Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), U.S. home prices rose by 1.40 percent for the fourth quarter of 2014 and were up by 0.80 percent month-to-month from November. The seasonally adjusted FHFA House Price Index measures purchase transactions for homes connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
FHFA also reported that home prices rose 4.9 percent year-over –year from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014. FHFA Chief Economist Andrew Leventis described the report for the last quarter of 2014 as "relatively strong" and also cited low inventories of available homes and improving labor markets as contributing to home price growth.
FHFA House Price Index Identifies Significant Trends
FHFA's expanded house price data, which adds data from county records and the Federal Housing Administration, to the FHFA House Price Index, indicated that home prices grew by 1.30 percent in the fourth quarter; year-over-year home prices grew by 6.0 percent according to FHFA's expanded house price data report.
According to purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metro areas, the San Francisco-Redwood City-south San Francisco, California metro area posted the highest rate of year-over-year home price gains at six percent for the fourth quarter of 2015. The lowest reading was for the El Paso, Texas, which posted a loss of 6.60 percent in the fourth quarter.
The mountain division of the nine U.S. Census divisions posted the highest annual home price growth at 5.50 percent and 1.40 percent in the fourth quarter. House price appreciation was weakest in the New England Division, where home prices fell by0.03 percent.
FHFA also reported that its "distress free" home price indexes which the agency publishes for 12 metro areas have shown less price appreciation than the FHFA purchase only Home Price Index. Distress-free means that foreclosed homes and short sales were not included in these index readings.
FHFA has expanded its home price reports with a set of reports based on three-digit zip codes. Sorting house price data by the first three digits of a zip code provides more specific data for regional home price trends; mortgage and real estate pros can find house price data for specific neighborhoods and communities. FHFA described its three-digit zip code reports as "experimental" at present.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
If your personal budget is similar to many other people's budgets, your home mortgage payment is by far the largest expense that you pay for each month. In fact, this payment may easily account for 20 or 25 percent or more of your take-home income. Understandably, you may be focused on trying to pay this expense off early. By focusing on this payment, you can build equity and may be able to achieve financial security more quickly. You simply have to find a way to put aside a bit of extra cash regularly so that you can make extra payments, and there are few easy ways that you can consider.
Use Your Tax Refund
First, if you are one of the many taxpayers who receives a refund each year, consider setting aside some or all of this refund to reduce your outstanding mortgage balance. Some taxpayers may have such a sizable refund that it can account for two or more mortgage payments each year. However, even a few hundred dollars extra put toward your principal balance will save you a considerable amount of money in interest charges over time and will have a wonderful effect on your balance.
Earmark Your Annual Bonus
If you are lucky enough to receive an annual bonus each year, you may consider using this to pay down your principal balance. While you may usually spend this money on extra holiday gifts or just add it to your spending cash, you can benefit more substantially when you contribute it to your effort to pay down your mortgage.
Use An Automated Draft To Create a Fund
Another great idea that will work well for all individuals is to create an automated draft from your checking account each month. You may set aside the funds in a special account, and you can make an extra mortgage payment from this account periodically. Another idea is to set up auto payments for your mortgage that are higher than the amount due. For example, you may establish auto payments that are $50 or $100 more than your scheduled payments.
Paying off your mortgage earlier can be a life changing event for you. Simply imagine how different your life would be if you were not responsible for this payment each month. The fact is that this could be your reality sooner than you think if you follow these tips. For the best results, apply two or even all three tips to your efforts.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
December home prices rose by 0.10 percent according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The composite report tracks home prices in 20 U.S. cities. December's results boosted home prices by 4.50 percent year-over-year, which is approximately double the inflation rate for 2014. Analysts note that the overall reading was less significant than individual readings for the 20 cities included in the report.
Regional Home Prices Suggest Disparity in Housing Recovery
The top three month-to-month home price increases for cities surveyed were led by Miami, Florida with an increase of 0.70 percent, Home prices rose by 0.50 percent in Denver, Colorado, and by 0.50 percent in San Francisco, California.
Chicago, Illinois posted a month-to-month loss of -0.90 percent; Cleveland, Ohio followed with a loss of -0.50 percent, and Las Vegas, Nevada and Minneapolis, Minnesota were tied with monthly losses of -0.30 percent for home prices.
Winter weather conditions and the holidays can dampen demand for homes; it's worthwhile to note that three of the cities posting the largest month-to-month losses are located in cold winter climates.
Month-to-month readings for home prices are typically more volatile; the corresponding year-over-year readings provide a more accurate reading of real estate trends in specific cities. Nine cities posted month-to-month gains for home prices, while six cities posted lower home prices from November to December.
San Francisco Leads Year-over-Year Home Price Growth
San Francisco, California led year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 9.30 percent. Home prices grew by 8.40 percent in Miami, Florida. Denver, Colorado home prices grew by 8.10 percent year-over-year in December.
The three cities showing the least amount of home price growth year-over-year were Chicago, Illinois with a reading of 1.30 percent, Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. were tied with year-over-year readings of 1.30 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.
Home prices are growing more slowly in the North and Midwest regions, while home prices continue to grow fastest in the Southeast and Western regions.
Home prices in the cities surveyed have increased by 29 percent since the March 2012 low, but remain 16 percent below their July 2006 peak. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index measures home prices using a three-month rolling average, while other home price reports base their readings on monthly sales. Case-Shiller's year-over-year reading of 4.50 percent for December of 2015 closely approached CoreLogic's reading of 5.00 percent home price growth year-over-year.
While increasing home prices are good news for homeowners, higher home prices represent an obstacle for moderate income and first time home buyers, who are also impacted by strict mortgage credit standards. As the peak home buying season approaches, increased demand for homes could drive home prices higher.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Last week's housing related reports included the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index for February, The Commerce Department's report on Housing Starts for January and Freddie Mac's weekly report on average mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of January's FOMC meeting, which indicated that FOMC members are in no hurry to raise the target federal funds rate. The details:
Home Builder Confidence, Housing Starts Impacted by Winter Weather
The NAHB Housing Market Index for February fell from January's reading of 57 to 55. Analysts expected a reading of 59. This was the lowest reading since October, but February's reading remains above the benchmark of 50. Readings exceeding 50 indicate that more home builders are confident about housing market conditions than not.
According to the NAHB, harsh weather contributed to lower builder confidence in February. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that low mortgage rates, increasing affordability and improving job markets are helping home buyers.
The NAHB Housing Market Index is calculated based on three components. Builder confidence dropped by one point to a reading of 61 for current housing market conditions. Not surprisingly, the winter weather caused buyer foot traffic to drop five points to a reading of 39. A gauge of housing market conditions in the next six months was unchanged.
Regional readings showed declines in three of four regions: The Northeast saw a one-point drop to 46; the Midwest and South dropped by two points to readings of 54 and 57. The Western region gained two points for a reading of 68.
The U.S. Commerce Department reported that January's Housing Starts dropped from 1.09 million in December to 1.07 million in January; the reading for January matched analysts' expectations.
Weekly jobless claims provided some good news; they dropped from the prior week's reading of 304,000 new claims to 283,000 new claims. The expected reading was 290,000 new jobless claims.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Points Unchanged
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by seven basis points to 3.76 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by six basis points to 3.05 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.97 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.6 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Next week's scheduled economic news includes several reports related to housing. New and existing home sales reports will be released along with the Case-Shiller Composite Housing Market reports. FHFA will release its House Price Index Report and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to testify before Congress. Reports on Consumer Sentiment and Consumer Confidence are also scheduled along with weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates.