Sunday, July 31, 2016

Interest Rates Not Moved Higher

Interest Rates:  As expected the Fed did not move interest rates higher at their meeting this week.  Despite the fact that the June employment report was quite strong, there were still lingering effects from May’s dismal employment numbers.  It is seen in the Fed minutes the words “strengthened” to describe the labor market and “growing strongly” in respect to household spending.

The report is somewhat optimistic about the economy given that job growth and consumer spending remain strong.  This may be enough for the Fed to raise interest rates in September.  On the flip side some policy makers are speaking, in a tone we have heard from a long time, in which they are saying rates will remain low for some time.

Mortgage Rates:  The combination of interest rates rising slightly has once again shown how sensitive borrowers are to rate movements.  Refinance volume which is the most responsive to rate changes declined with 15.0 percent for the week ending July 22nd.  Purchase applications moved lower by 3.0 percent, which may also be tied into the normal housing slowdown which often begins to occur moving into late summer.

S&P Case-Shiller Home Value Index:  Home prices are softening which appears to be having a positive impact on sales.  According to the Case-Shiller Index home prices declined 0.1 percent for the month of May.  Analysts were expecting an increase ranging from 0.3 percent all the way up to 1.3 percent.

Additionally, there was a significant revision to April’s numbers.  After originally being reported as a gain of 0.5 percent, the report was revised downward showing a decline of prices by 0.2 percent.  Prices compared to the same time last year are up 5.2 percent.

New Home Sales:  This housing sector continues to show strength as sales continued to increase in June.  The latest report shows new homes are selling at an annualized pace of 592,000.  This is higher than the previous month’s upward revision from 551K up to 572K.

The increase in sales did not occur at the expense of prices.  Median home prices increased to $306,700, which reflects a 6.2 percent rise.  Overall new home prices are higher by 6.1 percent from the same time last year.

Pending Home Sales:  This sector of the housing market unfortunately has been the weakest area as of late.  Pending sales increased only 0.2 percent for the month of June.  Sales compared to the same time last year are up only 1.0 percent.

First Time Jobless Claims:  Claims for the week ending July 23rd moved up slightly from 252K to 266K.  Overall the pace of claims remains healthy and there appears to be stability in the job markets.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Monday August 1st – ISM Manufacturing Index and Construction Spending
·        Tuesday August 2nd -  Personal Income and Outlays
·        Wednesday August 3rd - MBA Mortgage Applications and ADP Employment Report
·        Thursday August 4th - First Time Jobless Claims and Factory Orders
·        Friday August 5th – Employment Situation

As your mortgage and real estate professional, I am happy to assist you with any information you may need regarding mortgage or real estate trends.  I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way I possibly can.  Please feel free to reach me at (707) 455-7070.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

How Far Have You Gone To Catch Pokémon?

There's no shortage of odd, funny and even risky tales of the lengths people will go to find Pokémon. At San Diego Comic-Con, we asked people the oddest things they’ve done to catch ‘em all.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The New Home Market Is Solid

New Home Sales:  The new home market is solid however it does not seem to be growing based upon the latest Housing Market Index report.  Home builders are enjoying a great buyer’s market with a rating of a very strong 64.  Optimism for future sales declined slightly from 69 down to 66.   The only concern in the latest report is the weakness in buyer traffic.  It appears that first time homebuyers remain noticeably absent from the new home purchase market.

The West continues to lead the country in new construction followed by the southern region.  The Midwest remains healthy in the building of new homes and the Northeast, as usual, continues to lag way behind.

Mortgage Rates:  It’s amazing just how sensitive buyers and existing home owners are to mortgage rates.  With the slight uptick in rates last week, mortgage applications declined. Although the drops are small, it is still a change in direction and an illustration of just how close borrowers are watching mortgage rates.  The Mortgage Bankers Association of American reported that applications for purchases and refinances both declined by 2.0 percent and 1.0 percent respectively.

Housing Starts:  The housing sector continues to improve with housing starts rising by 4.8 percent in June.  Permits also increased 1.5 percent which shows that builders remain confident about the future of housing related to new home construction.  Single-family home starts rose 4.4 percent with permits up 1.0 percent.

When compared from the previous quarter, housing starts are up 0.8 percent while permits have remained virtually flat.  The housing market is not on fire however it is directly contributing to economic stability.

Existing Home Sales:  This housing sector continues to show gains as existing home sales climbed 1.1 percent for the month of June. At an annualized rate of 5.570 million, this is the best pace since February 2007.  Single-family sales increased a very strong 0.8 percent in June and is currently 3.1 percent higher than from the same time last year.

FHFA House Price Index:  The rise in recent home sale prices appears to be driven in part by seller concessions.  The FHFA house price index rose 0.2 percent for the month of May.  This is the weakest increase since last August   Home prices are up 5.6 percent from the same time last year which is one of the lowest differentials since the start of the housing recovery.

First Time Jobless Claims:  The question being asked is Where are auto-retooling layoffs this summer? Analysts are wondering if the reason first time jobless claims are remaining so low is because the automotive industry has not been laying off employees for the typical summer retooling of their factories.  Claims remain very low at 253,000 which is far lower than the consensus which was calling for a spike back higher.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Tuesday July 26th – S&P Case-Shiller HPI, New Home Sales, and Consumer Confidence
·        Wednesday July 27th - MBA Mortgage Applications and New Home Sales
·        Thursday July 28th - First Time Jobless Claims and EIA Petroleum Report
·        Friday July 29th – GDP and Consumer Sentiment

As your mortgage and real estate professional, I am happy to assist you with any information you may need regarding mortgage or real estate trends.  I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way I possibly can.  Please feel free to reach me at (707) 455-7070.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fire Facts - Neighborhood Team

Fie Chief Kris Concepcion and Fire Prevention Bureau Manager Jill Childers discuss the newly-reformed Neighborhood Team and provide an update on the Fourth of July.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Brexit, Mortgages And The Stock Market

The Market:

Investors appear to have moved on from Brexit and are feeling more confident.  The stock market is up almost 300 points for the week and there seems to be little chatter on the newswires about Brexit.  Ever since the European countries committed to doing whatever is necessary to stabilize the markets during Great Britain’s exit, markets around the world have remained calmer.

Mortgage Rates:

With last week’s continuing decline in mortgage rates, refinance applications jumped 11.0 percent according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.  Purchase applications remained unchanged possibly indicating that home sales are flattening.  Reasons for the lack of movement may be due to the typical summer slowdown as well as the lack of available inventory in many parts of the country.

Labor Market:

June’s impressive employment report showing an increase in payrolls of 287,000.  This seems to be striking a nice balance for investors between returning optimistic to the job market, and not being strong enough for the Fed to take action on interest rates.  The markets tend to love status quo.

First Time Jobless Claims:

Claims for the week ending July 9th showed no change.  254,000 has been the number for the last two reports and this remains well below the 300K level which typically sets the “concern” alarm for investors.

EIA Petroleum Report:

It appears that production of oil is once again rising.  Price of a barrel of oil has dropped down to about $45 and oil reserves have increased.  Although consumption has remained high, it is clear because OPEC has not achieved agreement on production and most countries are delivering as much oil to the market as possible.


Prices on the wholesale level have been increasing at a rate of 0.5%.  This pace is moving closer to what is considered a healthy indicator of economic stability and growth.  Although not quite where we need to be, the recent increase in prices on the wholesale are retail level are positive.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Monday July 18th – Housing Market Index
·        Tuesday July 19th – Housing Starts
·        Wednesday July 20th - MBA Mortgage Applications
·        Thursday July 21st - First Time Jobless Claims, Existing Home Sales, and FHFA HPI
·        Friday July 22nd – PMI Manufacturing Index

As your mortgage and real estate professional, I am happy to assist you with any information you may need regarding mortgage or real estate trends.  I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way I possibly can.  Please feel free to reach me at (707) 455-7070.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How To Obtain A Mortgage : Negotiating Mortgage Closing Costs

You have to pay closing costs at the time of the closing. Learn how to obtain a mortgage in this free personal finance video from a loan officer and mortgage closing specialist.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Calm Insanity


Market insanity has seemed to have calmed down related to Brexit.  Although what is going to happen in Europe is anyone’s guess, overall more and more investors are taking a wait and see attitude.  Focus has resumed more towards domestic economic data to make investment decisions.

Factory Orders:

A worse than expected report for May showed orders falling 1.0 percent and pointing to specific weakness in capital goods. Capital goods orders fell 0.4 percent which follows April’s 0.9 percent drop.  Factory shipments also declined 0.5 percent which essentially reverses April's 0.6 percent gain.

Mortgage Rates

The interest rate plummet has once again reignited mortgage activity.  In contrast to Brexit’s negative impact on the stock market, Brexit has investors running into the bond market driving rates down to the lowest point since May of 2013.

Refinance applications surged 21 percent from the previous week and lenders are scrambling to keep up with loan volume.  The current rate of refinances is the highest since January 2015 according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.  Applications are 23 percent higher from the same time last year.  Purchase applications have not responded nearly as strong with a modest increase of only 4. 0 percent.

FOMC Minutes

The FOMC minutes do not include any impact from Brexit as the meeting took place prior to the announcement.  May’s employment report appears to have quelled the Fed’s appetite for raising interest rates.  Now Brexit just adds more reason not to raise rates.  Almost all of the 17 board members recognized the seriousness of last month’s employment report and are now moving away from any interest rate increase for the time being.

ADP Employment Report

ADP believes that June payrolls will pop back from May’s poor report and estimate that private payroll jumped up to 172,000.   Although ADP’s report seems to be somewhat accurate about half the time, most analysts are expecting the labor department’s report to show improvement from last month as well.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Monday July 11th – Labor Market Conditions
·        Tuesday July 12th – Small Business Optimism Index
·        Wednesday July 13th - MBA Mortgage Applications and FOMC Minutes
·        Thursday July 14th –First Time Jobless Claims and Producer Price Index
·        Friday July 15th – Consumer Price Index, Consumer Sentiment, and Retail Sales

As your mortgage and real estate professional, I am happy to assist you with any information you may need regarding mortgage or real estate trends.  I welcome the opportunity to serve you in any way I possibly can.  Please feel free to reach me at (707) 455-7070.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

5 Tips For Finding The Right Mortgage Company

Deciding to buy a home is a big step, and you need the right lender to work with you. Choosing the right mortgage company takes time, and it is important that you shop around. The following tips can help make sure the lender you choose is the right one for you.

What Type of Lender

A mortgage company can be big or small. If you want to deal with someone who is more personal and knows who you are the minute you walk in, then a smaller lender is the best choice for you. However, smaller outfits may not be able to get you the best interest rate. Larger operations are able to negotiate rates differently, and they may be able to get the interest rate a little lower. You should research the different companies in your area to see how they compare.

Mortgage Company Reputation

When checking out companies in your area, you should also take the time to check their reputation online. Many sites are dedicated to giving consumers a voice in how they are treated. Not only should you look at current and past customer reviews; you need to check with the Better Business Bureau. When speaking to associates at these businesses, don't be afraid to ask questions about what you read. It gives them a chance to explain any contradictions you may have encountered.

Ask Family and Friends

If you have family or friends who already own a home, ask them about who they use. You can find out how the lender treated them during the application process and since they have completed the sale on their property. By getting these first-hand referrals, you know you are considering someone you can truly trust.

Real Estate Agents Can Help

Real estate agents don't just know where the best houses are. They also know who the best mortgage company is. If you do not already have a preapproval in the works before speaking to an agent, get his or her advice on which groups are the best. Yes, they may recommend their in-house lender first thing. However, a great agent will also tell you which officers take the best care of their customers. If you go with one of these agents, make sure he or she knows that your real estate agent referred you. It could earn you a discount at closing and help to ensure the two work well together through the closing process.

A Broker May Still Be the Answer

Not everyone has the time to do all of the research themselves. If that is the case, then you may want to hire a specialist who can save you time when you are looking for a mortgage company. However, you need to be aware that brokers earn commission by arranging deals between the borrower and loan agent. Most brokers work to find the right lender for their client. Some, however, look for what will make them the biggest profit. Do your homework on any broker you are considering before hiring one.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Meet America's First Family Of Fireworks

The Grucci family has been involved in the fireworks business since 1850. Their company, Fireworks By Grucci, produces around 250 fireworks displays each year.