Weekly Economic Review: U.S. Job Quit Rate Reaches Hits 17-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/15/18 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, job openings trumped the number of actively looking unemployed, consumer prices saw the biggest year-over-year gain in six years, and mortgage rates held steady.

    

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate Rises from 18-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/8/18 2:32 PM

In this week’s economic review, the headline of the holiday week was brisk growth in the workforce. Mortgage applications increased as mortgage rates eased.

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Weekly Economic Review: Median Existing Home Prices Hit a Record High

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/24/18 12:20 PM

In this week’s economic review, existing home sales fell as prices increased, current conditions of the new home market were positive as the outlook declined, and mortgage rates fell.

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Weekly Economic Review: The Fed Increases Rates, Projects Four Total in 2018

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/17/18 10:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, consumers are feeling confident in their current economic situation, mortgage rates increased, and the Federal Reserve voted on a rate bump.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Surpass Number of Unemployed

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/10/18 1:12 PM

In this week’s economic review, job openings climbed, credit spending slowed, and mortgage rates held steady.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate Falls

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/3/18 2:38 PM

In this week’s economic review, more jobs were added to the economy, home prices slowed their roll, consumer confidence bounced back and mortgage rates fell.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing and New Home Sales Stumble in April

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/27/18 11:01 AM

In this week’s economic review, home inventory continues to play a major factor in holding back home sales despite steadying home prices.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Surge to Record High

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/13/18 10:35 PM

In this week’s economic review, a rise in job openings continued to increase the gap between hirings, consumer prices regained ground, and consumer sentiment surpassed expectations.

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Weekly Economic Review: March Home Sales Increase, Supply Remains Tight

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/29/18 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, existing home sales rose along with home prices while inventory continued to fall, consumer confidence recovered some ground, and mortgage rates jumped.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: March Retail Sales Bounce Back

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/22/18 8:35 AM

In this week’s economic review, the average fixed mortgage rate increased, retail sales rebounded, and housing starts posted a strong month for multi-family units.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Sentiment Pulls Back in April

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/15/18 9:10 AM

In this week’s economic review, the average fixed mortgage rate held relatively steady, job openings and hiring declined, and consumer prices and sentiment slipped.

   

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Weekly Economic Review: March Jobs Report Falls Short

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/8/18 7:15 AM

In this week’s economic review, the average fixed mortgage rate softened, consumer credit spending weakened, and March job growth was disappointing.

    

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Sentiment Hits a 14-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/1/18 11:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, home prices jumped, consumer spending and sentiment increased, and pending home sales gained traction.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Jump, Supply Remains Thin

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/25/18 5:34 PM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates saw a minimal increase, existing home sales rebounded, and home prices posted strong gains.

     

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Sentiment Hits 14-Year High, Job Openings Surge to a Record High

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/18/18 9:28 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates held after rising for the past several weeks, consumer prices saw a minimal gain, retail sales fell, and housing starts and permits dropped despite strong builder confidence.

  

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Market Booms in February, Unemployment Remains at 17-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/11/18 2:40 PM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate increased, payroll growth surpassed expectations, and credit spending slowed.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Slump

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/4/18 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate increased, new home sales and pending home sales fell, and consumer confidence remained strong despite market volatility.

    

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Weekly Economic Review: January Existing Home Sales Tumble

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/25/18 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate was up, home resales fell despite a small bump in inventory, and existing home median prices dropped.

  

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Hit Highest Level in Nearly Four Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/18/18 3:40 PM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued its upward climb, home builders remain confident in the market, and consumer sentiment was high despite falling retail sales.

  

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Weekly Economic Review: December Job Openings Slide to 7-Month Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/11/18 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued its upward climb, job openings fell unexpectedly despite strength in the labor market, and consumers are spending increasingly more on credit. 

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Weekly Economic Review: U.S. Wages Growing at Fastest Rate Since 2009

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/4/18 9:30 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued to climb, the employment report posted gains, and the Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate as-is.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Decline as Supply Drops to a Record Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/28/18 12:55 PM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate continued to climb, the U.S. economy ended 2017 on a strong note, and home sales fell in December.

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Weekly Economic Review: Purchase & Refinance Applications Climb Alongside Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/21/18 10:58 AM

In this week’s economic review, the 30-year average mortgage rate climbed past 4 percent for the first time in 26 weeks, housing starts ended the year with a steep drop, and home builders continue to express confidence in the market as homebuyer traffic builds.

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Weekly Economic Review: December Jobs Report Comes in Below Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/7/18 11:22 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates fell, December job creation was well below forecast levels, and construction spending expanded.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Slow, Year’s End Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/30/17 9:39 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates ended the year on a higher note, home prices posted gains, and pending home sales point to a slower December sales report.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Raises Rates, Retail Sales Impress

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/17/17 7:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, hiring gained steam in October, retail sales increased, the Fed moved on rates, and mortgage rates held steady.

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Weekly Economic Review: November Employment Report Exceeds Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/10/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, nonfarm payrolls grew more than expected and consumers are reporting high optimism in current economic conditions while spending more on revolving credit.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Builder Confidence Jumps to 8-Month High

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/19/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, home builders are optimistic heading into the end of the year, retail sales and consumer prices disappointed, and a jump in housing completions are adding much-needed inventory to the market.

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Weekly Economic Review: September Job Openings Near All-Time High

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/12/17 12:24 PM

In this week’s economic review, preliminary consumer sentiment dropped, job openings continued to increase while hiring remained stagnant, and mortgage rates declined slightly.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Leaves Rates Unchanged, Unemployment Falls to 17-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/5/17 4:27 PM

In this week’s economic review, consumer confidence hits a 17-year high, the Fed leaves rates unchanged, and the unemployment rate fell to a new low.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Surge, US Economic Growth Surpasses Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/29/17 11:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, new home sales hit a major stride, home prices increased, and consumer sentiment came in at a 13-year high.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Rebound Despite Low Supply

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/22/17 2:44 PM

In this week’s economic review, existing home sales posted their first gain in months and home builder optimism increased as housing starts and permits came in below low-end estimates.

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Weekly Economic Review:  Retail Sales Surge, Consumer Sentiment at 13-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/15/17 3:23 PM

In this week’s economic review, job openings declined and consumer prices climbed while retail sales and consumer sentiment soared. Mortgage rates ended the week slightly higher.

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Weekly Economic Review: 33,000 Jobs Lost in September, Unemployment Rate Dips

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/8/17 10:54 AM

In this week’s economic review, the hurricanes' influence was largely felt in some economic reports, like employment, and lessened in others. Mortgage rates ended the week with a small increase.  

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales Fall Sharply

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/1/17 6:43 PM

In this week’s economic review, pending home sales continue to fall, consumer confidence and sentiment remain considerably strong, and GDP shows the U.S. economy is growing at a steady pace.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Fall to One-Year Low, Mortgage Rates Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/24/17 5:37 PM

In this week’s economic review, existing homes sales dropped to a two-year low in the South, home prices cooled at the end of summer, and mortgage rates continued to fall.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings at All-Time High, Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/17/17 3:56 PM

In this week’s economic review, the economy begins to feel the effects of Harvey and Irma, employers are still struggling to find qualified candidates to fill jobs, consumer prices hit a stride, and mortgage rates held steady.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Hit Another 2017 Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/10/17 2:13 PM

In this week’s economic review, sinking mortgage rates entice homebuyers and refinancing homeowners and the consumer credit report posts a sizable gain.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Hit New 2017 Low, Economy Grows at Fastest Pace in Two Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/3/17 2:11 PM

In this week’s economic review, home price data showed stagnancy, consumer confidence continued to increase, mortgage rates continued their downslide, and the economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the second quarter of 2017.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pace of Home Sales Hits Lowest Level in 2017

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/27/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, home sales fell unexpectedly in July, home price gains slowed, and mortgage rates dropped.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Builders Confident in Housing Market, Retails Sales Pick Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/20/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, retail sales picked up steam, builders are feeling optimistic about the housing market, and mortgage rates saw little change over the past week.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Down, Job Openings Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/13/17 9:30 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates went down, consumer prices continue to signal weak inflation, and job openings increased sharply while hiring fell.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Pick Up Despite Fast-Paced Markets

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/6/17 9:46 AM

In this week’s economic review, contract signings posted a gain, job creation exceeded expectations, and mortgage rates saw little change.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Down, Existing Home Sales Drop as Prices Continue to Climb

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/30/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates drop again, existing home sales fall as median prices rise and the Fed leaves rates as-is.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Construction Rebounds in June, Mortgage Rates Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/23/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates drop and home builder confidence falls despite a big jump in housing starts and permits.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Rise, Consumer Spending & Sentiment Fall Unexpectedly

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/16/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased to their highest levels since spring, hiring spiked, and consumer spending and sentiment took some unexpected declines.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Continue Their 3-Month Decline

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/2/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, pending home sales slumped, consumer confidence remains unusually high, and first quarter GDP gained a much-needed upward revision.

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Weekly Economic Review: Housing Market Rebounds in May, Prices Continue to Rise

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/25/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the housing market generated some positive news with both new and existing home sales gaining some much-needed ground and home prices continuing to climb.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Bumps Rates, Several Economic Reports Fall Short for May

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/18/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the Federal Reserve bumped the federal funds rate, consumer sales, pricing and sentiment fell, and housing starts and home builder confidence stumbled.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue to Slide

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/11/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates continued their month-long slide, job opportunities were fruitful in April, and consumers didn’t spend much on credit, despite continuing consumer confidence.

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Weekly Economic Review: May’s Employment Report Weaker Than Expected

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/6/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, the unemployment rate dropped due to lack of participation in the labor market, home prices continue to rise at a strong pace, and mortgage rates fell to a 2017 low.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Disappoint in April, Demand Still Outstripping Home Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/29/17 1:09 PM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates were down for a second week in a row, new and existing home sales dropped in April and home prices continue to edge upward.

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Weekly Economic Review: Homebuilders Confident in Sales, New Home Starts Dip

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/22/17 10:56 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates drop, and homebuilders remain confident in existing and future new home sales, despite new home starts stumbling in April.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings See Upswing in March, Hiring Lags

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/15/17 9:04 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased and consumer sentiment remained strong while consumer prices and sales saw only marginal gains this spring.

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate at 10-Year Low, Economy Added 211,000 Jobs in April

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/8/17 9:50 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates held steady following the Fed meeting and a weak first quarter of economic growth. Employment data was extremely favorable for April, paving the way for another Fed rate hike in June.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Reach 8-Month High, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/1/17 10:19 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased after weeks of declines, home prices continue to rise and new home sales saw a higher-than-expected increase.

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Home Sales Boom Heading Into the Busiest Homebuying Season of the Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/24/17 1:13 PM

Despite higher mortgage rates and home prices, houses are flying off the market this spring, according to the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales Report released last Friday. Home resales boomed by 4.4 percent in March, the best month-to-date since February 2007.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Drop to 5-Month Low, Home Resales at 10-Year High

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/21/17 10:04 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates returned to favorable lows while reports showed that home prices continue to rise and listed homes are selling quickly.

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It's Almost Tax Day - Did You Catch All of Your Homeowner Tax Perks?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/15/17 9:00 AM

From personalizing your living space to creating a stable family living environment, there are several personal benefits of owning your own home. On the financial side, tax benefits are one of the biggest perks of homeownership. In honor of the upcoming tax day, we’ve compiled the list of the biggest tax breaks homeowners receive.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Prices Drop for the First Time in a Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/14/17 9:57 AM

In this week’s economic review, job openings were up considerably but hiring lagged, consumer sentiment continued to increase, mortgage rates declined, and consumer prices dropped significantly.

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Selling Your Home: 4 Ways to Appeal to Millennial Buyers

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/9/17 12:24 PM

If you’re selling your home and want it to sell quickly and for top-dollar (doesn’t everyone?), you need to prepare your home to appeal to the widest group of homebuyers. Today, that demographic is the Millennials, who were behind 60 percent of home purchases in 2016. This generation has been shaping the market the last few years, and while you don’t need to turn your house into the Millennial dream home, a few things are suggested to appeal to this type of homebuyer.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Growth Softened Significantly in March

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/7/17 9:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates fell back for the third week in a row, consumer spending continued to pick up and March’s employment report disappointed.

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7 Ways the Fed Rate Hikes Affect You

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/5/17 8:00 AM

If you've been following news in the economic world, you know that last month the Federal Reserve moved on the decision to raise the federal funds rate for the first time in 2017 and the third time since December 2015. While their decision reflects an improving economy, there are a few ways the rate increase affects you as a consumer.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Confidence Soars, Pending Home Sales Pick Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/31/17 8:16 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates softened for the second week in a row, pending home sales painted a pick-up for the beginning of the spring homebuying season and consumer confidence levels hit 17-year highs.

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Spring Housing Market Update: 5 Facts for Homebuyers and Sellers

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/26/17 12:35 PM

As one of the most popular times of the year to buy or sell a home, the 2017 spring housing market is off to an early start. See what mortgage rates, home prices, homebuyer traffic and home inventory are doing to shape this year’s spring market.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Drop, New Home Sales Jump

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/24/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates softened, existing home inventory improved and new home sales climbed, mostly due to softened pricing.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Moves on Interest Rates, Mortgage Rates Continue to Climb

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/18/17 8:00 AM

In this week’s economic view, the Fed made moves on hiking interest rates for the second time in three months, home builders grew even more confident in the new home market, and job openings were in line with their 2-year trend. Mortgage rates continued their climb.

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Weekly Economic Review: February Job Growth Thrives, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/10/17 9:57 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates increased, consumer spending jumped in February, and booming job growth boosted the likelihood of Fed rate hike in March.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Disappoint, Consumer Confidence at Post-Election High

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/3/17 10:00 AM

In this week’s economic review, mortgage rates declined while the pending home sales index offset the outlook for future existing home sales. Reports released this week also highlighted consumer confidence, as well as confidence in the job market.

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Housing Market Trends: Why Millions of Americans Are Opting for Multigenerational Households

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/1/17 10:00 AM

The jolt of the recession affected the housing market in many ways, but a 2016 study says that one of those effects may become a longer-term housing market trend. In the economic downturn, adults lost their homes and adult children “boomeranged” home after college, and for some, living with multiple generations under one roof became commonplace. But as the economy has rebounded, multigenerational homes have become even more popular, stimulating a brand new market that is much more than a guest bedroom for in-laws over the holidays.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: January Home Sales Hit a Stride Despite Limited Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/24/17 9:43 AM

In this week’s economic review, new and existing home sales saw opposite results heading into 2017 while home prices in both indexes saw losses. The Fed released minutes from their most recent meeting, which suggested the likelihood of another interest rate hike.

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5 Tips for House Hunting in a Market with Low Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/22/17 9:00 AM

Low existing home inventory isn’t new housing market issue. Low mortgage rates and rising home values have made many real estate markets extremely competitive with homes selling above listing price within a matter of days. According to the most recent existing home sales report, inventory is at its lowest in nearly two decades. Here’s how you can prepare for buying a home when inventory is tight.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Prices Hit Largest Gain in 4 Years, Home Builder Confidence Falls

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/17/17 9:14 AM

In this week’s economic review, January’s consumer prices hit a stride, retail sales increased and home builder confidence slipped. Mortgage rates eased slightly.

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Smart Ways to Put Your Tax Refund Into Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/15/17 10:00 AM

Getting a check back this year? According to the IRS, the average refund is just over $3,000. Before you start planning your refund-funded shopping spree, think of the many ways you could invest that return into one of your biggest tax deductions – your home. We’ve compiled some smart, value-adding and lower-cost ways to use that refund check toward your house.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Decrease, Consumer Confidence Remains High

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/10/17 11:07 AM

In this week’s economic review, the gap between job openings and hiring narrowed slightly and consumer sentiment and spending eased. Mortgage rates fell minimally while the refinancing share of mortgage activity fell to a 7-year low.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales, Home Prices & Job Growth See Gains

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/3/17 9:44 AM

In this week’s economic review, reports featured strength in pending home sales, home prices, consumer confidence, and job growth, as well as the Fed’s as-expected decision to leave rates unchanged.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Inventory Drops to 17-Year Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/27/17 12:08 PM

This week’s economic review includes existing home and new home sales data, which dropped in December, limited home inventory, rising mortgage rates and home price data.

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7 Ways You Benefit as a Homeowner During Tax Season

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/25/17 9:55 AM

From personalizing your living space to creating a stable family living environment, there are several personal benefits of owning your own home. On the financial side, tax benefits are one of the biggest perks of homeownership. See how homeowners come out ahead during tax season.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Drop Again, Home Builders Confident Heading Into New Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/20/17 10:17 AM

This week’s biggest economic news stories centered on dropping mortgage rates, housing market confidence and the consumer price index.

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9 Tasks You Should Start Doing If You Want to Sell Your Home This Spring

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/16/17 10:15 AM

Spring is one of the best times of year to sell your home, according to a 2016 Zillow study. Homes that were listed between May 1st and May 15th sold around 18.5 days faster and for 1 percent more than the average listing. Though May might seem ages away, preparing to sell your home takes as much preparation as purchasing a home. Here’s our list of items you should start to take care of now.

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Why Location Matters & How to Scout Out the Best Spot When Buying Your First Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/15/17 10:25 AM

“Location, location, location” wouldn’t be the real estate industry’s catchphrase if it didn’t hold any weight. Nevertheless, the slogan is right. You can change a home but you can’t change its location. Here’s why location matters when it comes to a potential home purchase and how to scout out the best neighborhood to buy in.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Fall for Second Week in a Row

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/13/17 10:15 AM

This week’s biggest economic news stories centered on mortgage rates and job openings and hiring. Mortgage rates experienced their first decline last week after a 9-week climb and fell yet again this week.

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Weekly Economic Review:  Job Growth Weakens, Wages Reach Post-Crisis High

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/6/17 9:44 AM

This week's economic review centers on job growth, which ended the year softer than expected. Mortgage rates, which had been on a 9-week climb, experienced the first drop (12 basis points) since November.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Confidence Hits 15-Year High, Pending Home Sales Stumble

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/30/16 9:00 AM

This week in economic news mortgage rates continued their climb for the ninth straight week, according to HousingWire, consumer confidence continued strengthening and pending home sales felt the squeeze of rising mortgage rates.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Increase, Prices & Mortgage Rates Follow Suit

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/23/16 10:37 AM

Mortgage rates hit a two and a half year high this week after the Fed announced their expected decision to raise the federal funds rate. Existing home sales and new home sales made surprising strides in November as dwindling supply put pressure on home prices.

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2017 Housing Market: 5 Trends the Experts Are Predicting

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/21/16 10:00 AM

2016 was a hot year in the real estate market with low inventory, high demand and historically-low mortgage rates throughout the majority of the year. With mortgage rates on the rise, experts are predicting what will happen with affordability, home prices, inventory and sales speed in the new year.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Raises Rates, Consumerism Cools in November

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/16/16 9:39 AM

Major economic news this week centered around the steady rise of mortgage rates, the anticipated Fed decision and retail sales.

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Want to Sell Your Home? See Why Listing Your Home in Winter May Pay Off

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/14/16 10:00 AM

People buy homes year-round, but when it comes to putting your home up for sale, is winter a good season to list your home? According to a recent Redfin study, spring was the best time to list a home but winter was not far behind.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Reach Another Yearly High, Job Openings Slip

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/9/16 10:00 AM

This week in economic news mortgage rates continued their climb, job openings declined and daily consumer spending continued to grow in November.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue Climbing, Pending Home Sales Slow

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/2/16 1:10 PM

This week's economic review includes mortgage rates, which reached highs not seen in over a year. Meanwhile, employment reports indicated strength in payroll growth while the unemployment rate fell.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Level Since 2007

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/26/16 9:58 AM

Major economic reports released this week included new and existing home sales, as well as home pricing. Mortgage rates continued to climb causing volatility in mortgage applications.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Rise, Housing Starts Surge

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/18/16 8:33 AM

This week’s economic reports centered on consumers and new home construction. Mortgage rates ended the week higher and not far from where they were a year ago.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Growth Slows in September, Consumer Optimism Rises

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/12/16 9:00 AM

Following this week’s election results, mortgage rates jumped to a 5-month high. While September job openings saw little change, labor market conditions are continuing to show optimism, alongside consumer reports.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Jump, October Job Growth & Wages Show Strength

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/4/16 11:15 AM

This week’s economic news centered in on job growth, increasing wage strength, an as-expected decision from the Federal Reserve and increasing mortgage rates.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales, Pending Sales Strong in September

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/28/16 12:06 PM

Economic highlights this week included new home sales and home prices, both of which were in the plus column. Average mortgage rates fell, following last week’s increase and consumer confidence dropped, as well.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Surge, First-Time Homebuyers on the Rise

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/21/16 8:42 AM

In this week's economic news, mortgage rates increased to a 4-month high while September existing home sales data came in surprisingly positive.

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8 Ways Millennial & First-Time Homebuyers Are Shaping the 2016 Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/19/16 11:43 AM

Coming of age in the recession has painted a different homebuying picture for the Millennial generation. With surmounting student debt and rent prices, the real estate market was once asking, “Where are the Millennials?” But according to a new study performed by Zillow the Millennials are making their own waves in the housing market with their new approaches to shopping, financing and purchasing.

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Weekly Economic Review: August Job Openings Fall to 8-Month Low

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/14/16 12:35 PM

Reports of slowing in the job market reverberated this week as monthly job openings fell sharply in August, down 7.3 percent to 5.443 million, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. This is the lowest number of job openings since December 2015. Hiring also slowed by 0.9 percent.

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Weekly Economic Review: Employment Growth Slows in September

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/8/16 10:00 AM

The ADP Employment Report released on Wednesday called for significant slowing in employment growth for the month of September. Friday’s Employment Situation report confirmed ADP’s estimates.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Confidence at 9-Year High, Pending Home Sales Drop

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/30/16 11:05 AM

Housing market data came in soft for August, posting low inventory in both the new and existing homes and projecting low sales for the fall. Meanwhile, mortgage rates fell to near yearly lows.

 

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Fall Housing Market Update: 5 Facts for Fall Homebuyers and Sellers

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/26/16 2:51 PM

Mortgage rates have held near historic lows even past the busiest homebuying season of the year and we’re coming up on the best month of the year to buy a home. Here’s what you should know about the current housing market as a first-time buyer, move-up buyer or home seller.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Fall, Home Prices Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/23/16 10:26 AM

The biggest economic news this week included the Federal Reserve’s decision on increasing the federal funds interest rate, as well as housing market news.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: August Retail Sales Fall Short, Mortgage Rates Climb

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/16/16 10:57 AM

Surmounting indications of a Federal Reserve rate increase continue to top economic news. This week, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to a post-Brexit high, according to Freddie Mac.

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8 Ways You Could Be Damaging Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/11/16 12:27 PM

Credit score is a big component in personal finances. As society becomes more dependent on the use of credit cards, your credit score becomes more important than ever. Fifty-eight percent of future homebuyers say they are actively trying to improve their credit, according to a Wells Fargo study.

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Weekly Economic Review: July Job Openings Hit Record High, Hiring Stagnant

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/9/16 1:15 PM

Last week, the August Employment Situation showed a significant slowdown of employment growth as nonfarm payrolls increased by a lower-than-expected 151,000 following July’s addition of 275,000.

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Building Mortgage-Ready Credit: What Is a Rapid Rescore?

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/5/16 10:53 AM

Your credit score is a huge factor in mortgage approval and mortgage affordability. In terms of credit score and home financing, "rapid rescore" is a term worth knowing because it could help you out immensely as a borrower.

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Weekly Economic Review: Employment Growth Slows, Pending Home Sales At Highest Level in Decade

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/2/16 10:42 AM

Following two months of vigorous gains, U.S. employment growth slowed in August. Nonfarm payrolls increased by a lower-than-expected 151,000 for the month after July’s addition of 275,000.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Skyrocket, Home Prices Lag

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/26/16 2:05 PM

Home sales data was mixed this week as new home sales boomed but existing home sales and pricing reports were lower than usual. Mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.

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Weekly Economic Review: Builder Optimism & Housing Starts Up in New Home Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/19/16 1:49 PM

Optimism in the new home market is high, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Market Index. The index rose 2 points for August, bumping the index to the 60 level for the second time in 2016, according to Bloomberg. While builders showed gains in present and future sales, traffic continues to be a concern, especially first-time homebuyers.

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Weekly Economic Review: July Consumer Spending Falls Short, Labor Market Conditions Hit Positive Level

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/12/16 10:43 AM

Despite last week’s employment report boasting an increase of 255,000 to non-farm payrolls, the Labor Market Conditions Index, which is broadly comprised of 19 different indicators, budged minimally in the month of July. At a 1.0 index level, July’s results are the first to make it into the positive column in 2016.

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Weekly Economic Review: 255,000 Jobs Added to Economy in July, Consumerism Picks Up Rapidly

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/5/16 1:16 PM

Friday’s Employment Situation showed increasing strength in the job market and consumerism as non-farm payrolls soared to a much stronger-than-expected 255,000 for the month of July. The consensus range was calling for 150,000 to 215,000.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Pace at Highest in Eight Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/29/16 12:55 PM

Despite the lessening optimism for future sales in the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index released last week, new home sales surged in June to the highest pace in eight years. The New Home Sales report showed an annualized rate of 592,000, which is 25 percent higher than June 2015. 

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Prices & Existing Home Sales Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/24/16 2:11 PM

The biggest economic reports released last week were housing related. Low mortgage rates (thanks, Brexit), falling supply and increased homebuyer traffic continue to drive housing demand but seemingly only in the existing home market.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings & Labor Market Conditions Down, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/16/16 8:00 AM

Over the last week, investors shifted their focus from bonds to stocks, resulting in the Dow average closing at a record-high on Thursday. Other economic data had little affect on mortgage rates, which ended the week higher.

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Weekly Economic Review: Strong Job Gains in June, Brexit Helps Mortgage Rates Fall to Lows

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/9/16 9:47 AM

Effects of Brexit are still being felt as investors flock to the safety of U.S. bonds. Thanks to Brexit, mortgage rates dropped to the lowest levels seen in years and other U.S. economic reports came in stronger than expected.

 

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Economic Update: 3 Ways Brexit Impacts U.S. Consumers

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/8/16 9:21 AM

At the end of last month, British voters made the shocking decision to exit the European Union, which rattled the stock market and sent U.S. mortgage rates into a nosedive. So how does Britain’s exit, aka “Brexit”, affect U.S. consumers?

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue to Drop Following Brexit

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/2/16 10:45 AM

Britain’s exit of the European Union (Brexit) continued to be the largest influence on U.S. markets this week. As a result, mortgage rates trended even lower, reaching levels not seen in several years.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: Areas of Housing Market Continue to Show Strength

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/24/16 10:00 AM

Existing Home Sales were not extraordinary in May but continue to show strength. Sales increased 1.8 percent for the month, which is the “best rate of the cycle, since back in February 2007”, according to Bloomberg.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Leaves Federal Funds Target Range As Is

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/17/16 11:25 AM

The biggest news this week stemmed from the Federal Reserve’s meeting on Tuesday, in which the Fed decided to keep the federal funds target range at 0.25 to 0.50 percent, as expected. 

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Low Credit Score Holding You Back From Buying a Home? 8 Quick Ways to Boost Your Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/13/16 12:19 PM

It’s no secret you need appreciable credit to buy a house, but building and maintaining a good credit score is a major homebuying hurdle for some homebuyers, especially first-timers, according to a new TransUnion Survey.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Market Reports Mixed Following Disappointing Employment Reports

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/10/16 2:37 PM

The May Labor Market Conditions Index followed suit with last week’s disappointing employment report. The index was minus 4.8, marking the fifth straight negative reading and the lowest of the recovery (since May 2009), according to Bloomberg. 

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Growth Slowed in May, Unemployment Rate Drops

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/3/16 3:44 PM

The biggest economic reports released this week pertained to employment data, which did not hit consensus levels for the month of May.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Skyrocket, Pending Home Sales at Highest Level in a Decade

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/27/16 10:55 AM

April was a positive month for the housing market with new home sales and pending home sales breaking monthly and yearly record levels. Both are signs that the spring homebuying season has gained significant traction.

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Mortgage Rates: The Who, What, When and Why of How They're Determined

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/25/16 11:02 AM

If you are a homebuyer seeking a mortgage, a big part of when you decide to buy and which lender you choose to finance with will likely depend on where mortgage rates stand. Your mortgage rate not only affects the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your loan but can also influence the amount you are approved to finance, as well as your affordability of homeownership overall.

So how are mortgage rates determined? And why do they change?

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Increase Following Release of Fed Minutes

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/23/16 2:28 PM

The potential for a Fed rate hike this summer and stronger-than-anticipated economic reports released last week caused mortgage rates to end the week higher. 

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Rent on the Rise: Rent Price Growth Reaches Highest Pace Since 2008

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/22/16 10:00 AM

April rental price growth stood 3.7 percent higher than April 2015, which is the same 12-month increase rate for the 5th month in a row, according to MarketWatch via the United States Labor Department. More importantly, this is the highest year-over-year price increase since before the financial crisis.

So as the economy continues to improve, why are renters still feeling outstripped by rent prices? 

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What's the Best Long-Term Investment? Americans Say Real Estate.

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/20/16 8:00 AM

Real estate has been Americans’ top pick for “best long-term investment” for the past two years, according to an April 2016 Gallup poll. This year, real estate took a significant lead against stocks, mutual funds, gold, savings, CD’s and bonds with 35% of polled Americans saying that real estate is the better long-term investment.

 

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Late on a Credit Card Payment? See How It Will Affect Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/16/16 10:00 AM

One late credit card payment can’t hurt that much, can it? Well, it depends. It's important to stay on top of all of your bills, because your payment history is the most influential component of your credit score, accounting for 35% of your FICO® score determination. Here's how a late payment demotes your credit score.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Drop to Lowest Level in Three Years

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/13/16 1:20 PM

The biggest news this week was the decline of mortgage rates. According to data released Thursday by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to lows not seen since 2013.

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Spring 2016 Housing Market Conditions: 6 Trends Homebuyers Should Know About

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/11/16 9:24 AM

In the midst of the traditionally-busiest homebuying season of the year, mortgage rates, home prices, sales paces and inventory are quickly shaping the housing market into what realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke is calling “the strongest and healthiest real estate market we have seen in a decade”.

If you’re planning on or thinking of purchasing a home in the near future, here are six trends currently molding the market.

 

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Weekly Economic Review: April Employment Report Indicates Slowing Gains in Labor Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/6/16 1:50 PM

According to ADP’s Employment Report, the job market softened in April. Private payrolls increased by 156,000, which is one of the lowest readings since February 2014, according to Econoday.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Hit Highest Pace in Nearly a Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/1/16 3:39 PM

Wednesday’s Fed meeting was positive for mortgage rates as there was no change made to the federal funds rate, as expected. The Fed noted that while labor and housing market data has been improving, overall economic activity has slowed.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Prices, Sales & Supply Up in March

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/22/16 12:34 PM

Though March Existing Home Sales increased more than expected, up 5.1 percent for the month, they failed to reverse the 7+ percent drop in February. Closing out the first quarter of 2016, existing home sales were up 4.8 percent.

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Rent on the Rise: Chicago Ranks #9 in Most Expensive Cities to Rent

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/20/16 10:00 AM

Though the median rental rate dropped nearly 3 percent in February, Chicago still maintained the number nine spot on Zumper’s National Rent report, which highlights the fluctuations in rental rates of the United States’ largest 50 cities.

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It's Tax Day! 7 Ways Homeowners Save On Their Taxes

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/18/16 10:22 AM

From creating a stable living environment for your family to personalizing your living space and building home equity, there is no doubt homeownership boasts several advantages. In honor of Tax Day, we’ve compiled some of the biggest (tax) perks of being a homeowner.

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Weekly Economic Review: Inflation Slows Down, Mortgage Rates Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/15/16 12:40 PM

Economic reports released this week were a bit weaker than consensus levels called for. Mortgage rates increased minimally following last week’s lowest rates of the year.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall, Labor Market Improving

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/9/16 8:00 AM

Mortgage rates continued their descent over the past week, with the national average falling 0.2% to the lowest level since February 2015, according to Freddie Mac.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales & Employment Reports Positive

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/1/16 3:06 PM

The biggest factor in the drop of mortgage rates this week was a statement made by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who confirmed that the Fed still intends to pursue a gradual, patient course toward tightening monetary policy as the economy improves.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales & Prices Fall in Feburary

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/25/16 12:29 PM

Economic data contained few surprises and had minimal impact on mortgage rates going into the holiday weekend.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Reduces Expectations for 2016 Rate Hikes

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/18/16 12:56 PM

The Fed met this week and maintained the target range for the federal funds rate, as expected. The Fed cited global risks and a downgraded outlook for inflation as the main reasons they issued no rate hike and pulled back their expectations for 2016.

Expectations were lowered by 50 basis points from 1.4 percent to a year-end rate of 0.9 percent. This was good for mortgage rates this week.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Up, Oil Prices Keeping Import & Export Prices Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/11/16 12:24 PM

No major U.S. economic reports were released this week with the largest financial news coming from the European Central Bank (ECB), who added to its stimulus plan to help nurture economic growth and boost inflation. Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher for the second week in a row.

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Weekly Economic Review: Strength in the Labor Market, Mortgage Rates Increase

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/4/16 12:24 PM

Several reports covering the labor market were released this week that were stronger than expected. Mortgage rates ended the week a bit higher as the data indicated economic growth and inflation.

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Weekly Economic Review: January Existing Home Sales Up Despite Concerns of Low Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/26/16 1:05 PM

Many U.S. economic reports released this week were above expectations, including GDP, housing and inflation. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week a little higher after several weeks of declines.

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Weekly Economic Review: Unexpected Rise in Inflation, Mortgage Rates Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/19/16 2:42 PM

Mortgage rates ended the week a little lower despite an unexpected increase in CPI inflation data and improvement in the stock market.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Not Far From 2012 Record Lows

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/12/16 1:54 PM

Both stocks and mortgage rates remained on a downward trend this week. Due to investors flooding the U.S bond market, current mortgage rates are not far from the record lows seen in 2012.

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Weekly Economic Review: January Wage Growth Gains Traction, Unemployment Rate Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/5/16 12:56 PM

Most of the economic reports released this week fell short of expectations, including sections of the employment and manufacturing reports. Mortgage rates ended the week lower again.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Down, Fed Makes No Change Due to Slowing Inflation

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/29/16 1:50 PM

Central bankers acknowledged the slowdown in global economic growth this week, which was positive for mortgage rates.

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Mortgage 101: 7 Benefits of Being a Homeowner During Tax Season

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/27/16 3:40 PM

From creating a stable living environment for your family to personalizing your living space and building home equity, there is no doubt homeownership boasts several advantages. With tax season around the corner, homeowners can argue that tax benefits are one of the biggest perks of owning their own home.

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Weekly Economic Review: December Existing Home Supply Down, Home Prices Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/22/16 12:37 PM

Global markets were extremely volatile this week due to U.S. economic data and concerns about slow economic growth in China. Mortgage rates ended the week with no change.

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Mortgage 101: How Is My Mortgage Rate Determined?

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/18/16 8:29 AM

A big part of when you decide to buy and which lender you choose to finance with will likely depend on what mortgage rates are doing. Your mortgage rate not only affects the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your mortgage but can also influence the amount you are approved to finance, as well as your affordability of homeownership overall.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates & Stocks Drop Over Concerns of Global Economic Growth

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/15/16 1:04 PM

Apprehension about the global economy, primarily China, caused stocks and mortgage rates to drop over the past week. Some weak U.S. economic data was also a factor in the decline of mortgage rates.

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3 Reasons the Fed Rate Hike Is Not a Concern for the 2016 Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/14/16 4:32 PM

Many analysts have made ill-fated predictions for 2016’s housing market conditions following the change in the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. Last year was deemed “the housing market’s best year since the recession” but many analysts projected concerns of spiking mortgage rates, decreased home affordability and an overall reversal of the market’s gains in 2016. Here are three facts refuting those concerns.

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Weekly Economic Review: December Job Market Surges, Mortgage Rates Drop

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/8/16 2:20 PM

Mortgage rates were primarily affected by overseas events in North Korea, the Middle East and China this week as rising tensions and slowing growth caused investors to shift their holdings to safer assets, including U.S. mortgage-backed securities. In result, mortgage rates ended the first week of 2016 lower.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales Down, Inflation Holds Steady

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/31/15 1:16 PM

Economic events released over the past two holiday weeks have had little effect on mortgage rates, which ended this week slightly higher.

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2016 Housing Market Forecast: 7 Trends the Experts Are Predicting

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/30/15 3:33 PM

2015 has been deemed “the housing market’s best year since the recession”. Following a year of significant home price gains, the Fed’s decision to increase the federal funds rate, and skyrocketing rental prices, here are seven trends housing market and economic experts are projecting for 2016.

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Weekly Economic Review: November Home Sales Disappoint, Home Price Growth Slows

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/27/15 2:07 PM

Existing home sales for November came in with a disappointing 10.5 percent fall to a much lower-than-expected annualized rate of 4.76 million. Due to weakness in existing home sales, the year-over-year rate is in the negative, at -3.8 percent, for the first time since September 2014.

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6 Reasons You Should Buy a Home in 2016

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/20/15 4:02 PM

If you’ve been sitting on the fence between homebuying and renting, 2016 is shaping up to be the optimal time to purchase a home. Changes in home prices, mortgage rates, loan options and the loan process could be just what you need to get off the homebuying sidelines.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Up Following Fed Decision

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/18/15 3:03 PM

The biggest economic focus this week was the Fed’s decision to increase the federal funds rate after seven years of holding near zero. Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher as a result.

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Fed Hikes Interest Rates: How It Affects Homebuyers and Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/16/15 3:28 PM

As anticipated, the Federal Reserve raised its target federal funds rate on Wednesday to a range of 0.25 to 0.5 percent, the first increase in nearly a decade. The federal funds rate affects several areas of your finances from credit card interest rates and home equity lines of credit to student loan rates and your homebuying circumstance.

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Weekly Economic Review: Consumer Spending Up, Mortgage Rates & Job Openings Soften

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/11/15 1:18 PM

Mortgage rates decreased this week following a drop in the price of oil to the lowest level in seven years.  

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Weekly Economic Review: Strong November Labor Report Released, Mortgage Rates Up

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/4/15 2:52 PM

Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher, impacted mostly by a smaller-than-expected European Central Bank stimulus package. Friday's labor market report had little impact on mortgage rates, though it showed signs of solid payroll growth for November.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales, Prices & Consumer Confidence Dip

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/29/15 1:06 PM

Sales of existing homes in October were down 3.4 percent. The National Association of Realtors called the monthly existing home sales report "disturbing" as the year-over-year sales were only up 3.9 percent, the lowest yearly comparison since January.

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Black Friday 2015: What Home Deals to Buy and What to Skip

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/27/15 9:35 AM

If you're making your way out into the shopping crowds today, here are some of the best deals to look for in home essentials and some deals that will get even sweeter after Black Friday.

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8 Ways the Federal Funds Rate Hike Could Affect You

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/25/15 12:46 PM

If you've been following news in the economic world, you know that the Federal Reserve has been talking of increasing interest rates for the first time in nearly seven years. Most recently, the Fed said in a post-meeting statement that due to the gains in the labor market, economic activity and inflation, conditions could warrant a December rate hike. But how does it affect you as a U.S. consumer?

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Weekly Economic Review: Rates & Housing Starts Decline, Fed Meeting Minutes Released

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/20/15 2:16 PM

U.S. economic data and the release of the October Fed Minutes had little impact on mortgage rates, which ended the week a little lower.

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Weekly Economic Review: Labor Demand Positive, Retails Sales & Mortgage Rates Cool

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/13/15 1:34 PM

Following an increase after the Fed's announcement of a looming December rate hike, mortgage rates cooled this week. Shortfalls in retail sales and weak economic data in Europe helped slow the rising rate trend.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates Increase Due to October Job Gains

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/6/15 1:49 PM

Mortgage rates reacted negatively this week to comments from Fed officials and a stronger-than-expected employment report.

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Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates React to Fed Meeting Statement

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/30/15 2:06 PM

Mortgage rates increased this week in response to Wednesday's Federal Reserve meeting statement. Though the Fed kept their policy unchanged due to lack of job growth and below-target inflation, a December rate hike is not off the table.

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First-Time Homebuyers: 7 Tips for Building Mortgage-Ready Credit

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/26/15 5:51 PM

Preparing to buy a home should start long before walking through a potential home to purchase. Your first official step to buying a home should always be meeting with a lender for a pre-approval, but your credit is a mortgage factor you should be continually working on when you're wanting to achieve home financing.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Up, Price Gains & Home Supply Slows

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/23/15 2:12 PM

Housing market data released this week showed solid gains. Existing home sales bounced back from an August decline with an increase of 4.7 percent for September, near the best levels since 2007. Year-over-year, existing home sales are up 8.8 percent, matching spring sales gains.

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Weekly Economic Review: Indications of Slower Economic Growth

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/18/15 11:58 AM

In the past week, weaker than expected economic reports offset a higher than expected inflation reading, resulting in a small drop for mortgage rates.

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Weekly Economic Review: Stocks Up, Mortgage Rates Follow Suit

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/9/15 5:04 PM

With little impact from economic reports and demand shifting from bonds to stocks this week, mortgage rates ended the week a little higher.

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Renting vs. Homebuying: 3 Effects of High Rent

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/7/15 11:56 AM

As rental vacancy hit its lowest point in 30 years in July 2015, the cost of renting has continued to rise. Rental prices climbed 3.5 percent between June 2014 and June 2015, matching the biggest jump since 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And at what cost for U.S. renters?

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8 Ways You Could Be Dragging Down Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/3/15 3:06 PM

Credit score is a big component in personal finances. As society becomes more dependent on the use of credit cards, your credit score becomes more important than ever. Fifty-eight percent of future homebuyers say they are actively trying to improve their credit, according to a Wells Fargo study.

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Weekly Economic Review: Employment Report Weaker Than Expected

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/2/15 3:17 PM

After the Fed pointed to strength in the labor market, the September employment report came in weaker than expected. The non-farm payroll sector came in at 142,000 while low-end estimates predicted a report of 180,000.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Rate Hike Likely Before Year's End

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/25/15 1:32 PM

After a drop in mortgage rates last week following the Fed's post-meeting statement, mortgage rates saw a slight uptick after Fed Chair Janet Yellen's press conference on Thursday. Other economic data was mixed this week and had little affect on mortgage rates.

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The Future of Renting: What Rent Could Cost by 2025

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/24/15 10:59 AM

A new study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies is painting a bleak picture for U.S. renters over the next decade. As the rental vacancy rate hit its lowest point in 30 years in 2015, the cost of rent is predicted to severely burden 13.1 million renters by 2025, compared to 11.2 million in 2013.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Decision Good for Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/18/15 4:06 PM

After a highly anticipated meeting, the FOMC has decided against a September federal funds rate hike. The news was good for mortgage rates, which ended the week lower.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings Up Sharply in July

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/13/15 11:43 AM

It was a relatively uneventful week for economic news and mortgage rates last week. Mortgage rates saw a minimal uptick ahead of the upcoming Fed meeting.

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate at Lowest of the Recovery

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/6/15 1:08 PM

The release of major economic reports and stock market volatility had little impact on mortgage rates for the second week in a row.

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Mortgage 101: What Does a Rapid Rescore Do for My Credit Score?

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/5/15 10:36 AM

Your credit score is a huge factor in mortgage approval and mortgage affordability. In terms of credit score and home financing, "rapid rescore" is a term worth knowing because it could help you out immensely as a borrower.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Prices Up Nearly 6 Percent Year-Over-Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/30/15 4:13 PM

Mortgage rates were pushed and pulled by large movements in global stock markets with little impact from economic data. Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher, while existing home sales data showed strong gains in prices and sales year-over-year.

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Weekly Economic Review: Inflation Outlook Favorable for Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/23/15 1:39 PM

The Fed Minutes, released last Wednesday, had a positive impact on mortgage rates. Fed members noted that they had not yet seen evidence that inflation would move to the  2 percent target range, which helped mortgage rates end the week lower.

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Renting vs. Buying: Weighing Your Factors

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/19/15 2:38 PM

In 2014, U.S. renters collectively paid over $41 billion in rent, up nearly 5 percent from 2013, according to a Zillow report. While annual rent inflation hit its highest acceleration in six years in November 2014, the average monthly lease reached $1,124, the highest rent amount since Reis, Inc. started collecting real estate market data in 1980.

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Weekly Economic Review: July Retail Sales Data Stronger than Expected

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/16/15 10:17 AM

An unexpected move in China helped mortgage rates drop early in the week, but stronger-than-expected retail sales data, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, caused rates to end the week slightly higher.

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Fed Update: Is the Federal Funds Rate Hike Near?

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/14/15 12:12 PM

U.S. employment data from July has bolstered many economists' expectations for the forthcoming short-term federal funds rate hike.

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Weekly Economic Review: July Employment Data Meets Forecast

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/10/15 10:45 AM

Mortgage rates increased slightly this week as comments from a Fed official increased expectations for the forthcoming rate hike this year.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Sales, Rates & Employment Costs Down

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/2/15 11:53 AM

The level of daily volatility in mortgage rates was low last week, even with the release of several important reports. The impact of the Fed statement was small, but the Employment Cost Index, which came in lower than expectations, was favorable for mortgage rates.

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Weekly Economic Review: June Home Sales Data Mixed

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/26/15 4:11 PM

After weeks of volatility due to the debt crisis in Greece, last week was relatively quiet for mortgage rates. With a light economic calendar and mixed home sales data, mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.

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Weekly Economic Review: June Housing Starts Near Peak Expectations

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/19/15 11:40 AM

Focus turned from Greek's debt crisis to the release of important U.S. economic data last week. Major retail sales data was weaker than expected in the month of June, causing mortgage rates to end the week a little lower. 

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First-Time Homebuyers Boosting Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/16/15 1:09 PM

The entrance of first-time buyers into the housing market has long been written off due to stagnant wages, tight credit and what appeared to be a renting preference. As existing U.S. home sales surged to a 5-1/2-year high in May, data showed first-time homebuyers have not been shut out of the housing market.

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Weekly Economic Review: Uncertainty Overseas Favorable for Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/14/15 1:00 PM

Last week, U.S. financial markets were primarily influenced by events in China and Greece. Uncertainty about Greece's debt crisis and concerns about slower growth in China were favorable for US mortgage rates, which ended the week a little lower.

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It's Greek to Me

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/13/15 10:03 AM

"It's Greek to me" is a commonly used phrase in the United States to express confusion, which may be exactly what you're currently feeling about Greece's surmounting debt crisis. So what does Greece's economic downturn have to do with US homebuyers? See here.

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Weekly Economic Review: Housing Market Continues to Gain Momentum

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/6/15 1:48 PM

The housing market is still gaining momentum, according to data released last week. Pending home sales were up 0.9 percent in May, exceeding the Econoday expectations for a 0.6 percent gain. The index level of 112.6 is as high as it's been since 2006.

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Weekly Economic Review: Home Sales Increase, Consumer Sentiment Booms

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/28/15 10:28 AM

The housing sector showed continuing signs of improvement in data released last week. Existing home sales increased 5.1 percent in May to a 5.35 million annual rate, which hit high-end Econoday expectations. Year-over-year, existing sales have increased 9.2 percent.

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Fed Update: When Will the Rate Hike Begin?

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/26/15 1:47 PM

While the Federal Reserve policymakers downgraded their view of economic conditions at their June meeting, they indicated the economy was on track to increase a key interest rate in the coming months.

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2015 Summer Housing Market: 5 Things Homebuyers Should Know

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/23/15 2:20 PM

It's widely known that summer is a popular time to buy a home, so what's currently happening in the housing industry? Is it a good time to buy? Here are some things you should know about mortgage rates, loan programs, inventory, and home prices so far this summer.

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Weekly Economic Review: June Housing Market Index Jumps

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/21/15 10:12 AM

The Fed statement and the release of U.S. economic data caused some volatility last week but had little net affect. Mortgage rates ended the week a little lower.

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Weekly Economic Review: Job Openings at Highest Since 2000

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/15/15 9:29 AM

More positive news on the employment and labor front last week as job openings surged to 5.376 million in April, according to the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.

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Weekly Economic Review: Strong Gains in Labor Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/8/15 10:59 AM

United States economic data released last week showed positive signs of improving economic conditions. As a result, mortgage interest rates increased by the week's end.

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Weekly Economic Review: Strong Week for U.S. Housing Market Data

Posted by Laine Smith on 6/1/15 3:00 PM

The national average mortgage rate ended last week a little lower, coupled with data indicating positive signs for the housing industry.

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Weekly Economic Review: April Housing Starts Surge

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/26/15 9:58 AM

Spring housing surged in April with housing starts and permits at one of the very highest and strongest numbers on record. Housing starts soared 20.2 percent in April and permits were up 10.1 percent; both components were much higher than expected. Single-family starts were up 16.7 percent and multi-family starts up 27.2 percent.

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What You Should Know About FICO® Scoring

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/24/15 12:08 PM

FICO® Scores have been in use for over 25 years, helping lenders of all kinds make informed credit granting decisions. A lot has changed since FICO® scores were introduced in 1989; lender credit-granting requirements, data reporting, and consumer use and demand of credit are always evolving, so FICO® scoring methods must keep up the pace to ensure their model is an accurate predictor of credit risk.

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Weekly Economic Review: April Shows to Be a Soft Month for Consumerism

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/18/15 1:11 PM

Labor market conditions data showed job openings fell 2.9% in March but despite the fall-off, workers appear to still be confident in the labor market judging by their willingness to quit. Quit rates rose 0.1% to 2% and the hiring rate held steady at 3.6%.

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The Fed Lowers Economic Outlook, Affecting First Rate Hike

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/15/15 8:00 AM

The Federal Reserve lowered its economic outlook at the end of April after lower-than-expected economic gains. Though the U.S. economy stumbled during the first quarter of 2015, the Federal Reserve said they expect growth to rebound in the coming months.

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First-Time Homebuyer FAQ: How Are Mortgage Interest Rates Determined?

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/13/15 10:05 AM

If you are a homebuyer seeking a mortgage, a big part of when you decide to buy and which lender you choose to finance with will likely depend on what mortgage rates are doing. Your mortgage rate not only affects the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your mortgage but can also influence the amount you are approved to finance, as well as your affordability of homeownership overall.

So how are mortgage rates determined? And why do they change?

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Weekly Economic Review: Unemployment Rate at Lowest Level Since 2008

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/11/15 11:15 AM

Employment situation data was released on Friday, showing a revised consensus of March job gains from 126,000 to 85,000. Despite the weaker figures, the economy has added an average of nearly 200,000 jobs per month so far in 2015.

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Mortgage Goals: 5 Ways to Cool Down Your Cooling Costs

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/10/15 4:31 PM

Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Those costs typically account for about 48% of your utility bill. While an upgraded, energy-efficient system will help shave a nice chunk off of your bills, a whole-house approach is best when trying to cool down your A/C costs this spring and summer.

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Weekly Economic Review: Jobless Claims at Lowest Level Since 2000

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/4/15 10:21 AM

Mortgage rates increased last week as a result of rising yields in the global bond markets and weaker-than-expected gains in US economic data.

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales Up to Highest Rate in 18 Months

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/27/15 2:00 PM

Housing data released last week was mostly positive as March Existing Home Sales increased 6.1 percent, the highest rate since September 2013 and near high-end expectations. Sales of single-family homes jumped 5.5% and condos surged 11.1%. All regions showed solid March gains, led by the Midwest with a jump of 10.1%.

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Weekly Economic Review: Year-Over-Year Housing Data Indicating Strength in Spring Housing Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/20/15 9:00 AM

Major reports were weaker than expected last week. While disappointing for the economy, it was good news for mortgage rates which ended the week slightly lower.

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Finding the Right Home Loan

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/17/15 8:00 AM

Homebuying comes with an immense amount of choices. You need to choose a realtor, a neighborhood, a house, a lender, and a loan type. Like home styles, there are dozens of home loan types and programs meant to appeal and benefit a wide range of homebuyers.

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Tax Day: Tax Incentives of Homeownership

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/15/15 9:00 AM

Homeownership offers a large number of perks ranging from home equity to personal living preferences, but around this time of year homeowners cash in on one of the biggest homeownership incentives: tax benefits. Here's how being a homeowner pays off come Tax Day.

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Weekly Economic Review: “Reasonable” to Believe Rate Hike in June Less Likely, Jobless Claims Fall Sharply

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/13/15 8:00 AM

With a light economic calendar of reports released last week there is little change to report in the economic world. Mortgage rates ended the week with a minimal increase.

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Mortgage 101: How Late Payments Affect Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/12/15 12:00 PM

Are you making your credit card and loan payments on time? It's important to stay on top of all of your bills, because your payment history is the most influential component of your credit score, accounting for 35% of your FICO® score determination. Here's how a late payment downgrades your number.

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The Fed Removes "Patient" from Post-Meeting Statement: What It Could Mean for Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/8/15 9:28 AM

The Federal Open Market Committee dropped the word "patient" from their March 18 post-meeting statement. The Fed began using this word in December 2014 in regards to its stance on raising interest rates.

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What's the Difference Between an FHA and Conventional Appraisal?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/7/15 8:00 AM

In all cases in which a mortgage loan is used to purchase a home, your lender will require an appraisal of the home. Appraisals are used by lenders to determine a property’s value to protect their and their homebuyer’s investment. Home appraisals come in different varieties based on the type of financing used for the home, including conventional mortgage loan appraisals and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) appraisals.

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Weekly Economic Review: Pending Home Sales, First-Time Buyers Up in March

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/6/15 3:00 PM

Pending home sales increased in February overall with the Midwest and West regions showing strong gains. The year-over-year pending home sales are up 12 percent which is a 6th straight increase. The data released last Monday showed an important positive about first-time buyers in the housing market; first-time buyers increased 1 percent, which is the first uptick since November 2014.

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Mortgage Goals: What an Extra Yearly Payment Could Do for Your Loan

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/4/15 8:00 AM

When you receive your monthly mortgage statement, you may have noticed the option of paying more than your required monthly payment. While paying extra principal on your mortgage won't decrease your required monthly payment like a credit card payment, there are several perks of making an extra annual mortgage payment.

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What is the @HomeIllinois Mortgage?

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/3/15 8:00 AM

The Illinois Housing Development Authority new mortgage program @HomeIllinois strives to make homeownership affordable and obtainable for both first-time and repeat homebuyers by providing a la carte benefits, including down payment assistance and lender paid mortgage insurance.

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7 Things Not to Do After Applying for a Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 4/1/15 8:00 AM

When applying for home financing your actions regarding credit score, finances and employment not only apply to pre-approval but the time between loan processing and closing. Avoid making these common mistakes while waiting for closing day.

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New FHA Mortgage Insurance Reduction: How Much Can You Save?

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/30/15 1:00 PM

It’s now cheaper to get an FHA loan due to changes announced by the Federal Housing Administration in January 2015. The FHA made a significant reduction to mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) on all new FHA loans for the first time since 2001.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Home Sales Up to Highest Point Since 2008

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/29/15 9:07 AM

Last Monday, Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer elaborated on the Fed’s plans for monetary policy, stating that it is “widely expected” the Fed will begin to raise the federal funds rate this year. Optimism about the Fed’s plans for monetary policy helped improve mortgage rates early last week but gains were lost later in the week, resulting in a very slight increase in the national average mortgage rate.

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2015 Mortgage Rate Forecast: What the Experts Are Predicting

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/26/15 8:30 AM

As the real estate market prepares for its peak buying season, experts are still analyzing the future of the near-historic interest rates seen through the fourth quarter of 2014 and first quarter of 2015. The predicted rise of interest rates in fall 2014 when the Federal Reserve stopped buying Treasury bonds sparked a sense of urgency to take advantage of low rates, but mortgage rates are still near those historic lows.

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Weekly Economic Review: Fed Lowers Forecast of Future Rate Hikes

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/23/15 1:00 PM

According to a statement from the Federal Reserve’s meeting last week, Fed officials want to see further improvement in the labor market and increased inflation before they begin to raise rates. Officials also raised requirements which would justify the first rate hike.

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Mortgage Goals: Adding Value to Your Home with a Master Suite

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/21/15 8:00 AM

The desire for a master suite has been trending upwards in the housing market, topping lists alongside updated kitchens and bathrooms and open floor plans. While the benefits of a master suite, such as a private bathroom and separation from the home’s other bedrooms, may seem priceless to some homeowners, the budget of a master suite addition can become one of the most costly home improvements.

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Mortgage 101: What to Expect from the 2015 Spring Real Estate Market

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/16/15 7:30 AM

As the peak season to buy a home approaches, Freddie Mac has upped their original forecast of 2015 mortgage originations to $1.3 trillion due to low mortgage rates and an improving job market. The market will see 40 percent of home sales over the next four months, according to Freddie Mac.

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IHDA's Releases New Mortgage Product @HomeIllinois

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/15/15 7:30 AM

The Illinois Housing Development Authority has unveiled their new mortgage product, @HomeIllinois. The new program strives to make homeownership affordable and obtainable to creditworthy borrowers by offering a la carte benefits, including down payment assistance and lender paid mortgage insurance, to both first-time and repeat homebuyers.

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Mortgage Goals: Paying down Your Mortgage vs. Investing More

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/12/15 8:00 AM

While ridding yourself of debt is a common mortgage goal for many, becoming “financially free” isn’t as black and white when it comes to paying off your mortgage. When it comes to paying additional principal on your home loan, there are several variable s to consider when determining if it’s a good path to your financial freedom. Could your money be better used elsewhere, such as investments?

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Mortgage 101: Five Simple Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/10/15 8:00 AM

Your credit score is a big component of your finances. Lenders and credit card companies use your score as a risk assessment to determine whether you can achieve financing or a new line of credit and to determine the interest rate you receive. Though there is no guaranteed quick fix to boosting your score, here are a few simple ways to push your score in the right direction.

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5 Ways to Save on Your Taxes This Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/9/15 11:27 AM

It’s tax season, a time when all taxpayers are looking back on the previous year for deductions and credits to reduce their tax burden. As tax laws are constantly changing, you may find it hard to keep yourself up to speed on the current regulations. Here are five ways you could potentially save on your taxes.

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How Homeownership Helps You during Tax Season

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/8/15 9:47 AM

The perks of homeownership are evident year-round, but when it comes to tax season, benefits really increase for homeowners. Here’s how owning your own home helps reduce your tax bill.

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Mortgage Goals: Setting Goals for Your Investment Property

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/5/15 10:08 AM

Real estate investment is just like any other business; it requires a plan to measure success.  Whether you are an amateur real estate investor beginning with your first rental home or in the works of developing multiple properties to flip, setting goals is an essential part of becoming a successful real estate investor. Determine the who, what, when, where, why and how for each property.

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Why You Should Meet with a CPA this Tax Season

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/2/15 2:30 PM

With the popularity of tax preparation software on the rise, many Americans have chosen to prepare their own taxes from the comfort of their own homes. Whatever your motivation to take the DIY route, taxpayers of all income levels should consider meeting with a Certified Public Account (CPA) for a variety of reasons when it comes to filing federal and state taxes, including accuracy and sound advice.

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Weekly Economic Review: New Single Family Home Sales Are Up 5.3% From A Year Ago

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/27/15 5:06 PM

It was a busy week with lots of economic news released. The stock market remained nearly flat for the week while the national average for mortgage rates dipped another 7 basis points. The CPI declined 0.7% in January. New Single Family Homes and Existing Home Sales both declined in January but are up 5.3% from a year ago. 

Newsinglefamilyhomesales

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,110 and dropped 0.25% to end the week at 2,105.
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) fell 0.07% (7 basis points) last week. 
  • Real GDP was revised to a 2.2% annual growth rate in Q4 from a prior estimate of 2.6%
  • New orders for durable goods increased 2.8% in January. Orders are up 5.4% from a year ago. 
  • The CPI (Consumer Price Index) declined 0.7% in January. The CPI is down 0.1% from a year ago.
  • New Single Family Home Sales Declined 0.2% in January. Sales are up 5.3% from a year ago. 
  • Existing Home Sales Declined 4.9% in January. Sales are up 3.2% from a year ago. 
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What Refinancing Did for Homeowners in 2014

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/27/15 4:00 PM

Borrowers who took advantage of near record-low mortgage rates in 2014 will save approximately $5 billion in interest over the next 12 months, according to Freddie Mac’s quarterly refinance analysis.

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Mortgage Goals: How Much Equity Will You Gain from Owning a Home?

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/26/15 4:02 PM

Equity, which can be defined as the difference between your loan balance and the fair market value of your home, is a huge perk of being a homebuyer. You can gain it simply by making your monthly payments; and you can also borrow from it via a cash-out refinance to help pay for major life expenses. How much equity you gain (and how quickly you gain it) from homeownership, however, is dependent on several factors.

 

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Buying After Foreclosure or Short Sale: The Boomerang Buyer

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/25/15 4:30 PM

The first wave of homeowners who lost their homes due to foreclosure or short sale during the Great Recession are eligible to re-enter the housing market this year.

7.3 million former homeowners have the potential to become homeowners again over the next eight years, according to real estate research firm RealtyTrac. This group of possible homebuyers – mostly Generation Xers or Baby Boomers, age 35-70 – have been dubbed “boomerang buyers”.

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Weekly Economic Review: Housing Starts Are Up 18.7% From A Year Ago

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/21/15 10:15 AM

Mortgage rates and the stock market both rose slightly this week. Housing starts declined in January, but are up 18.7% from a year ago. It will be a busy week on the economic calendar with New and Existing Home Sales, CPI, and GDP being released. 

Housing_Starts

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,097 and rose 0.62% to end the week at 2,110.
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) rose 0.05% (5 basis points) last week. 
  • Industrial Production rose 0.2% in January. Production is up 4.8% from a year ago. 
  • Housing Starts declined 2.0% in January. Housing starts are up 18.7% from a year ago. 
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) dropped 0.8% in January. The PPI is down 0.1% from a year ago. 
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Weekly Economic Review: The Stock Market Climbs Again

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/14/15 9:31 AM

It was a quiet week in the economy. Retail sales dropped in January but are still up over 3% from a year ago. The stock market had another nice week, rising 2.02% from the week prior. Mortgage rates remained flat. 

Stock_market_climbs_again

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,055 and rose 2.02% to end the week at 2,097.
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) rose 0.01% (1 basis point) last week. 
  • Retail Sales dropped 0.8% in January. Sales are up 3.3% from a year ago. 
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Mortgage 101: How We, as a Mortgage Company, Determine Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/10/15 9:00 AM

Your credit score is a number lenders use to determine the risk of lending to you. Credit card companies, auto dealerships and mortgage bankers are just a few of the institutions that will assess your credit score before deciding if and how much they are willing to lend you, and at what interest rate. When it comes to getting pre-approved for a mortgage, your credit score is one of the most influential factors determining your eligibility for a loan and what rate you will qualify for.

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Weekly Economic Review: The Stock Market Climbs 3.01%

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/6/15 6:23 PM

The stock market was the big story this past week with the S&P 500 gaining 3.01%. Mortgage rates crept higher, with the national average rising 0.15% (15 basis points). We recieved positive economic news with increases in both jobs and personal income. 

02-09-2015

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 1,995 and rose 3.01% to end the week at 2,055
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) rose 0.15% (15 basis points) last week. 
  • The economy added 257,000 jobs in January
  • The ISM non-manufacturing index increased to 56.7 in January from 56.5 in December
  • Personal income increase 0.3% in December. Personal income is up 4.5% from a year ago
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African American History and the White House

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/4/15 4:56 PM

As we all know, February is Black History Month, or National African American History Month. It is the annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially declared that the month of February will be dedicated as Black History Month. Other countries, like Canada and the United Kingdom, also now partake in celebrating black history. One of the greatest recent accomplishments in U.S. African American history was the election of Barack Obama as the first African American President in 2008.

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Mortgage 101: New FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Reduction

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/3/15 11:48 AM

Not only are FHA mortgage rates at near record lows, but for the first time since 2001, the FHA has reduced its mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) for many U.S. homeowners. Effective as of January 26, 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lowered annual FHA mortgage insurance premiums by 50 basis points from 1.35% to .85% on their 30-year fixed mortgages for new FHA loans of $625,000 or less. 


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Weekly Economic Review: New Single Family Homes sales up 11.6% in December

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/31/15 8:24 AM

The big housing news for the week was the data on New Single Family Homes Sales which rose 11.6% in December. Stocks took a dive, dropping 2.77% this past week. Mortgage rates continued to move lower with a 12 basis point drop (0.12%) from the week prior. 

02-02-2015

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,052 and dropped 2.77% to end the week at 1,995
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) dropped 0.12% (12 basis points) last week. 
  • The first estimate for Q4 Real GDP growth is 2.6% at an annual rate. Real GDP is up 2.5% from a year ago
  • New Orders for Durable Goods declined 3.4% in December. Orders are up 0.3% from a year ago. 
  • New Single Family Home Sales were up 11.6% in December. Sales are up 8.8% from a year ago. 
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Weekly Economic Review: Stocks Comeback While Mortgage Rates Continue to Drop.

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/23/15 6:17 PM

Stocks had a nice recovery this week, rising 1.61%. Mortgage rates (the national average) continued to slip, dropping another 2 basis points (0.02%). We received good housing news as Housing Starts and Existing Home sales both rose in December. 

01-26-2015-1

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,019 and rose 1.61% to end the week at 2,052
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) dropped 0.02% (2 basis points) last week. 
  • Existing Home Sales rose 2.4% in December. Sales are up 3.5% from a year ago.
  • Housing Starts rose 4.4% in December. Starts are up 5.3% from a year ago.
  • The markets were closed on Monday because of Martin Luther King Jr. day
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Mortgage 101: The 2015 Housing Market Forecast

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/22/15 2:14 PM

According to Kiplinger.com, the housing market is slowing its pace as it starts to gain back some of the equity lost in the meltdown of 2006 to 2007. Over the past year, home prices rose in almost 90% of the 277 cities tracked by Clear Capital, a provider of real estate data and analysis and most metro areas are about where they should be. Kiplinger forecasts that home prices nationally will rise by 3.5% in 2015.  They also expect existing-home sales to increase 8% in 2015, and new-home sales to rise 25% in 2015.

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Weekly Economic Review: Stocks & Mortgage Rates Drop for Third Straight Week

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/17/15 7:34 AM

Stocks and mortgage rates both dropped slightly this past week. Retail sales dropped 0.02% in December but are up 3.2% from a year ago. The markets are closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We'll receive news on Housing starts and existing home sales later in the week. 

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,045 and dropped 1.26% to end the week at 2,019
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) dropped 0.02% (2 basis points) last week. 
  • Retail Sales declined 0.9% in December. Retail sales are up 3.2% from a year ago. 
  • Industrial Production declined 0.1% in December. Production is up 4.8% from a year ago. 
  • The Producer Price Index (PPI) declined 0.3% in December. PPI is up 1.1% from a year ago
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Weekly Economic Review: FHA Reduces Mortgage Insurance Premium 0.50%

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/10/15 9:23 AM

It was a good news week for anyone looking to buy a home. The national average for mortgages dropped another 0.12% (12 basis points), ending at the lowest levels we've seen in a year. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a 0.50% reduction in mortgage insurance premiums that it charges on new loans. This drop in MIP makes home ownership more affordable for many people, especially first-time buyers. The stock market had another down week, slipping another 0.64%. 

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,058 and dropped 0.64% to end the week at 2,045
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) dropped 0.12% (12 basis points) last week. 
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a 0.50% reduction in mortgage insurance premium that it charges on new loans
  • The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in December from 5.8% in November
  • Nonfarm payrolls increased 252,000 in December
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Weekly Economic Review: 2015 Starts With a Drop in Stocks and Mortgage Rates

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/4/15 12:48 PM

Happy new year to you and your famiy from Compass Mortgage. We are excited about what is in store for 2015.

We started the year with drops in both the stock market (down 1.47%) and in mortage rates (10 basis point drop for the national average). There was little economic news outside of the markets due to the holidays. 

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,089 and dropped 1.47% to end the week at 2,058
  • Mortgage rates (The national average) dropped 0.10% (10 basis points) last week. 
  • The ISM Manufacturing Index declined to 55.5 from 58.7 in November
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Mortgage 101: How Are Mortgage Rates Determined?

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/30/14 11:00 AM

If you are a homebuyer seeking a mortgage, a big part of when you decide to buy and which lender you choose to finance with will likely depend on what mortgage rates are doing. Your mortgage rate not only affects the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your mortgage but can also influence the amount you are approved to finance, as well as your affordability of homeownership overall.

So how are mortgage rates determined? And why do they change?

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Weekly Economic Review: Existing Home Sales up 2.1% from a Year Ago

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/28/14 6:26 PM

With Christmas last Thursday there was little movement in the markets. The stock market rose 0.89% from the week prior. Existing Home Sales are up 2.1% from a year ago. 

 Existing_Home_Sales

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,070 and rose 0.89% to end the week at 2,089
  • Real GDP was revised to a 5.0% annual rate from a prior estimate of 3.9%
  • New Single Family Home Sales declined 1.6% in December. Sales are down 1.6% from a year ago.
  • Existing Home Sales declined 6.1% in November, Sales are up 2.1% from a year ago. 
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Mortgage Goals: Buying vs. Renting - A 7 Year Comparison

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/25/14 4:00 PM

To rent or to buy? That is the (important) question. And it should be – choosing to buy a home is most likely the biggest financial decision of your lifetime. Choosing between a home purchase and a rental is also a highly personal decision, so here’s what we currently about the dilemma to help you come to the best choice.

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The Return of the 3% Down Mortgage: Fannie Mae's MyCommunityMortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/24/14 10:00 AM

Many homebuyers cite saving funds for a down payment as one of their biggest obstacles on their path to homeownership. Fannie Mae has introduced the MyCommunityMortgage® program which features flexible home financing with as little as 3 percent down, opening the gates to homeownership for potential homebuyers with a lack of funds for a down payment.

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Weekly Economic Review:

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/21/14 11:30 AM

Even with concerns about the global economic impact of the ongoing turmoil in oil and the threats of North Korea hacking Sony and leading to the cancellation of the release of "The Interview" in theaters this Christmas, the economy managed to somehow still hold somewhat strong this week. 

global_effect

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,017 and rose 2.7% to end the week at 2,070
  • The national average for mortgage rates rose 5 basis points (0.05%)
  • Housing starts declined 1.6% in November. Housing starts are down 7% from a year ago. 
  • The consumer pricing index declined 0.3% in November. CPI is up 1.3% from a year ago. 
  • Industrial production rose 1.3% in November. Production is up 5.2% from a year ago. 
Read More

Mortgage Goals: Adding Rental Properties to Your Retirement Portfolio

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/18/14 4:30 PM

\When it comes to building your investment portfolio, it’s a good idea to have a diversified amount of income-generators. According to a 2014 Gallup survey, 30 percent of Americans said real estate is the best type of long-term investment over gold, stocks, and mutual funds.

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Weekly Economic Review: Retail Sales Up 5.1% From Last Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/14/14 6:30 PM

It was a tough week for the the stock market, which dropped 3.54% this past week. We did however, receive great numbers on retail sales, which has rose 5.1% from a year ago. The national average for mortgage rates dropped another 12 basis points (0.12%) this week. 

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,075 and dropped 3.54% to end the week at 2,002
  • The national average for mortgage rates dropped 12 basis points (0.12%)
  • Retail sales increased 0.7% in November. Sales are up 5.1% from a year ago. 
  • The Producer Price Index declined 0.2% in November. PPI is up 1.4% from a year ago
Read More

Weekly Economic Review: 321,000 Jobs Added to Economy in November

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/7/14 8:00 PM

This past week mortgage rates rose slightly, with the national average up 0.10% from the week prior. The stock market had another slight increase and the economy added 321,000 jobs in November.

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,068 and climbed 0.36% to end the week at 2,075
  • The national average for mortgage rates rose slightly, 10 basis points (0.10%)
  • The economy added 321,000 jobs in November, which was the largest increase since January 2012
  • Non-Farm productivity is up 1% from the year prior
Read More

Weekly Economic Review: New Single Family Home Sales Rise 1.8%

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/30/14 9:37 PM

GDP was the biggest highlight last week when the annual growth rate was revised up to 3.9%. There was little movement with the stock and mortgage markets. In housing, we recieved encouraging news with new single family homes sales rising 1.8% from a year ago. 

New_Single_Family_Home_Sales

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,064 and climbed 0.22% to end the week at 2,068.
  • Personal Income increased 0.2% in October. Personal income is up 3.6% for the year. 
  • New single family homes rose 0.7% in October. Sales are up 1.8% from a year ago. 
  • New orders for durable goods rose 0.4% in October. Orders are up 5.5% from a year ago.
  • Real GDP was revised to a 3.9% annual growth rate in Q3 from a prior estimate of 3.5%
Read More

Weekly Economic Review: Mortgage Rates flat; Stocks rise 1.19%

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/23/14 4:30 PM

Last week mortgage rates were nearly unchanged, with a the national average dropping slightly by 0.03%. The S&P 500 had a strong week with a 1.19% increase. We recieved good news in the housing market, with existing home sales rising 1.5% in October. 

 The_SP_500__Increased_2.7_last_week

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,040 and climbed 1.19% to end the week at 2,064.
  • Mortgage rates were nearly unchanged from the week before (dropped 3 basis points; 0.03%)
  • Existing Home Sales rose 1.5% in October. Sales are up 2.5% from a year ago.
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was unchanged in October. CPI is up 1.7% from a year ago.
  • Housing Starts declined 2.89% in October. Starts are up 7.8% from a year ago.
  • The Producer Price Index rose 0.2% in October. PPI is up 1.5% from a year ago.
Read More

Weekly Economic Review: Retail Sales Up 4.1% From Last Year

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/17/14 6:00 AM

Last week was a quiet week for economic news: The S&P 500 rose 0.40% and mortgage rates remained nearly unchanged from the week prior. This week we'll recieve announcements on CPI, PPI, Housing Starts, and Existing Home Sales.  

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,032 and rose 0.40%, finishing the week at 2040.
  • Jobless claims rose 12,000, up to 290,000. Claims have now been below 300,000 for 9 straight weeks. 
  • Retail sales increased 0.3% in October. Sales are up 4.1% from a year ago.
  • Mortgage rates ended the week with little change
Read More

Economic Review: Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.8%

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/10/14 6:00 AM

The unemployment figures were the big story this past week, as the drop to 5.8% is the lowest level since July of 2008. From the week prior, stocks saw a slight increase and mortgage rates dropped slightly. 

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,018 and rose 0.69%, finishing the week at 2032.
  • The unemployment rate declined to 5.8%, the lowest level since July 2008
  • The economy added 214,000 jobs in October
  • The employment data caused mortgage rates to drop slightly this week
Read More

This Week in the Economy - November 3, 2014

Posted by Laine Smith on 11/3/14 6:00 AM

The most closely watched news last week was the Fed statement on Wednesday. The Fed, as expected, announced that it would be ending its purchases of treasury and Mortgage-Backed Securities later this month. The S&P 500 continued to climb as we ended the week with a 2.72% increase. 

Stocks-3

 

Last week in the economy:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 1,951 and rose 2.72%, finishing the week at 2018.
  • Personal income increased 0.2% in September. Personal income is up 4.1% in the past year
  • The Fed announced that it's treasury and mortgage-backed security (MBS) purchases will conclude at the end of this month
Read More

Mortgage Goals: Saving Money vs. Renting

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/30/14 10:00 AM

There is a reason homeownership is such a big part of the American Dream. With a home purchase, homeowners gain a sense of community and pride in their homes, a secure, permanent place of residence, and freedom to customize their living space on their own terms. Among lifestyle benefits, owning a home also helps owners reach one of the most beneficial mortgage goals: saving money.

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Reinventing the American Dream: Location and the Millennial Homebuyer

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/29/14 10:00 AM

Millennials, also known as “Generation Y”, are just like any other generation when it comes to the American Dream; they acknowledge that homeownership is a key component and are striving to achieve it.

But this young generation of homebuyers are reinterpreting the traditional norms of homebuying and customizing their home choice to fit their personal values and needs, particularly when it comes to location.

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This Week in the Economy - An Economic Summary for October 27, 2014

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/27/14 6:30 AM

After a few tough weeks the stock market rebounded and had it's best week since 2013. The S&P 500 rose a whopping 4.15% this past week. In housing news, both single family home sales and existing home sales rose in September. 

Oct_27

 

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What You Need To Know About Title Companies - Guest Expert Rich Deck

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/24/14 9:00 AM

Rich Deck is an Account Executive with Carrington Title Partners and has been working with us here at Compass since we opened in 1999 to help clients get their loans closed. 

We asked Rich to be our guest expert this week and answer some key questions about title companies and what to expect when closing on a mortgage loan.

Q:  How should I best prepare for the closing table? 

A:  You, as the borrowers, must bring to the closing a valid State or Federal issued picture ID.  This will be required of everyone that is going to sign documents.  You should review a preliminary Settlement statement (HUD-1) with your Loan Officer and/or your Attorney prior to coming to the closing.  By doing this, you will know the amount of funds you must bring.

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Mortgage Goals: Becoming a Landlord

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/23/14 10:00 AM

Looking for a long-term, stable income generator with a large return on your investment? With home affordability at record highs, a booming rental market, and appreciating home values, investing in residential real estate could be a great opportunity for you to earn extra revenue and expand your mortgage goals.

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Reinventing the American Dream: Location and the Millennial Homebuyer

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/22/14 4:13 PM

The classic Buy vs. Rent battle is something that all young adults have to combat as they enter into the "real world."  Investing in property can be a great financial decision, but as the Millennial generation continues to wait longer to get married and start families, they also are less inclined to actually buy a home as well.  According to U.S. News & World Report, "Homeownership for Americans 35 and under declined to 36.2 percent, and is the lowest on record since the census's Housing Vacancy Survey began tabulating homeownership by age in 1982."  One out-of-the-box idea that has been gaining popularity is for people to buy their first home and then have roommates that pay rent to cover their mortgage payments.

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This Week in the Economy - An Economic Summary for October 20, 2014

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/20/14 6:30 AM

The S&P 500 dropped another percent this past week (after a 3% drop the week prior) but Friday showed signs of hope, as the S&P 500 went up 1.3% and recovered some of its recent losses. We had good housing news, as housing starts rose 6.3% in September. 

October_20

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Mortgage Goals: Homeowner Tax Deductions & Write-Offs

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/16/14 12:00 PM

Homeownership has long been a part of the American Dream. Why wouldn’t it be? Not only do homeowners reap in lifestyle perks with their owned homes but financial benefits as well – particularly around tax time.

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Reinventing the American Dream: Condo & Townhome Living

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/15/14 10:00 AM

The days of white picket fences, yards for the dog and huge living spaces in the suburbs are not gone, but they may be less desirable to the new millennial generation.  These individuals are waiting longer than ever before to get married, have kids and buy houses, sometimes even doing it as single entity.  For a group that is constantly on the go, wants many conveniences at their fingertips and desires less responsibility, condo or townhome living might be the new housing of choice.

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This Week in the Economy - An Economic Summary for October 13, 2014

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/13/14 6:00 AM

The stock market was the big headline this past week with the S&P 500 taking it's biggest dip since May 1012. Our encouragement for the week was jobless claims, which we thought would rise but instead dropped slightly. 

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What You Need To Know About Mortgage Insurance - Lou Mallers of Essent Guaranty, Inc.

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/10/14 10:00 AM

Lou Mallers is an Account Manager with Essent and has been working with us here at Compass for many years on finding our clients great options for Mortgage Insurance (MI). 

We asked Lou to be our professional guest expert this week and answer some key questions about Mortgage Insurance that many people often have when applying for a loan.

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Mortgage Goals: How to Build Home Equity

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/9/14 4:30 PM

Home equity is arguably one of the biggest perks of being a homeowner. It is an asset and part of your total net worth. You can use it to pay off other debts, fund your retirement, pay for a child’s education or wedding, or use it to purchase your next home. However you plan to use your equity, there are several ways you can build it. 

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Reinventing the American Dream: Buy Your 2nd Home First

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/8/14 10:00 AM

According to TIME Magazine, “In a new pole, 38% of Millennials say travel is part of the American Dream.”  They also say that millennials consider owning a home much less part of the American Dream than the generations before them, i.e. Baby Boomers and Gen X.  So it brings up an interesting concept, what if maybe you should buy your 2nd home, or vacation home, before buying your first primary residence?

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This Week in the Economy - An Economic Summary for October 6, 2014

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/6/14 6:00 AM

 

This past week the stock market rose slightly and we recieved a good unemployment report. Let's take a look at the numbers:

October_6

 

Economic recap from the Week of September 29, 2014:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 1,948 and jumped to to 1,968, a 0.1% increase for the week.
  • Personal income increased 0.3% in August
  • The unemployment rate declined from 6.1% to 5.9%. This is the lowest level since July 2008. 
  • The economy added 248,000 jobs in September
Read More

Economic Updates for Monday, September 29

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/29/14 7:00 AM

Economic_Updates_for_September_29

 

This past week the stock market took a dive but we received some good housing news. Let's take a look at the numbers:

 

Economic updates from the Week of September 22, 2014:

  • The S&P 500 started the week at 2,009 and dropped to 1,983, a 1.36% decline for the week.
  • New single family home sales rose 18% in August. This is up 33% from a year ago.
  • Existing home sales declined 1.8% in August. Sales were down in the West and South and up in the Northeast and Midwest
  • New orders for durable goods fell 18.2% in August

 

What's coming up on the economic calendar for the week of September 29, 2014:

  • Personal income will be reported on Monday
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Mortgage 101: How to Improve Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/12/14 9:00 AM

If you have applied for any type of loan in the past, you know that your credit score determines a large part of your eligibility for approval. Lenders use your credit score as a numerical indication of your financial responsibility. Your credit score can determine your interest rate, the amount you are approved to borrow, or whether you can be approved at all.

If there is room for improvement in your credit history, follow these do’s and don’ts to help raise your credit score. 

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What is a Mortgage Calculator?

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/29/14 3:04 PM

What is a Mortgage Calculator?

First-time and repeat homebuyers often share a common question when it comes to purchasing a home: how much can I afford?

In an effort to make the beginning steps of home buying simpler, we provide mortgage calculators to homebuyers to make their purchase decision easier, as well as a refinance calculator for current homeowners to weigh the benefits of refinancing their loan.

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Cash-Out Refinance: Paying for College Tuition

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/8/14 9:30 AM

What is the top advantage of being a homeowner? Many would answer that the equity you gain while steadily paying down the mortgage is high up on the list of benefits. Homeowners can tap into equity to help pay down high-interest credit card debt, medical bills, home renovations, and perhaps one of the biggest expenses for families with children: college tuition.

In an ideal world, you would have money set aside for children’s college expenses, but most families have the majority of their net worth tied up in their homes, 401k, and/or other retirement plans. A cash-out refinance can free up monthly funds with a lower interest rate and allow homeowners to tap into the equity of their home.

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How to Build Home Equity

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/23/14 11:50 AM

Equity is the amount of your home that you actually own, and it is one of the biggest benefits of homeownership. Equity is the difference between your loan balance and the home’s market value. If an appraisal values your home at $175,000 and you are carrying a mortgage balance of $120,000, you have $55,000 in equity.

As long as the market remains stable, equity is like money in the bank. As home values increase and you reduce the amount of mortgage debt with monthly payments, your equity grows.

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What Factors Affect Your Credit Score

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/16/14 9:15 AM

Your credit score is a number lenders use to determine the risk of lending to you. Credit card companies, auto dealerships and mortgage bankers are a few of the type of institutions that will assess your credit score before deciding if and how much they are willing to lend you and at what interest rate.

The three credit agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – compile credit scores, also known as FICO® scores, based on the information in your credit file, which is affected by these five factors:

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What is Private Mortgage Insurance?

Posted by Laine Smith on 5/9/14 3:26 PM

When determining what your monthly mortgage payment will be, lenders use the acronym, PITI, to describe the elements of your monthly payment. PITI stands for principal, interest, taxes and insurance. The insurance portion stands for two different types of insurance, homeowner’s or hazard insurance and private mortgage insurance (PMI).

PMI protects lenders in the case that borrowers default on their mortgage and also benefits homebuyers, as it allows buyers to purchase a home with a low down payment.

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New Home Sales Improving

Posted by Laine Smith on 3/7/14 9:15 AM

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes climbed to a five and half year high in January despite January 2014 being the coldest start to the year since 2011. Recent land development and construction data signals that as bank lending for construction increases, the supply crunch for homes could ease due to an increase in new home building in the coming months.

New home purchases increased 9.6 percent in January, exceeding economists’ highest predictions and reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units, the highest level since July 2008. Economists had forecasted new homes sales to fall to a 400,000-unit pace in January.

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Preparing to Sell Your Home

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/28/14 8:37 AM

A first impression is key to selling your home. Most buyers make their purchase based on first-sight emotions and then justify their decision with information based on the home’s condition.

Aside from the emotional element that comes with parting from your home comes the sometimes-daunting physical stamina required to prepare for showings, inspections and appraisals. Here are a few tips to create a winning first impression, boost your bottom line and sell your home quickly.

 Select a Successful Real Estate Agent

Choosing to buy or sell a home is one of the most important financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. A realtor can help simplify the process and provide you with advice throughout. Look for an agent who has plenty of good referrals, experience in your area and price range and a plan on how they will market your home to potential buyers.

 

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2014 Spring Real Estate Market and Inventory

Posted by Laine Smith on 2/21/14 1:21 PM

As the 2014 spring market begins to ramp up and people come out of their hibernation from winter, what can they expect to find? One of the biggest changes we will see is the lack of inventory for available homes. The National Association of Realtors reported existing-home sales rose 1% in December 2013, to 4.87 million and for the last year, sales hit 5.09 million, the most since 2006. This is up 9.1% from 2012, dwindling much of the current inventory.

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How Local Schools Affect Your Home Value

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/31/14 10:34 AM

When potential home buyers are seeking a new residence, several factors influence their purchase decision and willingness to pay a higher price for a home. Aesthetic features such as updated kitchens and bathrooms, open layouts and curb appeal can boost home value, but studies are showing that a certain non-visual aspect of a home’s location influence its price significantly: the local school district.

The United States home-buying population highly values quality education. According to a Realtor.com® survey of approximately 1,000 potential home buyers, 91 percent said school boundaries were important factors in their housing search.

The Price of Higher-Ranked Education

In 2013, Redfin, an online real estate brokerage, conducted a study of over 10,000 elementary schools and 400,000 home sales across 57 metro areas to analyze the relationship between school performance and home prices.

The study concluded that, on average, buyers pay $50 more per square foot for homes in high-rated school districts than homes in average-rated school districts. The study found that homes served by different school districts with similar square footage, the same number of bedrooms and baths and location near each other can range in price from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

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Why Now is the Time to Buy

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/24/14 3:50 PM

Interpretation of 2012 and 2013 United States home sales data signal the housing market is strengthening and recovering exponentially and creating a beneficial period for potential homebuyers to get off the fence.

Home prices in 20 major U.S. cities rose in December 2012 by the most since 2006. Sales of existing homes increased slightly in December 2013, helping to lift sales for the year to the highest amount in seven years, according to the National Association of Realtors©.

So why is now the time to buy? Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun, believes the market lost momentum towards the end of 2013 due to limited job growth and low inventory. Yun predicts sales growth in 2014 will slow from last year’s 8.8 percent rise and eventually return to normalcy.

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Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/17/14 2:01 PM

There is no doubt homeownership boasts several advantages. Owning your own home allows you to create a stable living environment for your family, personalize your living space and build equity. With tax season around the corner, homeowners can argue that the tax benefits are one of the biggest perks of owning their own property.

Interest & Points

When looking at an amortization schedule of your mortgage, the majority of your first years’ payments are towards interest, not principal. The benefit is that you can deduct that interest the year that it is paid, within certain limits. Homeowners can deduct up to $1 million in interest payments for a first or second home.

According to Realtor.com®, Americans save around $100 million every year by deducting mortgage interest on their tax returns.

Homeowners who pay points, or origination fees, on their home purchase or refinance can also deduct those points on their tax returns. A one percent fee on a $100,000 loan equals one point, or $1,000. Taxpayers can deduct the entirety of points in the year they were paid on a purchase. For refinance loans, points must be deducted as an amortization over the period of the loan.

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How to Improve Your Home Value

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/25/13 9:58 AM

Getting top dollar for your home doesn’t always require expensive remodeling or landscaping. The goal in increasing your home’s value is to eliminate buyers’ biggest objections and boost your overall home appeal. The best way to position your home for a top-dollar offer is to present it in turn-key condition.

Curb Appeal

When it comes to real estate, a book is always judged by its cover. To entice more buyers to inquire about your home, spruce up what they see from the curb. If your lawn is looking bare or neglected, put your green thumb to use. At the very least, plant a few shrubs, pull weeds, trim overgrown trees and rake and dispose of leaves. You may also try a few of these budget-friendly landscape projects:

  • Line your walkway with solar-powered lights.
  • Keep the lawn mowed and edged. Reseed any bare spots.
  • Add color to your flower beds.
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How Much of My Income Should I Spend on My Mortgage?

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/11/13 10:06 AM

If you’re like most people, a house is the biggest purchase you will make in your lifetime. Spending too much on a home could interfere with other financial goals, such as retirement and college savings. It is best to determine what you want and can pay on a mortgage before you start looking.

To qualify for a home loan, lenders will look at your front-end ratio and back-end ratio. Your front-end ratio determines how much you will be spending on principal, interest, taxes and insurance in comparison to your gross monthly income. Generally, a lender will want your front-end ratio to be below 28 percent of your gross monthly income.

Back-end ratio not only considers your principal, interest, taxes and insurance but the debt you owe, such as student loans, credit card debt and automobile loans. Ideally, this ratio should not surpass 36 percent of your monthly gross income.

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Can I Apply for Credit When Getting a Mortgage?

Posted by Laine Smith on 10/3/13 11:52 AM

You’ve made the decision to purchase a home, completed the loan commitment process with your lender and are preparing for closing day. While waiting to take ownership of your new home, perhaps you figure it’s time to purchase a new family vehicle, buy all new furniture or open up a line of credit at a home improvement store for all the upcoming items you’ll be needing as a new homeowner. But is it a good idea to apply for financing when getting a mortgage?

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Should I Buy or Rent?

Posted by Laine Smith on 9/20/13 9:56 AM

Ultimately the answer to this question depends on multiple factors: your financial situation, your plans for the future and your desired lifestyle. Homeownership and renting both have their share of benefits, but it is necessary to consider both before making your decision.

First, let’s weigh the benefits of buying. Homeownership has long been a part of the American dream. Your purchase becomes your place to call “home”, your respite, pride and a place to personalize to your heart’s desire. Homeowners also gain:

  • Tax benefits. Being able to deduct the interest on your mortgage and property taxes offsets a portion of the cost of owning your home.
  • Stability. If you signed on for a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payment will stay the same for the life of the loan, whereas rental rates rise over time.
  • Equity. Provided you plan to stay in your home for at least four years and home prices remain stable, homeownership allows you to create equity and stability for your family.
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What to Expect When You Close Your Loan

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/30/13 2:05 PM

You’ve signed the purchase agreement and been approved for the loan, but you still have no rights to the property until the day you get to legally transfer ownership: closing day.

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What Credit Score is Needed for a Mortgage?

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/23/13 9:28 AM

When it comes to pre-approval, your credit score is one of the most influential factors determining your eligibility for a loan and what rate you will qualify for. Lenders use your credit score as a risk assessment for approval.

Your score is calculated by a combination of scores from the three national credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Lenders use your median score of the three, known as a FICO score. FICO scores can range from 300 to 850.

Scores above 740 are considered “top tier” credit and will get you the lowest interest rates. Because your score reflects your lending risk, the lower your score the higher your risk is. Therefore, if your score is low, it is likely you will pay a higher interest rate.

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What Goes Into a Mortgage Payment?

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/16/13 9:41 AM

Understanding what goes into a mortgage payment is very simple. A monthly mortgage payment includes at least two parts: principal and interest. Principal is the amount of money you have borrowed and interest is the cost of borrowing that money.

For most homeowners, there is also a third part that is paid into an escrow account. Escrow is a financial instrument created in order to store money collected by a lender. The escrow account allows you to pay for things like homeowners insurance, property taxes, condominium and association feeds and mortgage insurance, if applicable. When your taxes and insurance are due, the lender pays them for you from the escrow account. This amount of your mortgage can increase or decrease, even with a fixed-rate mortgage. Therefore, your mortgage will include principal, interest, taxes and insurance, also known as the acronym PITI.

For example, you find a home that costs $170,000. You are able to make a down payment of 5 percent, or $8,500. The annual property taxes are $1,200 and the annual homeowners insurance is $720. Because your down payment is less than 20 percent, you will pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), as well.

With a 30-year fixed mortgage and an interest rate of 4.5 percent, your PITI with PMI is as follows:

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How Location Affects Property Value

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/9/13 11:24 AM

When it comes to determining property value, what are the three most important factors? Location, location, location.

A “good” location can be determined by dynamics as broad as the economic stability of the community or as specific as to where the home is situated within a certain neighborhood.

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How to Calculate Property Taxes

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/26/13 3:01 PM

Property taxes can drastically change your monthly mortgage payment depending on where you decide to buy your home. They also can be very confusing for a lot of homeowners. To understand how much property tax you should be paying you need to understand how your property is valued and how the taxes are actually calculated.

The government collects real estate taxes, also known as property taxes, to fund multiple municipal operations, schools, public services and roads. The way that property taxes are calculated would be through the use of the mill levy and the assessed property value.

The first thing you will want to do is get your home's assessed value. You can either call or visit you county tax assessor's office or get the information from their website. Next you will need the taxable percentage of assessed value. As an example, let's say your assessed value is $200,000 and that 30 percent of assessed value is taxable. Multiply the taxable percentage by

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The Debt Downgrade and Your Mortgage

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/9/11 8:36 AM


Mortgage rates are set off of the interest rates on U.S. Treasury notes and bonds. Even though Standard & Poor's pulled its AAA rating of the United States Friday night, investors still rushed into U.S. Treasury securities Monday as a safe haven, believing more in the "full faith and credit of the United States" than in the opinion of Standard & Poor's credit analysts. As investors snapped up Treasury notes and bonds they pushed down interest rates on those securities, which move inversely to prices. "The flight to quality effect is dominating," said Walt Schmidt, senior vice president of FTN Financial Capital Markets. "The net effect is lower mortgage rates."

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Mortgage Applications Rise Week of 8/1/11

Posted by Laine Smith on 8/5/11 11:28 AM

The number of mortgage applications filed in the United States increased more than 7% last week as mortgage rates fell across the board to almost their yearly lows, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's market composite index. This measures our country's mortgage loan application volume every week.

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