Spring Cleaning Your Finances

  • April 25, 2017

We clean out our closets, clean up the garage, why not add your finances to your spring cleaning list?  With tax season in the rearview, spring is an excellent opportunity to clean up your finances. 

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Market Forecast: Home Price Index, New Home Sales, and Pending Home Sales

  • April 24, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, after hitting a year-long low earlier in the month.  There will be a full schedule of housing reports this week including the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, new home sales, and pending home sales.

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Market Recap: Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • April 21, 2017

Mortgage rates did not fluctuate much this week, hovering the year-long lows they hit last week.  The housing market index gave a positive reading.  Housing starts declined, but building permits ticked up.  Existing home sales surged to the highest level since 2007.

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Inventory Shortage Explained

  • April 20, 2017

A consistent theme amongst housing professionals this year and last has been “inventory shortage.”  With demand outpacing supply, houses are selling faster and at higher prices than earlier in the decade. 

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Beware! Common Real Estate Scams

  • April 19, 2017

Scammers target homebuyers or sellers because of the amount of money at stake during the real estate transaction.  Using trusted real estate professionals, keeping communication open, and staying aware throughout the process can help reduce the risk of fraud. 

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Survey: Down Payment Biggest Obstacle to Homeownership

  • April 18, 2017

A recent Zillow survey reveals nearly 70% of renters report saving for a down payment as the largest barrier to homeownership.  With rents reaching record highs, the average rent costs nearly 50% of the median income in many cities.  Even with the delay in buying a home, most renters cite homeownership as a goal.  63% of survey respondents are confident they will someday own a home, 25% believe it will happen in the next three-to-five years.

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Market Forecast: Low Rates, Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales and Starts and Permits

  • April 17, 2017

Last week, Freddie Mac reported mortgage rates dipped to new 2017 lows.  The lower rates bode well for the spring home buying season, typically the busiest of the year.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release the housing market index on Monday.  On Tuesday, housing starts and building permits come out and on Wednesday there will be the existing home sales report.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Rates Drop, Consumer Sentiment Soars, and More

  • April 14, 2017

This week, Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed-rate average interest rate dropped to the lowest level of the year so far, driven down by the political climate.  Job openings increased, but hiring declined.  The consumer sentiment index continued to surge and retail sales dropped.

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Financial CHOICE Act 2.0 Outline Debuts

  • April 13, 2017

Nearly seven years have passed since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was enacted, and now the House Financial Services Committee is drafting proposed changes.  A memo reportedly from the committee’s chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling details the potential changes in the Financial Choice Act 2.0. 

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April is National Fair Housing Month

  • April 12, 2017

The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) was established on April 11, 1968, when President Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law.  This act prohibits the discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on the race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, and family status of the buyer or renter. 

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Home Buyers are Springing Ahead

  • April 11, 2017

Home prices are on the rise in some regions, but buyers are not holding back.  CoreLogic reports that home prices will continue to rise into 2018 due to inventory restrictions and rising rates.  However, this price appreciation is not significant enough to stop home buyers from making a move.

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Market Forecast: JOLTS, Consumer Sentiment, Retail Sales

  • April 10, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward last week.  This week, economic reports of significance include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the consumer sentiment index, and retail sales report. 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending and ADP Employment Improve

  • April 07, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward this week after an uptick last week.  US construction spending increased, mortgage applications returned mixed numbers, and the ADP Employment report posted a sizable gain.

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HELOCs on the Rise Again

  • April 06, 2017

Last week, the Case-Shiller home price index reported a 31-month high in January’s home prices.  The 20-city composite index appreciated 5.7% during the three-month period ending in January, for a 5.9% increase year-over-year.  Home values saw significant appreciation in 2016.  Black Knight Financial Services reported an annual home price appreciation of 5.5% during 2016, bringing the number of mortgage holders with “tappable equity” up to 39.5 million. 

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Joining the 800+ Credit Club

  • April 05, 2017

Lenders use credit scores to determine a borrower’s ability to repay debt like mortgages and vehicle loans.  Credit scores impact lending terms, mortgage rates, and financing eligibility.  Typically, scores above 700 are considered good.  TransUnion reports only about 20% of Americans have a score above 780 and even fewer rank above 800.  How can consumers improve their credit score and reach these elite ranges?

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Suburban Migration Back on the Rise

  • April 04, 2017

The US Census Bureau estimates that for the year ending on July 1, 2016, the population in metro areas grew by 0.7%, while the population in surrounding suburban areas grew by 1%.  This marks the first time after a decade of recession that suburban growth surpassed metro-area growth.

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Apps, and ADP Employment Report

  • April 03, 2017

Mortgage rates continued to hold steady last week, trending slightly upward according to Mortgage News Daily.  This week will be light on housing news and heavy on jobs reports.  Jobs reports, like this week’s ADP employment report, are still relevant to the housing market because labor market growth triggers spending and borrowing by gainfully employed consumers.

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Market Recap: Home Prices, Pending Home Sales, and Consumer Spending Gain

  • March 31, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much this week, trending slightly upward from last week.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index surged at a record pace, pending home sales increased, and consumer spending improved also.

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Pros and Cons of Paying Points

  • March 30, 2017

Points, also known as discount points or origination points, are fees paid to the lender to secure a reduced interest rate for the life of the mortgage loan.  Points are an optional fee that are beneficial to some buyers, especially those who will be living in the home long-term. 

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MBA Opens Doors Foundation

  • March 29, 2017

We truly believe home is where the heart is.  For those suffering from illnesses, having a place to call home can be just as healing as the hospital.  Unfortunately, unexpected medical expenses have the potential to cause major financial damage to families.  The MBA Opens Doors Foundation is here to help. 

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Fannie and Freddie Reform Unlikely this Year

  • March 28, 2017

When Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin cited Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform as a Trump administration priority, housing professionals across the country began speculating about how reform of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) should take place.  Many lobbyists have called for GSE reform for several years, however new information suggests that GSE reform has been pushed back again due to more pressing policy reform issues. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, and Core Inflation

  • March 27, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward last week.  When the Federal Reserve raises the short-term interest rate, long-term rates like mortgage rates may not react immediately. This week, there will be the S&P Case-Shiller home price index, the pending home sales report, and the consumer spending, personal income, and core inflation report.

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Market Recap: FHFA House Price Index Unchanged, Existing Home Sales Down, New Home Sales Up

  • March 24, 2017

Mortgage rates continued to trend downward this week.  There was a mixed bag of housing news.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index was unchanged, existing home sales dropped, and new home sales increased.

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How Rising Rates Influence Saving and Lending

  • March 23, 2017

Last week the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate, a move that will impact the global economy, just not all at once.  In December 2008, the Fed dropped rates to 0 and has taken a gradual approach to raising rates to achieve economic recovery.  This year, the Fed is expected to raise rates two more times.  Here’s what that means for Americans.

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Your Home Insurance Checkup

  • March 22, 2017

From flooding in California, to tornadoes in the Midwest, to last week’s Northeastern snow storm, 2017 has already seen its fair share of inclement weather.  Each season and region is susceptible to its own natural disaster and homeowners’ insurance is not one size fits all. 

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The “Goldilocks” of Home Buyers

  • March 21, 2017

Why do homeowners want to move?  According to a survey conducted for Trulia by Harris Poll, most American homeowners are not satisfied with the size of their current home.  The survey found that less than 32% of homeowners would purchase a home that is the same size as their current residence.

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Market Forecast: FHFA House Price Index, Existing Home Sales, and New Home Sales

  • March 20, 2017

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate.  In response, mortgage rates trended downward.  Long-term interest rates will move more slowly than short-term rates in reacting to movements by the Fed.  This week, there will be several important housing reports including the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s house price index, existing home sales, and new home sales. 

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Market Recap: Record Home Builders’ Reports and a Federal Rate Hike

  • March 17, 2017

Happy St, Patrick’s Day!  As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise interest rates.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending down.  The home builders’ sentiment index increased at a record pace and housing starts also posted gainful numbers.  However, building permits declined. 

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Download Case Study: Buying vs. Building

  • March 16, 2017

One of the major decisions prospective home buyers face is whether to buy an existing home or build a new home. Buying and building each have advantages, and the decision to buy or build is largely dependent on the buyer’s timeframe and budget.

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Warning: Four Common Household Fire Starters

  • March 15, 2017

House fires are devastating tragedies that may lead to substantive loss of property and even injury or fatality.  The National Fire Protection Association attributes electrical failure or malfunction as the cause of over 47,000 fires annually. 

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Federal Open Market Committee Meets Today and Tomorrow

  • March 14, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to meet today and tomorrow for their second policy meeting of 2017.  Based on economic strength, many forecasters are predicting the first rate hike of the year will take place after this meeting.  The market is already pricing in a rate hike, but no official actions have taken place.

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Market Forecast: Federal Open Market Committee Meets Tuesday and Wednesday

  • March 13, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet this Tuesday and Wednesday and vote on whether or not to raise the benchmark interest rate.  Last week, the European Central Bank voted to leave interest rates unchanged.  In the United States, Mortgage rates were on the rise last week as the market priced in a federal interest rate hike.

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Market Recap: Will Robust Job Growth Lead to Rate Hike Next Week?

  • March 10, 2017

Mortgage rates were on the rise this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  After this week’s positive job numbers from the ADP employment report, many economists are predicting a rate hike will take place next week.

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5 Questions to Ask a Potential Mortgage Lender

  • March 09, 2017

JD Power reports that 21% of home buyers said they had buyer’s remorse over choosing the wrong lender.  The loan officer is just as important as every other member of the real estate team.  Choosing the right loan officer facilitates transparent communication and enables the borrower to have an accurate and expeditious loan closing.

 

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How to Protect Personal Information When Filing Taxes

  • March 08, 2017

Tax season is an opportune time for hackers to gain access to an abundance of secure information.  Consumers are transmitting sensitive data and many are anticipating refund payments.  The IRS estimated that it halted more than $4 billion in fraudulent refunds, on 787,000 tax returns during the first nine months of 2016.

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: No Change to Mortgage Interest Deduction

  • March 07, 2017

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin addressed the Trump tax reform plan in an interview with Fox Business Network.  He clarified that mortgage interest and charitable contributions would not change after the policy changes.  Before the president took office, Mnuchin had alluded to plans to cap the amount of mortgage interest homeowners can deduct from their taxes. 

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Market Forecast: MBA Mortgage Applications, Consumer Credit, and ADP Employment

  • March 06, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, trending upward according to some surveys.  There are no major housing reports scheduled this week, except for the weekly Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) purchase application survey.  Other notable economic reports include consumer credit and the ADP employment report.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Improves, Pending Home Sales and US Construction Drop

  • March 03, 2017

There was not much movement from mortgage rates this week, trending upwards according to some sources.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index improved, but the pending home sales index and construction spending declined.  On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Meeting later this month. 

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Download Case Study: The History of Mortgage Rates

  • March 02, 2017

Even with the Federal Reserve interest rate hikes of 2015 and 2016, mortgage rates remain at historic lows. Since the advent of the modern American mortgage in the 1930’s, mortgage rates have fluctuated dramatically, peaking at an unprecedented 18.5% during the 1980’s. Mortgage rates are largely dependent on economic activity, inflation, and the guidance of the Federal Reserve.

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Ikea’s Build Your Own Urban Garden

  • March 01, 2017

Furniture retailer Ikea, popular for its do-it-yourself assembly, released a new structure through its innovation lab Space10 called Growroom.  This spherical, wooden planter is designed to facilitate gardening in dense urban areas where many residents do not have backyards. 

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Avoid These Paint Colors When Selling Your Home

  • February 28, 2017

A fresh coat of paint on your home’s interior or exterior is a relatively inexpensive way to revitalize your home when it is on the market.  An exterior update can rejuvenate an older home and interior paint jobs can add dimension and diversity to the rooms.  According to the Institute for Color Research, people tend to judge an environment within 90 seconds of initial viewing, based strictly on its color.  Avoid these swatches when you are repainting your home for sale. 

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Market Forecast: Pending Home Sales, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Construction Spending

  • February 27, 2017

Mortgage rates did not change significantly last week, and trended downward according to some sources.  This week includes the end of February and the beginning of March, bringing some important monthly housing reports.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) pending home sales index and US construction spending will forecast what to expect for housing in the coming months. 

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Surge, New Home Sales Rebound, and FHFA House Price Index

  • February 24, 2017

Mortgage rates trended downward this week.  New home sales and existing home sales each showed signs of strength and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index increased.  New Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin addressed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform is on the agenda but stated that it was not the number one priority.

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No Substitute for the FICO Score

  • February 23, 2017

One of the first steps in securing a home loan is determining the borrower’s credit score.  With multiple credit bureaus reporting on different factors, the borrower may see multiple versions of their credit score.  Additionally, lead generation websites are constantly phishing consumers to get their free “credit scores.”  HousingWire reports that new research suggests that the VantageScore is not the same as a FICO score despite claims asserting otherwise.

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Alert: Increase in Utility-Related Phone Call Scams

  • February 22, 2017

The number of phone scammers posing as heating or electric companies increased 109% in 2016.  The top five companies phone scammer claim affiliation with are General Electric, Duke Energy, ConEd, Georgia Power, and Consumers Energy.

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Welcome Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin

  • February 21, 2017

Last week, former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin was sworn in as Treasury Secretary.  Key responsibilities the new Treasury Secretary will face include tax reform, trade deals, and review of financial services regulatory agencies. 

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Market Forecast: FHFA House Price Index, Existing Home Sales, and New Home Sales

  • February 20, 2017

Last week, Steve Mnuchin was sworn in as Treasury Secretary, Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested an interest rate hike is coming soon, and mortgage rates started to rise. This week’s important housing reports will include existing home sales, new home sales, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) House Price Index.

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Market Recap: NAHB Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • February 17, 2017

This week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen delivered her semiannual testimony on the Fed’s monetary policy.  Because of her hawkish tones, economists have increased March’s rate hike expectations to 35%.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index dropped this month and housing starts declined, but building permits increased.  Retail sales posted modest increases as well.  

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Download Case Study: Buying vs. Renting

  • February 16, 2017

“Is it better to rent or buy?” Real estate professionals face this question rather frequently and each side presents its own financial benefits. However, evidence supports that homeownership is more affordable than long-term renting.

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Homes for Hope Designed to House Homeless Population

  • February 15, 2017

The homeless population in Los Angeles, CA has grown so substantially, that the mayor declared a state of emergency. In November, voting citizens approved a $1.2 Billion bond to build 10,000 apartments to help house the chronically homeless over the next ten years. At this time, an estimated 50,000 people sleep on the streets every night.  Homes for Hope is trying to reduce that number.

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Rates on the rise? Not just yet.

  • February 14, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) closed 2016 with a vote to raise the benchmark interest rate, for the second time in ten years.  The FOMC projected three additional rate hikes in 2017.  As expected, there was no interest rate movement after February’s meeting.  Some economists are questioning if the three rate hike forecast was an overestimate.

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Housing Starts, and Building Permits

  • February 13, 2017

Mortgage rates dropped somewhat last week.  Rates in 2017 have stayed relatively unchanged following volatility toward the end of 2016.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release a housing market index.  Other scheduled reports include retail sales, housing starts, and building permits. 

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit and Mortgage Apps Up, JOLTS Down Slightly

  • February 10, 2017

After some volatility earlier in the month, mortgage rates started to drop this week.  Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave interest rates unchanged.  This week, the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) dropped slightly, and consumer credit posted modest gains.  Mortgage applications also increased this week, following a drop last week.

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The MBA on GSE Reform

  • February 09, 2017

As it stands, comprehensive reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is largely considered the last piece of unfinished business of the financial crisis.  In 2008, Fannie and Freddie accepted a $188 Billion bailout and became government-sponsored enterprises (GSE).  The bailout has been long repaid, yet the financial institutions remain GSEs.  With policy reform on the horizon, the Mortgage Bankers Association released a paper on how GSE privatization might take place.

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Pittsburgh Area Mall Sold for $100 at Foreclosure Auction

  • February 08, 2017

Pittsburgh Mills, a 1.1 million-square-foot mall in Frazer, Pennsylvania, sold at auction for just $100.  The sprawling shopping center once valued at $190 Million in 2007 was foreclosed by Wells Fargo in November 2015, when its developers did not pay back the $143 Million owed.  

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Breaking Down Dodd-Frank

  • February 07, 2017

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform is the legislation that was enacted after the financial crisis to reduce predatory lending and regulate the banking industry.  On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order to reconsider post-financial crisis regulations, like Dodd-Frank.

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Market Forecast: No Rate Hike, Jolts Report, and Consumer Credit

  • February 06, 2017

Mortgage rates fluctuated only slightly last week, and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to not raise interest rates.  This week, the Labor Department releases its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), the consumer credit report for December comes out, and the MBA releases its weekly mortgage purchase application index.

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Market Recap: Housing Numbers are Up and No Rate Hike, Yet

  • February 03, 2017

Mortgage rates did not move much this week, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) decision not to raise interest rates.  Despite a week-over-week drop in new purchase and refinance mortgage applications, monthly housing numbers posted strong gains.

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Download Case Study: Benefits and Risks of Investing in Real Estate

  • February 02, 2017

Real estate investment is widely regarded as a less volatile investment than the stock market. While the stock market is subject to dramatic fluctuations based on the economic climate, the housing market is relatively predictable. Homes tend to appreciate in value over time and build equity with responsible mortgage repayment. In the case of buying to sell, investors can use the profits from one project to fund another.

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Ultra-Affordable Housing

  • February 01, 2017

Hex House, not to be confused with the Tulsa’s most terrifying haunted attraction of the same name, is an affordable housing solution that reduces the cost of design and construction.  Each home is assembled on-site, by the buyer, much like do-it-yourself furniture.

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Federal Open Market Committee Meets Today and Tomorrow

  • January 31, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will have its first meeting of 2017 today and tomorrow.  This meeting will not be followed by a press conference with Chair Janet Yellen.  The FOMC typically does not raise rates at meetings that are not followed by a press conference, the first meeting with a press conference will take play March 14-15. 

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Market Forecast: FOMC Meets, Pending Home Sales, and Case-Shiller Index

  • January 30, 2017

Mortgage rates experienced some volatility last week.  On Tuesday, Dr. Ben Carson’s nomination for the Secretary of the Department of Housing was approved by the Senate Committee.  On Wednesday morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 20,000. This week the Federal Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Upcoming housing reports include pending home sales and the S&P Case-Shiller home price index. 

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Market Recap: Carson Approved, Dow20K, and Mortgage Movement

  • January 27, 2017

Mortgage rates experienced some volatility this week, opening with a decline and then climbing throughout the week.  The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee approved Dr. Ben Carson’s nomination for the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The next step in his proceedings will be facing the entire Senate vote.  On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 20,000 for the first time ever.  Important housing reports that were released this week include existing home sales, new home sales, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index.

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Meeting the Demand for Housing

  • January 26, 2017

There has been continued discussion about “tightened inventory” in the housing community over the past year.  Home prices are appreciating, new home buyers are entering the market, and demand is on track to outpace supply.  However, there are other factors besides inventory availability influencing the tight housing market.

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How ReGen Village is Pioneering Sustainability

  • January 25, 2017

Self-sufficiency is not a new concept.  Before the modern age communities thrived for centuries without relying on trade and export from around the world.  Today, disconnecting from the grid is a new concept and one that challenges the idea of sustainability in housing and development.

 

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Ben Carson’s To-Do List

  • January 24, 2017

Last week, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs began its hearing for Dr. Ben Carson’s appointment as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This morning, his nomination was approved. Past HUD secretaries chose to take on flagship issues during their terms.  With Dr. Carson’s background as a neurosurgeon and his abundant contributions to the medical field, housing experts predict that “health and housing” will be one of his signature issues.

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, FHFA House Price Index, and New Home Sales

  • January 23, 2017

Mortgage rates went up last week and the Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended their plan to cut mortage insurance premiums on Federal Housing Administration Loans.  This week, there will be important housing reports including existing home sales, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index, and new home sales.

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Market Recap: New Administration Overturns Mortgage-Fee Cut

  • January 20, 2017

The Federal Housing Administration had planned to reduce annual Mortgage Insurance Premium starting January 27th.  However, the new Trump administration suspended this change.  Still, homebuilders remain confident, and housing starts are up but building permits dropped slightly. 

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Download Case Study: The Credit Score

  • January 19, 2017

Lenders use credit scores to determine the risk of a borrower before they issue a loan.  Prospective homebuyers should begin credit clean-up about six months to a year before the purchase of a new home. 

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Benefits of More Walkable Neighborhoods

  • January 18, 2017

As the car-centric world starts shifting toward the walkability trend, neighborhoods are seeing property values rise and quality of life improve.  Enabling pedestrianization of a neighborhood is the first step toward urban renewal, commitment to a better environment, and a revamped sense of community. 

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The Case Against GSE Privatization

  • January 17, 2017

Among the list of impending policy changes under the new administration, there has been ample talk about the privatization of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  The lenders became government sponsored entities in the wake of the financial crisis, accepting a $188 Billion bailout.  Since they were placed under conservator-ship, the GSEs have repaid their bailout and more to the US Treasury.  With the housing market rising to pre-recession strength and mortgage rates hovering historical lows the question arises, is it time to take Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae out of government conservator-ship? 

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Market Forecast: Short Week with Big Housing News

  • January 16, 2017

It is going to be a short news week with markets closed today in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and no major events scheduled on Friday because of Inauguration Day.  Looking ahead there will be important housing numbers released with the National Association of Home Builders’ housing market index, and housing starts and building permits.  The consumer price index is scheduled for release Wednesday morning.

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Market Recap: Consumers Confident, Job Openings are Up, and Retail Sales are Soft

  • January 13, 2017

Mortgage rates opened the week with a slight week-over-week decline and did not change much from Monday to Friday.  This week, the Federal Reserve released its consumer credit report, the Bureau of Labor released the JOLTS Survey, and the retail sales report for December came in.  Several incoming cabinet members sat for their confirmation hearings this week including Dr. Ben Carson for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Rents Rise Nationwide

  • January 12, 2017

As home prices continue to appreciate, rents are also on the rise.  Apartment search engine ABODO released their annual study surveying over 1 million rental listings across the country to calculate the average rental rate of a 1-bedroom apartment.  The analysis showed that the average monthly rent change last year was .67% for a total increase of $85 from January to December. 

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Federal Housing Administration to Cut Mortgage Insurance Premium

  • January 11, 2017

The Federal Housing Administration announced a plan to reduce mortgage insurance premiums in order to make mortgage financing more accessible.  Borrowers who close FHA mortgages after January 27 will pay 25 basis points less for their mortgage insurance premium which affects their monthly housing payment for the life of the loan, adding up over time. For example, on a $300,000 loan with a 3.5% down payment the new monthly insurance premium would be only $137.50 per month compared to the old premium of $200. This can save new home buyers $750 per year.

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CFPB Fined Equifax and TransUnion $23 Million+

  • January 10, 2017

Equifax and TransUnion, two major credit reporting bureaus in the United States, have been fined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for falsely representing credit scores and luring consumers into paid subscriptions.  The bureaus’ combined restitutions and fines top $23 Million total. 

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Job Openings, and Retail Sales

  • January 09, 2017

Last week, mortgage rates opened the year with a week-over-week decline.  This week is the first full week of the new year with several important economic reports including consumer credit, JOLTS, and retail sales.

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Market Recap: ADP Employment Gains and Increase in Construction Spending

  • January 06, 2017

Mortgage rates started the New Year with a drop from the previous week and dropped further by the end of the week.  In housing news, US Construction spending increased somewhat and mortgage applications dropped.  The ADP Employment report was also released this week, showing continued steady job growth.

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Download Case Study: Building Wealth Through Homeownership

  • January 05, 2017

Home values, like other economic measures, are cyclical.  It is widely accepted that buying a home is an investment in the future.  Even in periods of recession, homes can increase in value.  The government puts forth affordability initiatives to close the homeownership gap, emphasizing its fundamental role in providing financial security.  When construction slows and available inventory lessens, sellers of existing homes have an advantage as their homes’ value goes up. 

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New York Pledges $8 Million for Community Redevelopment

  • January 04, 2017

Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York and former HUD Secretary, announced Tuesday the disbursement of $8 Million for the construction, rehabilitation, and repair of homes across the state of New York.  The funds will be administered by the state’s Affordable Housing Corporation to make improvements to existing owner-occupied homes, to acquire and rehabilitate homes for sale, and to construct new homes for sale.  

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Home Equity Continues to Improve

  • January 03, 2017

CoreLogic reported US homeowners with mortgages saw their equity increase by $227 Billion in Q3 of 2016, up 3.1% annually.  This growth is associated with the improvement of the average loan-to-value ratio.  The average LTV ratio was 55.4%, down from 56% in mid-2016 and 57.3% in 2015.

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Market Forecast: Rates Drop, US Construction Spending, and ADP Employment Report

  • January 02, 2017

Happy New Year!  Mortgage rates started to drop last week, after a steady climb following the election and the FOMC rate hike.  This week is a short week with markets closed on Monday in observation of New Year’s Day.  US construction spending comes out Tuesday, the weekly MBA purchase applications survey comes out Wednesday as well as the ADP employment report.  

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller HPI Increases and Consumer Confidence Soars

  • December 30, 2016

Markets were closed on Monday in observation of the Christmas Holiday.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index hit a new high, pending home sales dropped, and consumer confidence is up again.  Mortgage rates dropped slightly this week, after hitting a year-long high following the rate hike.   

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Is Mortgage-Interest Tax Deduction the Better Way?

  • December 29, 2016

One of the more hotly contested contentions in the Better Way program is a tax reform blueprint that impacts the mortgage-interest tax deduction.  Proponents of the policy suggest that it will double the standard deduction taxpayers receive, and make the mortgage interest deduction unnecessary.  Opponents suggest that it diminishes the value of homeownership. 

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HUD Grants $132 Million for Revitalization

  • December 28, 2016

Distressed neighborhoods in Boston, Denver, St. Louis, Louisville, and Camden will each receive a share of a $132 Million revitalization fund from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  More than 50 million Americans live in distressed neighborhoods, typically characterized by a high housing vacancy rate, a concentrated poverty rate, and a population that is out of work and lacking in education.

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Market Forecast: Steady Rates, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Pending Home Sales

  • December 27, 2016

Last week, mortgage rates did not change much, dropping a few hundredths of a percent according to Mortgage News Daily. This week’s announcements include the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller home price index and the consumer confidence survey today and pending home sales tomorrow.

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Market Recap: Steady Mortgage Rates, Existing Home Sales Surge, and GDP Gains

  • December 23, 2016

Mortgage rates did not change much this week, dropping a few hundredths of a percentage point according to Mortgage News Daily.  Existing home sales posted sizable gains, the third quarter GDP was revised up, and new home sales improved as well. 

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42% of REALTORS® Report Clients Interested in Smart Home Devices

  • December 22, 2016

Devices like learning thermostats and smart home security systems are changing the way homeowners integrate technology into their homes.  Smart home devices are having such a significant impact, that the National Association of REALTORS® released its first report on smart homes last month. 

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Matching Gift Announced for Year End Campaign

  • December 21, 2016

There is still time to help out this holiday season.  The Cancer Support Community of the San Francisco Bay Area announced, “all gifts made during the Campaign for Hope (through December 31, 2016) will be matched dollar-for-dollar because of the generosity of Christopher George.”

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Will Trump and Yellen Work Together?

  • December 20, 2016

As it stands, President-elect Donald Trump is set to take office next month and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen fully intends to serve the remainder of her term that ends in February, 2018.  On the campaign trail, Trump simultaneously disavowed and defended the actions of the Federal Open Market Committee.  Now that Trump and Yellen are set to fulfill their terms in Washington, the question arises “will they work together?” 

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Market Forecast: Rates Rise, GDP Growth, Existing and New Home Sales

  • December 19, 2016

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee raised the benchmark interest rate and mortgage rates reacted accordingly and increased.  Some sources reported the highest reading of the year.  This week, the GDP revision comes out on Thursday.  Third quarter numbers were strong and this momentum is expected to carry into the end of the year.  Existing home sales and new home sales are also slated for release. 

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Market Recap: FOMC Confirms Rate Hike, Home Builder Confidence Soars

  • December 16, 2016

As expected, the FOMC raised key interest rates 0.25 bp to 0.5% - 0.75%.  The strengthened labor market and expectations for accelerated inflation warranted the rate increase.  FOMC Chairwoman Janet Yellen affirmed, “it’s important for households and businesses to understand that my colleagues and I have judged the course of the US economy to be strong.”  The rate increase will have a continuing impact nationally and internationally.  Following the Fed rate increase, mortgage rates ticked upward as well. 

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Not Suburban – Surban Growth Coming in 2017

  • December 15, 2016

Zillow’s predictions for the 2017 housing market include a growth in “surban” style communities.  Not to be confused with suburban-style sprawl, surban communities are the result of denser housing arrangements and urban amenities. 

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Helping Homeless Hawaiians with Microhousing

  • December 14, 2016

Last Tuesday, the County of Hawaii took a big step in housing its homeless citizens with the opening of a micro housing project.  Hale Kikaha, located in the Old Kona Industrial Area, contains 23 ADA compliant units including four that are handicap accessible.  The first tenants started moving in at the beginning of December.

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Potential Privatization Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

  • December 13, 2016

During the financial crisis Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bailed out for approximately $188 Billion and have remained under government conservator-ship since then.  However, President-elect Trump’s incoming Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has said, “we’ve got to get them out of government control.  […] In many cases, this displaces private lending in the mortgage markets, and we need these entities that will be safe.”

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Market Forecast – FOMC Meeting, Home Builders’ Index, and Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • December 12, 2016

Mortgage rates started to slide back down last week after reaching year-long highs earlier in the month.  The National Association of Home Builders release their housing market index for December on Thursday.  Housing Starts and Building Permits are slated for release on Friday.  The biggest news of the week will take place on Wednesday following the Federal Open Market Committee’s Meeting.  All signs point to an interest rate hike, the FOMC has held off on hiking rates all year, and economic conditions are favorable.

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Market Recap - New Purchases Up, Refinances Down, Solid Consumer Credit, and a Rate Hike Next Week

  • December 09, 2016

Mortgage rates inched downward this week, with no significant changes to report.  According to the MBA, new purchase applications were up and refinances were down.  Consumer credit expanded modestly.  The Federal Open Market Committee is scheduled to meet next week, and an interest rate hike is all but guaranteed. 

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5 Predictions for 2017 Housing Market

  • December 08, 2016

The real estate market tends to slow down this time of the year with cold weather setting in and holiday travels on the horizon.  This is a good opportunity to evaluate the state of the market and make predictions for 2017.

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Starbucks is “Lighting Up” King County to Stop Homelessness

  • December 07, 2016

In an effort to fight homelessness this holiday season, Seattle-area Starbucks stores are asking for donations to the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign and matching those donations up to $1 Million.  According to a recent report from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, there are 4,000 homeless people in Seattle including 500 families. 

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Breaking News: First Increase in Loan Limits Since 2006

  • December 06, 2016

Since the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008 established the baseline loan limit of $417,000 there has not been an increase in loan limits.  When instituted, HERA stated the baseline loan limit would not rise until the average US home price rebounded to a pre-decline level.  Until this year, the average US home price was below the level achieved in Q3 of 2007. 

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Monday Market Forecast: MBA Applications, Consumer Credit, and the Fed’s Balance Sheet

  • December 05, 2016

Mortgage rates went up last week, but are still hovering historic lows.  This week’s reports include MBA mortgage applications, consumer credit, and the Fed’s balance sheet.

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Market Recap: Job Market Strengthens, Construction Improves, and Rates Continue to Rise

  • December 02, 2016

Mortgage rates started to decline slightly this week, and then ticked back up.  The ADP Employment report showed substantial job growth, pending home sales posted a modest increase, and construction spending increased to a 7-month high.

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Can you buy a new home if you haven’t sold your current home?

  • December 01, 2016

You have to relocate for a job, and you only have two weeks.  Family circumstances make your spouse relocate but you are still looking for work in the new location.  You found the home of your dreams and don’t want it to go off the market before you’ve sold your current home. 

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Delaware Becomes Third State to End Veteran Homelessness

  • November 30, 2016

Veterans Day has come and gone, but we still have a civic duty to serve those who have served.  This month, Delaware became the third state to end veteran homelessness.  Delaware’s State Housing Authority has found housing for 415 displaced veterans over the past two years. 

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Meet the Incoming Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • November 29, 2016

The Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development is a member of the president’s cabinet and leads the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  HUD’s Secretary is expected to execute the mission to “increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.”  This position directly influences the housing industry and is currently held by Julian Castro.

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Market Forecast: ADP Employment, Pending Home Sales, and Construction Spending

  • November 28, 2016

Mortgage rates hit year-long highs last week, breaking the 4% mark according to some sources.  This month brought positive housing reports building momentum to close out the month strong.  Coming this week are the ADP Employment report, pending home sales, and construction spending. 

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Surge, FOMC Minutes, and Rising Rates

  • November 25, 2016

Mortgage rates are still rising but not as drastically.  This week brought mixed housing market news and the release of the FOMC minutes.  While existing home sales are up, new home sales are down. 

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Copia Feeds the Hungry and Reduces Restaurant Waste

  • November 23, 2016

A chance encounter with a homeless veteran inspired UC Berkley undergrad Komal Ahmad, to conquer the hunger crisis head on.  Five years later, she is giving back with her app-based company Copia, a service for on-demand food donations. 

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The Future of Housing Policy Under President Trump

  • November 22, 2016

The inauguration of President Trump is still two months away, but the president-elect is busy building his cabinet and outlining the broader details of his plans for policy.  From the Federal Reserve to Dodd-Frank, here are some of the changes proposed by the president-elect that will impact the housing market and the mortgage industry. 

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Monday Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, New Home Sales, and FOMC Minutes

  • November 21, 2016

Mortgage rates are fluctuating at a steadier pace following last week’s drastic spike.  Following solid gains in housing starts and retail sales, this week brings the existing home sales report for October to be released on Tuesday and the new home sales report for October to be released on Wednesday.  Also scheduled for release on Wednesday are the FOMC minutes from the November 2nd meeting.

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Market Recap: Solid Retail Sales, Surge in Housing Starts, and Rising Rates

  • November 18, 2016

Mortgage Rates are on the rise this week, but have leveled out a bit after sharp increases.  According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage rates saw the biggest week over week increase since June 2013, and surpassed the highest level since January of this year.

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Rent vs. Buy: 3 Questions to Consider

  • November 17, 2016

Do you build equity with every home purchase?  Is renting just throwing money away?  How long do you have to stay in a home to build equity?  Are rents more stable than mortgage rates?

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Texas Volunteers Give the Gift of Green Housing to Veterans

  • November 16, 2016

Volunteers in Montgomery County, Texas are converting unused shipping containers into sustainable housing for homeless veterans.  Green Zone Housing provides a permanent living space at a low construction cost.  All homes are built out of 40-foot shipping containers and veterans take part in the project management of their new homes.

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Coming Soon: Repeal of Dodd-Frank?

  • November 15, 2016

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank law gave regulators the administrative power and tools they needed to shut banks without resorting to bailouts.  Because of Dodd-Frank, regulators were able to restrict risky lending and also protect consumers from deceptive marketing of financial products. 

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Monday Market Forecast: Retail Sales, Home Builders’ Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • November 14, 2016

Mortgage rates experienced a steeper spike last week, the most significant change in recent months, partially due to the election.  Scheduled reports for this week include retail sales on Tuesday, home builders’ index on Wednesday, and housing starts and building permits on Thursday.

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The Millennials Next Door

  • November 10, 2016

Market analysts have a lot to say about Millennials, but did you know they may be moving in next door?  Zillow recently reported that about half of new home buyers are under the age of 36.  The current housing market is saturated with first-timers with 47% buying and 63% selling a home for the first time.

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit, MBA Purchase Applications, and President Trump

  • November 10, 2016

The market initially saw deep post-election declines but bounced back.  Mortgage rates are rising more quickly than they have in recent weeks.  The nation’s choice of commander-in-chief decreases the odds for a December rate hike, which have now dropped to 50%. 

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Reviving the Rustbelt: Detroit’s Road to Recovery

  • November 09, 2016

According to recent reports, there are still about 30,000 vacant homes and buildings in the Detroit metropolitan area.  The former manufacturing hub was hit hard by job loss and the foreclosure crisis.  

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Will Mortgage Rates Feel the Election Pain?

  • November 08, 2016

If you have not already cast your vote, today’s the day!  Americans are voting for president in today’s general election.  Many consumers have been wary about making financial decisions because of the upcoming change in regime, so let’s take a look.  How does the election season influence mortgage rates?

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, MBA Purchase Applications, and a New President

  • November 07, 2016

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly since last week with most rates standing still awaiting election results.

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Friday Recap: Slow Market Movement Ahead of Next Week’s Election

  • November 04, 2016

Mortgage rates hovered this week, barely shifting from Monday to Friday’s rates.  Lower than estimated numbers came in with US construction spending showing the first year-over-year drop in five years and ADP employment grew at the slowest pace since May 2016.  Following the FOMC meeting, the Federal Reserve announced a strengthened case for a rate hike but held off on raising rates ahead of the election.

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What the Heated Housing Market Means for New Home Buyers

  • November 03, 2016

The National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and leading lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac report that home sales are going to heat up in 2017.

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EmergencyBNB Provides Temporary Housing for Refugees and Domestic Violence Victims

  • November 02, 2016

EmergencyBNB, a not-for-profit take on popular home-sharing service Airbnb, aims to provide temporary housing for refugees and domestic violence victims seeking shelter in a time of crisis.  

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An Interest Rate Hike is NOT a Bad Thing!

  • November 01, 2016

Last week, the Q3 GDP went up 2.9%, the largest gain since mid-2014.  These numbers were influenced by a stimulus in consumer spending, growth in imports, and unplanned demand for exports due to a poor South American harvest.  Widely regarded as the national “economic scorecard,” these gains are good news for the economy in its entirety. 

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Monday Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Jobs Report, and a Fed Announcement

  • October 31, 2016

Good Morning and Happy Halloween!  We are closing out the month strong with several positive reports in housing news and strong GDP increases.  Mortgage rates have been up and down this month, as much as a couple of tenths of a percent according to Mortgage News Daily.  This week we are looking ahead to construction spending, the ADP employment report, and a Federal Reserve Announcement.

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Friday Market Recap: Housing Market Gains and Record GDP Growth

  • October 28, 2016

Mortgage rates steadily increased this week with a slight uptick from Monday to Friday’s rate.  We have gains to report across the board with increases in the Case-Shiller home price index, the National Association of Realtors’ pending homes sales index and the Gross Domestic Product. 

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Looking #Forward – A Recap of the MBA Annual 2016

  • October 27, 2016

This week, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association hosted their annual event in Boston, MA.  Last year’s focus was heavily influenced by the implementation of TRID compliance rules; this year the conference’s theme is #FORWARD, looking ahead to the future of GSEs, regulation, and innovation.

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Department of Housing and Urban Development Pays $500 Million Toward Relief

  • October 26, 2016

Louisiana, Texas, and West Virginia were granted $500 Million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to aid recovery from flood damage incurred earlier this year.  The funding was provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program which specifically assists communities that had severe damage to housing. 

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Buying a Home in an Election Year

  • October 25, 2016

Presidential elections tend to slow the housing market.  In a contentious election like the one we have ahead, many potential buyers are wondering – “should I wait until after the election to buy a home?” 

 

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Monday Market Forecast: Will Q3’s GDP Post Gains? Plus, News on Home Prices and Pending Home Sales

  • October 24, 2016

Mortgage rates show little change since Friday, following the trend of steady rates. After some discussion of improving the Gross Domestic Product in last week’s presidential debate, we are looking ahead to find out where it stands this Friday.  This economic scorecard will shed light not only on interest rates but the state of the economy in its entirety.  We are also anticipating the release of the Case-Shiller home price index and the pending home sales index.

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Friday Market Recap: Existing Home Sales and Building Permits Post Gains, Home Builders’ Index and Housing Starts Show Declines

  • October 21, 2016

Mortgage rates have been on the rise this month climbing as much as a tenth of a percentage point according to some sources.  This week, however, we saw slight declines from Monday to Friday’s mortgage rates.  Economists are looking ahead to December’s FOMC meeting with this week’s reports pointing toward an end-of-year interest rate hike. 

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Debate Recap: How to Improve the Economy and Reduce National Debt

  • October 20, 2016

The Presidential Debate series came to a close last night with the third and final debate.  Moderator Chris Wallace posed some hard hitting questions covering poignant topics including how to grow the economy and reduce the national debt.

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TRID - One Year Later

  • October 20, 2016

On Oct 3, 2015 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau implemented the “Know Before You Owe” rule known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule or TRID.  Lenders, realtors, settlement service companies, and other companies involved in the mortgage industry are well aware of the TRID compliance changes that shook the industry last year. 

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Freddie Mac Introduces Green Advantage

  • October 19, 2016

Rising utility costs negatively impact both renters and owners.  For tenants, especially those with lower incomes, utility costs can add up to 15-21% of total income.  For rental home owners and property developers, rising utility costs impact net operating incomes, profitability, and marketability.  From 2000 to 2012, average water rate increases surged at twice the inflation rate each year.

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What to Expect in Final Debate

  • October 18, 2016

With Election Day looming around the corner, the presidential debate circuit comes to a close tomorrow with the third and final debate between Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Nominee Donald Trump.  

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Market Forecast: A big week for the housing market, will rates continue to rise?

  • October 17, 2016

Mortgage rates show little change since Friday; but were on a slow steady climb last week, reaching their highest since September.  We have several housing reports on the horizon including the Home Builders’ Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits, and the Existing Home Sales reports.   These new numbers should shed some light on what to expect over the next few weeks. 

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Market Recap: Hurricane Matthew by the Numbers, MBA Mortgage Applications and Retail Sales Reports

  • October 14, 2016

Mortgage rates are on the rise since Monday, with some sources reporting interest rates at their highest level since September.  This rise in interest rates may have contributed to this week’s decrease in mortgage applications.

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PHH Wins in Landmark Victory

  • October 13, 2016