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Monthly Archives: March 2015

3 reasons this may be a great spring for the housing market

According to Joshua Brown, writing in Fortune Magazine, this spring could be when the housing market will finally recover fully from the 2008 crash and, in Brown's words "go ballistic". However, Brown isn't the only one predicting that this will be an especially busy spring for real estate in the U.S. Here are some of the reasons experts are expecting a banner spring this year:

New home sales rose in February

According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. census bureau, February was a good month for new home sales in the U.S. Sales of newly constructed single-family homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000 units, an increase of 7.8 percent over January's rate. This is the highest rate since February 2008.

The increase far exceeded housing industry analysts' expectations after an especially slow January brought on by adverse weather conditions across much of the northern U.S. In fact, the lack of activity in January seems to have caused the large jump in sales this month, as pent-up demand in the Northeast caused sales activity to increase by 153 percent on a month-to-month basis in that region. The South also experienced a more modest 10.1 percent increase, while sales declined in the Midwest and West.

Mortgage rates fall as credit availability increases

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage interest rates fell in the first week of March after rising throughout February. The average interest rate on a conventional 30-year fixed-rate loan fell to 3.75 percent from 3.8 percent, and the average 15-year fixed-rate loan rate fell as well, to 3.03 percent from 3.07 percent.

Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, attributed the drop to a downward revision in GDP growth estimates for the fourth quarter of 2014 and falling consumer prices.

Three curb appeal projects that won't break the bank

If you're hoping to sell your home this spring, you probably already know that curb appeal is extremely important in giving prospective buyers a good first impression of the home. However, no matter how good your intentions are, sometimes you just don't have the money in the bank for expensive exterior improvements. Fortunately, many of the things you can do to improve your home's appearance come with a surprisingly small price tag. Here are three of the cheapest curb appeal projects you can take on:

Home affordability up at the end of 2014

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), home affordability in the U.S. increased slightly over the course of the fourth quarter of 2014. The index measures affordability by calculating the percentage of homes in an area that are financially accessible to families earning the median income of that area, taking into account home prices and mortgage financing conditions.

The most recent HOI found that 62.8 percent of homes sold between October and December 2014 in the U.S. were affordable to the country's median-income earners, or those earning about $63,900 per year. This represents a modest gain from the third quarter's figure of 61.8 percent of homes being affordable for those making the median income.

New home sales keep up fast pace

Sales of newly constructed single-family homes held steady in January despite expectations that they would fall due to adverse weather. According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new home sales fell only 0.2 percent in January to 481,000 units, which is still among the highest rates since June 2008.

Most of that 0.2 percent drop can be attributed to the historically bad weather throughout the Northeast U.S., where new home sales dropped by 51.6 percent in January, the largest decrease in sales since June 2012. The intense snowstorms that have gripped the area have made it difficult for residents to get to work and go about their daily lives, let alone thinking about buying new homes. However, new home sales in the South and the Midwest made up for some of those lost sales, rising by 2.2 percent and 19.2 percent, respectively.

How to successfully buy a home this spring

Spring and early summer are always the busiest times in the housing market, and with mortgage rates low and the economy on the rise, this spring is likely to be an especially competitive time to buy a home. If you're hoping to buy a home this spring, you should start preparing now to give yourself an edge over the competition and make the home search as smooth as possible for yourself. Here are some things you can do to get a leg up in a busy housing market:

Three techniques for paying off your mortgage sooner

Let's face it, no one wants to be paying off a mortgage for longer than they have to. However, the difference between monthly payments on a 15-year mortgage and those on a 30-year mortgage can often be too much for homebuyers to afford. However, there are some other simple ways to make it so that you will spend less time paying off your loan. Here are some strategies to help you take years off your loan and own your home free and clear sooner:

Remodeling market starts 2015 strong

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the remodeling market seems to be starting out strong in 2015, with industry confidence high and remodeling rates projected to increase throughout the year.

At a recent press conference at the International Builder's Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, remodelers from the NAHB who appeared on a panel confirmed that they had high confidence in the market in 2015. NAHB projections indicate that the residential remodeling market will increase by 3 percent this year over 2014, with growth continuing into 2016.