Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, FHFA House Price Index, and Pending Home Sales Index

  • August 26, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, continuing to hover near historic lows.  This week, two readings on home price appreciation trends will be released.  Both the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index are scheduled for release on Tuesday.  The pending home sales index comes out on Thursday.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Flat, Existing Home Sales Increase, New Home Sales Decline

  • August 23, 2019

Mortgage rates flattened out this week, not moving significantly in either direction.  As a result, mortgage activity was slow.  Existing home sales increased in July, possibly triggered by this summer’s lower mortgage rates.  New home sales fell sharply.

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Reasons Not to Get a Mortgage Online

  • August 22, 2019

The idea of a totally digital mortgage experience may sound alluring to anyone with a busy schedule of daily demands.  But when it comes to a six (or more!) digit transaction, there is an advantage to having a real person on your side to advocate on your behalf.  Even if you prefer to get started filling out your application online or through our mobile app, working with a real loan officer and not a customer service hotline empowers you to cross the finish line with confidence.

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6 Ways to Start Your Winter Home Maintenance this Summer

  • August 21, 2019

If you’re kicking back by the pool, the last thing on your mind is colder weather ahead.  But fast forward to the winter months and imagine going out to check your gutter leak in the chilling wind.  Preparing your home for the winter months during the summer can save you tons of aggravation, and even reduce the need for expensive repairs. 

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Trump Administration Moves to Restrict FHA Mortgage Refinance Limits

  • August 20, 2019

In lieu of the Federal Reserve’s rate cut, many homeowners are considering a mortgage refinance.  Refinancing your mortgage could help you lower your monthly mortgage payment through a lower interest rate, reduce or eliminate mortgage insurance, change loan programs or terms, or get cash out.  When homeowners get cash out, they are able to use their home’s equity to finance other needs like a home renovation project or to pay down higher interest debt. 

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Applications, Existing Home Sales, New Home Sales

  • August 19, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to trend lower, reaching year-long lows in many cases.  This week, both the existing home sales and new home sales reports are scheduled for release.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.

 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Climb, Home Builder Sentiment Improves, Housing Starts Decline but Building Permits Increased

  • August 16, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, staying near year-long lows.  Lower rates led to a significant increase in refinance mortgage applications.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) housing market index improved.  Housing starts fell but building permits jumped. 

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FHA Issues New Condominium Approval Rule

  • August 15, 2019

With new guidelines set to become effective on October 15, 2019, condominium financing will become more accessible for FHA borrowers.  Previously, to finance a condominium unit with an FHA loan the condo project had to meet approval requirements.  With the new policy, individual condo units that are not part of an FHA-approved condo project can still be eligible for FHA financing.  The policy change is a response to the need for more affordable options for first-time home buyers in today’s competitive market. 

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Choosing the Right Size Home: Floor Plan vs. Square Footage

  • August 15, 2019

After budget and location, the number of rooms and the square footage are among the top factors home buyers consider.  However, when you’re buying a new home, bigger isn’t always better.  Touring the actual homes you’re considering purchasing, rather than just relying on the reported square footage, allows you to see how the home is setup.  A larger home with poorly used space won’t serve you as well as a smaller home with the right layout.  When you see a home within your budget and a larger than expected square footage, take a tour with your Realtor or real estate agent.  Make sure the layout suits your needs and you don’t get stuck with unusable space.

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FHA to make financing easier for condo owners

  • August 14, 2019

Announces long-awaited changes to eligibility requirements that include individual unit approval.

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5 Most Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes, According to Realtors

  • August 14, 2019

When you’re buying a home, especially for the first time, working with a Realtor or real estate agent can help you avoid any rookie mistakes.  Lifestyle blog, Apartment Therapy, polled real estate agents from around the country to identify the most common first-time home buyer mistakes, and how you can avoid them. 

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More Americans Qualifying for Jumbo Mortgage Loans

  • August 13, 2019

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) revealed it was easier to get a jumbo loan in June 2019 than it has been in the past eight years.  All types of mortgage loans saw increases in credit availability, but jumbo loan credit availability marked the 6th straight month of increases.  Home buyers use jumbo loans to finance homes with purchase prices higher than the conforming loan limits. 

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

  • August 12, 2019

Mortgage rates have fallen to year-long lows, amidst the Federal Open Market Committee’s vote to cut rates.  This week, there are several important housing reports ahead including the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey, the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index, and housing starts and building permits. 

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Market Recap: Job Openings Down Slightly, Refinance Apps Surge, Consumer Credit Expands

  • August 09, 2019

Mortgage rates trended downward this week, reaching year-long lows according to some sources.  Job openings slipped slightly.  New purchase mortgage application submissions declined but refinance mortgage application submissions are up.  Consumer credit expanded less than expected.

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Forbes Real Estate Council’s Realtor Recommendations

  • August 08, 2019

Choosing the right Realtor or real estate agent will greatly influence how your home purchase goes.  Your Realtor or real estate agent will connect you with the right listings in your community and be your number one advocate when it’s time to make an offer.  Forbes polled leading real estate executives from its Forbes Real Estate Council and found these top five things to look for when choosing a Realtor or real estate agent.

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Save Money by Never Buying These 5 Things New

  • August 07, 2019

We all have savings goals we are trying to reach.  While we generally can’t change when we need to buy something, we can change how we buy it.  Buying used instead of new can help you save substantially on some more expensive necessities.   Whether you’re saving to pay down student loans, buy a home, or invest elsewhere, these simple strategies can help boost your savings efforts. 

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Mortgage Delinquency Rate Falls to 20-Year Low

  • August 06, 2019

The latest CoreLogic monthly Loan Performance Insights Reports revealed Americans are better at making their mortgage payments on time than they have been in the past two decades.  A delinquent mortgage is defined as a mortgage that has been past due for 30 days or more.  As of April 2019, the national mortgage delinquency rate dropped to 3.6%. 

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Applications, and Consumer Credit

  • August 05, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted for its first rate cut in 10 years.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending downward.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and consumer credit. 

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Market Recap: Rate Cut, Home Appreciation Slows, Pending Home Sales Up

  • August 02, 2019

In a widely anticipated move, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to cut the federal benchmark interest rate by .25 bps.  Mortgage rates trended slightly lower following the announcement.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index showed home price appreciation has continued to slow down in many metros across the country.  Pending home sales continued to increase.

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Build-to-Rent Housing Growing Popular

  • August 01, 2019

With foreclosure and distressed property sales at an all-time low, investors are looking for new ways to satisfy the growing demand for single-family rental homes.  Today, distressed properties account for just 2% of home sales, down substantially from the high of 49% in March 2009.  At the same time, renters are shifting away from apartments and multifamily living and seeking single-family homes.  Home builders around the country are seizing this opportunity to build homes to rent.

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Solar Panels Could Increase Your Home’s Resale Value

  • July 31, 2019

Homeowners switch to solar panels to reduce energy costs and lower their environmental impact.  As an added bonus, Zillow researchers uncovered that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more on average that similar homes without solar power.  The value of adding solar panels to your home varies depending on the market.  On the lower impact end of the spectrum, homes in Riverside, CA sold for an average 2.7% or $9,926 more.  Comparatively on the higher impact end of the spectrum, homes in New York, NY sold for an average 5.4% or $23,989 more.  

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How Tomorrow’s Federal Open Market Committee Vote Impacts You

  • July 30, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets today and tomorrow and most analysts are expecting a quarter-point rate cut based on messaging in the Fed’s Beige Book released earlier this month.  If the Fed votes for a rate cut, all interest rates will react accordingly.  The cost to borrow money will decrease, possibly making it more affordable for you to take out a mortgage to buy a home or finance a vehicle purchase.  However, the interest you earn from your savings account will also decrease. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales Index, and Federal Open Market Committee Meeting

  • July 29, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and a rate cut is widely expected.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will host a press conference at 2:30 ET on Wednesday.  In housing news, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the pending home sales index will both be released on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Slows, Existing Home Sales Decline, New Home Sales Increase

  • July 26, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved drastically this week, trending somewhat lower according to some sources.  Home price appreciation has also slowed, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index.  Existing home sales fell, but new home sales rebounded. 

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House Flipping Myths You Might Believe

  • July 25, 2019

One of the ways to make money through a real estate investment is to buy a home to sell or “flip.”  Although some flips, especially the ones featured on reality television, involve distressed or foreclosed properties, this will vary greatly depending on the property you buy.  Buying a distressed property may mean a lower buy-in price but buying a livable home in an area with rapid home price appreciation could also yield a sizable profit.  With the popularity of house flipping shows plus a surge in house flipping following the Financial Crisis, many potential real estate investors have false preconceived notions about what goes into the purchase and resale of a home for profit.  Realtor.com contributor, Terri Williams, reveals some of the most common house flipping myths you might believe. 

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Are you making these air conditioning mistakes?

  • July 24, 2019

Things are heating up this summer, and chances are your energy costs are inevitably going to go up.  Home-energy monitoring company, Sense, reports the average cost to air condition a home in the United States is about $147.82.  This figure varies widely based on geography, with a median cost of $292.90 per home in the Sun Belt and $95 per home bordering Canada.  Most homeowners need to air condition their homes at least for some part of the summer, but there are ways to do so and save.

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Price Gap: What’s for Sale vs. What Buyers Want

  • July 23, 2019

Mortgage rates may be on a downward trend, but home buyers in many metros are still facing out of budget home prices.  Researchers at Realtor.com found half of today’s home shoppers are expecting to purchase a property under $288,000.  Unfortunately, that’s 9.1% or $27,000 lower than the median sales price of homes on the market.  In order to bridge that price gap, Realtor.com estimates the market needs roughly 94,000 more homes priced between $100,000 and $340,000, a 15% inventory increase on a market already starved of inventory.

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

  • July 22, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to stay low last week, especially with speculation about a rate cut later this year.  This week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency will release its housing market index.   Additionally, existing home sales and new home sales are both scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Builder Sentiment Improves, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Housing Starts and Building Permits Decline

  • July 19, 2019

Mortgage rates are continuing to trend downward ahead of this month’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index improved.  New purchase mortgage application submissions declined but refinance application submissions improved.  Both housing starts and building permits declined.

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Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover – What’s Hiding Beyond Your Dream Home’s Exterior

  • July 18, 2019

It’s easy to fall in love with a home at first sight – there’s a reason they call it curb appeal!  Looking beyond a beautiful exterior could help you find costly dangers lurking within.  Some of the common reasons home sales fall through include pending permits, undisclosed insurance claims, pests, water damage, and structural damage.  A home inspection should unearth most potential problems but doing your due diligence before you make an offer can also protect you from falling for the wrong home.

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The Cost of Selling to an “iBuyer”

  • July 17, 2019

In a busy market, selling your home through real estate startups that buy homes directly from buyers may be a tempting offer.  Startups like Knock, Offerpad, and Opendoor solicit bids from “iBuyers” willing to buy its customers’ homes.  A recent MarketWatch investigation found that sellers who sell their homes this way, net 11% less than sellers who sell their homes the traditional way on the open market.  Especially when fees and other costs are considered.  

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Over 8 Million Borrowers Could Save with a Mortgage Refinance

  • July 16, 2019

After a steady climb throughout 2018, 2019 has seen the opposite in mortgage rate activity.  Average mortgage rates continue to trend lower.  Mortgage software and analytics firm, Black Knight, reported that at the end of June, approximately 8.2 million homeowners could benefit from a mortgage refinance.  This figure is nearly 4.5 times greater than the number of potential refinance candidates at the end of November 2018.

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

  • July 15, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, trending slightly lower amidst speculation that the Federal Open Market Committee may vote to cut the federal benchmark interest rate.  Coming up this week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its monthly housing market sentiment index.  Housing starts and building permits, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey are also scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: Consumer Credit Up, Job Openings Down, Mortgage Applications Mixed

  • July 12, 2019

Mortgage rates stayed low this week, trending downward according to some sources.  Consumer credit expanded for the second month in a row.  Job openings fell in May, but could bounce back, especially after the strong jobs report last week.  New purchase mortgage applications increased but refinance applications are down. 

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Can you afford to buy a home?

  • July 11, 2019

When it comes to buying a home, the first question most home buyers ask is “can I afford to buy a home?”  There are numerous factors that influence whether or not you can afford to buy a home.  Home prices may be rising rapidly in one area but may be level just a half-hour drive away.  One loan program may mean high monthly payments, but another could be closer to your budget.  If you find yourself answering “no” to the question of whether or not you can afford to buy a home, consider these solutions below. 

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Most Common Money Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • July 10, 2019

When it comes to financial decisions, consumers’ biggest disadvantage is lack of financial education.  Feeling more comfortable and confident with financial decisions will help you get the most out of your money, save for your future, and better understand your financial picture.  Certified Financial Planner® and the Motley Fool contributor, Matt Frankel, revealed the top money mistakes he sees his clients make and how you can avoid them.

 

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What Parents Want When Buying Homes

  • July 09, 2019

The need to buy a home is often triggered by milestones like starting a family, children reaching school age, or career movement.  It’s not surprising that almost half of all home buyers and one-third of renters who moved in the past year had children under 18 living at home.  Zillow’s 2018 Consumer Housing Trends Report found that buyers with young children were more likely to go over budget than buyers without children.  Having children significantly changes home buyer wish lists and, in some cases, makes it more difficult to compromise. 

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Market Forecast: Consumer Credit, Job Openings, MBA Applications

  • July 08, 2019

Mortgage rates are still hovering around year-long lows, following dovish remarks by the Federal Open Market Committee at their June meeting.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include consumer credit and the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Declines, Mortgage Apps Mixed, ADP Employment Adds Job

  • July 05, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to swing lower, amidst growing speculation surrounding a Federal rate cut later this year.  Construction spending pulled back.  New purchase mortgage application submissions increased, and refinance mortgage application submissions decreased.  The ADP employment report added fewer jobs than expected but was positive. 

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6 Garage Renovation Ideas

  • July 04, 2019

Own a home with a garage?  Realtor.com reports garage space ranks just as high as an updated kitchen for some prospective home buyers.  If you are interested in upgrading your garage before selling your home or just looking for ways to repurpose unused garage space, review these top garage renovation ideas.  Keep in mind the temperature of your garage, especially during the summer. Most of these renovation ideas may require an HVAC upgrade or other heating and cooling system. 

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Buying a home with a pool? Read this first!

  • July 03, 2019

Summer is in full swing and if you’ve spent any time waiting in line or shelling out fees to use a community pool, you may be day dreaming about having a pool of your own.  Buying a home with a pool could mean endless summer fun and even a higher resale value when it’s time to move.  It could also be a potential pitfall if you don’t do your due diligence or properly maintain the pool.  Realtor.com contributor Sally Herigstad compiled this list of crucial lessons she learned when buying a home with a pool seven years ago.  Take note!

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Why Young Home Buyers are Facing Limited Inventory and What They’re Doing About It

  • July 02, 2019

For the past few years, home buyers have faced a competitive market with a limited number of homes for sale.  One of the chief factors impacting housing supply is the Baby Boomer generation.  Baby Boomers are staying in their homes longer, instead of downsizing or moving into retirement communities.  This trend has kept previous generations, who are homeowners, in their starter homes longer, preventing would-be first-time home buyers from entering the market. 

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, MBA Applications, ADP Employment Report

  • July 01, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to trend lower.  This week in housing news, US construction spending comes out on Monday followed by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the ADP employment report.

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Flat, New Home Sales Decline, Pending Home Sales Improve

  • June 28, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to swing lower, amidst the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to leave rates unchanged.  Home price appreciation was flat month-over-month but up marginally year-over-year.  New home sales declined, but pending home sales are up.

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You’re Closing on Your Mortgage! Avoid These 5 Things.

  • June 27, 2019

You’re almost there!  You’ve found the perfect home, you’re approved for your mortgage, and you’ve even picked out your new doormat to welcome everyone to the housewarming party you’re planning.  It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get to your final closing date and certain financial missteps could jeopardize your transaction.

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Are you making these common house hunting mistakes?

  • June 26, 2019

Buying a home can be an emotional experience, especially for first-time home buyers.  Your new home is going to be the place where you host your holidays, raise your family, and make happy memories.  It’s easy to get caught up in the home search.  However, a seemingly simple mistake could cost you when it comes to the closing table. 

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Many Consumers Overestimate Mortgage Requirements

  • June 25, 2019

With today’s historically low rates, you may be considering buying your first home.  Buying a home is the first step most Americans take toward building wealth in the form of home equity.  A recent Fannie Mae survey of 3,647 consumers revealed that a staggering number of respondents vastly overestimate what it takes to get a mortgage. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales Index

  • June 24, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged.  Mortgage rates reacted by holding steady.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, new home sales, and the pending home sales index are all scheduled for release. 

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VA Thought of the Week: Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan Transactions

  • June 24, 2019

In the first 4 installments, we covered overall refinance rules and a detailed review of cash-out refinance rules.  In this installment, we will cover the specifics of an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan transaction.

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Home Builder Sentiment Drops, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • June 21, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  As a result, mortgage rates trended downward.  Home builder sentiment fell slightly.  Housing starts declined and building permits increased. 

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Benefits and Risks of Home Sharing

  • June 20, 2019

A new practice called “house hacking” is a new name of an old concept, that is getting popular again, especially in expensive markets.  Homeowners rent out one or more rooms in their home, through short-term rental sites or other rental agreements, to help with the cost of their mortgage and even make a profit.  Some homes, like duplexes or homes with mother-in-law suites, are more conducive to renting, while others may require some modifications. 

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What to Know About Friends and Family Loans

  • June 19, 2019

Lending money to friends and family, when you are financially able, can be a good way to help someone out and can also be a tricky subject depending on the outcome.  Children may borrow money from parents to attend college or buy a car, siblings may borrow money from each other to pay for an unexpected healthcare cost, and a friend may borrow money to start a business.  If you are considering lending money to a friend or relative there are ways to help them out and still protect yourself. 

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38% of Home Buyers Exceed Their Budgets

  • June 18, 2019

One of the first steps to buying a new home is setting a reasonable budget.  Getting preapproved for mortgage financing will help you determine how much home you can afford and where you should start looking.  Most mortgage professionals recommend setting a budget below the amount of loan you qualify for, to avoid stretching your finances.  The cost of buying a home comes with the down payment, closing costs, and other ongoing maintenance and renovation costs that may come up during the first few years of homeownership.  A new study from real estate brokerage, Owners.com, found that an alarming 38% of home buyers exceeded their self-imposed budgets over the past four years.

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

  • June 17, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move much last week, continuing to hover around historically low levels.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.  Some economists are suggesting a rate hike is warranted, as inflation slows and economic growth loses steam, while others predict the Fed will hold its course of leaving rates unchanged.  Other important housing reports scheduled for release include the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) housing market sentiment index, housing starts and building permits.

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VA Thought of the Week: An in-depth Review of the Comparison Certification

  • June 17, 2019

VA created 2 forms for the Comparison Certification.  The first is the estimated or proposed comparison and the second is the final comparison.  Like a Loan Estimate, the proposed comparison must be accurate, but not necessarily perfect.  It can be changed if the circumstances change, and then reissued.  The final comparison is just as important as the final Closing Disclosure.  It must be accurate without exception.

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Market Recap: Job Openings Hold Steady, Mortgage Applications Jump, Consumer Price Index Increases

  • June 14, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly up or down this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions surged amidst low mortgage rates.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed job openings declined slightly.  The consumer price index increased marginally.

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How much is too much for your down payment?

  • June 13, 2019

It’s no secret, accumulating a down payment is the biggest obstacle many first-time home buyers face.  Between rising rents, higher home prices, and the pervasive myth that you need to put down at least 20% to buy a home, determining how much you need to save for a down payment varies.  A larger down payment will usually reduce or eliminate the cost of mortgage insurance, and may lower the monthly mortgage payment, but you don’t need to put everything you have saved toward your down payment.  Buying a new home will have costs associated with it like urgent upgrades, home maintenance, and the closing costs on your mortgage. 

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How Smart Home Tech Can Help Retirees Age In Place

  • June 12, 2019

The thought of smart home devices may conjure the idea of tech-savvy millennials using smart thermostats to regulate temperatures or smart appliances to maximize efficiency.  However, smart home technology can also help older homeowners.  As more and more retirees plan to age in place rather than downsizing or moving into a retirement community, smart home technology is making the transition easier.

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House Members Push for Higher SALT Deduction Cut in Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

  • June 11, 2019

One of the major changes to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) may soon be up for debate in Congress.  Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) recently addressed state and local tax (SALT) deduction limits at a town hall in Bloomfield, NJ.  Under the TCJA, taxpayers, regardless of income, cannot deduct more than $10,000 of total state and local taxes, including property taxes.  This deduction cap disproportionately impacts residents of higher tax areas, like New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere. 

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VA Thought of the Week: The Net-Tangible Benefits Test

  • June 10, 2019

VA has established 8 different possible Net Tangible Benefits (NTB).  All new Type II Cash Out refinance loans must meet at least 1 of the 8 possible NTB options.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall, Construction Spending, ADP Employment Report, and More

  • June 07, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to fall this week.  US construction spending was unchanged.  New purchase mortgage applications declined, but refinance applications are up.  The ADP employment report added fewer jobs than expected.

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What’s the right rate to refinance?

  • June 06, 2019

After trending upward throughout 2018, 2019 has seen very little interest rate movement.  In fact, average mortgage rates continue to trend toward year-long lows.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell announced the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) would pause raising interest rates for the rest of the year.  With today’s low rates, many homeowners could benefit from a rate and term refinance, or a refinance that lowers the mortgage rate or shortens the mortgage term.  Making the decision to refinance your mortgage loan could help you lower your monthly mortgage payment, remove mortgage insurance, or even take cash out to fund a renovation project or other expense.  Keep in mind, a mortgage refinance is a new loan origination and with that comes closing costs.  With interest rates at 2019 lows, many homeowners are wondering, is it time to refinance my mortgage loan?

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3 Habits That Could Improve Your Credit Score

  • June 05, 2019

Your credit score is influenced by five differently-weighted components including payment history (35%), total amount owed (30%), credit history (15%), credit mix (10%), and new credit (10%).  Banks and lenders use your credit score to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for a loan or a line of credit.  Even if you are not planning to buy or refinance a home this year, it’s good to practice to build positive credit habits to maintain a positive score. Most financial experts recommend taking six months to a year to improve your credit before you apply for a mortgage loan. 

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Market Forecast: JOLTS, Mortgage Apps, and Consumer Price Index

  • June 05, 2019

The only housing report of significance this week will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the consumer price index.

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FHFA Director Mark Calabria Addresses GSE Reform

  • June 04, 2019

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mark Calabria shared his thoughts surrounding the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) Regulatory Issues Forum.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became government-sponsored entities (GSE) following the financial crisis and despite returning to profitability years ago, the two remain under government control.  Advocates in favor of releasing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from conservatorship believe private ownership will lead to a more competitive mortgage market.  Those who oppose worry we will see a repeat of the financial crisis, especially if the proper precautions are not taken.

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

  • June 03, 2019

Mortgage rates are still low and have not moved much in recent weeks.  This week in housing news, the US construction spending report comes out today and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  The ADP employment report is also scheduled for release.

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VA Thought of the Week: What’s new with Type II Cash Out Refinance Loans?

  • June 03, 2019

Type II Cash Out Refinance Loans are very close to the original VA Cash Out refinance loans, but there are a lot of new rules in place to ensure the loan is in the best interest of the Veteran.

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Market Recap: Home Price Appreciation Gainful, but Slower. Pending Home Sales Decline

  • May 31, 2019

Average mortgage rates continued their downward trend this week.  Both the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index indicated that home price appreciation is also slowing down.  Pending home sales are down.

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Is there such thing as “Good” and “Bad” debt?

  • May 30, 2019

You may have heard the terms “good debt” and “bad debt” used before.  Certified Money Coach, TED Speaker, and author, Tammy Lally defines “’good’ debt is an investment of money that grows in value or generates long-term income” and “’bad’ debt works against you from the onset.”  Americans take out loans and lines of credit to finance all kinds of purchases from weekly groceries to a new home.  As a consumer, it’s important to understand the differences between these types of debt and how to use credit responsibly to maintain a good credit score and get approved for future loans and lines of credit.

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How Multi-Generational Living Impacts Home Design

  • May 29, 2019

Today, it’s not uncommon to have multiple generations living in the same home.  Between adult children returning after college and parents living longer, Baby Boomers are often called the “sandwich generation” as they simultaneously care for their children and parents.  In fact, 41% of American home buyers consider the need to accommodate an elderly parent or adult child when they are shopping for a home.  After decades of building detached single-family homes, some home builders are shifting gears toward accommodating multiple generations under one roof.

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Are Parents Hurting Homeownership?

  • May 28, 2019

Millennials may have an even harder time shaking the “parents’ basement dwellers” moniker after recent data from an Urban Institute study.  While a large share of recent college graduates move back into their parents’ homes with the intention of saving money in a no-or-low-rent environment, they may actually be hurting their chances at homeownership.    From the study, young adults who live with their parents between the ages of 25 and 34 are significantly less likely to be homeowners ten years later.

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, FHFA House Price Index, Pending Home Sales Index

  • May 27, 2019

Markets will be closed today, in observance of Memorial Day.  Coming up this week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index are scheduled for release on Tuesday.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release its pending home sales index on Thursday. 

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VA Thought of the Week: What general terms did the VA change with the new Cash Out Refinance regulation?

  • May 27, 2019

Over the coming weeks, we will review a number of issues on VA Cash Out Refinance loans.

First, we will cover the general terms that the VA changed with the new Cash Out Refinance regulation.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Decline, Mortgage Apps Mixed, New Home Sales Also Fall

  • May 24, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly lower this week and continue to hover around year-long lows.  Existing home sales dropped in April.  New purchase mortgage application submissions decreased but refinance application submissions increased.  New home sales are also down.

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Retire in place or move somewhere new?

  • May 23, 2019

When we retire, we get the freedom to stay in our current home or move somewhere else.  Both choices come with their own advantages and challenges.  Staying in the same home means your mortgage may already be paid off, you’ll be close to your existing community, and you will not have to deal with the cost and stress of moving.  Moving somewhere new may give you the opportunity to downsize or move into a home that better suits your changing needs, connect with a new community, and gain a new experience.  MarketWatch contributor, Erin Rook, interviewed retirees around the country to find out what factors they considered when choosing to retire in place or move somewhere new. 

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Natural Disasters Highlight Millions of Underinsured Homes

  • May 22, 2019

In 2018, the United States suffered 14 natural disasters spanning coast to coast from wildfires in California to hurricanes in Florida.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports natural disasters cost the United States $91 billion in damage, marking the eighth consecutive year that eight or more natural disasters resulted in billion-dollar level damage.  As climate change continues to warm the atmosphere, natural disasters are only expected to increase in frequency and severity and home insurers are lagging behind.  Rising construction costs lead to costlier repairs that many home insurers are not prepared to cover. 

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5 Challenges Home Sellers Face in 2019

  • May 21, 2019

No matter what the market is doing, home sellers will face various challenges throughout the process.  Forbes contributor and CEO of Las Vegas Homes by the Brooks Team, Jim Brooks, outlined five specific challenges home sellers will face in 2019. 

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Market Forecast: Existing Home Sales, Mortgage Apps, Jobless Claims

  • May 20, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to trend downward, amidst some uncertainty surrounding global trade tensions.  There are very few economic reports scheduled for release this week.  In housing news, existing home sales and the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage application survey are scheduled for release.  The weekly jobless claims report comes out on Thursday.

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VA Thought of the Week: Does the VA Funding Fee cost the Veteran too much?

  • May 20, 2019

Some Veterans may believe the VA Funding fee on a VA loan costs too much, making the FHA and Conventional loans better options.  This is a mortgage myth!

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Down, Housing Market Index Positive, Housing Starts and Building Permits Improve

  • May 17, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to follow a downward trend this week.  However, both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  Home builder sentiment improved.  Housing starts and building permits each increased.

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2 Ways to Make Money from Real Estate Investments

  • May 16, 2019

Real estate investment is a common choice for those who are looking to invest in something more stable than the stock market.  While stocks go up and down, most homes tend to steadily appreciate over time, and when there is a change in a housing market it’s typically gradual.  Before you choose to invest in real estate, it’s important to understand how to make money from your real estate investment. 

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Keep These Phrases OUT of Your Offer Letter

  • May 15, 2019

When you’re buying a home in a competitive market, some home buyers choose to write a personal letter to accompany their offer to make an emotional connection and stand out to the seller.  Buying a home is a personal experience, especially if the seller has lived there for many years.  A personal letter could be the extra push you need to get your offer accepted; it could also sour the deal. 

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1 in 6 Home Buyers Get Down Payment Assistance from Seller

  • May 14, 2019

It’s no secret that the down payment is the biggest obstacle would-be home buyers face.  Saving for a down payment has become increasingly difficult as home prices rise, rents go up, and student loan debt reaches record highs.  While it may not be surprising that home buyers are using down payment assistance, it may be surprising that some of that assistance is coming from home sellers themselves.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, NAHB Housing Market Index, Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • May 13, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved much this week and will likely stay low for the rest of the year, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to pause rate hikes.  This week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its housing market sentiment index.  Housing starts and building permits and the weekly mortgage application survey are also scheduled for release. 

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VA Thought of the Week: What is the maximum VA loan amount in your area?

  • May 13, 2019

What is the maximum VA loan amount in your area?  $484,350… $690,000… $726,525?

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Market Recap: Job Openings Up, Consumer Credit Slows, Mortgage Apps Rebound

  • May 10, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave rates unchanged.  Job openings increased, as the labor market continues to show strength.  Consumer borrowing slowed but was still positive.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions turned around after several weeks of declines.  

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How to Save Money on Your Mortgage

  • May 09, 2019

You know you’re going to finance your new home purchase with a mortgage, but where do you start?  There are plenty of ways to save money on your mortgage and it all starts with working with the right mortgage lender. 

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4 Times to Invest When Buying a Home

  • May 08, 2019

Buying a home is a big financial commitment, and it’s no secret that it gets expensive, between the down payment, closing costs, and other fees.  When you are making this big of a purchase, you will probably be looking for ways to save.  Apartment Therapy contributor, Kate Streit, interviewed real estate experts nationwide to compile this list of the top four things you should never skimp on when buying a home.

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Survey: Home Buyers of All Ages Looking for Lawns

  • May 07, 2019

What do you love most about your home?  A recent survey conducted on behalf of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) suggests it may be your lawn.  From the survey, 81% of Americans have a lawn or yard and 79% say that a lawn or yard is one of the most important features when buying or renting a home.  A nice sized lawn ranked second behind a kitchen renovation, and the sentiment was shared by all generations.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Consumer Credit, Mortgage Applications

  • May 06, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  Mortgage rates reacted accordingly but did not move significantly.  This week, the only housing-related report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and consumer credit.

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VA Thought of the Week: Pest Inspections: Who can pay for them?

  • May 06, 2019

Most mortgage and real estate professionals may believe that a Veteran cannot pay for the pest inspection on a home purchase using a VA Guaranteed home loan. However, that’s one of the most misunderstood issues in the industry today! 

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Case-Shiller Home Price Index Appreciates, Pending Home Sales Jump

  • May 03, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee met on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged.  In turn, mortgage rates did not move significantly.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated at the slowest clip since September 2012.  The pending home sales index exceeded expectations. 

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Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

  • May 02, 2019

When you’re done purging your closets and clearing out the garage or basement, remember the rest of your home!  Spring is the perfect time of the year to tackle some home maintenance tasks you may have put on hold during the busy holiday season or colder winter months.  Your home deserves a facelift too!

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5 Questions to Ask that Could Save You Money

  • May 01, 2019

Whether you are paying down student debt, saving for the down payment on a home, or trying to achieve another financial goal – sometimes asking a simple question could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.  CNBC contributor Alicia Adamczyk identified these five questions many Americans have not asked, or did not know they could ask, that can help them save money.

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Home Equity Hits Record High – Why Aren’t Homeowners Using it?

  • April 30, 2019

Home equity increases over time as the homeowners makes payments toward their mortgage balance and their home appreciates.  As home values continue to rise, tappable home equity has increased substantially.  In the fourth quarter of 2018, Black Knight reported that American homeowners had a collective $5.7 trillion in tappable equity.  In fact, CoreLogic data showed from 2017 to 2018, the average homeowner gained almost $10,000 in home equity. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales Index, and Federal Open Market Committee Meeting

  • April 29, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, continuing to hover near year-long lows.  This week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and pending home sales index are also scheduled for release. 

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VA Thought of the Week: What is a VA joint loan?

  • April 29, 2019

Did you know that a Veteran can buy a home with a person that is not a Veteran and not their spouse?  It’s called a VA Joint Loan.  

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

  • April 26, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly up or down this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  The FOMC is not likely to raise interest rates during this meeting.  Existing home sales are down but new home sales are up.  Home price appreciation continues to slow. 

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Analysis of Today’s First-Time Home Buyer

  • April 25, 2019

Despite some obstacles that first-time home buyers face when starting their home search, a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests the share of first-time home buyers has remained stable over the past 17 years.  On average, first-time home buyers make up a little less than half of total home buyers on the market, 46% in 2016.  To help lenders and other real estate professionals cater to first-time home buyers, the New York Fed released this analysis of today’s first-time home buyer and their specific needs.

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Natural Disasters Have Lasting Impact on Credit Scores

  • April 24, 2019

As natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires grow more prevalent each year, researchers have compiled the data to show their lasting financial impact.  The Urban Institute identified zip codes where households received financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individuals and Households Program to determine the long-term effects natural disasters have on residents’ credit scores and finances.

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60% of Home Shoppers are Willing to Renovate

  • April 23, 2019

A recently released study from Move.com showed 60% of home shoppers are willing to consider a home renovation project after they purchase their home.  Whether it’s the HGTV effect, or limited homes for sale, more than half of survey respondents are willing to spend in excess of $20,000 on home renovation and 28% are willing to spend between $10,000 and $20,000.  Additionally, 95% of respondents expect a return on their renovation investment.

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

  • April 22, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly upward last week but continue to hover around year-long lows.  This week, the existing home sales and new home sales reports are both scheduled for release.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency will also release its home price index.

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Market Recap: Builder Sentiment Improves, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Housing Starts and Building Permits Decline

  • April 19, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week.  Home builder sentiment hit a 6-month high.  New purchase application submissions increased, but refinance application submissions declined.  Housing starts and building permits are down.

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6 Signs You’ve Found the Perfect Home

  • April 18, 2019

Are you looking for a home in today’s busy market?  Buying a home can be an emotional experience, and it’s easy to get swept up making such a big decision.  Whether you’re in the middle of your home search or just starting, look for these seven signs you’ve found the perfect home. 

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Built for Zero: How 9 Cities Ended Veteran Homelessness

  • April 17, 2019

Earlier this year, the city of Abilene, Texas joined a growing number of communities to end Veteran homelessness.  With the help of a national program called Built for Zero, Abilene city officials were able to leverage community data to track homeless Veterans on a case-by-case basis, identify the causation of their chronic homelessness, and allocate resources effectively. 

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Zillow Invests to Improve Zestimate Technology

  • April 16, 2019

Zillow, a free real estate marketplace resource, has invested in improving the accuracy of its popular “Zestimate” tool.  When it launched in 2006, the price estimate feature had a margin of error of about 14%, giving some homeowners and home buyers unrealistic expectations when it came time to buy or sell.  Today, that margin of error has improved to about 4.5%.  In 2017, Zillow launched a competition to improve the accuracy of the Zestimate.  Approximately 4,000 teams of data scientists and engineers from 91 countries participated.  Zillow hopes to reduce its margin of error to 4% by the end of this year.

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Market Forecast: NAHB Housing Market Index, Mortgage Apps, and Housing Starts and Building Permits

  • April 15, 2019

Mortgage rates did not move significantly last week, trending slightly upward after this year’s initial decline.  Looking ahead this week, the National Association of Home Builders will release its housing market sentiment index on Monday and housing starts and building permits are scheduled for release on Friday.  Weekly reports include the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) mortgage application survey.

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Market Recap: Fewer Job Openings, Mortgage Apps Mixed, Consumer Price Index Jumps

  • April 12, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, trending slightly upward according to some sources.  There were fewer job openings in February than in January, as expected.  Mortgage application data was mixed, with refinance applications falling off and new purchase applications up slightly.  The consumer price index increased, due to rising electricity and gasoline costs.

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How Many Homeowners Would Benefit from a Rate Refinance?

  • April 11, 2019

Mortgage rates are trending downward, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) decision to pause raising rates this year.  As rates fall, more and more homeowners could benefit from a mortgage refinance.  According to a recent report from Black Knight, 4.9 million American homeowners could reduce their mortgage rate by at least 0.75% if they refinance now, a 1.6 million week-over-week increase.

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One Mistake Could Cost You Your Down Payment

  • April 10, 2019

MarketWatch contributor Kari Paul recently profiled an unsuspecting Seattle home buyer, who lost his $123,000 to an unfortunate wire fraud scam.  Aaron from Portland received email instructions to wire the down payment funds to someone impersonating a representative from his title insurance company.  He completed the request, and the money was wired to a scammer’s bank account instead of the title company.  Today, the defrauded home buyer is a spokesman for the title company, sharing his story with others as a warning. 

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Report: Healthy Housing Market this Spring Home Buying Season

  • April 09, 2019

Spring is in the air – and so are “For Sale” signs.  Traditionally, Spring and Summer are the busiest seasons for home buyers and sellers, thawing out after the slower winter months.  Housing professionals anticipate this Spring to be especially busy, with improved affordability for home buyers.  While 2018 ended with higher mortgage rates and home prices, the early months of 2019 have brought lower mortgage rates plus a slowdown in home price appreciation.  Recent data shows consumer house-buying power has increased 2.3% from December 2018 to January 2019, and the trend is expected to continue.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, Consumer Price Index

  • April 08, 2019

Mortgage rates continued to trend lower last week, leading to a surge in refinance mortgage activity.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and the consumer price index.

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Up, Mortgage Apps Surge, ADP Employment Adds Fewer Jobs

  • April 05, 2019

Mortgage rates trended downward again this week and will likely stay low throughout the Spring home buying and selling season.  US construction spending picked up in February.  Mortgage application submissions surged, driven by refinance activity.  The ADP employment report added fewer jobs than expected.

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Average Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Tops $700,000

  • April 04, 2019

Earlier this quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported the average size of a fixed-rate mortgage nationwide was $280,900 and the average size of an adjustable-rate mortgage nationwide was $688,400.  A fixed-rate mortgage will retain the same interest rate throughout the term of the loan, whereas an adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate based on market conditions and other factors.  Adjustable-rate mortgages typically have a lower introductory interest rate than fixed-rate mortgages of the same size and terms and may be a more affordable option for homeowners who plan to move or refinance the loan after a few years. 

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Tax Day 2019 Checklist: Did you get all your home-related deductions?

  • April 03, 2019

Tax Day, or the last day for tax payers to file their income taxes, is Monday, April 15th.  If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, it’s time to get started!  Early last year, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the most sweeping tax reform legislation in decades.  The biggest change was the increase in the standard deduction: $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly.  Since the standard deduction has increased so significantly, homeowners may need to more closely calculate their home expenses to determine whether or not their total sum exceeds the standard deduction. 

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Trump Calls to End Conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

  • April 02, 2019

Last week, President Trump signed a memorandum calling for an “overdue reform of the housing finance system,” including an end to the conservatorship of the Government-Sponsored Enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  In Wednesday’s White House release, the president expressed a desire to work with Congress to initiate comprehensive housing finance reform and increase competition in the mortgage market. 

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

  • April 01, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to fall, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s March meeting.  Coming up this week in housing news, the February construction spending report comes out on Monday, followed by the weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the ADP employment report. 

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Market Recap: Housing Starts and Building Permits Pull Back, Case-Shiller Home Price Index Slows, New Home Sales Climb

  • March 29, 2019

Mortgage rates continue to slide downward, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision to ease back on rate hikes this year.  After an exceptionally strong January, February’s housing starts and building permits declined.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index posted the slowest annual rate of growth in seven years.  New home sales exceeded expectations. 

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45.5% of Home Sellers Didn’t Know Who Paid the Buyer’s Agent

  • March 28, 2019

If you’re in the market for a home, or if you’ve bought or sold a home, you probably know that the Realtor or real estate agent does not get paid commission until the transaction is complete.  A new report from Clever Real Estate, an online platform that connects home buyers and sellers with agents, had some startling results.  Out of 1,000 homeowners selling their home around the country in 2019, an astounding 45.5% thought the home buyer paid the buyer’s agent’s commission. 

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Flooding in Midwest Could Have Lasting Impact

  • March 27, 2019

Heavy rains and rapid snowmelt following last week’s “bomb cyclone” have caused severe flooding throughout the Midwest including Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and others.  The flooding has already impacted over 8 million people in 14 states and could damage farmland from Nebraska to Iowa to Illinois down to Louisiana.  National Weather Service meteorologists predict the flooding could last into the Spring, causing substantial damage to homes throughout the region. 

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Home Renovation Spending to Exceed $450 Billion

  • March 26, 2019

According to a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, Improving America’s Housing 2019, home renovation and remodeling increased 6.5% from 2016 to 2017, and more than 50% since the Recession ended.  In fact, remodeling spending accounted for 2.2% of total national economic activity in 2017.  Homeowners staying in their homes longer combined with aging housing stock and appreciating home values has led to a surge in renovation and remodeling spending, and it’s only expected to keep growing.

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Market Forecast: Housing Starts and Building Permits, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and New Home Sales

  • March 25, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged last week and signaled a pause on raising rates for the rest of the year.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending downward, following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s statement.  After government shutdown-related delays, February’s housing starts and building permits and new home sales reports are all scheduled for release.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Tuesday.

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Market Recap: No Rate Hike, Home Builder Sentiment Unchanged, Existing Home Sales Jump

  • March 22, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met Tuesday and Wednesday and voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate unchanged. In turn, mortgage rates plunged following the news, hovering around year-long lows.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market index was unchanged in March.  Existing home sales surged to the highest level in almost a year. 

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How This Mortgage Can Help Grow Your Retirement Savings

  • March 21, 2019

When you are shopping for a mortgage loan, one of the factors that will influence the overall cost is the length of the mortgage term.  Mortgages are available with a range of terms, most commonly 30-year and 15-year terms but can be as short as a 10-year or 7-year terms.  The length of your mortgage term will impact how much your monthly payment is and how much interest you pay over time.  A longer term mortgage will have lower monthly payments, but you will pay more in interest during the term. 

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Fire-Resistant Construction Could be Coming Soon

  • March 20, 2019

Approximately 14,000 homes were destroyed in two of California’s worst wildfires in 2018, equating to $19 billion in damage to residential and commercial real estate.  After a year of dangerous wildfires, home builders are experimenting with more fire-resistant construction techniques.  While a fully fireproof home might not be possible at this time, investing in more fire-resistant construction could prevent future damage. 

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VA Loan Originations More than Double for First-Time Home Buyers

  • March 19, 2019

The VA Loan, a mortgage loan issued by lenders but partially insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs, has become the loan of choice for first-time home buyers who have served or are actively serving in the US military.  In 2007, VA Loans were used by approximately 30% of first-time home buyers who were service members.  By 2016, that figure has increased to 78%, with roughly three-fourths of all service members using a VA Loan to purchase their first home.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Construction Spending, New Home Sales

  • March 18, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved drastically this month, even trending downward according to some sources.  This week in housing news, US construction spending and new home sales data are finally catching up, following report release delays due to the partial government shutdown.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey is also scheduled for release.

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The Next Big Housing Trend May Be Small

  • March 14, 2019

Recent data shows the next most popular single-family home may be a townhouse.  National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) chief economist Robert Dietz noted that over the past year, “the single-family attached market is up 24%.  It’s growing eight times as fast as the overall single-family market.”  Rising home prices, limited land ability, and an influx of first-time home buyers are some of the major reasons townhouses are becoming more popular.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Up, Construction Spending Increases, New Home Sales Dip

  • March 14, 2019

Mortgage rates continued their downward trend this week.  Mortgage applications reacted, with new purchase application submissions increasing and refinance application submissions down only slightly.  US construction spending is up.  New home sales are down.

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Caution: Home Inspection Myths You Might Believe

  • March 13, 2019

The home inspection is one of the most important steps in the home buying process.  You may think you have found the perfect home, but a home inspection could reveal costly and even dangerous problems that you could face down the road.  When you are buying a home, it’s important to understand what a home inspection actually is, what a home inspector does, and what a home inspector does not do.  Realtor.com identified some of the most common myths first time home buyers and even some repeat home buyers believe.

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Market Forecast: Housing Market Index, Existing Home Sales, and FOMC Meeting

  • March 13, 2019

Mortgage rates have trended downward this month, amid notes from the minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in January.  This week, the FOMC will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, but is not expected to raise the Federal benchmark interest rate.  In housing news, the housing market index comes out on Monday and existing home sales will be released on Friday.

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NAMB Asks FHA to Rework Mortgage Insurance Premium Structure

  • March 12, 2019

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) sent a letter to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Brian Montgomery asking him to consider changing the FHA’s current Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) structure to make the product more competitive against low down payment conventional mortgage options like HomeReady by Fannie Mae and Home Possible by Freddie Mac.  In the letter, 2019 NAMB President Richard M. Bettencourt Jr. explained with more low down payment mortgage options on the market, the “credit quality of borrowers using an FHA loan has deteriorated.” 

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Down, New Home Sales Up, ADP Employment Report Up

  • March 08, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this week, trending downward according to some sources.  Construction spending declined in December, after posting strong numbers in December.  New home sales surged to a seven-month high.  The ADP employment report was positive. 

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Zillow vs. Redfin: Who has the Most Accurate Estimate?

  • March 07, 2019

Real estate websites like Zillow and Redfin are a great resource for home buyers or homeowners looking to get an idea of the value of a home they are interested in buying or refinancing.  Like any free tools, Zillow and Redfin’s valuation estimate tools are not 100% reliable.  Homeowners upgrade homes over time, some neighborhoods have homes with comparable attributes, while other homes are more spread out and very different from their nearest neighbors.  Understanding that free real estate resources will not be perfect every time, who has the most accurate estimate tool: Zillow or Redfin?

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Alert: Most Americans Unprepared to Cover Cost of Emergencies

  • March 06, 2019

Despite an increasing frequency in weather-related natural disasters ranging from wildfires in California to hurricanes in the Southeast, many Americans are financially unprepared to cover the cost of emergencies.  Personal finance website GoBankingRates.com, compiled a list of the average cost of eight emergencies based on data from the Census Bureau, FEMA, HomeAdvisor, Insurance.com, and other reputable sources.  The calculations reveal that emergencies are more expensive than Americans anticipate, and many Americans are woefully underprepared.

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson Announces Decision to Leave Position After First Term

  • March 05, 2019

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced he plans to leave his position after President Trump’s first term.  During a Monday evening interview on Newsmax TV, Secretary Carson stated, “I will certainly finish out the term.  I would be interested in returning to the private sector because I think you have just as much influence, maybe more, there.”

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, New Home Sales, and the ADP Employment Report

  • March 04, 2019

Mortgage rates have not moved significantly this month and continue to hover around year-long lows.  Economic indicators are finally catching up, after many reports including the new home sales report and US construction spending were delayed by the partial government shutdown.  This week, December’s US construction spending report comes out on Monday, followed by December’s new home sales report on Tuesday.  In labor market news, the ADP employment report is scheduled for release on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: Housing Starts and Building Permits Mixed, Case-Shiller Home Price Index Appreciates, and Pending Home Sales Go Up

  • March 01, 2019

Some economic indicators continue to be delayed by the partial government shutdown earlier this year.  In the housing sector, January’s new home sales report originally scheduled for Tuesday and January’s US construction spending originally scheduled for Friday, were both delayed.  Of the reports released, housing starts declined and building permits inched up, home price appreciation continues to slow down, and pending home sales increased.

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The Surprising Home Renovation That Usually Pays for Itself

  • February 28, 2019

Investing in a home renovation or remodel can improve the livability of your home and even increase the resale value when it comes time to sell.  When you choose to renovate your home, you may want to consider what projects will garner the most return on investment, even if you’re not selling anytime soon.  Remodeling magazine released its 2019 Cost vs. Value Report, comparing the cost and return on many common home renovation projects.  Out of all of the repairs evaluated, replacing a standard garage door with an upscale model, tended to recoup 97.5% of the cost when it came time to sell. 

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How Net-Zero Energy Homes Work

  • February 27, 2019

Six years ago, home builder De Young Properties built a single-family home that was a net-zero energy building.  Net-zero energy refers to a building that has the potential to produce as much energy as it would consume over the course of a year.  Today, there are approximately 5,000 net-zero energy single-family homes throughout the country.  With new building mandates in California, there could be as many as 100,000 by the end of 2020. 

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2019 Buyers Have the Most Options in 5 Years

  • February 26, 2019

After years of an increasingly competitive market, home buyers are starting to see more options this year.  According to Zillow, US for-sale home inventory is up 1.2% year-over-year, meaning for the first time in over five years the housing market opened the year with more homes for sale than the previous year.  28 of the 35 largest markets saw inventory increases over the past year.  The most significant inventory increases took place in the busy West Coast markets, that were experiencing some of the most severe inventory constraints.

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Market Forecast: Housing Starts and Building Permits, Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and Pending Home Sales

  • February 25, 2019

Average mortgage rates trended downward last week, reaching 12-month lows in some cases.  After getting delayed due to the partial government shutdown, the December housing starts and building permits report will come out this week.  Other important upcoming housing reports include the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) pending home sales index.  The new home sales report, originally scheduled for release on Tuesday of this week, will be delayed.

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When it makes financial sense for married couples to file their taxes separately

  • February 25, 2019

While most couples benefit from filing a joint tax return, there are some exceptions.  Filing separate tax returns can complicate matters for married couples. But some will benefit from going through the process.

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Market Recap: Builder Optimism Improves, Housing Starts and Building Permits Delayed, Existing Home Sales Decline

  • February 22, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week.  Home builders are feeling optimistic to start out the year, as rates start to level off and economic conditions remain favorable.  The release of the housing starts and building permits report was delayed, due to the lasting effects of the partial government shutdown.  Existing home sales fell.

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El Niño has arrived. What does that mean for weather in 2019?

  • February 22, 2019

 

El Niño has arrived in 2019. So far, it's pretty weak. That doesn't mean it will stay that way. 

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Your tax refund might be smaller than usual this year. Here's why

  • February 22, 2019

Each year, millions of tax filers eagerly await money back from the IRS. The majority of filers, in fact, walk away with refunds during tax season, and in recent years, the average refund has been rather substantial.

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What credit score do you need to qualify for a mortgage?

  • February 21, 2019

Part of applying for a mortgage is building your credit or improving your score.  Lenders use your FICO® credit score to determine your creditworthiness and whether or not you are a good candidate for mortgage financing.  Before the Financial Crisis, you could get a mortgage or other line of credit, with very little credit history, a low score, or even no score.  Today, lending standards have improved greatly, and you will need higher credit to finance your home purchase.  What credit score do you need to qualify for a mortgage?

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Red Flags the IRS will be Watching

  • February 20, 2019

Tax season is upon us and American taxpayers are in the process of filing for returns, receiving refunds, and paying taxes due.  A harmless mistake or deliberate misinformation may lead to your tax return being audited.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) chooses taxpayers to audit based on anomalies that are detected in comparison to similar returns.  A taxpayer may also be audited if a relative or business partner is being audited.  The IRS audits returns up to three years old.  If inaccuracies come up, the taxpayer may have to pay a fee, up to $5,000 in some cases.  In other cases, the taxpayer may face criminal charges like tax evasion or tax fraud.

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How Millennials are Transforming Real Estate

  • February 19, 2019

After years of sitting on the sidelines, Millennials are getting into the housing market, in full force.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported in the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Study, Millennials made up the largest share of home buyers compared to any other generation for the fifth consecutive year.  Millennials are facing a far different housing market than previous generations and thus are changing the way the game is played in several different ways.

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All the best Presidents Day sales for the home

  • February 18, 2019

Presidents Day, originally established to celebrate the birthday of the first U.S. president George Washington, is also the first big holiday of the year for shopping. If you’re in the market for something new for your home—especially mattresses, furniture, and appliances—this weekend is a good opportunity to score some major deals. We’ve rounded up the best sales announced so far, organized by category for your browsing convenience.

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

  • February 18, 2019

Markets are closed today in observance of the Presidents Day holiday.  It’s a busy week ahead for housing news with the home builders sentiment index, housing starts and building permits, and existing home sales all scheduled for release. 

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Market Recap: More Job Openings, Mortgage Apps Decline, Consumer Price Index Unchanged

  • February 15, 2019

The job market continues to fire on all cylinders, with the Labor Department reporting an increase in job openings, up to 7.53 million in December.  New purchase mortgage application submissions fell and refinance application submissions were almost unchanged.  The consumer price index increased year-over-year but was unchanged month-over-month as inflation cools.

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3 Things First-Time Home Buyers May Not Know

  • February 14, 2019

Your first home – how exciting!  Whether you are looking to buy your first home now, or sometime in the future, it’s never too early to do your research.  With the abundance of educational materials available, you may not know where to start.  Forbes contributor and Certified Financial PlannerTM, David Rae, pointed out these three things that first-time home buyers should know, before they start shopping.

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Seniors Have Student Loan Debt Too

  • February 13, 2019

The faces of student debt in America are aging.  While you may associate student debt with current students and recent graduates, almost every demographic is burdened with student debt.  The Wall Street Journal reports Americans 60 years and older owe a collective $86 billion in student loan debt.  From 2010 to 2017, the average student loan debt owed by a senior has surged 44% to a level of $33,800.  According to TransUnion, total student debt for this demographic is up 161%, the largest increase of any age group.

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American Incomes Hit Highest Levels Since 2010

  • February 12, 2019

After years of stagnant wage growth, many Americans are starting to see a bump in their paychecks.  In December 2018, the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index found that 24% of Americans reported their incomes were higher than one year ago, the highest jump since June 2010. 

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, and the Consumer Price Index

  • February 11, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward last week, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to slow down on interest rate hikes at the end of January.  The only significant housing report this week will be the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market moving reports include job openings and the consumer price index.

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Market Recap: Refinance Applications Up, Jobless Claims Down, Consumer Credit Expands

  • February 08, 2019

Mortgage rates trended downward this week, following Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the end of January.  Refinance mortgage application submissions inched upward, but new purchase application submissions are down.  Jobless claims dropped from the previous week.  Total outstanding consumer credit exceeded $4 trillion for the first time.

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Don’t Forget the Closing Costs

  • February 07, 2019

Most first-time home buyers are prepared for the cost of the down payment, but not as familiar with closing costs.  Self-made millionaire and experience real estate investor Barbara Corcoran said, “the biggest mistake that first-time homeowners make is they forget they need closing costs – not just the down payment of say 10 or 20 percent.”

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3 Outdated Financial Tips You Might Still Believe

  • February 06, 2019

As the economy changes, the way we buy and sell homes changes as well.  What made sense for your parents, or even yourself, twenty or thirty years ago may not be relevant to today’s economic conditions.  We reviewed three common real estate misconceptions that might be preventing you from making real estate moves.

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Builders Cutting Prices to Stay Competitive

  • February 05, 2019

With the Spring buying and selling season on the horizon, predictions are already rolling in.  2018 marked an overall slowdown for housing, after several years of rampant activity.  However, Zillow Research found that some home builders are starting to lower prices on newly constructed homes, to stay competitive in their markets.  The study found that 25.1% of newly constructed homes experienced a price drop in Q4 of 2018, up from 19.2% in Q1 of 2018.  Home shoppers looking to buy a new home in 2019 may be able to get a deal, depending on where they are shopping.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Jobless Claims, and Consumer Credit

  • February 04, 2019

Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee announced it would be slowing down on gradual interest rate hikes over the course of the next year.  Mortgage rates reacted by trending slightly downward.  This week, the only significant housing report will be the weekly mortgage application survey, scheduled for release on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports coming up include the weekly jobless claims report and consumer credit.

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Market Recap: Home Price Index Mixed, Pending Home Sales Down, No Rate Hike

  • February 01, 2019

Mortgage rates trended slightly downward this week, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) announcement to slow down on interest rate hikes this year.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell asserts the decision to stop hiking rates has nothing to do with the strong US economy, rather a global economic slowdown taking place in Europe and China.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index showed that home price appreciation has slowed, giving some buyers a much-needed break.  The pending home sales index declined. 

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Reasons to Refinance, Even When Rates Rise

  • January 31, 2019

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to leave the federal benchmark interest rate this week, but further gradual rate hikes may be on the horizon.  When the Fed raises rates, the cost of borrowing money will start to rise, including the cost of mortgage financing.  Although rising rates may discourage some homeowners from refinancing, there are still many reasons to refinance, even when rates rise.

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8 Changes Impacting Your 2018 Tax Return

  • January 30, 2019

Despite the recent government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the official tax season opened Monday, January 28th.  This year will be the first year tax payers’ returns are impacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).  When you file your 2018 return, expect it to be influenced by some or all of these 8 changes.

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Why Mortgage Points are Getting Popular Again

  • January 29, 2019

Mortgage points or discount points are fees paid to the lender at closing to buy down the interest rate.  One point is equal to 1% of the total loan amount.  As mortgage rates gradually rise, the practice of buying mortgage points may start to become popular.  Whether or not points will benefit you financially depends on how long you plan on staying in your home, and your loan. 

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, Pending Home Sales, FOMC Meeting

  • January 28, 2019

The US partial government shutdown ended last Friday, as the White House and Congress reached a three week spending agreement while they continue to hash out a border security deal.  The shutdown had delayed the release of some economic indicators over the past five weeks.  This week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Tuesday and the pending home sales index comes out on Wednesday.  The Federal Open Market Committee will also meet this week but is not expected to raise the benchmark interest rate.

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Market Recap: Existing Home Sales Down, Home Prices Up, New Home Sales Delayed

  • January 25, 2019

The partial US government shutdown continues, delaying the release of some economic indicators, including this week’s new home sales report.  Existing home sales declined, as expected, following a slow winter season.  Home prices appreciated more than expected. 

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Why Rental Data Matters – Especially for Home Buyers

  • January 24, 2019

For many, buying their first home is the end of renting.  When you are shopping for a new home, especially if you are a repeat buyer, keeping an eye on the rental market may not seem relevant to you.  However, data suggests that rental prices tend to increase or decrease more rapidly than sales prices and can be a better indicator of the overall health of a housing market.

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CFPB Reverses Course: Seeks Compliance Authority on Military Lending

  • January 23, 2019

During his tenure as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, made the decision to stop supervising lending to active duty service members.  Instead, Mulvaney ordered the CFPB to wait for complaints from service members and their families to instigate investigations.  The recently confirmed CFPB Director, Kathy Kraninger, sent a letter to congress last week asking for “clear authority” to supervise for compliance with the Military Lending Act.

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Single Female Homeowners Outnumber Single Male Homeowners

  • January 22, 2019

According to a new LendingTree study, single women are outpacing single men in becoming homeowners.  Single women own 22% of homes nationwide, compared to just 13% owned by single men.  Out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas across the country, single women own an average of 70,000 more homes than single men do.  With most women earning an average of only 80% of their male counterparts, the new homeownership data may be surprising to some.  Despite the fact that many young homeowners are delaying milestones like marriage and children, they are still taking advantage of the wealth-building opportunity of home purchase. 

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

  • January 21, 2019

Markets are closed today in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The US government remains in a state of partial shutdown, delaying the release of some economic indicators, including the new home sales report.  The existing home sales report is scheduled to come out on Tuesday and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) house price index is scheduled for Wednesday. 

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Up, Builder Sentiment Improves, Housing Starts and Building Permits Delayed

  • January 18, 2019

As of Friday, 1/18/19, the US government remains partially shutdown.  Due to the government shutdown, the release of the housing starts and building permits reports have been delayed.  Mortgage application submissions increased across the board and builder sentiment has improved.

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Getting to Know a New Neighborhood

  • January 17, 2019

When you are buying a new home, you may get so excited about the experience you forget about the neighborhood.  Although it may seem obvious to some, real estate professionals warn new home buyers, “you can change the house, but you can’t change the location.”  If you are shopping for a new home in 2019, don’t forget to look around the neighborhood before getting emotionally invested in a property.  Here are six red flags Realtor.com contributor Jaime Wiebe advises prospective home buyers to watch for. 

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Can you get a mortgage with a credit freeze?

  • January 16, 2019

With cybersecurity of the utmost concern, all major credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – offer free credit freezes for consumers who believe they are at risk.  A credit freeze prevents lenders from accessing your credit report, with the intention of stopping a thief from opening fraudulent lines of credit with your personal information.   While a credit freeze can protect you in the case of a stolen identity or other stolen personal information, it will also prevent legitimate lenders, like your mortgage lender, from accessing your credit report to complete a mortgage application for a new home purchase or mortgage refinance.

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

  • January 14, 2019

As the partial government shutdown enters its fourth week, Congress and President Trump have yet to reach an agreement over a budget dispute regarding border security and the possible construction of a border wall along the United States – Mexican border.  Due to the government shutdown, the release of the housing starts and building permits report may be delayed.  Other housing-related reports scheduled for this week include the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey and the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index.

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Market Recap: Job Openings Decline, Consumer Credit Up, Mortgage Apps Rebound

  • January 11, 2019

The US government is still in a state of partial shutdown, delaying the release of some economic indicators.  Mortgage rates have recently trended downward, resulting in a spike in mortgage application submissions.  The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed the number of job openings have declined.  Consumer credit expanded to a total outstanding debt of $3.98 trillion. 

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7 Tips for Buying a Home This Year

  • January 10, 2019

Whether you are buying your first home, moving up, or downsizing, buying a home should be an exciting experience.  The best way to reduce stress is to have the support of the right real estate team.  Internet media company, Buzzfeed, surveyed its community of Realtors and real estate agents to compile this list of the top 7 tips your agent wants you to know before you start searching for a new home. 

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What’s the rush? Why paying off this debt might actually HURT your credit score.

  • January 09, 2019

If you are like 44 million Americans nationwide, you probably owe a share of the national $1.5 trillion student loan debt.  In 2016, the average graduating student owed $37,172 in student loan debt.  For most Americans, student loan debt is the first time they will take out a loan or line of credit, and the first step toward building credit.  If you are eager to pay off your student loan debt early, you may want to wait.  Closing a student loan account may actually hurt your credit score, because it will shorten the length of your credit history. 

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Report: Average Apartment Size Shrinking

  • January 08, 2019

Do you feel like apartments are getting smaller and smaller?  Unfortunately, you may actually be right.  A recent study by RentCafe confirms average apartment sizes are getting smaller, and more expensive, in many major metros around the country.  According to the study, the top five cities with the smallest apartments nationwide (ranging from 737 square feet to just 711 square feet on average) are Seattle, WA, Manhattan, NY, Chicago, IL, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Consumer Credit, Mortgage Apps

  • January 07, 2019

The only significant housing report scheduled for release this week is the weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and consumer credit.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Down, ADP Employment Up, Construction Spending Delayed

  • January 04, 2019

The US government is still in a state of partial shutdown, delaying some of this week’s economic indicators like US construction spending.  Of the reports released, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey declined, and the ADP employment report exceeded expectations.

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A Better Market for Buyers in 2019

  • January 03, 2019

2018’s year-end data showed housing activity has started to slow.  With both existing home and new home sales falling, there are finally less buyers competing on the crowded market.  After six years of sustained price gains, home price appreciation started to slow this year, dipping below 6% for the first time in six years.  Managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, David Blitzer, predicted, “throughout next year, prices will continue to rise on a national basis in most cities around the country, but the pace of increase will continue to slow.”  This trend could be welcome news for home buyers, especially first-time home buyers. 

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Don’t Make this Home Renovation Mistake

  • January 02, 2019

In the spirit of new beginnings, you may be considering a home remodel or renovation this year.  A home renovation is a great option to add resale value to your home or adapt the layout or design to fit your current lifestyle.  If you are planning a home renovation, don’t make this big mistake.  In 2017, 1 in 3 homeowners paid for some or all of their renovation project with a credit card.  With homeowners spending a median of $10,000 on renovation projects, this is a dangerous debt to take on.

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Real Estate Predictions for 2019

  • January 01, 2019

As we ring in the new year, the predictions are in for 2019.  After several years of a red-hot housing market, activity is expected to slow, and that’s good news for home buyers.  Expect home price gains to slow and less competition.  Here’s what the top economists and forecasters from across the industry expect to see next year.

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These Are the 25 Worst Passwords of 2018

  • December 31, 2018

Everyone knows that internet security is important and the first line of defense is a strong password, but when every single website, online store, and app requires a password sometimes people get a little lazy. After all, who is going to hack the account you set up that website to get your dog’s face printed on socks or, say, your Marriott account? Well, maybe you’ll get lucky and no one will hack your account, but if you make your password too easy it just might end up on SplashData’s annual list of Worst Passwords of the Year.

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Market Forecast: ADP Employment, Mortgage Applications, Construction Spending

  • December 31, 2018

The US government is still partially shutdown, due to a spending dispute regarding a proposed $5 billion border wall.  This week, markets will be closed on Tuesday in observance of New Year’s Day.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release its mortgage application survey on Thursday, after last week’s hiatus.  The ADP employment report and US construction spending are also scheduled to come out on Thursday. 

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Market Recap: Government Shutdown Delays New Home Sales Report

  • December 28, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, trending slightly downward.  Markets were closed on Tuesday in observance of the Christmas holiday.  The US government has been partially shutdown since Thursday 12/20, following a budgetary dispute in Congress.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index was released on Tuesday, as planned.  New home sales were delayed due to the partial government shutdown. 

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The best comfort entertainment of 2018

  • December 28, 2018

 

If you're going to face the world every day and also somehow stave off the existential dread, you'll need a reliable library of comfort content to keep you going. Some series and films are as essential as a mug of cocoa or a soft blanket – something safe and reliable, which feels like coming home.

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Federal Government Shutdown: What you need to know

  • December 27, 2018

As the partial government shutdown continues, the overall effect on loan programs has been minimal. Each federal and government sponsored entity within the mortgage industry has been affected differently. Here is the breakdown of the effect on loan programs and processes in the coming days.

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Should you make an extra mortgage payment?

  • December 27, 2018

If you are a homeowner wondering how to responsibly spend a holiday bonus or upcoming tax return, consider paying it into your home.  When your budget allows, making an extra payment toward your mortgage can be beneficial.  You can reduce interest costs and lower your overall debt.  Making extra payments is not the right move for every financial situation, so consult a mortgage professional or financial advisor before making a decision.

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How the New Tax Law Impacts Your Vacation Home

  • December 26, 2018

As the year comes to an end, taxpayers are starting to review how the new tax law will impact their 2018 tax returns. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) implemented early last year, was the most sweeping tax reform passed in decades and impacted everything from corporate taxes to the size of tax deduction. However, for those who own vacation homes or rental properties, the tax law will remain largely the same.

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Airbnb Enters Home Building Business

  • December 25, 2018

Airbnb, the popular service for home sharing and short-term vacation rentals announced its plan to enter the home building business and start building homes designed for sharing.  The new project, called Samara: Backyard, will be headed by Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia and begin building in 2019.  The goal of Samara is to prototype a new way for homes to be “designed, built, and shared” that better caters to Airbnb’s service.

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

  • December 24, 2018

Markets will be closed tomorrow in observance of the Christmas Holiday.  Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to raise the Federal benchmark interest rate, as expected.  This week will bring some closing housing numbers heading into the end of the year.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index will come out on Wednesday, followed by new home sales on Thursday, and the pending home sales index on Friday. 

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21 pets who love cozy, gorgeous homes as much as you

  • December 24, 2018

Nothing says home-for-the-holidays like a furry pet snuggled up in its favorite spot around the house (okay, there are also festive decorsplendid gifts, and actual human family, but stay with us here.) To that end, we've rounded up a bunch of dogs and cats that have found amazing perches in all kinds of home, as seen on Instagram. Dreamy interiors just got a million times better!

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

  • December 21, 2018

In a highly anticipated move, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the Federal benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%.  Mortgage rates are expected to move upward to reflect the rate hike.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index declined in December.  Both housing starts and building permits increased.  Existing home sales also increased.

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Will buying coffee every day keep you from getting rich?

  • December 21, 2018

If you’re like many Americans, you enjoy a nice cup of coffee each morning before work. And if you’re like me and you buy that coffee instead of brewing drinks at home, the habit can get pretty costly.

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Federal Open Market Committee Raises Hikes Rates, Lowers 2019 Projections

  • December 20, 2018

Yesterday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to raise the benchmark interest rate 25 basis points to a level of 2.25 % to 2.5%.  The final rate hike of the year brings 2018’s total up to four rate hikes, one more than projected in the Federal Reserve’s December 2017 statement.  The highly anticipated move is reflective of strong job growth and solid consumer spending.  Business investment, however, has started to moderate.  At this time, the Fed predicts two additional rate hikes in 2019.

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How Builders Can Plan Ahead for Deconstruction

  • December 19, 2018

In 2012, the United States had 7.4 million abandoned homes, a historical high.  When homeowners vacate their homes, commercial abandonment follows, leading to blighted neighborhoods and eventually cities.  To prevent the level of regional blight that followed the Financial Crisis, urban planners and construction researchers are thinking ahead.  Through the study of “domicology,” the lifecycle of the built environment, builders are building structures that once deconstructed can be repurposed or recycled. 

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Trend: Millennials Buying First Homes in Cities Over Suburbs

  • December 18, 2018

As Millennials segue into homeownership, housing professionals are studying whether or not their preference for city living will continue.  While Millennials have tended to rent near city centers early in their careers, some forecasters suspect once marriage and children come into the pictures, they will migrate to suburbs to purchase homes.  However, recent data from the Journal of Planning Education and Research shows Millennials are 21% more likely to buy their first home in an urban area compared to Generation X counterparts.

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FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery to Serve as Interim HUD Deputy Secretary

  • December 18, 2018

This week, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Pam Patenaude, announced her resignation.  Her departure has been met with kind words from the housing community and HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who accepted the resignation.  In her statement, she wrote, ““It has been my honor to serve President Trump and Secretary Carson and I am deeply grateful to both for this opportunity.  Thank you to my HUD family and fellow “housers” for helping Americans access decent, safe and affordable housing.”

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

  • December 17, 2018

It will be a full week of housing news, heading into the end of the year.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will have its final semiannual monetary policy meeting of the year on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a press conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.  Although the stock market has experienced some volatility in recent weeks, the Fed is still expected to raise interest rates following this meeting.  The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) housing market sentiment index is scheduled to come out on Monday, followed by housing starts and building permits on Tuesday, and existing home sales on Wednesday.

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Market Recap: More Job Openings, Mortgage Apps Up Again, Retail Sales Increase

  • December 14, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week, ahead of next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting.  This week’s only significant housing report, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey, was positive with both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increasing.  Job openings are up and retail sales data signals the holiday spending season has started.  

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VA Increases Loan Limits in 2019

  • December 13, 2018

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced an increase in VA Loan limits for all loans closed on or after January 1, 2019.  The VA reviews loan limits every year and adjusts according to market conditions and housing affordability. 

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How Home Builders Building Smaller Could Help Home Buyers

  • December 13, 2018

The phrase “inventory crunch” has become common in today’s housing market, with more and more buyers competing over a limited number of homes for sale.  Some of the causes of the inventory crunch are homeowners choosing to stay in their homes longer and home builders building larger.  Baby Boomers opting to age in place are choosing to renovate or adapt their current homes rather than downsize or migrate, while home builders facing affordability issues with the rising cost of construction materials are choosing to build larger homes to increase their profit margin.  However, with more first-time home buyers in the market for smaller homes, builders may need to build smaller to keep up with buyer demand.

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How to Protect Yourself and Your Home Following a Fire

  • December 12, 2018

Most California homeowners have insurance to protect themselves and their homes against fire damage.  Following a massive blaze, like the recent destructive fires across Northern and Southern California, insurers may be looking to minimize payouts.  Joshua Heffner, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in fire-related claims, explained, “in a mass loss, they’re looking at their overall payments.  They’ll do what they can to keep payments down.  And they’re getting very smart about paying less.”

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Kathy Kraninger Confirmed as Next CFPB Director

  • December 11, 2018

Last Thursday, the Senate voted along party lines to confirm Kathy Kraninger as the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Following Richard Cordray’s resignation last year, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, has served as interim director for the CFPB.  Now, a little over a year later, Kathy Kraninger will take over the role. 

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Couple Trades Traditional Wedding Registry for Down Payment Fundraising Platform, HomeFundIt

  • December 11, 2018

Recently engaged Minneapolis couple Conner and Ashley were working full time, coaching after school, attending grad school, and wedding planning, simultaneously. With winter approaching, they were on a timeline to find the right home closer to work to reduce the length of their commute. After hearing about their home search, Conner’s father suggested that they use HomeFundIt in lieu of a traditional wedding registry.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Apps, Retail Sales

  • December 10, 2018

Mortgage rates have trended slightly downward this month, heading into the slower home buying and selling season.  The only significant housing report of the week will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and retail sales.

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This 75-year Harvard study found the 1 secret to leading a fulfilling life

  • December 07, 2018

Prioritizing what’s important is challenging in today’s world. The split focus required to maintain a career and a home, not to mention a Facebook feed, can feel overwhelming.

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Market Recap: Construction Spending Down, Mortgage Apps Up, ADP Employment

  • December 07, 2018

Mortgage rates have trended slightly downward, and mortgage activity has reacted.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions increased.  US construction spending is down month-over-month, but up year-over-year.  The ADP employment report was strong.

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Besides FHA, What Other Low Down Payment Options Do Home Buyers Have?

  • December 06, 2018

Last month, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Brian Montgomery announced that despite economic momentum, the FHA would not be cutting mortgage insurance premiums this year.  FHA Loans require an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) payment, plus mortgage insurance throughout the life of the loan.  Any reduction to Mortgage Insurance Premiums makes FHA Loans more affordable.  FHA Loans are popular amongst first-time home buyers because of their low down payment requirements. 

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Can you afford to buy a home? How much to spend on housing.

  • December 05, 2018

For most Americans, both renters and homeowners, housing is their largest expense.  But how much is too much to spend on housing costs?  Whether you rent or own, financial commentator and co-founder of AE Wealth Management, David Bach recommends, not spending more than 35% of your annual after-tax income on housing costs.

 

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Mortgage Debt Reaches 10-Year High, FHFA Raises Conforming Loan Limits

  • December 04, 2018

The Federal Reserve announced outstanding mortgage debt totaled $10.2 trillion in the second quarter of 2018, up 2.7% from the previous year, and near the all-time high of $10.7 trillion set over a decade ago.  Although some may be wary of rising mortgage debt, when the economy strengthens and the population increases, total debt tends to rise.  Rather than worrying about the debt, economists urge consumers to look at both sides of the ledger, debt and assets.

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Market Forecast: Construction Spending, Mortgage Applications, ADP Employment Report

  • December 03, 2018

Heading into the end of the year, mortgage rates have levelled out after rising following September’s interest rate hike.  This week in housing news, US construction spending comes out on Monday and the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage application survey comes out on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the ADP employment report.

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Slows, New Home Sales and Pending Home Sales Decline

  • November 30, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly this week.  Recent comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell suggest that the Fed may be slowing down rate hikes, as interest rates reach a neutral range.  Both new home sales and pending home sales declined in October, heading into the slower buying and selling season.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index has also started to slow, giving buyers a break from home price appreciation. 

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3 Common Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

  • November 29, 2018

Existing home sales make up the majority of real estate transaction, especially for Millennials and first-time home buyers.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported 9 out of 10 Millennials bought a property that was previously owned.  The 2018 Chase housing sentiment survey showed almost 70% of those home buyers expected to spend at least $20,000 on renovation projects.  

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Community First Focus Helps Rehabilitate Homeless

  • November 28, 2018

The “housing first” model of addressing homelessness emphasizes the importance of stable housing before other issues like chronic unemployment and substance abuse are addressed.  Real estate developer Alan Graham has taken the “housing first” approach a step further with the Community First! Village – a mix of RVs and micro-homes that shelters and employs formerly homeless people 10 miles northeast of downtown Austin, TX.  Community First! Village has been so successful, that last month a 24-acre expansion began, which will include 110 RV sites, 200 more micro-homes, and a 20,000 square foot health facility.

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FHFA Increases Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Conforming Loan Limits for Third Time

  • November 27, 2018

For the third time in three years, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has increased the conforming loan limits securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  After ten years of not increasing the maximum conforming loan limits on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, the FHFA has increased loan limits for three years in a row. 

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When a "Bargain" Really is a Bargain

  • November 27, 2018

Finding a home listing described as a “bargain” could be good news for savvy shoppers.  However, the description could also be misleading, depending on where you are located.  Real estate website Trulia reviewed listings from around the country to determine when a “bargain” really is a bargain.

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Market Forecast: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales

  • November 26, 2018

There was not much movement from mortgage rates last week, markets were closed on Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving and some markets were closed or closed early the following Friday.  This week closes out November with several important housing reports including the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, new home sales, and the pending home sales index.

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Market Recap: Home Builder Confidence Slides, Housing Starts Improve, Existing Home Sales Increase

  • November 23, 2018

Mortgage rates did not move significantly up or down this week.  Markets were closed yesterday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, and some banks are closed or closing early today.  Home builder sentiment fell in November and builders lowered their expectations for the new year.  Housing starts increased but building permits declined.  Existing home sales exceeded expectations.

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5 Fireplace Facts to Know this Fall

  • November 22, 2018

Getting cozy by the fire after Thanksgiving dinner?  According to Zillow, fireplaces are one of the most sought-after home features.  In addition to heating your home and enhancing your décor, a fireplace may actually add value to your home.  Before you fire up this holiday season, here are the answers to the top five fireplace questions:

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Transit Agencies Improve Impact on Homeless Population

  • November 21, 2018

As many of us give thanks this week for our loving families and happy homes, it’s important to remember those who are more vulnerable and experiencing hardships like homelessness.  Partnerships like “Hub of Hope” between Philadelphia’s SEPTA transit system and Project HOME, a social service agency, strive to reach homeless transit passengers and intervene with assistance to help them overcome their crises. 

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The Predictions Are In: Home Sales to Rise in 2019

  • November 20, 2018

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts home sales will increase in 2019, while home price appreciation starts to slow.  Following 2017, the best year for home sales in over a decade, existing home sales are expected to close out 2018 down a slight 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.345 million transactions.

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

  • November 19, 2018

This week will be a short week, with markets closed on Thursday and closing early on Friday, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  However, there is a full week of housing news ahead with the National Association of Home Builders’ housing market sentiment index, housing starts and building permits, and existing home sales all scheduled for release.

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Market Recap: Mortgage Apps Slide, Consumer Price Index and Retail Sales Surge

  • November 16, 2018

Mortgage rates continued to hold steady last week and did not move significantly up or down.  Both new purchase and refinance mortgage application submissions declined.  The consumer price index had the biggest increase in nine months and retail sales exceeded expectations.  Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell gave a speech to the Dallas Fed on Wednesday and shared his optimistic economic outlook heading into 2019.

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HomeFundIt: Not Your Parents’ Wedding Registry

  • November 15, 2018

Congratulations, you’re getting married!  As soon as you’ve staged the perfect engagement photos and built your wedding website you’re probably inundated with the “Where are you registered?” question.  What are you going to register for?  When’s the last time you got up early enough to make waffles?  Do you really need another blender?  Do you think you’re going to use that pizza stone before just ordering online?  Chances are you don’t really need all of the stuff people traditionally use their wedding registry for. 

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Child Identity Theft is On the Rise

  • November 14, 2018

You know you need to protect your social security number, but did you know your children may be at risk too?  Credit-reporting bureau Experian announced more than $1 million children have their identities stolen each year and warned one in four children will be a victim of identity theft before adulthood.  Child identity theft can be especially detrimental to your children’s credit scores, because often it is not noticed or reported until much later, when they go to open their first bank account or apply for student loans. 

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As Boomers Age in Place, What Happens to Housing?

  • November 13, 2018

Less than a decade ago, housing professionals were expecting the “great senior selloff” when Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, started downsizing and selling their larger family homes.  However, a new report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies forecasts a growth in remodeling projects as more Baby Boomers choose to age in place.  According to the study, out of the 80% of Baby Boomers who own homes, two-thirds of them expect to stay in their homes and make modifications to accommodate them as they age.  Rather than a glut of housing for sale, today’s buyers are instead facing a tight market.

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Market Forecast: Mortgage Apps, Consumer Price Index, and Retail Sales

  • November 12, 2018

Some markets are closed today in observance of Veterans Day, which was yesterday.  This week, the only significant housing news to report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage application survey.  Other market moving reports include the consumer price index and retail sales. 

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Market Recap: Federal Reserve Holds on Hiking Rates, Job Openings, Mortgage Apps

  • November 09, 2018

This year’s Midterm Elections boasted record turnouts, breaking the record set in 1966.  No significant mortgage rate movement this week, as the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged.  Job openings slipped slightly but continue to outnumber unemployment reports.  Mortgage application submissions declined.

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Saving for a Down Payment Might Take up to 7 Years or More

  • November 08, 2018

According to a new Zillow report, it will take an average American approximately seven years to save for a 20% down payment on an average-priced home.  This report assumes the worker earns the median income and saves 10% of their total earnings each month.  This seven-year saving period is the longest since early 2008.

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Soccer in the Streets Converts Unused Public Space into a Place to Play

  • November 07, 2018

Public transit, like Atlanta’s MARTA stations, tend to take up a lot of land, leaving vacant expanses.  In the late 70s, Atlanta’s public transit operator installed an amphitheater at the Five Points station with the hope of revitalizing the neighborhood and making the entertainment center accessible through public transit.  However, the amphitheater failed to draw crowds and sat largely unused for decades.  Today the space has been converted into a soccer field, the first of its kind to sit inside of a transit station, and the first of a network of fields sprouting up throughout Atlanta.

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How the Rust Belt is Attracting Millennial Home Buyers

  • November 06, 2018

Midwestern states including Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, sometimes known as the Rust Belt, are experiencing a revival. After the decline of manufacturing bases like Detroit, this region suffered economically.  As coastal home prices increase, and more companies and businesses are choosing to migrate to the Midwest and Great Lakes regions for lower taxes and affordable housing more, causing more Millennials are to put down roots in the Rust Belt.

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Market Forecast: Job Openings, Mortgage Applications, and FOMC Meeting

  • November 05, 2018

Election Day is tomorrow, don’t forget to exercise your right to vote in the 2018 Midterm Elections!  Election results sometimes influence economic markets, so rates may experience some volatility this week.  The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets Wednesday and Thursday and will release a statement Thursday afternoon.  It will be a slow week for housing news, the only directly-related housing report will be the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) weekly mortgage application survey on Wednesday.  Other market-moving reports include the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) on Tuesday.   

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Market Recap: Case-Shiller Home Price Index Slows, ADP Employment Strong, Construction Spending Flat

  • November 02, 2018

The US economy looks like it’s heading toward a strong finish for 2018.  The ADP employment report was stronger than expected and construction spending was unchanged overall, but residential spending improved.  The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index appreciated, but price appreciation has started to slow. 

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Should you get a 15-Year or a 30-Year Mortgage?

  • November 01, 2018

Mortgage loans are available with a variety of terms and interest rates to suit every financial situation.  Mortgage terms can range anywhere from 5, 7, 10, 15, and 30 years and usually have either a fixed interest rate or an adjustable interest rate.  The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage tends to be the most common type of mortgage loan, a stalwart for home buyers since the 1930s and 1940s.  However, in some cases the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage might be the better option. 

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If You Live in a Flood Zone, Read This

  • August 22, 2018

Even if your home is not located on a shore or beach, you may be living in a flood zone.  According to the Environmental Research Letter, over 41 million Americans are currently living in flood zones, and this includes seemingly landlocked locations.  In the wake of last year’s particularly devastating hurricane season, Flood Insurance is at the forefront of many homeowners’ minds.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid over $8 billion to homeowners with flood insurance policies in 2017. 

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More First-Time Home Buyers Using Retirement Money for Down Payment

  • August 21, 2018

As more Millennials start to enter the housing market as first-time home buyers, an alarming trend has emerged.  According to a recent Bank of the West survey of 600 homeowners ages 21-34 from, one in three took out loans against their retirement account to pay for their down payment.  Saving for a down payment is one of the most commonly reported obstacles to homeownership.  In fact, almost 70% of renters consider it the greatest barrier to homeownership.  However, borrowing against or withdrawing savings from a retirement account could set the home buyer up for long-term financial consequences.

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Should you buy first or sell first?

  • August 16, 2018

Most home sellers are concurrently looking for a new place to live.  Before you put your home on the market, the big question to answer is “should you buy first or sell first?”  Each route has its own advantages, depending on your situation.  If you have plans to sell your home soon, consult a mortgage loan officer to see if you should buy your new home first or sell your current home first.

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Millennial Home Buyers’ Biggest Regret

  • August 15, 2018

Compared to previous generations, millennials have been slower to become homeowners.  Factors like high student debt, sluggish wage growth, and other residuals from the Great Recession have impacted their ability to buy homes.  Of the millennials who are homeowners (approximately 4 in 10), 68% have expressed buyer’s remorse, with the top concern being spending too much money on the down payment.

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What determines your mortgage interest rate?

  • August 09, 2018

If you’re shopping for a home, you’re probably paying attention to what interest rates are doing.  There are numerous resources available to check average mortgage rates in your area.  Researching rates can give you an idea of what to expect, but the mortgage rate for your specific mortgage loan depends on several key factors. 

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Is it time to see a Financial Advisor?

  • July 26, 2018

When it comes to money matters, expertise counts.  You wouldn’t buy a home without working with a mortgage loan officer and you probably see a tax professional at least once a year to do your taxes.  But when does the average consumer need to consult a financial advisor?  When it comes to protecting your assets and planning for you and your family’s future, a financial advisor can help you chart your path.  Some major milestones where you should consider consulting a financial advisor include marriage or divorce, family expansion, wealth changes, and retirement. 

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Don’t Believe This Big Credit Card Myth

  • July 25, 2018

Lenders use the credit score to evaluate a potential borrower’s ability to repay the loan.  Your credit score is integral to your ability to qualify for a mortgage.  It can take years to build up your credit score and just a few mistakes to damage it.  One pervasive credit card myth many consumers believe could actually be hurting your credit score.  According to a report by CreditCards.com, over 43 million Americans, 22% of all consumers, have carried a balance on their credit card under the impression it will improve their credit score.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

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How to Buy a Home When You’re Self-Employed

  • July 12, 2018

Buying a home when you are self-employed or own your own business will require more documentation than if you are a salaried employee with a yearly W2.  In today’s increasingly mobile job market, more and more US workers are choosing self-employment over traditional payroll jobs.  Freelancing is growing in popularity as workplaces become more remote.  Buying a home when you’re self-employed or own your own business is possible, when you do your homework.  Freelancers and small business owners can follow these tips for a smooth home buying process.

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Should you work with a Real Estate Agent?

  • July 05, 2018

In the digital age, many home buyers feel they can skip partnering with a professional Realtor or real estate agent because of their access to listing websites and other online tools.  While listing sites like Zillow and Trulia can help a home buyer find out what’s for sale in their area and start shopping, there are still many advantages to continuing your search with an established Realtor or real estate agent. 

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How to Spot What’s Hiding in a Staged Home

  • July 04, 2018

Staging a home is a way for home sellers to show potential buyers what the home will look like when they live there.  A staged home can give the buyer an idea of where to put their furniture and how to decorate.  While home staging can accentuate a home’s nice features, it can also cover up some unwanted damage.  

 

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Money-Saving Tips Everyone Can Try

  • June 27, 2018

Saving for a down payment is one of the biggest challenges first-time home buyers around the country face.  Whether you are getting ready to buy a home, or saving for something else, everyone could use some fresh ideas to save more effectively.  Lifestyle blog Refinery 29 partnered with Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, Mint, and TurboTax, to compile this list of money-saving tips everyone can try.

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Mortgage Application Denied? What to do Next.

  • June 20, 2018

A mortgage application can be denied for a number of reasons.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than going through the home shopping process only to have financing fall through.  LendingTree reports approximately 8% of mortgage loan applications are denied nationwide.  While it’s a setback, mortgage application denial does not have to mean the end of your home search.  Taking these proactive steps after having a mortgage application denied can help you with your future home search.

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Why is renting perceived as the more affordable option?

  • May 10, 2018

A home is the first appreciating asset most Americans will own and the first step many will take toward building wealth.  With rents skyrocketing around the country, the average monthly mortgage payment is typically less than the average monthly rental payment in most regions.  According to a new Freddie Mac report, 67% of renters continue renting because they believe it is more affordable than buying a home. 

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NEVER Put These Expenses on Credit Cards

  • May 09, 2018

Credit cards are no longer the “emergency use only” tools they once were.  Outstanding consumer credit card debt surpassed $1 trillion in 2017, the highest it has ever been.   Unfortunately, not all consumers are borrowing responsibly.  According to NerdWallet, 86% of Americans who had or currently have credit card debt regret it.  Using a credit card responsibly is one way to positively influence your credit score.  However, not every expense should be put on credit cards.  Here are some of the big-ticket expenses Experian warns, should never be put on credit cards.

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HUD and VA Commit $43 Million Toward Housing Homeless Veterans

  • April 25, 2018

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a budget of $43 million toward funding permanent housing solutions for homeless veterans.  The funding will be distributed amongst 325 local public housing agencies with the hopes of housing over 5,200 homeless veterans. 

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Types of Refinance: Which One is Right for You?

  • April 19, 2018

Homeowners choose to refinance their mortgage for a number of reasons.  Homeowners may refinance if they have the opportunity to secure a better interest rate or need to change the repayment terms of the loan.  Cash out refinances allow homeowners to pull cash out of their loan, by raising the total loan value.  Cash in refinances enable homeowners to pay down the loan principal and lower their monthly payments.  Renovation refinances can be used to finance a home’s needed repairs or remodels through the monthly mortgage payment. 

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Tax Day Warning: What happens if you don’t pay your taxes?

  • April 17, 2018

Today, April 17th, 2018, is the deadline for filing 2017 taxes.  When the default filing day, April 15th, falls on the weekend, the official filing deadline gets moved to the following non-holiday (April 16th is Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia).  Not filing taxes, or not paying taxes in the case of taxes owed, carry different penalties depending on the circumstances.  In some cases, tax payers have the option to file for an extension to avoid these fees. 

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Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement

  • April 12, 2018

As a large share of the population approaches retirement, one of the recurring debates is whether or not to downsize.  Americans are living longer than previous generations, and with that comes more expenses for medical, travel, and cost of living.  These expenses combined with the upkeep and maintenance of a large home could easily exceed retirement savings.  To ensure a more financially comfortable retirement, many Americans are choosing to downsize from larger homes to smaller homes.  TD Ameritrade reports 42% of Americans plan on downsizing when they retire. 

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How Student Loan Debt Prevents Homeownership

  • April 10, 2018

One of the most pervasive issues hurting first-time home buyers today is student debt.  The substantial cost of higher-education pushes many young Americans to take out high-balance loans and graduate with debt in the range of tens of thousands of dollars, or higher, depending on the degree.  Over 45 million Americans carry student debt, the average borrower owes more than $30,000 and one-fifth of borrowers owe more than $100,000.  Student loan debt is hurting homeownership in a number of ways, because it lessens the borrower’s ability to save for a down payment and closing costs, it increases the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, and in some cases negatively impacts the borrower’s credit score.

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Advantages of Energy Efficient Upgrades

  • April 04, 2018

Adding energy efficient appliances, fixtures, and other systems to your home can not only cut utility costs, but also increase the value of the home.  With a continuously emerging energy efficient marketplace, plus the advent of smart home technology, some homeowners may be wondering where to start and which energy efficient upgrades will yield the best results. 

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Pre-Purchase Planning for the Perfect Home

  • March 29, 2018

This spring home buying and selling season is expected to be one of the most competitive in over a decade.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that 61% of home buyers looking to buy in the next 12 months, have been searching for three months or longer, and their sample includes buyers looking for newly constructed and previously-owned homes.

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Buyer Beware: Spot These Small Problems Before They Cost You Big Time

  • March 15, 2018

Shopping for a home is an exciting experience.  When a home buyer finds a home they love, it can be easy to get attached or even emotional about the home.  However, what seems like a dream house can turn into a money pit without a thorough inspection.  The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates a typical home inspection can cost anywhere between $300 to $500, depending on the region and condition of the home.  Before spending money on one or more home inspections, watch out for these simple clues that can be signs of costly damage beneath the surface. 

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How Remodeling Impacts Home Values

  • February 01, 2018

With the current pace of home price appreciation and limited housing inventory, some homeowners are choosing to remodel and renovate their current homes instead of moving.  Many homeowners choose to remodel under the pretense that that their improvements will increase the resale value of their home.  While this is true to an extent, certain types of renovations have greater impact on home values than others. 

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Understanding the Appraisal Process

  • January 25, 2018

Purchasing or refinancing a home will typically require a home appraisal to determine its current value.  The appraisal should be conducted by a qualified appraiser who is licensed or certified in the state and familiar with homes in the area.  Fannie Mae requires an appraisal from an appraiser who has worked with similar properties in the area.  The appraiser operates independently from the buyer and seller to make an unbiased decision. 

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Simple Adjustments to Save Big on Your Electric Bill

  • September 27, 2017

Electric bills tend to rise during the summer months because of hot weather and air conditioners working overtime.  Energy efficient appliances and other home renovations can reduce electricity consumption, but may be costly to install.  Before splurging on energy efficient upgrades, make a few changes to daily behaviors.  

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More Trees Improve Local Weather and Save Energy

  • August 23, 2017

Adding greenery to cities and neighborhoods is more than just an aesthetic choice.  According to researchers at the University of British Columbia, adding trees to neighborhoods actually improves the weather by reducing the impact of wind.  Researchers designed a computer model and tested the impact of trees on a Vancouver neighborhood.  Based on the data, trees could save the neighborhood modeled up to 15% on energy bills in the summer and 10% on energy bills in the winter.

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Texas Town 100% Powered by Renewable Energy

  • July 19, 2017

A little change goes a long way in Georgetown, Texas, located about thirty miles north of the state capital, Austin.  Georgetown is one of the first cities in the United States to be completely powered by renewable energy.  To date, Texas produces more wind energy than the next three leading states combined. 

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5 Affordable Locations for Vacation Homes

  • July 05, 2017

Vacation homes and investment properties can be used as a “home away from home” and also potentially become a source of rental income when occupied.  The cost of the vacation home largely depends on the location. 

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The Case for the 10% Down Payment

  • June 08, 2017

One of the most common misconceptions home buyers face is the iron clad 20% down payment.  There are many flexible mortgage financing programs available that do not require a 20% down payment.  Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan offered his thoughts on the 20% down payment in an interview with CNBC.

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Home Builders Swap Luxury for Starter Homes

  • May 16, 2017

With millennials entering the housing market slowly, luxury homes are not on their radar.  The Wall Street Journal reported home builders are switching gears and building smaller.  The newest generation is shopping small, so home builders have put their focus on starter homes rather than luxury homes.

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Renovation Resurgence

  • May 09, 2017

Millennials are delaying buying a home for numerous reasons including student loan debt, home price appreciation, and housing availability.  Until new home construction offsets heightened demand, many prospective homeowners are facing inventory constraints.  According to the 2016 Houzz and Home Survey, millennials and first-time homebuyers are spending more on renovations after home purchase. 

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Spring Cleaning Your Finances

  • April 25, 2017

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

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Beware! Common Real Estate Scams

  • April 19, 2017

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

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Survey: Down Payment Biggest Obstacle to Homeownership

  • April 18, 2017

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

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Pros and Cons of Paying Points

  • March 30, 2017

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

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Benefits of More Walkable Neighborhoods

  • January 18, 2017

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

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Angelica Espinoza
Loan Officer
NMLS # 1590863
Branch NMLS # 1843946
CA

Angelica Espinoza

PHONE: (559) 536-6033
Angelica.Espinoza@whfunding.com

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CMG FINANCIAL * 3160 CROW CANYON RD, SUITE 400, SAN RAMON, CA 94583 * NMLS# 1763388