Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Home Values Rise 0.8% In May 2012

Home Price Index from peakThe housing market's bottom is 9 months behind us. Home values continue to climb nationwide.

According to the Federal Home Finance Agency's Home Price Index, home values rose 0.8% in May on a monthly, seasonally-adjusted basis. May's reading marks the sixth time in seven months that home values rose.

Values are now higher by 4 percent since the market's October 2011 bottom.

As a Sandy home buyer or seller, though, it's important to understand what the Home Price Index measures. Or, more specifically, what the Home Price Index doesn't measure.

Although widely-cited, the HPI remains widely-flawed, too. It should not be your sole source for real estate data.

As one example of how the Home Price Index is flawed, consider that the HPI only tracks the values of homes with an associated Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgages. Homes with mortgages insured by the FHA are excluded, as are homes paid for with cash.

5 years ago, this wasn't a big deal; the FHA insured just 4 percent of the housing market and cash sales were relatively small. Today, though, the FHA is estimated to insure more than 30% of new purchases and cash sales topped 17 percent in May 2012.

That's a sizable subset of the U.S. housing market.

A second flaw in the Home Price Index is that it tracks home resales only and ignores new home sales. New home sales represent roughly 10% of the today's housing market, so that's a second sizable subset excluded from the HPI.

And, lastly, we can't forget that the Home Price Index is on a 60-day publishing delay.

It's nearly August, yet we're only now receiving home valuation data from May. A lot can change in the housing market in 60 days, and it often does. The HPI is not reporting on today's market conditions, in other words -- it's reporting on conditions as they existed two months ago. Information like that is of little use to today's buyers and sellers.

For local, up-to-the-minute housing market data, skip the national data. Talk with a local real estate agent instead.

Since peaking in April 2007, the FHFA's Home Price Index is off 16.0 percent.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mortgage Rates Down 1 Percent In One Year

Freddie Mac Mortgage Rates

Another week, another new low for mortgage rates. 

According to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell 3 basis points to 3.53% last week nationwide. The 3.53% mortgage rate is available to mortgage applicants who are willing to pay 0.7 discount points, on average, plus a full set of closing costs.

One year ago, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate was 4.52%. Today, it's nearly one percent lower. For every $100,000 borrowed at today's rates as compared to July 2011, a mortgage applicant will save $57 per $100,000 borrowed, or $684 per year.

Over 30 years of a loan, those savings add up.

30-year fixed rate mortgage rates have now dropped through 5 consecutive weeks, and in 11 of the last 12 weeks, a streak dating back to late-April. Depending where you live, however, you may not get access to 3.53% mortgage rates. As Freddie Mac's survey reveals, mortgage rates vary by region.

Last week, mortgage rates by region were listed as follows :

  • Northeast Region : 3.56% with 0.7 discount points 
  • West Region : 3.49% with 0.7 discount points
  • Southeast Region : 3.58% with 0.7 discount points
  • North Central Region : 3.52% with 0.7 discount points
  • Southwest Region : 3.56% with 0.7 discount points

Homeowners and home buyers in California, Oregon and Washington, therefore, received the lowest rates in the country, on average. Owners and buyers in Florida and Georgia, by contrast, received the highest rates.

This week, though, mortgage rates are lower everywhere.

With Spain at risk for a sovereign default and China warning of slow growth, mortgage rates began the week by falling yet again. If you're eligible to refinance, therefore, the timing may be right to lock a mortgage rate. Similarly, if you're an active home buyer in South Jordan , today's low rates will bolster your maximum purchasing power.

Talk to your loan officer about capitalizing on the lowest rates of all-time. Rates throughout Utah may not rise beginning next week, but when they do rise, they'll likely rise quickly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

How To Clean A Water Aerator

How to clean an aeratorTypically found at the tip of indoor water faucets, water aerators split a single water stream into droplets, slowing the overall water flow and reducing the degree of "splashing".

Homes in South Jordan with aerated faucets use up to 50% less water than homes without. However, aerated faucets can lose their effectiveness over time if they're not cleaned at least periodically.

This is because aerators can collect and trap particles including minerals deposits and grit, depending on the make-up of your home's water supply.

The good news is that cleaning your faucet aerator is a do-it-yourself job that requires no technical plumbing skills, and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. 

Here's how to clean your home's water aerators.

First, close or cover the drain of your sink. This will prevent pieces or parts from getting lost. Then, unscrew the aerator from the tip of your faucet. You may be able to turn the aerator with your fingers. If you cannot, and need to use pliers, wrap the faucet with a towel to prevent damage to the faucet from the pliers.

Also, don't squeeze harder than necessary -- you may bend the aerator casing.

Next, on a small towel, separate the parts of the aerator and lay them flat.

Then, using your finger, poke the mesh filter out from the aerator, being careful not to bend it. Use tap water to rinse sediment from the filter or, in extreme build-up cases, place the filter in a small cup of vinegar, soak it for an hour, then clean it with a small brush.

At this point, your aerator is clean. Replace the parts as you found them, and twist the water aerator back onto the faucet tip. If you use pliers for this step, remember to protect your faucet's finish with a towel.

There is no specific rule for how often an aerator should be cleaned. In some areas, it's twice yearly. In other areas, it's every 5 years. If you've never cleaned your water aerators, though, make today your first time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Existing Home Supply Ticks Higher To 6.6 Months Nationwide

Existing Home Supply

Home resales slipped more than 5 percent last month, putting a damper recent housing market enthusiasm.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales fell to 4.37 million units in June 2012 on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. This is 250,000 fewer home sales per year as compared May's figures which NAR has revised 2 percentage points higher.

The pace at which homes are selling has slowed, too. As compared to May, the Existing Home Supply rose 0.2 months. At the current pace of sales nationwide, the national home supply would now be exhausted in 6.6 months.

A home supply of 6.0 months is believed to mark a market in balance. There are currently 2.39 million homes for sale nationwide -- the lowest total in 3 months and more than 24% below than the listed inventory at this point last year.

Other noteworthy statistics from the Existing Home Sales report include :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 32% of all purchasers in June, down from 34% in May
  • Real estate investors accounted for 19% of all purchasersin June, up from 17% in May
  • Cash buyers accounted for 29% of all purchasers in June, up from 28% in May

In addition, distressed sales as a percentage of all sales was unchanged in June as foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value. Short sales nationwide sold at an average 15 percent discount.

More on "distressed sales" : In June, distressed homes accounted for 25% of all home resales, the smallest percentage of homes sold with such status since the real estate trade group began tracking the data in 2008.

Despite falling home sales and rising home supplies, however, home resales are expected to return to growth in July. Last month's Pending Home Sales Index spiked to a 2-year high, and 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days. This portends well for July's Existing Home Sales data, due in 4 weeks.

Low mortgage rates and rising rents in Draper and in many U.S. cities continue to fuel the U.S. housing market. Home buyers should expect higher home prices ahead.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Singe-Family Housing Starts Rise For 4th Straight Month

Housing StartsNew construction housing is in a post-recession rally.

As reported by the Census Bureau, on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, last month's Single-Family Housing Starts rose 5 percent to 539,000 units nationwide. This is the highest reading since April 2010, the last month of that year's federal home buyer tax credit.

A "housing start" is a new home on which construction has started.

June's strong numbers also mark the fourth consecutive month during which Single-Family Housing Starts have climbed. This, too, has not occurred since April 2010.

The data is yet one more signal to Draper home buyers that today's new construction market has its worst days behind it.

Home builders think so, too.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Homebuilders released its monthly Housing Market Index, a metric which tracks homebuilder confidence. Home builders report higher sales levels and massive foot traffic as compared to just 12 months ago. They also expect second-half sales in 2012 to climb sharply.

It's no wonder that home builder confidence rose to a 5-year high. Builders are building homes and buyers are buying them.

Today's market for new homes has been spurred forward by low mortgage rates, but rising rents have played a part, too. In many parts of the country, a comparable home is less expensive to own than to rent, which creates an incentive for renters to buy homes instead.

The availability of low downpayment mortgage programs via the FHA and other government agencies helps as well.

It's a good time to be home buyer. Mortgage rates are at all-time records, home prices remain low nationwide, and the real estate market is believed to be entering the beginning of a sustained, multi-year recovery.  

If you're undecided about whether now is a good time to buy a new home, speak with your real estate agent. The cost of home ownership may never be as low as it is today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homebuilder Confidence Doubles In 12 Months

NAHB Housing Market IndexHomebuilder confidence is soaring.

For the second time in three months, the National Association of Homebuilders reports that the Housing Market Index made sizable gains. 

The Housing Market Index measures homebuilder confidence in the new construction market and is scored between 1-100. Readings above 50 indicate favorable conditions in the single-family new home market. Readings below 50 indicate poor conditions.

The Housing Market Index leaped to 35 in July, a 6-point improvement and the index's biggest one-month gain since September 2002.

The HMI is now up 14 points this year and is more than double its value of one year ago.

The Housing Market Index itself is a composite of three separate survey questions sent to NAHB members monthly. The questions are basic :

  1. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes today?
  2. How are market conditions for the sale of new homes in 6 months?
  3. How is prospective buyer foot traffic?

For July 2012, home builders reported huge gains. Current home sales are up 6 points; sales expectations for the next six months are up 11 points; and buyer foot traffic is up 6 points.

All three survey answers made 5-year highs. Not since 2007 has sales volume and foot traffic been as strong, and over the next 6 months, builders expect a blow-out finish to the year.

It's no surprise, either.

Low mortgage rates throughout Utah have lowered monthly housing payments to levels below monthly rent for a comparable home. Plus, programs such as the FHA 3.5% downpayment program continue to help first-time buyers get in homes.

There is a downside to rising homebuilder confidence, however. When builders feel more comfortable about their business and the prospects for the future, they're less likely to make sales concessions to to offer free upgrades. If you're shopping for new construction, therefore, consider moving up your time frame.

Home affordability remains historically high today. It may not be so tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Foreclosure Starts Rise For Second Straight Month

Foreclosure changes June 2012

The number of U.S. homes receiving foreclosure notices topped one million through the first six months of 2012, according to RealtyTrac.

There were 1.046 million foreclosure filings between January - June 2012, says the foreclosure-tracking firm in its Midyear 2012 Foreclosure Market Report. The tally represents a 2 percent increase from the immediate six months prior.

A "foreclosure filing" includes all of the following foreclosure-related actions : (1) Default notices, (2) Scheduled auctions, and (3) Bank repossessions. 

One notable fact from within the report is that, even as the number of repossessed homes dropped nationwide, the number of homeowners receiving a Notice of Default or lis pendens rose. These notices are the first step in the foreclosure process which means that we should expect the national foreclosure pipeline to fill later this year.

It's no coincidence that foreclosure starts are rising now, either.

Earlier this year, a $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement provided banks with the necessary framework and rules by which they can foreclose upon a home. Prior to the this settlement, fearing legal liability, some banks chose to slow -- or halt -- foreclosure starts entirely. Since the settlement's announcement, though, foreclosure activity has resumed.

For today's South Jordan home buyers, the foreclosure market represents an interesting opportunity. Homes purchased while in the various stages of foreclosure can often be purchased for a lower price than homes which are not in foreclosure; one reason why foreclosed homes account for 25 percent of all home resales

However, be careful that you don't confuse "less expensive" with "less costly".

Foreclosed homes are often sold as-is and may be in various stages of disrepair at the time of purchase. Spending money to repair a foreclosed home in order to make it habitable could wipe out the money saved on its sales price. Your best real estate "deal", therefore, may be a non-distressed home in sound, move-in ready condition.

If you're buying foreclosures -- or even considering it -- be sure to talk with a real estate agent. The process of buying a foreclosed property is different from buying a "regular" home. You'll want somebody experienced on your team.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How To Revive A "Brown Lawn"

Brown lawnsDuring summer months, a lush, green lawn can transform into a brown one within weeks. And heat, while oftentimes a catalyst, is not always the culprit.

As a homeowner, you can take precautions to minimize the likelihood of a brown lawn.

First, let's look at the reasons why a lawn may go brown, starting with drought stress.

Drought stress is a condition caused by excessive heat and/or lack of water. Drought stress can lead to dormancy, a normal condition for grasses of all types. A good test for draught stress is to step on one of the grass' brown patches. If your footstep remains as an imprint in the grass, it's likely that your lawn is water-deprived.

Brown spots from drought stress appear randomly and without pattern. This is different from brown spots that may occur because a sprinkler system is miscalibrated, or because some lawn sections are shaded whereas others are exposed to direct sunlight.

Lawns which have been dormant for long periods of time may need to be reseeded.

Drought stress also reduces your lawn's natural defenses against pests and disease. This includes plant-based pests such as weeds which can starve your grass of much-needed food and water, as well as insects such as lawn grubs and chinch bugs. 

These two forces, as well, can lead to brownout.

Lastly, your grass may be dying. Either from a lack of aeration; or, cutting grass blades too short to provide "natural shade"; or, over-watering among other reasons, your grass may not live forever and, when it dies, it's likely to thin and turn brown.

The good news is that each of these conditions is non-permanent. You may not have stopped your lawn from turning brown, but, generally, you can nurse it back to being green.

To water a brown lawn back to health, start with a steady watering schedule -- typically 2 hours every few days (approximately 1 inch of water) -- and be careful not to over-water. Then, just wait. It may take a lawn 3-4 weeks to return to its natural green color.

Then, to manage weeds, use an over-the-counter herbicide. For larger weed problems, get treatment by a professional lawn care company. The same is true for pests, too. Tackle them yourself but using a lawn care company can be more efficient and effective.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Revisiting Housing Market Predictions For 2012

Revisiting predictions for 2012When the calendar flips to a new year, analysts and economists like to make predictions for the year ahead.

So, today, with the year half-complete, it's an opportune time to check back to see how the experts' predictions are faring (so far).

If you'll remember, when 2011 closed, the housing market was showing its first signs of a reboot. Home sales were strong, home supplies were nearing bull market levels, and buyer activity was strong.

Homebuilder confidence was at its highest point in 2 years and single-family housing starts had made its biggest one-month gain since 2009. 

In addition, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates had just broke below the 4 percent barrier and looked poised to stay there.

There was a lot about which to be optimistic in January 2012.

Yet, there were obstacles for the economy. The Eurozone's sovereign debt issues remained in limbo, oil prices were spiking, and the Unemployment Rate remained high -- three credible threats to growth.

At the time, analyst predictions for the economy occupied both ends of the spectrum, and everywhere in between.

Freddie Mac said home prices would rise in 2012, for example, whereas analysts at CBS News said they'd fall. Both made good arguments.

As another example, American Banker said mortgage rates would rise in 2012. The LA Times, however, said just the opposite. And, the problem with these predictions is that each party can make such a sound defense of their respective positions that it's easy to forget that a prediction is really just an opinion.

Nobody can know what the future holds.

A lot has changed since those predictions were made :

  • Job growth slowed sharply after a strong Q1 2012 
  • Oil costs dropped rapidly beginning in early-May
  • Spain and Italy have joined Greece as potential sovereign debt trouble-zones

Now, none of this was known -- or expected -- at the start of the year yet each has made a material change in the direction of both the housing and mortgage markets.

Today, home prices remain low and 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates now average 3.56% nationwide. Home affordability is higher than it's been at any time in recorded history and, at least for now, low downpayment mortgage products remain readily available.

The experts never saw it coming.

6 months from now, the markets may be different. We can't know for sure. All we can know is that today is great time to be a home buyer in Draper. Home prices and mortgage rates are favorable.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fed Minutes Suggest Fiscal Stimulus Later This Year

FOMC Fed MinutesThe Federal Reserve released the minutes from its June Federal Open Market Committee meeting, revealing a Fed divided on the future of the U.S. economy. Mortgage rates are higher after the release of the minutes.

The Fed Minutes is the detailed recap of an FOMC meeting. It is the companion piece to the more brief, more well-known post-meeting FOMC press release.

For a comparison, whereas the Fed's June 20, 2012 press release contained 5 paragraphs and 490 words, the same meeting's minutes contain 62 paragraphs and 7,508 words. The extra detail afforded by the extra words Wall Street gives insight into the nation's central banker.

The June Fed Minutes, for example, suggest that the Fed may soon add new economic stimulus. 

Recent data suggests that the U.S. economy is expanding, but more slowly that it was at the start of the year. The Fed acknowledged that this, in part, is the result of "below-trend" growth in Euro-area economies, plus a general slowdown in China.

The Fed also said that "strains in global financial markets" continue to pose "significant downside risks" to the U.S. economy. The Fed expects U.S. growth to "moderate over coming quarters".

Other notes from with the Fed Minutes included : 

  • On housing : Home sales, construction and prices suggest improvement
  • On inflation : Prices are stable, and inflation will remain "subdued" through 2014
  • On new policy : Rapid fiscal tightening poses a "downside risk" to the economy

In addition, there was discussion about whether the Fed is missing its dual mandate of low inflation and low unemployment. Several Fed member discussed the need for new stimulus to raise employment and to raise the rate of inflation. This action could occur as soon as next month.

If the stimulus was enacted, mortgage rates would likely rise because inflation, in general, is a threat to low mortgage rates.

The next Federal Open Market Committee meeting is a 2-day affair scheduled for July 31-August 1, 2012. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

84 U.S. Markets Improving In July

Improving Market Index July 2012

Where economic growth goes, housing growth often follows.

That's why it's good news for homeowners that 84 U.S. metropolitan areas are showing "measurable and sustained growth" this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders' Improving Market Index.

The Improving Market Index is a derivative report, based on the results of three separate data series which examine a city's local economy.

The data series used in the IMI are :

  1. Employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  2. Home price data from Freddie Mac
  3. One-unit building permits from the Census Bureau

The NAHB compiles this data monthly, assigning a given metropolitan area the label "improving" if the following two conditions are met. First, all three data series above must show growth or expansion in the current month.

Second, at least six months must have passed since any of the above that area's most recent economic "bottom".

Because of this second clause, the IMI is focused on long-term trends in city growth, singling out only those markets in which sustained economic growth is occurring. The six-month requirement causes "blips" of growth remain ignored, and uncounted. 

The July IMI showed 84 improving markets nationwide, a 4-city increase over June 2012. 11 new cities were added to the index including Jackson, Michigan; Springfield, Massachusetts; and, Houston, Texas. Seven cities fell off the list.

32 states are represented in this month's IMI, and the District of Columbia, too.

For Utah home buyers, there isn't much actionable information in the Improving Market Index. We don't see how many homes were sold in the month prior, for example. Nor do we see how quickly homes are selling in a particular ZIP code. But what the IMI can provide is a broad look at whether a local economy has found its footing. 

When economies are strong, it can create competition for homes which can drive up home sales prices. 

The complete Improving Markets Index is available for download at the NAHB website. But, for a better feel of what's happening in Draper on a local level, talk to a real estate agent.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Home Purchasing Power Jumps To New Highs

Purchasing power grows in Q2 2012

With mortgage rates down to all-time lows, you can buy a lot more home for your money. Home affordability is at an all-time high.

According to last week's Freddie Mac mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has dropped to 3.62% nationwide. This is down from 4.08% in March, and down from 4.60% from one year ago.

Mortgage rates are "on sale".

Falling mortgage rates can make one of two changes to the way a Sandy home buyer looks at properties. They can either make a given home's monthly housing payment that much more affordable to a buyer, or they can expand that buyer's home purchasing power to a higher, maximum price point.

Since July 2011, that maximum price point increase has been significant.

Assuming a principal + interest payment of $1,000 per month and a 30-year loan term, a category that includes 30-year fixed rate mortgages and most adjustable-rate mortgages, here's a maximum loan size comparison of the last 12 months : 

  • July 2011 : A payment of $1,000 affords a maximum loan size of $197,130
  • July 2012 : A payment of $1,000 affords a maximum loan size of $219,409

With an increase in maximum loan size of more than $22,000 in just 12 months, it's no wonder that multiple-offer situations are becoming more common -- today's buyers know that low home prices and low mortgage rates are combining to make home buying more affordable than at any time in recent history.

However, the buyer-friendly environment can't last forever.

First, home prices have started to rise nationwide. Demand for homes has outpaced home supply in many U.S. markets and that leads home prices higher. Second, low mortgage rates can't last forever.

A recovering economy will lift mortgage rates back above 4 percent, a scenario that will hit home affordability hard.

Home-buying conditions are optimal this season. If you're in the market for a new home, talk to your real estate agent and loan officer about maximizing your home purchasing power.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Top 10 U.S. Cities For Public Parks

Park rankings by cityFor the first time in more than 100 years, the growth in America's cities is outpacing the growth in its suburbs. 

According to the 2011 estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau, between July 2010 and July 2011, city centers grew faster than their surrounding suburbs in 53% of the nation's largest housing markets. 

Compare this to just 9.8% during the 10 years prior.

Cities now compete with suburbs on a number of fronts including job availability, housing costs, and access to amenities, a category which includes proximity to public parks.

Parks are important to a city. Studies prove that parks help to attract home buyers, to retain retired homeowners, and to raise home values. And now, with the creation of ParkScore, it's easy to compare park systems between U.S. cities.

ParkScore is an at-a-glance assessment of a city's park system. Published by The Trust for Public Land, ParkScore considers "every publicly owned park space" within the nation's largest cities and assigns an overall score based on total acreage, services provided, and access.

The maximum ParkScore is 100.

According to its publisher, the 10 cities nationwide with the highest ParkScores are :

  1. San Francisco, California (74.0)
  2. Sacramento, California (73.5)
  3. Boston, Massachusetts (72.5)
  4. New York, New York (72.5)
  5. Washington, D.C. (71.5)
  6. Portland, Oregon (69.0)
  7. Virginia Beach, Virginia (68.5)
  8. San Diego, California (67.5)
  9. Seattle, Washington (66.5)
  10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (66.0)

ParkScore rankings place a high premium on the "percentage of city residents living within a 10-minute walk of a public park". It's no surprise, therefore, that some of the top-finishers included San Francisco, Boston and New York City -- three cities known for their abundance of public parks.

ParkScore bottom-finishers included Fresno, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Louisville, Kentucky.

The complete ParkScore rankings are available at, along with each city's score and ranking analysis.

Friday, July 6, 2012

30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates Fall To 3.62% Nationwide

30-year fixed rate mortgage rates30-year fixed rate mortgage rates made new, all-time lows once again this week.

According to Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage rate survey of more than 125 banks nationwide, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell 4 basis point to 3.62% nationwide.

The rate is available to conforming, prime borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.8 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. A "prime" mortgage applicant typically has excellent credit, verifiable income, and at least 25% equity in their home.

And, it's not just the 30-year fixed rate mortgage that made new lows in this holiday-shortened week, either. The 15-year fixed rate mortgage did, too, falling 5 basis points to 2.89%, on average.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage requires 0.7 discount points plus closing costs.

Discount points are a one-time, up-front closing cost, based on loan size. If your loan requires 1 discount point, that means that your loan has a closing cost equal to 1 percent of your loan size. If your loan requires two discount points, the fee would be equal to two percent of your loan size; and so on.

So, based on this week's Freddie Mac survey, a home buyer in South Jordan opening a $200,000 mortgage and paying 0.8 discount points would face to a one-time $1,600 fee to be paid at closing.

The good news is that discount points are optional. 

To avoid paying discount points, simply ask your lender for a "zero points" loan. You'll get a higher mortgage rate than what Freddie Mac shows in its survey, but you'll pay fewer closing costs.

Today's low rates are terrific for both home buyers throughout Utah and existing homeowners looking to make a refinance. As compared last year at this time, mortgage rates are down by 98 basis points -- nearly one full percentage point.

Mortgage payments are much lower today as compared to July 2011 : 

  • July 2011 : $512.64 principal + interest per $100,000 borrowed
  • July 2012 : $455.77 principal + interest per $100,000 borrowed

Today's rates yield an 11 percent payment discount as compared to last year.

Mortgage rates are unpredictable so there's no guarantee that low rates will last forever, much less through the summer. If today's rates meet your household budget, consider locking something in.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mortgage Rate Risk Ahead Of Friday Morning's Jobs Report

Non-Farm Payrolls Since July 2010

Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its Non-Farm Payrolls report. More commonly called "the jobs report", Non-Farm Payrolls is a monthly market-mover.

Depending on the strength -- or weakness -- of the data, mortgage rates will change. Perhaps sharply. Unfortunately, we can't know in which direction.

If you're actively shopping for a mortgage in Sandy , therefore, today may be a prudent day to lock a mortgage.

The job report's connection to mortgage rates is straight-forward. As the number of U.S. citizens earning paychecks increases, reverberations are felt through the economy.

First, higher levels of income are tied to higher levels of consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for the majority of the U.S. economy. More working citizens, therefore, builds a larger overall economic base.

Next, as the overall economic base grows, businesses produce and sell more goods, necessitating the hiring of additional personnel and the purchase of more raw materials -- both positives for the economy.

And, lastly, as more paychecks are written, more taxes are paid to local, state and federal governments. These taxes are often used to fund projects and purchase goods and services which, in turn, grow the economy as well.

Tying it all together, the health of the U.S. economy is a major factor is setting day-to-day mortgage rates across Utah. This is why rate shoppers face risk with tomorrow's Non-Farm Payrolls report.

Between 2008 and 2009, the economy shed 7 million jobs. It has since recovered 3.9 million of them and, Friday, analysts expect to see another 100,000 jobs created in June. If the actual number of jobs created exceeds this estimate, look for mortgage rates to rise. 

If the actual number of jobs created falls short of 100,000, mortgage rates may fall.

The government releases Non-Farm Payrolls data at 8:30 AM ET Friday.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pending Home Sales Index Hits A 2-Year High

Pending Home Sales IndexHomes are going under contract at a quickening pace.

In May, for the second time in 3 months, the Pending Home Sales Index crossed the 100 barrier, stretching to 101.1. A "pending home sale" is a home under contract to sell, but not yet sold.

Statistically, the Pending Home Sales Index reading is significant for two reasons.

First, the index's reading is at its highest since April 2010. From this, we infer that today's pace of home buying in Utah and nationwide is approaching the "stimulated" levels of two years ago -- but without the federal stimulus.

This is a positive signal for the housing market.

Second, because the Pending Home Sales Index is a relative index; and, because it was assigned a value of 100 upon its inception in 2001, readings higher than 100 imply that the housing market is performing better than it did during the index's first year.

2001 happened to be a strong year for housing. 2012, it seems, is shaping up to be a better one.

And, there's another reason why the Pending Home Sales Index matters so much to buyer and sellers of South Jordan -- the Pending Home Sales Index is among the few "forward-looking" housing market indicators.

Rather than report on how the housing market looked 30-60 days in the past, as the Case-Shiller Index does; or the Existing Home Sales report, the Pending Home Sales Index looks 30-60 days to the future.

80% of homes under contract sell within 2 months so, as the Pending Home Sales Index goes, so goes housing. Based on May's data, therefore, we can assume that home sale figures will rise through the summer.

If you're shopping for homes right now, consider going under contract while the market remains somewhat soft. Mortgage rates are low and so are home prices. It makes for good home-buying conditions.

Monday, July 2, 2012

3.25% -APR 3.474% 30 YR FIXED HOME LOAN 2.75% - APR – 2.864% 15 YR FIXED HOME LOAN CALL DANIEL PARIS 801-6044949
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Tips To Keep Your Home Cooler Without Turning Down The Thermostat

Energy-saving tips

The typical U.S. household "loses" up to 30% of its annual heating and cooling bill to energy inefficiencies, according to ENERGY STAR®.

The good news is that there are dozens of ways to help your home perform better.

As the calendar turns to July, and as temperatures warm in Utah and nationwide, implement even one of the following cost-saving moves and you can expect your home's energy bill to drop. Implement two or more, and you can expect your bill to drop by a lot.

Keep it simple at the start. When the sun shines through a window on a cloudless day, it can raise a room's temperature by as much as 20 degrees. Therefore, the first energy-saving move to review is the easiest one -- simply close your home's window blinds and shades to block out the sun. 

With the shades drawn and the sun blocked, your rooms will stay cooler, and so will your home. This is especially important during the mid-day hours when the sun is at its strongest so, before you leave for work, make sure you've closed your blinds.

The next step is to change your home's air filter.

Air filters are meant to be changed quarterly, or monthly if your home has shedding pets. When your air filter is clean, the HVAC unit won't have to work as hard to push air through your home's air ducts, saving up to another 7% off your annual energy costs.

Next, replace your home's incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones.

This step can be costly up-front, but over the long-term, savings are big. Not only do energy-efficient light bulbs such as CFLs and LEDs last for years, but they don't pump heat back into a room like an incandescent bulb will.

Incandescent bulbs are shown to convert 97.5% of their energy into heat, meaning just 2.5% of their supplied energy is used for light. This 97.5% then warms up your house, which costs money to cool.

And, lastly, if your home has ceiling fans, use them.

When a ceiling fan is running, it can make a room feel up to 8 degrees cooler. Just remember that ceiling fans cool you and not the room. Be sure to turn them off when you leave the room.

Friday, June 29, 2012

FHFA : Home Values Up 3% Since Last Year

HPI from April 2007 peak

The Federal Home Finance Agency's Home Price Index shows home values up 0.8% in April on a monthly, seasonally-adjusted basis.

April marks the third consecutive month during which home values increased and the index is now up 3 percent from last year at this time.

As a home buyer in Draper , it's easy to look at the Home Price Index and believe that its recent, sustained climb is proof of a broader housing market recovery. Ultimately, that may prove true. However, we cannot base our buy-or-sell decisions on the HPI because, like the private-sector Case-Shiller Index, the Home Price Index is flawed.

There are three main flaws in the FHFA's Home Price Index. They cannot be ignored.

First, the FHFA Home Price Index's sample set is limited to homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. By definition, therefore, the index excludes homes with mortgages insured by the FHA.

5 years ago, this wasn't such an issue because the FHA insured just 4 percent of mortgage. Today, however, the FHA's market share is estimated to exceed 30 percent.  This means this the HPI excludes more than 30% of U.S. homes from its calculations right from the start.

The index also excludes homes backed by the VA; jumbo mortgages not securitized through the government; and, portfolio loans held by individual banks.

Second, the FHFA Home Price Index is based on the change in price of a home on consecutive home sales. Therefore, it's sample set cannot include sales of new home sales, nor can it account for purchases made with cash because cash purchases require no mortgage.

Cash purchases were 29% of the home resale market in April.

Third, the Home Price Index is on a 60-day delay.

The report that home values are up 0.8% accounts for homes that closed two months ago, and with contracts from 30-75 days prior to that. In other words, the Home Price Index is measuring housing market activity from as far back as January. 

Reports such as the Home Price Index are helpful in spotting long-term trends in housing but data from January is of little help to today's Utah home buyers and sellers. It's real-time data that matters most and the best place to get real-time housing market data isn't from a national home valuation report -- it's from a local real estate agent.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Simple Real Estate Definitions : Right To Cancel

Right To Cancel noticeAs part of the federal Truth-in-Lending Act, refinancing homeowners are granted a 3-day "cooling off" period post-closing during which they retain the right to rescind, or "cancel", their recent refinance without penalty or cost.

The Right To Cancel is protection against surprises at closing and/or a change of heart. It's also a safety valve for homeowners signing paperwork under duress. With 3 days to revisit and rethink the terms of a loan, a homeowner can maintain tighter control of his/her financial situation. 

If you ever have the wish (or need) to execute your right to rescind, be aware that the process is a formal one. The required steps must be completed on-time, and in order, or else your request will be invalid.

The process starts with a document labeled "Right To Cancel". It's included in your closing package and lists the terms of a rescission in straight-forward language. Among the key points :

  1. You have 3 business days during which to cancel your loan
  2. When you cancel the refinance, the entire transaction is cancelled
  3. You must submit your Right To Cancel in writing

"Business day" is defined by the government to be every day, save for Sundays and federal holidays. A loan that closes on a Monday, therefore, must be rescinded prior to Friday at 12:00 AM.

Typically, rescission requests are faxed to the settlement agent, notary, or title company assigned with the refinance. It's good practice to ask for an acknowledgement of receipt as proof of delivery, too.

There are some refinances for which the Right to Cancel does not apply, however. This includes refinances linked to an investment property, and loans not collateralized by residential real estate. There are other conditions, too, that may supersede your right to rescind so be sure to ask your lender.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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New Home Sales Rise To 2-Year High

New Home Supply The new construction market continues to improve.

As reported by the Census Bureau, 369,000 new homes were sold last month on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. A "new home" is a home that is considered new construction.

May's data marks the highest number of new homes sold since April 2010, the last month of that year's federal home buyer tax credit.

It's also a 14% increase over the rolling 12-month average.

The news was somewhat expected based on the most recent Homebuilder Confidence survey, which rose to a 5-year high. Home builders have been reporting higher sales volume and rising buyer foot traffic since October of last year. 

The May New Home Sales report confirms what builders already told us.

Furthermore, new homes are selling more quickly than builders have built them, lowering the national "home supply" to levels not seen since October 2005. There are currently 145,000 new homes for sale.

A supply of 6.0 months is believed to represent a market in balance. Anything less connotes a "sellers' market". At the current pace of sales, the entire new home housing stock would be exhausted in 4.7 months.

The South Region continues to account for the majority of new construction sales, posting a 55% market share in May. South Region sales were up 13 percent as compared to April. The other 3 regions turned in mixed results :

  • Northeast Region : +36.7% from April 2012
  • Midwest Region : -10.6% from April 2012
  • West Region : -3.5% from April 2012

For all its strength, though, the Census Bureau's New Home Sales data may also be "off".

Although New Home Sales were said to rise by roughly 8 percent nationally from April to May, the government's monthly report was also footnoted with a ±12.2% margin of error. This means that the actual New Home Sales reading may have been as high as +20% last month, or as low as -4%. The values could be positive or negative -- we can't know for certain.

However, that's not to say that the New Home Sales should be ignored.

Longer-term, new home trends have been positive and builder confidence survey suggests the same.  If you're in the market for new construction in Draper , you may want to go into contract soon. Home prices and mortgage rates remain low -- a terrific combination for today's home buyers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Existing Home Sales Slip 2% In May

Existing Home SalesHome resales slipped last month; a slight setback for the nation's housing market's recovery.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, Existing Home Sales fell to 4.55 million units in May 2012 on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis, representing a 2 percent drop from April.

An "existing home" is a home that's been previously owned or occupied, and cannot be categorized as new construction.

Despite May's retreat, however, as compared to last year at this time, Existing Home Sales by units are higher by 10 percent. In other words, like everything else in housing, the long-term statistical trend has been a positive one.

The housing market has seen its bottom and is finding balance.

Other data from the Existing Home Sales report includes :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 34% of all purchasers, down from 35% in April
  • Real estate investors accounted for 17% of all purchasers, down from 20% in April
  • Cash buyers accounted for 28% of all purchasers, down from 29% in April

In addition, distressed sales accounted for 25% of all sales in May, down from 28% in April.

"Distressed sales" include the sale of homes in various stages of foreclosure, and of short sales. This is the smallest percentage of homes sold in a "distressed" status since the real estate trade group began tracking the data in 2008. 

And, lastly, home supplies rose by 0.1 months to 6.6 months nationwide in May. This means that, at the current pace of sales, the complete U.S. home resale inventory would be sold out before the end of 2012.  A 6-month supply is widely believed to represent a market in balance between buyers and sellers.

There are now 2.49 million homes for sale -- a 20% reduction from May 2011.

Home resales may have slipped last months but volume remains brisk nationwide. All-time low mortgage rates and high home affordability are keeping buyers in the market. Home prices are rising in many U.S. cities as the housing market continues its slow, steady recovery. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

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How To Choose The Proper Paint Color(s) For A Room

Whether you're moving into a new home and want to make it "yours", or just want to change the feel of your current place, a painting project is an easy way forward. Painting is relatively inexpensive yet it can transform a home's look-and-feel.

But how do you make sure you're choosing the best colors and the proper type of paint?

This 8-minute video from Lowe's tells it all. In it, you'll learn how professional designers identify a potential paint palette for a room, then how they choose between shade, finish and type.

Among the tips and advice in the video :

  • How to use 2x2 "test blocks" to ensure a color works in both natural and artificial light
  • How to choose the right colors for a small room, and for a large room
  • Why painting the ceiling can change a room's perceived size
  • How to build complementary, split-complementary and analogous color schemes for a room
  • How to choose between latex and oil-based paint products

In addition, the video shares notes on how light bulb types can affect the "warmness" of a particular paint color, and how to consider existing room elements such as furniture in your final color choices.

Paint projects require little advance planning and, if done properly, they can change the feel of a room, and a home. Most projects can be completed within a weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

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Mortgage Rates Make New Lows At 3.66%

Freddie Mac mortgage rates for June 21 2012

Mortgage rates have resumed their downward trend.

According to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the national average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell 5 basis points to 3.66% this week. The rate is available to "prime" borrowers who are willing to pay, on average, 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs.

30-year fixed rate mortgage rates are down in seven of the last eight weeks but, depending where you live, the mortgage rates made available to you will vary. The Freddie Mac survey notes that mortgage rates vary by region.

For example, mortgage applicants in the West Region received the lowest rates from lenders, on average, but also paid the highest number of discount points. Discount points are a specific type of closing cost where 1 discount point is a fee equal to one percent of your loan size.

Average mortgage rates in the five U.S. regions, as tracked by Freddie Mac :

  • Northeast Region : 3.70% with 0.7 discount points 
  • West Region : 3.62% with 0.8 discount points
  • Southeast Region : 3.68% with 0.7 discount points
  • North Central Region : 3.65% with 0.7 discount points
  • Southwest Region : 3.68% with 0.7 discount points

Nationally, one year ago, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate was 4.50%. Today, it's 3.66%. This 84 basis points difference yields a monthly savings of $49 per $100,000 borrowed at today's rates, or $588 per year.

A $400,000 mortgage would save $2,352 annually at today's mortgage rates as compared to June 2011.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate is also low, averaging 2.95% nationwide with 0.6 discount points. This is the second-lowest reading in recorded history. However, when the 15-year fixed averaged 2.94%, banks required an average of 0.7 discount points to get it. One could argue that this week's average rate-and-points combination is actually a better "deal" because closing costs are lower.

Mortgage rates continue to break new lows so, if you're eligible to refinance, the timing may be right to explore your mortgage options. Similarly, if you're in the market to buy a home, today's low rates will help to keep your home affordability high.

Talk to your loan officer about capitalizing on the lowest rates of all-time. Rates in Sandy may not rise starting next week, but when they do rise, they'll expected to rise quickly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (June 20, 2012)

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

For the fifth consecutive meeting, the Fed Funds Rate vote was nearly unanimous. Just one FOMC member, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker, dissented in the 9-1 vote.

The Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent since December 2008. 

In its press release, the Federal Reserve noted that the U.S. economy has been "expanding moderately" this year. Beyond the next few quarters, the Fed expects growth to "pick up very gradually". 

In addition, the Fed re-acknowledged that "strains in global financial markets" continue to pose "significant downside risks" to the U.S. economic outlook. This statement is a repeat from the FOMC's April press release and is in reference to the sovereign debt concerns of Greece, Spain and Italy, plus the potential for a broader European economic slowdown.

The Fed's statement also included the following economic observations :

  1. The housing sector remains "depressed"
  2. Labor conditions have "slowed in recent months"
  3. Household spending is "rising at a somewhat slower pace" than earlier this year

With respect to inflation, the Fed said that pressures have declined, led by falling oil and gasoline prices. Longer-term inflation expectations remain stable.

The biggest news of the FOMC meeting is that the Federal Reserve will be extending its "Operation Twist" program. The program sells shorter-term securities on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet and uses the proceeds to purchase longer-term securities. This move puts "downward pressure on longer-term interest rates" and makes "broader financial conditions more accommodative."

The Fed also pledged to keep the Fed Funds Rate at "exceptionally low" levels at least through late-2014.

Mortgage markets are muted post-FOMC. There has been no real change in rates, although that may change later in the day, or weel. Mortgage rates in South Jordan remain at all-time lows.

The FOMC's next scheduled meeting is a two-day event slated for July 31-August 1, 2012.

Housing Starts Up 26% In Last 12 Months

Housing StartsSometimes, the housing data headlines tell just half the tale. The stories on May's Housing Starts figures are proving to be a terrific illustration.

Tuesday, the Census Bureau released its monthly Housing Starts report. A "housing start" is a home on which construction has started.

The report is separated by property type with a separate count for single family homes such as detached residences and town homes; for multiple-unit homes such as 2-unit, 3-unit and 4-unit structures; and, for buildings of 5-units of more such as new condominiums.

In May, Housing Starts fell 4.8 percent nationwide. This runs contrary to recent housing market statistics and home builder confidence data which both have suggested a recovery. The press picked up the story and ran the following headlines :

  • Housing Starts In U.S. Fall 4.8% In May (BusinessWeek)
  • Housing Starts Plunge, But Permits Surge In Mixed Market (CNBC)
  • Housing Starts Slump In May (US News)

Although factually correct, these headlines are somewhat misleading. 

Housing Starts did slip 4.8 percent last month but that figure accounts for all Housing Starts. It fails isolate the single-family starts that matter to today's buyers and sellers throughout Utah. Homeowners rarely buy multi-unit homes or entire apartment buildings.

If we remove the report's tally of 2-4 unit homes and apartment buildings, we find that, in May, single-family housing starts rose for the 4th straight month, registering 516,000 homes started on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. This is the highest tally since April 2010, the last month of that year's frderal home buyer tax credit. 

Single-family housing starts are up 26% as compared to last year. 

The housing starts report, therefore -- headlines aside -- is the latest in a series of housing market data that points to a sustained recovery nationwide. If you're planning to buy a home in 2012, consider buying in between now and September because after that point, home prices and mortgage rates are likely to be higher.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

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Building Confidence Rises To 5-Year High

Homebuilder confidence since 2000

Home builders anticipate growth in the market for newly-built, single-family homes.  

For June 2012, the National Association of Homebuilders reports its monthly Housing Market Index at 29 -- an increase of more than 100% from one year ago and the highest HMI value since May 2007.

When the Housing Market Index reads 50 or better, it's meant to indicate favorable conditions for builders in the single-family, new-construction market. Readings below 50 suggest unfavorable conditions for builders.

The index has not been above 50 since April 2006. 

The NAHB Housing Market Index is not a "single survey" -- it's a composite. Three separate surveys are sent by the trade association to its members and roughly 400 builders respond. The NAHB's survey questions query builders on their current single-family home sales volume; their projected single-family home sales volume for the next 6 months; and, their current levels of buyer "foot traffic".

The results are then compiled into the NAHB Housing Market Index.

In June, home builders provided mixed replies :

  • Current Single-Family Sales : 32 (+2 from May)
  • Projected Single-Family Sales : 34 (Unchanged from May)
  • Buyer Foot Traffic : 23 (Unchanged from May)

Of particular interest to today's new construction buyers is that builders are reporting higher levels of single-family sales, and expect their sales volume to increase over the next six months. This expectation is rooted in housing market momentum and low mortgage rates.

Never in recorded history have homes been as affordable as they are today and home buyers are taking notice. Foot traffic through builder models remains strong and is at its highest pace in more than 5 years. 

When demand for homes outweighs the supply of homes, home prices rise. If builder expectations are met, therefore, buyers in Sandy should expect new home prices to rise in 2012's second half.

Planning to buy new construction this year or next? Consider moving up your time frame.

Monday, June 18, 2012

10 Cities Projecting Home Value Increases Through 2013

10 cities poised for growth through 2013Nationwide, the U.S. housing market is showing signs of recovery. Home prices are rising as demand for homes outweighs existing home supply in many metropolitan regions.

As is customary in real estate, though, the degrees to which home values change vary by area.

In some U.S. markets, the housing recovery is outpacing the national average. In other markets, it lags. In an effort to measure the changes, CNNMoney has named the 10 U.S. housing markets in which home prices may rise the fastest.

The list is stuffed with small- to mid-size cities, most of which have experienced huge price drops since the housing market's peak in 2007. The cities are gems, however, for the right type of home buyer. This may include real estate investors, first-time buyers, move-up buyers, and even parents with children in need of "college housing".

As listed by CNNMoney, the 10 cities in which home values are rising fastest are :

  1. Madera, CA (Down 53.1% from peak; Forecast 21.5% gain through 2013)
  2. Medford, OR (Down 37.1% from peak; Forecast 20.1% gain through 2013)
  3. Yuma, AZ (Down 37.4% from peak; Forecast 16.7% gain through 2013)
  4. Corvallis, OR (Down 11.4% from peak; Forecast 13.2% gain through 2013)
  5. Eugene, OR (Down 21.2% from peak; Forecast 12.4% gain through 2013)
  6. Olympia, WA (Down 26.3% from peak; Forecast 11.3% gain through 2013)
  7. Boise, ID (Down 36.9% from peak; Forecast 11.0% gain through 2013)
  8. Billings, MT (Down 3.0% from peak; Forecast 10.1% gain through 2013)
  9. Lewiston, ID (Down 7.5% from peak; Forecast 10.0% gain through 2013)
  10. Sante Fe, NM (Down 17.1% from peak; Forecast 10.0% gain through 2013)

These 10 cities are more diverse in their make-up than their geography. All ten can be found in the western half of the United States. However, whereas some cities are expected to excel as a result of proximity of universities -- Eugene and Corvallis, for example -- others are expected to excel for economic reasons.

This includes cities such as Yuma, which is in a Foreign Trade Zone.

Real estate remains a local market, though, and even within these ten cities, there will exist neighborhoods in which growth exceed national averages, and areas in which growth falls behind.

For accurate, real-time real estate data in South Jordan , be sure to speak with a real estate professional.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Georgia Takes Top Foreclosure Spot For First Time Since 2006

Foreclosure concentration June 2012

According to foreclosure data firm RealtyTrac, the number of foreclosure filings nationwide rose 9 percent in May as compared to April 2012. Filing topped 200,000 units for the first time in 3 months.

The term "foreclosure filing" is a catch-all term comprising default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions. On average, 1 in every 639 U.S. homes receiving a foreclosure filing in May.

As in most months, foreclosure activity was concentrated by state. Just 6 states accounted for more than half of the nation's total filings.

Those six states were :

  1. California : 13.6% of all repossessions
  2. Florida : 11.0% of all repossessions
  3. Georgia : 9.8% of all repossessions
  4. Illinois : 6.6% of all repossessions
  5. Michigan : 6.5% of all repossessions
  6. Arizona : 6.3% of all repossessions

An interesting note, though, is that for the first time since February 2006, Georgia was the country's most foreclosure-heavy state, displacing Nevada, which has dominated the foreclosure landscape for the last 5 years.

1 in 300 Georgia homes received a foreclosure filing in May. The national average last month was 1 in 639 homes.

At the other end of the foreclosure spectrum is Vermont. There was just 1 foreclosure filing for every 15,539 homes in The Green Mountain State last month.

Meanwhile, distressed homes remain in high demand with today's home buyers, accounting for 28 percent of April's overall existing home sales based on data from the National Association of REALTORS®. However, if your home purchase plans call for buying a foreclosed or bank-owned home, make sure you do your research first.

Buying bank-owned property is a different process as compared to buying a non-distressed home. The purchase contracts are different, the buyer-seller negotiations are different, and the homes are sometimes sold with defects. This can make it difficult to get a mortgage -- or even impossible.

Before buying "distressed", therefore, be sure to with a real estate agent. It's good to have an experienced agent on your side to coach you through the process.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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31 States Represented In June's Improving Market Index

Improving Markets Index June 2012The number of U.S. housing markets showing "measurable and sustained growth" slipped by 20 in June, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

The Improving Market Index is meant to identify housing markets in which economic growth is occurring as a whole -- not just in the real estate space.

By using three separate, independently-collected data series, each tied to local economic conditions, the Improving Market Index takes a broader view of the housing market than other housing market indicators -- the Case-Shiller Index, for example -- which are often singularly tied to housing contracts.

The Improving Market Index tracks three distinct data series :

  1. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics : Employment statistics
  2. From Freddie Mac : Home price growth
  3. From the Census Bureau : Single-family housing growth

A given metropolitan area is categorized as "improving" by the National Association of Homebuilders if all three data series indicate growth at least six months after that area's most recent economic trough.

In other words, the Improving Market Index looks past head-fakes of recovery, instead in search of long-term, sustainable growth.

This is one reason why its list of included cities is so fluid. It's difficult for a metropolitan area to meet the Improving Market Index's inclusion requirements month-after-month in a post-recession economy.

The Improving Market Index dropped to 80 in June, says the home builder trade group.

The list includes 28 new entrants, with forty-eight markets removed as compared to May. 31 states are represented nationwide.

For home buyers in Utah , the Improving Markets Index is a non-actionable report but it does do a good job of highlighting the local nature of real estate. For example, Columbus, Indiana was added as an Improving Market in June. Yet, Indianapolis, Indiana -- located just 46 miles away -- was downgraded from the same list. 

Economies vary by locale.

The complete Improving Markets Index is available for download at the NAHB website. For a better gauge of what's happening on the local level in Sandy , though, talk to a local real estate agent.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

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Before Moving, Check Your New Cost Of Living Estimates

Cost of Living adjustments in a new townWith home values slow to rise and mortgage rates at all-time lows, there's never been a more affordable time to own a home.

However, there is more to the cost of living than just a mortgage payment. There's the cost of groceries, gasoline and routine medical care, too.

Not surprisingly, where we live affects our costs.

Big cities are often more expensive in which to live, for example, and local tax laws influence daily costs, too. 

For home buyers moving across state borders, therefore -- or even for those moving long distances intra-state -- it's important to know the relative costs in your new hometown as compared to your current one. Your household cash flow depends on it. You can't know your budget for a home if you don't know what life in a new town will cost you.

Enter's Cost of Living Comparison Calculator.

In comparing the costs of 60 mundane, everyday items, the Cost of Living Comparison calculator can show you how common costs in your current home town compare to costs in your soon-to-be new home town.

The calculator asks for just three inputs -- (1) In what city do you live now, (2) To what city are you moving, and (3) What is your current salary -- then uses that information to produce a detailed cost comparison.

Some of the Cost of Living items compared include :

  • Ground beef costs
  • Veterinary services costs
  • Dozen egg costs
  • Doctor visit costs
  • Hair care costs

The calculator also includes local mortgage rate differences to help plan for housing, and accounts for median home prices, too.

The online Cost of Living calculator is based on data from the ACCRA. On the ACCRA website, a similar cost comparison report sells for $5. At, you can get the data for free.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mortgage Payments Fall To All-Time Lows

Mortgage payments

It's a money-saving time to be a Draper home buyer. Historically, mortgage rates of all types -- conventional, FHA, VA and USDA -- have never been lower and low mortgage rates make for low monthly payments. 

According to Freddie Mac's weekly mortgage rate survey, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.67% nationwide last week for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points at closing, plus a full set of closing costs. 0.7 discount points is a one-time closing cost equal to 0.7 percent of your loan size, or $700 per $100,000 borrowed.

Today's mortgage rates are a bargain as compared to just 1 year ago.

In early-June 2011, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage nationwide was higher by 88 basis points, or 0.88%. If you are among the many U.S. homeowners who bought or refinanced a home around that time, refinancing to today's mortgage rates could save you 10% or more on your payment.  

Home buyers have measurably more buying power, too.

Here is how mortgage payments on a typical 30-year fixed rate mortgage have changed in 12 months :

  • June 2011 : $509.66 principal + interest per $100,000 borrowed
  • June 2012 : $458.59 principal + interest per $100,000 borrowed

Setting the math to a real-life example, a homeowner whose $350,000, 30-year fixed rate mortgage dates to last June would recognize monthly savings of at least $179 per month just by refinancing into a new 30-year fixed rate mortgage at today's current levels. That's more than $2,145 in payment savings per year.

Even after accounting for the required loan discount points and closing costs, the "break-even point" on a refinance like that can come quickly.

Mortgage rates have been dropping but there's no promise they'll fall forever. Once rates reverse higher, they're expected to rise sharply. Therefore, if you're planning to buy a home or refinance one in Utah , consider locking in a mortgage rate while mortgage rates are low.

The market looks good for that today.

Monday, June 11, 2012

NO COST HOME LOAN 30 YEAR FIXED AT 4.00% / 4.067% APR 15 YEAR FIXED AT 3.375% / APR 3.501% CALL DANIEL PARIS 801-6044949

How To Keep A Clean Refrigerator

Clean refrigeratorDo you clean your refrigerator regularly, or only after you've run out of space? If your answer is the latter, your refrigerator may be harboring dangerous bacteria that can make you, your family, and your house guests ill.

Refrigerators should be cleaned monthly, inside and out, ideally. The process involves removing all foods, cleaning all shelves, and wiping down drawers. Spoiled food is removed and old containers reclaimed.

The process takes 20 minutes. Here's how to do it.

First, prepare your cleaning stations, including filling a sink with soapy water, and having drying towels handy. Complete this step before you start to remove food from the refrigerator. This limits the amount of time that food has available to reach room temperature.

Next, remove all food from the appliance. Throw out old food past its expiration, and leftovers which have been in containers for more than a few days. Check dairy products for expiration dates -- especially cheeses and creams. Toss fruits and vegetables that have spoiled. Wipe down condiment jars and bottles with a damp towel.

Next, with the refrigerator empty, remove all shelves and drawers and wash them in the water-filled sink. Scrub to remove any caked-on foods and spills. Rinse off the soapy water and dry the part on your drying towels.

Then, while the shelves and drawers are drying, using a mixture of baking soda and water, wipe down the interior surfaces of your appliance. The mixture should be roughly 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every 1 gallon of water. Wipe the mixture off with a clean towel.

Lastly, move the shelves and drawers back into the refrigerator and replace all of the food that's "good".

Refrigerators can be a dirty place. We rarely wash our hands before handling food in a refrigerator and that can contribute to a bacteria-heavy environment. A good cleaning, though, can keep our foods -- and our home -- healthy.

Clean your refrigerator regularly.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

FHA To Change Its Mortgage Insurance Premium Schedule Monday, June 11, 2012

New FHA MIPBeginning Monday, June 11, the FHA is changing its mortgage insurance premium schedule for the second time this year.

Some FHA mortgage applicants will pay lower mortgage insurance premiums going forward. Others will pay more. The new premiums apply to all FHA mortgages, both purchase and refinance.

The MIP update will be the 5th time in four years that the FHA has changed its mortgage insurance premium schedule.

FHA-backed homeowners who have not refinanced within the last 3 years will benefit from the new MIP. This is because, beginning with all FHA Case Numbers assigned on, or after, June 11, 2012, homeowners whose current FHA mortgage pre-dates June 1, 2009 will be entitled to dramatically reduced annual mortgage insurance premiums and almost zero upfront MIP via the FHA Streamline Refinance program.

Whereas new FHA applicants may pay up to 1.25% per year for annual mortgage insurance plus 175 basis points at closing for upfront MIP, the "grandfathered" FHA applicants will pay just 0.55% per year for mortgage insurance and 1 basis point at closing.

Assuming an FHA loan size of $200,000, the savings are large :

  • New FHA applicant : $208 per month for annual MIP; $3,500 due at closing for upfront MIP.
  • Pre-June 2009 FHA applicant : $92 per month for annual MIP; $20 due at closing for upfront MIP.

The premiums apply to all FHA mortgage applicants, regardless of loan product or term. For example, 15-year FHA mortgage will follow the same mortgage insurance premium schedule as a 30-year FHA mortgages.

Another class of FHA-backed homeowners won't get so lucky. For homeowners in high-cost areas whose mortgages are between $625,500 and the local FHA loan limit, annual mortgage insurance premiums will be raised by 0.25% for all 15-year and 30-year loan terms.

For loan sizes above $625,500, the new annual FHA mortgage insurance premiums are as follows :

  • Loan term of 15 years or fewer, loan-to-value of 90% or less : 0.35% per year
  • Loan term of 15 years or fewer, loan-to-value greater than 90% : 0.60% per year
  • Loan term of more than 15 years, loan-to-value of 95% or less : 1.45% per year
  • Loan term of more than 15 years, loan-to-value greater than 95% : 1.50% per year

FHA-backed homeowners with loan terms of 15 years or fewer, and with loan-to-values below 78%, are exempt from annual MIP. Upfront MIP payments, however, remain mandatory.

The FHA continues to tinker with its mortgage insurance premiums, attempting to strike a balance between affordability for its homeowners and solvency for its program. Experts expect the FHA to change its premiums again. And, when it does, it's likely that premiums will rise.

If your FHA mortgage will be for more than $625,000, and you plan to make a purchase or refinance application soon, it's best to get your FHA Case Number prior to Monday, June 11. Otherwise, you'll pay higher annual MIP.

Against a $700,000 mortgage, the extra 0.25% in MIP per year will add $1,750 to your annual housing payment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Simple Real Estate Definitions : Home Inspection

Get a home inspectionWhen you preview homes as a home buyer, you can get a good feel for the home's visible traits -- its finishes, its room counts, and its landscaping, for example. What you can't get a feel for, though, is the home's "bones".

It's for this reason that real estate professionals recommend that you have a property formally inspected immediately after going into contract for it.

A home inspection is a thorough, top-to-bottom check-up of a property's structure and systems. It is not the same as a home appraisal, which is a valuation of the property. By contrast, home inspections are an objective report on a home's physical condition.

Home inspections are performed by home inspectors who will typically do the following :

  • Check heating and cooling systems for leaks and efficiency
  • Check electrical systems for safety and soundness of design
  • Check plumbing systems for venting, distribution, and drainage

In addition, a home inspector will review a home's roofing system; its doors, windows and garages; plus, any attic spaces and basements, where appropriate.

A home inspection may also uncover out-of-code electrical work that municipalities required to be fixed by law.

Meanwhile, it's not just home buyers who can order inspections. Sellers can order them, too.

One recommended tactic is for a home seller to have the home inspected prior to listing for sale so that all required repairs can be made in advance of showing the home. This can speed up and simplify the sales process, and may help your home sell at a higher price. Buyers often prefer homes in "move-in" ready condition.

A thorough home inspection can take up to 6 hours to complete, depending on the size of the home.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

U.S. Posts Its 20th Straight Month Of Job Growth

Non-Farm Payrolls 2010-2012For the second straight year, the jobs market looks to be slowing into the summer.

Last Friday, in its monthly Non-Farm Payrolls report for May 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 69,000 net new jobs created, plus a one-tick rise in the national Unemployment Rate to 8.2%.

2012 is shaping up like 2011, it appears.

Last year, between May and August, the jobs market was decidedly worse as compared to the rest of the year, adding just 80,000 jobs on average per month as compared to 190,000 new jobs created on average during each of the other 8 months.

This year, a similar slowdown may be in store. 

Although the May jobs report marks the 20th consecutive month during which the U.S. economy added new jobs, the reported figure fell well short of analyst expectations, which called for 150,000 net new jobs last month.

In addition, it was found that the previously-reported tallies for new jobs created in March and April were overstated by a total of forty-seven thousand jobs. This lowered the overall net new jobs created last month to 22,000.

Mortgage rates in Draper are falling on the news.

Since the jobs report's release, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates have dropped below Freddie Mac's reported 3.75% mortgage rate for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus closing costs; and, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage has dropped farther below 3.00%.

The weaker-than-expected data has moved Wall Street investors away from stock markets in favor of the relative safety of bond markets, a market which includes the one for mortgage-backed bonds. When mortgage-backed bonds are in demand like this, it helps to push down mortgage rates nationwide.

That's exactly what we're seeing.

Mortgage rates are expected to make new lows this week, in part, because of U.S. employment weakness. Should this year's jobs market rebound like in 2011, though, look for mortgage rates to climb back shortly.