Eileen's Blog

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BERKELEY, Calif., (June 9, 2017) – Despite steadily improving local job markets and historically low mortgage rates, the U.S. homeownership rate is stuck near a 50-year low because of a perverse mix of affordability challenges, student loan debt, tight credit conditions and housing supply shortages.

That’s according to findings of a new white paper titled, “Hurdles to Homeownership: Understanding the Barriers” (link is external) released today in recognition of National Homeownership Month at the National Association of Realtors® Sustainable Homeownership Conference at University of California, Berkeley.

Led by a group of prominent experts, including NAR 2017 President William E. Brown, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun and Berkeley Hass Real Estate Group Chair Ken Rosen, today’s conference addresses the dip and idleness in the homeownership rate, its drag on the economy and what can be done to ensure more creditworthy households have the opportunity to buy a home.

“The decline and stagnation in the homeownership rate is a trend that’s pointing in the wrong direction, and must be reversed given the many benefits of homeownership to individuals, communities and the nation’s economy,” said Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California. “Those who are financially capable and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.” One of Brown’s main objectives as president of NAR is identifying ways to boost the homeownership rate in a safe and responsible way.

The research, which was commissioned by NAR, prepared by Rosen Consulting Group, or RCG, and jointly released by the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business, identifies five main barriers that have prevented a significant number of households from purchasing a home. They are:

Post-foreclosure stress disorder: There are long-lasting psychological changes in financial decision-making, including housing tenure choice, for the 9 million homeowners who experienced foreclosure, the 8.7 million people who lost their jobs, and some young adults who witnessed the hardships of their family and friends. While most Americans still have positive feelings about homeownership, targeted programs and workshops about financial literacy and mortgage debt could help return-buyers and those who may have negative biases about owning.

Mortgage availability: Credit standards have not normalized following the Great Recession. Borrowers with good-to-excellent credit scores are not getting approved at the rate they were in 2003, prior to the period of excessively lax lending standards. Safely restoring lending requirements to accessible standards is key to helping creditworthy households purchase homes.

The growing burden of student loan debt: Young households are repaying an increasing level of student loan debt that makes it extremely difficult to save for a down payment, qualify for a mortgage and afford a mortgage payment, especially in areas with high rents and home prices. As NAR found in a survey released last year, student loan debt is delaying purchases from millennials and over half expect to be delayed by at least five years. Policy changes need to be enacted that address soaring tuition costs and make repayment less burdensome.

Single-family housing affordability: Lack of inventory, higher rents and home prices, difficulty saving for a down payment and investors weighing on supply levels by scooping up single-family homes have all lead to many markets experiencing decaying affordability conditions. Unless these challenges subside, RCG forecasts that affordability will fall by an average of nearly 9 percentage points across all 75 major markets between 2016 and 2019, with approximately 5 million fewer households able to afford the local median-priced home by 2019. Declining affordability needs to be addressed with policies enacted that ensure creditworthy young households and minority groups have the opportunity to own a home.

Single-family housing supply shortages: “Single-family home construction plummeted after the recession and is still failing to keep up with demand as cities see increased migration and population as the result of faster job growth,” said Rosen. “The insufficient level of homebuilding has created a cumulative deficit of nearly 3.7 million new homes over the last eight years.”

Fewer property lots at higher prices, difficulty finding skilled labor and higher construction costs are among the reasons cited by RCG for why housing starts are not ramping up to meet the growing demand for new supply. A concentrated effort to combat these obstacles is needed to increase building, alleviate supply shortages and preserve affordability for prospective buyers.

“Low mortgage rates and a healthy job market for college-educated adults should have translated to more home sales and upward movement in the homeownership rate in recent years,” said Yun. “Sadly, this has not been the case. Obtaining a mortgage has been tough for those with good credit, savings for a down payment are instead going towards steeper rents and student loans, and first-time buyers are finding that listings in their price range are severely inadequate.”

Added Rosen, “A healthy housing market is critical to the overall success of the U.S. economy. Too many would-be buyers have been locked out of the market by the factors found in this study, and it’s also one of the biggest reasons why economic growth has been subpar in the current recovery.”

Today’s homeownership event in Berkeley brings together leading housing economists, policy experts, real estate practitioners and public officials to discuss current market conditions, housing policy, improving access to credit, affordable housing options and inequality.

Along with Brown, Yun and Rosen, the notable list of speakers are: Katherine Baker, California State Assembly, 16th district; Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy, Bay Area Council; Chuck Reed, former San Jose Mayor and special counsel, Hopkins & Carley; David Bank, senior vice president, Rosen Consulting Group; and Jim Gaines, chief economist, Texas A&M University Real Estate Center;

Additional speakers are Joel Singer, CEO and state secretary, California Association of Realtors®; Nancy Wallace, co-chair, Fisher Center for Real Estate & Urban Economics and professor, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business; Laurie Goodman, co-director, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute; Carol Galante, I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor of Affordable Housing and Urban Policy; faculty director, Terner Center for Housing Innovation; Co-Chair of Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics; and former FHA Commissioner; John C. Weicher, director, Center for Housing and Financial Markets at the Hudson Institute, and former FHA Commissioner.

“Hurdles to Homeownership: Understanding the Barriers (link is external)” is the second of three papers scheduled for release in 2017 by RCG. Among the findings of the first white paper, “Homeownership in Crisis: Where Are We Now? (link is external),” released earlier this year, RCG estimated that more than $300 billion would have been added to the economy in 2016, representing a 1.8 percent bump to GDP, if homebuilding returned to a more normalized level consistent with the historical trend. The third paper – published later this year – will highlight a series of creative policy ideas to promote safe, affordable and sustainable homeownership opportunities.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on June 9th, 2017 4:28 PM
Provided to you Exclusively By Tim Merritt  
For the week of Apr 10, 2017 | Vol. 15, Issue 15
Timothy A. Merritt
Timothy A. Merritt
Mortgage Consultant NMLS #379139
Ross Mortgage Corporation
Cell: (248) 505-8861
e-fax: (248) 658-2790
E-Mail: tmerritt@rossmortgage.com
Ross Mortgage Corporation
"Financing the America Dream"
 
In This Issue
Last Week in Review: The March Jobs Report had good and bad news to share.

Forecast for the Week: Inflation and Retail Sales will highlight a holiday-shortened week.

View: Have 15 minutes? Reboot your brain cells with these tips.

Last Week in Review
"Why worry about the mortgage and the minimum wage." Alabama. Headline news made investors (and politicians) jumpy this week, and the average American received a mixed bag of money matters.

Job growth, as reported by the Department of Labor, came in at 98,000 in March, following gains of 216,000 in January and 219,000 in February. Both January and February job numbers were revised downward by a total of 38,000 from initial reports, and the March number was nearly half of what was expected. On a positive note, the Unemployment Rate dropped from 4.7 percent to 4.5 percent from February to March, the lowest in 10 years. Plus, average hourly earnings rose 2.7 percent over the last year, though wage growth slipped from February to March.

In housing news, CoreLogic, a leading provider of data analytics, reported that home prices, including distressed sales, jumped 7 percent from February 2016 to February 2017 due in part to high demand and limited supply across most local markets. Month over month, prices rose 1 percent. Looking ahead, prices are expected to rise 4.7 percent from February 2017 to February 2018.

Jobs data spurred some market volatility, but markets were further agitated by continued unrest in North Korea and Syria as well as March Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes that revealed the Fed may begin to shrink its balance sheet by the end of 2017 and that some members are worried Stock evaluations are too high.

Mortgage Bonds benefited throughout the week because investors are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, so when Bond prices improve, home loan rates can improve too. At this time, home loan rates remain near historic lows.

If you or someone you know has any questions about current home loan rates or products, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Forecast for the Week
Inflation numbers are the ones to watch this week as the Fed continues to weigh its 2017 monetary policy options. The Bond markets close at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday and both Stock and Bond markets are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.
  • Inflation numbers will be reported in Thursday's wholesale Producer Price Index and Friday's Consumer Price Index.
  • Also being released on Thursday will be weekly Initial Jobless Claims and the Consumer Sentiment Index.
  • Retail Sales are scheduled for Friday.
Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving. When Bond prices are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further, a red "candle" means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green "candle" means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes are on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bonds improved to levels seen in January, keeping home loan rates near historic lows.

Chart: Fannie Mae 3.5% Mortgage Bond (Friday Apr 07, 2017)
Japanese Candlestick Chart


The Mortgage Market Guide View...
3 Brain-Boosters on a 15-Minute Break

Taking regular breaks during the workday can lead to lower stress levels and better focus. Last week, we shared a few ideas on what you can do to boost brain power on a five-minute break. This week, we offer three options to consider when you have 15 minutes:

Watch a TED Talk. TED Talks are a fantastic way to learn something thought provoking. Conveniently, the TED website allows you to group talks by duration (from up to 6 minutes, between 6-12 minutes, and between 12-18 minutes), so you can pick a talk that you'll be able to finish in the time you have.

Take a walk. The weather is warming and the benefits of a midday walk away from the office shouldn't be underestimated. Bring your smartphone and earbuds along and listen to an inspiring podcast while you're out and about.

Organize a space or two. Chances are one of your desk drawers, a computer bag or the top of your workstation could use a spring cleaning. Bringing some order to your storage and work areas leads to better productivity.

Up next week: What to do when you have 30 minutes to spend. Stay tuned!

Source: Entrepreneur


Economic Calendar for the Week of April 10 - April 14

Date
ET
Economic Report
For
Estimate
Actual
Prior
Impact
Thu. April 13
08:30
Producer Price Index (PPI)
Mar
0.0%
 
0.3%
Moderate
Thu. April 13
08:30
Core Producer Price Index (PPI)
Mar
0.2%
 
0.3%
Moderate
Thu. April 13
08:30
Jobless Claims (Initial)
4/08
251K
 
234K
Moderate
Thu. April 13
10:00
Consumer Sentiment Index (UoM)
Apr
96.3
 
96.9
Moderate
Fri. April 14
08:30
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Mar
0.0%
 
0.1%
HIGH
Fri. April 14
08:30
Core Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Mar
0.2%
 
0.2%
HIGH
Fri. April 14
08:30
Retail Sales
Mar
-0.1%
 
0.1%
HIGH
Fri. April 14
08:30
Retail Sales ex-auto
Mar
0.2%
 
0.2%
HIGH

The material contained in this newsletter is provided by a third party to real estate, financial services and other professionals only for their use and the use of their clients. The material provided is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment and/or mortgage advice. Although the material is deemed to be accurate and reliable, we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness and as a result, there is no guarantee it is without errors.

As your mortgage professional, I am sending you the MMG WEEKLY because I am committed to keeping you updated on the economic events that impact interest rates and how they may affect you.

In the unlikely event that you no longer wish to receive these valuable market updates, please USE THIS LINK or email: tmerritt@rossmortgage.com


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Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on April 10th, 2017 12:19 PM
Brand This Post With Your Info!

Selling a home can be a stressful experience for most homeowners. It’s your job as an agent to keep sellers calm and focused on the big picture; however, when it comes to home inspections, most homeowners aren’t used to having a stranger peer into their attic, open every cupboard and closet or test every appliance. For some, this stress can turn into a major nightmare.

While most sellers look at inspectors as the bearers of only bad news, there are some positive factors, as well. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a “home inspection can give [sellers] the opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition.” In addition to this, home inspections can ensure a smooth transaction and assist sellers in receiving the asking price. When the inspector finds major issues, though, some agents may be caught off guard and unsure of how to react. Since maintaining your cool is a must, here are three tips for navigating the home inspection process with your clients.

  1. Prepare them for the inevitable.

When the home inspector comes through and begins pointing out flaws, many homeowners take the comments personally. This is why it’s important to make sure that not only is your client’s house ready for inspection, but that your clients are, too. Before the inspection process, it can be helpful to do a walk-through of the home yourself and point out potential issues. However, keep in mind that there’s a way to engage with the seller to talk about repairs without being confrontational. For example, take a walk with your clients through the house, and if you see a stain from a leak or a faulty switch, say, “Huh.” They will likely ask, “Do you think I should fix that?” This is your opportunity to approach the topic of repairs by non-confrontationally stating, “I would.” If your clients are already aware of potential issues, it won’t come as a shock when the inspector points them out, and it will give them the opportunity to fix it preemptively.

  1. Be proactive.

Before the inspector arrives, talk with your sellers about whether they plan to be in the house during the inspection. If the buyers will also be attending the inspection, the best thing for both parties is to keep the sellers away and occupied for the duration. If the sellers are concerned that they won’t be able to answer questions or explain an issue with the home, let them know they can leave their contact information at the house and have the buyers or inspector call with any pressing questions. If the buyers will not be attending the inspection, it could be beneficial to have the sellers onsite. As the inspector surveys the house, you can calmly ask your clients about the mysterious stain on the ceiling or why they installed an appliance the way they did. This can help alleviate any tense or awkward moments by keeping your client’s attention focused on your conversation, rather than the inspector recording all the things that are wrong with their home.

  1. Keep the peace.

When the time comes for the actual inspection process, take a minute to remind your clients that the home inspector is simply doing his or her job. Emphasizing this fact can help keep sellers grounded, even when the inspector comments on the improper installation of their favorite fixture. If the buyers are present during the inspection and your clients insist on remaining in the home, tell them pointedly that a number of real estate deals fall through when buyers and sellers get tangled in tense situations. Let your clients know that you understand how important their home is to them, but that taking the emotion out of the situation can be beneficial to all parties. If the sellers do start to get worked up about the inspection or a comment made by a potential buyer, try to redirect their attention and remind them about why they’re selling their home in the first place. As much as possible, focus their attention on the bigger picture and their end goal: getting the best return on their investment and finding a new home.

Even if you prepare in every way possible, the best laid plans can go awry. The best thing you can do for yourself and your clients is try to keep everyone calm and focused. However, before you can show off your real estate skills, you need to make sure you’re able to connect with buyers and sellers in your area. Homes.com’s Local Connect brings you property inquiries from active buyers and sellers right when they are ready to engage. If you’re looking for ways to connect with transaction-ready sellers in your local market, Local Connect positions you in front of active sellers in your target markets with branding that showcases your photo or logo, phone number and endorsements. Call us at 888-651-8956 or send an email to productinfo@homes.com to learn more!

Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on March 3rd, 2017 1:58 PM
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Tankless water heaters have been around for quite some time in the U.S. now. The technology and promises of instant and endless hot water without constantly having to heat a tank full of water waiting to be used sounds appealing to many. But are the additional costs of these appliances worth it in long-term savings on utility bills and conveniences?

Today's tip weighs the pros and cons of Tankless Water Heaters. 
Pros for Tankless

Energy savings: average savings per year for a gas-fired unit is around $100 and around $45 for an electric powered unit. These savings will increase for larger families that use more hot water.

Convenience: growing up with a dad and 4 kids needing showers before school every morning... good times! Besides endless hot water, the units also save space and do not have catastrophic "deaths" that tanks can have. Flooding can occur when a tank leaks and continues to attempt to fill itself.

Lifespan: Tankless water heaters can easily last over 20 years, and most come with 15 year warranties. Tank heaters have a typical life span of 10-12 years and typically come with a 6 year warranty.

Going green: lessen your environmental impact of adding water tanks to landfills.
Cons for Tankless

Up front costs: average cost of a traditional tank water heater (installed) has risen to around $850, due to increased efficiency standards that have raised manufacturing costs. Average cost of a gas-fired tankless heater (installed) can be between $2,000-$3,000, depending on your needs (higher uses may need a more expensive unit). 

Additional installation costs: depending on the unit needed, you may be required to increase your gas line size or your electrical service (if using an electric model). These system upgrades could cost hundreds or even several thousands of dollars depending on what needs to be done. An installer should be able to tell you if you need such an upgrade.

Maintenance costs: tankless models require yearly maintenance and cleaning that may require a professional in order to keep your warranty intact (read the fine print). Tank models require much simpler maintenance that can be easily performed by most homeowners.

Don't believe all the hype: Tankless heaters are NOT instantaneous, and are actually slower to provide hot water than a tank with hot water ready and waiting. There is also the"cold water sandwich", which occurs when there is hot or warm water in the pipes from a recent use and cold water is pulled through before the heater turns on again (see photo). This issue can be cured, at additional cost (with small mixing tanks -that's right, adding a tank).
Conclusions

The conclusion (and the reason why we don't see many tankless water heaters) is that from astrictly financial basis, the increased costs of a tankless model is not offset enough by energy savings for most people to justify such a large up front investment.

That doesn't mean it's a "bad" decision for everyone. After all, many of us spend additional money on cars, phones, etc. that far exceed our true needs for reasons other than strict cost savings.

Advances in technology may lower the costs someday, but for now, the costs remain prohibitive for many. If you have a hot water tank, compare the actual costs to install a tankless model when your current water heater is due for a change. You may be surprised what you learn going through that process.

If you stay with a tank, make sure you have a floor drain nearby, and consider installing a drain pan under the unit to prevent damage to your basement if the tank fails.
We hope these tips have been helpful. Feel free to share it with anyone you think may benefit from it. 

Call us today at 313-570-1618 and ask about our 2-man inspection service and unique benefits!


Sincerely,
Matt Mozurkewich
MD Home Inspections, LLC
Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on February 27th, 2017 9:14 AM

booking photo

After Christmas, many people put the empty boxes their expensive gifts came in out on the curb. What do you think that says to potential burglars? It screams, “I just got a brand-new TV! Come and rob me!”

That’s just one example of some unwise habits homeowners have. If those owners are sellers opening their doors to the public for showings, habits such as these put them in even greater danger. The above example is a good warning to give to your clients now, since we’re in the holiday season. But use it as a jumping-off point to have a deeper conversation about safety — and to show that your safety knowledge is an asset to sellers.

Consider using this checklist (you can request it as a customer handout on my website) during listing appointments to better prepare prospective sellers and show your value as a real estate professional. We spend a lot of time telling sellers how we’ll market their home, and while that is obviously important, we rarely address their true concern: how to keep their home safe while it’s open to the public. Touch on these 10 anti-burglary tips so your clients will know that you have their best interest at heart.

National Snapshot of Burglaries

A burglary is committed every 20 seconds, with nearly 1.6 million such crimes nationwide annually, according to the FBI’s 2015 Crime in the United Statesreport. That’s down 7.8 percent from 2014. Total property crime, which includes arson, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft, reached nearly 8 million instances in 2015, down 2.6 percent from 2014.

  1. Maintain your property. Especially in the wintertime, many people stay indoors and neglect issues such as peeling trim or an overgrown yard. But if the home looks unkempt, thieves may think it’s abandoned and, therefore, an easy target. Shoveling your walkways to clear them of snow and debris and removing holiday decorations and fallen tree branches in a timely manner will signal that the home is occupied.
  2. Know your neighbors. Many people don’t really know their neighbors; it’s more than just saying hi and being friendly. Invite them over to see your home before it goes on the market, and introduce them to the people they may see regularly stopping by during this time (especially your agent). Then they’ll know who is and isn’t supposed to be at your home and can better assess when there may be a threat while you’re gone.
  3. Assess your home’s vulnerability. Walk to the curb and face your house. Ask yourself, “How would I get in if I were locked out?” The first thing you think of, whether it’s the window with a broken lock or the door that won’t shut all the way, is exactly how a thief will get in. Think like a burglar, and then address the issues that come to mind.
  4. Respect the power of lighting. Criminals are cowards, and they don’t want to be seen. The house that is well-lit at night provides a deterrent because thieves don’t want the attention and the potential to be caught by witnesses. It’s wise to invest in tools that make nighttime light automation easy. That includes dusk-to-dawn adapters that go into existing light fixtures and motion detectors. But beware of leaving your exterior lights on at all times, which signifies the occupant is gone for an extended period of time.
  5. Use technology to make your home look occupied. In addition to lighting, smart-home technology has made it easier to make it appear like people are home, even when they’re not. Systems that remotely control lighting, music, and appliances such as a thermostat can help you achieve this. Though not considered smart-home tech, simple lamp timing devices available at hardware stores are also good for this purpose.
  6. Yes, it has to be said: Lock your doors. It’s amazing how many people think they live in a safe-enough neighborhood not to have to lock their doors when they leave. Some facts sellers should know: In 30 percent of burglaries, the criminals access the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent of burglars use the front door to get inside; and 22 percent use the back door, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report.
  7. Reinforce your locks. A good door lock is nothing without a solid frame. Invest in a solid door jam and strike plate first, and then invest in good locks. Know the difference between a single-cylinder and a double-cylinder deadbolt. Double-cylinder deadbolts are recommended because they require a key to get in and out. For safety and emergency escape purposes, you must leave the key in when you are home. But double-cylinder locks are against regulations in some places, so check with your local police department’s crime prevention office.
  8. Blare the sirens. Burglars are usually in and out in less than five minutes, and they know police can’t respond to an alarm that quickly. Their bigger concern is witnesses to their crime. For that reason, an external siren is invaluable, whether as part of a monitored security system or a DIY alarm. Even if you don’t have an alarm, it’s not a bad idea to invest in fake security signs and post them near doors.
  9. Consider surveillance cameras. The Los Angeles Police Department started a program encouraging homeowners to install a device called Ring, a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view what’s outside their door on their smartphone, in a neighborhood that was a target for burglaries. After Ring was installed in hundreds of homes, the burglary rate dropped by 55 percent, according to reports. Most state and local regulations require posting a warning that people are being recorded. (But again, this can be effective even if you don’t actually have the cameras installed!)
  10. Mark your valuables and record details. Use invisible-ink pens or engravers to mark identifying information (driver’s license or state ID numbers) on items. Log serial numbers and take photos of your belongings. Check to see if your police department participates in the Operation Identification program. They will have stickers for you to place on doors or windows warning would-be thieves that your items are marked. These steps may prevent them from pawning or selling stolen items and can help you reclaim recovered belongings.
Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on December 6th, 2016 7:38 PM

Pending home sales were mostly unmoved in June, but did creep slightly higher as supply and affordability constraints prevented a bigger boost in activity from mortgage rates that lingered near all-time lows through most of the month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Increases in the Northeast and Midwest were offset by declines in the South and West.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched 0.2 percent to 111.0 in June from 110.8 in May and is now 1.0 percent higher than June 2015 (109.9). With last month’s minor improvement, the index is now at its second highest reading over the past 12 months, but is noticeably down from this year’s peak level in April (115.0).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says a solid bump in activity in the Northeast pulled up pending sales modestly in June. “With only the Northeast region having an adequate supply of homes for sale, the reoccurring dilemma of strained supply causing a run-up in home prices continues to play out in several markets, leading to the last two months reflecting a slight, early summer cool-down after a very active spring,” he said. “Unfortunately for prospective buyers trying to take advantage of exceptionally low mortgage rates, housing inventory at the end of last month was down almost 6 percent from a year ago, and home prices are showing little evidence of slowing to a healthier pace that more closely mirrors wage and income growth.”


One noteworthy and positive development occurring in the housing market during the first half of the year, according to Yun, is that sales to investors have subsided from a high of 18 percent in February to a low of 11 percent in June, which is the smallest share since July 2009. Yun attributes this retreat to the diminished number of distressed properties coming onto the market at any given time and the ascent in home prices, which have now risen year-over-year for 52 consecutive months.
Adds Yun, “Until inventory conditions markedly improve, far too many prospective buyers are likely to run into situations of either being priced out of the market or outbid on the very few properties available for sale.”

“Limited selection of homes at bargain prices is reducing the number of individual investors willing or able to buy,” adds Yun. “This will hopefully open the door for first-time buyers, who made some progress last month but are still buying homes at a subpar level even as rents increase at rates not seen since before the downturn.”


Says realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke: “Today’s pending home sales figures were the highest for June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis since June 2005 – even higher than in June 2006, the peak of the housing boom. We also saw the second-highest seasonally adjusted pace of sales in the last 12 months. June’s gains in existing, new, and pending home sales closed out a strong spring and first half of 2016 for the housing market.
In spite of the slight slowdown in contract signings from April’s peak high, existing-home sales this year are still expected to be around 5.44 million, a 3.6 percent boost from 2015 and the highest annual pace since 2006 (6.48 million). After accelerating to 6.8 percent a year ago, national median existing-home price growth is forecast to slightly moderate to around 4 percent.

“We are now entering the time of the year when sales usually decline because of the real estate market’s highly seasonal nature,” Smoke continued. “Inventory will likely remain tight for the foreseeable future, but buyers in late summer and fall should face less competition compared to the spring. This year is following the normal seasonal pattern with a bit more strength in June, presumably powered by very low mortgage rates.”

Regional Breakdown

The PHSI in the Northeast advanced 3.2 percent to 96.0 in June, and is now 1.7 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index increased 0.8 percent to 108.9 in June, and is now 1.6 percent higher than June 2015.

Pending home sales in the South decreased modestly (0.6 percent) to an index of 125.9 in June but are still 1.8 percent higher than last June. The index in the West declined 1.3 percent in June to 101.3, and is now 1.8 percent below a year ago

.

Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on July 28th, 2016 8:22 AM

Pending home sales were mostly unmoved in June, but did creep slightly higher as supply and affordability constraints prevented a bigger boost in activity from mortgage rates that lingered near all-time lows through most of the month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Increases in the Northeast and Midwest were offset by declines in the South and West.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched 0.2 percent to 111.0 in June from 110.8 in May and is now 1.0 percent higher than June 2015 (109.9). With last month’s minor improvement, the index is now at its second highest reading over the past 12 months, but is noticeably down from this year’s peak level in April (115.0).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says a solid bump in activity in the Northeast pulled up pending sales modestly in June. “With only the Northeast region having an adequate supply of homes for sale, the reoccurring dilemma of strained supply causing a run-up in home prices continues to play out in several markets, leading to the last two months reflecting a slight, early summer cool-down after a very active spring,” he said. “Unfortunately for prospective buyers trying to take advantage of exceptionally low mortgage rates, housing inventory at the end of last month was down almost 6 percent from a year ago, and home prices are showing little evidence of slowing to a healthier pace that more closely mirrors wage and income growth.”


One noteworthy and positive development occurring in the housing market during the first half of the year, according to Yun, is that sales to investors have subsided from a high of 18 percent in February to a low of 11 percent in June, which is the smallest share since July 2009. Yun attributes this retreat to the diminished number of distressed properties coming onto the market at any given time and the ascent in home prices, which have now risen year-over-year for 52 consecutive months.
Adds Yun, “Until inventory conditions markedly improve, far too many prospective buyers are likely to run into situations of either being priced out of the market or outbid on the very few properties available for sale.”

“Limited selection of homes at bargain prices is reducing the number of individual investors willing or able to buy,” adds Yun. “This will hopefully open the door for first-time buyers, who made some progress last month but are still buying homes at a subpar level even as rents increase at rates not seen since before the downturn.”


Says realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke: “Today’s pending home sales figures were the highest for June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis since June 2005 – even higher than in June 2006, the peak of the housing boom. We also saw the second-highest seasonally adjusted pace of sales in the last 12 months. June’s gains in existing, new, and pending home sales closed out a strong spring and first half of 2016 for the housing market.
In spite of the slight slowdown in contract signings from April’s peak high, existing-home sales this year are still expected to be around 5.44 million, a 3.6 percent boost from 2015 and the highest annual pace since 2006 (6.48 million). After accelerating to 6.8 percent a year ago, national median existing-home price growth is forecast to slightly moderate to around 4 percent.

“We are now entering the time of the year when sales usually decline because of the real estate market’s highly seasonal nature,” Smoke continued. “Inventory will likely remain tight for the foreseeable future, but buyers in late summer and fall should face less competition compared to the spring. This year is following the normal seasonal pattern with a bit more strength in June, presumably powered by very low mortgage rates.”

Regional Breakdown

The PHSI in the Northeast advanced 3.2 percent to 96.0 in June, and is now 1.7 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index increased 0.8 percent to 108.9 in June, and is now 1.6 percent higher than June 2015.

Pending home sales in the South decreased modestly (0.6 percent) to an index of 125.9 in June but are still 1.8 percent higher than last June. The index in the West declined 1.3 percent in June to 101.3, and is now 1.8 percent below a year ago

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Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on July 28th, 2016 8:21 AM

Posted on Jul 11 2016 - 3:53pm by Andrea Davis

pools are fun

Pools are perfect for summertime fun, but not all pools are great for the environment. Chemicals and other pool-related substances can negatively affect the landscape around you. Maintaining a pool can also get expensive and potentially impact your utility bills. Here are some eco-friendly pool alternatives to keep your bills down and the environment safe.

1) Natural pools
Natural pools are chemical-free, low-tech and affordable alternatives to conventional models. You can build a natural pool with gravel and clay instead of concrete and fiberglass. Aquatic plants keep the water clean instead of chlorine or a filtering system. Plants are also a natural purification system that introduces oxygen and good bacteria into the water. You can also include additional elements like green pool roofs and vertical gardens to increase the health of your pool.

2) Moss-filtered pools
Moss-filtered pools cut down on the need for chemicals like chlorine. Having moss in your pool also reduces water use and decreases how often you need to backwash the pool for cleaning. According to statistics from the University of Maryland, moss systems reduce chemical usage by 40 percent, water consumption by 75 percent, and save about $6,700 annually in bills.

3) Saltwater pools

Like the ocean, saltwater pools use a saline composition to keep water clean without chemicals. Saltwater pools use a mixture of chlorine and table salt to create electrolysis, which gets rid of algae and bacteria. If you want a mild saline pool, clean your chlorine cell once a year to prevent calcium buildup and add salt to the water once a month. Reducing chlorine usage helps to minimize overall chemical consumption.

4) Ozone sterilization
Installing an ozone sterilization system is another enviro-friendly method of cleaning your pool. An ozone system uses electricity to convert oxygen into bacteria-destroying ozone. These systems can reduce the need for chemicals by at least 80 percent, if not altogether. This will save on your pool maintenance costs and help keep the environment clean.

5) Efficient heating
Efficient condensing boilers can help to cut down your pool heating costs by almost 20 percent. You can use alternative heating methods like solar blankets and energy-efficient heat pumps to keep your pool warm. Enviro-friendly heating methods can lower your bills and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Efficient heating isn’t a type of pool, but it’s a simple way to help your pool remain friendly to the environment and your wallet.

Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on July 13th, 2016 3:32 PM

June numbers show that low mortgage rates are keeping housing on track despite rapidly rising house prices, according to recently released date from Freddie Mac. The report examines current projections of homeownership rates in the years to come from among various experts, as well as the latest results on refinance statistics from current homeowners. So far, homeowners aren’t using cash-out refinances to over-leverage themselves.

“In this month’s Outlook, we review recent economic developments and their impact on our projections for the remainder of 2016 and all of 2017,” says Sean Becketti, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac. “We then shift our focus to the future of the homeownership rate and finally, we highlight recent trends in refinancing.”

Given recent data around Gross Domestic Product, expect growth rebound in the remaining quarters of 2016 to be at 1.9 and 2.3 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Regardless of May’s disappointing employment report, expect unemployment to average 4.9 percent in 2016 and 4.8 percent in 2017.


Lastly, while there are wide variations in plausible scenarios around the future of the homeownership rate, they require many uncertain parameters, which makes it difficult to say with much confidence how the homeownership rate will evolve. This Outlook looks at these projections and sets the stage for further Freddie Mac analysis in the months to come.
The house price appreciation forecast for 2016 has increased by 20 basis points to 5.0 percent, and in 2017 by 40 basis points to 4.0 percent. During the first quarter of this year an estimated $10.9 billion net of home equity were converted to cash during the refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, down from $11.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015 and substantially less than during the peak cash-out refinance volume of $84.0 billion during the second quarter of 2006.

“Despite the increase in cash-out refinances in the recent quarters, there is little risk of over-leveraging in the conventional conforming prime market,” says Becketti. “The median loan-to-value ratio for all prime conventional cash-out refinances was 69 percent in the first quarter of 2016. For comparison, it was 74 percent in 2000, 73 percent in 2001, and 71 percent in 2002. As we mentioned in last month’s Insight increased leverage — including greater utilization of cash-out refinancing — is an important trend to monitor. The latest quarterly data show no worrisome cash-out trends.”

Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on June 28th, 2016 3:32 PM

The bottom third of the housing market has grown increasingly competitive, with fewer price cuts on listed homes and faster growing home values than more expensive homes, according to the May Zillow®Real Estate Market Reports.

Home values for the most expensive homes on the market, which at one point in February 2014 were growing at an average of 7 percent annually, have stabilized. Those homes have been gaining value at about 4 percent each year since the beginning of 2015.

Home values at the bottom of the market continue to grow at about 8 percent a year.

The stark differences between the top and bottom of the housing market shed light on the two very different experiences home buyers will face in most markets this summer. Buyers looking for the most expensive homes will find slashed prices, more options and less competition. It’s a much different story for entry-level buyers, who will be up against rising prices, low inventory and tough competition, with homes selling over asking price in many of the nation’s hottest housing markets.

Over the past 18 months, the percent of listings with a price cut among the most expensive third of homes has slightly increased, while the percent of listings with a price cut among entry-level homes have decreased. Since the beginning of 2015, top-tier homes have had the most price cuts – another sign that top-tier buyers are having an easier time shopping for homes in the current market.

The rental market is also stabilizing at the high end. A recent Zillow analysis found that rents aren’t rising as quickly for apartments in more expensive zip codes.

“The top of the market is starting to stabilize, and people are beginning to take notice,” says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Buyers looking for entry-level homes are having bidding wars in many markets, while it’s not uncommon for high priced homes to stay on the market a few months longer. The housing market is much more forgiving for current homeowners looking to move into a bigger, more expensive home. These buyers can be a bit more selective, and may even get a good deal.”

Buyers looking for a home at the top of the market will have more to choose from than those looking for a home in the bottom third of the market, which are often sought after by first-time homebuyers. The number of homes for sale at the top of the market has remained flat over the past year, while inventory in the bottom-third is down almost 9 percent. Some markets are worse than others; in Portland, there are almost 40 percent fewer entry-level homes for sale than a year ago.

Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on June 27th, 2016 3:41 PM

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