August 12th, 2015 categories: Real Estate Tips
If you’ve been following the real estate and mortgage industry for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase “buyer’s market” at some point. And although the meaning may seem apparent, it takes some study to understand what actually constitutes a buyer’s market.
Who decides whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market? What’s the threshold for deciding between the two? Here’s what you need to know.
Supply And Demand: Economic Factors That Govern…Everything
If you studied economics in school, you’ll probably remember an early lesson on supply and demand. Essentially, supply and demand are the two factors that influence what a commodity is objectively “worth” in a free market. They’re also a great way of characterizing whether a market is hot or cold, and whether or not it’s a good idea to invest at any particular moment in time.
In a nutshell, supply is the amount of something that is available for purchase, while demand is the amount of that same thing that people want to buy. When supply goes up while demand stays the same, buyers have more choice with respect to whom they want to buy from – and that means the price goes down because the commodity is freely available. When demand increases while supply stays the same, we see the opposite effect – the value (and price) increases because there’s not enough of the supply to go around.
The Buyer’s Market: What You Need To Know
A buyer’s market is a real estate market where the supply of homes available is greater than the demand for housing – it’s a market where there are more homes for sale than there are people willing to buy. This is a great situation for buyers, because their freedom of choice gives them a significant amount of power when negotiating prices. In a buyer’s market, sellers may have to accept a lower price in order to make the sale.
How To Navigate The Buyer’s Market
For buyers, the buyer’s market means lower prices and fewer bidding wars. But there are still some basic principles that savvy buyers ought to follow. Don’t lowball too far below the asking price, even if it is a buyer’s market – if homes in an area have recently been selling for $400,000 and the asking price is $450,000, offering $350,000 will only insult the buyers.
A buyer’s market means you can find your dream home at an affordable price, but there are certain nuances you’ll want to pay attention to. It also means that you will want to be ready to move quickly. Make sure to contact your trusted mortage professional today to get started so you are ready to move forward quickly.
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August 10th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, a survey of senior loan officers, and reports on labor markets including ADP private sector jobs, the federal government’s reports on non-farm payrolls, core inflation and the national unemployment rate.
Construction Spending Slows, Loan Officers Survey Suggests Growing Confidence
Construction spending fell in June after the May reading was revised upward to 1.89 percent from the original reading of 0.90 percent. Spending for residential construction rose by 0.40 percent, while non-residential construction spending remained flat. The seasonally-adjusted annual outlay for construction was $1.06 billion in June.
Analysts continue to note a trend toward construction of smaller residential units including condominiums and apartments, with an emphasis on rental properties. This supports reports that would-be homebuyers are taking a wait-and-see stance to see how factors including rising home prices, fluctuating mortgage rates and labor market conditions perform.
According to a survey of senior loan officers conducted by the Federal Reserve, mortgage lenders reported that mortgage applications increased during the second quarter and indicating that financial constraints on consumers may be easing. According to the survey of 71 domestic banks and 23 foreign-owned banks, 44 percent of respondents reported moderate increases in loan applications, while only 5 percent of survey participants reported fewer loan applications.
Some banks surveyed reported easing mortgage approval standards, but fewer lenders eased standards than in the first quarter. Further supporting growing confidence among lenders, the Fed survey also reported that large banks were easing consumer credit standards for auto loans and credit cards.
Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell across the board last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage lower by seven basis points to 3.91 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.13 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.95 percent. Discount points for all loan types were unchanged at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
Weekly jobless claims rose from the prior week’s reading of 268,000 new claims to 270,000 new claims, which matched analysts’ expectations. In other labor-related news, the government reported a national unemployment rate of 5.30 percent in July; this was unchanged from June’s reading.
The ADP employment report for July showed fewer jobs were available in the private sector. June’s reading showed that private sector jobs grew by 229,000 jobs; July’s reading fell to 185,000 private sector jobs. According to July’s Non-farm Payrolls report, 215,000 new jobs were added in July as compared to expectations of 220,000 jobs added and June’s reading of 231,000 new jobs added.
The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is closely monitoring job growth and inflation rates as it contemplates raising the target federal funds rate. Core inflation grew by 0.10 percent in June; which was consistent with May’s reading and expectations. The FOMC recently cited the committee’s concerns about labor markets and lagging inflation. The Fed has set an annual growth rate of 1.65 percent for inflation for the medium term; this benchmark is part of what the Fed will consider in any decision to raise rates.
This week’s scheduled economic reports include reports on retail sales and consumer sentiment in addition to usual weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.
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August 3rd, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s scheduled economic reports included the Case-Shiller 20 and 20-City Index reports, pending home sales data released by the National Association of Realtors® and the scheduled post-meeting statement of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee.
Case-Shiller: Home Prices Growing at Normal Pace
The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price index for May reported that year-over-year home prices grew by 4.40 percent year-over-year. S & P Index Committee Chair David M Blitzer said that home prices are increasing gradually by four to five percent a year as compared to double-digit percentages seen in 2013. Mr. Blitzer said that home price growth is expected to slow in the next couple of years as home prices have been growing at approximately twice the rate of wage growth and inflation, a situation that is not seen as sustainable.
Denver, Colorado led the cities included in the 20-City Index with a 10 percent year-over-year growth rate for home prices. San Francisco, California followed closely with a year-over-year gain of 9.70 percent and Dallas Texas posted a year-over-year gain of 8.40 percent.
Fastest month-to-month home price growth in May was tied by Boston, Massachusetts, Cleveland, Ohio and Las Vegas, Nevada with each posting a monthly gain of 1.50 percent. May home prices remain about 13 percent below a 2006 housing bubble peak.
Pending Home Sales Down From Nine-Year Peak
According to the National Association of Realtors®, pending home sales dropped by 1.80 percent in June as compared to May’s reading. The index reading for June home sales was 110.3 as compared to May’s index reading of 112.3. This indicates that upcoming closings could slow; June’s reading represented the first decrease in pending home sales in six months. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, cited would-be buyers’ decisions about whether to hold out for more homes available or to buy sooner than later will affect future readings for pending home sales.
Fed Not Ready to Raise Rates, Mortgage Rates Fall
The Fed’s FOMC statement at the conclusion of its meeting on Wednesday clearly indicated that Fed policymakers remain concerned about economic conditions and are not prepared to raise the federal funds rate yet. The FOMC statement did not provide any prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.25 percent, but the Fed continues to watch employment figures and the inflation rate.
Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week, likely on news of the Fed’s decision not to raise rates. Average mortgage rates fell across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropping by six basis points to 3.98 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by four basis points to 3.17 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 2.95 percent. Average discount points remained the same for fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and fell from 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
This week’s economic calendar includes reports on consumer spending, core inflation and consumer spending. July readings on Non-Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate will also be released along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates.
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If you are looking to buy a home here in Chantilly or surrounding area, you may want to consider shopping for a loan first. Having your financing squared away ahead of time can make it easier to be taken seriously by buyers and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application.
What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?
A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly debt payments compared to the amount of gross income that a person earns each month. Your gross monthly income is typically the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. If a person’s monthly gross income is $2,000 a month and they have a monthly debt payments of $1000 each month, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. The lower the DTI the better. 43 percent is in most cases the highest DTI that potential borrowers can have and still get approved for a mortgage.
What Debt Do Lenders Look At?
The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower’s DTI. For example, utilities, cable, phone and health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI. What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit. In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.
What Is Considered Income?
Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Wage income is considered as part of a borrower’s monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage, however, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years. In addition, those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security should make sure and include those figures in their monthly income as well when applying for a loan.
How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?
Many lenders prefer to only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or lower. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.
A borrower’s DTI ratio can be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by either increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.
When the time comes to start your home search, our Search Tool will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia. Kathy is always available to help you with your home search and/or home sale!”
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July 30th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
The stage was set in high suspense for FOMC’s post-meeting announcement on Wednesday. As fall approaches, analysts and the media are looking for any sign of when and how much the Fed will raise its target federal funds rate. According to CNBC, some analysts were projecting two interest rate hikes before year end, but the truth of the matter remains unknown until the Federal Open Market Committee announces its intentions.
Meanwhile, reports of what Fed rate hikes will mean for consumers were released prior to the FOMC statement. Real estate analyst Mark Hanson said that a rate hike would “crush” housing markets, which continue to improve slowly in spite of the current 0.00 to 0.25 percent federal funds rate.
Last Friday’s report on June sales of new homes shows unpredictable progress in housing. Analysts estimated that new home sales would reach 550,000 units based on May’s reading of 517,000 new homes sold. June’s reading came in at 482,000 units sold.
FOMC Statement: Current Federal Funds Rate “Remains Appropriate”
The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserved announced as part of its post-meeting statement that it would not immediately increase the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement cited concerns over the inflation rate, which remains below the Fed’s goal of 2.00 percent. According to the statement, the FOMC will not move to raise the federal funds rate until the committee is “reasonably confident” that inflation will achieve the committee’s goal of 2.00 percent over the medium term.
No prospective dates for raising the target federal funds rate were given. The FOMC statement repeated language included in previous statements indicating that committee members anticipate that economic events could further postpone increases in the federal funds rate. The FOMC statement asserted that committee members continue to monitor domestic and global financial and economic developments as part of the decision-making process for raising the target federal funds rate.
FOMC members agreed that policy accommodation may be required “for some time” after the committee’s dual mandate of maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation have been achieved. This suggests that FOMC members are not in a hurry to boost rates when economic uncertainty remains.
In terms of housing markets, the Fed’s decision not to raise rates likely caused a sigh of relief as rate increase would have caused consumer interest rates including mortgage rates to rise.
By the way, if you are considering buying a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you. Contact us.
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One of the more common steps that homeowners will take when preparing to list their home for sale involves repainting the walls. Walls can easily give the home a worn, drab look when they have visible signs of dirty, smudgy fingerprints and other unsightly blemishes.
While repainting the walls can have a whitewashing effect that instantly makes the home look cleaner, brighter and more appealing, the color combinations that you choose for your home should be considered with care. You have a rainbow of possibilities for your space when preparing your home for sale, but you want to choose colors that will have broad or universal appeal to buyers and that will showcase your home in the best possible light.
Neutral or Muted Hues are Ideal
Many homeowners love to paint their walls stylish or trendy colors, and they may dislike the banal look of beige walls throughout their home. While this may or may not be what you prefer for your home, keep in mind that you are trying to transform your home so that it has broad appeal to the buyers. The colors you choose should not reflect personal taste or preference. Instead, they should be selected based on colors that may be more likely to appeal to most and that may go well with the color of furnishings most already own. Neutral or muted hues are ideal. These lighter colors can also make smaller rooms seem larger, and they can make your entire home seem cleaner.
Avoid Bold, Dramatic Color Combinations
You may have some colors on your walls that you absolutely love, and you may be sad to see them go. However, when you have a bold, dramatic color combination in a room, a buyer may instantly be taken aback by such an intense color scheme. The buyer’s attention may then be focused on your interior design efforts rather than on the home itself, and this is not beneficial to your goal of selling your home. In addition, some may love your bold choices, but many may not. They may think about how those colors would not go well with their furnishings, and they may instantly start thinking about how they would need to work hard to repaint the walls after moving in. The last thing you want is for a buyer to think about your home as needing work.
If you are preparing your home to list for sale, repainting one room or several may be at the top of your to-do list. When you are selecting your paint colors, lean toward neutral hues that may have better appeal toward a larger group of home buyers.
And if you are considering refreshing up your Chantilly home with an eye toward selling your own home, please know we’d be happy to give you a quick estimate of the property’s current market value. Let us know how we can help!
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When preparing to list your Chantilly home for sale, you may be wondering who will buy your home. While this initial thought may be one spurred by curiosity, the fact is that understanding who your target audience is and what they are looking for in a home may help you to position your home to sell more quickly and for a better price.
If you have determined that there are many younger buyers moving into your area, you may want to make a few changes that will add appeal to this target audience. While you could spend tens of thousands of dollars or more completing a home makeover, there are a few budget-minded ideas that you may consider.
Add Color to Molding and Trim
One of the hottest trends in home décor and interior design is to get rid of the standard white trim and molding and to add color to these areas. Neutral hues like grays and browns have universal appeal, or you can give your space a more contemporary look by adding black to these areas.
Generally, you will want a more neutral color like a creamy beige on the walls when executing a look with colored trim.
Update Light Fixtures
If you have a little more money to spend, you may consider updating your light fixtures. There are rather affordable yet stylish fixtures available in a wide range of finishes.
When your rooms are empty or staged to perfection, the light fixtures can easily set the tone of the room and may be focal points. Outdated fixtures may have limited appeal to young buyers who are looking for a home that is modern and current with today’s trends.
Redefine Outdated Spaces
In some older homes, some of the rooms may have originally been built with outdated uses in mind.
Today’s younger buyers may be looking for a home with an exercise room, a media room or a study rather than a formal living or dining area. With this in mind, you may consider how you can stage your home to show that it can be used for modern purposes.
This may simply mean moving your formal dining room set into storage, adding French doors and investing in an affordable desk and side chairs for staging purposes. This is just one of several options available that may give your home broader appeal to a younger audience shopping for a modern floor plan.
If you are thinking about renovating your home and you believe that you will likely attract younger buyers to your area, you can consider implementing some of these ideas in your space.
And if you are considering updating with an eye toward selling your own home, please know we’d be happy to give you a quick estimate of the property’s current market value. Let us know how we can help!
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July 28th, 2015 categories: Home Mortgage Tips
The United States government established the HARP program, otherwise known as the Home Affordable Refinance Program, to assist homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage payments. Initially, the program was founded in March 2009, and it has provided many homeowners with an easier route to adjusting their mortgage payments to make them more affordable. However, the program will be ending soon, and homeowners who have not yet taken advantage of the program and who intend to do so may need to act quickly.
When Does the Program End?
The HARP mortgage program will officially end on December 31, 2015. If you intend to apply for a mortgage under this program, you must have your application submitted by this date. However, a closing date may extend into early 2016. There are special rules and eligibility requirements that must be met in order for you to take advantage of this program, and these must be in place before you submit a full application. Therefore, it is important that anyone who is interested in applying for a mortgage under the HARP program take time initially to understand more about the rules and eligibility requirements in place.
What Are the Requirements?
It is important to note that the HARP program is not suitable for all homeowners who wish to refinance, and special requirements must be in place. Just a few of the requirements include that you must be in good standing with your current mortgage with no late payments within the last six months. You also cannot have had more than one late payment within the last 12 months. In addition, you must be able to pay for the new mortgage payment, and the mortgage must be a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. These are just a few of the requirements, and you will need to work with a mortgage professional to ensure that you qualify for these and other requirements that are in place.
The HARP program has already helped many homeowners who have been struggling with their mortgage payments. While the program offers a permanent solution to homeowners by re-establishing a new mortgage payment amount, the program itself was only intended to be temporary in nature. Because it will officially end at the end of 2015, any homeowners who are still interested in taking advantage of the benefits of the HARP program should consider speaking with their trusted mortgage professional soon to learn more about the requirements and to begin the application process.
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July 27th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. The National Association of Realtors® reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.
Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and FHFA House Prices Rise
According to the National Association of Realtors®, June sales of existing homes reached their highest level since February 2007. Sales of used homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million previously owned homes sold against expectations of 5.42 million homes and May’s reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold. By comparison, sales of existing homes remain about 24 percent below a pre-recession peak. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® cited improving labor markets and home buyer concerns over rising mortgage rates as factors contributing to May’s reading for existing home sales.
FHFA, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices associated with sales of homes financed with loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie rose by 0.40 percent month-over-month in May and held steady with April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent. FHFA home prices rose by 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.
Mortgage Rates Mixed
Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages fell while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.97 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.
Expected reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales were not released last week.
Scheduled economic reports for this week include the usual weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates along with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May and the Commerce Department’s report on pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has scheduled an announcement on Wednesday, and reports on consumer confidence and consumer sentiment will also be released next week.
By the way, our Search Tool will help you find and locate properties of interest all over Northern Virginia. Kathy is always available to help you with your home search and/or home sale!
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July 24th, 2015 categories: Around The Home
Chantilly homeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale in the coming weeks or months may be focused on improving their home to help it sell more quickly, but there also may be a focus on adding value to the home in the process. While each home is unique, there are a few projects that most homeowners would benefit from. In fact, these are a few simple and easy projects that can typicaly be completed over the course of a weekend; that can add value and desirability to the home.
Replace The Front Door
The front door has an impact on curb appeal, and it also is one of the primary features that buyers will see when they approach your home to take a tour. Replacing an older door that lacks style or that is plagued with signs of wear and tear can improve property value and curb appeal alike. Many homeowners who have basic tools and some do-it-yourself experience with other projects will be able to replace the front door without additional help from a contractor.
Update The Kitchen Back Splash
A kitchen is a key selling point in a home, and the back splash is among the most visible features in this space. Replacing the back splash with stylish tile can improve the look and can instantly make the home more desirable. This can be a relatively simple type of home renovation project, if you have experience with tile work, that may be completed within just a few hours.
Repaint The Walls And Baseboards
Few things can improve the look of a home more easily than a fresh coat of paint. If the walls are showing signs of wear or the colors do not have modern or universal appeal, applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and baseboards is a simple enough project to tackle. For the best results, focus on the rooms with the most undesirable paint colors, in the most visible rooms of the home or in areas where the paint is in generally poor condition.
Each of these projects can have a dramatic impact on the homes appeal and can influence the value of the home itself. Each of these projects under most circumstance can be completed with minimal time and cost to the homeowner. Those who are ready to improve their home in a short period of time can consider which of these projects will yield the most significant results in their home.
And if you are considering selling your own Chantilly home, please know we’d be happy to give you a quick estimate of the property’s current market value. Let us know how we can help!
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