March sales of existing homes exceeded expectations at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million sales according to the NAR. Analysts projected that existing home sales would reach 4.55 million based on February’s reading of 4.50 million sales.
The pace of existing home sales declined by 0.20 percent as compared to February’s reading.
Headwinds Cause Slower Pace Of Home Sales
Analysts cited poor winter weather and rapidly rising home prices as factors that kept buyers away, although the Northeast and Midwest regions reported improvements in home sales in March. NAR said that the national average home price increased to $198,500, which was a year-over-year increase of 7.90 percent.
New mortgage regulations, which have caused mortgage lenders to take a conservative position with their lending policies, are also seen as a discouragement to buyers with less-than-perfect credit, first-time and moderate income home buyers.
Experts expressed concerns that current home prices and tight lending standards could create a shortage of first-time buyers.
Home sales to investors have fallen as higher home prices and fewer distressed (foreclosure and short sale) properties cause deals on cheap homes to dry up.
Fannie And Freddie Revise Construction, Housing Market Forecasts
Fannie Mae reduced its forecast for home construction started in 2014 from 1.55 million to 1.05 million. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, said that constraints on credit and labor contributed to the revised forecast.
Freddie Mac reduced its forecast of homes sold in 2014 from 5.60 million to 5.50 million. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said that tight inventories of homes in some areas could cause significant challenges for home buyers.
FHFA Home Price Index Posts March Gain
FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that February home prices related to mortgages that Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee, gained 0.60 percent as compared to a revised January reading of a 0.40 percent gain.
Year-over-year, home prices rose by 6.90 percent as compared to January’s year over year reading of 7.20 percent.
Analysts said that smaller month-to-month dips in home prices could indicate a turnaround for lagging housing markets and also noted that sales lost during severe winter weather may be recouped as the spring buying season gains momentum.
To refinance a mortgage means to pay off your existing loan and replace it with a new one.
There are many reasons why homeowners opt to refinance, from obtaining a lower interest rate, to shortening the term of the loan, to switching mortgage loan types, to tapping into home equity.
Each has its considerations.
Lower Your Mortgage Rate
Among the best reasons to refinance is to get access to lower mortgage rates. There is no “rule of thumb” that says how far rates should drop for a refinance to be sensible. Compare your closing costs to your monthly savings, and determine whether the math makes sense for your situation.
Shorten Your Loan Term
Refinancing your 30-year fixed rate mortgage to a 20-year fixed rate or a 15-year fixed rate is a sensible way to reduce your long-term mortgage costs, and to own your home sooner. As a bonus, with mortgage rates currently near all-time lows, an increase to your monthly payment from a shorter loan term may be negligible.
Convert ARM To Fixed Rate Mortgage
Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages may want the comfort of a fixed-rate payment. Mortgage rates for fixed-rate mortgages are often higher than for comparable ARMs so be prepared to pay more to your lender each month.
Access Equity For Projects, Debts, Or Other Reasons
Called a “cash out” refinance, homeowners can sometimes use home equity to retire debts, pay for renovations, or use for other purposes including education costs and retirement. Lenders place restrictions on loans of this type. A refinanced home loan can help you reach specific financial goals or just put extra cash in your pocket each month – just make sure that there’s a clear benefit to you.
Paying large closing costs for small monthly savings or negligible long-term benefit should be avoided. Many lenders offer low- or no-closing costs options for refinancing. Be sure to ask about it.
Real estate investments are still going strong and will probably continue to be a popular method of financial gain into the future.
Real estate is solid. It is a tangible product that is attractive to both beginning investors and experienced pros. The most important part of getting started in real estate investing is knowing what you’re getting into and what to watch out for.
Here are 4 top tips from real estate investment professionals:
Understand The Realities
Real estate investment, like any form of investment, is risky. Do not use money you cannot afford to lose. Careful study, understanding the market, and practice help alleviate a lot of the risks but things happen in the best of situations so don’t play with what you can’t afford to lose.
Research Is A Constant
Research in real estate investment isn’t something you do once. Research is constant. It is a daily part of your efforts and should always be at the forefront of your mind. From changing banking methods to market changes, researching and learning must be ongoing to be a successful real estate investor.
Know The Property
Research isn’t limited to financing and the real estate market. You need to thoroughly investigate each property before you buy. Fill out an investment worksheet to see if all the costs associated with the purchase will allow a satisfying profit.
Learn About Personal Protection
Taking risks with the money you have set aside for investment is one thing. Taking risks with your family’s savings, property, and other assets is another. Consider starting an LLC. You can choose from a single LLC to cover all of your real estate holdings, or having a separate LLC for each property purchased.
Last week’s economic news supported the general outlook for moderate economic growth. Housing related news included the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for April and Housing Starts for March.
The NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI for April ticked upward by one point to a reading of 47 against the March revised reading of 46. Home builders surveyed expressed concerns about high home prices, a lack of available lots for development and a labor shortage. Some desirable markets have been held back due to low inventories of available and/or affordable homes.
Builders surveyed for the HMI were asked to rate three components used in compiling the monthly index; these include current market conditions, market conditions expected over the next six months, and buyer foot traffic in newly built homes. April’s readings were 51, 57 and 32 respectively.
Readings for current market conditions and buyer foot traffic were unchanged from March, but builder confidence for market conditions in the next six months rose by four points.
Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about market conditions for newly-built single-family homes than not.
Housing Starts Pick Up After Winter Storms, But Fall Short Of Expectations
March Housing Starts rose by 2.80 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 starts as compared to expectations of 990,000 and February’s reading of 920,000 housing starts, which was revised from 907,000 starts.
The March reading represented a 5.90 percent decrease from March 2013, and is consistent with concerns expressed by home builders surveyed for the NAHB HMI for April.
Building permits issued for March were also lower by 2.40 percent at a rate of 990,000 permits issued. This slippage was largely due to the falling rate of building permits issued for apartment construction.
Higher home prices and mortgage rates along with inconsistent (but improving) labor markets were cited as reasons for builder pessimism, but analysts said that projects delayed by severe weather are expected to pick up in the coming months.
Mortgage Rates Fall, Discount Points Hold Steady
Last week’s average mortgage rates fell across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.27 percent. 15-year mortgages had an average rate of 3.33 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.38 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.03 percent, down from 3.09 percent the previous week. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.
Fed Chair Upbeat In New York Speech
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen struck a positive note in a speech given before the Economic Club of New York last Wednesday. She indicated that the Fed and many economists expect a return to full employment and stable prices by the end of 2016. Analysts characterized Yellen’s speech as upbeat on economic recovery and inflation, while “dovish” on monetary policy.
Ms. Yellen reiterated the Fed’s intention to monitor current and developing economic situations before making changes to its current monetary policy. She acknowledged that “twists and turns” in the economy could occur, and that Fed policy would shift as needed to address changes.
The Fed also released its Beige Book Report last Wednesday. This report indicated that the economy is recovering in most areas of the U.S.
This week’s scheduled economic news includes Leading Economic Indicators, Existing Home Sales for March, FHFA House Price Report for February and New Home Sales for March. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report for April rounds out this week’s news.
When people purchase their home, one of their common requests is “plenty of light.” And for good reason! This is a critical factor for enjoying your home, and when designing your interior, you should pay special attention to just that: your sources of light.
See them not only as a way to brighten up your room, but also as an opportunity to infuse your home with a fashionable design and aesthetic appeal. You’d be surprised at how much lighting can dramatically enhance any given room in your home.
Here are our six favorite lighting installations that are bound to give you and your home that “wow” factor.
The Chandelier For Pretty Places
Chandeliers provide arguably the prettiest and most classic fixtures possible, and they are a growing trend right now in interior design.
Acting as the “centerpiece” if you will to any room, chandeliers offer the perfect amount of brilliance and light, while instantly multiplying the room’s feeling of warmth and appeal. Create a pretty place you won’t be able to resist; hang a modern crystal chandelier above your dining room table or a bright pendant chandelier in your master bedroom.
Quirky and Contemporary Ceiling Lights
To achieve the same sense of fashion-forward style for your home’s decor but in a more practical way for the tall folks, consider a close-to-ceiling light fixture in its many different quirky and contemporary styles. You can also opt for the bright, patterned pendant style, or get a wide crystal embellished highlight for your ceiling lights.
The Demure Brilliance: Recessed Spot Lighting
For the most demure, nearly hidden brilliance, opt for recessed spot lighting. These light installations typically offer dimmer switches and provide the perfect ambiance for any space, especially kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms.
Perfect Pendants For Closer Lighting
Perfect hanging pendants come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and can be hung in a row for horizontal spaces like your kitchen’s eating bar. They can also be hung at varying lengths to achieve a tasteful fashion statement.
Instant Modernity: Arc Floor Lamp
The arc floor lamp, which typically rests in one corner of the room and reaches over in an arch for center lighting in a sitting area, is a growing trend in home decor. You can find these floor lamps in virtually any style, ranging from textured, retro versions to sleek, contemporary styles.
Matching Shades: Table Lamps
To tie your room together in its design aesthetic, the most perfect – and most simple – option may be matching table lamps. Perfect for your side tables in your living room, or the nightstands on either side of your bed in your master bedroom, matching shades can be a quick fix to a room that needs more brilliance and a more cohesive look.
Whether you already have plenty of natural light flooding your home, you can never have enough brilliance to rely on when the sun goes down. So take a look at these six light installations that will instantly enhance your living space, and infuse your home with the light it deserves.