Monday, March 31, 2014

Get Your Lawn Ready For Spring

If you live in a climate where your yard has been hibernating for months, then you’re probably ready for warmer weather and a hint of green outside your kitchen window. Get Your Lawn Ready For Spring
So, in preparation for children running on lush grass through spritzing sprinklers, use the five tips below to get your lawn ready for spring. It will reward you with picnic perfect grass all summer long.

1. Clean Up Winter’s Clutter
Take a rake and remove all of the dead leaves and debris left over from the winter months. Leaving a layer of last-year’s foliage on the ground can smother your grass and hinder your lawn’s growth.
Once your yard is clear, spread a thin layer of compost to enrich your soil and provide nutrients for when you grass is ready to sprout.

2. Aerate Your Yard
Compacted soil makes it hard for roots to grow and water to drain and distribute throughout your yard. So rent an aerator. It uses steel tubes to take plugs from your lawn. These holes will allow air and water to penetrate your soil, which will create healthier and lusher grass.

3. Check Your Soil’s PH
Most grass and plants grow best when your soil’s pH level is between 6.0 and 7.0. Some plants like a little bit more acidic soil, such as hydrangeas and azaleas. Plants grown in soil with their proper pH level are healthier and more resistant to disease. You can buy soil test kits at local garden centers.

4. Prevent Weeds From Growing
Once you’ve aerated and only if you’re not planning to plant new grass seed, then distribute a chemical weed prevent-er, which can be found at any home improvement store. When watered, it creates a barrier on the soil to keep weeds from sprouting.

5. Have Your Lawn Mower Inspected
Your lawn mower has been sitting idle all winter, so give it a tune-up before those first blades of grass get too long. Take it into a local service shop to have the carburetor and fuel lines cleaned and the blades sharpened. This will make it run more efficiently and put out a little less pollution.
Even if you live in a warm climate and your flowers have been blooming all year, spring is the perfect time to do an annual assessment of your yard.

Monday, March 24, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 24, 2014

Last week’s economic news included several housing-related reports including the Housing Market Index (HMI) for March, a report on housing starts, and building permits for February. What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 24, 2014
The National Association of REALTORS® also released its Existing Home Sales report for February and the Federal Reserve issued its first FOMC statement under the helm of Fed Chair Janet Yellen.
Home Builders Conservative On Housing Market Conditions
The National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose by one point to a reading of 47 in March against a reading of 46 in February and against an expected reading of 50. Readings above 50 signify that more builders have a positive view of housing market conditions than not.
Conditions contributing to the sluggish reading included a lack of lots for development and labor shortages. The NAHB also cited rising home prices and mortgage rates as reasons for builders’ conservative outlook.
Commerce Department: Housing Starts And Building Permits
The U.S. Commerce Department released reports on Housing Starts and Building Permits Issued for February. Housing starts dipped to 907,000 in February against expectations of 908,000 expected housing starts and January’s reading of 909,000 housing starts. Severe winter weather froze construction and transport of building supplies.
Building permits issued increased to 1.02 million on a seasonally adjusted basis against January’s reading of 945,000 building permits issued.
February’s reading represents a 7.70 percent increase over January’s permits issued and was attributed to a sharp rise in plans for condominiums and rental housing projects.
407,000 permits for multi-unit buildings were issued in February and represented a 24.3 percent increase on an annualized basis. Analysts saw the increase in building permits as a sign that construction will pick up as warmer weather arrives.
Existing Home Sales Fall, Rising Home Prices And Mortgage Guidelines Cited
The National Association of REALTORS® reported a decrease of 0.40 percent in sales of existing homes from January’s reading. February’s reading of 4.60 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis was lower than January’s reading of 4.62 million existing homes sold, but exceeded expectations of 4.58 million existing homes sold.
Analysts identified familiar causes such as high mortgage rates and home prices, bad weather and a short supply of available homes for the dip in existing home sales. New standards for “qualified mortgages” became effective in January and were seen as a possible obstacle to would-be home buyers as mortgage lenders keep a tight rein on mortgage credit policies.
Federal Open Market Committee Statement Details $10 Billion Dollar Change
Reports indicate that Fed Policy is expected to stay much the same as it was under its previous chairman. FOMC approved an additional $10 billion reduction in asset purchases designed to keep long term interest rates low.
The Fed will now purchase $55 billion monthly in mortgage-backed securities and treasury bonds as compared to its original level of $85 billion monthly.
Wall Street did not respond well to FOMC’s revised projections for short-term interest rates, which were revised from 1.75 percent by the end of 2016 to a possible short-term rate of 2.25 percent.
FOMC removed the benchmark 6.50 percent national unemployment rate for raising the federal funds rate, which is currently 0.250 percent. Instead, the Fed will review a wide range of economic indicators before changing monetary policy.
Janet Yellen, in her first press conference as fed chair, said that the Fed may consider rising short-term interest rates a few months before its original target of October to December of 2015.
Mortgage Rates Drop
Mortgage rates dropped last week according to Freddie Mac. Average mortgage rates fell from 4.37 percent to 4.32 percent for 30-year fixed rate loans. Rates for 15-year mortgages dropped from 3.38 percent to 3.32 percent.
The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell from 3.09 percent to 3.02 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.
What’s Ahead This Week
Scheduled economic reports for this week include the Case-Shiller and FHFA Home Price Indexes for January. New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales will also be released.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It’s Almost Spring Cleaning Time! Kick Clutter to the Curb With These Home Cleaning Tips

Spring is around the corner, and it’s time to get your home in order!
It's Almost Spring Cleaning Time! Kick Clutter to the Curb With These Home Cleaning Tips
Spring cleaning can be fun and easy if you follow some general guidelines, which are sure to get your home ready for the nice weather and looking as beautiful as the weather is about to. Kick the winter clutter to the curb with these spring cleaning tips.
Start With The Closets
Spring is here, and winter wear is no longer needed! It’s time to box up all of the winter boots, jackets, gloves, and scarfs until next season.
Starting your spring clean with your closets is a good tip, and will get you prepared for the rest of the process while creating more space and organization in the bedrooms of the house. This is also the perfect opportunity to create a “give away” box full of clothes that are no longer being worn.
Reorganize: Bookshelves, Countertops, And Desks
Reorganizing is the perfect way to prepare your home for the spring and summer. Good clutter is common in many homes, like useful books that are interesting for guests to read or decorations that offer a sense of warmth and character to the home.
So pick up the fallen and leaning books on the bookshelf, reorganize your kitchen countertops, and de-clutter your home office. For busy home offices, purchase organizational tools like additional shelving units, compile and file away old bills and receipts, and toss anything else that is no longer needed or of any use.
Get Scrubbing: Removing Stains And Odors
Getting ready for spring means removing the stains, dirt, and odors that accumulated in your home over the colder months. First, you should start with wiping your painted walls with a wet cloth to remove scuffmarks and dust.
If the water doesn’t do the trick, you can try mixing a little dishwashing soap in with the bucket of warm water. You may even want to repaint certain high-traffic areas, like entrance halls and the baseboards around the front door.
Next, you can go for the floors. Having a fresh carpet cleaning is sure to kick-start your spring cleaning; this may be something that you wish to have done by a professional. To make the most out of your carpet cleaning, have it scheduled for when the kids are out of the house for a while, and wait until the worst of the weather is over.
Make sure the kids take their shoes off inside, but get them to leave their socks on to avoid natural oils from getting into your freshly cleaned carpet. Vacuum area rugs in the same fashion, and mop the kitchen and bathroom floors at the same time you clean your hardwood floors.
Give the showers, bathtubs, and toilets in the house a good scrub. In the kitchen, empty the fridge and freezer of their contents, and give the inside a good scrub down as well.
Once the tidying, de-cluttering, and scrubbing are done, you will get to enjoy the fun part of spring cleaning: spring decorating! And while you’re at it, why not buy yourself and your home some spring flowers for a job well done.
If you’re doing a big spring clean this year because you’re looking to sell your home, these tips will get your home ready for any buyer’s eyes. Contact your mortgage professional today to get more tips on buying or selling a home.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Understanding Why You Don’t Need To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

       For those of us who have a mortgage, we know very well how stressful it can sometimes be to make the monthly payment on time. And then for some of us, late payments are inevitable.
Understanding Why You Don't Need to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early In fact, in 2013, from October to December, a whopping 3.85 percent of homeowners were behind on their mortgage payments. And while this percentage may seem a bit high, it’s actually quite lower than it was earlier in the year of 2013, when more than five percent of homeowners were failing to make mortgage payments on time.
As odd as it may seem, while some people are failing to make their payments on time, there are those who are on their own endeavors to pay off their mortgages well before their loan term period is up. Take for example Adam Hatter.
Hatter is a contributor to Yahoo Finance and he and his wife paid off their 30-year mortgage in an astonishing five years on an “average” dual income. Hatter stated their reasoning behind doing this was because they felt “the sooner it was paid for, the sooner we would be free from the shackles of debt…the sooner we would have the ability to use our money for more than just monthly bills.”
Unfortunately, Hatter, although an expert on finances, did not think things all the way through because there is such a thing as paying off your mortgage too early. Let’s take a look at the things that Hatter forgot to take into consideration.
First of all, to come up with the necessary funds that it took to double up on their mortgage payments, Hatter and wife avoided putting anything toward their retirement savings. Secondly, they failed to contribute toward a 529 college savings plan, and this was not good being that they have two young children.
So, while they may have thought that paying off their mortgage early would free them from the shackles of debt, now that their mortgage is paid off, they are probably finding themselves burdened with making extra payments toward their retirement and 529 college savings plans.
While all homeowners would love to be free from a mortgage payment, unless you are extremely wealthy, and your debt is relatively low compared to your wealth, it’s usually best to stick with a monthly mortgage payment while at the same time continuing to contribute toward pertinent financial savings plans.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Make Your Home Green This St. Patrick’s Day

You’re ready to make some changes to your home, but you want to be smart with your money and see a positive return on your investment.
While most homeowners don’t see that return until they sell their home, you can start seeing the benefits now through conserving energy by making your home green.
So in honor of the upcoming green holiday, stop searching for that pot of gold. Get inspired by St. Patrick’s Day to go green to cut your energy costs with the environmentally friendly renovations below. You’ll soon see the savings building up at the end of the rainbow.

  • Use Reclaimed Wood For Flooring
  • Instead of chopping down more green for your floors, reclaim wood that’s already been cut. While prices vary depending on they type of wood and how it was transformed, you can get a unique look and conversational piece that no one else will have.
    Just think, you could be standing on the Jackson’s old barn or a dismantled ship.

  • Green Your Latrine
  • Install a low-flow toilet, which according to could save you money. Older toilets use about 3.5 gallons per flush, while newer low-flow toilets can use less than 1.3 gallons.
    If you don’t want to dish out the dough for a new toilet, then add pebbles or a sealed water bottle into the back tank to displace water and reduce consumption.

  • Install A Programmable Thermostat
  • This is something you can easily do on your own. Purchase a programmable thermostat at any home improvement store for around $50, shut off power to the room you’ll be replacing it in, unscrew your old one and connect the wires to the new one.
    Finished! Now you won’t have to worry about remembering to turn the air down at night and you’ll save money monthly.

  • Replace Old Kitchen Appliances
  • If your refrigerator or dishwasher is more than 10 years old, then consider replacing them with newer energy efficient models. Look for appliances that have Energy Star labels, as these machines have passed strict energy requirements.
    While this upgrade might cost you up front, you’ll quickly be saving energy and leaving more green in your bank account. Don’t get pinched this St. Patrick’s Day! Instead of just wearing green, surround yourself in it by making environmentally friendly renovations.
    By taking your home green, you’ll reduce your energy usage and see savings in your monthly bills!

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Legal Secrets For Homeowners

     Being a homeowner is exciting. It can be financially rewarding, too.
    Unfortunately, it can also put you in a Legal Secrets For Homeownerstough legal position.
    Between the complexities of owning a house, having to deal with lenders and the risk that comes from owning something valuable, keeping yourself legally protected is a good idea.
    Here Are Some Risks And Some Ways To Handle Them
    1. HOAs. If you own a condo, townhome or other property in an association, the homeowner association is extremely powerful. Not paying their dues, violating their rules, or doing just about anything else to end up on the wrong side of them could leave you subject to fines or even foreclosure.
    2. Neighbors. Whether or not good fences make for good neighbors, bad neighbors make for legal problems. Before dealing with your neighbors, research your community’s laws to see what options you have to deal with their unlicensed backyard dog breeding facility, teenager that steals your oranges or their tree that keeps breaking your window. It’s good to know what your responsibilities are as a neighbor, as well.
    3. Legal Paperwork. Part of having a house is having paperwork. Keeping it in a safe place where you can get to it when you need it is always a good idea.
    4. Being A Landlord. If you’re thinking about moving out and turning your house into a rental, take the time to see if you can really do it. Your mortgage, your homeowner association bylaws and your community’s laws can all either prevent you from renting out your house or can impose conditions or extra costs.
    5. Financial Scams. When you own a house, you’re at risk of being the victim of mortgage scams. If you also have strong credit, you could also be a target for identity thieves that want to steal your good name to steal money.
    6. Insurance. Your insurance does more than pay if something happens to your property. It can also give you liability protection that pays off if you harm someone at or away from your home. Given that you could lose your house in a suit, this protection is particularly valuable.
    Being a homeowner requires more than just mowing the lawn and painting on occasion. You will also want to pay careful attention to your legal exposure and manage it.
    A little bit of care could save you a lot of money and trouble down the line.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    What Financial Preparations Should I Make Before Applying For A Mortgage?

    Getting a mortgage isn’t an easy thing to do. Before a lender will put down tens of hundreds of thousands of
    What Financial Preparations Should I Make Before Applying For A Mortgage?
    dollars, it wants to know that the borrower can handle the loan so that it will get paid back. to this end, there are three things that a potential homebuyer can do to prepare for the mortgage approval process.
    Managing Debts
    For many homebuyers, managing their credit score is the biggest challenge. Mortgage lenders like buyers with strong credit. While getting strong credit usually isn’t something that can be done overnight, paying bills on time, all of the time can help to build a positive profile.
    Using as little credit as possible is also helpful, since high utilization of existing credit lines can harm a borrower’s score. Having less debt can also reduce monthly payments, making it easier to qualify for a larger mortgage.
    Managing Income
    Lenders look for two things when it comes to a borrower’s income:
    • Stable incomes are preferred, so being able to prove the income with a W-2 form or other documentation is usually required. Self-employed people will typically need to prove their income with their tax returns, so taking high write-offs can make it harder to qualify.
    • A borrower’s income should be significantly higher than his total monthly debt payments. Lenders divide a borrower’s monthly payments including their proposed mortgage into the gross monthly income. If the payments exceed a set percentage, the lender will shrink the mortgage until it considers the payment affordable.
    Managing Paperwork
    To qualify for a mortgage, borrowers typically need to submit a comprehensive file of supporting documentation. This can include tax returns, pay stubs and bank and investment account statements.
    Since lenders frequently want some historical data, it can be a good idea for people considering applying for a mortgage to start collecting documentation months before they actually begin the mortgage application process. That way, they will have everything the lender wants and when the lender needs it.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    How Do Mortgage Lenders Decide How Much You Can Borrow?

    When you visit your lender to get a mortgage for your home, they will tell you the maximum amount that you are allowed to borrow. But how do they reach this total and what factors do they take into consideration?
    How Do Mortgage Lenders Decide How Much You Can Borrow?
    How do they determine that one borrower can take on a bigger mortgage than the next? This decision is made by mortgage companies by considering a wide range of factors, including your credit information, your salary and much more.

    Here Are Some Of The Common Ways That Lenders Determine How Much You Can Borrow:

    1. Percentage Of Gross Monthly Income
    Many lenders follow the rule that your monthly mortgage payment should never exceed 28% of your gross monthly income.
    This will ensure that you are not stretched too far with your mortgage payments and you will be more likely to be able to pay them off. Remember, your gross monthly income is the total amount of money that you have been paid, before deductions from social security, taxes, savings plans, child support, etc.
    2. Debt To Income Ratio
    Another formula that mortgage lenders use is the “Debt to Income” ratio, which refers to the percentage of your gross monthly income that is taken up by debts. This takes into account any other debts, such as credit cards and loans. Many lenders say that the total of your debts shouldn’t exceed 36% of your gross monthly income.
    The lender will look at all of the different types of debt you have and how well you have paid your bills over the years. By using one of these two formulas, your mortgage lender calculates the size of a mortgage that you can afford.
    Of course, there are many other factors that need to be considered, such as the term length of the loan, the size of your down payment and the interest rate.
    Remember that when factoring in your income, you usually have to have a stable job for at least two years in a row to be able to count your income. If you want to increase your chances, you could consider paying down your debts or buying with a co-borrower, which will improve your debt to income ratio.
    For more info about mortgages and your home, contact your mortgage professional.

    Monday, March 10, 2014

    Don’t Make These Mistakes When You Want To Get A Home Loan

    Getting a home loan can be a challenging process, and a finicky one.Don't Make These Mistakes When You Want To Get A Home Loan Qualifying can be challenging and once a buyer gets approved, it can be surprisingly easy to derail the process. Here are some mistakes to be avoided:
    Not Pre-Checking Credit
    Once a borrower makes his application for a mortgage, his fate is largely sealed. One way to increase the chance of qualifying for a home loan is for a borrower to check his credit before applying. That way, he can address any issues before they become problems for the lender.
    Changing Jobs
    Lenders judge borrowers on their ability to repay the loan. While a borrower’s credit rating is a good indicator of past performance, his current job and income provides some assurances that he can make his payments.
    Changing jobs or losing a job interrupts the income, and can make a lender decide not to lend to that borrower.
    Taking On New Debt
    New debt can derail a mortgage in two ways. First, adding debt can lower credit scores from the inquiry that comes as well as worry lenders. Second, new debt increases monthly payments, which lower the amount that a borrower can take out on a home loan due to the limitations imposed by the lender’s debt to income ratio.
    Fudging The Numbers
    Some borrowers might be tempted to tweak some of the numbers on their mortgage applications to make them more attractive to the lender, but lying on a mortgage application is a very bad idea.
    First, lenders investigate what gets entered and they’re likely to catch it. Second, it is also fraud and could leave the borrower subject to prosecution.
    In general, people considering a home loan should remember the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take. Its message — do no harm — is a good rule of thumb for applying for a mortgage.
    Applicants that keep their financial status the same throughout the process without making any changes are more likely to emerge at the end with their new home and their original loan.

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    Highest Year-Over-Year Increase In Home Prices Since 2005

    Two major indicators of home price trends showed a slowing momentum for home prices in December. The S&P Case Shiller 10 and 20 city indices reported that of 20 cities tracked, home prices were lower in
    Highest Year-Over-Year Increase In Home Prices Since 2005December than for November.
    Case-Shiller’s seasonally adjusted month-to month reading showed that home prices rose by 0.8 percent as compared to 0.90 percent in November.
    David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said that “Gains are slowing from month-to-month and the strongest part of home price recovery may be over.” He also noted that seasonally adjusted data was showing a loss of momentum for home prices.
    December home prices posted a year-over-year gain of 13.40 percent, down from November’s year-over-year reading of 13.70 percent. December’s reading reflected the highest year-over-year increase in home prices since 2005.
    Analysts note that a slower pace of increasing home prices may allow more buyers to enter the market, and may also encourage more buyers to list their properties for sale.
    This would increase inventories of available homes and relieve pent-up demand for homes. Although home price growth is cooling off, average home prices remain 20 percent below their pre-recession peak in 2006.
    Home Prices Face Challenges In 2014
    Another factor in slower growth of home prices is regional differences in the rate of economic recovery. Cities including Dallas, Texas and Denver, Colorado recently set records for escalating home prices.
    Five states including Florida and Michigan accounted for almost half of foreclosures completed during 2013. Slow job growth and poor winter weather were also blamed for slower gains in home prices.
    New mortgage rules and relatively strict mortgage lending standards may continue to dampen housing markets, but there is some good news as some lenders are easing credit standards.
     FHFA: Home Prices Higher For 10th Consecutive Quarter
    The Federal Housing Finance Administration reported similar trends in December home price data for properties either financed or owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Home prices rose by a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.80 percent in December as compared to November’s reading.
    Home prices were 7.70 percent higher for the fourth quarter of 2013 than for the same period in 2012. Adjusted for inflation, this reading indicates an approximate year-over-year increase of 7 percent.
    FHFA reported higher readings for 38 states in its fourth quarter 2013 Home Price Index, as compared with 48 states in in the third quarter of 2013.  In order of home price appreciation, the top five states with highest growth in home prices were Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon and Florida.
    These calculations were seasonally adjusted and based on home purchases only.

    Tuesday, March 4, 2014

    What Is A Mortgage Pre-Qualification?

    A mortgage pre-qualification is an initial estimate of what type of mortgage a borrower could get.What Is A Mortgage Pre-Qualification? It is limited, though, because it’s only based on what the borrower tells the lender, which might not be the same as what the lender finds out when it goes through a full process of analyzing the borrower and his credit.
    Steps Of A Pre-Qualification
    To get pre-qualified, a borrower starts by finding a lender. Typically, he will give the lender basic information on his ability to borrow. This includes his income, how much money he has in the bank, his current payments and an estimate of his credit worthiness.
    The lender takes the pre-qualification information that he gets and compares it to the loan programs of which he is aware. For instance, if he knows that a borrower doesn’t have a lot to put down, but the borrower mentions that he’s active-duty military, the mortgage broker might offer a VA loan as an option.
    Based on the programs he sees and the information the broker gets from the borrower, he will tell the borrower what kind of mortgage to expect. Typically, this gives the borrower a sense of the likely rate and of the amount he can borrow. Generally, this is enough to let a borrower start looking at listings with a realistic sense of what will be affordable.
    Mortgage Pre-Qualifications And Pre-approvals
    When it comes time to start writing offers, though, a mortgage pre-qualification might not be enough. A pre-qualification is missing one important factor — underwriting the borrower’s income and credit. When a borrower goes beyond a pre-qualification to get a mortgage pre-approval, he submits his credit for the lender to check.
    That way, his qualifications get confirmed and the lender can issue a more binding letter that not only lets him know what he can afford but also lets him show a seller that he is truly qualified to get a loan. With that letter, his offer may be viewed as stronger and he can be more likely to get the ability to buy the house he wants.

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 3, 2014

    Last week’s economic news was mixed, with new home sales increasing and weekly jobless claims higher than expected.
    2014-03-03-WhatsAheadThisWeek Case-Shiller and FHFA home price reports reflected slower growth in home prices. Mortgage rates moved higher for the third consecutive week.
    Weakness in the jobs sector and harsh winter weather were seen as factors contributing to economic events, but sales of new homes jumped unexpectedly to their highest since 2008.
    Case-Shiller, FHFA Report Slower Growth for Home Prices
    The Case-Shiller composite home price index for December reported that home prices declined by 0.10 percent in December, which was the second consecutive monthly decline.
    On a seasonally adjusted basis, home prices rose 0.80 percent in December as compared to November’s reading of 0.90 percent. Year-over-year, home prices grew at a rate of 13.40 percent, their fastest pace since 2005.
    The momentum of year-over-year home prices declined in December as compared to November’s year-over-year reading of 13.70 percent. 11 of 20 cities included in the Case-Shiller composite index declined.
    Analysts said that low inventories of available homes, higher mortgage rates and severe winter weather contributed to slower growth in home prices.
    FHFA’s quarterly House Price Index for the fourth quarter of 2013 posted its tenth consecutive gain in quarterly home prices. Seasonally adjusted home prices rose by 0.80 percent from November to December 2013.
    FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices increased by 7.70 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013. Adjusted for inflation, the agency reported a year-over-year increase of 7.0 percent.
    FHFA House Price Index data is based on sales information for homes with mortgages held or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
    Fixed Mortgage Rates, New and Pending Home Sales Rise
    Freddie Mac reported that average rates for fixed-rate mortgages rose last week, with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rising 4 basis points to 4.37 percent.
    The rate for a 15-year mortgage also increased by 4 basis points to 3.39 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by 3 basis points to 3.05 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.7 0 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.
    Weekly jobless claims also rose to 348,000 against projections for 335,000 new jobless claims. The four-week average for new jobless claims remained steady at 338,250.
    The Department of Labor noted that weekly readings are more volatile than the four -week average reading. Poor winter weather and a softer labor market were cited as possible causes for the jump in new claims.
    New home sales provided unexpected good news; they jumped by 9.60 percent in January, to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 468,000 sales against expected sales of 405,000.
    December’s reading was upwardly revised from 414,000 to 427,000 new homes sold.
    January’s reading was the largest increase in new home sales since July 2008, and there may be more positive housing news ahead as builders said that some of the sales lost during winter months may be recouped during spring.
    Pending home sales increased by 0.10 percent in January to an index reading of 95 as compared to December’s reading of 94.9, which was the lowest reading since November 2011.
    Whats Coming Up
    This week’s scheduled economic news includes construction spending, the Federal Reserve’s beige book report, weekly jobless claims, and Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates.
    On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Non-Farm Payrolls and National Unemployment reports for February.