Monday, August 21, 2017

Common Roadside Emergencies - Adulting 101: Century 21

Because owning a home is only the beginning. Century 21 presents everything you need to know to master Adulting

Friday, August 18, 2017

Housing and Stock Markets Mixed, but Fall Forecasts are Positive

The Stock Markets

After a 271% rise in the stock market, rumbles of concern that it may be overpriced are starting to be heard on Wall Street. Many experts are expressing concern that the valuations are not warranted and that a correction may be forthcoming.

Thursday’s decline of 274 points was blamed primarily on concerns over the terrorist attack in Barcelona. However, many investors commented that they believe the size of the decline was exacerbated by the underlying concerns about how much the market has risen since the last correction.

Mortgage Bankers Association Loan Application Weekly Data

Purchase applications for home mortgages decreased a seasonally adjusted 2.0 percent for the week ending August 11th. For mid-August, purchase application increases or decreases within a few percentage points, week to week, are essentially indicative of a flat market. The good news is that purchase apps are higher by 10% from the same time last year. With mortgage rates continuing to remain low, refinance applications rose 2.0 percent. Refinancing increased by 1.1 of all mortgages to a level of 47.8 percent of all loans being financed.

Housing Starts

Housing starts unexpectedly declined to a lower than expected annualized 1.155 million. The current rate is now back to the same levels as March and April of this year. It is too early to determine, however there are signs that the final trend for 2017 might end up being lower than the prior year. On the positive side, there continues to be commentary that the Fall real estate market may bring stronger than normal due to the pent-up demand from a consistent lack of available inventory. The one thing to watch is what happens both domestically with President Trump policies, as well as any geo-political events, such as Thursday’s act of terrorism in Barcelona.

Housing Market Index

This index, which is comprised of feedback from the National Association of Home Builders which provides a rating of the general economy and housing market conditions, delivered an upside surprise this week. The latest reading was up by 4 points which was better than analyst’s expectations. The current level of the index indicates positive sentiment of the nation’s home builders on the future of the economy and housing.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Tuesday August 22nd – FHFA House Price Index
· Wednesday August 23rd - MBA Mortgage Applications, New Home Sales
· Thursday August 24th - First Time Jobless Claims, Existing Home Sales
· Friday August 25th – Durable Goods Orders

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.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Economic Data Remains Strong; Purchase and Refinance Applications Increase

The Stock Markets

It has been a while since any vulnerability to the rising stock indices has existed. Economic data continues to remain strong and shows little sign of weakening. Geopolitical concerns over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have been taking center stage all week on the news channels and the concerns are starting to show up in investor decisions with more money flowing into the bond market.

Mortgage Bankers Association Loan Application Weekly Data

Purchase applications for home mortgages increased a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent for the week ending August 4th. Applications for refinances jumped 5.0 percent with the recent slight decline in rates. As mentioned in the previous section, concerns on the international fronts have investors starting to remove money from stocks and placing funds in bonds as a hedge against market uncertainty.

The housing market continues to remain ahead of last year. From the same date a year ago, the purchase index is up by 7.0 percent. The refinance portion of mortgage financing increased by 1.2 percent to represent 46.7 percent of all mortgage financing. Mortgage rates for the week declined by 3 basis points, which appears to be enough to stimulate a few more refinances.

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)

Once again it is clear that there is a significant shortage of qualified candidates to fill the job openings that currently exist. For the month of June job openings rose sharply to 6.163 million. This is up from the prior month’s 5.702 million. Hiring has been struggling as the filling of these available positions declined sharply by 103,000. Although this index can be quite volatile, the recent data points to significant tightness in the labor market. Additionally, despite all the job openings, the reduction in hires is an indicator that many employers want to fill open positions, but they remain against paying significant wage increases to attract the help.

Noteworthy News

The airline industry, which is not known for stellar customer service, is dipping it toes into the water of two-way texting with customers. Up until now, airlines only offered text communication one-way, from airline to passengers, typically related to gate change announcements and flight schedule changes or delays.

Hawaiian Airlines and Jetblue have begun a service (albeit it is in the testing phase) that allows passengers to communicate with customer service staff via text. Passengers can even complain via text. This should be interesting to see what happens in the coming months as the airline industry is notorious for not listening.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Tuesday August 15th – Housing Market Index
· Wednesday August 16th - MBA Mortgage Applications, Housing Starts, FOMC Minutes
· Thursday August 17th - First Time Jobless Claims, Industrial Production
· Friday August 18th – 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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Don't Waste Your Time!: Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval

You've made that very personal decision, to consider buying a house of your own! You may have put off this moment, for a variety of reasons, including; indecisiveness; geographic; job-related; financial, etc, but now, you think, you're ready! So, what should you do first! The logical first-step is to discuss finance, and the all-important mortgage information, with a qualified mortgage broker or banker. If you have received a recommendation from someone you trust, and is knowledgable, begin with a conversation with that professional. If not, interview, and hire, a real estate professional, who will take care of your needs, and provide you with recommendations of reliable mortgage professionals. Either way, be certain to get a Mortgage Pre-Approval, before you begin your quest for the house of your dreams.

1. A pre-qualification is not a pre-approval: Beware, there is huge difference between being pre-qualified, and pre-approved! The former means that based on the basic information you have provided, you would be able to qualify to get a certain size mortgage. On the other hand, the latter means the broker/bank, has done a thorough review of your income, liabilities, etc, as they would before they issued a mortgage, and, as long as the house comps out, you will get a mortgage.

2. Other debts/liabilities: Lending institutions use a formula to determine how much mortgage one might qualify for. It takes into consideration all debt owed, and that combined with your new mortgage debt, cannot exceed a certain percentage. That is, in addition to, the mortgage must fall within a certain percentage of one's income.

3. What can you afford as a down-payment?: Traditionally, you are asked to put down 20% down-payment, and you can then use your mortgage for the balance. However, there are loans available, which require less down, but that means a higher monthly payment! You may also be in a position to put down more, and carry a smaller mortgage. This must be a combination of what you can actually afford, as well as your comfort level.

4. What can you afford monthly: The lending institution will come up with a maximum figure, they say you can carry monthly. They base this as a percentage of one's income. However, you may not feel comfortable with that amount of debt, so you must take that into consideration. All this valuable information will help you decide the price ranges you should look at, when you search for a home.

5. Move to the front of the line: Let's say you've taken into consideration the above information, and now are prepared and ready, to begin your search, in earnest. You have searched, and found the house you want, but others feel the same way. When there are competing offers, the buyer with a Pre-Approval, often is given more consideration, because it is considered a better bet, for the seller.

It is the responsibility of a qualified real estate professional to help you find the right house, at the best available price, with the least amount of hassle or wasted time! Make it easier on yourself, by beginning properly, by getting a Mortgage Pre-Approval.

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

How-to Host a BBQ - Adulting 101: Century 21

Ready to impress the neighbors?

Because owning a home is only the beginning. Century 21 presents everything you need to know to master Adulting

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Real Estate Closings: 5 Needs To Remember

Congratulations! You've hoped for, and found, the house, you believe, best serves your needs, requirements, concerns, etc. If you are like most people, you will be using a mortgage, to provide a significant amount of the necessary payment, and gone through the trials and tribulations of the process, and emerged successfully approved, for the amount you needed and/ or desired. Finally, before the deed on the house, transfers from the present owner, to you, you will have to emerge from what many first - time buyers, refer to, as the dreaded, real estate closing. Let's review 5 things, which may be requested from you, so you aren't surprised, but rather are as prepared as possible, thus making this, go far more smoothly, and with less stress!

1. Where the earnest money came from: Lending institutions often question, where one got the funds, to put down, also known as the earnest money. For example, if a property sells for $500,000, and you are to put 20% down, that means $100,000 down - payment. Generally, when you sign the contract, you will be expected to put an amount down, known as earnest money. This amount is often 10%, so in this case, someone would put $50,000 down, upon signing the contract, and a similar amount payable at the closing. You might often be asked to show where this money came from, by submitting a few months bank statements, or investment statements, etc.

2. Tax returns: Mortgage banks and brokers, generally require the buyer, to submit the two, most recent, years, tax returns. This is generally done, by signing a form, permitting, them to get these from the government. Be prepared to answer anything, which might tend to be somewhat confusing!

3. Investment statements: Gather the investment statements from your investments. Generally, you will be asked, also, for the past year, or two, and especially, the most recent few quarters.

4. Bank statements: You'll have to provide, at least, the last 2 bank statements, and some might ask for 3 or 4. Be certain these indicate, clearly, you can afford the home, you are purchasing.

5. Know your credit rating: Do you have a, high - enough, credit rating, to assure the lending institution? The best approach, is to fully evaluate this, carefully, prior to begin your house - hunting!

There are many other closing requirements, but the above 5, are consistent, and, if one is prepared properly, should be no problem! As the Boy Scout Motto goes, Be prepared!

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Ready, Set, Rec! - August

Recreation Manager Reggie Hubbard gets you up-to-date on what's happening in recreation in Vacaville in August!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Decline in Existing Home Sales and Refinances; Still Up from Last Year

Existing Home Sales

The recent decline in pending home sales, translated into a decline in existing home sales. The latest data showed a drop of 1.8 percent for the month of June. Compared to the same time last year, existing sales are up 0.7 percent.

On the flip-side, home prices are up a sharp 6.5 percent from a year ago. The latest median home price is $263,800. The supply of homes continues to remain a big challenge in many markets throughout the country. Supply dropped 0.5 percent in June which places the national average at 4.3 months. The most notable concern relating to home availability is that supply is 7.1 percent lower than the same time last year.

Mortgage Bankers Association Loan Application Weekly Data

After last week’s large jump in refinances, it seems that the little upward movement in rates has quelled the brief refi excitement. The latest numbers reported from the Mortgage Bankers Association is that refinances only increased 3.0 percent for the week ending July 21st. Purchase applications declined a minimal 2.0 percent for the same week. The good news in the latest report is that purchase applications are 8.0 percent higher than the same time last year.

FHFA House Price Index

The FHFA Index, which measures the prices of single-family homes was up 0.4 percent in May, which is the softest increase since January. However, home prices are up for this index by 6.9 percent from the same time last year. This is the biggest year-on-year spread in 3 ½ years.

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller House Price Index

The question people are starting to ask is “is home price appreciation slowing?”

Although the existing home sales report showed a strong increase in home prices, the latest Case-Shiller data points to more modest price growth. For the 20 major cities in which the data is based, home prices only increased 0.1 percent for the month of May. Expectations were that home prices would be up by 0.3 percent according to the Econoday estimates. Overall home prices are higher by 5.7 percent from last year in the Case-Shiller data.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday July 31st - Pending Home Sales
· Tuesday August 1st – PMI Manufacturing Index, Construction Spending, ISM Mfg Index
· Wednesday August 2nd - MBA Mortgage Applications, ADP Employment Report
· Thursday August 3rd - First Time Jobless Claims, Factory Orders
· Friday August 4th – National Employment Report

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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Although Still High, Housing Market Index Decline

Housing Market Index

Home builders continue to be less excited about the future of housing than earlier this year. The housing market index declined to a lower than expected level of 64 in July. Although still very high, this is the lowest level since November of last year.

The less than highly optimistic sentiment is evenly divided among the 3 components that make up the index. Future sales still lead the index at a level of 73 followed by present sales at 70. Traffic is where the concern is coming from. The traffic level of 48 is below the breakeven number of 50, and is the second month in a row below this benchmark.

Mortgage Bankers Association Loan Application Weekly Data

Application direction reversed course after accounting for the prior week’s July 4th holiday adjustment. For the week ending July 14th, applications for home purchases increased 1.0 percent. Refinances, jumped 13.0 percent erasing the prior week’s decline of the same amount.

Purchase applications are up 7.0 percent from the same time last year. Refinances represent 44.7 percent of mortgage activity, which is up 2.6 percent from the prior week. There continues to be talk that the fall may be a stronger housing market than normal due to the abnormally slow Spring market due to limited inventory.

Housing Starts

This data has been moving up and down over the last few months. This trend continued with a positive report for the month of June. Housing starts and permits were both higher. Expectations were for the pace of annualized starts to come in at 1.200 million. The actual report delivered 1.215 M, plus the prior month was revised higher by 300,000. Translating all this to percentages, housing starts increased 8.3 percent and permits jumped 7.4 percent.

Starts for single-family homes rose 6.3 percent while multi-family jumped 13.3 percent. Surprisingly is that the Northeast led the country followed by the Midwest. The West was up slightly and the South was down significantly.

The housing market will get the rest of the data it needs to better indicate the future of housing next week. With three major housing reports, investors will be paying close attention.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday July 24th – Existing Home Sales
· Tuesday July 15th – FHFA House Price Index, S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI
· Wednesday July 26th - MBA Mortgage Applications, New Home Sales, FOMC Announcement
· Thursday July 27th - First Time Jobless Claims, Durable Goods Orders
· Friday July 28th - GDP

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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Keep Your Home Safe While You're on Vacation | Consumer Reports

The FBI says that 90% of home burglaries can be prevented. Thinking ahead before you go on vacation can help stop burglars from targeting your home while you're away. Use these tips from Consumer Reports experts.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Nurture Your Green Thumb: Indoor Edition - Adulting 101: Century 21

Put an end to killing plants.

Because owning a home is only the beginning. Century 21 presents everything you need to know to master Adulting

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Get Pre-Approved Before Buying Your Next Home

Prior to looking for a home, the first step you should take in the home buying process is to complete a mortgage pre-approval with a knowledgeable and trustworthy lender. Be sure to provide honest and accurate information to your lender. This will help the loan officer find the best mortgage options for you and ensure the fastest and smoothest loan approval process. The following suggestions will help expedite the loan process.

• Read All Documents - Make sure you thoroughly read all the loan documents. Ask your loan officer to explain anything that you do not understand. Never sign blank or incomplete documents.

• Be Truthful - Truthfully disclosure all your income sources and debts. Do not fabricate or alter any documents.

• Explain Your Employment History - Thoroughly explain and document any part-time employment or gaps in your employment history.

• Source and Document Your Funds - All gifts must be fully documented with a paper trail. Do not accept cash as a gift from a relative for the down payment. Only seasoned funds are acceptable as gifts.

• Credit Issues - Thoroughly explain and document all past credit problems.

• Educate - Ask your loan officers to explain the terms of the loan, including any prepayment penalties, variable rate features, and any stipulations on how to eliminate private mortgage insurance.

Once your pre-approval has been issued by the lender, be sure to ask your loan officer to review with you all the loan programs your pre-approval includes. If you are a first time home buyer, you may qualify for down payment assistance, a zero down mortgage, or a special interest rate. While looking for a new house, you may find a property that needs a renovation loan or a condominium that can only be financed with a particular loan type. If you are looking a newer house, a construction or draw loan may be the best mortgage type for you. Be sure you thoroughly understand all your financing options before finding the house of your dreams. During the house-hunting process, keep an open line of communication with your loan officer and discuss financing options and inform your lender of any major financial changes that happen between the date your mortgage pre-approval was issued and the loan closing. If any changes occur to your financial situation, such as: a new job, new loans, or large gift that you intend to use towards the down payment, be sure to inform your loan officer so he is aware of these changes.

Keeping your lender updated will eliminate delays and the surprise of a possible mortgage denial. Having a mortgage denied due to changes in your financial picture, especially after telling your friends and family you bought a house can be embarrassing and heartbreaking. Be sure to talk to your lender, so you have a thorough understanding of the mortgage requirements and programs available to you.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Are You Fluent in HR Paperwork? - Adulting 101: Century 21

Because owning a home is only the beginning. Century 21 presents everything you need to know to master Adulting

Monday, July 10, 2017

Why Should the Fed be Any Different than the Rest of the United States Government?

FOMC Minutes

Why should the Fed be any different than the rest of the United States Government?

Everyone already knows that Congress could not be more divided. Well…the Fed appears to be divided as well. The latest FOMC Minutes show that many policy makers want the Fed to start unwinding the Fed’s balance sheet that has grown to enormous proportions ever since the great recession. However, there are some policy makers that are steadfast in wanting to hold off until later in the year to begin this process.

The labor market continues to remain red hot with more jobs available than qualified applicants to fill them. The challenge that exists to the Fed is that inflation continues to remain ultra-low and making changes to economic policy could cause unintended consequences of hurting the economy.

Given that there continue to be a number of mixed economic reports, as of late, it seems that many analysts are shying away from predicting when the Fed will make the next rate hike or begin to unwind the bloated balance sheet.

Mortgage Bankers Association Loan Application Weekly Data

Purchase applications finally turned higher for the week ending June 30th. According to the MBA applications for purchase loans rose 3.0 percent from the prior week. This reverses the previous decline of 4.0 percent from the week before. Refinance applications were virtually unchanged. Purchase applications remain 6.0 percent higher than the same time last year.


ISM’s manufacturing index indicates the fire in the sector has returned. The latest report for June is at a level of 57.8. This is higher than experts were predicting and shows that demand for production is strong. This is the strongest report since August of 2014.


ISM’s non-manufacturing index, which reports on services, construction, mining, forestry, fishing, and hunting, also showed a strong gain in June. The index jumped from 56.9 to 57.4 and demonstrates that these areas of the economy continue to maintain solid growth as well with no signs of slowing.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday July 10th – Labor Market Conditions Index
· Tuesday July 11th – JOLTS Report
· Wednesday July 12th - MBA Mortgage Applications
· Thursday July 13th - First Time Jobless Claims, Producer Price Index
· Friday July 14th – Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales, Industrial Production

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.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

Enjoy this Independence Day with parades, fireworks, music and dance. 

Have a fun filled 4th of July!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Early Spring Market Disappointing - Hopeful for a Better Summer and Fall

Case-Shiller's Home Price Index

In recent weeks, I have been mentioning how the Summer and Fall housing markets are being predicted, by some experts, to be far above average. We should hope they are correct on account that the early Spring market was a rather large disappointment.

The latest Case-Shiller's home price index increased by a rather small 0.3 percent in April. In February home prices were up by 6.0 percent from the same time in the prior year. However, for the month of March, the year-on-year rate slipped back down to 5.7 percent. This is the first reversal in year-on-year spread in a very long time,

To the surprise of many, San Francisco home prices dropped 0.6 percent in the month. Boston was down by 0.7 percent and Cleveland declined by 1.0 percent. Not surprising is Seattle leading the country with a year-on-year spread up by 12.9 percent.

Mortgage Bankers Association Loan Application Weekly Data

For the week ending June 23rd, purchase applications for home mortgages dropped by a seasonally adjusted 4 percent. The unadjusted level is actually 8 percent higher than the level in the same week a year ago. Refinancing plummeted 9 percent from the prior week, with the refinance share of mortgage activity declining to 45.6 percent of all originations. (Many readers have asked me what “seasonally adjusted” data means?)

Because seasons can impact sales from one extreme to another, making seasonal adjustments to data demonstrates a more consistent approach to viewing data. Seasonal spikes, (for example more running shoes will be sold in the summer than winter) can make it harder to see trends in a market segment versus removing the seasonality levels from the data therefore making it easier to compare from year to year.

Pending Home Sales

Even Pending homes sales for the month. May was the 3rd month in a row of decline with a jaw dropping 0.8 percent. This is in direct contrast to expert predictions of a 0.5 percent gain. The weakness in the housing market is spread evenly throughout regions across the country. The West, usually the strongest market, declined by 1.3 percent, which was the largest decline recorded for the month. Although the data on final home sales does not always move in lock-step with the pending home sales data, this most recent report could prove troubling for future final sales data.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday July 3rd – ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending
· Tuesday July 4th – Independence Day Celebration – All Markets Closed
· Wednesday July 5th - MBA Mortgage Applications, Factory Orders, FOMC Minutes
· Thursday July 6th - First Time Jobless Claims, ADP Employment Report
· Friday July 7th – National 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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ready, Set, Rec! July - Vacaville

Community Services Director Kerry Walker talks about all the fun activities taking place in July in the City of Vacaville!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Housing Report Shows All-Around Improvement

After recent reports on housing that have been less than stellar, this week’s reports show that the tide may be turning. From home prices, to existing sales, to loan applications for purchases, things seem to be improving.

May’s existing homes sales report showed a very solid increase of 1.1 percent. This is a complete turnaround from the prior months decline of 2.5 percent. Single-family sales increased by 1.0 percent to an annual rate of 4.980 million. Condo sales also increased by 1.6 percent to a 640,000 rate.

Another positive in the housing report is the significant increase in supply. With prices moving higher, more homes are coming into the market. As I mentioned last week, homeowners are finally recognizing the increase in their home value creating the desire to cash out by selling. Inventory increased from 1.960 million from 1.920 million in April and 1.800 million in March. Sales have been increasing each month as well which reinforces the fact that there is a ton of pent up demand.

The West remains super-hot with sales up by 3.4 percent for the month of May. They are also higher by 3.4 percent from the same time last year. The South had the second strongest increase by percentage with an rise of 2.2 percent for the month. The region is higher than the same time last year by 4.5 percent. The Northeast, which had been lagging, is showing life for the first time in a long time with sales up 6.8 percent. The Midwest continues to struggle with being the only negative sales market with a decline of 5.9 percent.

Although the year started out strong but then mostly slowed during the Spring selling season, life seems to be returning to the housing market now. As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, there are some experts talking about the late summer and fall real estate market being far stronger than normal.

Home prices also jumped according the Federal Housing Finance Agency. April home prices rose 0.7 percent. March was also revised upward to reflect a 0.7 percent increase. The year-on-year rate is up 4 tenths to 6.8 percent which is the best showing in 3 years.

The Mountain region continues to be the strongest market with home prices being 8.9 percent higher than the same time last year. The South is the second strongest market for home values rising with an increase of 8.0 percent. The Pacific, which has always seemed to be leading the way, dropped into 3rd place with a still very respectable increase of 7.5 percent.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday June 26th – Durable Goods Orders
· Tuesday June 27th – Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence
· Wednesday June 28th - MBA Mortgage Applications, Pending Home Sales
· Thursday June 29th - First Time Jobless Claims, GDP
· Friday June 30th – Personal Income and Outlays

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, June 22, 2017

How to Install Wainscoting

Beaded-board wainscoting updates a room without breaking your budget. This step-by-step guide teaches how to install wainscoting and includes a list of required materials and tools.

Monday, June 19, 2017

DIY Essentials - Adulting 101: Century 21

From storage bin to toolbox

Because owning a home is only the beginning. Century 21 presents everything you need to know to master Adulting

Friday, June 16, 2017

No "Summer Slowdown" as Resale, Refinance Markets Tick Upward

I remember a time that the stock market would go wild in the days leading up to a Fed announcement about interest rates. This week at the FOMC meeting, the Fed raised interest rates by ¼ percent. The announcement came out on Wednesday afternoon at 3:15PM, and investors reacted with little more than a yawn. The stock market ticked up about 80 points in the last 45 minutes of the trading day. By historical standards over the last 2 years, this movement in the market was equivalent to virtually no reaction. The interest rate increase by the Fed was expected by investors. The Fed has indicated that based upon current economic conditions and growth patterns, one additional rate increase is anticipated before the end of 2017.

The first half of 2017 the housing market has been very active. Recent surveys of real estate and mortgage professionals around the country has indicated, that in many parts of the country, the typical summer slow-down might be taking hold. The housing market remains quite active however activity has seemed to tail off slightly in many areas.

Builder sentiment reflects the recent slight slowdown in activity. The latest housing market index, which measures builder optimism, showed a slight drop from 69 to 67. Overall the index remains very strong so by no means is this slight drop indicative of future problems for housing. In fact, the housing market index for future sales rose to an unusually high level of 76.

There have been more and more articles in recent weeks in which housing experts are discussing the possibility of an abnormally active Fall market. It appears that homeowners are recognizing the growth in their home equity that has taken place in the last 24 months. Some homeowners are beginning to believe that it might be time to “take the money and run”.

In many markets around the country, more homes have come up for sale in the last 30 days. This has not necessarily translated into more inventory as homes are still selling as fast as they are listed because of all the pent-up demand. An increase in home listing in the month of June is NOT a common occurrence. Typically, new listings tend to decline in the summer months as schools let out and more families take their summer vacations.

Mortgage rates decline, and refinance applications tick up. For the week ending June 9th, applications for refinancing jumped 9.0 percent according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Purchase applications declined by a seasonally adjusted 3.0 percent. The Memorial Day Holiday likely played a role in the slight drop for the week.

Next week there are very few reports that might influence investor decisions. Expect the stock market to remain relatively flat unless some geopolitical events impact the United States. Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Wednesday June 21st - MBA Mortgage Applications, Existing Home Sales
· Thursday June 22nd - First Time Jobless Claims, FHFA House Price Index
· Friday June 23rd – New Home 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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Which Mortgage Program Is Best For You?

There are many types of mortgages. It is to your advantage to know about each mortgage type before you start searching for your next home. Most people apply for a fixed-rate mortgage. In a fixed rate mortgage, your interest rate stays the same for the term of the loan, which can range from 10 to 30 years. The advantage of a fixed-rate mortgage is that you always know exactly how much your mortgage payment will be, and you can plan for it, although your property taxes and home owner's insurance may change during the repayment term of your mortgage. Another type of mortgage is an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). With this type of mortgage, your interest rate and monthly payments usually start lower than a fixed rate mortgage. But your rate and payment can change either up or down, as often as once or twice a year. The adjustment is tied to a financial index, such as the U.S. Treasury Securities index.

The advantage of an ARM is that you may be able to afford a more expensive home because your initial interest rate will be lower. There are several government mortgage programs, including the Veteran's Administration's programs, the Department of Agriculture's programs, Federal Housing Administration mortgages, and conventional loans. Thoroughly discuss your financial situation with your real estate broker about the various loan options, before you begin shopping for a mortgage.

Below is a brief description of the 4 main mortgage types. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Administration (VA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac (conventional financing) all have different guidelines and down payment requirements. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the most recent sudo-government agencies to launch minimal down payment programs. There are also various down payment assistance programs available to first time home buyers, recent graduates, and low-income households. Most down payment assistance programs have income and sales price limitations and repayment requirements.

• Conventional Financing - Conventional mortgage loans require a minimum 3% down payment. Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required unless there is a 20% down payment or lender paid PMI is offered by the mortgage company. Mortgages are offered for owner occupants and investors.

• FHA Financing - This financing type requires a minimum of 3.50% down. FHA allows approved nonprofit organizations and/or family members to assist homebuyers with the down payment requirement. Upfront and monthly mortgage insurance is required. Only owner occupied financing is offered.

• Veterans Administration - Honorably discharged veterans or active-duty personnel in the US military who meet specified qualifications are eligible for no down payment mortgage financing. VA Mortgages requires an upfront funding fee unless the veteran is disabled. VA mortgages require no monthly mortgage insurance, but are available to owner occupants only.

• USDA Financing - This mortgage program is available through the United States Department of Agriculture. This loan type allows zero down financing for owner-occupied properties in designated rural areas. Income and sales price limitations apply. An upfront and monthly fee is required. There are two distinct loan types, which include guaranteed and direct loans.

Each of these loan types offer different features and should be fully investigated to determine which loan type fits your credit and financial situation. It is always in your best interest to be pre-approved prior to looking for a new home.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Stock Market is Flat, More Life May Be Coming Back to Housing Market

The stock market couldn’t be flatter through the first four trading days of the week. The Dow began the week at 21,183, and closed at 21,182 yesterday. There have been some momentary jumps up and down during the week, but overall, investors seem to be sitting on the sidelines watching and waiting. There has, for the most part, been no economic data that gives them reason to think the market will improve or decline driving them to make a trading decision. It seems for now, until something comes out that creates an opportunity or urgency to trade, investors are going to hang back and observe.

Could even more life be coming back into the housing market? That is the question many are asking based upon the Mortgage Bankers Association latest loan application report. For the week ending June 2nd, purchase applications jumped a seasonally adjusted 10.0 percent. This is the highest level of purchase loan activity since May of 2010. This jump follows 3 weeks of consecutive declines. Refinance applications also moved higher by 3.0 percent. Overall purchase loan activity is up a healthy 6.0 percent from the same time last year.

The first-time jobless claim numbers seem to just be staying put at a very low level. The latest report for claims was at 245,000. This is down by 3,000 from the prior week. Overall claims have been remaining in a very narrow range in the mid 200’s for months, and there appears to be no sign that this will change any time soon.

The latest JOLTS Report, (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Report), shows that job availability continues to greatly outpace hiring. There were an estimated 1 million more jobs available than positions filled in the month of April. Employers contend they are struggling to find employees with the jobs skills that meet the positions they have available.

The ISM non-manufacturing index came in just about as expected. At a level of 56.9, this is considered a very solid rate of growth that shows business activity remains strong. Hiring in this sector has grown as there appears to be backlogs of delivery of services. Companies are scrambling to meet customer demand and are working hard to try and fill vacant positions to meet demand.

Finally, are consumers becoming more adverse to borrowing? The latest April data on credit growth shows that consumers seem to be borrowing less. Non-revolving debt which rose 6.7 billion, is the lowest reading in nearly 6 years. Even though this includes vehicle financing and student loans, historically the amount of money being currently borrowed is very low.

Next week’s potential market moving reports:

· Monday June 12th – 10 Year Note Auction
· Tuesday June 13th – FOMC Meeting Begins, Producer Price Index
· Wednesday June 14th - MBA Mortgage Applications, CPI, FOMC Announcement
· Thursday June 15th – First Time Jobless Claims, Housing Market Index
· Friday June 16th – Housing Starts

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, June 7, 2017

Home Prices Move Higher, Pending Home Sales Not as Strong

Home prices continue to move higher and are starting to play a bigger role in the current economy. The most recent Case-Shiller's adjusted 20-city index for the month of May jumped 0.9 percent. This is slightly higher than expectations and continues to point to positive momentum for the housing market. The big news in the report is the unadjusted rate of growth leaped a much higher-than-expected 1.0 percent. Growth compared to the same time last year is up by 5.9 percent.

When you combine this latest report with the strong data from last week regarding the FHFA report and existing home sales data, everything seems to be pointing to housing appreciation at 6.0 percent per year. Home appreciation is once again creating growth in wealth for homeowners. This will likely continue to drive the economy. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal discussed how cash-out refinancing is beginning to grow again.

On the flip side of housing, the latest data on pending homes sales for the Spring market is not quite as strong. Pending home sales declined for the second straight month, down by 1.3 percent for the month of April. The index is at 109.8 which is 3.3 percent lower than where the market was a year ago.

The pending home sales index keeps track of contract signings for home resales. The latest report is showing weakness that will likely show up in May and June’s final home sale data. Mortgage lenders around the country, as well as real estate professionals, have indicated that there continues to be a lot of pent up demand for housing. The challenge is that extremely limited inventory is keeping contract signings lower than what would be expected for the Spring buying season.

Reflecting the challenge with buyers locating homes and getting accepted offers is showing up in the latest Mortgage Bankers Association report on loan applications. Purchase applications in the week ending May 26th dropped by 1.0 percent. This is the third consecutive week of declines placing the unadjusted purchase index only 7 percent higher than a year ago. Refinancing applications dropped 6 percent for the same week. This is in stark contrast to the prior week’s jump of 11 percent. In the current lending environment refinances represent 43.2 percent of mortgage activity. The biggest concern about the mortgage trend is that mortgage rates have declined, however loan activity is not growing.

With the growth in home equity, and the latest strong consumer confidence data, many experts are optimistic that the housing market will remain steady and possibly turn stronger in the coming months. May’s consumer confidence index came in at an unusually strong reading of 117.9. Typically, a strong reading transfers into positive movement in housing and mortgage finance.

Next week’s potential market moving reports:

· Wednesday June 7th - MBA Mortgage Applications
· Thursday June 8th – First Time Jobless Claims, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
· Friday June 9th – Wholesale Trade

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.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ready, Set, Rec!

In this episode, Recreation Manager Reggie Hubbard shares just a few of the fun activities taking place in Vacaville in June - Safety Day at the Pool, the World's Largest Swim Lesson, Food Truck Mania and more!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Slight Increase in April Housing Prices, But Overall Market Slow

It has been a while since you have heard me make a reference how the more we hear about something, the more “numb” we become to it. Despite the on-going investigation into President Trump and the election, despite the terror attack in Manchester, despite that there has been little economic news that traders can grab on to, the stock market this week closed higher each day through Thursday.

The market is up 200 points for the week and will likely hold on to most of the gains through Friday based on stock futures. It appears that unless there is a major national or international event that impacts business directly, investors just don’t seem to care and maintain their belief in sustained economic growth.

The new home sales report for the month of April confirmed once again that this data can be volatile. Sales plummeted 11.4 percent to an annualized rate of 569,900. This is in direct contrast to March and February’s combined upward revision of 40,000. The good news is that the 3-month sales average is relatively steady. The concern in the report is that even though builders have been cutting prices by as much as 3.0 percent, sales still slowed. Year-on-year the median home prices for new home sales is now down 3.8 percent.

The supply of homes increased by only 4,000 for April. At the current pace of purchasing the monthly supply has swelled from 4.9 months up to 5.7 months. All regions of the country seemed to suffer this month regarding new home sales.

Continuing the negative trend for April housing was the decline of 2.3 percent in existing home sales. The silver-lining in the report is that the annual sales rate of 5.570 million is still near the economic recover high. A strong positive in the report is that the median home price increased by 3.5 percent for the month. Prices compared to the same time last year are up 6.0 percent.

Piggy-backing on the existing home sale report is the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index. The latest figures for March show a monthly increase of 0.6 percent. Even stronger within the report is that prices are 6.2 percent higher than the same time last year.

Not surprising is that the Pacific region is the leader of the nine measured areas with a price jump of 7.9 percent. The Mountain states rose 0.6 percent to second place overall for a 7.4 percent increase. The Middle Atlantic continues to demonstrate the greatest weakness in that it was lower by 0.6 percent for the month and down 3.8 percent from the same time last year.

Next week’s potential market moving reports:

· Monday May 29th – Memorial Day, All Markets Closed
· Tuesday May 30th – S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence
· Wednesday May 31st - MBA Mortgage Applications, Pending Home Sales
· Thursday June 1st – ADP Employment Report, Jobless Claims
· Friday June 2nd – National 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.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bathroom Safety Tips & Tricks

As part of our Safe & Sound Home series, Emily Henderson traveled to one family's home for lessons in safety and style.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to Make Small Talk - Adulting 101: Century 21

Every connection starts small.

Because owning a home is only the beginning. Century 21 presents everything you need to know to master Adulting

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Despite Stock Volatility, Housing and Job Markets Remain Strong

Stock market appears set to close down about 300 points for the week based upon current futures in the market. Wednesday the market tumbled 373 points on concerns over concerns that President Trump may have been obstructing justice with the firing of Director Comey.

As the investigation unfolds it is appearing more and more that President Trump may have attempted to influence the former FBI Director to stop his investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Some Democrats are already screaming for the President to be impeached. It may be a little early for that type of talk, however concerns continue to mount over the administrations involvement in the Russia hacking scandal.

New home sales continue to surprise the market as builders are reporting strong activity for the month of May. Builders appear even more optimistic about future sales. The housing market has risen 2 points up to 70, which is higher than analysts were expecting. Current sales are also higher by 2 points to a level of 76. Buyer traffic remains strong at 51 and this is the 5th time in the last 6 months that the reading is over 50, which is considered very healthy.

Housing starts continue to remain strong for the single-family sector. This area rose 0.4 percent for the month of April to a rate of 835,000. The downside of the report is that permits for single-family home construction fell 4.5 percent. There does not appear to be any factors such as weather that appear to be contributing to this decline so questions are starting to be asked as to if this is the beginning of a change in direction. It is too early to tell with just this report, but analysts will certainly be watching future releases of housing data very closely.

Despite the fact that mortgage rates remained flat, applications for both purchases and refinances declined from 8 year highs in the week ending May 12th. Purchase applications dropped a seasonally adjusted 3.0 percent while refinances declined 6.0 percent. The positive part of the report is that purchase applications remain 9.0 percent higher than the same time last year. Not surprising is that refinance applications are down 41.1 percent from their highs. This is the lowest level of refinance activity since September 2008.

The labor market continues to remain extremely tight. First time jobless claims came in at 232k. The demand for labor is very strong and show no sign of letting up. Qualified candidates are hard to attract and this will likely lead to wage growth in the coming months.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Tuesday May 23rd – New Home Sales
· Wednesday May 24th - MBA Applications, FHFA HPI, Existing Home Sales, FOMC Minutes
· Thursday May 25th - First Time Jobless Claims, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
· Friday May 26h – Durable Goods Orders, GDP, Corporate Profits

As your trusted 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, May 17, 2017

Unemployment Low, Consumer Confidence, Home Sales Rise

A week with few surprises on the economic front had some investors making the decision to cash out their profits from the recent stock market rally. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average poised to finish the week down around 200 points, it seems that the major driver of the decline was more profit taking than anything else.

The only data related on housing this week was the Mortgage Bankers Association report on mortgage loan applications. Purchase apps for the week ending May 5th increased 2.0 percent. This follows last week’s increase of 4.0 percent. Home purchase activity continues to remain extremely high in almost every major market in the country. The shortage of home inventory is what appears to be the only thing holding back the purchase numbers from soaring as demand for housing remains at a post-recession high. Applications for refinances also increased by 2.0 percent. Overall refi activity is approximately 40 percent behind the same time last year.

The report on Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) shows there are plenty of help-wanted signs to be seen, however there appears to be a limited number of qualified applicants to fill these open positions. With unemployment at one of the lowest points in history, it is becoming harder and harder for employers to attract the right talent. More employees are changing companies than in recent past as confidence in the economy continues to slowly improve. However, with unemployment so low, the cost to employers to attract qualified talent is increasing.

First time jobless claims remain at historical lows with the latest report showing only 236,000 claims were filed last week. 300,000 is considered the benchmark number as to where concerns around the job market might appear. The low numbers of claims validates the JOLTS report as to why employers are struggling to find the right talent to fill their open positions.

While March was an unusually weak month for inflation, April appears to be showing the exact opposite. The Producer Price Index rose a higher than expected 0.5 percent. Analysts were expecting only a 0.3 percent increase in wholesale prices. When you exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, prices rose 0.4 percent which places wholesale inflation on an annual rate of just under 5.0 percent. The likelihood of this number remaining at this level is extremely low, however it is important to note that this is one of the highest readings on wholesale price increases since 2007. A factor in the price growth is related to the recent Fed increase in interest rates.

Finally, consumer confidence readings are beginning to move back from their highs. The consumer comfort index remains very strong at a reading of 49.7, however this is a decline of 1.2 points from the previous month. Confidence continues to point to strength in employment.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday May 15th – Housing Market Index
· Tuesday May 16th - Housing Starts, Industrial Production
· Wednesday May 17th - MBA Applications
· Thursday May 18th - First Time Jobless Claims, Leading Economic Indicators
· Friday May 19th – St. Louis Fed Reserve Bank President Speaks

As your trusted 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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

A Mother is she who can take the place of all others 
but whose place no one else can take

Monday, May 8, 2017

General Economy Neutral, But Home Sales Remain Hot

Another week, and once again uneventful events happening on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded within 100 points plus or minus almost the entire week. The biggest news for the week was the ability for Congress to pass the spending bill and avoid a government shutdown. Other than this agreement, it is clearer with each passing day that Democrats and Republicans could not be further apart on everything else in running this country.

The awaited release of the FOMC Announcement from their meeting this week arrived with little more than a thud on Wednesday. The Fed continues to remain upbeat regarding growth in the economy, however they do acknowledge that some of the fundamentals in the economy are showing slight signs of weakness. There was nothing in the Fed’s report that gave investors reason to feel that they may be changing course on the anticipated rate increases likely to happen later in the year.

One of the areas that has showed signs of slowing is manufacturing. The latest index for the Institute For Supply Manufacturing (ISM Mfg Index) declined for the first time after 7 straight months of beating expectations. Not only did it fall short, it was hit much harder than anyone expected. However, although the index did not meet expectations for April, the report standing on its own is quite solid with a reading of 54.8. Any reading above 50 is considered very strong.

April’s ISM Non-Manufacturing Index showed significant acceleration. New orders outside of manufacturing jumped 4.3 points all the way up to 63.2. This is the highest level in almost 12 years. Not only does this report reflect strong orders currently, there is a significant growth in backorders which means that this sector should remain solid for the coming months.

With mortgage rates not moving much in either direction, applications for refinances declined by 5.0 percent for the week ending April 28th. The home purchase market continues to remain red hot as indicated by the MBA’s report of an increase last week of 4.0 percent in purchase loan applications.

Many areas of the country continue to report that bidding wars are taking place on many homes coming on the market for sale. This is leading to frustration by some prospective buyers in which they are making a decision to step out of the market for a while to let things settle down. The frustration of not being able to get an accepted offer on a property is taking its toll on some of them. The good news is that reports from real estate professionals indicate that in many areas more homes are starting to come on the market. It appears that homeowners are wanting to take advantage of the hot market. The demand is still much higher than inventory so don’t expect the bidding wars to end anytime soon.

Next week is going to be quiet as far as economic reports that may impact the market.

· Monday May 8th – Labor Market Index
· Tuesday May 9th – JOLTS Report
· Wednesday May 10th – MBA Mortgage Applications Data
· Thursday May 11th – First time Jobless Claims, Producer Price Index
· Friday May 12th – Retail Sales, Consumer Price 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.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Newly Released Housing Data is Strong Nationwide

Housing data dominated the market data being released. Tuesday launched the housing news with the Federal Housing Finance Agency report on home prices. For the month of February home prices increased 0.8 percent. This was double the amount the majority of analyst’s predicted. Adding to the positive news was January’s numbers were revised from being flat, to showing an increase of 0.2 percent. Overall, home prices are up 6.4 percent from the same time last year.

Following the FHFA report, S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI showed an increase in home prices by 0.7 percent for the 20 major cities measured. This stronger than expected report reflects a 5.9 increase from last year, and the best spread in 2-1/2 years.

What is impressive about this latest report is that some of the weakest cities in the past have shown significant improvement. The Midwest, notably Ohio and Michigan, which have been struggling to move higher, showed price growth of 0.9 percent in Cleveland, and 0.8 percent in Detroit.

When it comes to year-on-year appreciation, nothing is beating the Pacific Northwest. For well over a year, Seattle and Portland have been leading the country in price appreciation. Seattle home prices are currently up by 12.1 percent from the same time last year. Portland Oregon is higher by 9.6 percent.

Overall home prices across the country are averaging a year-on-year increase of 5.9 percent. Although this number is respectable, it is hard for people to be super excited about it. The interesting dynamic about this increase is that it is occurring in a low interest rate environment. Typically, when rates are low, home appreciation can be stagnant.

Pending home sales were the only negative in this week’s housing data. This sector showed a decline of 0.8 percent. The only reason for the decline is the lack of available inventory. Demand remains strong.

Rounding out this week’s housing reports was the data on new home sales. From February’s sales of 592,000, March showed a nice increase up to 621,000. Permits for new construction are also higher. What is very encouraging in the latest report is that the increase in new home sales did not come at the expense of reduced prices.

Prices for new homes rose a very strong 7.5 percent. Sales are up a whopping 15.6 percent from a year ago. More homes came on the market, however with the increase in demand, overall supply declined down to 5.2 months from 5.4 months.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday May 1st – Construction Spending, PMI Manufacturing Index
· Tuesday May 2nd – FOMC Meeting Begins
· Wednesday May 3rd – FOMC Announcement, MBA Applications, ADP Employment Report
· Thursday May 4th – First time Jobless Claims, Factory Orders
· Friday May 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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Though Economic and Housing News is Mixed, Builders Remain Optimistic

With not much economic data to trade on, investors have been using speculation to fuel their investment decisions this week. From concerns regarding healthcare to tax reform, investors are making guesses as to what legislation will be passed in the coming months and year to base today’s investment decisions. The Dow has been trading from positive to negative, back to positive territory throughout the week. However, the index has remained within a 200 point range up and down.

In the housing sector, builders continue to remain optimistic on the future of new construction sales. Buyer traffic has been significant in recent months and shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. The traffic component of the index came in above 50 for the 4th time in the last 5 months. Future and current sales continue to remain very strong. The West Coast continues to stay out front as far as new construction. The Northeast, to no one’s surprise, came in last out of the 4 regions. The South and Midwest remain strong as well, however at a pace slightly behind the West.

In contrast to builder optimism on the housing market, the number of new starts on single family homes was down 6.8 percent. This is the weakest level since November. The greatest strength came from the multi-family side. The good news in the overall report is that both sectors are up nearly 10.0 percent from the same time last year.

To offset the less than stellar housing starts data, permits for new construction are up 3.6 percent. Once again, multi-family home permits are leading the way. What is hard to figure out is the difference between the positive builder sentiment displayed in the housing market index versus the disappointing data on housing starts. In the coming months, we should expect to see them come more in-line with each other and reflect similar trends.

The Mortgage Bankers Association of America reported that applications for home purchases declined 3.0 percent for the week ending April 14th. Despite mortgage rates moving down towards 2017 lows, it seems that buyer activity has slowed. The most likely culprit for this is the national lack of available inventory. What used to be an issue primarily in the Northwest, has spread to many areas of the country. Even the East Coast, which has not seen a shortage of inventory since prior the market meltdown, is experiencing a significant shortage of available homes for sale.

Refinance applications for the same week were up by 0.2 percent. It will require rates to go lower by about 50 basis points in order to rekindle another refinance boom.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday April 24th – Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey
· Tuesday April 25th – FHFA House Price Index, S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI, New Home Sales, Consumer Confidence
· Wednesday April 26th - MBA Applications
· Thursday April 27th - First Time Jobless Claims, Durable Goods Orders, Pending Home Sales
· Friday April 28th – GDP, 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.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Stock Market, Mortgage Refinancing Lag While Home Sales Tick Upward

Trump euphoria certainly appears to have ended in the minds and hearts of investors. The stock market finished the week down once again by a total of 223 points. Markets are closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.

The challenges to the market is that with each passing week, it appears that President Trump will continue to have major headwinds working against him in passing tax reform along with his other economic stimulus ideas touted during his run on the campaign trail. Although, almost every President runs into challenges implementing the ideas and changes from their campaign, investors had very high hopes that the new administration would be able to facilitate changes rapidly that would have an immediate impact on corporate profitability.

Mortgage rates have been steadily declining and have returned to the lowest point for 2017. Although refinances have yet to show signs of resurgence, purchase application increased last week by 3.0 percent according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

In the labor markets, first time jobless claims continue to remain extremely low. The latest report for the week ending April 8th shows claims all the way down to 234,000. This was below most analyst’s expectations and continues to float at all time historical lows. Continuing claims also remain very low. Overall the labor markets are considered to be at “full employment”.

If you have been listening to the Fed for a number of years, they have been focused on getting inflation to the range of about 2.0 percent per year. Once again it seems like consumers are making it almost impossible for this to occur. Although in the last few months we have seen inflation tick upward on both the wholesale and retail levels, the latest reports may have thrown a monkey wrench into the likelihood that the trend will continue.

The latest PPI for the month of March showed that prices on the wholesale level declined by 0.1 percent. Experts were expecting the latest results to either be flat or show a slight increase. Pricing on the consumer level declined by a shocking 0.3 percent, while analysts were looking for prices to rise by 0.2 percent. Even when the volatile food and energy prices are removed from the CPI, prices still declined 0.1 percent. It is too early to tell, but the lack of price growth may have an impact on the Fed’s decision to put forth another interest rate increase anytime soon.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

· Monday April 17th – Housing Market Index
· Tuesday April 18th – Housing Starts, Industrial Production
· Wednesday April 19th - MBA Applications
· Thursday April 20th - First Time Jobless Claims, Leading Indicators
· Friday April 21st – Existing Home 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.

Friday, April 14, 2017

No Brainer Steps to Better Pantry Storage

Say goodbye to pantry clutter for good. Our top tips for tidying up a pantry or kitchen closet will help you store food more efficiently.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Closing Costs Breakdown for Home Buyers and Home Sellers

If you are buying or selling a home, you will have to pay closing costs. Closing cost typically range between 2 and 6% of the sales price of the house, but vary greatly depending on the sales price, location of the property, loan type, and lenders fees. The following list of fees are standard costs associated when buying or selling a house.

Application Fee - This is usually the only fee that you will pay upfront when applying for a mortgage. Typically, it covers the cost of the credit report fee and appraisal.

Appraisal - This is paid to the appraisal company to verify the condition and fair market value of the home.

Appraisal Re-Inspection Fee - The appraisal fee pays for a professional appraiser to visit a home, evaluate the condition and features, and provide an estimate of the market value. If any repairs are cited, they will typically have to be completed and re-inspected by the appraiser prior to closing.

Attorney Fee - The fee for an attorney to review the closing documents on behalf of the buyer or seller.

Closing Fee/Escrow Fee/ Settlement Fee - This is paid to the title company, escrow company, or attorney for conducting the closing.

Courier/Overnight Fee - This covers the cost of transporting documents to complete the loan transaction.

Credit Report - A tri-merge credit report is used to review your credit history and credit scores.

Discount Fees or Points - Additional costs charged to buy the interest rate down.

Escrow Deposit for Property Taxes & Mortgage Insurance - Funds placed in your escrow account to ensure enough funds are available to pay future property tax, home owners insurance, and private mortgage insurance bills.

FHA Up-Front Mortgage Insurance Premium - If you are applying for an FHA loan, you'll be required to pay the upfront MIP of 1.75% of the base loan amount. This expense is typically rolled into your mortgage.

Flood Determination - This is paid to a third party to determine if the property is located in a flood zone. If the property is found to be located within a flood zone, you will need to purchase flood insurance.

Home Inspection - Private inspection to determine condition of property.

Homeowners' Insurance - This covers possible damages to your home. Your first year's insurance is often paid at closing.

Home Warranty - This is a one year insurance policy on the appliances and/or electrical, heating, and plumbing systems in the house.

Lender's Policy Title Insurance - This is insurance to assure the lender that you own the home and the lender's mortgage is a valid lien. It also protects the lender if there is a problem with the title.

Lead-Based Paint Inspection - May be required to determine if lead-based paint is present in property.

Lock in Fee - A fee charged by the lender to protect the interest rate during the processing and underwriting phase of the loan process.

Owner's Policy Title Insurance - This is an insurance policy that protects you in the event someone challenges your ownership of the home. Many lending institutions require this protection.

Origination Fee - This is a fee charged by some mortgage lenders and covers part of the lender's costs. It's usually about 1 percent of the total loan amount, but is negotiable.

Pest Inspection - This fee covers the cost to inspect for termites.

Prepaid Interest - Most lenders will ask you to prepay any interest that will accrue between closing and the date of your first mortgage payment.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) - If your down payment is less than 20% of the home's purchase price, you will likely be required to pay PMI.

Processing Fee - A lender fee used to cover overhead costs.

Property Tax - Lenders unusually require any taxes due within 60 days of the purchase to be paid at closing.

Recording Fees - A fee charged by your local county recording office for the recording of public land records.

Survey Fee - This service verifies that there are no encroachments on the property you are purchasing.

Title Insurance Policy - The Loan Policy is usually based on the dollar amount of the loan and it protects the lender's interests in the property should a problem with the title arise.

Title Search - An investigation into the origin and validity of a title to a property.

Title Exam Fee - This fee is paid to search the property's records. The title company researches the deed to your new home, ensuring that no one else has a claim to the property.

Transfer Taxes - This is the tax paid when the title transfers from seller to buyer. Underwriting Fee - This is a fee that your lender may charge to cover the cost of underwriting your mortgage file.

VA Funding Fee - If you have a VA loan, you may be required to pay a VA funding fee at closing (or you can roll this fee into the loan if you prefer). This is a percentage of the loan amount that the VA assesses to fund the VA home loan program, however disabled veterans are exempt from this fee.

Most loan types allow the seller to pay a percent of the sales price towards the buyers closing costs. FHA mortgages allow the seller to pay up to 6%, conventional loans allow the seller to pay between 2 to 6% of the sales price toward buyers closing costs, and for VA loans the seller is typically allowed to pay all of the buyers closing costs.

Your mortgage lender is required to provide you with a disclosure called a "Loan Estimate" which is a detailed list of the closing costs, down payment, and total costs needed to close your mortgage. Many of the fees listed on the loan estimate can change as much as 10% of the amount listed, unless your loan program changes. If an unforeseen event occurs and the mortgage program changes in order to close your loan, you should receive a form called a "Change of Circumstance" which provides a detailed list of any changes and discloses your new fees. After you receive your final approval, your lender will email you a form called the "Closing Disclosure" at least 3 days prior to your actual closing date. After receiving your closing disclosure, you should compare the fees listed to your initial loan estimate and/or change of circumstance disclosure to verify that your fees have not changed more than the 10% allotted variance.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

7 Residential Real Estate Features to Examine Closely

Purchasing residential real estate is pretty exciting for most buyers. However, you must not let your eagerness to close a deal hinder your view of the home's features. It is wise to take your time and examine certain amenities closely.


More than likely, the built-in kitchen appliances in your prospective home will be included in the real estate purchase. The stove and oven range, dishwasher, microwave, and possibly a refrigerator will be part of the deal. You may even be negotiating the procurement of the washer and dryer. It is imperative that you review the age, condition, and any existing warranties on these appliances. Open the doors and take a peek inside. Do not assume that a nice exterior is indicative of the interior. You want to avoid the need to service these items shortly after moving into the home.


Inspect the carpet, tile, wood, granite, slate, or other solid floor surfacing in each room. Note any possible cracks, creaks, or discoloration. Determine what kind of maintenance the flooring will need and how often. If the home has carpeting, ask about the flooring underneath. You may be surprised to find beautiful hardwood floors that have been covered. Be sure to survey the carpet for stains and unusual wear and tear.


Be sure to look up: cracks and water spots are telltale signs of structural damage. Peruse the ceilings of the closets and inspect the attic as well.

Walls and Doors

Scrutinize the walls for stud and nail holes resulting from pictures that were hung previously. Look for voids due to removed outlets and shelving. Make sure the walls are not in need of a fresh coat of paint and test the doors to ensure that they close properly and are hung well on the frames.

Air Conditioning and Heating Systems

Heating and air conditioner units and hot water heaters are costly to repair if they are not in good condition. Obtain a report from your realtor regarding their maintenance. Are these devices operated by gas or electricity? Knowing this will help you gauge your monthly expenses for its use.

Bathroom Fixtures and Plumbing

Review the condition and functionality of the bathroom fixtures. Turn on the water in the sinks and showers and flush the toilets. Examine if there are any delays in water flow and listen for abnormal sounds. Will the vanity knobs need to be replaced soon?

Expansion Possibilities

Sometime in the future, you may want to build an addition to your home. A sunroom or patio deck on the rear of the residence may be an option. Perhaps you might want to put a swimming pool in the backyard, so it's a good idea to decide whether you would be able to do this based on the lot size and square footage. Even if you do not think you will want to expand, consider the resale value of your real estate for the next owner.

These seven features are essential facets of a residence. By gathering information on their advantages and disadvantages, you can make informed decisions about their inclusion in your buying experience.

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