U.S. housing markets are gaining as demand for homes exceeds available supplies in many areas. The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for June increased by eight points over May’s reading to achieve a positive reading of 52. This last happened in August-September of 2002, when HMI monthly readings also jumped by eight points.
Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than negative. June’s reading was the first time the HMI reading surpassed a reading of 50 since April 2006.
Limited Inventory Drives Sales Of New Homes
Rick Judson, NAHB Chairman, cited short supplies of existing homes as a factor driving sales of new homes. As demand for homes grows and inventories of available existing homes fall, buyers are increasingly buying new homes.
Sales of existing homes continue to be impacted by factors such as homes worth less than the mortgages held against them and sellers taking a “wait and see” attitude toward listing their homes for sale.
All three of the components of June’s national HMI gained:
The reading for current sales conditions rose from 48 to 56.
Expectations for future sales gained nine points to 61.
June’s reading for buyer foot traffic in new homes gained seven points for a reading of 40.
Regional Home Builder Confidence Grows In 3 Of 4 Regions
The 3-month rolling average readings for regional home builder confidence showed increases in three of four regions:
Northeast: Builder confidence increased by one point to 37.
Midwest: Builder confidence rose by one point to 47.
South: Builder confidence rose by four points to 46.
West: Builder confidence dropped by one point to 48.
High demand and a shortage lots available for building new homes contributed to the West’s slight decrease in builder confidence. Overall, increasing home builder confidence is a sign of economic recovery, but as the economy gains momentum and home prices continue rising, mortgage rates can be expected to rise as well.
Housing Starts Up 28% Annually In May
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday that national housing starts rose by 6.80 percent from April’s revised reading. May’s reading of 914,000 housing starts was reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. May’s reading was 28.80 percent higher than for May 2012.
Single-family housing starts (one to four units) fell short of investor expectations of 953,000 but exceeded April’s revised reading of 856,000.
Multi-family housing starts surpassed single-family housing starts, but any additions to low inventories of single-family homes could ease the difference between high demand and low inventories of available homes. Meeting demand for homes would temper rising home prices, which could help potential buyers qualify for mortgage loans.
Foreclosure actions increased by 2.0 percent in May from April’s 75 month low point for foreclosure activity according to RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released June 11. However, the good news is that May 2013 foreclosure filings were still 28 percent below May 2012 filings.
RealtyTrac reports that approximately one in 885 homes were in some stage of foreclosure in May. This does not mean that 1 in 885 homes was lost to foreclosure, but it does indicate that documents related to some phase of foreclosure (Notice of Default, Notice of Trustee Sale, and Bank Reposession) were filed.
Actual lender repossessions (REO) increased by 11 percent in May, but were down by 29 percent as compared to May 2012. 33 states reported increases in REOs with North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin having the highest numbers of REO properties added.
Judicial Foreclosure States Lagging In Clearing Foreclosure Inventory
Foreclosure starts were up by 4 percent in May, but were 33 percent lower than for May of 2012. States using judicial foreclosure proceedings were 5 of the top 6 states for foreclosure filings. The state of Nevada, which uses non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, was second after Florida and ahead of Ohio, South Carolina and Illinois.
In general, judicial foreclosure proceedings take longer to complete than non-judicial foreclosures. This results in homes being unavailable for sale for longer periods of time. Lenders are required to complete the foreclosure process and in some cases, they must await expiration of a redemption period before a foreclosed home can be repaired and sold.
In states using non-judicial foreclosure proceedings, the time between the initial foreclosure filing and the foreclosure sale can be as little as three to four months. Quickly turning over foreclosed homes is helpful for improving regional housing markets and making more homes available for purchase. Economists have recently cited low inventories of homes as holding back housing markets in some areas.
Bank Owned Properties Provide Buying Opportunities
Lender-owned properties provide potential opportunities for first-time buyers and others seeking affordable homes. Mortgage lenders tend to offer attractive sale terms on REO properties, as their objective is to move these homes out of their inventories as quickly as possible.
Some foreclosure properties are also lacking current maintenance and are often sold as-is. DIY enthusiasts can buy and renovate foreclosed homes for owner occupancy or investment.
It’s a good idea to discuss your interest in the opportunities available for financing a Scottsdale lender-owned home with your trusted mortgage professional.
Last week’s news was relatively quiet with no data significant to the mortgage lending released until Wednesday, when the federal government announced a $138 billion budget deficit for May.
According to the U.S. Treasury this figure is 11 percent higher than for May of 2012, but the federal budget is expected to come in with less than a -$1 trillion deficit for the 2013 fiscal year, which runs from October to September.
The Treasury estimates that the 2013 budget deficit will come in at approximately -$642 billion, well below fiscal 2012′s deficit of -$1.1 trillion. The federal budget has been running deficits over -$1 trillion since 2008.
Employment Market Continues To Strengthen
On Thursday, the Weekly Jobless Claims report brought good news; jobless claims fell from the prior week’s 346,000 jobless claims to 334,000 jobless claims. This was also less than expectations of 350,000 jobless claims. As more workers gain steady employment, this will enable more would-be home buyers to become active buyers.
May Retail sales also showed slight improvement as they moved from 0.60 percent from April’s 0.10 percent.
According to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average mortgage rate for a 30year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.91 percent to 3.98 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s 3.03 percent to 3.10 percent with discount points holding at 0.70 percent.
What‘s Coming Up This Week
Next week’s economic news schedule has a number of reports due including Wednesday’s FOMC statement and Fed Chair Ben Bernanke’s press conference. This meeting and press conference are significant as any move by the Fed to reduce or cease its current quantitative easing (QE) program could cause mortgage rates to rise further.
Monday’s news includes the Home Builders Index for June. Tuesday brings the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May and the Core CPI, also for May. The indices measure prices paid by consumers for goods and services; the Core CPI eliminates the volatile food and energy sectors included in the CPI. Rising or falling consumer costs influence how much discretionary income consumers have for saving toward buying a home.
No news is scheduled for Wednesday other than the FOMC statement and press conference.
Thursday brings the Existing Home Sales Report, Weekly Jobs Report, Freddie Mac PMMS and Leading Indicators. These reports are expected to provide news about U.S. housing markets, mortgage rates and economic influences impacting consumers.
Many home buyers have found the perfect house, signed on the dotted line and may think they’ve watched enough home improvement shows to know if the home they’re getting is in good shape. Unfortunately, some buyers make the mistake of skipping a home inspection in order to save a little cash.
Even if a home has already stolen your heart and you’re ready to pay for it as-is, you need to bite the bullet and hire a home inspector to let you know what repairs and financial repercussions await you.
Why You Should Hire A Home Inspector
You might know a thing or two about home remodeling and repairs. However, most people are not experts on the inner workings of a home. That is why it’s important to hire a professional to search for potential furnace issues, electrical wiring mishaps, plumbing weaknesses or roofing deterioration to name a few.
While a home might look like it’s in perfect condition on the surface, there could be major issues hiding beneath its façade. That’s why it really is imperative for your safety that you hire an inspector to scrutinize the bones of your home. Understanding any imperfections may also help you budget for immediate and future repairs.
When to Schedule the Home Inspection
Once you’ve signed a purchase contract, you’ll want to schedule a home inspection before the inspection period has ended. Even though you’ve signed the offer, an inspector could just find something that you just cannot live with or afford to fix.
While you would normally schedule an inspection after you’ve signed a contract, it’s important to have an inspector or two picked out beforehand. Ask your real estate professional or friends and family for referrals and then contact the inspectors for pricing and a list of what they will and will not cover at the inspection.
Once again, remember that the cheapest price may not be the best deal on home inspections. Have a good understanding of what, and who, you are investing in.
Even if you do know a lot about the structure, plumbing and wiring of houses, don’t let your ego get the better of you. It’s important to shell out the additional money to hire an inspector and cover your assets. You’d hate to end up with a home that needs major renovations and not have known about it.
For more information on hiring a professional for your Scottsdale home inspection or for a referral, please call today!
Filing your taxes can be a complicated and confusing process. If you are a home owner you may have many different home tax deductions and credits to consider.
Since we recently passed the filing date for 2012 taxes, it may be a good time to plan for next year and get your tax tracking systems in place. Check carefully to make sure that you are not making any of these common homeowner tax mistakes – which could cost you money or get you in trouble with the IRS.
Miscalculating Your Home Office Tax Deduction
If you work from home, you will be able to deduct a percentage of your housing costs for your home office. However, most people don’t know how to calculate this and don’t realize that it also has to be recaptured when you eventually sell your home. You will only want to claim it if it is worth it, so make sure you know exactly what you can write off.
Failing To Keep Track Of Home Expenses
Don’t forget to keep a record of home maintenance, repair expenses and any other relevant documents as you go along. The money you spend on improving your property can help offset future capital gains tax. Keeping good records will save you a lot of headaches when tax time comes around.
Forgetting To Pay Tax On Capital Gains
If you have sell your primary residence this year, you will need to pay capital gains tax on any profit that you have received. Capital gains are the amount that you gained on the property’s value – so if you bought it for $150,000 and sold it for $300,000, your capital gains are $150,000. You may be able to exclude $250,000 of any profits for taxes, or $500,000 if you are a married couple if this exclusion stays the same as in 2012.
Deducting The Wrong Year For Property Taxes
Remember that you must take the tax deduction for your property taxes in the year that you have actually paid them. No matter what the date is on your property taxes bill, you should enter the amount that you paid in the calendar year. If you confuse this part, you might end up claiming the incorrect amount for the year.
These are just a few of the common mistakes that home owners can make when filing their taxes. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that you pay the right amount and avoid any hassle from the IRS. Also, please double-check all of these suggestions with a qualified, licensed tax preparer in the Phoenix area.
The U.S. Department of Labor released its Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment Rate reports Friday showing 175,000 jobs were added in May, which surpassed expectations of 164,000 new jobs and April’s reading of 149,000 jobs added. The jobs added in May were largely from the private sector.
However, the national unemployment rate for May was 7.60 percent, one-tenth of a percent higher than expectations and the April reading of 7.50 percent. The rise was attributed to more people entering the workforce as opposed to people losing jobs.
420,000 workers joined the workforce in May, which pushed the civilian participation rate in the labor market to 63.4 percent; the highest participation rate since October 2012. A rising participation rate suggests that more workers believe they can find jobs and have joined or returned to the labor market.
Economists Pleased With Increasing Jobs In Difficult Environment
Economists were pleased to see jobs increasing against an environment of higher taxes, a soft global economy and budget cutbacks in the U.S. government.
A lingering issue for U.S. labor markets is the number of people looking for full time work, but who are unable to find full-time employment. When these workers are added to the ranks of the unemployed who are actively seeking work, the actual unemployment rate almost doubles to 13.8 percent for May.
The national unemployment rate is based on workers who are actively seeking work. Many U.S. workers stopped looking for work after years of unemployment.
Fed May Review Quantitative Easing Program Soon
These reports don’t provide a clear indication of what the Federal Reserve may do regarding its current monetary policy; the Fed is currently purchasing $85 billion a month in U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). This effort is intended to keep long-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, lower.
The Fed has indicated that it will review its quantitative easing (QE) policy relative to improvements in the economy. In recent months, the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve (FOMC) has discussed lowering or eliminating its QE efforts, but so far is maintaining its current level of QE and maintaining the federal funds rate at 0.250 percent.
While housing markets are improving, the jobs sector is moving at a slower pace. This suggests that home prices could rise even faster if more consumers had sufficient income for buying a home.
Last week’s economic reports provided a mixed bag of results. On Monday, the Department of Commerce reported that construction spending increased by 0.40 percent in April and fell shy of the expected reading of 1.0 percent, but exceeded the March reading of -0.80 percent.
Home Prices Increase Fastest Since 2006
On Tuesday, CoreLogic released its Home Prices reported that the national average home price had increased by 12.10 percent year-over-year in April. The comparable year-over-year reading for April 2012 was 11.00 percent. This represents the fastest pace of home price increases since 2006.
The national average home price expanded by 3.20 percent as compared to March, but average prices grew faster in the West, which is experiencing a pronounced lack of available homes and developed land for building.
New Jobs Created Showing Improvement Over April Revisions
ADP released its private-sector Payrolls Report for May on Wednesday; 135,000 new private sector jobs were added as compared to investor expectations of 170,000 jobs added in May. The May reading surpassed April’s downwardly-revised reading of private-sector jobs added.
Friday’s Jobs Report, issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consists of the Non-Farm Payrolls Report and the National Unemployment Rate. Non-Farm Payrolls added 175,000 public and private sector jobs and surpassed both the consensus reading of 164,000 new jobs and the prior week’s reading of 149,000 jobs added. The National Unemployment Rate ticked up from 7.50 to 7.60 percent. The Department of Labor attributes this increase to more people joining or returning to the labor market.
The Federal Reserve Beige Book Report was also released Wednesday. It contained no surprises and noted modest to moderate economic growth in 11 of 12 Federal Reserve Districts. The Dallas Federal Reserve District reported strong growth, but investors will be watching next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting closely for proposed changes to the Fed’s current policy of buying bonds and mortgage backed securities (MBS) with the goal of keeping long term interest rates lower.
Thursday’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought disquieting news of rising mortgage rates. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage had risen from the prior week’s rate of 3.81 percent to 3.91 percent. Discount points fell slightly from 0.80 percent to 0.70 percent with buyers paying all of their closing costs. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose from last week’s average rate of 2.98 percent to 3.03 percent with discount rates remaining the same at 0.70 percent for buyers paying all of their closing costs.
What‘s Ahead for Next Week
There is no news scheduled for release on Monday. The rest of the week’s calendar includes the NFIB Small Business Index on Tuesday and the Federal Budget for May on Wednesday. Thursday’s scheduled releases include Weekly Jobless Claims, Average weekly mortgage rates as reported by Freddie Mac, and Retail Sales for May. Friday’s schedule includes the Producer’s Price Index for May and June’s Consumer Sentiment Report.
Imagine walking into your home and turning off the alarm, locking your doors, opening the windows and starting your coffee maker, all with a few taps of your finger on your smart phone?
What if you had a home security camera that you could monitor from anywhere and a motion sensor that would send you an email when your kids come home from school? What if you could open your blinds or unlock your home for a visitor, even from halfway around the world?
The technology that powers our home security systems is getting more and more sophisticated and in the future, our homes will be more responsive than we could ever imagine.
Rather than a simple line of defense that keeps out burglars, it will be a completely integrated and custom designed automated system that responds intelligently to your needs.
Here are a few of the upcoming technology innovations:
Smart Home Technology
At the moment, prototypes are being developed for integrated home security systems that have individual Internet protocols that can address everything from a fridge to a window to a door. Even your home appliances, like your refrigerator, air conditioning systems and lighting systems may be able to be managed remotely through a smart phone.
This connectivity essentially gives everything in your house an Internet address, so that you can control them and monitor them digitally. Once the system is linked up it can be controlled remotely by Blackberry, Apple or Android.
The 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year showcased a number of smart phone apps and devices designed to control everything within your home so that you can master the household with the click of a button.
The Future Is Still On Its Way
Although the technology is being developed, there is still a long way to go until we all live in automated houses like on The Jetsons. One underlying and yet unsolved issue is the security systems inability to function in a power outage or with bandwidth and connectivity challenges.
There are also many different conflicting operating systems, setups, standards and approaches that will need to be worked out before the dream of a fully automated Scottsdale home can become a reality.
Even so, the technological advances being made in home security and management systems are impressive and exciting to learn more about.
One of the important aspects of owning a home is having the knowledge of how to keep it maintained to avoid costly repairs and serious damage. Over the years weather and use will wear down both the interior and exterior of your property.
If you are able to practice preventative care on your home, then you will prolong the life of all of its systems and components. At least every six months or so, you should be performing an inspection of your property so that you can ensure that it is still functioning properly and safely.
What should you be looking for when it comes to preventative home maintenance?
Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind:
Pests and Insects
Check your home thoroughly for any insects and unwanted pests such as carpenter ants and termites. Make sure that there is no point where the wood of your home is in contact with the soil and trim away and bushes and trees away from the foundation of the property.
If you can catch the infestation right away, it could save you thousands of dollars on repairing future structural damage.
Windows and Doors
Take a close look at the windows and doors of your home to see if you need to repair any leaks to save energy. A draughty door or window can really add to your energy bill over time, so it will be worth it to ensure that everything is sealed properly.
Gutters and Downspouts
Another important home maintenance task is to go around the exterior of your home and clean out all of the debris from your downspouts and gutters. This will ensure that they are draining properly and moving water away from the house. Otherwise, the water can collect on the eaves of the roof or around the foundation and cause leaks and damage.
Check the Roof
Make sure that you also inspect the roof at least every six months. Look for any loose shingles or damaged roof tiles. If you spot any damage early, it will be a lot less expensive to fix than the water damage that would be caused in your attic by leaving a leaky roof for a long time.
These are just a few of the most important preventative home maintenance tasks that every Phoenix property owner should know. For any additional questions regarding your home maintenance, feel free to contact your trusted local real estate professional.
When you are looking for a mortgage for your home, your credit score is very important. Any potential lender will check your score and will use the number to assess your creditworthiness and the interest rate that they offer you.
The better your credit score the lower the mortgage interest rates will be available to you, as the lender will be able to see that you can handle credit well.
However, if you have a very bad credit score, it could be causing you to be offered high interest rates on your mortgage that could cost you thousands over the years.
Improving your credit score before searching for a mortgage will ensure that you get the best rate possible. But what can you do to improve your credit score?
Here are three tips that can help you improve your credit score and your mortgage loan:
Remember that improving your bad credit will be a little bit like losing weight. You might not see results right away but it is the long term benefit of your good habits that will make all the difference.
When it comes to all of the ways to improve your credit score, there are no quick-fixes and the best way to rebuild your credit is to be responsible over time.
Check Your Credit Report For Errors
If you don’t know precisely what your credit score currently is, the first step will be for you to obtain a credit report. You can request a free copy of your credit report and check it over carefully for errors. There might be an error on the report that is making your score appear worse than it should be.
Set Up Payment Reminders
If you have trouble remembering to make your credit payments by the due date, this can be one of the biggest negative factors bringing down your score. You can ask your bank to set up convenient reminders through the online banking portals so that you will receive an email or a text whenever your payments are due.
Your credit score is very important when looking for a Phoenix home mortgage, as it will mean that you receive much better program options and interest rates. Keep these tips in mind so that you can enjoy the best rates possible on your mortgage.
For more tips on how to improve your prospects for the best mortgage, feel free to contact your local, trusted mortgage professional.