Moderates, New Home Sales Surge, Pending Home Sales Increase

Posted On August 28, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, trending slightly upward from recent 12-month lows.  Home prices continue to rise at a moderate pace.  New home sales jumped to the highest level since 2006.  The pending home sales index also increased.

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CMG Financial Honored with Freddie Mac Home Possible RISE Award for Education

Posted On August 28, 2020

San Ramon, CA, September 1, 2020 – CMG Financial, a well-capitalized privately held mortgage banking firm headquartered in San Ramon, CA, was recognized by Freddie Mac with the Home Possible RISE AwardSM for Education.  The annual program, RISE (Recognizing Individuals for Sustained Excellence), salutes Freddie Mac’s top clients across multiple categories for excellence with Home Possible® mortgages – Freddie Mac’s affordable lending solution for low-to-moderate-income home buyers.

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What to Expect to Pay for Closing Costs

Posted On August 27, 2020

Any mortgage loan origination, for both a new purchase and a refinance, comes with closing costs.  Closing costs cover things like inspections, any lender fees, attorney’s fees, and other associated costs.  Most first-time home buyers know they have to save for a down payment, but some may forget to budget for closing costs.  Homeowners who are refinancing an existing loan to save money need to factor closing costs.

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Adverse Market Refinance Fee Delayed

Posted On August 26, 2020

Two weeks ago, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced a 0.5% “adverse market fee” on all mortgage refinances, including cash-out refinances.  Numerous trade organizations voiced concern over the fee, including the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), as the fee would make it more expensive to refinance a mortgage at a time when many homeowners are refinancing to lower their mortgage payment and increase their income in the wake of widespread economic hardship.  This week, the FHFA reversed course delaying the adverse market refinance fee until December 1st, 2020.  Additionally, the FHFA announced it would exempt select refinance loans from the fee when it is enacted.

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New to Online Banking? How to Stay Safe

Posted On August 26, 2020

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many consumers have switched to banking totally online, some for the very first time.  Online banking and bill pay makes it easy to stay on top of your finances from afar, but it may also make it easier for hackers and cyber criminals to access your private information.  Since March, 82% of seniors have started using online banking more frequently and 55% are using mobile banking apps.  Older Americans are often targeted by hackers and cyber criminals because they are newer to online banking technology and may not be aware of common practices. 

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Stay-At-Home Guidance Drives Home Remodeling Boom

Posted On August 25, 2020

If it seems like you’re hearing a lot of hammer and sawing lately, your neighbors may be participating in the current home remodeling boom.  Low mortgage rates combined with a steep increase in time spent at home is driving home remodeling and renovation activity across the country.  Online home remodeling professional directory, Houzz, reported a 58% increase in project leads from June 2019 to June 2020.

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

Posted On August 24, 2020

Average mortgage rates trended upward last week but remain near 12-month lows.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the new home sales report will come out on Tuesday.  The pending home sales index is scheduled for release on Thursday. 

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Market Recap: Home Builder Sentiment Hits Record High, Housing Starts and Building Permits Jump, Existing Home Sales Surge

Posted On August 21, 2020

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week but remain near historical lows.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index reached a record high in August.  Housing starts and building permits continued to increase.  Existing home sales also experienced a record gain. 

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How to Get a Lower Mortgage Rate

Posted On August 20, 2020

Record low mortgage rates have dominated the financial news cycle lately and both prospective home buyers and homeowners looking to refinance are rushing to lock in low mortgage rates.  While a low interest rate environment means average mortgage interest rates are lower, your actual mortgage interest rate will reflect your personal financial profile and other unique factors. 

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Where to Start Your Emergency Fund

Posted On August 19, 2020

Financial stress related to the coronavirus pandemic has led many Americans to reevaluate their emergency savings.  Workers of all industries have experienced income disruptions over the past several months from temporary and, in some cases permanent, layoffs.  You know you should set aside some savings for an emergency fund but just the thought of starting one may seem overwhelming.  If you haven’t started saving an emergency fund, or you would like to grow your emergency fund, here’s where you can start.  

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Freddie Mac: 70,000 Homes With ADUs Sold in 2019

Posted On August 18, 2020

Accessory dwelling units or ADUs is a separate, detached, dwelling located on the same lot as a single-family home.  Sometimes called “granny flats” or “guest homes,” ADUs are becoming more popular, according to research from Freddie Mac.  Currently, there are 1.4 million reported single-family homes with ADUs out of an MLS listing of 600 million.  The actual figure may even be higher, since it could include ADUs added without a permit. 

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

Posted On August 17, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to touch down to record low levels last week.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index will come out on Monday, followed by housing starts and building permits on Tuesday, and the existing home sales report on Friday.   

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Market Recap: Job Openings Increase, Mortgage Apps Jump, Consumer Price Index Recovers

Posted On August 14, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week and continue to hover around year-long lows.  The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed businesses have started to reopen and staff.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  The consumer price index rebounded. 

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What You Should Know About Buying a Second Home

Posted On August 13, 2020

With many Americans flocking to far-flung regions to escape coronavirus clusters, the second-home market is seeing a sales surge.  To accommodate social distancing guidelines, many city and suburb dwellers are looking into vacation homes or moving away entirely. 

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What Lower Interest Rates Mean for Your Savings Account

Posted On August 12, 2020

Historically low interest rates are great news for borrowers and not the greatest news for savers.  While the cost of borrowing money is at an all-time low, savers are earning less interest on their savings accounts.  Even traditionally higher-interest savings accounts at digital banks are earning less interest than they did just two years ago and are expected to continue on that trend as long as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) keeps rates low.  If you’re trying to maximize the return on your savings in a low interest rate environment, here’s what you need to know.

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Waiting to Buy vs. Buying Now

Posted On August 11, 2020

Historically low mortgage rates have motivated many home buyers across the country, but some are still wary about buying a home due to the economic uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.  Although the way we buy and sell homes looks different, the housing market has had an exceptionally busy summer.  Real estate agents are practicing social distancing by offering video tours and virtual listings and much of the mortgage process has gone digital.  If you’re on the fence about buying a new home now or waiting a few months, here are some things to consider before making your decision.

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

Posted On August 10, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to plunge to historic lows and will likely stay low through the end of the year.  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 Down, Mortgage Apps Fall Off, ADP Employment Report Modest

Posted On August 07, 2020

Mortgage rates remained near historic lows this week.  US construction spending declined slightly as economies slowly reopened.  After several weeks of increases, both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  The ADP employment report added fewer jobs than expected.

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Private Mortgage Insurance Explained

Posted On August 06, 2020

Although some home buyers believe it’s necessary to put down a 20% down payment when buying a home, rising home prices are making it more difficult for buyers to reach that savings goal.  There are many low down payment loan programs available to make buying a home more accessible, especially for first-time home buyers.  In addition to the familiar government programs like the FHA Loan for low income and first-time home buyers and the VA Loan for Veterans and active-duty military, that allow for low to no down payment, there are also conventional options like the Fannie Mae Home Ready and Freddie Mac Home Possible loans.   In fact, the National Association of Realtors reported in 2017, 61% of first-time home buyers put down 6% or less on their home purchase.

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How Unemployment Could Impact Your Ability to Buy a Home

Posted On August 05, 2020

Earlier this year, many American workers were furloughed or laid off due to closures and restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.  If you were planning to buy a home this year, your plans have likely been put on hold.  A period of unemployment will impact your ability to buy a home like any other income disruption.  It will not make it impossible to buy a home ever, you just may need to postpone your purchase until you’ve reestablished your income.

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The Truth About Today’s Low Interest Rates

Posted On August 04, 2020

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged and mortgage rates continued to hit historic lows.  Whether you’re a homeowner thinking about a refinance or a home buyer ready to make a purchase, you’ve likely been encouraged to make your moves by today’s low rates. 

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

Posted On August 03, 2020

Mortgage rates remain historically low, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) decision to leave interest rates unchanged.  This week, the US construction spending report will be released along with the weekly mortgage application survey.  The ADP employment report is also scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Home Price Appreciation Moderate, Pending Home Sales Jump

Posted On July 31, 2020

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged and mortgage rates remain historically low.  Home price appreciation was flat month-over-month and slow year-over-year.  Pending home sales jumped. 

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How the Size of Your Down Payment and Your Credit Score Impact Qualifying for a Mortgage

Posted On July 30, 2020

When you’re applying for a home loan, what’s more important: a large down payment or a high credit score?  The simple answer is, both are equally important.  A 20% down payment will mean you do not have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and you can borrow less to purchase your home.  An excellent credit score signals that you have responsibly managed your debt and have a low debt-to-income ratio.  Before you apply for a mortgage, you should save as much as you can for your down payment and closing costs and work to improve your credit score. 

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How to Stretch Your Income if You’ve Been Impacted by the Pandemic

Posted On July 29, 2020

Many Americans have experienced a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic related to sickness, job closures, layoffs, and furloughs.  Bankrate reports approximately half of American households lost income as of June 2020.  With an uncertain road to recovery ahead, American workers are worried about an extended coronavirus outbreak impacting their income again.

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More Sellers Requesting Proof of Preapproval Before Allowing Buyers to Tour Home

Posted On July 28, 2020

When you’re thinking about buying a home, you may not think about your mortgage right away.  You could have some idea of what you’d like to put down for a down payment, but the mortgage preapproval process requires extensive paperwork and your preapproval letter is typically only valid for 60 to 90 days.  While real estate professionals have always advocated reviewing your mortgage options before shopping for a home, current market conditions have made preapproval more important than ever.  Mortgage rates have touched down to record lows, buyers are competing over a limited number of homes for sale, and because of the pandemic, sellers are wary of allowing too many strangers into their homes.  In fact, some sellers are requiring letters of preapproval before welcoming prospective buyers into their homes.  Here’s what you need to know.

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

Posted On July 27, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week and continue to hit historic lows.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In housing news, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the pending home sales index are both scheduled for release.  

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Decelerates, Existing Home Sales Surge, New Home Sales Climb

Posted On July 24, 2020

Mortgage rates remain historically low ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its house price index and showed a month-over-month deceleration in home price appreciation.  Both existing home sales and new home sales jumped.  

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6 Home Improvement Projects that Won’t Improve Your Home’s Resale Value

Posted On July 23, 2020

Like many Americans, you’ve probably spent considerably more time than usual at your home over the past few months.  Homeowners across the country have gotten inspired to renovate their homes and invest in upgrades to improve their homes’ present livability and also increase the resale value.

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Reasons to Break Your Lease and How to Do It

Posted On July 22, 2020

One of the reasons people choose to rent instead of buy is because it gives them greater flexibility if they are new to an area or only plan to stay there temporarily.  In any legal rental arrangement, you will have to sign a lease agreement with your landlord, and there are times when you may need to break the lease.  When the time comes to break a lease it’s important to talk to your landlord first.  Many leases have clauses or instructions already outlined if there comes a need to break your lease.

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1.3 Million Homeowners Put Down Less than 20%

Posted On July 21, 2020

Record low mortgage rates have inspired many first-time home buyers to transition from renting to owning in recent months.  Even before mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in the past year, first-time home buyers accounted for a substantial share of home buyers, taking advantage of low down payment mortgage options.  A report from the US Mortgage Insurers (USMI) association found more than 1.3 million homeowners put down less than a 20% down payment in 2019. 

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

Posted On July 20, 2020

Average mortgage rates have touched the lowest levels in the past 12 months last week.  This week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will release its house price index.  Existing home sales and new home sales are also scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Refinance Applications Jump, Home Builder Sentiment Recovers, Housing Starts and Building Permits Climb

Posted On July 17, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to trend lower.  Homeowners have rushed to refinance and lock in record-low rates.  Home builder sentiment continued to recover in July, reaching pre-pandemic levels.  Housing starts surged and building permits also increased. 

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Questions to Ask Before You Refinance

Posted On July 16, 2020

If you’re a homeowner, you may be thinking about a mortgage refinance.  Record-low mortgage rates and an easy and online refinance application process have led to a surge in refinance activity this summer.  You may be tempted to lower your monthly payment with a mortgage refinance, but even with today’s low rates, a refinance is not right for everybody.  If you’re considering a mortgage refinance, here’s what your loan officer is going to ask you first.

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How to Get Items Removed from your Credit Report

Posted On July 15, 2020

Monitoring your credit report is an important first step in the mortgage process and generally good practice for your financial wellness.  Lenders use your credit score to determine your creditworthiness and whether you will be a good candidate to repay your mortgage loan based on your payment history, current balances, and other factors.  Derogatory marks on your credit report can significantly hurt your score and take years to recover.  It becomes even more complicated if the credit dings are not your fault and the result of identity theft or credit mistakes.

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Report: It Could Take Up to 21 Years or More to Save a 20% Down Payment

Posted On July 14, 2020

If record low mortgage rates have you thinking about buying your first home, the cost of a 20% down payment may have you thinking twice.  Although many first-time home buyers believe a 20% down payment is required to buy a home, that’s not the case.  Putting down more money isn’t a bad thing; it can help you avoid paying mortgage insurance; however, a 20% down payment is not a requirement. 

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

Posted On July 13, 2020

Average mortgage rates are at record low levels, continuing to motivate home buyers and homeowners looking to refinance.  This week, the National Association of Home Builder (NAHB) will release its 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: Job Openings Up, Mortgage Apps Jump, Consumer Borrowing Declines

Posted On July 10, 2020

Average mortgage rates touched the lowest level in the past twelve months according to Mortgage News Daily.  Job openings are starting to increase as workers return to work.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  Revolving consumer borrowing declined again, but nonrevolving consumer borrowing increased. 

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First-Time Home Buyers: Buy, Build, or Fix Up?

Posted On July 09, 2020

First-time home buyers are facing an especially competitive market this summer.  Record low mortgage rates have made buying a home more affordable and first-time home buyers are expecting to be bidding on fewer homes for sale.  When you’re buying a home, you have the option to buy an existing home that is move-in ready, build a new home in a development or on your own land, or buy an existing home that needs repair or renovation before you move in.  Depending on your market, your options may be limited, and you may have to be flexible. 

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Surge in Mobile Banking App Usage Increases Fraud Risk

Posted On July 08, 2020

Last month, the FBI reported a 50% increase in mobile banking app usage.  Stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines, and convenience may have all contributed to a rise in mobile banking.  When done safely, mobile banking is an easy way to manage your finances, pay bills, and deposit checks from the comfort of your home.  However, mobile banking can also put you at risk of cybercrime. 

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Nearly 70% of Home Sellers Willing to Accept Lower Offer Price

Posted On July 07, 2020

When you’re selling your home, you probably have a deadline in mind.  Maybe you’re starting a new job somewhere else, maybe you want to move before your kids go back to school, or maybe you’re eager to close on the new home you are buying.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many moves have been interrupted or postponed entirely.  As a result, a LendingTree survey revealed 69% of home sellers are willing to accept a lower offer price to sell their home, with 29% strongly agreeing with the strategy and 40% somewhat agreeing.

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

Posted On July 06, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to trend downward last week.  This week, the most significant housing report scheduled for release is 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: Pending Home Sales Jump, Home Prices, Construction Spending Declines

Posted On July 03, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to trend lower, touching the lowest levels in the past two months.  Pending home sales soared after a record decline the previous month.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index showed home price appreciation is sustained.  US construction spending declined again.

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Ask the Experts: Saving for Your New Home

Posted On July 02, 2020

Thinking about declaring independence from your landlord?  You are not alone.  With record low mortgage rates, first-time home buyers are expected to be shopping in droves this summer.  When you’re new to the home buying process, you may not know where to start.  Here are four steps you can take now whether you’re planning to buy a home soon, or just starting your research.

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Warning: 4 Ways You’re Paying Too Much for Your New Home

Posted On July 01, 2020

Buying a home is a big investment, you don’t want to spend too much up front.  Failing to look into a home’s history or forgoing a home inspection could cost you more than you bargained for.  

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8 Million US Workers Live in Cities Where They Don’t Work

Posted On June 30, 2020

Moving to a new home is often triggered by a major life event.  Maybe you are growing your family and need more space for children, or you’re retiring, and you want to downsize to a smaller home.  Another common reason to move was relocating for work.  In recent months, however, many companies have shifted to a work-from-home model to adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.  This wide-scale remote work shift has proven that many workers do not need to commute to the office every day or even at all.  If companies continue allowing employees to work from home, many workers may no longer factor their commute into where they live or need to live nearby their office.  Could this remote work shift change where people live?

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

Posted On June 29, 2020

Mortgage rates remained historically low last week and will likely stay low through the end of the year.  This week, there are several important housing reports scheduled for release this week, including the pending home sales index, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, and US construction spending. 

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Fall, New Home Sales Jump, FHFA House Price Index Appreciates

Posted On June 26, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week and remain near the lowest level in the past two years.  Existing home sales fell, but new home sales jumped.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index continued to appreciate. 

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Design Ideas for the Perfect Home Office

Posted On June 25, 2020

If you’re working from home more often than you used to, you may be reevaluating your at-home workspace.  Having a separate space to work can improve your productivity and help you establish a better work-life balance.  What is your current home office missing?

 

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Can Your Age and Income Hurt Your FICO Score?

Posted On June 24, 2020

When you’re getting ready to buy a home, you’re probably taking a closer look at your credit score.  If you’re working on improving your credit score it’s important to know what helps or hurts your score, but also what factors do not impact your score at all.   Your FICO credit score is the most widely accepted credit score by banks and lenders and is influenced by five factors: your payment history, your credit utilization, the length of your credit history, your credit mix, and new credit. 

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Over 3 Million Adults Migrate Home During Coronavirus Quarantine

Posted On June 23, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted daily life around the country.  Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have caused many companies to shift to work-from-home models and many colleges and universities have temporarily closed.  As a result, over 32 million adults were living with parents or grandparents as of April 2020.  80% of these young adults are members of Generation Z, costing the rental market approximately $726 million each month.  As work-from-home and distance learning procedures extend, the rental market may see long-term impacts with a lack of 18- to 25-year-old renters. 

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

Posted On June 22, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to hover around record lows, motivating home buyers and homeowners to make mortgage moves.  This week, the existing home sales report and new home sales report are both scheduled for release and are expected to reveal the state of post-coronavirus recovery.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will release its house price index on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Home Builder Sentiment Improved, Mortgage Apps Climb, Housing Starts and Building Permits Rebound

Posted On June 19, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to hover around record lows, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) decision to leave interest rates unchanged.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index improved significantly in June, after a steep decline in April.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  Housing starts and building permits rebounded in May after April’s declines.

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7 Steps to Your New Home Purchase

Posted On June 18, 2020

If you’re planning to buy a home this summer, you are not alone.  After a disrupted spring home buying and season, many buyers and sellers are expecting a busy summer.  Be prepared for a competitive market and multiple offers.  Buying a home is a big purchase and the process may seem confusing.  Make it easier on yourself, by focusing on these seven steps.

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The Credit Score You Should Aim For, According to Experts

Posted On June 17, 2020

Most American consumers are either working to improve or maintain their credit score.  The FICO Credit Score, the most widely accepted credit score by banks and lenders, ranges from 300-850. The higher your score, the more favorable you will look to banks and lenders.  As of May 2020, only 1.6% of consumers had a perfect credit score of 850.  You should always be working to improve your credit score, but experts report having a score of at least 760 will get you the best benefits and terms on your credit cards and lines of credit.

 

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70% of Homeowners Applying for Forbearance May Not Need It

Posted On June 16, 2020

As of last month, over 4 million homeowners now have mortgage loans in forbearance.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many American workers were laid off or furloughed due to temporary workplace closures and state and local social distancing ordinances.  A LendingTree study revealed approximately 70% of those homeowners with loans in forbearance reported the move wasn’t financially necessary and only 5% reported they would not have been able to pay their next mortgage payment without forbearance.

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

Posted On June 15, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to trend downward last week, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index and housing starts and building permits are scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Fed Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged, Mortgage Apps Up, and Fewer Job Openings

Posted On June 12, 2020

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged this week, and mortgage rates remain historically low.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) survey showed job openings have fallen to the lowest level since 2014, because of coronavirus closures.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions are up, as buyers and homeowners take advantage of record low interest rates. 

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How to Sell Your Home this Summer

Posted On June 11, 2020

Did you delay listing your home because of the coronavirus pandemic?  Are you ready to move and not sure where to start?  Many real estate professionals are expecting a delayed busy home buying and selling summer, especially with today’s low mortgage rates. 

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Can Breaking Your Lease Hurt Your Credit Score?

Posted On June 10, 2020

As a renter, you may be faced with a circumstance where you have to break your lease.  You may have to relocate to another city because of work, you may end up buying a home before your lease expires, or you may face the unfortunate scenario of not being able to afford your rent.  When you’re faced with the need to break your lease, it’s important to know your rights as a tenant and be transparent about your situation with your landlord.  Breaking a lease without taking the right steps could make it harder for you to qualify for a rental or home purchase in the future and could hurt your credit score.

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Can Breaking Your Lease Hurt Your Credit Score?

Posted On June 10, 2020

As a renter, you may be faced with a circumstance where you have to break your lease.  You may have to relocate to another city because of work, you may end up buying a home before your lease expires, or you may face the unfortunate scenario of not being able to afford your rent.  When you’re faced with the need to break your lease, it’s important to know your rights as a tenant and be transparent about your situation with your landlord.  Breaking a lease without taking the right steps could make it harder for you to qualify for a rental or home purchase in the future and could hurt your credit score.

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Low Mortgage Rates Could Bring Out the Next Wave of Millennial Home Buyers

Posted On June 09, 2020

With this year’s home buying and selling season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, some real estate professionals are predicting a delayed busy season this summer.  Historically low mortgage rates plus cheaper homes for sale could mean the next wave of Millennial home buyers is primed to make a purchase.   After a few years of climbing mortgage rates and steady home price appreciation, previously sidelined first-time home buyers may find current market conditions more affordable. 

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, and Federal Open Market Committee Meeting

Posted On June 08, 2020

This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday for its semiannual monetary policy meeting.  After two emergency rate cuts in March, the Fed is not expected to move interest rates at this month’s meeting.  The only significant housing report will be the weekly mortgage application survey.  In employment news, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey comes out on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Down, Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Report Sheds More Jobs

Posted On June 05, 2020

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week and remain historically low.  US construction spending declined; however, the decline was less than expected.  New purchase mortgage application submissions increased but refinance application submissions decreased.  The ADP employment report showed the loss of 2.76 million jobs.

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Making Your New Home Wish List

Posted On June 04, 2020

If you’ve spent the past several weeks (or months) confined to your home, like many other Americans under coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders, you probably have a better idea of what you are looking for in a new home.  Maybe your once unused extra bedroom has transformed into an essential home office.  Maybe you’ve realized a fenced-in backyard could have provided safer play space for your children.  Spending this extra time in your current home is a great opportunity to decide what features are most important for your new home.

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How to Support Your Neighbors from a Safe Distance

Posted On June 03, 2020

Shelter-in-place guidelines and stay-at-home orders may mean you are spending more time at home than ever before.  A positive outcome of more time at home has been more people are getting to know their neighbors, from a safe distance.  Neighbors are using online platforms like Nextdoor, Facebook, and Slack to offer assistance to neighbors who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.  Volunteers can offer to complete grocery runs for sick or elderly neighbors, find ways to contribute to food banks and other community organizations, or simply connect through virtual community events. 

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Share of Single American Homeowners Reaches 118-Year High

Posted On June 02, 2020

Americans are no longer delaying homeownership until marriage, according to US Census Bureau data.  In 2019, single Americans owned 38.4% of US housing stock, the largest share of single homeowners in 118 years.  Numerous factors may have caused the increase including Millennials delaying marriage, viewing a home as an investment and a place to live, and lower mortgage rates. 

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

Posted On June 01, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move drastically last week and remain historically low.  In housing news, the US construction spending report and the Mortgage Bankers Association 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 Go Up, New Home Sales Increase, Pending Home Sales Fall

Posted On May 29, 2020

Markets were closed on Monday, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.  Mortgage rates remain historically low.  Home price appreciation continued.  New home sales turned around.  Pending home sales declined.

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Where Home Prices are Headed Post-Pandemic

Posted On May 28, 2020

The last Recession that most of us remember was brought on by the Financial Crisis of 2007-08.  Following this recession, home prices tumbled, due in part by irresponsible lending practices that left many homeowners unable to pay their mortgage.  The current global economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic will likely not hurt home values the same way.  Before the pandemic-related shutdowns, the economy was thriving, job creation and home price appreciation were steady, and lenders were observing strict lending guidelines enacted after the Financial Crisis.  As states start to reopen, and people go back to work, most real estate professionals predict that home prices will remain stable and continue to appreciate. 

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Understanding How Much Homeowners Insurance You Need

Posted On May 27, 2020

When was the last time you examined your homeowner’s insurance policy?  Now, more than ever, homebound homeowners are making sure their homeowner’s insurance policies offer adequate coverage, as your home has become your living, working, and schooling space during nationwide stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines.  You don’t want to pay for coverage you don’t need, but you want to make sure you’re protected.  The biggest mistake most homeowners make is not updating their policy.  The original policy you took out when you bought your home might not be enough to cover its appreciation in value or might not accommodate the increased frequency in natural disasters like fires and hurricanes.   

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Former Airbnb Rentals May Soon be For Sale

Posted On May 26, 2020

Travel and tourism is one of the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.  As Americans adapt to new social distancing guidelines, many have suspended travel plans and cancelled vacations.  Airbnb hosts are starting to feel the strain of reduced traveling.  Unlike large hotel chains with the capital to withstand market fluctuations, many Airbnb’s are owned by sole proprietors managing only one or a few properties.  As social distancing continues, many Airbnb owners will have to shift their business model or sell their properties rather than cover the costs of maintaining an unoccupied short-term rental home. 

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

Posted On May 25, 2020

Markets are closed today in observance of Memorial Day.  Mortgage rates have not moved significantly in recent weeks, continuing to average historic lows.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, the new home sales report, and the pending home sales index are all scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Home Builder Sentiment Rebounds, Housing Starts and Building Permits Down, Existing Home Sales Fall

Posted On May 22, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to trend downward this week.  Home builder sentiment rebounded in May after a historic plunge in April, suggesting business is starting to get back to normal.  As expected, housing starts and building permits declined, as did existing home sales.

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How to Increase Your Home’s “Screen Appeal” for Social-Distanced Selling

Posted On May 21, 2020

Before you list your home for sale, spend some time researching and staging your home to maximize your space and give it a more neutral palette for prospective home buyers to imagine themselves there.  With stay-at-home ordinances and social distancing guidelines in place, you may be relying more on photos of your home and video tours rather than in-person tours.  Your home looks great when you’re in it, but how will it be perceived through a virtual listing? 

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Tips for a Stress-Free Move During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted On May 20, 2020

Moving under any circumstances can be stressful.  You have to pack and organize all of your belongings, you may be spending a night or two without assembled furniture, and you may have to coordinate with helpful friends and professional movers to get your things to your new home.  Moving during the coronavirus pandemic adds another layer of stress as you try to complete your move safely while practicing social distancing.

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New FHFA Guidance: Home Purchase and Refinance After Forbearance

Posted On May 19, 2020

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, approximately 4.7 million homeowners have put their mortgage in forbearance as of May 2020. 

If you put your mortgage loan in forbearance due to financial hardship brought on by the pandemic, you may be wondering how this will impact your ability to qualify for a refinance or buy a new home. 

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Housing Market Data Shows Early Signs of Recovery

Posted On May 19, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses around the world and has caused widespread economic slowdown.  Like other industries, the housing market was impacted.  Some sellers took their homes off the market and some buyers suspended their home search to avoid close contact with others and wait for stay-at-home restrictions to ease.  As states and cities start to reopen, housing market data shows early signs of recovery.  After a slower-than-average April, buyers and sellers are starting to re-enter the market. 

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

Posted On May 18, 2020

Mortgage rates remain historically low and did not move much last week.  This week, several important housing reports are scheduled for release and will give us more perspective on the impact of the coronavirus on the housing market. 

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Market Recap: New Purchase Mortgage Applications Up, Consumer Price Index, and Retail Sales

Posted On May 15, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, maintaining historically low levels.  Home buyers reacted, and new purchase mortgage applications jumped.  The consumer price index showed inflation has slowed, due to the coronavirus-related economic slowdown.  Retail sales fell sharply.

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What to Expect from Home Buyers, Home Sellers, and Renters Post-Pandemic

Posted On May 14, 2020

The coronavirus or covid-19 pandemic has impacted many industries including the real estate industry.  Widespread layoffs and furloughs have caused economic disruption and social distancing procedures have impacted the way people do business.  As states and municipalities gradually start to reopen, home buyers, home sellers, and renters will start to see the long-term impacts on the post-pandemic housing market. 

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Expanded Unemployment Benefits: What You Need to Know

Posted On May 13, 2020

In addition to the millions of American workers who have lost their job due to coronavirus-related closures, millions of other American workers have lost hours or wages without fully losing their job.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed to expand unemployment benefits to all workers impacted by the pandemic, including independent contractors, part-time workers, and those who are self-employed.

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Build-to-Rent Neighborhoods Popular Among Property Investors

Posted On May 12, 2020

When you invest in real estate you either buy to sell or buy to rent.  Investors who buy to sell will buy a home for a lower price, renovate or improve it to add value, and sell for a profit.  Investors who buy to rent, rent the home to a tenant and earn a profit over time.  Real estate investment is often considered a more stable investment than the stock market because homes and property tend to appreciate in most market conditions.  Single-family rental homes particularly have become a popular investment, so much so that some housing developments are being built exclusively for renters. 

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

Posted On May 11, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to come in at historic lows and are not moving much.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the consumer price index and retail sales. 

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Market Recap: Low Mortgage Rates Motivate Home Buyers, ADP Employment Report, and Consumer Credit

Posted On May 08, 2020

Mortgage rates are still historically low, trending lower according to some sources.  Lower rates seemed to have motivated home buyers, and new purchase mortgage applications have increased.  The ADP employment showed significant job loss due to coronavirus closures.  The consumer credit report showed that overall borrowing has slowed. 

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Questions You Can Ask the Neighbors Before You Buy Your New Home

Posted On May 07, 2020

When you’re shopping for a new home in a new area, the neighbors could be your greatest resource to learning more about your prospective future neighborhood.  Your Realtor or real estate agent can be a great resource, but there’s nothing like the insight from a resident who has lived in the area for many years. 

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Protect Your Credit Score During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Posted On May 06, 2020

As the coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak has led to businesses closing across the nation, millions of Americans are out of work. According to a TransUnion survey of over 3,000 people, nearly 60% of Americans said their household income has been affected by the pandemic. While millions of Americans have lost income, many are struggling to pay their bills, thus threatening their credit scores. Here’s how you can protect your credit score during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Money Moves to Make While Interest Rates are Low

Posted On May 05, 2020

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged, as the economy recovers from the mass closures of the coronavirus pandemic.  Some states are starting to ease coronavirus restrictions and reopen businesses while continuing to observe social distancing procedures. 

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

Posted On May 04, 2020

Mortgage rates continue to trend downward.  This week, the only significant housing report scheduled for release is the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the ADP employment report and consumer credit.

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Market Recap: Home Prices Appreciate, Pending Home Sales Fall, No Rate Cut

Posted On May 01, 2020

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met virtually on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell delivered a press conference and met with reporters over video chat following the meeting.  Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, continuing to trend lower.  Home price appreciation continued upward in February.  Pending home sales dropped significantly in March. 

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Divorce and Your Mortgage: What You Need to Know

Posted On April 30, 2020

When you get divorced, one of the biggest assets typically at stake is your marital home.  If you and your spouse bought your home together and paid the mortgage together, you’re going to need to decide what to do with your joint investment.  Sometimes, both spouses agree to sell the home.  Other times, one spouse will continue living in the home and the other will move out.  The first choice you and your former spouse will need to make are whether to sell the home or keep the home, then you can decide what to do about your mortgage.

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Shelter-At-Home Improvement Projects

Posted On April 29, 2020

As the coronavirus outbreak has led to increased social distancing precautions and shelter-in-place orders, many parts of the country have been advised to quarantine in their homes. Stay-at-home orders have disrupted routines and shut millions off from the traditional world, Americans are searching for ways to pass the time. While isolating, there are plenty of projects to make your home a more enjoyable place to quarantine.

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5 Ways Coronavirus May Impact Housing Trends

Posted On April 28, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions have significantly changed many industries.  Recent data like March’s existing home sales report and new home sales report show sales have slowed during the season that is typically one of the busiest.  As states start to reopen and adjust social distancing procedures, the housing market will likely see a lasting impact, specifically in where people prefer to live and how we buy and sell homes.

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

Posted On April 27, 2020

Mortgage rates remain historically low and have not moved much in recent weeks.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday for its first scheduled semiannual monetary policy meeting since the two emergency meetings last month.  In housing news, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the pending home sales index are both scheduled for release. 

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

Posted On April 24, 2020

Mortgage rates have not moved drastically this week and are still historically low.  Existing home sales declined, as some markets adjust to social distancing guidelines and shelter-in-place ordinances due to the coronavirus pandemic.  New purchase mortgage application submissions are up, but refinance application submissions are down. 

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4 Features That Will be Hard to Find in Your Next Home

Posted On April 23, 2020

When you’re searching for a new home, you’ll usually have a list of your “must-haves” and your “nice-to-haves” to help narrow your search.  Your home search may involve some compromises, especially if you are searching in a busy market.  Real estate contributor, Steven Gottlieb, identified these four features you should think twice about adding to your “must-have” list if you are currently searching for a home. 

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Read This Before You Refinance Your Student Loans

Posted On April 22, 2020

Following the recent rate cuts, you may be bombarded with messaging to refinance everything from credit card debt to student loans.  When you refinance your credit card debt you typically take out a personal loan to pay off the credit card debt.  You still have to pay back the personal loan, but it will typically be at a much lower interest rate than the credit card issuers use.  Choosing whether or not to refinance your student loans is not always a simple answer.

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Know Your Options: Forbearance or Refinance?

Posted On April 21, 2020

Many Americans across the country are experiencing financial hardship due to coronavirus or Covid-19 related closures and shutdowns.  Federal, state, and local social distancing guidelines have left many workers temporarily furloughed or laid off.  The term “mortgage forbearance” has come up frequently on the news and also in the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

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

Posted On April 20, 2020

Mortgage rates trended lower last week.  Although coronavirus or Covid-19-related closures have caused many closures and slowdowns, banks and lenders are fully operational.  This week, the existing home sales and new home sales reports are both scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Refinance Applications Up as Homeowners Take Advantage of Low Rates

Posted On April 17, 2020

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, continuing to come in at historic lows.  Refinance mortgage application submissions jumped but new purchase mortgage application submissions declined.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index declined due to the coronavirus or Covid-19 slowdown.  Housing starts and building permits declined month-over-month but improved year-over-year. 

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4 Signs Your Home’s Value Is Declining

Posted On April 16, 2020

Your home is an investment, and for most Americans, your biggest investment. Even if you are not planning on selling your home in the near future, you want your home to appreciate in value, so you continue to build wealth through home equity. It is important to recognize factors that indicate a decline in the value of your home. These signs may be an indicator that value has declined.

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Coronavirus and Unemployment: What You Need to Know

Posted On April 15, 2020

Over the past few weeks, many industries have experienced changes due to the coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic.  Developing federal, state, and local guidance on social distancing and operating procedures has led some businesses to slow operations or temporarily shut down and many Americans have been laid off or had their wages reduced. 

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How Home Buyers Have Adapted to Socially Distant Home Sellers

Posted On April 14, 2020

With states and counties adapting to social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates to stop the spread of coronavirus or Covid-19, the way prospective home buyers are touring homes is changing.  As an essential service, banks and lenders are still fully operational helping people buy new homes and refinance existing home loans.  Realtors and real estate agents are adjusting to temporary changes by using technology to create 3D home listings, conduct virtual tours, and give prospective home buyers all the information they need to purchase their homes. 

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

Posted On April 13, 2020

Overall, average mortgage rates continue to hover around historic lows, though they have experienced some volatility in recent weeks.  Coming up this week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its housing market sentiment index.  Housing starts and building permits are also scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday. 

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

Posted On April 10, 2020

Mortgage rates have experienced some volatility in recent weeks but remain historically low.  Job openings dipped slightly in February and are likely to continue declining into March.  Consumer borrowing picked up in February.  Weekly mortgage application submissions declined.

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Avoid These Costly Refinance Mistakes

Posted On April 09, 2020

Many homeowners are considering a mortgage refinance because they have heard about “historically low interest” rates.  Before refinancing your home loan, there are numerous factors to consider besides the lower interest rate.  Are you trying to take cash out?  Has anything changed significantly in your financial history since you originally financed your home?  How much lower would your payment actually be?

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How You Can Help Others During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Posted On April 08, 2020

Within the last few weeks, the novel coronavirus or Covid-19 has infected thousands and disrupted the lives of millions across the country. Schools have closed, sporting seasons have been suspended, and Americans are stocking up on quarantine supplies. Although many across the nation are able to self-isolate in their homes as employees shift to a working remotely approach, some segments of the population are facing a tougher time.  Older people, immunocompromised individuals, workers who do not have paid sick leave, and those who can’t afford sufficient supplies or quality healthcare are the most at risk.

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Why a Recession Does Not Mean a Housing Crisis

Posted On April 07, 2020

As the global economy reacts to the fallout from the coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic, the word “recession” has reappeared consistently across news outlets.  Many of us may associate the word “recession” with the Financial Crisis that occurred from 2007 to 2008, that was partly caused by subprime lending and the housing crisis.  During these unprecedented times, it is understandable to struggle with feelings of uncertainty. However, it’s important to stay informed with legitimate facts and data.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Consumer Credit, Mortgage Applications

Posted On April 06, 2020

Mortgage rates have experienced some volatility in recent weeks as the mortgage market reacts to the coronavirus or Covid-19.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the weekly mortgage application survey.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the consumer credit report are each scheduled for release on Tuesday and both reports will reflect pre-coronavirus data. 

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Market Recap: Pending Home Sales Up, Home Prices Appreciate, Construction Spending Down

Posted On April 03, 2020

Mortgage rates climbed slightly higher this week, but overall remain lower than last year’s highs.  Pending home sales increased.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated.  Construction spending weakened.

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What You Can Do Now to Set Yourself up Financially Later

Posted On April 02, 2020

For many Americans, financial freedom means the flexibility to save and invest now to give yourself financial flexibility later.  When you’re young, things like retirement and your children’s college tuition may not be as top of mind as climbing the career ladder and paying off your student loans.  The choices you make now will influence your comfort level later.  Here are four things CNBC contributors identified as the most important things to do now to be more financially flexible later.

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What to Do If You Can’t Make Your Mortgage or Rent Payment

Posted On April 01, 2020

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has led to travel slowdowns, shutdowns of gyms, restaurants, churches, and other gathering spaces, amid a global economic slowdown.  Millions of American households will likely feel the financial strain from temporary or permanent job loss, investment uncertainty, and other economic pressures.  In times of economic stress, many families may be wondering what to do if they are unable to make a mortgage or rent payment. 

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What the $2 Trillion Stimulus Plan Means for You

Posted On March 31, 2020

The coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic has caused a global economic slowdown and American businesses and taxpayers are feeling the impact.  Closures at the state and local level have impacted businesses like gyms and restaurants as they are forced to temporarily close their doors to encourage social distancing.  Travel, sports, and events industries are all experiencing hardship from slowdowns and shutdowns as many Americans postpone travel, national sports leagues delay seasons, and gatherings of 10 or more are discouraged.   

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

Posted On March 30, 2020

Mortgage rates have experienced some volatility in recent weeks, as the global economy copes with coronavirus concerns.  Overall, average mortgage rates are historically low.  In housing news, this week, the pending home sales index, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, and US construction spending are all scheduled for release.

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Market Recap: New Home Sales Down, Mortgage Apps Fall, FHFA Price Index Appreciates

Posted On March 27, 2020

Mortgage rates continued to experience some volatility this week, but despite that remain historically low.  New home sales dropped in February, after touching a 13-year high in January.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index appreciated. 

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Flexible Ways to Use the FHA Loan

Posted On March 26, 2020

The FHA Loan is a popular home loan for first-time home buyers because of its low down payment options and more lenient credit score and debt-to-income ratio requirements.  In 2018, approximately 83% of FHA borrowers were first-time home buyers.  When using an FHA Loan, you have to use it on a home that will pass the FHA appraisal.  In a busy market, it may be hard to find the right home to pass the FHA appraisal. 

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Financial Moves You Can Make During Coronavirus Quarantine

Posted On March 25, 2020

The onslaught of coronavirus news has left a lot of us thinking about our finances.  Some investors are experiencing stock market losses while some workers are facing uncertainties surrounding workplace closures.  During this turbulent time, it’s important to think about your finances and plan ahead to protect yourself.

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Why the Fed’s Rate Cut Does Not Mean 0% Mortgage Rates

Posted On March 24, 2020

Last Sunday March 15th, the Federal Reserve cut the Federal Funds rate to a range of zero to 0.25%.  The federal funds rate is the interest rate at which banks lend money to other banks.  It will influence other types of interest rates, like mortgage rates, but they are not the same rate and it’s unlikely that Americans will see 0% mortgage rates at any time. 

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, Mortgage Applications, FHFA House Price Index

Posted On March 23, 2020

Mortgage rates experienced volatility last week, following the Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut on Sunday and the global economic slowdown related to the coronavirus.  This week, the new home sales report and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index are both scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Home Builder Sentiment Slips, Housing Starts and Building Permits Drop, Existing Home Sales Jump

Posted On March 20, 2020

Mortgage rates experienced some volatility this week, after the Federal Reserve’s emergency Sunday night rate cut.  Home builder sentiment declined slightly but remains in a positive range.  Housing starts and building permits declined.  Existing home sales climbed.

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What to Know About Buying a Foreclosed Home

Posted On March 19, 2020

In a home foreclosure sale, the seller is a bank or mortgage lender who has seized the property from the owners who were unable to make their mortgage payments.  To make up for the losses, the bank or lender sells the property.

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How to Identify Coronavirus Scams

Posted On March 18, 2020

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has caused stock market shock, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to sellout, and major healthcare disruptions.  It has also created a new opportunity for fraudsters to steal under the cloak of coronavirus panic.  Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joe Simmons warned in a news release, “what we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims.” 

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When Married Couples Should File Separately

Posted On March 17, 2020

Tax Day is coming up soon – have you filed your taxes yet?  Over 95% of married couples file their taxes jointly, however, there are some cases where it may make sense to file separately.   The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers you married if you are legally married, live together in a state-recognized common-law marriage, or are separated without separation maintenance or a final divorce decree as of the end of the tax year. 

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

Posted On March 16, 2020

The Federal Reserve will not meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, following Sunday night's emergency rate cut. Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, remaining near year-long lows.  There are several significant housing reports scheduled for release this week including the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index, housing starts and building permits, and existing home sales.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Jump, Consumer Price Index Up, Jobless Claims Lower

Posted On March 13, 2020

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward this week, but overall are at least a full percentage point lower than average rates this time last year.  Lower rates triggered mortgage activity with both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increasing.  The consumer price index also increased slightly.  Jobless claims continue to come in at historic lows.

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Weekend Home Improvement Projects

Posted On March 12, 2020

There are many reasons that homeowners start home improvement projects. Maybe you are looking to sell your home soon, increase your return on investment when you do sell, or just want to spruce up your living space.  Many homeowners put off their home improvement projects because they’re worried about how long it’s going to take or how much it’s going to cost.  While major remodels may be expensive or take a long time, some high-value projects can be completed over the weekend! 

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Construction

Posted On March 11, 2020

A new-construction home may be a great opportunity to build a custom house that caters to all of your needs. When you purchase a new construction, you have the chance to design the home of your dreams without uprooting and renovating the existing features. However, there are some serious choices to consider when making arrangements for your new home.

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Higher Rent Costs Hurting Middle-Income Americans

Posted On March 10, 2020

New data reveals it is not just low-income Americans who are feeling the pain from rising rents.  Middle-income Americans are also finding themselves “cost-burdened.”  The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University revealed more than 10.9 million renters spend more than 50% of their income on rent. 

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

Posted On March 09, 2020

Last week, the Federal Reserve announced an emergency rate cut in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)-related economic slowdown. Mortgage rates reacted by trending lower. This week, the only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey. Other market-moving reports include the consumer price index and the weekly jobless claims report.

 

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Market Recap: Fed Cuts Rate, Construction Spending Up, Refinance Apps Surge

Posted On March 06, 2020

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve announced an emergency half point rate cut to stimulate economic activity in the wake of the global slowdown due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. Mortgage rates reacted by trending lower. US construction spending increased, refinance mortgage applications jumped, and new purchase mortgage applications declined. The ADP employment report added fewer jobs in February than in January.

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How Paying Off Debt Sets You Up for Financial Success

Posted On March 05, 2020

Everyone is trying to spend less and save more, but the key to financial success depends what you’re spending on.  Financial experts agree the key to success is paying down debt – but where do you start?  Last holiday season, American consumers added an average of $1,325 in credit card debt.  Credit card debt typically carries a higher interest rate than auto loans or student loans, thus costing you more over time if you carry a balance.

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What to Know About Buying a Home Near Water

Posted On March 04, 2020

Many Americans dream of owning a home near water. Whether this home borders an ocean, a bay, or a lake, waterfront houses have a special charm. As alluring as this charm may be, there are several factors that home buyers may not consider. As sea levels rise each year and hurricanes get stronger, purchasing a coastal home may not be in your best interest. Make sure you consider these factors when buying a home near water:

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Federal Reserve Cuts Rates in Emergency Response to Coronavirus

Posted On March 03, 2020

For the first time since 2008, the Federal Reserve announced an emergency rate cut. Following a teleconference with other finance leaders from the G-7, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin determined this economic strategy would best support economic growth to combat the slowdown caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Last Minute Ways to Save On Your 2019 Taxes

Posted On March 03, 2020

Haven’t filed your 2019 taxes yet?  You’re still weeks away from the 4/15/20 deadline, and you may even still have some opportunities to save.  Although you may think when the calendar year ends so does your tax  year, that is not always the case.  If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, review these items with your tax preparer and see if you can reduce your tax bill.   

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

Posted On March 02, 2020

Mortgage rates dipped down to year-long lows last week. This week in housing news, the US construction spending report is scheduled for release 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 Prices Appreciate, New Home Sales Climb

Posted On February 28, 2020

Mortgage rates touched down to year-long lows this week. Home price appreciation has picked up after a sluggish few months toward the end of 2019. New home sales jumped to a 12-year high.

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Should you look at homes outside your budget?

Posted On February 27, 2020

Before you start looking at home listings, you should get preapproved for mortgage financing.  Mortgage preapproval lets you know how much you can qualify for, estimate what you’ll need for a down payment, and lets you set a budget.  Once you’ve gotten preapproved, you’ll know whether or not the homes you’re looking at are within your budget.  You also may be heartbroken to find out the perfect home you’ve been checking out is outside your budget.  Is there ever a reason to look at homes outside your budget?

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Household Items You Should Be Cleaning but Probably Aren’t

Posted On February 26, 2020

Cleaning your home is always a good idea, especially in the midst of cold and flu season. Germs are just about everywhere, not just in the places you expect like door handles. For example—did you know that the kitchen is the germiest part of your home? Yes, even surpassing your bathroom!

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9 Million Homeowners Could Save with a Refinance

Posted On February 25, 2020

On the fence about a refinance?  Black Knight Analytics reports about 9.4 million homeowners with a mortgage could save an average of $272 per month if they refinanced their mortgage with today’s low mortgage rates.  At the end of January, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to hold interest rates steady and mortgage rates reacted by trending downward.  A mortgage refinance is an opportunity to lower your monthly mortgage payment, change your loan terms, or even get cash out. 

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

Posted On February 24, 2020

Mortgage rates have trended lower this month and will likely stay low.  This week, both the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index are scheduled for release.  The new home sales report will come out on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Home Builders Confident, Housing Starts and Building Permits Mixed, Existing Home Sales Decline

Posted On February 21, 2020

Mortgage rates touched down near year-long lows this week. Home builder confidence declined by one point, but overall builders remain confident. Housing starts declined but building permits jumped. Existing home sales fell, due in part to lack of for-sale inventory.

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What to Know About Buying a Home Near a Busy Street

Posted On February 20, 2020

When you start looking at homes online, you may fall in love with the curb appeal of a home without stepping foot on the actual curb.  While online listings are a great place to start, you should always visit the home in person before you make an offer.  The home itself may be perfect, but the neighborhood might not be the best fit, and the one thing you can’t change about the home is the location.

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Down Payment Myths You May Believe

Posted On February 19, 2020

A down payment can be one of the largest barriers to homeownership, especially for first-time home buyers. A 2019 TransUnion analysis found that first-time home buyers are getting younger, as Millennials and Generation Z are moving towards homeownership. However, the survey also revealed that many first-time buyers believe potentially harmful misconceptions about the home buying process. A staggering amount of the participants surveyed were particularly misinformed about down payment information. Researchers at DownPaymentResource.org combats the most common down payment myths.

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Only 30% of Home Buying Millennials Have Spoken to a Mortgage Lender

Posted On February 18, 2020

The long-awaited Millennial migration into homeownership is underway, but a recent TD Bank survey suggests many 23 to 38-year-olds are uncomfortable with the mortgage process and unaware of what exactly goes into buying a home.  From the survey of first-time Millennial home buyers, 68% of respondents think it’s the right time to buy a home and 52% are browsing listings online.  However, 75% of respondents report they are overwhelmed by the mortgage process.

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

Posted On February 17, 2020

Markets are closed today in observance of the Presidents Day holiday.  Mortgage rates continued to trend lower last week.  There are several important housing reports scheduled for this short week, including the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index, housing starts and building permits, and existing home sales. 

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Market Recap: Job Openings Down, Refinancing Boom, Consumer Price Index Higher

Posted On February 14, 2020

Average mortgage rates are hovering the lowest levels in the past 12 months.  Refinance mortgage application submissions ticked up as a result.  There were fewer job openings in December, as the labor market continues to edge closer to full employment.  The consumer price index increased, by overall inflation is still slow. 

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What can you do about your debt before you buy a home?

Posted On February 13, 2020

When you apply for a mortgage, or any other loan or line of credit, your lender will look at your debt-to-income ratio or DTI.  Having debt does not exclude you from buying a home, but most mortgage lenders want your DTI to be 43% or lower to qualify you.    Your DTI is calculated by dividing your monthly debt repayments, like student loans, credit card debt, and car loans, by your gross monthly income. 

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Caution: What to Know When Buying a Home in Another Country

Posted On February 12, 2020

Ever thought about buying a home in another country? Whether you plan to purchase an international vacation home or move abroad permanently, buying overseas is quite the undertaking. This task can be even more arduous if there are additional complications, as many overseas buyers have experienced.

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How Does the Fed Holding Rates Steady Help You?

Posted On February 11, 2020

Last month, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) or the Fed voted to leave the Federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  That means they did not raise or lower interest rates.   After this announcement, average mortgage rates trended lower and most real estate professionals expect mortgage rates will stay low into 2020.  As a consumer, you may be wondering what exactly the Fed’s decision means for you, whether or not you have mortgage moves planned this year.

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

Posted On February 10, 2020

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, continuing to touch year-long lows.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the 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: Residential Construction Spending Up, Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Surges

Posted On February 07, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, after touching year-long lows.  Overall construction spending declined, but residential investment increased.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey returned mixed results.  The ADP employment report exceeded expectations. 

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How to Accurately Price Your Home for Sale

Posted On February 06, 2020

Your home has probably appreciated since you bought it, but do you know how much it’s worth?  If you’re planning to sell your home this year, you want to list it at the right price.  Significantly changing the price once its listed may be a red flag for potential buyers.  You should consult with a Realtor or real estate agent before you list your home, to get their professional input.  If you’re starting to do your research, here are some options for accurately estimating the value of your home.

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How Will the FICO Changes Impact You?

Posted On February 05, 2020

Your FICO credit score is generated by the major credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. A higher FICO score can help you apply for a loan and even get a lower interest rate. However, this latest change may leave many consumers with a lower score and influence your mortgage approval.

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Home Sellers See Record Profits

Posted On February 04, 2020

In 2019, home sellers saw record profits, according to the 2019 US Home Sales Report by ATTOM Data Solutions.  Sellers netted an average of $65,500, the highest level in 13 years.  Higher profits were influenced by a strong job market, higher wages, stock market gains, and historically low mortgage rates.  After three rate cuts in 2019, and no rate cuts expected this year, mortgage rates will likely stay low through 2020. 

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

Posted On February 03, 2020

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the Federal benchmark interest rate unchanged, signaling mortgage rates will likely continue to stay historically low.  This week, both US construction spending the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey are scheduled for release.  Another market-moving report will be the ADP employment report. 

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Decline, Home Price Appreciation Steady

Posted On January 31, 2020

As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the Federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  As a result, mortgage rates trended slightly lower this week.  New home sales dipped, after gains the previous month.  Home price appreciation was steady.  Pending home sales unexpectedly fell. 

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4 Questions to Answer Before You Refinance Your Mortgage

Posted On January 30, 2020

Is it time for a mortgage refinance?  With today’s low mortgage rates, you may be thinking about refinancing your mortgage to lower your interest rate, shorten your loan term, or get cash out.  Black Knight reports approximately 8.1 million homeowners could benefit from a mortgage refinance.  Keep in mind, a mortgage refinance is a new loan origination and with that comes a new mortgage and closing costs.  Whether or not a refinance is right for you, depends on your answer to these four questions.

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Five Plumbing Perils to Avoid

Posted On January 29, 2020

Many of us are guilty of treating our sinks, drains, and toilets like a trash can. Once it rinses down or flushes away, it’s forgotten—right? Wrong. Some of the seemingly innocent items you flush can cause serious damage to your home’s pipes. Not only can these mistakes be costly to fix, the flooding they may cause will bring a host of problems. Doyle James, the president of Mr. Plumbing, warns homeowners about the most dangerous plumbing mistakes.

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4 Housing Trends to Expect in 2020

Posted On January 28, 2020

Tomorrow, the Federal Open Market Committee will meet for the first time in 2020, and based on the minutes from the December 2019 meeting, no interest rate movement is expected.  Since the three rate cuts of 2019, mortgage rates have dropped to historically low levels, incentivizing many home buyers and homeowners looking to refinance.  If the Fed stays the course and holds interest rates steady next week, it will likely continue to motivate home buyers and homeowners looking to refinance. 

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

Posted On January 27, 2020

This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The Fed is not expected to cut or raise the Federal benchmark interest rate at this meeting and mortgage rates will likely continue to hover historically low levels.  In housing news this week, the new home sales report, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, and the pending home sales index are all scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Reverse, Home Prices Appreciate, Existing Home Sales Increase

Posted On January 24, 2020

Mortgage rates trended slightly lower this week ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  Mortgage application submissions reversed course and declined for the week ending 1/17, not surprising after the previous week’s substantial gains.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index showed modest acceleration.  Existing home sales turned around after last month’s decline.

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3 Surprising Documents You May Need for Your Mortgage Application

Posted On January 23, 2020

When you apply for a mortgage you know you’re going to need a lot of paperwork.  The more prepared you are before you start your mortgage application the better, especially in today’s busy market where time is of the essence.  Before you apply for a mortgage, it’s best to gather your documents ahead of time.  You know you’ll need bank statements, tax returns, and pay stubs, but what else will you need? 

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Five VA Loan Mistakes to Avoid

Posted On January 22, 2020

Owning a home is an integral part of the American Dream—the same American Dream that our Veterans and military fought for. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers several options to help those who served in the military get a home loan. However, the process isn’t foolproof, and it’s possible to make mistakes—whether it’s your first home or your tenth.

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Could Densification Give Builders More Space to Build?

Posted On January 21, 2020

If you’re shopping for a home this year, you may have noticed you’re facing some competition.  Real estate professionals are expecting one of the busiest home buying seasons yet, due to low mortgage rates and fewer homes for sale.  Zillow researchers analyzed 17 metros across the country to conclude converting just 10% of single-family lots to two-unit homes instead could add 3.3 million additional housing units to existing available homes. 

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Market Forecast: FHFA House Price Index, Mortgage Applications, Existing Home Sales

Posted On January 20, 2020

Markets are closed today in observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.  Important housing reports scheduled for this week include the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index and the existing home sales report.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Jump, Home Builder Sentiment Slips, Housing Starts Hit Record High

Posted On January 17, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly and remain historically low.  Mortgage applications reacted and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey showed a strong increase in both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index dropped by one point and remains overwhelmingly positive.  Housing starts climbed to a 13-year high.  Building permits declined month-over-month but increased year-over-year. 

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Your New Home Checklist

Posted On January 16, 2020

Moving into a new home is exciting – and can be overwhelming.  That’s why we’ve created your “Welcome Home” Checklist! 

Before you roll out the welcome mat and invite the neighbors to your housewarming party, here are a few things you need to do. 

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Credit Score Myths You Might Believe

Posted On January 15, 2020

When you’re applying for a mortgage, or any line of credit or credit card, lenders use your credit score to review your credit history.  A higher credit score shows lenders you are responsible with your debt and may help you get a better interest rate.  Unfortunately, there are numerous credit score myths many consumers believe.  The Wall Street Journal contributor Demetria Gallegos identified these top credit score myths to stop believing today.

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Rising Childcare Costs Hurt Homeownership

Posted On January 14, 2020

One of the most commonly reported barriers to buying a first home is saving for the down payment.  Student loan debt is a huge factor in preventing would-be first-time home buyers from saving, and most recently, rising childcare costs may also be a cause.  Freddie Mac issued a recent report on how the rising cost of childcare is hurting renters and delaying home purchase.  The report found the cost of housing has increased 14% in 25 years, while the cost of childcare has increased 49% over the same period.  

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

Posted On January 13, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, remaining historically low.  The two most significant housing reports scheduled for release this week include the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index and housing starts and building permits.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey is also scheduled for release.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Surges, Consumer Credit Decelerates

Posted On January 10, 2020

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, still historically low.  New purchase mortgage application submissions increased, and refinance application submissions declined.  The ADP employment report added more jobs than expected.  Revolving consumer credit declined but non-revolving consumer credit increased. 

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6 Tips for Renting Your Vacation Home

Posted On January 09, 2020

If you own a vacation home, renting it out through short-term rental services like Airbnb and HomeAway is a way to earn rental income when you’re not using the home.  Short-term home rentals are growing popular as a hotel alternative, especially for travelers seeking the comforts of home while they are away. 

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Preventing Ring Doorbell and Camera Hacks

Posted On January 08, 2020

Homeowners install cameras like the Ring doorbell camera system for added home security.  You can check on activity in front of your home through the app while you are away or make sure your family members arrive home safely.  With optional recording features, the Ring camera can also help catch criminals like package thieves.  Unfortunately, Ring has been in the news lately for another type of criminal, cyber criminals, hacking into cameras, spying on homeowners, and talking to occupants. 

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Housing Market May See An Early Home Buying Season

Posted On January 07, 2020

A new year means new housing market predications, and the outlook is good for 2020.  Last week, MarketWatch contributor Jacob Passy wrote, “overall, mortgage rates started off 2020 roughly 80 basis points lower than they were at the start of 2019.”  Lower rates plus a more stable interest rate environment will likely trigger mortgage momentum heading into the new year and might even bring an early home buying season.

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

Posted On January 06, 2020

The week ahead will be the first full week of the year.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its first weekly mortgage application survey of 2020.  The ADP employment report and consumer credit are also scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Pending Home Sales Increase, Home Prices are Up, Construction Spending Climbs

Posted On January 03, 2020

Markets were closed on Wednesday in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday.  The pending home sales index improved in November after an October decline.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated more rapidly after a gradual slowdown in 2019.  US construction spending increased. 

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What to Expect from the Housing Market in 2020

Posted On January 02, 2020

The new year has begun, and the 2020 housing predictions are in!  Although recession rumors persisted throughout 2019, the economy does not appear to be slowing down drastically.  Despite a slow summer for consumers, spending has picked back up since October.  Additionally, the consumer confidence index and consumer sentiment index continue to post record high numbers.  The job market is strong, the unemployment rate is historically low, and employers continue to add jobs at a steady pace. 

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Watch Out for Haphazard Home Renovations

Posted On January 01, 2020

Buying a home that was recently renovated can be a great find or a big mistake.  If everything is up to code and completed by a thoughtful homeowner, you could score a home with like-new features at an affordable price.  If the project was rushed by a property investor or developer, you may end up paying more to fix problems later.  When you’re touring new homes, especially recently renovated homes, here is what you should do.

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Fannie Mae: Upbeat Outlook for New Home Construction in 2020

Posted On December 31, 2019

Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group revised its expectations for the 2020 housing market.   The researchers predict single-family housing starts will accelerate 10% in 2020 after just a 1% growth this year.  Home buyers in many markets are competing over a limited number of existing homes for sale and turning to newly constructed homes. 

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

Posted On December 30, 2019

It will be another short week ahead with markets closed on Wednesday in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday.  There are several important housing reports scheduled for release including the pending home sales index, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, and US construction spending. 

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Market Recap: New Home Sales Climb, Mortgage Apps Decline, Jobless Claims Sink

Posted On December 27, 2019

Markets were closed on Wednesday, in observance of the Christmas holiday.  Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, trending slightly upward.  New home sales increased, driven by strong buyer demand.  New purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions each declined amidst seasonal slowdown.   Jobless claims fell. 

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Is the home the next family heirloom?

Posted On December 26, 2019

If you’ve shopped for a home recently or currently work in real estate, you know fewer and fewer Americans are moving, for a number of reasons.  In 1990, approximately 7.7% of homeowners moved over the course of the year, by 2016 that figure declined to just 4.2%.  In 2017, Zillow reported 86% of all American homeowners who have owned their home for one year or more were not interested in moving in the next three years. 

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End-of-Year Finance Mistakes to Avoid

Posted On December 25, 2019

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the holiday season and make some year-end financial mistakes.  If you fail to pay attention to your finances now, it could cost you next year. Taking some time to review your finances before the end of the year can help you cut excess spending and take advantage of all opportunities to save. 

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Cash-Out Refinances Reach 12-Year High

Posted On December 24, 2019

Earlier this month, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave interest rates unchanged and will likely not move rates next year.  This year, mortgage rates reacted by trending downward, incentivizing many homeowners to refinance their mortgage loans.   According to data analytics firm, Black Knight, refinance volume climbed 132% in the third quarter of 2019, the highest level in three years.  Of those refinances, 52% were cash-out refinances, where homeowners withdrew equity from their home.  In 2019, homeowners withdrew $36 billion in home equity, a 12-year high.

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Market Forecast: New Home Sales, Mortgage Apps, and Weekly Jobless Claims

Posted On December 23, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week.  This week, markets are closed on Wednesday in observance of the Christmas holiday.  In housing news, this week, the new home sales report and the weekly mortgage application survey are scheduled for release.  Another market-moving report scheduled for release is the weekly jobless claims report. 

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

Posted On December 20, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, ahead of next week’s shortened holiday week.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index improved, boosted by low mortgage rates and higher buyer demand.  Housing starts and building permits each increased, also.  Existing home sales, however, fell.

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Real Estate Experts Warn Against These Kitchen Trends

Posted On December 19, 2019

Many homeowners are refinancing their mortgages with today’s low rates.  Refinancing your mortgage can get you a lower mortgage rate, in some cases, and it can also be an opportunity to withdraw valuable home equity though a cash-out refinance.  When you get a cash-out refinance, you originate a new mortgage loan equal to your existing balance plus the cash you wish to withdraw.  Your new mortgage rate will also reflect today’s low rate environment plus any other changes since you financed your previous mortgage like an improved credit score or lower debt-to-income ratio.

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Gen Z FICO Scores Exceed Millennial FICO Scores

Posted On December 18, 2019

New data reveals that Generation Z (people born in 1995 and onward) have higher credit scores than both Millennials and Generation X.  According to LendingPoint, a personal lender, Gen Z had an average FICO score of 637, above Gen X’s average of 632, the Millennials’ average of 629, and even above the all-generation average of 634.  Only Baby Boomers had a higher average credit score of 645.  The report reviewed data from applications submitted between July 2018 to July 2019. 

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Americans of All Ages are Not Moving

Posted On December 17, 2019

If you’ve been house hunting in recent months, you’ve probably noticed fewer homes for sale.  Many regions are dealing with housing inventory shortages, and the data proves it.  Last month, the Census revealed that just 9.8% of the US population moved from March 2018 to March 2019, the lowest level since the Census started recording data in 1947.  This lack of mobility is leading to a shortage of available homes for sale and creating competitive markets where buyers need to move quickly or may face bidding wars.

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

Posted On December 16, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave interest rates unchanged, and mortgage rates reacted by not moving significantly.  There is a full week of housing news ahead with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) housing market index, housing starts and building permits, and existing home sales all scheduled for release.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Mixed, Consumer Price Index Increased, and No Rate Hike

Posted On December 13, 2019

As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged at its last meeting of 2019.  Mortgage rates reacted by not moving significantly.  New purchase mortgage application submissions fell slightly, and refinance application submissions climbed.  The consumer price index increased.

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What Co-Signing on Someone Else’s Mortgage Means for You

Posted On December 12, 2019

If you have a good credit score, manage your debt responsibly, and have a steady income you may be asked to co-sign on somebody else’s mortgage loan.  For example, some parents may co-sign on their adult children’s mortgage to help improve their loan terms.  Just like co-signing on a personal loan or car loan, when you co-sign on someone else’s mortgage you’re agreeing to take on that debt and make the payments if the occupying borrower defaults. 

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Avoiding Debt this Holiday Season

Posted On December 11, 2019

The season of giving can quickly become the season of debt if you do not spend carefully and stick to a budget.  You want to shower your loved ones, and sometimes yourself, with gifts but you don’t want to be paying off that holiday debt until the next year.  A new study from NerdWallet found consumers plan to spend an average of $825 on gifts this year, up from an average of $776 last year. 

 

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Rental Rates Rise, Especially for Single-Family Homes

Posted On December 10, 2019

Renters are about to start paying more every month, according to data from CoreLogic, due to a shrinking supply of single-family rental homes.  After the high number of foreclosures following the Financial Crisis, a surplus of low-priced single-family homes were purchased by property investors and converted into rental homes.  From 2010 to 2016, the number of single-family rental homes jumped 38%, while multifamily or apartment rentals increased just 3%.  Since that surge, supply has flattened while demand has remained strong. 

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Market Forecast: Federal Open Market Committee Meeting, Mortgage Apps, and Consumer Price Index

Posted On December 09, 2019

This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday for its last semiannual monetary policy meeting of the year.  The Fed is not expected to move interest rates during this meeting.  In housing news, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  Another market-moving report scheduled is the consumer price index. 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Slows, Mortgage Apps Mixed, and the ADP Employment Report

Posted On December 06, 2019

Mortgage rates trended lower this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  This week, the US construction spending report showed overall construction investment slowed in October.  New purchase mortgage application submissions increased but refinance application submissions declined.  The ADP employment report was lower than expected.

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Buying a Home for the Holidays

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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!

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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!

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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”

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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!

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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.

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

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

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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

Posted On May 13, 2019

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

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

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

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

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

Posted On 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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This is how your life changes when you become a homeowner

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

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

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

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

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

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

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

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

Posted On 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?

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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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How Millennials are Transforming Real Estate

Posted On 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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The All In One Loan: Now Available for Investment Properties

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

Posted On 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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All the best Presidents Day sales for the home

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

Posted On 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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Facebook just bought a furniture shopping startup

Posted On 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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3 Things First-Time Home Buyers May Not Know

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

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

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

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

Posted On 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 Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Jobless Claims, and Consumer Credit

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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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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The Difference Between an Entrepreneur and a Businessperson Is This

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

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

Posted On 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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5 Things to Give Up at the Office in 2019

Posted On 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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Getting to Know a New Neighborhood

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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.

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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.

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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!

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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)

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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!)

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On October 04, 2018

Have Fall at Your Doorstep

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What does your home insurance cover?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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.

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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.

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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.

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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?

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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

Posted On 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