Last week brought a mixed bag of economic news, but most notably, average mortgage rates fell.
New home sales surpassed expectations and consumer sentiment rose for July; these readings among others suggest that the economy continued to improve and that consumer confidence in the economy improved as well.
Monday: Existing home sales in June were reported at 5.08 million on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. While this fell short of expectations of 5.25 million existing homes sold, the expectation was based on the original reading of 5.18 million existing homes sold for May; this was later revised to 5.14 million homes existing homes sold in May.
Tuesday: FHFA reported that May prices for homes with mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac remained consistent with April’s reading of a 7.30 percent increase on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. Home prices rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April’s revised reading of 0.50 percent.
Wednesday: The U.S. Census Bureau revealed that June sales of new homes came in at 497,000, which surpassed both expectations of 483,000 new homes sold and May’s reading of 449,000 new homes sold.
Thursday: Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates fell last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 3.31 percent with 0.8 percent in discount points.
The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 3.39 percent with discount points of 0.8 percent as compared to last week’s report of 3.41 percent. Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by one basis point from 3.17 percent to 3.16 percent; discount points moved from 0.60 percent to 0.70 percent.
In other economic news, June’s report for Durable Goods Orders nearly doubled to 4.20 percent over expectations of 2.30 percent.
Friday: Consumer Sentiment for July rose to 85.1 as compared to expectations of 84.0 and June’s reading of 83.90 percent. That consumers continued gaining confidence in the economy could indicate that more would-be home buyers will become active homebuyers seeking to buy amidst a short inventory of available homes.
This Week’s Busy Economic Calendar
Readings for several significant economic and housing related indicators will be released this week.
Pending Home Sales are due out today; Tuesday brings the Case-Shiller Home Price Index and the Consumer Confidence Index. Wednesday’s news includes the ADP report (useful for tracking private sector job growth) and an FOMC statement after its meeting ends.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also scheduled to give a press conference Wednesday. As always, any remarks concerning projected changes to the Fed’s quantitative easing program (QE) could impact financial markets and mortgage rates.
On Thursday, construction spending data will be released in addition to Freddie Mac’s weekly report on average mortgage rates.
Friday’s news includes several employment-related reports. The monthly Non-Farm Payrolls and Unemployment report will be released; collectively these two reports are frequently called the Jobs Report.
Data on personal income and consumer spending will round out the week’s economic news.
One of the biggest improvements that you can make to your home is to bring in more natural light.
Sunlight is a powerful mood enhancer and a home design that brings in a lot of natural light will automatically look and feel much more pleasant. Not only will it boost your mood, bringing in natural light will also increase the value of your home.
So how can you shed some light on your home’s interior?
Here are a few ways:
Add More Reflective Surfaces
Whenever you add a light and reflective surface to your home, you increase the number of times that daylight bounces around inside the room.
Try painting your ceilings and walls with light or off-white colours. Matte finishes are actually better than glossy surfaces, as they reflect light in all directions at once. Add some metal accents and some mirrors to the space, which will also reflect the light.
Move Your Furniture Around
Do you have furniture that is blocking natural light from coming in? Move your furniture away from the windows so that it will not get in the way of the sunlight streaming into your home.
Add A Glass Door
Is there anywhere in your home where you can exchange a solid door for one with glass in its design? This will allow the light to flow through the doorway and increase the feeling of brightness in your home.
There are plenty of glass doors with superb security features, so they will be just as safe as any other door. Also, if you have a yard or a patio to look out on, adding sliding glass doors will be a great way to let the light in and enjoy the view.
Expand Your Windows
Is it possible to increase the size of any of your windows? If yes, the windows on the south side of the house, will bring a significant amount of sunshine into the home.
Add A Skylight
Adding skylights to your home will bring a lot of natural light into the interior. Also, they are much more private than windows because anyone passing by will not be able to see through them. They also add overhead lighting, so that you will not need to use electricity during daylight hours.
These are just a few ways that you can let the sunshine in and bring more natural light into your South Orange County home.
If you are applying for a mortgage to buy a home, doing your homework in advance before you submit the application means that you will stand a better chance of getting accepted at a desirable mortgage rate.
According to mortgage experts, it is a good idea to gather up all of the needed documents in advance before launching your house hunt, as this will make the application process a lot easier.
The housing burst has resulted in much harder lending standards, which means that it could possible take weeks or sometimes even months to secure a loan.
Here are a few important steps that you should take in advance:
Consider What You Can Really Afford
Before you start the entire house hunting and mortgage application process, you should consider what you can really afford to buy.
It might be tempting to buy a house at the upper end of your price range, but consider the fact that it will be more of a struggle to make your mortgage payments and it will take much longer to pay down the mortgage. Assess your finances and be honest with yourself.
Buying a home that is more comfortably within your price range will ensure that you can easily manage your monthly budget over the years.
Save Up A Down Payment
The bank will want to see that you are able to make a down payment of at least 20% of the value of the home.
In order to save up this amount of money, it will be easier if you start in advance and save a small amount every month. The more you can pay for a down payment, the less your mortgage will be and the more money you will save over the length of the loan.
Do Your Research
Take your time to do lots of research in advance and seek out impartial advice on the mortgage market. There are so many options to choose from and a lot to consider, so the more knowledge you have the more prepared you are to make an informed decision.
Consider Your Credit
Before applying for a mortgage loan, you should take a look at your credit report.
Your lender will look at it when you are making an application and they will use it to consider whether or not to offer you the loan and what type of interest rate to give you. If you spot any errors or issues with the credit report, it is a good idea to get them fixed now before you apply.
These are just a few things to consider before applying for a mortgage.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, national sales of existing homes in June came in at 5.08 million.
Summer typically produces the highest prices for existing homes sold, as families seeking larger homes frequently move during summer months.
The June inventory of existing homes improved by 1.90 percent to 2.19 million homes or a 5.20 month supply. June’s number of available homes was 7.60 percent lower than in June 2012.
The shortage of available homes has been causing buyers to turn from existing homes to new homes in areas where both available homes and/or land for new construction are in short supply.
Average Home Prices Continue Their Climb Nationally
So the news of more existing homes for sale is good news for home buyers and housing markets that have been held back by an excess of buyers seeking a short supply of available homes.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun noted that inventories of existing homes are expected to “broadly favor sellers and contribute to above-normal price growth.”
This trend was supported by June’s national average price for existing homes at $214,200, which represented a year-over-year increase of 13.5 percent. Rising home prices and mortgage rates continue creating financial challenges for first-time buyers and others seeking affordable home prices and mortgage loans.
Distressed home sales were down from 18 percent in May to 15 percent in June; this is the lowest market share since tracking began in 2008. June sales of distressed homes were significantly lower than in June 2012’s reading of 26 percent of existing homes sold.
The National Association of REALTORS® noted that falling levels of distressed sales are contributing to higher prices for existing homes.
FHFA Reports Home Prices Rise In May
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported Tuesday that prices for homes financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose by 0.70 percent in May as compared to April’s downwardly revised 0.50 percent increase in home prices.
According to the FHFA Housing Price Index (HMI), home prices were up by 7.30 percent year-over-year in May, and are roughly equal to home prices reported for January 2005. May’s home prices remained 11.20 percent below peak prices reported in April 2007.
May’s FHFA data demonstrated steady growth of home prices for all nine census divisions on a year-over-year basis with home prices increasing from 2.70 percent to 15.80 percent in May.
Last week’s economic news was a mixed bag with retail sales and housing starts coming in lower than expected, but home builder confidence in housing markets increased.
Weekly jobless claims fell, and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate, saying that falling gold prices were an indication of increasing confidence in the economy, but that it was “way too soon” to say when the Fed’s quantitative easing program would be reduced.
Monday: Retail sales for June came in lower than expected at 0.4 percent. Economists estimated a reading of 0.9 percent based on May’s reading of 0.5 percent.
Tuesday: June’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in as expected at 0.5 percent against May’s reading of 0.1 percent. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for July gained five points for a reading of 57, which exceeded expectations of a reading of 52. Builders cited a short supply of existing homes and falling materials prices as factors contributing to June’s stronger reading.
Wednesday: Housing starts in June fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 836,000 against expectations of 950,000 and May’s revised reading of 928,000. Regional weather and a surplus of unused building permits were seen as contributing to fewer housing starts in June; analysts did not see the dip in housing starts as a sign of softening housing markets.
Thursday: Fed Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate as noted above and was careful to emphasize that economic data received after the last FOMC meeting indicated that it is “way too soon” for the Fed to change its monthly volume of Treasury bonds and MBS purchases. This is good news for mortgage markets, and possibly for mortgage rates, which fell this week.
Freddie Mac reported that average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 14 basis points to 4.37 percent; average rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by 12 basis points to 3.41 percent; these rates include average discount points of 0.7 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 ARM was 3.17 percent with discount points of 0.6 percent. The 5/1 ARM provides an affordable alternative to rising fixed mortgage rates.
Friday: No significant economic news noted.
What’s Coming Up
This week’s schedule includes Existing Home Sales on Monday; on Tuesday, the FHFA releases its Home Prices report. New Home Sales will be released on Wednesday; Thursday brings weekly jobless claims and the Durable Goods report. The week will finish with the Consumer Sentiment report on Friday.
Any family would feel violated after coming home to a ransacked house. Burglars look for specific things when choosing a home to break into, and many homeowners are unknowingly inviting criminals through the front door.
Below are five ways you can avoid drawing the eyes of thieves and deter your home from becoming a target.
Beware Of Selling To Strangers
If you’re wanting to sell items on Craigslist or another internet-based classified ad website, attempt conducting your transactions outside of the home.
If you must meet at home, screen the person over the telephone to ensure that they are truly interested in the item you’re selling. Thieves have been known to make appointments just to check out your home.
Be Careful If You Tweet About It
Not all of your friends protect their social media information, or may not have the most virtuous acquaintances. If you share your upcoming vacation or big event, then a mischievous friend of a friend will know the perfect time to forcefully check out your home.
Learn how to limit your social media posts to only your trusted contacts.
Mind Your Trash
Be careful when it comes to taking out the garbage, especially around holidays. Criminals will drive around nice neighborhoods and specifically look for empty boxes of high-price items. Then all they have to do is wait for you to leave the house before they force their way in and nab the goods.
Break down boxes and conceal them in garbage bags or trashcans.
Prepare For Your Vacation
Make sure when you leave on vacation that you put a few lights on timers and have someone collect your mail. A home that is obviously vacant is every burglar’s dream.
And if you’re on an extended holiday, ensure you also hire someone to take care of the lawn – overgrown grass is a no-one-is-home indicator.
Secure The Safe
Just because you put your valuables in a safe doesn’t mean they’re secure. If the safe isn’t installed in a wall or bolted to the floor, then a burglar can just carry it through your front door. They can figure out how to break into it later.
Make the additional time investment to ensure your safe can’t walk out the door.
With a little common sense and by following the advice above, you’ll reduce the risk of your home being targeted by burglars.