December 14th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s scheduled economic releases included reports on job openings, retail sales and consumer confidence in addition to usual weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. The details:
According to the U.S. Labor Department, job openings were down 2.70 percent in October to a reading of 5.38 million as compared to September’s reading of 5.50 million job openings and the all-time high reading of 5.67 million job openings in July. October’s reading was the third highest since the recession ended in 2009.
Analysts said that a gap between job skills sought by employers and job skills applicants bring to the table continues to affect hiring, but fewer job openings may indicate that this gap is closing. Prospective home buyers view healthy job markets as a confidence booster in their decisions to buy a home. The Fed also monitors job openings as part of its decision making on U.S. monetary policy. All eyes will be on the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting set for next week, as members are expected to raise the federal funds rate. If the Fed raises rates, mortgage rates will also rise.
Retail sales rose in November to 0.20 percent from October’s reading of 0.10 percent growth. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector rose by 0.40 percent against expectations of an 0.20 percent increase and October’s reading of 0.10 percent. This information is consistent with typical increases in sales during the holiday shopping season.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise
Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates rose across the board last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.95 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.19 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose four basis points to 3.03 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60, 0.50 and 0.50 percent respectively.
New jobless claims rose to 282,000, which exceeded expectations of 270,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 269,000 new jobless claims filed. Last week’s reading was the highest since the week of July 4, but also represented the 40th week that new jobless claims were below a benchmark of 300,000 new claims.
Employment figures typically show volatility during the holiday season. Analysts researching trends in jobless claims generally prefer the four-week rolling average of new jobless claims as it evens out volatility shown week-to-week. The four-week reading for new jobless claims increased by 1500 new claims to 270,750 new claims filed.
Analysts’ eyes and ears will closely monitor the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee statement set for next week. Fed policy makers are expected to raise the federal funds rate. If the Fed raises rates, mortgage rates will also rise. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has scheduled a press conference to be given after the FOMC statement. Other scheduled economic reports include Housing Starts, the Wells Fargo/NAHB Housing Market Index and the Consumer Price Index, which tracks inflation.
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Relocating to a Northern Virgina? Thinking about moving to a new neighborhood? While word of mouth from friends and family is valuable, sometimes it’s necessary to get a different perspective.
With the advancement of technology, it’s now possible to research new neighborhoods without getting up off the couch. Here are some websites and apps that have proven invaluable with researching new areas:
Use The Forums On City-Data For Exact Answers
While city-data.com is a valuable resource for people who are looking into relocating to a different city, one of the best uses of the site is the active forums. Here, locals will answer questions about different cities to help narrow down the selection.
Track Specific Neighborhoods With Street Advisor
Once the city is narrowed down, a quick visit to Streetadvisor.com will give a better overview of the different areas. The website is designed to provide visitors the opportunity to review entire communities instead of single businesses. All neighborhoods in a city are ranked based on how well the users have rated them.
Take A Look At The Numbers At Neighborhood Scout
Now that reviews have been read and questions have been answered, people can take a trip to neighborhoodscout.com to get a look at the numbers that define communities. Some details require a subscription, but anybody interested in the crime rate, sex offender registry or appreciation rate of property should join the site.
Get A Unique Perspective With Ratings Apps
There are plenty of apps for phones and tablets that are used to rate restaurants and businesses. Popular choices like Yelp and Foursquare can give a different perspective of what locals think about the businesses in their neighborhoods. Do the local diners get high marks or are people driving across the city for brunch? How are the parks in the area received? These questions can be answered with these apps.
While you can do a lot of preliminary research on your own, sometimes the best person to contact about new neighborhoods is a real estate professional. They will be able to tell you which areas are heating up and which areas should be avoided and help narrow down choices if you’re undecided. Contact one who operates out of the neighborhood you’re thinking about buying in so that you can work with a local who has experience in the area.
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December 9th, 2015 categories: Home Buyer Tips
Some great information for our Chantilly area friends and beyond:
While making a real estate purchase can be a matter rife with many questions, buying to invest in a long-term property can be even more confusing. If you’re looking into investing in real estate and wondering what variables to consider, here are a few tips that you’ll want to keep in mind before deciding on a fruitful investment property.
Be Aware Of The Market You’re Buying Into
Since you’ll need to be aware of what other people are looking for in a property if you’re diving into real estate to invest, you’ll want to carefully consider the neighborhood and city that you’re buying in and think about what the future holds. While becoming knowledgeable about home prices in the area you’re thinking of buying is a must, you’ll also want to think about market projections, trendy new neighborhoods and what the appeal will be to renters or buyers of the home you’re contemplating.
Consider A Diamond In The Rough
It might seem like a home that is a little rough around the edges is going to be a high-maintenance endeavor that doesn’t balance out in the end, but a fixer upper of a place may be end up being the best option. While you may need to renovate a little here and there to unearth some of its natural features, improvements to a home with a good structure in a good neighborhood can be more economical than spending more on a home that instantly appeals. It can also provide a better return on your investment in the long-term.
Stay Within Your Spending Means
When considering an investment property, it can be quite easy to get derailed and think about what you’ll be making instead of the expenditure of the initial investment. However, it’s important to determine beforehand that what you’re choosing to afford is going to be manageable in case you have to swing it on your own. By determining whether or not it’s an affordable expense, you can have a successful investment that will balance out in your favor at the end of the day without having to worry about sinking beneath the cost.
There are many questions that can come along with choosing to invest in real estate, but by carefully considering the market and keeping your purchase at a reasonable price point, you may have a long-term moneymaker on your hands.
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December 4th, 2015 categories: Mortagage Tips
Yes. Like the video shows, lenders now offer several affordable mortgage options which can help first-time homebuyers overcome obstacles that made purchasing a home difficult in the past.
Lenders may now be able to help borrowers who don’t have a lot of money saved for the down payment and closing costs, have no or a poor credit history, have quite a bit of long-term debt, or who have experienced income irregularities.
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November 30th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Although last week’s economic calendar was cut short by the Thanksgiving holiday, several housing-related reports were released. The FHFA reported on third quarter results for its Housing Market Index and the Commerce Department reported on new home sales for October. Freddie Mac released its weekly report on mortgage rates and data on new weekly jobless claims was also released.
FHFA, Commerce Department report Gains for Home Prices, New Home Sales
Home prices for mortgages associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increased 1.30 percent during the quarter ended September 30. This was the 17th consecutive seasonally adjusted quarterly increases for home prices based on sale-only transactions. FHFA home prices rose by 0.80 percent from the second to third quarter of 2015 and rose by 5.70 percent from third quarter 2014 to third quarter 2015 readings.
New home sales rose by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 10.70 percent to 495,000 sales based on a downwardly revised September reading of 447,000 new home sales.
New home sales results were mixed according to the Commerce Department. Sales of newly built homes rose by an astounding 135.30 percent in the Northeast and increased by 8.90 percent in the South and by 5.30 percent in the Midwest. Sales of new homes declined in the West with a reading of -0.90 percent.
Home shoppers received good news as the median price of a new home fell 6 percent to $281,500. Inventory of new homes increased to its highest level since 2010. Higher inventory could ease demand and rapidly rising home prices associated with low supplies of new homes for sale.
Mortgage Rates Mixed, Jobless Claims Lower
Average mortgage rates varied last week according to Freddie Mac. 30-year fixed mortgage rates were two basis points lower at 3.95 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was unchanged at 3.18 percent, and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was three basis points higher at 3.01 percent. Average discount points where 0.70 for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and averaged 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims fell from the prior week’s reading of 272,000 new claims to 260,000 new claims. Analysts expected a reading of 270,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new jobless claims was unchanged at 271,000 after an adjustment to the prior week’s average of 270,750 new claims to a weekly average of 271,000 claims filed over the previous four weeks.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending along with Labor Department releases on the national unemployment rate and Nonfarm Payrolls. Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates and weekly data on new jobless claims will be released as usual.
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November 23rd, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Last week’s economic events included reports the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and the release of minutes for the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. The details:
NAHB: Builder Confidence in Housing Markets Dips
The National Association of Home Builders reported that builder confidence dropped to a reading of 62 as compared to October’s revised reading of 65. Any NAHB reading above 50 indicates that more builders are positive about market conditions than not. NAHB’s assessment of housing market conditions is based on readings for three aspects of current and future market conditions. November’s reading of 67 for current housing market conditions was three points lower than October’s reading of 70. Expectations for market conditions for sales of single family homes over the next six months fell by five points in November to a reading of 70. Builders’ sentiment about prospective buyer foot traffic in new single family developments rose by one point to 48.
Home builders started more new homes than at any time since September 2007; analysts cited wage growth and low unemployment figures along with high demand for homes as driving builder confidence in housing markets. Demand for homes continued to exceed homes available for purchase, which is a driving force for builder confidence.
NAHB Regional Builder Confidence Readings
Regional readings provide a snapshot of regional housing market conditions on a month-to-month bases and on a three month rolling average. The monthly readings for November were lower except for the Western region, which gained one point for a reading of 77. The Northeastern region held steady with a reading of 52; the Midwest’s reading also decreased by one point to 59 and builder confidence in the Southern region fell by five points to 62.
Monthly regional readings for home builder confidence can be volatile due to regional economic conditions; the NAHB provides a three-month rolling average for its four U.S. regions. In November, the Northeast region reported a reading of 50 which was three points higher than October’s reading. The Midwest region was unchanged from October’s reading of 60; the South also reported no change from its October reading of 65. The Western region posted an increase of 69 to 73 over the three months between August and November.
Housing Starts Lowest Since Spring Floods
According to the Commerce Department, housing starts fell by 11 percent to an annualized reading of 1.06 million in October. This was the lowest reading since last spring, when construction was adversely impacted by flooding. September’s reading was adjusted to 1.19 million starts. Meanwhile, building permits issued rose by 4.10 percent to an annual rate of 1.15 million starts in October.
While housing starts fell by 18.60 percent in the South, permits issued rose to their highest level since 2007. The South is the most active region for home construction and accounts for half of all new home construction in the U.S.
Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower
Mortgage rates fell across the board last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.97 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 3.18 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was five basis points lower at 3.03 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims also fell last week to a reading of 271,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 270,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new claims filed. Lower jobless claims indicate further strengthening of labor markets, but seasonal hiring may have positively impacted the reading for new jobless claims.
Next week’s scheduled economic news releases include several housing reports. Existing Home Sales, the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, FHFA House Prices and New Home Sales will be posted along with regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. There will be no economic reports released on Thursday or Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
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November 18th, 2015 categories: Around The Home
Whether you’re readying to put your home on the market or you haven’t updated your space in a while and want to modernize, approaching renovations can be a struggle. With so many things to fix up, both large and small, it can seem overwhelming to prioritize, set the money aside and get to work. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to begin with budget, here are some tips for how to properly prioritize so you can maximize your renovation expenditures.
Determine What Is Most Important
Whether it’s the tile floor in your bathroom or the outdated kitchen sink, if the need for an upgrade in a certain part of your home has been staring you in the face for a while, you’ll want to begin there. By determining your first priority and the no-frills cost assessment of completing it, you can arrive at the cost of what renovating the item will mean. Once you’re in the ballpark, you can then move on to any additional features or accessories that may perk up your basic renovation.
Add A Little Extra To The Budget
The downside of any budget is that costs will always come along that were not predicted, and they can entirely break the bank and your original projections. Instead of hoping for the best, add some extra money to the outline of total expenses for your renovation so you can be prepared for some of the hiccups that will come along. This will ensure that you have the financial wherewithal to complete the renovation and won’t be disappointed in the final outcome for your finances.
Consider Where You Can Cutback
Whether you’ve been dreaming of a new living room set for a while or replacing the flooring in the kitchen, you can update the area of your choice while still economizing in other ways. For example, if you’re going for modern eclectic in your living room, you may want to splurge on an updated couch, but you may be able to save by purchasing a retro coffee table online or a unique side chair that’s secondhand to go along with it. This may provide a unique upgrade, without all the expense of in-store purchases.
It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to revamping your house, but it’s important to start with what you really can’t live without and move outward from there. If you’re curious about home renovations and how they can improve the market value of your home, you may want to contact your trusted mortgage professional for refinancing options that will work for your situation.
And if you are considering curb appeal 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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November 16th, 2015 categories: Market Outlook
Good information for our friends in Chantilly and beyond:
Last week’s scheduled economic news was sparse due to no scheduled releases on Monday and the Veterans Day Holiday on Wednesday. A report on job openings was released on Thursday along with regularly scheduled weekly reports on jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates.
Mortgage Rates, Weekly Jobless Claims Rise
Mortgage rates rose last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.98 percent from last week’s reading of 3.87 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.20 percent from the prior week’s reading of 3.09 percent; the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also higher at an average of 3.03 percent as compared to the prior week’s average rate of 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged for all three types of mortgages at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
New jobless claims rose last week to 276,000 claims filed against the expected reading of 268,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 276,000 new jobless claims filed. The Labor department reported 5.53 million job openings on September, which was the second highest reading since the inception of the job openings report in 2000.
The Labor Department also reported that the quits rate held steady at 1.90 percent for the sixth consecutive month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said that the Fed considers the quits rate an indicator of economic strength; if workers have enough confidence to quit their jobs for new jobs, this a strong economy. The quits rate has held steady for six months, which could signal to the Fed that the economy is not yet ready for a rise in interest rates that analysts expect to occur in December.
U.S. News recently cautioned that a combination of rising home prices and interest rates could quickly cool housing markets as first-time and moderate income buyers are priced out of the market and other would-be buyers find it difficult to qualify for the mortgages they need to finance home purchases. Recent hikes in mortgage rates are a likely response to the anticipated Fed rate hike in December.
Next week’s scheduled economic reports include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and minutes from the most recent meeting of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. The minutes may provide additional insight into how Fed policymakers are approaching the decision about raising the target federal funds rate.
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With all of the care and consideration that can go into deciding if a Chantilly area home is the right fit, it can add a wrench to the mix to realize that you may not have a lot of time to put in an offer. It’s certainly important to weigh all of the factors of buying a home before deciding to put yourself in the ring, but here is why you’ll want to come to a conclusion quickly when it comes to a home you love.
It’s An Ideal Home, For You And Many Others
If you’ve finally found a home that you can see yourself and your family in, and you’re seriously considering putting in an offer, there’s a good chance that there are many other people who might also be quite interested in it. While you’ll need to determine whether it’s the right neighborhood, size and price before putting in an offer, you’ll want to consider these decisions relatively quickly so that someone doesn’t beat you to the punch.
A Quick Decision Means You’re Serious
Most home sellers are interested in getting an offer that is quite close to their asking price, but like anyone, they can have intuitions about potential buyers and may be more comfortable with someone who is reliable. By posing an offer to the seller in short order, you will make them aware of your keenness and interest, and – at the end of the day – this may actually inspire more trust in them. If they need to sell the home quickly or are planning a move of their own soon, this can make a considerable difference.
The Prices Are Always Rising
If you’ve been perusing the market for a while, deciding to make an offer on a home you can really see yourself in may end up being a money saver. According to Zillow, the average rental price in the United States has risen by 14% since 2011 to $1400 per month, and home prices are also beginning to increase. This means that it’s becoming an even better investment to put money into property instead of rent, so that you can make up the difference in your finances in the present and the future.
It’s important to make an educated decision when deciding to purchase a home, but by deciding quickly if a home works for you and making your interest known you may have more success.
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November 10th, 2015 categories: Home Mortgage Tips
If you’re in the market for a mortgage, you may want to set up a pre-qualification meeting with a mortgage professional. Even if you’re not 100% sure who you’d like to apply for a mortgage with, pre-qualification can still be a valuable step to take. And given that it only takes a few minutes, it’s something every potential homeowner can do.
So why should you go to a mortgage pre-qualification meeting with a mortgage lender? Here are just a few reasons why it’s a great idea.
It’ll Give You A Good Idea Of How Much House You Can Afford
A mortgage pre-qualification is not the same thing as a pre-approval. When you pre-qualify for a mortgage, your lender will use information that you provide – information like your debts, your income, and your assets – to determine what size of a mortgage you can afford. This affordability information discovered during pre-qualification is then verified during pre-approval.
Pre-qualification usualy doesn’t involve a credit check, and it only takes a few minutes. The advantage of a pre-qualification is that it helps to guide your house hunt. When you know what kind of a home you can afford, it’s easier to navigate the real estate market.
It’ll Help You To Budget Your Expenses
A pre-qualification is a great way to get your household budget sorted out as a homeowner. When you pre-qualify, your potential new lender will tell you what kind of a mortgages would work best for you and your situation. That means you can easily budget for estimated mortgage expenses and know what to expect before you apply for a mortgage.
Some Agents And Sellers Require It
The pre-qualification phase is the first step in the mortgage process. When you’re buying a home, agents and sellers will want to see that you have a good chance of getting a mortgage, as this makes the sale much easier. For that reason, a number of sellers and real estate agents highly prefer buyers who have been pre-qualified – and some of them simply won’t sell to a buyer who hasn’t been pre-qualified.
Mortgage pre-qualification is a great way to sort out your budget, determine what kind of a home you can afford, and persuade a seller to sell to you. And given that it only takes a few minutes to get pre-qualified, it’s a simple step that simply should not be skipped. Contact your trusted mortgage professional today to learn more about getting pre-qualified for a mortgage.
By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling 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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