Thursday, January 29, 2015

Buying a New Home in the City? The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home on a Busy Street

Buying a New Home in the City? The Pros and Cons of Buying a Home on a Busy Street Finding the perfect property is an exciting feeling, but its relative location can leave a lot of room for worry. Buying a home in the city is a venture that comes with an entire assortment of advantages and disadvantages. While the location might be close in proximity to businesses, services, and other people, it's easy to worry about the other aspects of city living. What are the great and not-so-great facets of living on a busy street?

Pro: Access to Businesses and Schools

The chances are high that anyone living in a busy area is within walking distance of any store, shop, or service. Likewise, children have a range of options for education in busier areas; there are often multiple schools to choose from in any given busy area.

Pro: Access to Many Internet/TV Providers

In highly populated areas, a large number of internet and TV providers can co-exist. This means residents have a number of options when the time comes to choose providers. Luckily, it's often difficult for providers monopolize densely populated areas.

Pro: Sense of Community

Many people that live in busy areas will be quick to share that they adore the sense of community. In fact, a large population is often one of the biggest reasons that people choose to move to bigger areas.

Con: Noise Level

As a street sees more activity, there's no doubt that the noise level will also be a bit higher than usual. Residents that own homes on busy streets not only hear lots of noise from outside traffic, but they also often hear police sirens, animals, conversation, and more.

Con: Higher Price

It's no secret that busy areas are a bit more expensive to live in. As anyone would expect, the convenience of city living comes with a higher price. Expect to hand over quite a bit more for a property in a highly populated area.

Con: Parking

Depending on the location of the neighborhood, parking can also be a problem. If street parking isn't allowed, a resident in a big city might have to sacrifice their vehicle or park it a long distance from the property. This can be off-putting for many buyers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slower in November

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slower in November

Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for November indicate that home price growth continues to slow. The 20-City Home Price Index dropped by 0.20 percent to November's reading of 4.30 percent year-over-year. 

The five cities with highest year-over-year home price growth rates in November were:

San Francisco, California 8.90%

Miami, Florida 8.60%

Las Vegas, Nevada and Dallas, Texas 7.70%

Denver, Colorado 7.50%

The five cities with the lowest year-over-year growth in home prices were:

Cleveland, Ohio 0.60%

Washington, DC 1.90%

New York, New York and Minneapolis, Minnesota 1.50%

Chicago, Illinois 2.00%

There were no instances of year-over-year depreciation in home prices for the year-over-year readings, but month-to-month readings indicated that slower momentum in year-over-year home prices is producing negative home price readings on a month-to-month basis. First the good news; although no city included in the 20-City Home Price Index had month-to-month home prices increases of one percent or more, there were some gains.

Month-to-Month Home Price Readings Mixed

According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for November, 12 cities posted month-to-month gains for home prices and eight cities saw home prices decline from October to November.

The five cities with the highest month to month home price growth in November were:

Tampa, Florida 0.80%

Miami, Florida 0.60%

Las Vegas Nevada 0.50%

Los Angeles and San Diego, California 0.50%

San Francisco, which led year-over-year home price growth rates for November, posted a month-to-month gain of 0.10 percent.

The five cities with the highest declines in month-to-month home price growth were:

Chicago, Illinois -1.10%

Detroit, Michigan -0.90%

New York, New York -0.80%

Minneapolis, Minnesota -0.70%

Washington, DC -0.50%

In spite of gloomy month-to-month readings for November home prices for cities included in the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price report, overall signs of economic growth persist. In separate reports released Tuesday, The Department of Commerce reported that December sales of new homes rose by 11.60 percent year-over-year.

481,000 newly constructed homes were sold in December as compared to expectations of 455,000 new homes sold and November's reading of 431,000 sales of new homes in November.

Home Sales Should Continue to Increase with Warmer Weather

As warmer weather approaches, it's likely that overall home sales will continue to increase. Stronger job markets, low mortgage rates and the possibility of relaxing mortgage standards likely contributed to a jump in consumer confidence for January.

Consumer confidence increased from December's index reading of 93.10 to 102.90, which was the highest reading since August 2007. Analysts had forecasted an index reading of 96.90 for January. Expectations of wage growth, which has been largely flat post-recession, were seen a significant contribution to January's boost in consumer confidence. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Three iPhone and Android Apps That Make Managing Your Mortgage Payments Quick and Easy

Three iPhone and Android Apps That Make Managing Your Mortgage Payments Quick and EasyYour mortgage payment may be among the largest payments you make every month. While certainly an important part of your budget, this payment is also critical to helping you build equity in your home because it attributes to mortgage principal reduction. Managing your mortgage payments can be challenging, but there are some incredible apps available for use with Android or iPhone smartphones that can simplify your mortgage management tasks.

Mortgage Mentor

This app is available for both iPhones and Android devices, and is designed to be compatible with all types of mortgages. It can calculate PMI for adjustable rate and variable rate mortgages, and it can help you to determine the true cost of a mortgage. Through the use of this intelligent app, you can track your account information in real-time, or you can manipulate the numbers to help you to make more thoughtful and intelligent decisions about your finances.

Loan Calculator Pro

This app is only currently available on iOS devices, but those with this operating system may want to download it today. It has some of the same capabilities as Mortgage Mentor, but it goes a step above and beyond by providing you with mortgage payment notification reminders. It also has a unique feature that allows you to set a final payoff date for your mortgage, and it will calculate how much money you need to pay per month toward your mortgage to accomplish this goal.

Bill Payment Log

The Bill Payment Log app is a unique program that can entirely replace the outdated manual entry checkbook balancing task. It is suitable for use with iOS, Android and even Windows. You can use it to monitor and track payments for all credit accounts, including mortgages. While it does not have the analytical tools associated with some of the other mortgage apps, those who are looking for an all-in-one app that facilitates bill payment tasks for all accounts, this may be a great option to consider.

Making your mortgage payments on time is important, but you also may need to know if you need to pay extra each month and what the effects of that will be. You may also be concerned about "what if" scenarios for your adjustable rate mortgage. There are numerous apps available on the market today that can help you to facilitate your efforts, and these are among the leading choices available.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - January 26, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 26 2015Last week's economic reports included the National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Housing Starts for December and the FHFA Home Price Index report for November. The National Association of Realtors® also released its Existing Home Sales report for December.

Freddie Mac and the Department of Commerce released their weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Builder Confidence Close to Record High, Housing Starts Rise

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that home builder confidence slipped by one point in January to an index reading of 57. This was not a significant decline as any reading over 50 indicates that a majority of builders are confident about current housing market conditions. January's confidence reading remained close to a 2005 peak. 

Housing Starts rose in December to 1.09 million starts as compared to expectations of 1.04 million starts and November's reading of 1.04 million housing starts according to the Department of Commerce.

December's annual reading reflected strong home builder confidence and was the highest for housing starts since 2007. Low mortgage rates and improving labor markets were seen as factors contributing to housing construction.

Existing Home Sales Fall, FHFA Home Price Index Gain 

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously owned homes fell to 4.05 million in December, which fell short of 5.08 million expected sales and 4.93 million sales of existing homes in November. Analysts were puzzled at the first drop in sales volume for existing homes since 2010.

Low mortgage rates, job growth and the possibility of less restrictive mortgage requirements were cited by analysts as factors that should have fueled sales of existing homes and should continue to boost home sales as more home buyers enter the market.

FHFA reported that prices of homes associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages rose 5.30 percent year-over-year in November. This was an increase of 0.90 percent over October's year-over-year reading of 4.40 percent.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Lower

Mortgage rates dropped across the board according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by three basis points to 3.63 percent with discount points higher at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was five basis points lower at 2.93 percent and discount points higher at 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by seven basis points to 2.83 percent with discount points unchanged at an average of 0.40 percent.

Weekly jobless claims fell from the prior week's reading of 317,000 new claims filed to 307,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected a reading of 298,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts noted that this was the third consecutive reading above 300,000 new jobless claims since July, but the higher readings were attributed to layoffs of seasonal holiday workers.

What's Ahead

Case-Shiller will release its composite home price index reports; new home sales, consumer confidence and consumer sentiment reports are scheduled along with a customary statement from the FOMC at the conclusion of its January meeting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You Renovate

2015 and Kitchen Design: Three Trends That You Need to Be Aware of Before You RenovateRenovating your kitchen is an excellent way to improve its look, increase the value of your home and appeal to a more diverse range of home buyers if you decide to sell. However, a kitchen remodel can easily cost $10,000 to $20,000 or more, which is why you want to make choices that you can live with.

Learning more about some of hottest trends for 2015 can help you decide what you want and don't want in your kitchen.

Traditional Is Back

Trends come and go, but the classics remain constant. One of the hottest renovation trends for 2015 is a more traditional look. Homeowners today are no longer attached to trendy colors and modern designs; they want homes that have a more traditional look and will retain that traditional look for years to come.

Experts predict that 2015 will bring a return to darker wood colors for cabinets, tables, counters and even floors.

There are also some reports that homeowners will use oil rubbed bronze and darker pulls and handles on cabinets and drawers as opposed to flashy and contemporary chrome accents.Other trends include rustic farmhouse tables, double porcelain sinks and natural stone counters.

Going Green

It's hard to go anywhere today without seeing or hearing about green decorating trends, and those trends carry over into kitchens. Homeowners want products made from recycled materials and the chance to "go green" at home. Adding a recycling center is just one of the hottest trends for the kitchen.

Designers also found that homeowners want counters and floors made from recycled or sustainable materials. Bamboo is a sustainable construction material that works well in flooring applications. Homeowners can also find counters made from old tires, soda bottles and other recycled goods.

Homeowners Want More Space

Ask anyone want they need in their homes, and the odds are good that many will say they need more space. Recessed lighting is one trendy accent that adds more space and reduces the number of fixtures and cords hanging down from the ceiling. Other ways to add more space include adding an island with storage to the center of the room and cutting down on the number of cabinets lining the walls.

There are a number of trendy ways that you can renovate and change your kitchen. Going green, adding more space and bringing in traditional elements are just a few of those ways.