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How To Help Your Home Appraise At Its Fair Market Value

Home values are rising in many U.S. markets. The S&P/Case-Shiller Index has home values up 1.2 percent as compared to last year, and the government’s Home Price Index shows an increase of 3.7 percent.

This has been partially evidenced by rising median home sales prices nationwide. Versus last year, the median sale price of a new construction home has climbed 17 percent, and the median sale price of an existing home sale is higher by 10 percent.

For home sellers, an improving market means the chance to net more proceeds from a home sale. Or does it?

In this 3-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show, we hear about the home appraisal process and how it may be limiting the number of home sales nationwide, plus the prices at which homes are selling.

The interview includes several key insights into the home appraisal process :

  • In a rising housing market, a home’s appraised home value may be lower than its “true” market value
  • Short sales and foreclosures can make a negative impact on a home’s appraised value
  • Consolidation in the appraisal industry has lowered product quality and may be harming valuations

One key take-away from the video is that home owners in Mesa should provide their home appraisers with as much relevant information as possible — especially information which may not be publicly-available. This includes records of recent “all-cash” sales of comparable homes which were never formally listed for sale.

One in three purchase agreements are canceled because of appraisal issues, according to the interview. Take steps to make sure yours is not among them.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : October 15, 2012

Mortgage markets improved slightly last week. With a dearth of new U.S. economic data due for release, investors turned their collective attention to the Europe, China, and the Middle East.

U.S. mortgage rates fell slightly in the holiday-shortened week.

The combination of civil protestseconomic slowdowns, and growing political tensions caused investors to dump risky assets in favor of the relative safety provided by the U.S. mortgage bond market.

According to Freddie Mac, the average conforming 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now 3.39% nationwide for borrowers willing to pay 0.7 discount points plus a full set of closing costs. 0.7 discount points is a one-time closing cost equal to 0.7 percent of the borrowed loan size.

As an illustration, a bank’s charge of 0.7 discount points on a $100,000 mortgage would cost $700 to the borrower.

Freddie Mac also reported the average conforming 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rate at 2.70% nationwide with an accompanying 0.6 discount points plus closing costs. Loans with zero discount points carry a higher mortgage rate average.

This week, data returns to Wall Street as a series of housing reports are slated for release, in addition to inflationary reports such Tuesday’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The week begins with Retail Sales, released at 8:30 AM ET Monday. On a strong figure, mortgage rates in Mesa are expected to climb. This is because Retail Sales data is closely tied to consumer spending and consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

A growing economy tends to pull mortgage rates higher.

Tuesday’s CPI may do the same.

Inflation erodes the value of a mortgage bond so when inflation pressures grow, demand for mortgage bonds fall which, in turn, causes mortgage rates to rise. If CPI is higher-than-expected, mortgage rates will likely rise.

Then, there’s a flurry of housing data. The Housing Market Index (Tuesday), Housing Starts (Wednesday) and Existing Home Sales (Friday) all hit this week. Strength in housing may lead mortgage rates higher, harming home affordability for today’s home buyers.

At today’s mortgage rates, every 1/8% increase raises monthly mortgage payments roughly $7 per $100,000 borrowed.

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Case-Shiller index Shows Home Values Rising Nationwide

There have been no shortage of “housing market” stories lately. After sinking through much of late-last decade, home values slowly stabilized into mid-2011. By October 2011, values appeared to have bottomed.

Today, nearly five-and-one-half years after the April 2007 housing market peak, home prices are finally showing their ability to rebound. Over the past 12 months, a bevy of housing market data highlights broad-based market growth.

For example, as compared to August 2011, Existing Home Sales are up 9.3 percent nationally; New Home Sales are up 27.7 percent nationally; and home inventories have slipped to multi-year lows in Mesa and throughout the country.

Furthermore, multiple home value trackers show home prices rising both regionally and nationwide.

Last week, the government’s Federal Housing Finance Agency released its Home Price Index (HPI) — a metric which tracks how home values change between sequential property sales. HPI showed home values up 3.7% nationally.

Another home valuation tracker — the S&P Case-Shiller Index — has shown home values to be rising, too.

As compared to one year ago, the private-sector metric puts home prices higher by 1.2 percent via its 20-city composite. 20 cities remains a small subset of the broader U.S. population, but, in looking for a trend, it’s clear that the trend is a positive one.

Some of the Case-Shiller Index highlights from its most recent report :

  • All 20 tracked cities showed home price gains between June 2012 and July 2012
  • The previously hard-hit city of Phoenix now leads the nation with a 16.6% annual gain
  • Versus their respective lows, San Francisco and Detroit are up 20.4% and 19.7%

In addition, on a 12-month basis, only four cities are showing negative home value growth — Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York City.

The Case-Shiller Index is a national index, though, and specifically does not report on valuation changes in specific U.S. cities and their neighborhoods. For local real estate data, make sure to speak with a local real estate agent instead.

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Existing Home Sales Leap To 2-Year High

The home resale market put forth another strong data set last week. Home sales prices are higher nationwide and sales volume has moved to a 2-year high.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 4.82 million “existing homes” sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in August, representing a near 8 percent improvement from the month prior and a nine percent jump from August 2011.

An existing home is a home which has been previously occupied.

Home sales were unevenly split across price tiers, with more than half of all homes selling for less than $250,000. This suggests that the first-time home buyers and real estate investors continue to be active in today’s market as a foundation for growth is built.

According to the Existing Home Sales data :

  • First-time buyers accounted for 31% of all home sales
  • Real estate investors accounted for 18% of all home sales
  • Other, repeat buyers accounted for 51% of all home sales

Also noteworthy is that “distressed homes” accounted for the smallest percentage of overall home sales since the real estate trade group starting tracking such data.

In August, homes in various stages of foreclosures accounted for 12% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 19 percent below market value. Short sale homes accounted for 10% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 13 percent below market value.

Of all the data in the August Existing Home Sales report, though, perhaps most relevant to today’s buyers is the shrinking national housing supply.

At August’s end, there were 2.47 million homes listed for sale nationwide, a three percent increase from the month prior. However, because the pool of available home buyers is increasing more rapidly than the number of homes for sale, housing supplies fell 0.3 months to 6.1 months.

This means that at the current pace of sales, the entire housing supply would be sold by March 2013.

For today’s home buyers, home affordability appears poised to worsen. Mortgage rates and home prices remain low today, but market conditions like these rarely last long. Talk to your real estate agent about what options you have ahead of you. 2012 is coming to a close.

By 2013, the housing recovery may be fully underway.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : September 24, 2012

Mortgage markets improved for the second consecutive week last week as demand for U.S. mortgage-backed bonds remained high. A series of economic reports showed strength in housing and a stability in jobs.

Wall Street looked past it, however, to send mortgage rates to their lowest levels in history.

One week into the Federal Reserve’s newest bond-buying program, the stimulus appears to be working.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate slipped to 3.49% last week for borrowers willing to pay an accompanying 0.6 discount points at the time of closing. Discount points are a one-time closing costs where 1 discount point is equal to one percent of your loan size.

3.49% marks a new all-time low for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage rate fell to a new all-time low last week, too, dropping to 2.77% with the same accompanying 0.6 discount points.

Mortgage rates in Arizona fell despite strong housing data.

  • Housing Starts rose 5.5% to a 2-year high
  • Existing Home Sales rose 7.8% to a 2-year high
  • Building Permits rose 0.2%

Notably, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, the national existing home supply slipped to 6.1 months last month — very close to the 6.0-month marker which separates a “buyer’s market” from a “seller’s market”.

If supplies continue lower, home prices may rise more quickly than expected into 2013. Median home sale prices are already 9.5% higher as compared to one year ago.

This week, more housing data is set for release including the home value-tracking Case-Shiller Index and FHFA Home Price Index. Both are expected to show rising home prices as compared to the last recorded month, and one year ago. In addition, the National Association of REALTORS® releases its Pending Home Sales Index.

Lastly, and likely most important to mortgage rates and home affordability in Scottsdale , the government releases its Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report Friday. PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge. An unexpected increase is expected to move mortgage rates higher.

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Housing Starts Move To 2-Year High

The new construction housing market continues to make gains.

Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Housing Starts for single-family homes up 5.5 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted, annualized count of 535,000 units nationwide.

The report marks the fifth month of six that single-family starts increased, and marks the highest starts tally since April 2010 — the last month of that year’s federal homebuyer tax credit program.

A “housing start” is a new home on which construction has started and the steady growth in single-family starts suggests a stronger Arizona housing market into 2013.

All four U.S. regions showed single-family housing start growth on both a monthly basis and on an annual one :

  • Northeast Region : 4.5% monthly growth; 31.4% annual growth
  • Midwest Region : 15.6% monthly growth; 74.5% annual growth
  • South Region : 3.2% monthly growth; 17.2% annual growth
  • Midwest Region : 4.6% monthly growth; 23.9% annual growth

The data is just the latest in a series of signals that today’s Mesa new construction housing market has put its worst days behind it.

The nation’s home builders appear to agree, as well.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Homebuilders released its Housing Market Index, a monthly metric which measures homebuilder confidence in the new construction market.

The homebuilder trade association put the HMI at 40 — a 6-year high. Builders expect a strong finish to 2012 and for momentum to carry into 2013 and beyond.

The new construction market — like most of housing — has been fueled by a combination of the lowest mortgage rates in history, ample access to low- and no-downpayment mortgages, and an ever-shrinking supply of new homes for sale.

In July there were just 142,000 new homes for sale nationwide, down 14% from the year prior. As supply shrinks, all things equal, new home prices rise.

If you’ve been considering new construction, therefore, talk to builders sooner rather than later. As demand for homes heats up, prices are likely to rise.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : September 17, 2012

Mortgage markets improved last week as the Federal Reserve introduced new economic stimulus. The move trumped bond-harming action from the Eurozone, and a series better-than-expected U.S. economic data.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate dropped last week for most loan types, including for conforming, FHA and VA loans. 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates improved, as well.

Mortgage rates are back near their lowest levels of all-time.

Last week’s main event was the Federal Open Market Committee’s sixth scheduled meeting of 2012. Wall Street expected the Fed to launch a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) after its meeting and the nation’s central banker did not disappoint.

It launched QE3 and did so with such scale that even Wall Street was shocked.

The Federal Reserve announced a plan to purchase $40 billion monthly of mortgage-backed bonds indefinitely, a move aimed at lowering U.S. mortgage rates in order to stimulate the housing market which can create more jobs in construction and other related industries.

The Fed will continue to buy mortgage bonds until it deems such purchases no longer necessary. The Fed also announced a commitment to holding the Fed Funds Rate in its current target range of 0.000-0.250% until mid-2015, at least.

Mortgage rates responded favorably to the stimulus, falling to their lowest levels of the week. It masked a rise in rates from earlier in the week tied to the German court’s clearing of the European Stability Mechanism — the Eurozone “bailout fund”.

The action clears the way for debt-burdened nations including Spain and Greece to get the support necessary to remain solvent.

Mortgage rates were also pressured higher by a strong consumer confidence report. When consumers are more confident in the economy, they may be more likely to spend and consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

This week, mortgage rates throughout CA face competing pressures. The Fed’s bond-buy has started and that will lead rates lower, but with Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales data set for release, data could pull rates up.

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Improving Market Index Climbs To 99

The number of U.S. housing markets showing “measurable and sustained growth” has increased by 19 this month, according to the National Association of Homebuilders’ Improving Market Index.

The Improving Market Index is a monthly report meant to identify U.S. markets in which economic growth is occurring broadly — not just in terms of home prices.

The IMI’s conclusions are based on three separately-collected data series, each from a different division of the U.S. government and each tied to specific local economic conditions.

In this way, the Improving Market Index gives a better idea of which markets will outperform averages in the months and years ahead.

The three data series incorporated into the Improving Market Index are :

  1. Employment Statistics (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  2. Home Price Growth (from Freddie Mac)
  3. Single-Family Housing Growth (from the Census Bureau)

The National Association of Homebuilders evaluate the reports for each major metropolitan area and then deems a given one “improving” if two conditions are met. First, all three data series must indicate growth in the current month and, second, at least 6 months have passed since each of the data points’ respective “bottoms”.

The IMI ignore short-term spurts, in other words, and attempts to identify those areas showing long-term, sustainable growth. For relocating home buyers, “improving” cities may also offer better long-term employment and income opportunities.

33 states are represented in the September Improving Market Index, as well as the District of Columbia. 31 new areas were added to the list as compared to August and just 12 dropped off.

The newly-added areas include Sacramento, California; Jacksonville, Florida; and Waco, Texas. Cities falling off the list for September include Dover, Delaware.

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

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : September 10, 2012

Mortgage markets worsened slightly in last week’s holiday-shortened week. As expected, Wall Street took its cues from Europe and from the U.S. jobs market, and mortgage rates moved across a wide range.

Home buyers in Scottsdale and would-be refinancing households were greeted with wildly varying mortgage rates, depending on which day they loan-shopped.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.55% nationwide last week, with an accompanying 0.7 discount points.

That is, until Thursday’s meeting of the European Central Bank.

The ECB is similar to the Federal Reserve in that, among its primary functions, it provides liquidity to banking systems in times of crisis. Thursday, the European Central Bank intervened with force.

To aid Spain and Italy, the third- and fourth-largest Eurozone economies, the European Central Board launched a bond-buying program meant to reduce speculation that the two nations — and the Euro itself — would fail.

The move calmed investors and sparked a broad equities market rally.

U.S. mortgage rates did not fare so well, however, climbing as much as 0.25% and leaving that “Freddie Mac mortgage rate” in the dust. If you tried to lock a loan Thursday, you may have been greeted with a rate nearing 4.000 percent.

Fortunately, those rising rates were short-lived.

Friday morning, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its August Non-Farm Payrolls report and mortgage rates dropped. Far fewer jobs were created in the U.S. than was expected. 96,000 net new jobs were made in July. Wall Street had expected 130,000. This increases the likelihood of new Fed-led stimulus — perhaps as soon as this week.

The Federal Open Market Committee meets for the 6th of eight times this year later this week; a 2-day get-together scheduled for September 12-13. The Fed may announce a new round of market stimulus. If it does, mortgage rates should fall. If it doesn’t, mortgage rates may rise.

Other news affecting potential housing payments this week includes the release of key inflation data Thursday and Friday, and Friday’s Retail Sales data.

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New Home Sales Reach Multi-Year High

The market for newly-built homes remains strong.

As reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, 372,000 new homes were sold in July on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. A “new home” is a home that can be considered new construction.

July’s New Home Sales report highlights what today’s buyers of new construction and the nation’s home builders have witnessed for themselves already — that the market for newly-built homes is improving in Phoenix and nationwide.

The number of new homes sold in July on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis matches the tally from May 2012, and is the highest reading since April 2010, the last month of that year’s federal home buyer tax credit.

The South Region continues to account for the majority of new construction sales, posting a 48% market share in July. South Region sales were up 9.1 percent as compared to one year ago. The other 3 regions posted higher sales volume as well :

  • South Region : +9.1% from July 2011
  • Northeast Region : +30.4% from July 2011
  • Midwest Region : +21.7% from July 2011
  • West Region : +63.8% from July 2011

Also noteworthy is that the increase in new home sales is coming at a time when new home supplies are slipping.

At the end of July 2012, there were just 142,000 new homes for sale nationwide. This is the smallest new home housing stock in at least 7 years, and a signal that buyers are buying homes faster than builders can build them. At the current pace of sales, the national supply of new homes would sell out in 4.6 months.

Because economists believe that a 6.0-month supply represents a market in balance, the current new home market is decidedly a “sellers market”. Buyers throughout Arizona should expect higher new home prices ahead.

Dating back to October 2011, the housing market has shown slow, steady growth. Home prices have moved higher and so has builder confidence. If you’re in the market for new construction consider going into contract soon. The longer you wait to buy, the more you may be asked to pay.

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