Friday, December 30, 2011

Pending Home Sales Index Rises Back Above 100

Pending Home Sales IndexLow home prices and mortgage rates have combined to push home affordability to record levels nationwide. Home buyers are taking advantage.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 7 percent in November to rise to its highest level since April 2010, the last month of last year's home buyer tax credit program. 

The Pending Home Sales Index is published monthly by the National Association of REALTORS®. It measures homes under contract nationwide, but not yet "sold". 

In this way, the Pending Home Sales Index is different from other housing market indicators. It's a "forward-looking" figure; a predictor of future home sales. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, more than 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days. 

By contrast, housing data such as the Existing Home Sales report and the New Home Sales report "look back".

November marks the second straight month of Pending Home Sales Index improvement. The housing market metric made big gains of 10 percent in October 2011, as well.

On a regional basis, each part of the country showed an increase in homes under contract.

  • Northeast Region: +8.1 percent from October 2011
  • Midwest Region : +3.3 percent from October 2011 
  • South Region : +4.3 percent from October 2011
  • West Region : +14.9 percent from October 2011

However, here in Sandy, we must discount the value of even the regional data, somewhat. Like else in real estate, the volume of homes going under contract vary by locality.

Throughout the West Region, for example, the region in which pending home sales increased the most from October, there are nearly a dozen states. Undoubtedly, some of those states performed better than others in terms of "homes under contract", but we don't have an indication of which states those were.

In addition, within each state, every city, town, and neighborhood realized its own unique market in November, and produced its own sales statistics.

For buyers and sellers throughout Utah and the country, therefore, it's more important to watch data on a local level than on a national one. Reports like the Pending Home Sales Index are helpful in showing national trends, but as an individual, what you need are local trends.

For local real estate data, be sure to ask your agent.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nationally, Home Prices Off 18.3 Percent From April 2007 Peak

Home Price Index since April 2007 peakThe government confirms what the private-sector Case-Shiller Index reported yesterday. Nationwide, average home values slipped in October.

The Federal Home Finance Agency's Home Price Index shows home values down 0.2% on a monthly, seasonally-adjusted basis. October marks just the second time since April that home values fell month-over-month.

The Case-Shiller Index 20-City Composite showed values down 0.7 percent from September to October.

As a home buyer in Sandy , it's easy to look at these numbers and think housing markets are down. Ultimately, that may prove true. However, before we take the FHFA's October Home Price Index at face value, we have to consider the report's flaws.

There are three of them -- and they're glaring. As we address them, it becomes clear that the Home Price Index -- like the Case-Shiller Index -- is of little use to everyday buyers and sellers.

First, the FHFA Home Price Index only tracks home values for homes backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages. This means that homes backed by the FHA, for example, are specifically not computed in the monthly Home Price Index.

In 2007, this was not as big of an issue as it is today. in 2007, the FHA insured just 4 percent of the housing market. Today, the FHA is estimated to have more than one-third of the overall housing market.

This means that one-third of all home sales are excluded from the HPI -- a huge exclusion.

Second, the FHFA Home Price Index excludes new home sales and cash purchases, accounting for home resales backed by mortgages only. New home sales is a growing part of the market, and cash sales topped 29 percent in October 2011.

Third, the Home Price Index is on a 60-day delay. The above report is for homes that closed in October. It's nearly January now. Market momentum is different now. Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales have been rising; homebuilder confidence is up; Housing Starts are showing strength. In addition, the Pending Home Sales Index points to a strong year-end.

The Home Price Index doesn't capture this news. It's reporting on expired market conditions instead.

For local, up-to-the-minute housing market data, skip past the national data. You'll get better, more relevant facts from a local real estate agent.

Since peaking in April 2007, the FHFA's Home Price Index is off 18.3 percent.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


New Home Sales Approach Bull Market Territory

New Home Supply 2010-2011New home inventory is approaching bull market territory.

According to the Census Bureau, the number of new homes sold rose 2 percent in November. On a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, home buyers bought 315,000 newly-built homes last month.

November's New Home Sales data marks the 4th straight month of rising sales volume, lifting the housing-market metric to a 7-month high, and adding to the housing market's recent show of strength. 

Last week, we learned that Existing Home Sales also climbed in November.

The big story in the New Home Sales report, though, is the remaining new home supply nationwide.

With just 158,000 homes "on the market" and the pace of home sales hastening, the complete, national inventory of "new homes" would now be sold in just 6.0 months, a 0.2-month improvement from October. This is the quickest home sales pace in nearly 6 years for the new construction market. 

It's even faster than in April 2010 -- the buyer-deadline month of last year's federal home buyer tax credit.

Home builders expect the trend to continue, too. Buyer foot traffic is on the rise and builders have a strong outlook for the next 6 months.

It's an unsettling series of developments for today's Draper home buyers. As home supplies drop and builders gain confidence, the ability of an buyer to negotiate for price reduction and/or upgrades shrinks.

If you're a home buyer in search of new construction, therefore, consider that the best new construction "deals" of the next 12 months may be the ones you find today.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


America's To 10 Safest Cities, Ranked

America's safest citiesLooking for safe cities in which to live? A recent study may help you.

Titled "America's Safest Cities", Forbes Magazine compiled data from more than 70 cities with populations of 250,000 or more, and ranked them by violent crime rate as reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A "violent crime" is one that can be categorized as murder, robbery, and assault, among others. Then, for each metropolis, local traffic-fatality rates were added to the area's violent crime rate, and averaged into the data.

Forbes presents the 10 safest large cities in America as :

  1. Plano, Texas
  2. Henderson, Nevada
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Santa Ana, California
  5. Lincoln, Nebraska
  6. San Jose, California
  7. Mesa. Arizona
  8. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  9. Aurora, Colorado
  10. New York, New York

Forbes is quick to note that "gridlocked" traffic patterns help keep cities safe; which may explain why cities like Honolulu and New York City made the Top 10. When cars are forced to move more slowly, the report states, traffic-related fatalities tend to plummet.

Don't rush to make a home-buying decision based on Forbes data alone, however. Like everything else in real estate, data is local and city-wide statistics are too broad to be helpful to an everyday buyer in Sandy.

For accurate, real-time, local crime data, be sure to ask a real estate profession.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pay Your Mortgage Early, Boost Your 2011 Federal Income Tax Deductions

Increase your 2011 tax deductionsTime is running out to boost to your 2011 federal tax refund. All you have to do is make your January 2012 mortgage payment while it's still December.

It's a simple tax strategy that works because of how mortgage interest is paid, and of how the U.S. tax code is written.

Different from rent which is paid for the month ahead (i.e. "you're paying January's rent"), mortgage payments are made only after mortgage interest has accrued (i.e. "you're paying for money you've already borrowed from the bank").

This is called "paying interest in arrears" and U.S. tax code states that the mortgage interest is tax-deductible in its year paid, subject to limitations.

By making the January 2012 mortgage payment in December 2011, therefore, homeowners who itemize their on their tax returns can apply their January mortgage payment's interest portion to their 2011's tax returns.

The alternative is to pay the mortgage on schedule, and wait for April 15, 2013 to claim the credit.

If you choose to pre-pay your mortgage and typically send your payment via USPS, give your check ample time to be delivered to your lender, and processed. Mail your check no later than Saturday, December 24.

For South Jordan homeowners that pay electronically, the process is simpler. Edit your online bill pay program to have your mortgage payment post no later than Thursday, December 29.

Make note, however. Not all mortgage interest is eligible for tax-deductibility, and not all homeowners throughout the state of Utah who pay mortgage interest should itemize said interest on their tax returns.

Before prepaying on your mortgage, ask your tax professional for advice.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Home Supplies Fall To 7.0 Months Nationwide; Buyer Demand Strong

Existing Home Supply 2010-2011

Home resales moved to a 10-month high in November, the latest in a series of strong showings from the housing sector.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, November's Existing Home Sales rose to a seasonally-adjusted, annualized 4.42 million units nationwide --  a 4 percent climb from October 2011.

An "existing home" is a home that has been previously occupied and cannot be categorized as new construction.

Home buyers and sellers throughout Draper should take note of November's numbers because -- behind the headlines -- there's a series of statistics that foretell higher home prices ahead.

First, the total number of homes for sale nationwide dipped to 2.58 million, an 18% reduction from November 2010 and represents the fewest number of homes for sale since February 2007. 

At the current sales pace, the complete home resale inventory would be sold in 7.0 months.

And, second, the real estate trade group reports that 33% of all homes under contract "failed" for some reason last month.

Contract failures can occur because of mortgage denials in underwriting; home inspection issues; and homes appraising for less than their respective purchase prices.

In other words, despite a reduction in the number of homes for sale, and a rash of failed contracts, Existing Home Sales volume is still on the rise.

Broken-down by buyer-type, here's to whom home sellers were selling in November :

  • First-time buyers : 35% of home resales, up from 34% in October 2011
  • Repeat buyers : 46% of home resales, down from 48% in October 2011
  • Investor buyers : 19% of home resales, up from 18% in October 2011

Given high demand for home resales and shrinking home supplies, we should expect that home prices will rise through December 2011 and into early-2012, at least. Recent Housing Starts data supports this notion. 

Thankfully, mortgage rates remain low. Low mortgage rates help keep homes affordable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Housing Starts Show Strength In Housing

Housing Starts 2007-2011

The new construction housing market continues to show strength across the country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Single-Family Housing Starts rose to 447,000 units on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in November -- a 2 percent increase from October.

A "Housing Start" is defined as breaking ground on new home construction.

November's figures mark the third straight month of Single-Family Housing Starts gains. The new construction metric is now 15 percent above its all-time low, set in February of this year.

None of this should be a surprise to new home buyers in South Jordan.

Housing data has been trending better since September with sales volumes rising and home inventories falling. Basic economics tells us that home prices should soon rise.

The good news is that low mortgage rates should keep homes affordable.

Since mid-November, the average, conventional 30-year fixed rate mortgage has hovered near 4.000% nationwide with an accompanying 0.7 discount points plus closing costs. 1 discount point equals one percent of your loan size. This is down from near 4.500% six months ago, and the drop has made a big impact on home affordability. 

  • June 2011 : $200,000 mortgage costs $1,013.37 per month
  • December 2011 : $200,000 mortgage costs $954.83 per month

This represents $700 in savings per year. It's no wonder home builders report the highest buyer foot traffic in 3 years

Meanwhile, the market shows little signs of slowing down. Building Permits are on the rise, too.

Permits for single-family homes rose to their highest levels of year in November and 89 percent of those homes will start construction within 60 days. This means that Single-Family Housing Starts should stay strong through the early part of 2012, and into the spring.

If you're planning to buy new construction in Utah , therefore, talk to your real estate agent soon and consider moving up your time frame. With mortgage rates low and next year's buying season approaching, you may find that the best "deals" will come within the next few weeks only.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CALL DANIEL PARIS 801-604-4949

Home Builders Experiencing Heavy Foot Traffic And Higher Sales Volume

Housing Market Index 2010-2011In another good sign for the housing market, today's home builders believe that the housing market has turned a corner.

For the third straight month, the Housing Market Index -- a home builder confidence survey from the National Association of Homebuilders -- reported strong monthly gains.

December's Housing Market Index climbed 2 points to 21 in December after a downward revision to last month's results. The index is now up seven points since September 2011, and sits at a 19-month high.

When home builder confidence reads 50 or better, it reflects favorable conditions in the single-family new home market. Readings below 50 reflect unfavorable conditions.

The Housing Market Index has not crossed 50 since April 2006.

The HMI itself is actually a composite reading; the result of three related home builder surveys. The National Association of Homebuilders asks its members about their current single-family home sales volume; their projected single-family home sales volume for the next 6 months; and their current buyer "foot traffic".

The results are compiled into the single Housing Market Index tally.

In December, builder survey responses showed strength across all 3 questions :

  • Current Single-Family Sales : 22 (+2 from November)
  • Projected Single-Family Sales : 26 (+1 from November)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic : 18 (+3 from November)

These results support the recent New Home Sales and Housing Starts data, both of which show an increase in single-family sales, and a decrease in new home housing supply.

When demand rises and supplies fall, home prices climb.

It's also noteworthy that the Housing Market Index put buyer foot traffic at newly-built homes at its highest level since May 2008. With even more buyers expected to enter the market, new home prices are expected to rise across Draper in 2012 -- especially in the face of shrinking home supplies. 

For now, though, with home prices stable and mortgage rates low, buyers can grab "a deal". 60 days forward, though, may be too late.

The Spring Buying Season unofficially starts February 6, 2012. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


How To Keep Your Dishwasher Mold- and Mildew-Free

How to clean a dishwasher Your dishwasher is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. It's warm, it's dark, and there is a bevy of decaying, organic material in the form of both food particles and soap.

Therefore, you'll want to periodically scrub and disinfect your dishwasher so that it remains it clean and healthy, and so that your dishes stay that way, too.

Here's how to clean your dishwasher :

  1. Remove all racks from the dishwasher. Wash with dish-washing detergent and set aside to dry. 
  2. Mix 1 part vinegar with 4 parts very hot water into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the mixture on the dishwasher seal and anywhere else you see discoloration, mold or mildew.
  4. Scrub the affected areas with a non-abrasive scrub brush.
  5. Replace racks in the dishwasher.
  6. Fill a small, dishwasher-safe bowl with white vinegar and place on the top rack.
  7. Without soap, run the dishwasher at the highest temperature setting available.

Then, after performing these steps, you find that your dishwasher still has an "odor", or if mold or mildew remnants remain, immediately pour 1 cup of baking soda on the floor of your dishwasher, and run the cycle a second time at the highest temperature setting available.

If your mold/mildew problem persists, you should check the dishwasher's drain line. If it's kinked, water may be unable to drain and will pool at the bottom of your dishwasher -- a mold-breeding situation.

You should also check the food trap at the base of the dishwasher for too-large-to-drain pieces of food.

A good dishwasher will last years with proper care and maintenance. Keep yours mold- and mildew-free. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mortgage Payments Fall 12% Since February 2011

Mortgage payments in 2011

As mortgage rates drop, so do housing payments. It's a good time to consider refinancing your home, or making an offer on a new one. Mortgage payment affordability has never been so high in history.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate is now 3.94 percent -- an all-time low -- with an accompanying 0.8 discount points. This means that in order to get access to the 3.94 percent rate, Draper  homeowners and home buyers should expect to pay a loan fee equal to 0.8% of the borrowed amount, plus "normal" closing costs.

Last week, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate was 3.99 percent with an accompanying 0.7 discount points.

Mortgage rates in Utah have been in decline for most of the year. Since peaking in early-February, the average home owner's principal + interest payment on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage had now dropped by 12.2 percent.

Here is how mortgage payments compare, then and now, not accounting for your individual tax-and-insurance escrow :

  • February 10, 2011 : Payment of $539.88 per $100,000 borrowed
  • December 15, 2011 : Payment of $473.96 per $100,000 borrowed

For existing homeowners, the dramatic drop in payments is reason to reach out to your loan officer. A refinance could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan -- especially if you chose to refinance your mortgage into a 15-year program.

The 15-year mortgage, says Freddie Mac, is also at an all-time low, registering 3.21 percent with 0.8 discount points, on average.

For home buyers, today's low rates present an interesting opportunity.

Mortgage rates are the key factor in determining your monthly housing payment so, with average mortgage rates below 4 percent, it's no wonder home affordability is cresting. However, the housing market is showing signs of recovery. Home supplies are dwindling, buyer demand is rising, and the economy appears to be mending.

Home prices are expected to rise in 2012 and, as they do, they'll take housing payments with them. The best time to buy a home may be now; before the recovery completes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bank Repossessions Drop To A 44-Month Low

Foreclosure concentration November 2011Foreclosure activity continues to concentrate over just a few states.

According to foreclosure-tracker RealtyTrac, November's foreclosure filings fell 3 percent as compared to October, and 14 percent from November 2010.

"Foreclosure filing" is a catch-all term for the various "action steps" throughout the foreclosure process. The grouping comprises default notices, scheduled home auctions, and bank repossessions.

As in most months, though, foreclosure activity remains concentrated by state. More than half of last month's bank repossessions can be traced to just 6 states.

  1. California : 14.8% of all bank repossessions
  2. Florida : 12.7% of all bank repossessions
  3. Texas : 7.0% of all bank repossessions
  4. Georgia : 6.9% of all bank repossessions
  5. Arizona : 6.7% of all bank repossessions
  6. Michigan : 6.3% of all bank repossessions

Meanwhile, with just 5 repossessions, South Dakota topped the list of states with the fewest bank repossessions in November. The Mount Rushmore State accounted for just 0.009% of REO nationwide in a month in which bank repossessions dropped to a 44-month low point across the United States.

The drop in REO is coming at a tough time for today's Draper home buyers. Distressed properties are in high demand -- mostly because they sell at steep discounts.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, distressed homes accounted for 28 percent of all home sales in October. As fewer bank-owned homes become available, though, there will be fewer "deals" to be had.

Especially as the broader housing market continues to signal its recovery.

If you plan to buy a bank-owned foreclosed property, do your research first. As supplies drop, the price for foreclosed homes throughout Utah relative to non-distressed homes may rise, rendering REO properties less of a relative "value".

Before you write a contract, therefore, talk with a licensed real estate agent. There's plenty of foreclosure data available online but, when it's time to buy, you should have an experienced agent on your side.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (December 13, 2011 Edition)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishTuesday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The vote was nearly unanimous for the second straight month. Just one FOMC member dissented in the vote, favoring additional policy stimulus beyond what the Federal Reserve currently provides.

In its press release, the Federal Reserve sais that the the U.S. economy is improving, noting that since its November 2011 meeting, the economy has been "expanding moderately". The Fed also added that domestic growth is occurring despite some "apparent slowing in global growth" -- a nod to ongoing uncertainty within the Eurozone.

The Federal Reserve expects a moderate pace of growth over the next few quarters, and believes that the jobs market will continue to improve, but slowly.

Other potential soft spots within the economy include :  

  1. A slowdown in business investment
  2. A "depressed" housing market
  3. Strains in global financial markets

The Federal Reserve added no new policies at its December meeting, and made no changes to existing ones. It re-iterated its plan to leave the Fed Funds Rate within its current range of 0.000-0.250 percent "at least until mid-2013" and re-affirmed "Operation Twist" -- the stimulus program through which the Fed sells Treasury securities with a maturity of 3 years or less, and uses the proceeds to buy mortgage bonds with maturity between 6 and 30 years.

Mortgage bonds are mostly unchanged since the Fed's announcement, giving mortgage rates in South Jordan little reason to rise or fall.

Mortgage rates remain near all-time lows and, for homeowners willing to pay points + closing costs, 30-year fixed rate mortgages can be locked at less than 4 percent. If you're thinking of buying or refinancing a home, it's a good time to lock a mortgage rate.

The FOMC's next meeting will be its first scheduled meeting of the new year. The meeting is slated for January 24-25, 2012.

America's Best Places To Raise A Family, Listed By State

Great Places To Raise A FamilyBusinessWeek recently released its 2011 America's Best Place to Raise a Family rankings. College-town Blacksburg, Virginia took top honors, breaking a 2-year win streak for the Chicago, Illinois region.

In 2009, suburban Mount Prospect, Illinois placed first. Last year, it was Tinley Park, Illinois.

The BusinessWeek report employs data from real estate information firm Onboard Informatics to make its rankings, compiling data across categories such as education, crime, and jobs plus access to parks and affordable homes. All selections are limited by population; all selections are home to 50,000 residents or fewer. Median incomes are within 20 percent -- plus or minus -- of the state's median income levels.

BusinessWeek names one winner in each state. The winners in the 10 most populous states and their nearest "big city" are listed below

  1. California : East San Gabriel (Los Angeles)
  2. Texas : Wells Branch (Austin)
  3. New York : Hampton Manor (Albany)
  4. Florida : Niceville (Fort Walton Beach)
  5. Illinois : Morton Grove (Chicago)
  6. Pennsylvania : Cecil-Bishop (Pittsburgh)
  7. Ohio : St. Henry (Dayton)
  8. Michigan : Spring Arbor (Jackson)
  9. Georgia : Hoschton (Atlanta)
  10. North Carolina : Tryon (Spartanburg, SC)

The winners in all 50 states can be found on the BusinessWeek website.

Rankings like the BusinessWeek America's Best Place to Raise a Family can be useful for home buyers in Sandy , but like everything in real estate, statistics do not apply to every home equally. Even within the "best towns", there are areas in which school systems are better, crime figures are lower, and amenities are more plentiful.

Therefore, before you make the decision to buy a home, talk with a real estate agent who has local market knowledge. It's the most effective means to get data that matters to you.

Monday, December 12, 2011


How To Clean A Cutting Board

Cutting board germ-freeGerm studies show that a kitchen cutting board carries up to 200 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

This is because homeowners clean their bathrooms with fervor, while only "rinsing" down parts of their kitchens.

In failing to disinfect cutting boards (among other kitchen mainstays), homeowners in Draper and everywhere else leave untouched a prime bacteria breeding ground, and may be getting sick as a result.

According to the CDC, 48 million Americans get sick from food-borne bacteria each year. 

If it's been a while since you've cleaned your kitchen cutting board, here are some tips on how to do it properly.

Homeowners with plastic cutting boards will have an easier go that homeowners with wooden cutting boards. If your cutting board is plastic, just place it in the dishwasher with dishwasher detergent. If your dishwasher has a "sanitize" feature, be sure to select it.

If your cutting board is made of wood, or another material that may crack and/or splinter in a dishwasher, follow these steps instead :

  1. Prepare a solution of natural dish soap and hot water.
  2. Without submerging the cutting board, scrub it with the solution.
  3. Towel dry the board and allow it to air-dry until completely dry.
  4. Apply a thin layer of undistilled white vinegar to the board surface either by spray can or paper towel.
  5. Allow the vinegar to sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean.

For preventative care, you should also consider using separate cutting boards for meats and for fruits and vegetables. This can prevent cross-contamination. In addition, purchase a food-grade mineral oil and apply it to your wooden cutting boards regularly.

The kitchen is among the "germiest" places in your home. With extra attention, though, you can help keep it as bacteria-free as possible 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reduce Long-Term Loan Costs With A 15-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

Comparing 30-year fixed rate mortgage to 15-year fixed rate mortgages

For as low as 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates are in Utah today, 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates are even lower.

According to Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage rate survey, the average 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate is now 3.27% nationwide with an accompanying 0.8 discount points. 1 discount point is a closing cost equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

The current 15-year fixed rate reading is just one tick above the all-time, 15-year fixed rate mortgage low of 3.26% set in October 2011.

If you've ever thought of "going 15", it's a terrific time to talk to your lender.

The primary benefit of using a 15-year fixed rate mortgage as opposed to a 30-year fixed rate one is that a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dramatically cuts the long-term interest costs of your loan. The downside is that monthly payments are relatively large.

At today's mortgage rates, per $100,000 borrowed :

  • 15-year fixed rate mortgage : $704 principal + interest monthly
  • 30-year fixed rate mortgage : $477 principal + interest monthly

So, for homeowners opting for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage, the monthly principal + interest payments will be 48% higher as compared to a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of the same loan size. Long-term, however, because the 15-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate is lower and because it pays off in half the time of a 30-year loan, a homeowner will save $45,000 in interest costs per $100,000 borrowed.

$45,000 per $100,000 borrowed is a huge amount of savings. It's monies that can be used for college tuition, home improvement projects, retirement savings, or anything else. 

That said, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage is not ideal for everyone.

Because it requires higher monthly payments, a 15-year fixed rate mortgage may add stress to your household budget. Furthermore, once you commit to a 15-year loan term with your lender, you can't revert back to a 30-year loan term without a refinance and refinances can be costly.

Therefore, be sure of yourself when selecting a 15-year fixed rate loan. The rewards are great, but the risks can be, too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Simple Real Estate Definitions : Tax And Insurance Escrow

Escrow taxes and insuranceAs a homeowner in Sandy , your fiscal responsibility extends beyond just making mortgage payments. You must also pay your home's real estate taxes as they come due, as well as your homeowners insurance policy premiums.

Failure to pay real estate taxes can result in foreclosure. Failure to insure your home is a breach of your mortgage loan terms.

There are two methods by which you can pay your real estate tax and homeowners insurance bills.

The first method is to pay your taxes and insurance as the bills come due, usually semi-annually. Depending on your home's tax bill size and the cost to insure your home, these payments can feel quite large -- especially if you've failed to budget for them properly.

The second method of paying your taxes and insurance is to give your lender the right to pay them on your behalf, a process known as "escrowing for taxes and insurance".

When you escrow your real estate taxes and homeowners insurance, you pay a portion of your annual obligation to your lender each month, which your lender then holds in a special account for you, and disperses to your taxing entities and insurance company as needed. Lenders prefer that homeowners escrow taxes and insurance because, in doing so, the lender is assured that tax bills remain current and that homes stay insured.

Want a discount on your next mortgage rate? Tell your lender that you're willing to escrow.

To help calculate your monthly escrow payment to your lender, do the following :

  1. Find your home's annual real estate tax bill
  2. Find your home's annual homeowners insurance premium
  3. Add the two figures and divide by 12 months in a year

The quotient is your monthly "escrow"; the extra payment you'll make to your lender each month along with your regularly scheduled principal + interest payment. Then, when your tax bills and insurance premiums come due, your lender will make sure the payments are made on your behalf.

If you're unsure whether escrowing is right for you, talk to your loan officer and/or financial planner. There are valid reasons to choose either path.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Have Mortgage Rates Bottomed Out?

Mortgage Rates Bottomed Out?

Mortgage rates have troughed. Or, so it seems.

According to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.00 percent nationwide -- roughly the same rate as it's been for 5 weeks. 

During that times, rates have ranged between 3.97 and 4.02 percent with an accompanying 0.7 discount points, plus "typical" closing costs. Closing costs vary by state and 1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

In other words, to get the weekly, published Freddie Mac rate, borrowers in Utah should expect to pay a complete set of fees to their respective lenders. The larger the loan, the higher the costs. "Low-fee" and "no-fee" loans are available, too -- typically in exchange for a slightly rate.

A breakdown of the Freddie Mac survey shows that interest rates and discount points vary by region. Typically, states in the West Region offer the lowest rates but with the highest costs. East Region states work in reverse; rates are often highest but the accompanying points are fewest.

The most recent mortgage rate breakdown by region shows :

  • Northeast Region : 4.00% with 0.7 discount points 
  • West Region : 3.96% with 0.8 discount points
  • Southeast Region : 4.06% with 0.9 discount points
  • North Central Region : 3.97% with 0.7 discount points
  • Southwest Region : 4.04% with 0.7 discount points

What's most notable, though, is that in all 4 regions, rates are well below their 2011 highs. Since mid-April, mortgage rates have been in descent, dropping for 5 consecutive months before reaching to their current, "rock-bottom" levels in early-November.

Since then, however, rates have idled and the forces that combined to make rates low throughout Draper are subsiding. The U.S. economy is showing signs of a rebirth; the Eurozone is edging closer to solvency; and the housing market is recovering.

So, if you've been wondering whether now is a good time to refinance, or whether higher rates will harm home affordability, the answer is yes. Get in touch with your loan officer to review your home loan options because, looking ahead to 2012, mortgage rates look poised to rise.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Fed Minutes Suggest New Economic Stimulus Next Week

FOMC minutesThe Federal Open Market Committee released its November 2011 meeting minutes, revealing a Fed split on whether new stimulus is needed for the U.S. economy.

The Fed Minutes is published 8 times annually, three weeks after each scheduled Federal Open Market Committee meeting. It's the official record of the meeting's policy-shaping debates and dialogues.

The Fed Minutes is the lengthier companion piece to the FOMC's more well-known, post-meeting press release.

As compared to press release which is concise and focused at 492 words, the Fed Minutes is comprehensive and broad, totalling 7,682 words over 11 pages, complete with charts.

The November minutes reveal Fed opinions on a variety of economic issues :

  • On employment : Unemployment will gradually decline through 2014
  • On housing : The market remains depressed. Foreclosures are "holding back" growth.
  • On rates : The Fed Funds Rate should remain low until mid-2013

There was also discussion about the government's revamped HARP program, and how it should help more homeowners get access to low mortgage rates. The Fed sees this as a positive for housing, and for the economy.

There was little in November's Fed Minutes to surprise Wall Street, however, the Fed did discuss the possibility of new market stimulus, a topic Wall Street expects the FOMC to address next week at its last scheduled meeting of 2011.

Should the Fed introduce new market stimulus next week, and should it arrive in the form of additional mortgage bond purchases, expect for mortgage rates to fall across Utah and nationwide. If the Fed declines new stimulus, mortgage rates should rise.

The FOMC meets Tuesday, December 13, 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

CALL DANIEL PARIS 801-604-4949

How To Install A Dimmer Switch

A Draper home's lighting accounts for 15 percent of its total energy consumption, a fact that's both costly to homeowners, and "un-green" to the environment. It's simple to reduce those effects, however -- all you need are dimmer switches.

A modern dimmer switch works by rapidly opening and closing a light circuit, providing less energy to the bulb, and consuming less energy from the source.   

In this 2-minute video, you'll learn how to reduce your home's standard on/off lighting switches using dimmer switches. The dimmer-switch project is a do-it-yourself project and requires only basic handyman experience. 

First, determine whether you need a 3-way dimmer switch, or a single-pole dimmer switch. If your fixture is controlled my two light switches, you'll want a 3-way dimmer switch. Otherwise, the single-pole choice is best.

Next, just follow the directions :

  1. Cut the power to the light switch via your home's circuit breaker
  2. Remove the existing light switch plate and pull the switch from the wall
  3. Disconnect the in-wall wires from the existing light switch plate
  4. Connect the in-wall wires to their same-color wires on the dimmer switch plate
  5. Push the wires into the wall and reconnect the power via the circuit breaker

The amount of energy that dimmer switches will save your home depends on light-types and to what degree you use the switch's dimmer capabilities. One caveat, though -- not all energy-saving light bulbs are dimmer switch-capatable.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, for example, don't work with dimmer switches unless the bulb is specifically designed to be "dimmable".

The rooms with highest wattage rates are typically the master bathroom and the kitchen. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Special!! Anyone that refinances in December and January will get a FREE LED or LCD flat screen TV as a Christmas present!! We have rates available as low as 3.875% - 3.932% APR AND A NO COST REFI 4.00% - 4.057% APR both with no origination fees. You'll also skip 1 or 2 months house payments...... Now's the time to lower your monthly payments and save!! Let me know if I can help you or your family and friends. :
CALL DANIEL PARIS 801-604-4949

More Housing Strength : Pending Home Sales Surged In October

Pending Home Sales 18 Months Ending October 2011

If you're waiting for home prices to reach its bottom, you may have missed your window.

After 3 consecutive months of easing, the Pending Home Sales Index jumped 10 percent in October, lending credence to the belief that housing is in recovery.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a monthly publication from the National Association of REALTORS®. It measures the number of homes under contract to sell nationwide. October's reading is the highest for all of 2011, and the second-highest dating back to April 2010.

April 2010 was the last month of the last year's federal home buyer tax credit.

For buyers and sellers in South Jordan and nationwide, the Pending Home Sales Index is a housing metric worth watching. Different from the Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales reports which report on "the past", the Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking housing market indicator.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 80% of homes under contract close within 2 months.

The majority of the rest close within Months 3 and 4.

The spike in October's Pending Home Sales Index, therefore, foretells a strong Existing Home Sales report for November and December. Not that we should be surprised! Home builders have been telling us for weeks that the market is strengthening, and that home supplies are at multi-year lows.

The only wild-card is the market's out-sized contract failure rate. One in three pending home sales failed to close in October -- nearly double the rate of the month prior and 4 times the rate of October 2010. Should this high failure rate continue, the Pending Home Sales Index's role as a forward-looking indicator would be muted.

Overall, though, new buyer demand for housing accompanied a smaller home supply will result in higher home prices through 2012. And, with mortgage rates expected to rise, monthly carrying costs will be higher, too.

Looking at the data, the best time to buy a home may be right now.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Friday's Jobs Report Represents A Big Risk To Low Mortgage Rates

Net new jobs created (2000 - 2011)

Have you been floating a mortgage rate? It may be time to lock.

At 8:30 AM ET Friday, the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its November Non-Farm Payrolls report. Better known as "the jobs report", the monthly Non-Farm Payrolls figures provide sector-by-sector employment data, and tally the size of the current U.S. workforce size.

From these two elements, the national Unemployment Rate is derived.

Since topping out at 10.2% in October 2009, the Unemployment Rate has dropped to 9.0%. More than 2.3 million net new jobs have been made in the last 24 months.

Wall Street expect to see 125,000 more jobs added in November.

Depending on how closely the actual Non-Farm Payrolls data meets Wall Street expectations, Sandy rate shoppers could find that the mortgage market landscape has shifted beneath them. The jobs report is a mortgage-market catalyst and when its reported value differs from Wall Street expectations, the impact on mortgage rates can be palpable -- especially in a recovering economy.

The connection between the jobs market and the mortgage market is straight-forward -- as the jobs market goes, so goes the economy.

  1. When more people work, consumer spending increases
  2. When consumer spending rises, businesses expand and invest
  3. When businesses expand and invest, more people are put to work

Furthermore, employees and employers both pay taxes to governments. With more tax revenue, governments embark upon new projects which (1) require the hiring of additional workers, and (2) require the purchase and/or repair of additional equipment and supplies. 

Employment can be a self-reinforcing cycle for the economy and that's why Friday's jobs report will be so closely watched. If the number of jobs created exceeds the 125,000 expected, mortgage rates will rise on the expectation for a stronger U.S. economy in 2012.

Conversely, if the jobs figures fall short, mortgage rates may fall. 

Mortgage rates continue to hover near all-time lows according to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is sub-4.000 percent nationwide, with an accompanying fee of 0.7 discount points. 1 discount point is equal to 1 percent of your loan size.

If you're under contract for a home or looking to refinance, minimize your interest rate risk. Lock ahead of Friday's Non-Farm Payrolls release.

Get your rate lock in today.