Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Two Hot Markets: Housing and Stock

The stock market just keeps going higher.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up almost another 200 points for the week.  Since there has been little domestic or international news that would be considered disruptive to corporate earnings, investors keep buying stock.  There is some talk that the market is getting too oversold and that a correction is coming.  However, the majority of investors do not seem to being paying any mind to that possibility and trading volume and stock purchases remain high.

The existing home sales market is very hot right now.  The resale market started 2017 with a very strong report of an increase of 3.3 percent from December.  With a home sale rate of 5.690 million, this is the best showing for home sales since February of 2007.

Single family homes represented a strong portion of the growth.  The surprise related to the increase in this sector is that housing inventory on a national level is at only 3.6 months.  With such low inventory, it is unusual that the sales rate would be so high.  It appears that more sellers are coming on the market, however buyer demand is staying right in line with the increase.  Overall existing home sales are up 3.8 percent from the same time last year.

Home prices continue to rise, although not at a super-fast pace.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices for December rose 0.4 percent.  Overall prices are up 6.2 percent from the same time last year.  As has been the case for many months, For the last quarter of 2016, Oregon is at the top with appreciation of 11.0 percent.  Replacing Seattle, which has been a leading price growth area, is Colorado with an increase of 10.6 percent followed by Florida showing a rise of 10.4 percent.  Specifically, St. Petersburg – Clearwater leaped 13.2 percent for the final quarter of last year.  Wilmington Delaware was at the bottom with a price decline of 1.8 percent.

The seasonally adjusted index for mortgage applications, for both purchases and refinances, declined for the week ending February 17th.  Purchase loan apps dropped 3.0 percent while refi’s inched lower by 1.0 percent according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.  The Presidents Day holiday likely played a role in the decline as many parts of the country schools were closed for their Winter Break.  Overall purchase applications are up 10.0 percent from the same time last year.  Refinance apps are down to the lowest level since November 2008.

In the release of the most recent FOMC minutes, it was clear that the focus in the meeting was directly towards the next meeting scheduled for March.  Raising rates is a very hot topic.  Language in the minutes revealed that many board members believe that a rate hike would be appropriate “fairly soon”.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Monday February 27th – Pending home Sales and Durable Goods Orders
·        Tuesday February 28th – S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI and Consumer Confidence
·        Wednesday March 1st - MBA Applications, ISM Manufacturing Index, and Construction Spending
·        Thursday March 2nd - First Time Jobless Claims
·        Friday March 3rd – ISM Non-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.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The New Millionaires' Row In Tarrytown, NY

A touch of the Gilded Age is coming back to Westchester, NY. Just 13 miles from New York City, 21 multi-million dollar mansions are being built along the foothills of the Hudson River with views of the Tappan Zee Bridge and Lyndhurst Castle.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

8 Non-Boring Neutral Exterior Color Combos to Copy Now

When it comes to exterior color schemes, there’s something to be said about tried-and-true neutrals. Take a cue from these non-boring neutral color combos to design a truly standout exterior.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Stock Market Booms, Housing Market Remains Strong

The stock market just keeps going up.  Investors once again are optimistic that President Trump’s policies will bolster the business climate.  Deregulation is the likely key to economic growth and investors are counting on major changes to much of the legislation that was enacted under the previous administration.  There is concern that the market is becoming severely over valued in that stock prices have rocketed to new records without a single change to any rules or regulations as-of-yet.  The market increase is all on speculation and it is creating concern that the ride might abruptly end.

The Mortgage Bankers Association of America reported that seasonally adjust applications for home purchases declined 2.0 percent.  However, the unadjusted number reflects an increase of 1.0 percent.  Housing purchases overall remain strong and there seems to be no sign of buyer demand waning despite interest rates being higher by almost ¾% from last summer.  Refinances are currently at the lowest level since June of 2009.

Housing starts for January declined by 2.6 percent.  The silver-lining in the reports is that the 1.246 million rate was well above most analyst’s expectations.  Single-family starts increased by a rate of 823,000 which reflects a 1.9 percent increase in this sector.  Year-on-year housing starts are up a significant 6.2 percent for single-family units and a whopping 19.8 percent for multi-family homes.

Permits for new housing construction jumped 4.6 percent in January to an annualized rate of 1.285 million. This report also significantly beat most analyst’s predictions.  Single-family permits surprisingly declined by 2.7 percent, however they still are higher than the same time last year by 11.1 percent.

Since the last Fed announcement regarding interest rate policy, there is much talk about just how many rate increases there will be in 2017.  Listening to various experts on TV, radio and even in print, you will hear predictions of rate hikes of anywhere from one to as high as four.  No matter the number, one thing is very likely, mortgage rates and overall cost of borrowing for consumers will very likely end the year higher than where they are now.

Bolstering the argument for rates hikes is the latest producer price index data.  January’s PPI report showed an increase of 0.6 percent, far exceeding market expectations.  One of the areas of focus for the Fed in their decision to raise interest rates is on how much inflation is taking place.  For years, the Fed has wanted to see price growth as a catalyst for rate increases.  It may appear that this is beginning to occur.  This is only one report, but the increase of prices on the wholesale level was significant.

Next week’s potential market moving reports are:

·        Monday February 20th – Presidents Day: Markets Closed
·        Tuesday February 21st – PMI Manufacturing Index
·        Wednesday February 22nd - MBA Applications, FOMC Minutes, and Existing Home Sales
·        Thursday February 23rd - First Time Jobless Claims, FHFA House Price Index
·        Friday February 24th – New home Sales 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.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Finding Homes for Sale in a New Town

People move to new cities to upgrade their home or lifestyle. The process of finding homes for sale, packing, and moving can all cause so much anxiety that new homeowners easily forget the excitement associated with such a significant life change. Certain steps can help reduce the stress.


When that "need a change" feeling begins, it's hard to ignore. If the feeling is genuine, then the first thing to do is decide where to move. Searching for an area with excellent schools and low crime rates is a good start, especially for parents. Couples without children or single people, the vibrancy of the local community may be a central concern. The lifestyle and crime sections of any local paper can provide a basic perception about the community in question. Whether print or electronic, sources provide real insight into the education system, the prevalence of crime, and activities. While using the internet to investigate locations, social media websites might not seem like an obvious choice. On the contrary, most news stations have social media sites. Newscasts are easily found online and updated regularly. From PTA meetings to gallery openings, a person can gain an understanding of their potential new hometown from any location with an internet connection.

On The Ground Research

After narrowing down the location, traveling to the area verifies research through first-hand interpretations and experiences. If all looks good, the next step would be engaging with locals to learn more about the community and discover any homes for sale.

Locals know the area on a personal level so will give good scoops on which homes are worth viewing. Developments are another option to ask about, as these are newer and fit perfectly with people who want to make a fresh start. It's even possible to be the first owner when looking at a development site with homes for sale. Most of these sites offer an expansive range of yards, parks, and wooded areas. Residents will know which sites are worth the time.

Schedule Movers

Moving companies are the best way to move to a new town and into a new house. Otherwise, time and stress overshadow what should be a happy event. No one should get upset loading vans, trying to navigate massive vans on the highway, or unloading vans. However, professional movers can add to stress if they do a poor job. To avoid damaged furniture, plan ahead by asking for recommendations from trusted sources. Contacts in the new town might have an idea about which moving company to hire. New neighbors may be happy to share these insider tips with new homeowners.

To reduce the stress associated with moving to a new city, take a deep breath and follow this advice. Researching the community, visiting, and using movers can all help ease the anxiety of this landmark decision.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Andrew_Stratton/83489

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9155614

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trends with Joanna & Chip Gaines

Decorating trends come and go. Learn which ones Joanna and Chip Gaines believe are here to stay -- and those that need retiring.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Stocks, Employment, Mortgage Market All Strong and Likey to Grow Stronger

Corporate profits and resumed business optimism, relating to President Trump’s economic policies, has investors feeling more confident in business growth for 2017. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after struggling to stay above the 20,000 mark, seems to have taken a foothold at a new record level above the 20k benchmark.

Mortgage rates, which have declined slightly over the last week and the current week, have given a boost to mortgage applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association of American has reported for the week of February 3rd that both purchase and refinance applications increased 2.0 percent. In the overall picture of mortgage financing, applications for refinances represent 47.9 percent of total applications. This is the lowest level since June of 2009.

In the absence of housing data this week, the labor market received most of the attention this week. January’s employment numbers showed a jump of 227,00 new jobs in the nonfarm payroll category. Analysts were expecting only 175,000. The unemployment rate increased by .1 percent up to 4.8 percent. The increase is representative of more people attempting to return to the workforce and not increasing layoffs.

There is no shortage of jobs available. The challenge that now exists for employers is that they are struggling to find qualified candidates to fill the positions. The pool of under skilled job seekers has increased. What this means is that the people searching for work, may not have the most up to date education or skill sets that applies to the current needs of employers.

You may remember that when the recession hit, there was much talk about how people who lost their jobs were advised to learn new crafts in order to keep up with innovation. It appears that the changing dynamics of technology and staffing has absorbed the people into the workforce who took the initiative to learn new skills. Individuals who did not move forward with re-training appear to be struggling more to obtain employment today.

Further validating the point of a greater unskilled workforce is that first time jobless claims continue to remain at very low levels. For the week ending February 4th, claims were down to 234,000. This is one of the lowest numbers ever on record. The 4-week moving average is now down to 244,250, which is the lowest reading since 1973. Layoffs are not the problem, as stated earlier, it is the need for employees with the right skills for current open positions that continues to be the biggest challenge to the labor force.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, which is a random-sample survey tracking Americans’ views on the condition of the U.S. economy, personal finances, and the buying climate, has risen to a new post-election high. The indications of this index point to the likelihood that consumer confidence will show strength in the next report as well.

Next week’s many potential market moving reports are:

· Tuesday February 14th – Producer Price Index
· Wednesday February 15th - MBA Applications, CPI, Retail Sales, and Industrial Production
· Thursday February 16th - First Time Jobless Claims & Housing Starts
· Friday February 17th – Leading Indicators

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, February 4, 2017

Despite Economic Uncertainty, Housing Market Looks Strong

Despite the makings for a very volatile week in the stock market, the indices remained in a relatively narrow range of trading.  Between all of the economic reports released this week, and the constant release of Executive Orders from President Trump (I am still getting used to writing “Trump” instead of “Obama”) investors continue to be taking a wait and see attitude on everything.

Finally, after being strong but stagnant in growth, pending home sales might finally be rising.  For the month of December, the index rose a strong 1.6 percent.  This was above Econoday’s highest estimate for an increase.  This rise points to strong sales numbers for January and February.  Pending sales were strongest in the West with a 5.0 percent increase.  The Midwest trailed with an increase of 3.4 percent.

Case-Shiller's home price index, which had shown little movement in recent months, jumped in November by 0.9 percent.  This was the strongest gain since dating back to March 2015.  Home prices continue to remain higher from the same time last year.  Currently the spread is 5.3 percent.

The East appeared to lead the country in price appreciation for the most recent monthly report.  New York, which has been flat, jumped a surprising 1.2 percent in November.  Despite the increase, New York continues to be the weakest of the 20 cities in the index for overall year on year growth.  Boston also enjoyed nice upward movement with price appreciation of 1.2 and 1.0 percent for the last two monthly reports.  Prices are also 5.5 percent higher than the same time last year.  Not surprising, the West, especially the Pacific Northwest, continues to be the leader in overall yearly price appreciation.  Seattle is up 10.4 percent from the same time last year and Portland Oregon is higher by 10.1 percent.

To no surprise the Fed did not increase rates at their FOMC meeting this week.  The Fed kept monetary policy the same, however there seems to be slightly different language in their summary that upgrades the likelihood of inflation later this year.  The Fed confirmed that they do have plans for rate hikes later this year, however exactly when they will occur has not been determined.  Economic data will drive the Fed’s decision as to when and how much to raise rates.

The housing market continues to hum along with stable demand.  Inventory remains low in many parts of the country.  The Mortgage Bankers Association of American reported that purchase applications for the week of January 27th fell a seasonally adjusted 6.0 percent.  Refinances dropped 1.0 percent. However, unadjusted, the purchase index jumped 12 percent from the previous week, which is higher than the same time last year by 2 percentage points. (Seasonal adjustment is a statistical method for removing the seasonal component of a time series that exhibits a seasonal pattern)

Finally, U.S. employers added 22,700 jobs in January.  This is the highest growth in employment in four months.  Friday’s report was far above all analysts estimates which topped out at 175,000.

Next week’s many potential market moving reports are:

·        Tuesday February 7th – JOLTS Report
·        Wednesday February 8th - MBA Applications
·        Thursday February 9th - First Time Jobless Claims
·        Friday February 10th - 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.