Tag Archives: news

Mortgage Interest Deduction Capped in Proposed Tax Overhaul

Source: RISMedia / Jameson Doris

After weeks of debate, Republican lawmakers have finally revealed their legislation for a major tax overhaul, the largest to be proposed in decades. The bill, entitled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, nearly doubles the standard deduction for middle-class families and makes no changes to the way 401(k) plans are treated pretax, but for REALTORS® and the consumers they serve, it’s not all good news.

Last June, House Speaker Paul Ryan warned that he would likely be unable to save all of the tax incentives that REALTORS® view as vital, The Wall Street Journal reported. We now know exactly what the Republicans were unable to salvage. Under their bill, existing homeowners can keep their mortgage interest deduction, but purchases that are made moving forward will be capped at $500,000. The bill also cuts the corporate tax rate to 20 percent (from 35 percent), as reported by The New York Times on Thursday.

“This legislation closely tracks with the House Republican Blueprint for tax reform, which threatens home values and takes money straight from the pockets of homeowners,” said National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Bill Brown in a statement. “REALTORS® believe in the promise of lower tax rates, but this bill is nowhere near as good a deal as the one middle-class homeowners get under current law. Tax hikes and falling home prices are a one-two punch that homeowners simply can’t afford.”

“The House Republican tax reform plan abandons middle-class taxpayers in favor of high-income Americans and wealthy corporations,” said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a statement. “The bill eviscerates existing housing tax benefits by drastically reducing the number of homeowners who can take advantage of mortgage interest and property tax incentives. Capping mortgage interest at $500,000 for new-home purchases means that homebuyers in expensive markets will effectively lose this housing tax benefit moving forward.

“The House leadership killed a cost-effective plan proposed by NAHB that Ways and Means Committee leaders agreed to include in the legislation,” MacDonald said. “It would provide a robust homeownership tax credit that would have helped up to 37 million additional homeowners who do not currently itemize. Most of them are low- and moderate-income homeowners. Meanwhile, as corporations receive a major tax cut, small businesses, which generate the lion’s share of job growth, get limited relief. The bottom line: Congress is ignoring the needs of America’s working-class families and small businesses, and by undermining the nation’s longstanding support for homeownership and threatening to lower the value of the largest asset held by most American families, this tax reform plan will put millions of homeowners at risk.”

“The tax reform legislation proposed by House Republican leaders takes a historic step in directly revising the mortgage interest deduction (MID), a $70 billion annual tax expenditure that primarily benefits higher income households—including the top 1 percent of earners in the country,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), in a statement. “The Republican tax proposal makes sensible reforms in lowering the amount of a mortgage against which the MID can be claimed to $500,000 for new-home loans and doubling the standard deduction. This change to the MID would impact fewer than 6 percent of mortgages nationwide and would save an estimated $95.5 billion over the first decade; however, the legislation uses the savings generated by the MID reform to pay for lower tax rates for billionaires and corporations without addressing the affordable housing crisis in America. This proposal is a non-starter.

“Instead, Congress should reinvest the savings from the MID reform into affordable housing solutions, like the national Housing Trust Fund, rental assistance, or a renter’s credit, that would help the lowest income people in America—including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and other vulnerable populations—who too often struggle to pay the rent and make ends meet.

“The National Low Income Housing Coalition has significant concerns with other provisions in the overall tax bill and further analysis is needed to determine the impact,” Yentel said.

The California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) echoed similar concerns. “We are currently reading through the bill proposed [on Thursday] to determine the exact impact it will have on California homeowners and its housing market,” said C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh. “From what we have seen so far, limiting the mortgage interest deduction to $500,000 will no doubt hurt homeownership in states with high housing costs such as California.

“Any change that would make home-buying less attractive will be detrimental to the housing industry and the nation’s economy because of the 2.5 million private-sector jobs created by the industry in an average year,” McIntosh added.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that this legislation will be aggressively contested and debated over the next several weeks as Republicans fight to have a finalized version on President Trump’s desk by Christmas. That version stands to be unrecognizable to what was announced today, due to battles various lobbying groups are about to wage.

NAR had already begun fighting before the legislation was announced. Recently, the Association deployed digital ads in every district of House Ways and Means Committee members asking constituents in those areas to remind their lawmakers not to “let tax reform become a tax increase for middle class homeowners.”

The Association has now announced that it will expand these efforts to Senate Finance Committee members’ states by the end of the week.

In the immediate future, things will move rapidly and countless groups will come forward to have their opinions heard. This is one area where NAR has a distinct advantage. Not only does it carry the influence of being the largest association; it also represents one of the most coveted voting blocs in the country: homeowners.

Military Strikes Cause Boom In Underground Bunker Business

Source: CBS News

DALLAS (CBS11) – The Trump administration’s increased military strikes might cause fear for some people. But for one North Texas man, it means big bucks.

Nora Holloway of Dallas is one of those folks who is concerned about the state of the world.

Citing the recent bombings in Syria, Afghanistan and the growing tension with North Korea, Holloway posted online to see if anyone wanted to “go in” on an underground bunker.

“I’m in no position to buy one,” said Holloway. “However, I think that for a lot of people that is a serious concern and a lot of people have done so and will be doing so.”

The interest level Holloway is expressing is an understatement.

“If I took 30 people and I worked 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, I still wouldn’t be caught up right now,” said Clyde Scott of Rising S Bunkers in Murchison, Texas.

Scott said there is around a three-month backlog for one of his subterranean shelters.

“They don’t really call me and ask me about the price or colors,” said Scott. “They say how fast can they get it.”

The list is only growing with each bomb dropped and threat levied.

“You should have got it 6 months ago,” said Scott. “You shouldn’t wait until the threat, until the fuse is lit on the rocket.”

The most basic model is 100 square feet of protection that is installed for around $45,000.

Scott said the most common is a 500 square-foot model for a family of four that runs for around $120,000.

The bunkers have all the amenities of home, are solar powered and surrounded by 100 percent steel.

Scott said only an imagination and wallet stand in the way.

“Doomsday crazy person, ‘prepper’ that’s all kind of nutty that people make them out to be…they don’t have $3.5 million to by a 5,500 square-foot bunker. Right?” questioned Scott.

While all of his clients are kept confidential, Scott said everyone from star athletes, Forbes 500 CEOs and maybe even an unsuspecting next door neighbor is investing underground without anyone noticing.

“I’ve sold to billionaires and I’ve sold to average Joes,” said Scott.

Holloway said she does not have the money but can at least dream.

“It would prepare people, myself specifically for what could and very well may happen in the future,” said Holloway.

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2017/04/14/military-strikes-cause-boom-underground-bunker-business/A list of models can be found here.

The most expensive model being offered is “The Aristocrat.”

For $8.3 million, the model comes with a pool, bowling alley and gun range.

Area Brokers Report “High Velocity” Market, But With Hope For Homebuyers

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (Feb. 6, 2017) – Western Washington’s “high velocity” market continued
during January with the number of pending sales (7,745) outgaining the number of new listings (6,507),
according to new figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“Properties are moving through the market at an unusually fast pace,” remarked John Deely, chairman of
the board at Northwest MLS and the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. “Although we
have a high number of new listings, they are moving into a pending or sold status within the typical 30-
day reporting period. This phenomenon causes a low active listing count,” he added.

Brokers added 6,507 new listings to inventory last month (163 fewer than during the same period a year
ago), while year-over-year pending sales jumped by 492 transactions for a gain of about 6.8 percent. New
listing volume was the highest monthly total since October when members added 7,591 properties.

At month-end, there were 9,752 active listings in the MLS service area, which encompasses 23 counties.
That total was 2,605 fewer than the year-ago volume of 12,357, a decline of 21 percent. Only three
counties (Ferry, Jefferson and Kitsap) reported improvements in the number of active listings compared
to the same month last year.

Measured by months of inventory, the selection is at historic lows in many counties. At month end, there
was just under 1.7 months of supply system-wide, which compares to the year-ago figure of about 2.5
months of supply. Both King and Snohomish counties have less than one month of supply.

“If home buyers were hoping that January would start to bring more balance to the housing market,
they’re going to be sorely disappointed. The number of homes for sale remains at record lows, and the
growth in pending sales tells us that sellers are still firmly in the driver’s seat,” said OB Jacobi, president
of Windermere Real Estate.

MLS director George Moorhead echoed Jacobi, pointing to five years ago when buyers could choose
from 5,378 listings of single family homes in King County versus last month’s selection of 1,569 listings.
“The real question is whether there will be relief in the near future, and the unfortunate answer is no,”
said Moorhead, the designated broker at Bentley Properties, citing the combination of new jobs, a
shortage of new homes, and a reluctance of sellers to list their home for fear of not being able to find their
next one.

Commenting on “typical seasonal and beginning of the year adjustments,” one company president said he
is encouraged by new listing activity. “There is no indication that the annualized trend of shrinking active
inventory will reverse itself anytime soon, but we’re seeing momentary bubbles of increased inventory for
buyers currently in the market” noted Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain.

“List it and they will come” is the new mantra as new listings come on the market, commented J. Lennox
Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott. Despite having more sales than new listings over the past few
months, Scott said there is hope for homebuyers. “As the days start getting longer the future will look
brighter for the backlog of buyers waiting to find a home.” Describing February as the bridge month
between winter and spring markets, Scott expects to start seeing an increase in the number of new listings.

“Buyers who are properly positioned to make quick decisions, and who have the proper negotiation
tactics and guidance are finding success in this high velocity market,” Deely reported.

Not surprisingly given the imbalance in supply and demand, prices continue to rise. Last month’s median
price for the 5,874 completed sales of single family homes and condominiums was $327,175, up 9
percent from the year ago figure of $300,000. There were 889 more closed sales in January than for the
same month a year ago for a 17.8 percent increase.

Single family home prices (excluding condos) increased 9 percent, rising from $309,950 to $338,000. The
median price for single family homes that sold in King County last month was $525,000, up more than
6.9 percent from the year-ago sales price of $490,970. Several outlying counties reported double-digit

“The softening of single family home prices in King County over the last few months, combined with the
relatively large price increase in Snohomish County (8.2 percent) suggests buyers are migrating north in
order to find more affordable housing,” said Jacobi.

Brokers in Pierce and Kitsap counties also reported price hikes larger than King County’s. The median
price of a single family home in Pierce County jumped nearly 11.6 percent from a year ago while the
year-over-year price in Kitsap was up 9.4 percent.

Condo prices rose 5.5 percent in January compared to a year ago, increasing from $255,750 to $289,900.
King County condo prices surged more than 9.8 percent, from $282,250 to $310,000.

“For buyers, it is a good news/bad news scenario in Kitsap County,” reported MLS director Frank
Wilson. “More houses came on the market last month than a year ago, but pending sales surpassed that
number to keep the market tight. Brokers navigated these challenges and buyers endured, “but the
tightness will likely be magnified during 2017,” said Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott
in Poulsbo.

Wilson said open house traffic has “started off with a bang” as more buyers have decided now is the time
to buy, believing that prices will only continue to rise .” He expects escalation clauses, multiple offer
situations and backup offers to “be the norm during the first quarter. The hierarchy of purchasers: cash,
conventional loan, VA loan, and FHA financing will continue to be the pecking order,” he stated.

“We’re seeing the frenzy change to a fanatical desire to own a home as buyers scramble to beat increasing
interest rates,” reported Moorhead. He expects the Feds to increase rates two more times between now
and April, “and that will only increase buyers’ aggressive tactics to secure a home,” he suggested.
Moorhead also noted sellers are able to “get away with putting homes on the market in conditions that
historically would be rejected by buyers.” Now, however, Moorhead said buyers are willing to turn a
blind eye to repairs and future maintenance.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service
MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of nearly 2,100 member offices includes more than 25,000 real
estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Why Chinese Homebuyers Are Coming to the U.S.

Source: RISMedia

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2016 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, Chinese homebuyers make up over 27 percent of all international home sales in the U.S Not only are Chinese buyers purchasing more U.S. property than any other group of international buyers, but they are also purchasing at a much higher price point. While the average purchase price for other foreign buyers during 2016 was $477,462, the average purchase price for Chinese buyers was $936,615—plus, approximately 71 percent of those purchases were all-cash. This is an opportunity that U.S. real estate professionals simply can’t afford to miss.

So, why are Chinese buyers searching for homes in the U.S.? One of the biggest reasons is how expensive local assets currently are in the Chinese property market. Tax regulations and various laws make purchasing local property more difficult and Chinese buyers are looking for a safe place to invest their money, with the U.S. offering a wide range of investment choices in real estate. Another major reason to look in the U.S. is education, which is of deep-rooted importance in Chinese culture. While education is extremely competitive in China, the U.S. offers competitive options for top universities and K-12, since many Chinese parents are looking for a more well-rounded curriculum for their children than is offered in China, where they are often focused more on high-stakes testing. To learn more about this immense opportunity, check out this on-demand webinar from ListHub Global, and read the 5 tips below to attract Chinese buyers to your listings.

  • Focus on location. In addition to highlighting the neighborhood where your property is located, associate the property with well-known landmarks and focus on school zones, transportation options, and other attractions.
  • Win over the youth vote. When making a decision about where to purchase property in the U.S., parents are often heavily influenced by their children, especially those who are moving to the U.S. for school. Make sure your property highlights features that cater to the younger generation: amenities, proximity to shopping malls and parks, and any nearby universities.
  • Think Hollywood. Many Chinese buyers have gained their knowledge of the U.S. through Hollywood movies and don’t necessarily have a thorough geographic knowledge of the country. Take advantage of this! Chinese buyers may know about Seattle from watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fall in love on the big screen, but may have no idea that Seattle is located in Washington state. Make sure to put emphasis on the city name and, if possible, relate your property’s location to movies or media that are popular in American culture.
  • Get acquainted with Chinese social media. With strict internet regulations, Chinese do not have access to Facebook, YouTube and other social media channels that we use every day in the U.S. One of the most widely used social channels in China, WeChat, is described as a “super app” that combines tools similar to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Uber and Amazon, all rolled into one application. With 700 million active users, the app has become an integral part of doing business in China—in fact, over 80 percent of Chinese buyers prefer to be contacted via WeChat when requesting property information. Having a presence on this widely-used site can be a game-changer for connecting with Chinese buyers.
  • Most importantly…get your listings in front of Chinese buyers. Reaching Chinese buyers can be challenging. With language barriers and strict internet regulations, real estate professionals often have a hard time getting their listings in front of Chinese consumers searching for their next investment opportunity. ListHub can help! With several Chinese publisher websites available in the network, you can get your listings on the sites where Chinese buyers are actually searching.

Access an on-demand version of ListHub’s recent webinar on Chinese migration to the U.S. and how you can better attract Chinese buyers to your listings here—plus, learn more about how ListHub Global can help you get effortless international exposure for your listings.

For more information, please visit www.listhub.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

Limited Supply Spurs Higher Prices in Third Quarter

Source: RISMedia

Persistent supply shortages throughout the country led to slightly faster home price appreciation during the third quarter, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of REALTORS®. The report also revealed that seven of the 10 most expensive housing markets in the U.S. are in the West, including San Jose, Calif., which had a median single-family home price of $1 million for the second straight quarter.

The median existing single-family home price increased in 87 percent of measured markets, with 155 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) showing gains based on closed sales in the third quarter compared with the third quarter of 2015. Twenty-two areas (12 percent) recorded lower median prices from a year earlier.

There were a growing number of rising markets in the third quarter compared to the second quarter of this year, when price gains were recorded in 83 percent of metro areas. Twenty-five metro areas in the third quarter (14 percent) experienced double-digit increases—unchanged from the second quarter of this year. A year ago, 21 metro areas (12 percent) saw double-digit price appreciation.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says prospective buyers faced a very challenging market during the third quarter. “Mortgage rates around historical lows and solid local job creation created a winning formula for sustained home-buying demand all summer long,” he says. “Unfortunately, for house hunters in several of the top job producing metro areas around the country, deficient supply levels limited their options and drove prices higher—especially in markets in the West and South.”

The national median existing single-family home price in the third quarter was $240,900, which is up 5.2 percent from the third quarter of 2015 ($228,900), surpassing this year’s second quarter ($240,700) as the current peak quarterly median sales price. The median price during the second quarter increased 4.9 percent from the second quarter of 2015.

Total existing-home sales, including single-family and condos, slid 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in the third quarter from 5.50 million in the second quarter of 2016, and are 0.4 percent lower than the 5.40 million pace during the third quarter of 2015.

“After climbing to their highest annual pace in over nine years in June, sales sputtered in the third quarter because inventory could not catch up with what was being quickly sold,” says Yun. “Only a decent rebound in September kept the monthly and annual sales declines from being even larger.”

At the end of the third quarter, there were 2.04 million existing homes available for sale, which was 6.8 percent below the 2.19 million homes for sale at the end of the third quarter in 2015. The average supply during the third quarter was 4.6 months, down from 4.9 months a year ago.

Despite faster price growth last quarter, the decline in mortgage rates and an uptick in the national family median income ($70,306) slightly improved affordability compared to a year ago. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need an income of $51,661; a 10 percent down payment would require an income of $48,942; and $43,504 would be needed for a 20 percent down payment.

“If mortgage rates start to rise heading into next year, prospective buyers could face weakening affordability conditions in their market, unless supply dramatically improves,” adds Yun. “That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that homebuilders ramp up the production of more single-family homes to meet demand and slow price growth.”

The five most expensive housing markets in the third quarter were the San Jose, Calif., metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $1,000,000; San Francisco at $835,400; urban Honolulu at $745,300; Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif., at $740,100; and San Diego at $589,300.

The five lowest-cost metro areas in the third quarter were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, at $90,300; Cumberland, Md., at $94,400; Decatur, Ill. at $99,400; Elmira, N.Y., at $109,400; and Rockford, Ill., at $111,900.

Metro area condominium and cooperative prices—covering changes in 59 metro areas— showed the national median existing-condo price was $225,100 in the third quarter, up 4.6 percent from the third quarter of 2015 ($215,200). Forty-one metro areas (69 percent) showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago; 17 areas had declines.

NAR President Tom Salomone says the Federal Housing Administration’s recently-announced rule change to lower the owner-occupancy requirement for approved condominium buildings from 50 percent to 35 percent under certain conditions is a step forward for prospective buyers considering a condo.

“Condos have typically been an attractive and viable option for first-time buyers, and recent NAR data are showing that they’re having a little more success,” he says. “With this lower owner-occupancy requirement, Realtors® will have more options for their clients looking to purchase a condo with an FHA mortgage. While we believe all condo buildings should have the rules applied to them equally, we also believe FHA has heard the concerns of Realtors® and is moving in the right direction.”

Regional Breakdown
Total existing-home sales in the Northeast dropped 7.5 percent in the third quarter and are now 1.9 percent below the third quarter of 2015. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $272,600 in the third quarter, up 1.2 percent from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales decreased 4.2 percent in the third quarter, but are 1 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 5.6 percent to $191,200 in the third quarter from the same quarter a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South declined 2.7 percent in the third quarter and are 0.9 percent lower than the third quarter of 2015. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $213,700 in the third quarter, 6.5 percent above a year earlier.

In the West, existing-home sales increased 4.6 percent in the third quarter and are unchanged from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 7.6 percent to $349,200 in the third quarter from the third quarter of 2015.

For more information, visit www.realtor.org.

Mortgage Applications Rise over 9 Percent

Source: RISMedia

Mortgage applications increased 9.3 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending June 3, 2016. Results include an adjustment to account for the Memorial Day holiday.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 9.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 13 percent compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 7 percent from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 12 percent from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 12 percent compared with the previous week and was 6 percent lower than the same week one year ago.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 53.8 percent of total applications from 54.3 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity remained unchanged at 5.0 percent of total applications.

The FHA share of total applications increased to 13.0 percent from 12.5 percent the week prior. The VA share of total applications decreased to 11.5 percent from 12.0 percent the week prior. The USDA share of total applications remained unchanged from 0.7 percent the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($417,000 or less) decreased to 3.83 percent from 3.85 percent, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.36 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate decreased from the last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $417,000) remained unchanged at 3.81 percent, with points decreasing to 0.25 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from the last week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA increased to 3.71 percent from 3.65 percent, with points decreasing to 0.23 from 0.26 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate increased from the last week.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 3.11 percent from 3.12 percent, with points decreasing to 0.35 from 0.40 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from the week prior.

The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 2.96 percent from 3.00 percent, with points decreasing to 0.29 from 0.44 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The effective rate decreased from the last week.

For more information, visit www.mba.org/WeeklyApps.

Economic News: Home Price Gains, Job Growth Steady


“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go.” The Seven Dwarfs. A strengthening jobs market and low home rates are digging up demand for limited housing inventory. Meanwhile, home price gains hold steady.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index rose 5.7 percent year-over-year from January 2015 to January 2016. This was in line with estimates and matched December’s 5.7 percent gain. Prices were up 0.8 percent month-over-month. The low inventory of homes available for sale has been the key reason for price growth; more Americans working also has fueled demand.

On the labor front, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 215,000 jobs were created in March, above the 200,000 expected, though down from the 245,000 created in February. While the Unemployment Rate edged higher to 5 percent from 4.9 percent, the report was positive, signaling that despite global economic woes, job growth here in the U.S. remains solid.

At this time, home loan rates continue to hold steady as well, hovering just above historic lows.


In a light report week, investors will scour the words of the Fed’s meeting minutes looking for clues regarding the next hike to the benchmark Fed Funds Rate.

  • On Tuesday, the ISM Services Index will be released.
  • Wednesday brings the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes.
  • Weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be delivered on Thursday.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve. In contrast, strong economic news normally has the opposite result.

If you or someone you know has any questions about the housing market, current rates or home loan products, I would be happy to help. Please don’t hesitate to email or call me.

Michelle Wickett
Senior Loan Originator
Axia Home Loans | NMLS 27830
Phone: (360) 791-0513
Fax: 360-459-1212
License:: NMLS 62804




































































“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go.” The Seven Dwarfs. A strengthening jobs market and low home rates are digging up demand for limited housing inventory. Meanwhile, home price gains hold steady.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Home Price Index rose 5.7 percent year-over-year from January 2015 to January 2016. This was in line with estimates and matched December’s 5.7 percent gain. Prices were up 0.8 percent month-over-month. The low inventory of homes available for sale has been the key reason for price growth; more Americans working also has fueled demand.

On the labor front, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 215,000 jobs were created in March, above the 200,000 expected, though down from the 245,000 created in February. While the Unemployment Rate edged higher to 5 percent from 4.9 percent, the report was positive, signaling that despite global economic woes, job growth here in the U.S. remains solid.

At this time, home loan rates continue to hold steady as well, hovering just above historic lows.

If you or someone you know has any questions about the housing market, current rates or home loan products, I would be happy to help. Please don’t hesitate to email or call me.

News – Housing Starts Rise 10.8 Percent in 2015

Source: RISMedia

Total housing starts were up in 2015, weighing in at 1.11 million—that’s 10.8 percent higher than 2014. This information is based on the Census Bureau’s recent December 2015 data release, which allows us to look at 2015’s starts as a whole. Despite December being slightly down—2.5 percent to 1.15 million—the yearly status overall was positive.

“The dip in December housing starts shows the month-to-month volatility we’ve experienced in this report,” says Quicken Loans
Vice President Bill Banfield. “All in all, we’ve made significant gains in 2015 as we closed out at the strongest calendar year
for housing starts since 2007 – up 1.00 million units from 2014.”

Guest Post: What The Fed Rate Hike Means

“These are extraordinary times.” Bon Jovi. The Federal Open Market Committee marked the end of an “extraordinary seven-year period” Wednesday when it announced the first increase to the Fed’s benchmark Federal Funds Rate in nearly a decade.

This rate, which is used when banks lend money to each other overnight, was held near zero to support economic recovery following “the worst financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression,” said Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The Fed upped the target rate range a quarter point, to between 0.25 and 0.5 percent.

According to Yellen, the move “recognizes the considerable progress that has been made toward restoring jobs, raising incomes and easing the economic hardship of millions of Americans.” The increase also reflects the Fed’s confidence that economic factors still lagging behind desired levels will continue to improve, especially inflation, manufacturing and new home construction.

November Housing Starts, for example, rose 10.5 percent from October, according to the Commerce Department. This was above expectations. The jump nearly erases the 12 percent decline from September to October. After months of significantly higher multifamily unit home starts, single-family home starts were up to the highest level since January 2008.

So how will the Fed’s actions impact home loan rates? The increase to the Fed Funds Rate does not directly impact long-term consumer loans like purchase or refinance home loans, so home loan rates will not necessarily increase as a direct result of the Fed’s actions.

However, it’s important keep a watchful eye on economic headlines. The economic conditions that made the Fed comfortable with a rate hike—coupled with expectations of a further strengthening economy—could amplify investments in Stocks, which could negatively impact Bonds. This includes Mortgage Bonds, to which home loan rates are tied.

For now, home loan rates remain attractive.

If you or someone you know has questions about the housing market, refinancing or home loan options, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Michelle Wickett
Senior Loan Originator
Axia Home Loans
Phone: 360-791-0513