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The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) says existing-home sales rebounded in May, recording an increase in sales for the first time in two months. Noting that each of the four major U.S. regions saw sales growth, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “The purchasing power to buy a home has been bolstered by falling mortgage rates, and buyers are responding.”



Rates for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage trended almost negligibly upward for the week ending July 3 according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Freddie attributes recent rate activity to a tug of war as "the fixed income market flashes warning signs while the equities market continues to march higher with optimism."



The latest version of Freddie Mac's Profile of Today's Renter & Homeowner released last month revealed that 82% of renters view renting as more affordable than homeownership. But the survey also showed that 34% of renters spend more than a third of their monthly household income on housing, compared to 25% of homeowners. Renters cited costs of getting into a home as reasons for their perceptions, suggesting education about mortgage qualification and requirements could help them budget and get in position to become homeowners.



The majority of Americans are making their mortgage payments on time according to the latest CoreLogic Loan Performance Insights report. CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft said, "Thanks to a 50-year low in unemployment, rising home prices and responsible underwriting, the U.S. overall delinquency rate is the lowest in more than 20 years." Mortgages categorized as seriously delinquent (90 days or more past due) also dropped to a 14-year low in April.

Sources: National Association of Realtors®, Freddie Mac, CoreLogic





7 Common Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

Posted on  by home_bliss_admin


There is a lot of good advice on what you should do when looking to buy your first home, but sometimes it’s not enough to help you through the whole home buying process. If you are someone who learns best when you know what not to do, then you should know about these seven common mistakes that many first-time home buyers make.


1- Buying A Home Without A Realtor

It’s one thing to browse real estate websites, daydreaming about the day you will buy a home, but it’s an entirely different matter to opt to try and buy your first home without any assistance.

A good real estate agent is far more than someone who opens doors and shows you around properties. With the help of a real estate agent, you can:

  • Learn more about the neighborhood of the home you are interested in
  • Have help negotiating with the seller
  • Have the relator’s assistance with paperwork
  • Receive expert guidance throughout your home buying process


2- Not Understanding Your Budget

Another common mistake first-time home buyers make is setting their sites on a price range they can’t actually afford. While most of these overly-optimistic buyers do calculate their various monthly payments such as potential mortgage, average utilities, car payment, credit card payments, and other recurring bills, they cut their finances incredibly close.

You should never be one accident away from financial ruin, so be sure to choose a home that you can comfortably afford the monthly mortgage payments as well as your other bills, with some money left over for savings. That way, if something unexpected does happen such as a car accident or your water heater needs replacing, you won’t be in dire straits.


3- Avoid Looking At Credit Reports

The old, “Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t really work when it comes to shopping for a new home. If you haven’t checked your credit reports, you may be in for a shock when you go to get approved for a home loan.

To skip the shock, there are plenty of great free credit report sites where you can double-check that everything is looking good. If there are any mistakes or issues you can resolve that show up in the report, be sure to correct them before talking to lenders.   


4- Sitting Down With Only One Lender

Some first-time home buyers can become intimidated when talking to various lenders about mortgage rates and may settle for the first quote they receive. However, this can be a serious mistake.

First-time home buyers, in particular, have a variety of home buying programs they may be able to take advantage of, along with finding more competitive lenders.


5- Become Discouraged By Competition

If you live in an area with a competitive housing market, it can be a little discouraging to find you were outbid by all-cash investors or those willing to go above the asking price to ensure the purchase.


6- Skipping The Home Inspection

When buying a home, a home inspection is an optional step that really shouldn’t be considered optional. There are some first-time home buyers who want to cut costs and skip out on paying a few hundred dollars on a home inspection, only to pay down the road when a hidden issue rears its head.

Not only does a home inspection help you to catch current and potential issues with your prospective home, but it can also give you an out if the home isn’t up to the standard you believed it to be. Just be sure that your offer on the house is contingent on the home passing the inspection.


7- Underestimating Renovation Costs

There likely isn’t an American who hasn’t seen an episode where a team goes in and flips a disaster of a house into a dream home. But the reality is, most people don’t have the abilities needed to make buying a run-down home a viable proposition, and the necessary contractors can be incredibly expensive.

So, as you look at fixer-upper homes, carefully weigh your abilities, time constraints, and costs before committing to a house.


Once you understand what potential pitfalls await you when buying your first home, the better you will be able to not only avoid these problems but learn to enjoy the overall process of buying your first home.





15 Best Questions to Ask When Buying a House

By Sarah Li Cain

15 Best Questions to Ask When Buying a House

(TNS)—Before making an offer on a house, you want to be absolutely sure that it’s “the one.” But with so many options out there, how do you find your perfect match?

Finding the right home involves research, so you’ll need to ask the right questions. That way, you know you’re making a competitive offer on a home that you can afford—and meets your long-term needs. To weed out the duds from the diamonds, here are 15 questions to ask when buying a house.

  1. 1- What’s my total budget?
    It could be a waste of time to start looking at houses without understanding how much house you can afford. There are additional costs to consider other than the sales price, such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association dues, ongoing home maintenance and any renovations you want to do.

“With all the other added expense that comes with homeownership like repairs and homeowner’s association fees, you may not see the financial benefits for several years,” says Wendy Mays, a REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Chula Vista, Calif.

Showing the seller you have the financial means to buy their house is important if you want your offer to be accepted. This means getting preapproved for a mortgage.

“Not only does it give the buyer an idea of what they can afford but it gives the REALTOR® assurance that they’re showing a qualified buyer a home,” says Joey Sampaga, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Legacy One in Phoenix. “It shows you’re not wasting the seller’s time.”

  1. 2- Is the home in a flood zone or prone to other natural disasters?
    A property that’s in a flood zone or other natural disaster area may require additional insurance coverage. For example, homes that are located in a federally-designated, high-risk flood zone require flood insurance. (Find out whether a property is in a high-risk flood zone using FEMA’s Flood Map Service.)

Likewise, if you’re buying a home in California where earthquakes are common, you may need to get earthquake insurance. Another tip: Make sure you purchase enough homeowners insurance to cover the cost of completely rebuilding your home if it’s destroyed. If you’re underinsured, you could be left footing a massive bill to repair or rebuild your home if a major disaster hits.

  1. 3- Why is the seller leaving?
    Understanding why the seller is moving—whether it’s due to downsizing, a job relocation or as a result of a major life event—might help you figure out how motivated they are when negotiating. A good buyer’s agent will try to find out this information for you and gauge how flexible (or not) the seller might be during negotiations. A motivated seller who needs to move quickly or whose home has been on the market a while is more likely to work with you than someone who isn’t in a rush to move.
  1. 4- What’s included in the sale?
    Anything that’s considered a fixture is typically included when purchasing a house—think cabinets, faucets and window blinds. However, there could be items that you think are included with the home but actually aren’t. This depends on your state’s laws. The listing description should spell out any exclusions that the seller is not including, but that’s not always the case.

Make sure to ask in your offer what is (and isn’t) included with the home. Do you really want the washer and dryer, or that stainless-steel refrigerator? Ask if the seller will throw these items into the deal.

  1. 5- Were there any additions or major renovations?
    In some cases, property records and listing descriptions don’t always match up. A home might be advertised as having four bedrooms, but one of those rooms may be a non-conforming addition that doesn’t follow local building codes. Find out what major repairs or renovations the seller has done since owning the home, and request the original manufacturer warranties on any appliances or systems if those have been replaced. Knowing a home’s improvement history can help you better gauge its condition and understand the seller’s asking price.
  1. 6- How old is the roof?
    Let’s face it: roofs are necessary and expensive. If a home’s roof is at the end of its lifespan and you wind up having to replace it shortly after move-in, you’ll be shelling out thousands of dollars. Ouch. If the roof has existing damage, your lender may require that it be repaired in order to approve your loan. In other words, if the listing description doesn’t list the roof’s age, make sure to find out ASAP to avoid a costly headache later.
  1. 7- How old are the appliances and major systems?
    Again, understanding the anticipated lifespan of essential systems and appliances, such as the air conditioner, furnace, water heater, washer, dryer and stove, can help you anticipate major repair or replacement expenses. If these items are already at the end of their lifespan or near it, ask the seller to purchase a home warranty, which can help cover the replacement costs in certain instances.
  1. 8- How long has the house been on the market?
    The longer a house has been on the market, the more motivated the seller will be to make a deal. This means you might find flexibility to negotiate the price, contingencies, terms and credits for replacing outdated carpet or other noticeable issues.

Many times, a home will languish on the market if it was priced too high at the onset, resulting in the need for multiple price reductions. A listing that shows multiple price cuts and has been sitting on the market too long may give buyers the impression that something is wrong with it—and that gives you a prime opportunity to negotiate a deal. 

  1. 9- How much have homes sold for in the neighborhood?
    Understanding the current local market will help you determine if a seller’s asking price is on target—or way too high. Your REALTOR® can pull the comparable listing data for similar homes that are currently on the market and have sold in the last six months or so as a basis for comparison.

“If conditions support further negotiating, consider (making) a lower offer or even concessions like asking the seller to pay for some closing costs,” Mays says. 

  1. 10- Are there any health or safety hazards?
    Items like lead paint, radon, mold or other major hazards can be costly to address and hold up your loan approval. Ask the seller to provide documentation if there have been past issues and find out exactly what was done to resolve those problems. If you suspect hazardous problems or a home inspector suggests additional testing, you might need to pay extra for those specialized services.
  1. 11- What’s the history of past insurance claims?
    Get a copy of a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or C.L.U.E., report from the seller to see if there have been any homeowners insurance claims filed in the last seven years. This report can give you an insight into what, if any, damage the home has sustained from a weather event or vandalism that a home inspection doesn’t catch or a seller fails to mention.
  1. 12- What are the neighbors like?
    Getting the true feel of a neighborhood can be difficult before moving in, but this aspect shouldn’t be overlooked. Ask the seller what the neighbors are like. Noisy or quiet? Is it a pet-friendly place or are there few pets around? Are the existing neighbors friendly or more likely to keep to themselves? Don’t rely solely on the seller to reveal these details because you might not get the full story.

“Drive the neighborhood and stop and speak with neighbors,” Mays suggests. “Neighbors are an excellent way to get information about the community that a seller might not want to share.”

  1. 13- How is the neighborhood?
    You can always change a house and fix things you don’t like, but the neighborhood is there to stay. It’s important that you like the environs you’ll be living in for the next 10, 20 or 30 years. Your REALTOR® can help you find out key information, such as community amenities, crime statistics, school ratings and how busy traffic is where you’ll be living.

Thankfully, the internet is also a great resource where you can research schools, homeowners association rules (if applicable), nearby parks and other amenities—and don’t forget to time your commute to work, which might be a deal-breaker.

  1. 14- Are there any problems with the house?
    Sellers are required to provide a disclosure form listing any known defects, but what they don’t disclose and you don’t know can lead to major issues later. That’s why it’s critical to get a home inspection done by a professional home inspector as soon as a purchase agreement is signed.

The inspection report outlines the home’s overall condition and can help you negotiate future concessions, such as repairs or seller-paid credits, before closing the deal. If a home has too many problems and you included a home inspection contingency, you’ll be able to back out of the deal without penalty and (in most cases) get your earnest deposit returned.

  1. 15- How much will I pay in closing costs?
    The down payment isn’t the only cash you’ll be forking over on closing day. You’ll also be responsible for closing costs, which typically include loan origination fees and third-party fees for title research, processing of paperwork, an appraisal and other administrative tasks. Expect to pay around 2 percent to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price in closing costs, but that can vary depending on your area.

The closing disclosure, which a lender is required to provide you three business days before closing, will spell out all of your loan fees and how much cash you’ll need to close.

“Once the closing documents are signed by both parties and the escrow company sends it to the lender, the lender will fund the loan,” Sampaga says. “Now you’re a homeowner.” 

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC



5 Simple Ways to Stage the Exterior of Your Home

Posted on Aug 16 2017 - 12:33pm by Housecall


Editor's Note: This post was originally published on August 16, 2017. Housecall continues to share this piece due to ongoing requests and reader interest.

By Charles Muotoh

If you're selling your home, chances are good you're familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar. But did you know you should stage the exterior of your home too? Failing to update the look of your home's exterior can cause buyers to get a bad first impression when they initially arrive to view your home.  Whether your audience are luxury home buyers or you are selling your starter home, staging the exterior of your home will have a major impact in the sale of your home.  If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider tweaking.

1- Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens

Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. If your windows are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm, open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven't attended to. Don't give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained or not; clean those windows and screens before authorizing an open house.

2- Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways

Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can't be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens.  It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

3- Refresh Your Home's Siding

No, you don't have to replace your home's siding prior to an open house. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional. Some homeowners have been known to damage their home's siding by using too forceful a water stream. This is one task that is often best left to experienced professionals.  The last thing you want to deal with is replacing siding before an open house.

4- Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage

Something as simple as a new doorknob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn't spring for a new door; just update the faceplate and/or doorknob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you'll have tweaked the look of your home's exterior in just a few minutes.

5- Clean Patio Furniture

Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential homebuyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression and can cause potential homebuyers to request replacement furniture as part of their deal. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home's final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block. Will you be trying these exterior home staging tricks when you list your home for sale?



Put a Little Life into Your Lights


When’s the last time you paid attention to your lights, switches and fixtures?

They may seem like little things, but when selling a home, everything counts, so putting some thought into your home’s lighting can go a long way toward sprucing up your home without emptying your wallet.

Here are some easy things that you can do:

Install new bulbs. This is an affordable way to set the right mood in rooms throughout your home. New bulbs also mean they won’t burn out while potential buyers look over your home.

Choose the right bulbs for each room. Bright lighting in the kitchen and softer lights in the living room, for example. If you have a ceiling fan with more than one bulb, avoid high-wattage bulbs, and install those of equal wattage.

Replace outlet covers. This is another economically-friendly step that can make a difference. Pick the right colors for each room, and make sure plates match. Another advantage to doing this—you’ll make sure all outlet covers are tightly screwed on and secure. Be sure to take any necessary safety precautions before changing any plates.

Dust and clean. Lighting on the ceiling can collect dust, especially on globes that cover bulbs, exposed bulbs or chandeliers. Built-up dust in these areas is unsightly, so take a few minutes to dust these. Be sure to do it in the afternoon while the lights aren’t on and hot to the touch. Then, take a look at the covers of your light switches. Hands are all over these, so there’s a good chance they’re marked by fingerprints or food stains. Clean these with a window cleaner; use very little cleaner and be careful because you don’t want liquid getting into the switch area.

Check your switches. A lot of houses have switches that just don’t work or are backward, turning lights off when in the up position and vice-versa. These are little things, but any imperfection can be a distraction to visitors. It may well be worth the time and expense to hire an electrician to repair or replace any broken switches or outlets that don’t function properly.

Remember exterior lights. Outdoor lights are also important. If people visit the house at night, you want walkways to be well lit, and if outdoor lights aren’t working because of burned-out bulbs, it could be a sign that other areas of the house are being ignored. Taking these steps can help you sell your home faster.


Questions about the housing market, mortgage interest rates, loan programs or your home’s equity?

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There were 263,000 new jobs created in April, with all sectors but retail gaining. This strong growth is more proof of a solid economic rebound after a tough start to 2019. While pay rose 3.2% Y-o-Y, wage increases have been steady at 3.2% since 8/18, dampening inflation fears despite unemployment falling to 3.6%, the lowest rate since 12/69! Strong job growth, low unemployment, quiescent inflation and good GDP gains; Goldilocks!


GDP 19Q1 came in at a remarkably strong 3.2%. Growth was pushed up by an unsustainable surge in inventories, a huge one-time jump in state and local government spending, and a drop in imports precipitated by a rise in 18Q4 imports in advance of Chinese tariffs that never materialized. That said, the economy chugs along, and more importantly, inflation remains MIA.


From 2009 through mid-2012, weekly earnings for those with less than a high school diploma declined. From then through late-2017, their wages improved and grew at the same rate as the wages of all others. Since late-2017, their wages have been growing faster than all others. Maybe it’s because since 2009 the labor force has grown by 13 million, but the number with no college has declined by 4.4 million.


In 2005, the share of the labor force working in non-standard arrangements was 10.9%. In 2017, despite the “sharing economy” the percentage declined to 10.1%! Within non-standard arrangements, the percentage of independent contractors fell from 7.4% to 6.9%, on-call workers declined from 1.8% to 1.7%, while temp agency and contract company workers were unchanged at 0.9% and 0.6% respectively. As for app-based employment, it’s just 1% of the labor force.


With Lyft and Uber now public, we know both have lost about $11 billion since 2009, with no end in sight to losses as they reduce fares to gain share. But brutal competition makes ride hailing a commodity business absent customer loyalty. The solution? Beg government for regulatory relief like capping number of vehicles! For now, these firms may be nothing more than bets on increased ride-hailing regulation.


The number of spam and spoof calls received by Americans has risen from 3.7% of all calls in 2017, or 100 calls/person, to 29.2% in 2018, and is expected to reach half of all calls by year end 2019. At a penny a call, the inconvenience cost Americans $3 billion in CY2018, and will cost $4 billion in CY2019. Make the tel-cos credit us a dime a call - problem solved.

Source: Elliot Eisenberg, PhD., Chief Economist for GraphsandLaughs, LLC, an economic consulting firm serving a variety of clients across the United States. All rights reserved.



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Existing home sales dipped again in April according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Sales were down .4% from March and 4.4% year-over-year. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun isn't discouraged, saying, “We are seeing historically low mortgage rates combined with a pent-up demand to buy." Adding that inventory has increased, Yun said "…will provide more choices for those looking to buy a home.”



Global trade disputes have sent jitters through the financial markets, stalling rate movement for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Rates are down more than a half-percent year-over-year according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending May 16. Freddie Mac analysts predict that continued job growth and low unemployment numbers will fuel strong summer home sales.



Vacant homes take longer to sell and garner less money according to an analysis by Seattle-based real estate brokerage Redfin. The report found that vacant homes listed and sold in 2018 spent six more days on the market and sold for an average of 3.6% - or $11,306 - less than occupied properties on a national basis. Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said that while vacant homes are easy to show, "the fact that the sellers have already moved on is often a signal to buyers that they can take their time making an offer."



A rundown shack with a city view in San Francisco's Potrero Hill area is listed for $2.5 million. The seller has obtained a rare permit to tear down and rebuild on the site in a city that's historically opposed to building demolition. The planning commission has granted permission to build a four-story, 4,451 square foot home with a two-car garage and private elevators. The list price doesn't include teardown or reconstruction costs.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac, Redfin, Zillow



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There's good news for homeowners and potential home buyers according to the latest Existing Home Sales data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median sales price nationwide was up 3.8% year-over-year in March with more homes for sale. There was 3.9 months’ worth of inventory on the market in March, compared to 3.6 months’ worth at the same time last year. The increase is welcome even though NAR considers six months of inventory to be a balanced market.



The number of seriously underwater homes rose 25% year-over-year in the first quarter, totaling 5.2 million according to ATTOM Data Solutions. ATTOM defines "underwater homes" as those where "the combined balance of loans secured by the property are at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value." The highest numbers of underwater homes are in the south: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia. Illinois rounds out the top five.



Tariff jitters diverted investors to the bond market last week, decreasing the 10-year treasury yields and triggering mortgage interest rates to trend slightly downward according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS). The PMMS for the week ending May 9 also showed interest rates are down almost one-half percent year-over-year.



Remorse runs high among U.S. do-it-yourselfers according to In a survey of 2000 Americans, the online project resource site found that 63% of respondents regretted at least one project, while one in three called in professionals to redo their work.

Sources: National Association of Realtors, ATTOM Data Solutions, Freddie Mac,




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Home prices were up 3.7% year-over-year in March according to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Insights (HPI). Prices were up 1% month-over-month between February and March, but the HPI forecast predicts a significant escalation in the coming year, indicating that home prices will increase by 4.8% on a year-over-year basis from March 2019 to March 2020.



Prices for homes priced in the top 5% of the market declined for the first time in three years, as inventory in the luxury category rose by 14% according to Seattle-based real estate firm Redfin. Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather characterized the inventory increase and 1.6% price drop by saying, "Because homeowners can't deduct as much mortgage interest as they used to be able to, the calculus has changed when it comes to buying a home, especially an expensive one."



After over thirty days of upward trends, rates for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage have retreated according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending May 2. Freddie analysts dubbed this good news for the housing market, saying, "Moving into summer, we expect rates to be about a quarter to half a percentage point lower than where they were last year."



Home sellers make the most money in the summer according to an ATTOM Data Solutions analysis that reviewed 28.3-million sales over an eight-year period. The study identified five days on which sellers earned the highest amount above median market value. From highest to lowest, ATTOM's report cited June 28 as "summer's hottest selling day," with May 31, June 21, June 20 and May 24 following in order. Homeowners who sold on June 28 averaged 10.8% "premium" price above market.




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Housing market activity is up or down - depending on the report. Commenting on the latest National Association of Realtors' (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “We are seeing a positive sentiment from consumers about home buying, as mortgage applications have been steadily increasing and mortgage rates are extremely favorable.” Yun's comments were released the same day that the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported a 7.3% drop in mortgage applications. The PHSI examined monthly activity, while the MBA's Market Composite Index (MCI) numbers examined one week.



Though mortgage interest rates continued to climb according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending April 25, the rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are down year-over-year in addition to their steep drop from November 2018 peaks.



Homeowners who sold in the first quarter of this year realized an average gain of $57,500 from the purchase price according to the Q1 2019 Home Sales Report (HSR) from ATTOM Data Solutions. Using the HSR's current average homeowner tenure of 8.05 years and the median gains, home sellers in Q1 19 saw an average 31.5% return on their original purchase price.



In Freddie Mac's latest mortgage rate forecast, Chief Economist Sam Khater said, "While mortgage rates have risen in recent weeks, they remain lower than they were a year ago and wage growth has accelerated and is finally growing at the same rate as home prices for the first time in seven years. We expect to see the result of these low mortgage rates and stronger wage growth translate into better home sales in the coming months."



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"Low inventory" has made its way into the housing news vernacular to describe persistent home buyer challenges and sluggish sales numbers in recent years. The term "underbuilding" will likely become commonplace as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced last week that March's monthly residential construction report showed the slowest pace of housing starts in nearly two years.



While building may be slow, buying is gaining momentum. Mortgage applications for home purchases reached their highest level since 2010 according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) for the week ending April 18. The PMMS also reported another week of upward mortgage interest rate trends after March's steep declines.



NINJA (no income, no job, no asset) loans virtually disappeared in the new era of regulations and tightened credit availability in the wake of the housing crisis of the late 00s. But recently some lenders have begun offering NINA - no income, no asset - loans to allow more lenient purchase options. Pilot programs that are not backed by government-sponsored entities are underway that could offer performance metrics that could lead to more widespread availability of NINA loans.



John Hancock Retirement Plan Services announced that their plan participants can access their personal account information through Alexa-enabled devices. Customers can say, "Alexa, open John Hancock," through a secure voice code and hear their account and loan balances, fund allocations, rates of return and more. The company says no participant account information is recorded or maintained on their Alexa-enabled device or in the hardware servers storing their Amazon account.

Sources: Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Freddie Mac, 360 Mortgage Group, LLC, John Hancock Retirement Plan Services

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© 2019 American Pacific Mortgage Corporation (NMLS 1850). All information contained herein is for informational purposes only and, while every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, no guarantee is expressed or implied. Any programs shown do not demonstrate all options or pricing structures. Rates, terms, programs and underwriting policies subject to change without notice. This is not an offer to extend credit or a commitment to lend. All loans subject to underwriting approval. Some products may not be available in all states and restrictions apply. Equal Housing Opportunity. |Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act



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The Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) reached its highest point since June 2018 last month. Fannie Mae's March HPSI showed a 5.5 point increase over February; 56% of survey respondents said it's a good time to buy a home and 66% said it's a good time to sell.



Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage trended upward for a second week according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) for the week ending April 11. Freddie analysts still expect a strong summer market, saying, "Despite the recent rise, we expect mortgage rates to remain low…boosting home buyer demand in the next few months."



February's Realtors® Confidence Index Survey shows that first-time buyers accounted for 32% of sales - a 3% increase year-over-year. The survey also said that average time on market was 44 days, sellers received an average of 2.2 offers and 23% of home sellers offered incentives such as paying closing costs, warranties and repairs.







A California-based property data firm says delinquency and foreclosure rates have reached their lowest level in twenty years. CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft provided insight to that seemingly positive number saying, "Income growth, home appreciation and sound underwriting combined have pushed delinquency rates to their lowest level in 20 years [in] contrast to the rising delinquency rates on consumer credit. While home mortgage delinquency rates are at, or are near, their lowest levels in two decades, delinquency rates for auto and student loans are higher now than they were during the early and mid-2000s."



Home sellers pay an average of $14,281 in closing costs nationwide according to a report released by Zillow and home improvement network Thumbtack. Closing costs analyzed include real estate commissions, transfer fees and other charges associated with the transaction. Commissions are calculated based on a home's sale price and vary according to area values. The "2019 Hidden Costs of Selling" analysis also says that 79% of sellers do at least one improvement project before putting their homes on the market.