Last week’s economic news largely concerned the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting statement and a post-meeting conference given by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The FOMC statement indicated that the Fed continued its wind-down of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities and that its purchases are expected to cease after the next FOMC meeting.
The FOMC statement said that committee members find the economy to be improving at a moderate pace and currently strong enough to further reduce the QE3 monthly asset purchases. The Fed seeks to achieve and sustain its dual mandate of maximum employment and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent. While the unemployment rate is lower than the Fed’s benchmark of 6.50 percent, FOMC members cited concerns that the labor force is underutilized and that labor markets, while recovering, could use further improvement. The Fed repeated its customary statement that the Fed’s monetary policies are not on a pre-determined course, and that FOMC members continually review and interpret developing financial and economic news as part of their decision-making process.
Chair Yellen explained during her press conference that it is not possible to provide a specific date when the Fed will change its target federal funds rate. Economists and media analysts expressed concerns that raising the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.250 percent, could cause overall interest rates to rise. Chair Yellen said that she expects the current target federal funds rate to remain for a “considerable time” after the QE asset purchases cease. She also said that it is impossible to provide a specific date when the Fed will change its target federal funds rate and cited multiple influences considered by FOMC when changing monetary policy.
Home Builder Confidence Grows, Housing Starts Fall
The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index rose by three points in September for a reading of 59. Analysts had predicted an index reading of 56 against August’s reading of 55. September’s reading was the third consecutive reading above 50. Stronger labor markets were cited as supporting the higher reading, but builders were also concerned by tight mortgage credit standards. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders perceive market conditions for new homes as positive as those that do not.
August’s housing starts were inconsistent with the Home Builders Index; according to the Department of Commerce, construction of new homes fell by 14.4 percent from July’s reading to 956,000. Analysts expected 1.03 million starts against July’s reading of 1.12 million homes started.
Mortgage Rates Rise, Weekly Jobless Claims Fall
Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. Average mortgage rates rose across the board with the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage 11 basis points higher at 4.23 percent. The rate for a 15-year mortgage also rose by 11 basis points to 3.37 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.99 to 3.06 percent. Average discount points were unchanged for all mortgage types at 0.50 percent.
New weekly jobless claims dropped to 280,000 against an expected reading of 305,000 and the prior week’s adjusted reading of 316,000 new jobless claims. The original reading for the prior week was 315,000 new jobless claims. The less volatile four-week average of new jobless claim fell by 4,750 new claims to a reading of 299,500 new claims.
This week’s scheduled economic news brings multiple housing-related reports. The National Association of REALTORS® will release its Existing Home Sales report for August. Case-Shiller’s monthly Housing Market Index report and the FHFA’s Home Value report will bring new light to national market trends. The Department of Commerce will release its New Home Sales report, and as usual, Freddie Mac’s weekly report on mortgage rates will come out on Thursday.
Wednesday’s customary post-meeting statement issued by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve provided some relief to investors and analysts concerned that the Fed may soon raise its target federal funds rate. The target federal funds rate has held steady at between 0.00 and 0.25 percent since the inception of the Fed’s current quantitative easing program. The FOMC statement indicated that the committee does not expect to raise the target federal funds rate until the Fed’s dual mandate of maximum employment and reaching its target inflation rate is achieved.
FOMC members don’t expect the wind-down of scheduled securities purchases under the quantitative easing program to cause long-term interest rates to rise quickly. The FOMC statement indicates that the Fed expects its current holdings and acquisitions of securities to hold down long-term interest rates and help with achieving the Fed’s dual mandate of achieving maximum employment and 2.00 percent inflation. As in past meetings, the FOMC statement asserted the committee’s dedication to reading and researching economic and financial reports and repeated that Fed policy is not contingent on a predetermined course, but that FOMC members make decisions based on current economic trends and developing domestic and global events.
FOMC members also re-asserted their position that after employment and inflation achieve levels consistent with the Fed’s dual mandate, the Fed will likely maintain the target federal funds rate at lower levels than the committee considers normal for “some time.”
Fed Chair Janet Yellen provided further insight into Fed policy during a press conference given after the FOMC statement. She also said that the FOMC’s view of current economic conditions has not changed over the past few months. Chair Yellen also said that the committee expects to maintain the current target federal funds rate for a “considerable time” after asset purchases under the QE 3 program cease.
Fed Chair Yellen: Gaps Between Current Data and Fed’s Mandate Shrink Modestly
In a press conference given after the FOMC policy statement was released, Fed Chair Janet Yellen emphasized that the committee’s discussions did not imply any near-term changes to the target federal funds rate. Chair Yellen cited gaps between current unemployment rates and the Fed’s mandate of achieving maximum employment and the current inflation rate and the Fed’s target inflation rate of 2.00 percent as major considerations in forming current Fed policy. She said that the respective gaps had narrowed “modestly,” and again emphasized the Fed’s commitment to constant review of economic and financial data as a significant factor in its decisions to change monetary policy.
Ms. Yellen cautioned media representatives and analysts to avoid making economic projections too far into the future and pointed out that longer term predictions are subject to more variables. Chair Yellen also cautioned press conference attendees not to consider anything in the FOMC statement or her press conference to a definite time frame.
Media reps continued to press for definite dates and time projections, but Chair Yellen held fast to the Fed’s often-repeated position that policy changes cannot be set by a calendar and also depend on economic trends and news that influence the Fed’s monetary policies.
If you’ve just returned from the vacation of a lifetime, you probably wish that wonderful time never had to end. When you buy a vacation home or condo, you can guarantee that you have an escape that will provide you with years of enjoyment. Before you take the plunge, though, take advantage of these six helpful tips about buying a vacation home.
Choose Someplace Versatile
When buying a vacation home, it’s all about getting the most out of your investment. Consider choosing a place that you can enjoy throughout the year. Your ideal vacation home will be a haven in the summer, a beauty in the fall, a refresher during the spring, and the perfect place to celebrate the winter holidays.
Think About Convenience
When you choose your vacation home, you will want to find a relaxing getaway that fits your lifestyle. If you love to have easy access to the grocery store and other amenities, don’t buy in a remote location. If instead you’d prefer something secluded, opt for a home that is hidden far from civilization.
Consider Your Neighbors
Depending on where you choose to buy a vacation home, you’re likely to be surrounded by others who love the area as much as you do. You need to decide if you want to have many others who are in close proximity or if you prefer having your space to yourself.
Find Out About Taxes
If you are opting for an extremely popular location, beware of high taxes. You want to go into your purchase with your eyes wide open. If you choose a home that is off the beaten path, you could have a more favorable tax rate.
Learn About Restrictions
You may have restrictions to deal with when you buy a vacation home. From a Home Owner’s Association that stipulates regulations about the care of property to restrictions in paint schemes, you may not have complete freedom with your property.
Look For Excellent Deals
Whether it is due to the strained economy or someone who has to make a property move quickly, you could find a phenomenal deal. Don’t rush into any sale until you’ve reviewed all of your options. Buying a home that is in a community neighboring a hot spot (instead of in the hot spot itself) could make for better prices as well.
A vacation home is a great real estate investment that can make vacation planning much easier. With these tips in hand, you’ll be well equipped to find the perfect vacation home for your budget.
When a seller accepts an offer from a buyer, the process of obtaining the property has just begun. The buyer now has to conduct an inspection, get approval from an attorney and obtain a mortgage – all of which can be time consuming. Here are a few ways that you can speed up the mortgage process and close the deal sooner.
Make Sure That You Have Money For Closing Costs
Do you have the money needed for a down payment and to pay other closing and prepaid costs? If not, you won’t be able to close until you find the funds to pay those costs – and this could delay the closing on your home indefinitely. Before you arrange the mortgage, make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay closing costs.
Get Conditional Approval Before Making The Offer
If you have not been conditionally approved for a loan before making an offer, you can’t be sure that a lender will give you a loan for the amount of the purchase price. In addition, starting the process from scratch could push back the closing timeline. Having your mortgage conditionally approved means the mortgage process is already underway when you make your offer, which saves you time.
Have Your Documents Together
Get your bank statements, pay stubs and other documents together before the seller accepts your offer. Having everything that the lender needs right away decreases the time needed for a lender to assess your application before extending the loan.
Work With An Experienced Mortgage Lender
Your mortgage lender may be able to move everything along by staying on top of the loan approval process. By ensuring that documents are being processed in a timely manner, an experienced lender can reduce the closing time from months to weeks.
Create A Timeline For Repairs The Seller Is Obligated To Make
It is not uncommon for a seller to be obligated to fix certain issues with the house before the new owner takes possession. However, it is important to put these repairs the contract along with a mandatory completion date. Otherwise, the seller could drag his feet with no contractual obligation to finish any repairs before he sees fit to do so.
Closing on a home loan can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days depending on work that needs to be done on the home and how well prepared a buyer is. Contacting and working closely with your mortgage lender or broker can result in a speedy and painless close. Contact an experienced mortgage professional today for more information about closing a mortgage.
While there are differing schools of thought when it comes to whether or not a person should pay off a mortgage before the loan term ends, there may be some benefits to making payments on a bi-weekly basis as opposed to monthly basis. What are some of the reasons why it may be beneficial to make two payments a month instead of one? Here are three reasons why you should ditch the monthly fees and make payments once every two weeks.
You’ll Make An Extra Payment Per Year
If you’re looking to pay off your mortgage ahead of schedule, making bi-weekly payments means you’ll make an extra payment every year. Instead of making 12 large payments every year, you’ll make 26 small payments. These 26 small payments would be equal to about 13 large payments.
This is the equivalent of an extra payment per year and 10 extra payments over 10 years. If you have a 30-year mortgage, you could pay it off between two and three years early because you will make your last payment 30 months ahead of schedule.
You’ll Provide Yourself With Financial Flexibility
Making extra payments can provide you with financial flexibility that makes it easier to deal with unexpected expenses or a job loss. As you are making a half-payment every two week, you can make your payments in smaller, more manageable chunks.
It may be a good thing if you are self-employed and may not be sure when a client will pay for services rendered. Additionally, you may have your next payment reduced or advanced if you pay more than you owe in a given month.
You’ll Reduce the Amount of Interest Paid on the Loan
Paying off your mortgage faster reduces the amount of interest that you pay on the loan. Even if you only make one extra payment per year, you could still save thousands of dollars in interest by paying your loan several months or years early.
To determine exactly how much you will save, you can use an amortization table or calculator to see how much interest you pay over the full 30 years as opposed to taking only 27 or 28 years to pay for your home. It is also important to note that making extra payments adds to the equity that you have in the home.
Making two payments instead of one each month may help you achieve financial flexibility while building equity in your home. By paying off your mortgage as soon as possible, it may enable you to put more money into a savings or retirement account. Contact a mortgage professional for more information about whether bi-weekly payments are right for you.