Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Case-Shiller Home Prices: Price Growth Slows in September

CaseShiller Home Prices Price Growth Slows in SeptemberAccording to the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, annual home price growth slipped to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.80 percent in September. This was 0.30 percent lower than August's year-over-year reading of 5.10 percent.

Cities posting the highest year-over-year gains in home prices were Miami, Florida 10.30 percent, Las Vegas, NV with a gain of 9.10 percent, San Francisco, California posted a gain of 7.90 percent, Dallas home prices gained 7.40 percent and home prices increased by 6.70 percent in Portland, Oregon.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, said that Florida and the Southeastern region showed sustained strength. Citing gains in builder confidence and housing starts and pre-crisis levels for foreclosures and mortgage defaults, Mr. Blitzer said that the outlook for housing in 2015 should be "stable to slightly better."

Analysts said that higher inventories of available homes had slowed home price growth. Cooling home prices allow more buyers into the market, which creates a better balance between buyers and sellers. Rapidly increasing home prices in late 2013 through early 2014 forced buyers onto the sidelines as investors and cash buyers drove home prices higher and raised demand for available homes.

Cities Post Incremental Month-to-Month Gains

Case-Shiller's 10-and 20-City Home Price Indices were 15 and 17 percent below their mid-2006 peaks with 18 of 20 cities tracked showing slower growth in September than in August. Top month-to-month gains were incremental, with Miami, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina gaining 0.60 percent, Las Vegas, Nevada gained 0.40 percent and Dallas, Texas gained 0.30 percent. Denver, Colorado, Tampa, Florida and Portland, Oregon posted month-to-month gains of 0.20 percent.

Cities posting no month-to-month gain included Los Angeles, California and New York City.

The steepest decline in month-to-month home prices was seen in Washington, D.C. at -0.40 percent., followed by Atlanta, Georgia at -0.30 percent San Francisco, California, Atlanta, Georgia, Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan and Seattle Washington posted month-to-month declines in home prices of -0.20 percent. San Diego, California and Boston, Massachusetts posted declines in month-to-month home prices of -0.10 percent.

FHFA House Price Index Unchanged in September

The Federal Housing Finance Administration posted no gain on its month-to-month reading for September, although analysts had expected a gain of 0.40 percent from August to September. Year-over-year, FHFA reported a 4.50 percent gain in home prices between the third quarter of 2013 and the same period in 2014.

On a positive note, Seasonally-adjusted home prices for purchase-only transactions rose in 40 of 50 states during the third quarter of 2014. The top five states posting the highest annual home price gains were Nevada, Hawaii, California, North Dakota and Florida.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Buying a Home with a Mortgage? A Quick Guide to Closing Costs and What to Expect

Buying a Home with a Mortgage? A Quick Guide to Closing Costs and What to ExpectWhether you're just starting to shop for a new home or you've already found the perfect new house and you're ready to submit an offer, if you're taking out a mortgage loan to cover some of the home's purchase price you should be aware of the various closing costs you may encounter.

In today's blog post we'll share a quick guide to closing costs and what you can expect to pay when you buy a new home.

What Closing Costs Do Buyers Typically Pay?

As you move forward in the home purchase process you'll incur a variety of fees that cover document preparation, inspections and other services that are required to fully process your mortgage. Your application and processing fees cover the cost of preparing your loan application and submitting it to your lender. Your credit report fee covers the cost of pulling a credit report which is used to assess your suitability for a mortgage and whether your loan is worth the risk.

You'll likely pay an appraisal fee as you'll need a proper appraisal of the home's value, and you may need to pay a flood certification or survey fee depending on where the home is physically located. Additional fees that you may incur include wire transfer fees, commitment fees, courier fees and private mortgage insurance application fees.

Finally you'll also encounter a number of closing costs that aren't directly related to your mortgage, including insurance costs, attorney fees, property taxes, government filing or recording fees and more.

Consider Negotiating with the Seller

It may be worth asking the seller to pay some - or all - of your closing costs, depending on the offer that you've submitted and how strong of a negotiating position you're working from. Trust in your real estate agent's advice in this regard as you'll want to avoid spooking the seller by asking them to cover costs that they didn't anticipate.

As you can see, there are a number of different closing costs that you may encounter when you purchase a new home. An experienced mortgage professional will help you to better understand these costs and can show you areas where you may be able to find some additional savings. When you're ready to buy your next home, contact your local mortgage professional and they'll be happy to share some advice.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 24, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week November 24 2014Last week's scheduled economic news included the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales. FOMC meeting minutes were released along with weekly Freddie Mac mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims.

In addition, the National Association of Realtors® suggested that FHA should lower its mutual mortgage insurance premiums (MMI) as its fund for paying claims has normalized since recession.

Homebuilder Confidence Nears Nine-Year High

The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index achieved a reading of 58 for November. This was two points higher than the expected reading of 56 and four points above September's reading. This was the fifth consecutive month of readings above 50.

Readings above 50 indicate that more builders are confident about housing market conditions than not. Components of the index improved with builder confidence in present sales of new homes up 5 points to a reading of 62, confidence in sales over the next six months rose by two points to 66, and the reading for prospective buyer traffic rose four points to 45.

Housing Starts Slow, Existing Home Sales Suggest Stronger Housing Market

Housing starts were lower by 2.80 percent in October at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 1.01 million against an expected reading of 1.03 million and September's reading of 1.04 million homes started. October's reading was affected by a 15.50 percent drop in multi-family construction, but single-family home construction increased by 4.20 percent. Analysts noted that the multi-family sector is notoriously volatile.

The National Association of Realtors® reported that the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of existing home sales for October exceeded the expected reading of 5.15 million with 5.26 million existing homes sold. October's reading also surpassed September's reading of 5.17 million previously-owned homes sold. October's reading represented a 1.50 percent increase over September sales of existing homes, and was the highest reading since September 2013.

The median price of previously-owned homes rose to $208,500 in October, which represented a 5.50 percent increase year-over-year. The inventory of homes for sale is higher with a 5.1 month supply of homes available, which was a year-over-year increase of 5.20 percent. Higher inventories of homes available and low mortgage rates were seen as factors contributing to more home sales.

Builders, Realtors® Call for Lower FHA Premiums

Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors® called for the FHA to lower its mortgage insurance premiums. The cost of FHA loans, which require borrowers to pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium and annual premiums that are pro-rated and added to monthly mortgage payments, were seen as an obstacle to first-time and moderate income homebuyers. This request was based on a report that indicated the FHA fund for paying mortgage insurance claims is in the black for the first time since 2011.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board on Thursday with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by two basis points at 3.99 percent, and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage lower by three basis points at 3.17 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point to 3.01 percent. Average discount points remained the same for all loan types at 0.50 percent.

The Commerce Department reported that new jobless claims fell to 291,000 from the prior week's reading of 293,000. Analysts expected a reading of 280.000 new jobless claims, but this was the tenth consecutive week of readings for fewer than 300,000 new jobless claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims rose by 1750 to a reading of 287,500. The four week average reduces the volatility of weekly jobless claims and provides a more accurate reading of unemployment trends.

What's Ahead

Next week's scheduled events include the Case-Shiller 10 and 20-City Home Price Indices, FHFA's House Price Index and New and Pending Home Sales reports. There are no reports set for Thursday or Friday due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Friday, November 21, 2014

USDA Mortgages: Take Advantage of These Low-Rate Mortgage Loans to Buy a New Home

USDA Mortgages: Take Advantage of These Low-rate Mortgage Loans to Buy a New HomeAre you thinking about buying a home in a rural or suburban area? If so, you'll want to take a look at the United States Department of Agriculture's mortgage programs as you may qualify for them.

In today's blog post we'll introduce the USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program, explain the benefits of this mortgage program and how to determine if you qualify.

What is a USDA Mortgage Loan?

The USDA mortgage program is one of a number of programs in which the federal government will guarantee a mortgage loan as long as the recipient meets certain criteria. The intent of this program is to provide a boost to residents of rural or suburban areas who are struggling to obtain a traditional mortgage.

USDA mortgage loans are an ideal solution for those who are looking for 15 or 30-year amortization periods as they tend to have lower interest rates than mortgages offered by banks and other lenders.

USDA Mortgage Loan Benefits

There are numerous benefits to USDA mortgages that make this an enticing option compared to a mortgage from a traditional lender. As these loans offer full 100 percent financing you won't have to place a large down payment when buying the home. The USDA offers very competitive 15 and 30-year fixed interest rates, something you won't find from many banks or other mortgage lenders.There's also no maximum home purchase price with USDA mortgages, however note that you'll still be limited by your risk and your ability to manage the monthly mortgage payment.

USDA Mortgage Loan Requirements

The USDA mortgage program is open to all homebuyers that meet a number of initial requirements. The home you intend to purchase has to be located in a rural area (as determined by the USDA) and it cannot be a vacation home or investment property. As with any mortgage, you'll need a relatively clean credit history. Finally, note that your annual income will also be assessed and you'll need to prove that you're within 115 percent of the region's median income.

As you can see, the USDA Rural Development Mortgage program can be an excellent option if you're planning on buying a home in a rural or suburban area. Contact your local mortgage advisor today and they can explain the USDA home loan program and answer any questions that you might have.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

FOMC Minutes: Economy Growing, Housing Lags

FOMC Minutes Economy Growing Housing LagsMinutes of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting held October 28 and 29 were released Wednesday. The report suggests that the U.S. economy continues to improve, although the annual inflation rate remains near 1.50 percent and short of the committee's goal of 2.00 percent. Falling crude oil prices were cited as a cause of faltering inflation rates. The minutes indicated that FOMC members expect inflation to remain below the 2.00 percent benchmark for the next year or so.

The minutes did not reveal an exact date for raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently 0.00 to 0.250 percent, but analysts expect a rate change in mid-to-late 2015. One committee member said that the Fed should commit to keeping the target federal funds rate at its present level until inflation reaches the Fed's goal of 2.00 percent.

Job Markets Improve, Mortgage Rates Fall

FOMC members said that labor markets had improved "somewhat further." The minutes noted that the national unemployment rate had declined to 5.90 percent in September, which was lower than the FOMC goal of 6.50 percent for national unemployment. While this was good news, FOMC discussed the fact that a significant number of part-time workers suggested under-utilization of the labor force. A combination of stronger labor markets and a 0.25 percent reduction of mortgage rates during the intermeeting period between September 17 and October 28 were seen as positive for housing markets, but the committee noted that mortgage lending standards for single-family homes had not changed much. Lending requirements were more accommodative for commercial real estate.

QE Ends, FOMC Seeks to Maintain "Accommodative" Financial Conditions

FOMC members voted to end asset purchases made under the Fed's quantitative easing program, but said that ongoing reinvestment of principal payments on bonds and MBS with the goal of maintaining "sizeable" holdings of long-term securities. The minutes indicated that this would help maintain "accommodative" financial conditions.

The committee agreed to re-assert its position that although national unemployment and inflation may achieve or surpass FOMC goals, the committee could maintain the target federal funds rate at current levels for "some time" after the benchmarks are achieved. Ultimately, the FOMC's decision to change the target federal funds rate will include thorough and ongoing review of global and domestic economic developments.

Committee members concluded this meeting with a decision to set the next FOMC meeting for December 16 and 17.