U.S. home prices increased 6.3 percent compared with December 2016, according to the much-watched S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home prices index.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The major stock market indexes were able to register a modest move higher this past week due to a late rally on Friday that erased losses recorded on Tuesday and Wednesday when the indexes displayed increased intra-day volatility.  Mid-week, investors were worried over recent market volatility, rising interest rates, and the S&P 500 Index breaking below its 50-day moving average of 2,726.

 

The economic calendar was relatively quiet with the notable exception of Wednesday’s release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January FOMC meeting.  The minutes showed a majority of FOMC members expect inflation to increase in 2018 with most members believing in stronger economic growth that will raise the “likelihood that further gradual policy firming would be appropriate.”  The stock and bond markets reacted negatively to the release with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note moving up to a four-year high on Wednesday to 2.94% before pulling back to 2.866% by Friday’s close to finish flat for the week.

 

However, stocks seemed to get a boost late Friday after the Fed released its semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress, indicating the Fed expects inflation to remain below their 2% target in 2018.  New Fed Chair Jerome Powell will be testifying about monetary policy before Congress this week.

 

Elsewhere, the National Association of Realtors reported Existing Home Sales fell 3.2% month-over-month during January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million compared to December’s rate.  On a year-over-year basis, the decline in sales was an even worse 4.8%, the largest annual decline since August of 2014.  Although the inventory of homes for sale at the end of January increased 4.1% to 1.52 million units, it is 9.5% lower than the same period a year ago and remains a headwind for future Existing Home Sales.  Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales rate compared to 3.6 months a year ago.

 

Low inventory is also leading to higher home prices.  The median price for all categories of homes in January was $240,500, 5.8% higher than the same time a year ago and the 71st straight month of year-over-year gains in home prices.  The median price for existing single-family homes increased 5.7% from a year ago to $241,700.

 

­­­

The number of mortgage applications showed a decrease according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) fell by 6.6% during the week ended February 16, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased by 6.0% from the week prior while the Refinance Index decreased 7.0%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity increased to 44.4% of total applications from 46.5% in the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 6.4% of total applications from 6.3%.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.64% from 4.57% to its highest level since January 2014, with points increasing to 0.61 from 0.59.

 

For the week, the FNMA 4.0% coupon bond was unchanged to close at $102.469 while the 10-year Treasury yield decreased 0.71 basis points to end at 2.866%.  The major stock indexes moved modestly higher on the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved 90.61 points higher to close at 25,309.99.  The NASDAQ Composite Index added 97.93 points to close at 7,337.39 and the S&P 500 Index gained 15.08 points to close at 2,747.30.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 2.39%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has gained 6.29%, and the S&P 500 Index has advanced 2.76%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate was unchanged at 4.53%; the 15-year mortgage rate increased to 3.90% from 3.89%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.54% from 3.49% and the FHA 30-year rate was unchanged at 4.33%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.55% from 4.53%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of February 26, 2018

 

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 4.0% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 4.0% coupon bond ($102.469, unchanged) traded within a 65.6 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of $102.547 on Friday and a weekly intraday low of $101.891 on Wednesday before closing the week at $102.469 on Friday.

 

The bond traded in a “V” pattern during the holiday-shortened (Presidents’ Day) week.  After selling off hard on Wednesday following the release of the January FOMC meeting minutes, the bond rebounded off of support at the $102 level to erase Wednesday’s loss.  The bond ended the week unchanged and just below overhead resistance found at $102.49.

 

The economic calendar heats up this week with Wednesday, March 1 being a significant news day.  Personal Income, Personal Spending, and key inflation data from PCE and Core PCE Prices will be reported and could trigger a sizeable market reaction.  In all likelihood, bond prices will be driven more by economic news this week than by technical factors.  There was a weak buy signal on Friday and even though bonds are “oversold” they are bumping up against resistance, so it will take tame inflation numbers on Wednesday for bonds to have a chance to move higher.  If PCE and Core PCE Prices jump higher, bonds will sell off and move back toward support resulting in slightly higher mortgage rates.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

It looks like a no-brainer. Spiff up your house, do a little self-staging (well, box up your figurine collections), throw a sign up in your front yard and save yourself thousands of dollars when selling your home. What the typical FSBO (for sale by owner) seller may not take into account, however, is that it means making dozens (if not hundreds) of decisions — some of which can have legal, costly consequences.

 

First, it should be known that although you don’t see real estate agents standing sentry at each of their listings, selling a home can become a full-time job when doing it on your own. There are a few pros and cons to consider before going down the FSBO path — one that looks nothing like the yellow brick road.

 

The most common reason people sell on their own is, of course, to avoid commissions, which are paid at close of escrow (settlement) time. Commissions average between 3-6 percent of the home’s purchase price and are typically paid by the seller from the proceeds of the sale. In an agent-employed sale, the buyer and seller have their own agents, with the commission split in some fashion between the two.

 

A pro to selling a home on your own may also mean you don’t have to listen to an agent tell you how to prepare your home to sell, which sometimes takes an investment in staging, updating, etc. if your home is 10 years old or older. In more competitive markets, that investment may be much higher in order to compete with other listings that are similarly prepared. Savvy agents tell their sellers to consider this investment in order to sell quickly and at the highest price possible, but you are responsible for both the price at which you offer your home as well as the final price you settle on.

 

If you do your homework, it means doing a feasibility study (looking at comparable closed sales within the last 3-6 months, current listings and what those listings featured that your home doesn’t, and considering how your house stacks up in terms of size, updates, and location.) The key here is the ability to put emotion aside, look at your home as an asset — a product, so to speak — and not the place where cherished memories and painstaking remodels took place.

 

Negotiating a contract with buyers or their agent is an area most consumers have little to no experience with and must think long and hard about. Holding firm at a price that is unrealistically high may mean having a home on the market for much longer than typical listing periods (usually 3-6 month terms). Numerous price changes (many owners lower the price in desperation to get their homes sold) can tip agents off to a lack of knowledge on the owners’ part, making them vulnerable to buyers’ offers being all over the map.

 

Professional real estate agents make it their business to know neighborhoods, consider location, and see what is going on not only while a home is being listed, but also where that neighborhood may be going in terms of future growth and attractiveness to the buying public (new schools, new commercial corridors bringing jobs to the area, etc.) and will market the home giving buyers all the information they have gathered in order to get the best price and terms possible.

 

Another aspect many FSBO sellers don’t consider is that they are the sole point of contact for potential buyers and it’s their job to determine which buyers are serious and which are wasting their valuable time. Are buyers making appointments to see their home with a mortgage preapproval letter in their hands? And if they say they’re paying cash, how does a FSBO seller verify their funds?

 

Good real estate agents are more than a friendly face on a sign swinging on post in a front yard. They know what appeals to buyers in a specific marketplace, have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), used by agents nationwide to share listings information and get referrals from their happiest former clients as well. They are also versed on many of the legal ramifications of selling a home that can open up owners to a plethora of litigious possibilities — disclosures about the condition of the home, soils reports, flood maps, etc. — all of which are revealed in exhaustive descriptions to buyers before sign on the dotted line.

 

We’re betting the average FSBO seller doesn’t read legalese for fun. So if you’re not considering working with an agent, it’s wise to hire a real estate attorney, even if you have some legal expertise yourself. Every state has its own requirements for real estate transactions and some are far more demanding than others. Be sure to make yourself the consummate expert and make it your own business to understand what can happen if you aren’t.

 

Source: TBWS

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

It’s a no-brainer. You can fold laundry to it, play your own music in the background or walk away from it. Then you can come back 55 minutes later and see the “big reveal” of a home that was renovated on a reality real estate TV network. It’s gorgeous, of course, and people are giddy over the results. Who wouldn’t be?

The formula for each show like this is the pretty much the same every time. Find fixer-upper. Buy fixer-upper. Choose a budget with or without the buyers (if you are an investor, you do this for yourself). Show all the unexpected stuff that happens along the way as the home gets made over. Who knew there would be lead paint applied to and asbestos behind the walls of a 100-year old house? Then show the gratifying final product — one that looks NOTHING like the original on the inside (fully staged, of course) and sometimes on the outside.

But how about those budgets and timelines they present, usually listed right there on the screen? After all, what you’d pay for materials and labor in Waco, TX, does NOT equate what you’d pay in LA, New York, or Miami, so are these shows just leading us down the rosy path to dream home budget disaster? Does pricing include labor? How much of the stuff you see is furnished by sponsors, home staging professionals, or contractors hoping to get noticed and willing to give away their services? Do these 7-8 week timelines they talk about happen only when the show employs multiple crews working around the clock — something we plebes could never arrange nor afford? Since the credits at the end of the shows do not include these disclosures, we’ll never know.

Doing a bit of research, here is what we found:

Renovation costs on reality TV shows are usually unrealistically low. Contractor quotes for gutting houses on these entertaining shows coming in at around the $50,000 to $60,000 for some savings-strapped homeowner or clever house flipper would probably soak the rest of us to the tune of $100 to $200K. In neighborhoods close to major cities, renovation costs for an entire house flip would rarely be less than six figures unless the house was a tiny bungalow or a condo.

The average cost of a kitchen remodel alone (new cabinets, appliances, countertops, etc) — WITHOUT relocating appliances, plumbing, or changing the room’s footprint —is about $30,000 according to Home Advisor. So when you watch these shows and see walls coming down to make way for new kitchen islands, sinks being moved necessitating jack-hammering concrete foundations and fancy vent hoods with marble backsplashes being installed, you can bet the price would be triple for you and me, and there would be no remaining budget for that new fireplace fascia, the gorgeous new master bath or a state-of-the-art laundry room they include in the show.

So if you’re in the market for a great deal on a house to live in, remodel or flip, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain of a reality real estate TV show when it comes to pricing and timelines. Values are not what they seem (nor profits), and expectations are wildly out of line with reality. These shows (while fun to watch to gather ideas for projects you’d like to tackle in your own home) are crafted for entertainment value first and foremost. In the meantime, they do get the laundry folded.

 

Source: TBWS

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The major stock market indexes experienced a rapid decline with each losing about 5% in volatile trading.  Surprisingly, the bond market also lost ground as investors failed to seek the “safe haven” bonds usually provide when the stock market sells off in such dramatic fashion.  This past week’s selloff was again associated with fears about rising interest rates.  Congress didn’t help matters much by passing a two-year budget deal that will increase spending by approximately $390 billion over the next two years while extending the debt ceiling until 2019.

 

The growth in spending will force the government to borrow over $1 trillion in the coming fiscal year and the likelihood of increased Treasury borrowing also fueled fears of higher bond yields and interest rates.  Investors were already expecting a rise in Treasury debt issuance due to the recent changes in the U.S. tax code and the lack of fiscal discipline shown by Congress intensifies concerns about rising yields and interest rates.

 

The Fed Funds Futures market still expects the next rate hike will occur at the March FOMC meeting as Fed officials downplayed this week’s sell off by continuing to underline a course of gradual rate increases.  The probability of a March rate hike currently stands at 71.9%, down slightly from last week’s 76.1%.

In housing, the number of mortgage applications showed an increase according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) increased by 0.7% during the week ended February 2, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index remained unchanged from the week prior while the Refinance Index increased 1.0%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity decreased to 46.4% of total applications from 47.8% in the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 6.1% of total applications from 5.7%.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.50% from 4.41%, with points increasing to 0.57 from 0.56.

 

For the week, the FNMA 3.5% coupon bond lost 29.6 basis points to close at $99.938 while the 10-year Treasury yield increased 1.55 basis points to end at 2.8566%.  The major stock indexes continued to crater during the week.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1330.06 points to close at 24,190.90.  The NASDAQ Composite Index dropped 366.46 points to close at 6,874.49 and the S&P 500 Index lost 142.58 points to close at 2,619.55.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has retreated 2.14%, the NASDAQ Composite Index declined 0.42%, and the S&P 500 Index has dropped 2.02%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate rose to 4.50% from 4.45%; the 15-year mortgage rate increased to 3.86% from 3.79%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.45% from 3.42% and the FHA 30-year rate climbed to 4.30% from 4.25%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.55% from 4.50%.

 

Economic Calendar – for the Week of February 12, 2018

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

 

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 3.5% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 3.5% coupon bond ($99.94, -29.6 bp) traded within a 117.20 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of $100.969 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $99.797 on Thursday before closing the week at $99.938 on Friday.

 

The bond made a nice reversal by opening and trading higher last Monday before running into what proved to be stiff resistance at the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level at 100.929.  The bond subsequently pulled back and traded lower for the rest of the week even though the stock market was undergoing a sharp correction, the magnitude of which has not been seen for a couple of years.  The bond remains oversold while seeking a bottom and if support levels can hold we should see rates remain relatively stable this coming week.

 

On Friday, the S&P 500 index moved down to test its 200-day moving average, which appeared to be a technical “line in the sand” that triggered automated buying programs to kick in resulting in sharp rebound off of session lows.  It will be interesting to see if Friday’s rebound off of the key 200-day moving average will have staying power and signal a turn higher in the stock market.  A number of momentum indicators flashed buy signals from oversold positions as a result of Friday’s trading action so we could see stocks attempt a rally off of Friday’s bounce.

 

The economic calendar picks up some strength this coming week and investors will be closely watching a couple of inflation reports – the consumer price and producer price indexes.  The markets have recently become fearful of the prospects of inflation so these two reports could trigger strong market reactions in both stocks and bonds.

 

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

It’s not about the updated kitchen. Or the state-of-the-art walk-in shower. Not to say that updating the interior of a home isn’t important. It’s just that because we mostly live inside our homes, updating and beautifying the outside seems to be placed on the back burner.

 

There are usually two reasons homeowners think about improving the curb appeal of their home (1) pride of ownership —they just want it to look more attractive, or (2) they are selling and want to get the highest price possible. Either is an excellent reason to value and update your home’s facade.

 

Many homeowners don’t realize that spiffing up their home’s exterior offers some of the best return on investment of anything they can do to their dwellings. Whether it’s just for the heck of it or to attract a buyer, curb appeal is what “gets them at hello” when people drive by a property.

 

The National Association of REALTORS® Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features has some fascinating data illustrating how curb appeal and landscaping affects the value of a home, beating out nearly every indoor project for payback. Included are yard overhauls, such as adding a winding flagstone walkway, planters, flowering shrubs, a good-sized tree and new mulch. According to the study, the median cost for doing all of the above is $4,750. Return value? $5,000. Sweet.

 

Add more “softscape” items like trees, shrubs, perennials, mow strips and boulder accents and your home’s curb appeal is transformed. Now figure in lower utility bills, since placing trees in the right locations can produce savings on heating and cooling costs, and there are bonuses up the yin-yang. A new patio or deck? Even better.

 

So next time you think about where you want your remodeling dollars to go, it might be prudent to step across the street and take a look at your home from a different perspective. Shutters need painting? Does your front door make a statement? Would your house look better with more color around it? A little bit of attention to what meets the eye can make a world of difference.

 

 

 

Source: TBWS

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The major stock market indexes were overdue for a pause, and pause they did, by registering their largest weekly declines since 2016.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.1%, the NASDAQ dropped 3.5% and the S&P 500 lost 3.9%.  Bonds did not fare much better with a sharp drop in prices sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to its highest level in almost four years.

 

Good economic news, including a rise in Pending Home Sales and a strong Employment Situation (Jobs) report for January, led to an increase in investor expectations for rising inflation.  Although the Federal Reserve‘s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) unanimously voted on Wednesday to leave the fed funds target range unchanged at 1.25%-1.50%, they changed their statement on inflation.

 

The FOMC admitted inflation expectations recently increased, and said it expected the rate of price changes “to move up this year” and stabilize around its 2% objective “over the medium term.”  Additionally, the 10-year inflation breakeven rate has risen to its highest level in over three years.  According to the FOMC policy statement, the economy continues to strengthen and inflation is expected to move higher while the FOMC continues to anticipate further gradual increases in short-term rates.

The Fed Funds futures market continues to predict (with an implied probability of 77.5%) the most likely time for the next 25 basis point rate-hike announcement will take place at the next FOMC meeting on March 21, and suggests there will be an additional two hikes before the end of the year.

 

In housing news, Pending Home Sales increased 0.5% during December according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  This was the highest reading since last March.  Pending Home Sales were also 0.5% higher on a year-over-year basis.  The NAR stated the December data suggests the housing market will start 2018 with “a small trace of momentum” but expect the recent tax-law changes to weigh on home sales in 2018.

 

The number of mortgage applications showed a decrease according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) weekly mortgage applications survey.  The MBA reported their overall seasonally adjusted Market Composite Index (application volume) decreased by 2.6% during the week ended January 26, 2018.  The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 3.0% from a week prior while the Refinance Index fell 3.0%.

 

Overall, the refinance portion of mortgage activity decreased to 47.8% of total applications from 49.4% in the prior week.  The adjustable-rate mortgage share of activity increased to 5.7% of total applications from 5.2%.  According to the MBA, the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with a conforming loan balance increased to 4.41% from 4.36%, with points increasing to 0.56 from 0.54.

 

For the week, the FNMA 3.5% coupon bond lost 104.7 basis points to close at $100.234 while the 10-year Treasury yield increased 18.12 basis points to end at 2.8411%.  The major stock indexes plunged during the week to record their largest weekly declines since 2016.

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,095.75 points to close at 25,520.96.  The NASDAQ Composite Index dropped 264.82 points to close at 7,240.95 and the S&P 500 Index lost 110.74 points to close at 2,762.13.  Year to date on a total return basis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 3.24%, the NASDAQ Composite Index has advanced 4.89%, and the S&P 500 Index has added 3.31%.

 

This past week, the national average 30-year mortgage rate rose to 4.45% from 4.28%; the 15-year mortgage rate increased to 3.79% from 3.65%; the 5/1 ARM mortgage rate increased to 3.42% from 3.34% and the FHA 30-year rate climbed to 4.25% from 4.05%.  Jumbo 30-year rates increased to 4.50% from 4.41%.

Economic Calendar – for the Week of February 5, 2018

Economic reports having the greatest potential impact on the financial markets are highlighted in bold.

Mortgage Rate Forecast with Chart – FNMA 30-Year 3.5% Coupon Bond

 

The FNMA 30-year 3.5% coupon bond ($100.234, -104.7 bp) traded within a 114.10 basis point range between a weekly intraday high of $101.141 on Monday and a weekly intraday low of $100.00 on Friday before closing the week at $100.234 on Friday.

 

The bond opened lower on Monday before bouncing slightly upward from a support level.  However, this potentially positive action did not hold as the bond cascaded lower during the week on strong economic news that raised the fear of higher inflation moving forward.  A sell signal from January 26 remains intact with the bond at an extremely “oversold” position.  In fact, it can’t get any more oversold than it is with the %K and %D lines in the slow stochastic oscillator registering zeros, a very rare occurrence.  The economic calendar is very light this coming week and if bonds can bounce back from this extremely oversold position we should see rates attempt to stabilize this week.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

For all those experts who push buying the most run-down place in the best part of town as a surefire winning investment because the only way its value can go is up, it may be time to take a second look, according to by Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries’ book Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate.

The authors took a hard look at the cheapest 10% of homes in a given ZIP code, trying to understand what buyers were getting when they purchased a home priced well below a neighborhood’s median value. If the adage about “rising tides” were true, the bottom 10% of houses would need to perform better than the more expensive homes in their neighborhood. Instead, they found that only rarely does the bottom 10% outperform the top 90% of houses in a ZIP code. On average, these bottom-tier homes do neither better nor worse than the others.

Their findings indicated that there may be less demand for lower-priced homes in nicer neighborhoods simply because in fancier areas, upscale homes get the most attention. Buying a neighborhood’s worst home, then, is a neutral investment strategy.

 

Source: TBWS

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter