6 Top Trending Green Features To Consider When Remodeling

6 Top Trending Green FeaturesSustainable materials, energy savings and smart home technology are high on the list of buyer wants in a home. But there are some other architectural and design trends that will change the way Americans live this year and beyond.

When planning a remodel, it pays to pay attention to green features, as well as to improved floor plans that will make a home more comfortable, more appealing and more functional.

Here’s a list of what’s hot right now:

Natural and Sustainable Materials

Eco-consciousness and concerns about individual health and wellness prompted a return to natural woods and stone, as well as organic forms and living greenery. All are prominently featured in today’s show houses and and on design shows. For both residential and commercial design, there is renewed emphasis on the importance of natural light, views, air quality and open space as elements that affect not only mood and function but also health and well being.

Reclaimed and Recycled Products

No matter what the design or decor, there is a way to incorporate previously used materials. Recycled plastic is commonly used for roofing tiles, carpet, insulation, composite lumber and decking material, decorative trim and landscaping rocks. Reclaimed beams, distressed wood flooring, stunning countertops fabricated from recycled glass, wood chips and even cardboard, are only a few trendy possibilities. For a planned remodel, be sure to investigate what’s available, including “repurposing” used building materials like old windows, vintage gates or antique furniture.

LEED Certified Construction

Resource conservation and energy-savings are a way of life and worthy of attention. In some ways, Europe and Asia lead the U.S. in terms of conservation, but one way to assure that new homes are built to a certain standard is to insist on LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s a compliance and rating system for both residential and commercial construction that is recognized internationally.

Energy-Star Rated Appliances, Systems, Fixtures and Fittings

It would be difficult today to buy a new appliance or furnace that is not energy-efficient. But in an older home, even if existing appliances, faucets and fixtures, heating and cooling systems are still operational, it might be wise to consider replacing them. Sometimes the savings on monthly water and electricity alone makes financial sense. And new replacements always add to a home’s appraised value.

Rooftop Solar Panels

There is ample evidence that buyers will pay a premium for solar homes. Although the initial investment is relatively high, an owner will benefit from an immediate reduction in energy cost, and the added property value might make such an investment worthwhile.

Smart Home Technology and Home Automation

Buyers today almost universally want a wireless security system and some form of programmable temperature control. Additional smart home features high on the list of consumer wants include lighting controls, wireless hubs that integrate entertainment and convenience features, and trendy apps that allow control of home functions via smart phone, whether from across the block or across the globe.

Marcy James | 661-412-0700 | mjames@myccmortgage.com

What Changes Occurred In FHA And FNMA Rules During 2018?

What Changes Occurred In FHA And FNMA Rules During 2018?

The FNMA HomeReady Program

Those who are involved in the mortgage industry must keep updated on changes to FHA, and Fannie Mae (FNMA) loans. Since loan limits and other changes are often made annually, keeping up with these changes helps make sure consumers get the right information at the time of their application.

Many of the changes for 2018 are modest, but still impact existing, and new homeowners.

Changes To Loan Limit Amounts

FHA loan limits change on an annual basis as per the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Using this, the FHA is required to base the insured mortgage amounts on 115 percent of median housing prices by county.  While many counties in the United States did not see changes this year, 3,011 counties saw a change for loan applications submitted after January 1, 2018. These changes mean the upper loan limits in higher-priced markets increases to $679,650 and the lower limits are $294,515. These limits are for new home purchases and for refinancing existing FHA loans.

Another significant change which must be considered is what FHA or FNMA considers a conforming loan. In prior years, this amount was $424,100, it has now been increased to $453,100. This is important because for many homeowners, jumbo mortgages seem out of reach.

Changes To Down Payment Requirements

While FNMA did have a minimum requirement for down payment at five percent, FNMA and Freddie Mac are both offering three percent down payment programs in 2018. It is important to be aware that FNMA limits this program to those borrowers who intend to use the home as their primary residence. The following conditions must be met to qualify for the 97 percent loan to value program:

  • The mortgage securing the property must be at a fixed rate
  • The property must be a co-op, PUD, condo or other one-unit home.
  • The property cannot be a manufactured home
  • The borrower must intend to occupy the property as their primary residence
  • One of the buyers cannot have owned a home in the last three years
  • Loans must be equal to or less than $453,100
  • Borrower’s credit score should be 620 or higher

FHA loans do require borrower to put down a minimum of 3.5 percent of their new mortgage. However, the also offer greater flexibility with credit requiring borrowers have a credit score of 580 and further allows the entire down payment to be gifted to the buyer. Borrowers with credit scores between 500 and 579 who can put down 10 percent are eligible for FHA mortgages.

Another important program FNMA offers is for first-time buyers. Specifically, the idea was to make owning a home easier for a larger market of buyers. This program offers some flexibility that standard FNMA loans do not offer including:

  • Lower private mortgage insurance (PMI) rates
  • 100 percent gifted down payments and closing costs
  • 97 percent loan to value
  • Co-borrower income may be used to qualify for a loan
  • Household member income may be included, even if not a borrower
  • Rental income and/or boarder income may help a borrower qualify
  • Borrowers must complete a home buyer’s education course

These changes are significant for many borrowers and include some flexibility with income limits. Borrowers living in low-income areas face no maximum income limits. Borrowers in other areas cannot exceed 100 percent of the median income for the area.

Do Not Overlook FHA Streamline Refinance

Borrowers who have an existing FHA loan can take advantage of this program. Borrowers who changed jobs, have faced credit issues, or who have homes who lost some value may be able to refinance their home into a lower interest rate, or eliminate mortgage insurance premiums. To qualify, borrowers must be current on their mortgage payments, cannot have been late on their mortgage payments more than 30 days in 12 months, and have had their current mortgage for a minimum of 210 days. Because of this seasoning requirement, borrowers must have made six mortgage payments at the time of the refinancing.

Thanks to the flexibility of this program, borrowers need not worry about income verification, appraisals, or credit score. The refinance terms must benefit the borrower in a tangible way. For example, a borrower who currently has a six percent adjustable mortgage and now qualifies for a six percent fixed rate mortgage can demonstrate a tangible gain. Therefore, assuming they meet the other requirements, their mortgage would qualify for the streamline finance. For many borrowers, this could help significantly, particularly if their home has lost value, or they have suffered a temporary decrease in their income.

Mortgage programs change frequently making it imperative to verify all program requirements before presenting them to borrowers. Fortunately, FNMA and FHA are making home ownership attainable for more borrowers than ever before thanks to more flexible down payment options, credit scoring changes and increased loan limits.

7 Excellent Ideas For Building An Eco-Friendly Home

7 excellent ideas for building and eco friendly homeIn recent years, building an environmentally friendly home or updating an existing home to be more energy efficient has become much more mainstream. While building an entirely green residence isn’t always fiscally possible, simple eco-friendly building techniques and upgrades will ultimately lower your water and electricity bills.

These green home improvements will save you money in the long run, while also saving the planet. The following are some of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprint when building or updating a home.

Build or Purchase a Smaller Home

Smaller homes naturally have a lower impact on the environment. There is less square footage to cool and heat, which keeps energy consumption down. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to give up your dream home. Instead, create an ideal floor plan with usable space, and downsize rooms you know you will not use on a daily — or even weekly — basis.

Use Energy-Efficient Windows

When building a home or updating an existing home, use Energy Star-labeled windows. This important label means that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed them as energy efficient. The money saved on future heating and cooling bills often more than make up for the initial cost differential.

Use Energy-Efficient Products

Like windows, certain appliances are also Energy Star-labeled. Energy Star appliances conserve energy, without sacrificing performance. Everything from a single light bulb to a geothermal heat pump can come with this important, government-approved label.

Use Proper Insulation

Heating and cooling typically accounts for approximately half of a home’s energy consumption, and this energy usage is often wasted due to poor insulation. Start by making sure there are no drafts by windows and doors. This is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and the price of your monthly bills.

Install Solar Panels

Solar energy is both clean and renewable, and solar panels are the perfect way to harness this remarkable form of energy. While the initial cost of installation can seem high, the money saved in the long term is extraordinary. Plus, there are often tax breaks and other monetary incentives. When building a new home, consult with a knowledgeable architect about positioning the property and the solar panels for maximum sun exposure.

Use Sustainable Building Materials

Sustainable building materials can be utilized throughout the entire building process. When picking out wood for the frame of the home, use a supplier who practices an environmentally friendly planting and harvesting process. Once in the design phase, consider bamboo and/or cork flooring. They are both eco-friendly and trendy.

Save Water

There are numerous ways to cut back on water usage. To start, install low-flow aerators on toilets and shower heads, invest in a tankless water heater and only use an Energy Star-rated washing machine. Next, capture rainwater on your property in a cistern or barrel. This water can be used for landscaping and irrigation.

Creating a green home doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple updates and a bit of forethought can drastically reduce monthly bills, while simultaneously reducing fossil-fuel emissions.

Marcy James | 661-412-0700 |  mjames@myccmortgage.com

The Four Best Questions To Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage

The Best Questions to Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage1) Do I have enough equity to get a mortgage?

To get a conventional loan, you will usually need to have at least 20 percent equity. This means that your house will have to be worth at least $250,000 to get a $200,000 loan. If you have less equity, you could end up having to pay for private mortgage insurance, which can easily add $100 or more to your monthly payment.

2) How’s my credit?

Most lenders will look at your credit score as a part of determining whether or not to make you a loan. With conventional lenders, your rate will depend on your score and the higher it is, the lower your payment will be. Other lenders, like the FHA and VA programs have an all or nothing rule. If you qualify, your rate won’t be based on your credit, but if your score is too low, you won’t be able to get any loan.

3) What do I want to accomplish?

Mortgages typically offer a choice as to their term. While the 30-year loan is the most popular, shorter term mortgages save you money since you pay less interest over their lives. They also get you out of debt sooner, at least with regard to your house.

The drawback is that they carry higher payments since you pay off more principal every month. This can make them less affordable for some borrowers.

4) How’s my current loan?

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, you may want to switch to a fixed rate mortgage simply for the additional security it offers you. On the other hand, if you are planning to move relatively soon, your current mortgage could be a better deal whehter it’s fixed- or adjustable-rate.

When trying to decide what to do, compare the cost of refinancing with what it would cost you in additional interest to hold on to your existing loan. While the breakdown is different for every borrower, generally, you’ll need to keep your current house and loan for anywhere from three to six years to break even on the costs of refinancing.

Deciding what to do with your mortgage can be complicated. Working with a qualified loan broker that can consider every angle with you can help you to make a better decision. If you have any questions about refinancing, I would be glad to assist. You can contact me directly at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 19th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 19th, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings From National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Posts 3rd Consecutive Decline in Builder Confidence

According to the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence in housing market conditions dropped by one point in March to an index reading of 70. Three sub-categories of builder sentiment used to calculate the overall reading were either unchanged or lower than February readings. 

Confidence in current market conditions were unchanged at 72, Builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months fell two points to an index reading of 78. The index for buyer traffic in new housing developments dipped three points to 51. Any reading over 50 indicates positive builder sentiment.

Builders cited increased demand for homes as a positive influence on builder confidence, but recent decisions to impose tariffs on some building materials concerned builders, but pronounced shortages of new and pre-owned homes contributed to positive builder sentiment.

Mortgage applications for new homes were 4.60 percent higher year-over-year in February according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Housing Starts Lower in February

The Commerce Department reported an annual rate of 1.236 million housing starts in February; this was seven percent lower than January’s reading of 1.329 million starts. Analysts expected a reading of 1.25 million starts. Housing starts were higher in the Northeast regions, but the Midwest, South and Western regions reported fewer starts in February than for January.

Permits for building new homes slipped by 5.70 percent in February, but ups and downs in construction activity during winter months can cause volatility in readings for permits and housing construction.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Dip

Freddie Mac reported lower fixed mortgage rates for the first time in 2018; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was two basis points lower at 4.44 percent, Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.90 percent, which was four basis points lower than for the prior week. Mortgage rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.67 percent, an increase of four basis points on average.

First time jobless claims dipped last week to 226,000 new claims. Analysts expected new claims to drop to 228,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 230,000 new jobless claims. The week ended on a positive note with consumer sentiment rising from an index reading of 99.7 to 102 in March. The Consumer Sentiment Index is produced by the University of Michigan.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on sales of new and previously-owned homes; the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will issue its customary post-meeting statement, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell will give a press conference after the FOMC statement. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Moving From An Apartment To A House? Here’s What You Need To Remember About Your Lease

Moving From An Apartment To A HouseThe major problem that the vast majority of buyers will run into – especially when purchasing their first home – has to do with a lease agreement that is still active with their apartment complex at the time of the purchase. If you locate the perfect home in February but your lease isn’t over until August, you can’t be expected to wait around.

But at the same time, the remainder of that lease agreement could represent thousands of dollars that you’ll be paying to essentially “live” in two different places at the same time.

Luckily, all hope is not lost. There are a variety of steps that you can take to help mitigate your remaining financial risk at your apartment as much as possible.

Breaking Your Lease Early: What You Need to Know

First, look at your existing lease agreement and make sure you understand their early termination policy. This will outline the various acceptable ways, usually dictated in large part by state and other local laws, that you can break a lease early without being forced to pay through the duration of the agreement itself.

Much of this will vary based not only on the state, but also the property manager in question. Your property manager may very well allow for early termination for home buyers – particularly if they’re in an area where they know they can rent the apartment quickly.

This is not always the case, though, which is why you need to begin by reviewing the situation thoroughly so you know what you’re dealing with.

Next, you should review what state laws have to say about your landlord’s duty to find a new tenant in the area of the country that you’re living in. In some states, for example, your landlord MUST make “reasonable efforts” to re-rent your unit as quickly as possible, regardless of the reason you’ve decided to leave.

Many state housing laws require landlords to make every effort to keep their own losses at a minimum – meaning that you may not have to pay much, if anything at all, to break your lease early provided that you give said landlord enough notice.

Why Conversations Matter

Finally, you’ll want to sit down with your landlord face-to-face (if you haven’t already done so) and explain to them exactly what is going on. Landlords are people too and oftentimes they can be more sympathetic than you think.

According to an authority on the matter, the “worst case scenario” for most renters-turned-buyers breaking a lease agreement is often that they’ll need to pay an early termination fee to break their agreement early. This can be as little as one month’s rent to “a few month’s rent” depending on the situation.

At the very least, this is better than being forced to pay every month for the remainder of your term.

In the end, it’s important for you to understand that you should not let anything get in the way of buying the home you’ve always wanted – even if you’re currently living in an apartment with an active lease agreement.

You just need to know as much about the specifics of that agreement as possible so that you can move into your new home while mitigating as much risk as possible for both yourself and your landlord at the same time.

Marcy James  |  661-755-4883  |  mjames@myccmortgage.com

What Are The Benefits And Drawbacks Of Putting 20 Percent Down On A Home Purchase?

Should You Put 20 Percent Down On Your Home Purchase?Several generations ago, lenders required home buyers to have a 20 percent down payment in order to get a mortgage. While there were a few options out there for people who couldn’t save this substantial amount, the reality was that for the majority of people, the 20 percent down was a requirement.

It was the way to show that you were financially responsible enough for homeownership. And it was a strong way that the banks felt secure in making a home loan.

Today, however, homebuyers have many options available to them as they shop for a new home, and those mortgage options mean that the 20 percent down payment is no longer as much of a requirement. For most buyers, especially those who do not have the equity of an existing home to help with their purchase, the 20 percent down payment is not even a possibility.

Yet for those who can do so, putting 20 percent down carries some benefits worth considering. Here is a closer look at when the large down payment makes sense, and what the potential drawbacks are that buyers should consider.

How The 20 Percent Down Payment Helps

When it is possible for the buyer to save enough, the 20 percent down payment does have some benefits that are worth considering. First, when you are able to save 20 percent, you can get a mortgage that has no private mortgage insurance or similar fees. Because lenders consider a borrower with less than 20 percent for the down payment to be higher risk, they charge additional fees to serve as insurance on these loans.

Putting 20 percent down also means you are borrowing less. Because every dollar you borrow will be charged interest, the less you borrow the lower your repayment costs should be over the life of the loan. If you have the ability to save 20 percent, this is a benefit worth considering.

The Drawbacks Of 20 Percent Down

While saving 20 percent does have some benefits, it also has drawbacks that you must also consider. First, 20 percent of a home loan is a significant amount of money. On a modestly priced $100,000 house, that means you have to save $20,000. For the average home buyer, this represents years of saving. And you could be giving up years of price appreciation on the home that you could have purchased earlier by using one of the other financing options.

Also, if you are putting all of that money down as your down payment, you may find yourself cash strapped for other home buying costs, like new furniture or closing costs on your mortgage. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns that this can be a significant downside, especially for first-time buyers who have a lot of expenses as they make the move into their first homes.

Many people find themselves digging into their other investments, like their 401(k), to come up with the money for the down payment. When mortgage interest rates are low, this can be an unwise move. Paying a bit more in interest over the life of a mortgage is often better than creating a serious financial bind for your future needs. Digging into your retirement also means you are not getting that vital compounding interest.

Finally, saving 20 percent often means you can’t buy a home quite as quickly. Since home prices historically tend to rise, not fall, the longer you wait, the more you may spend on your home. If home prices rise by 5 percent a year, which is fairly standard, waiting two years to purchase the home means $10,000 in extra costs for a $100,000 home. The higher purchase price counters any savings you may have when you put down 20 percent.

Can You Buy With Less Than 20 Percent Down?

So can you buy a home with less than 20 percent down? The answer to that question is yes, and often it makes more financial sense to do so. In fact, according to Freddie Mac, 40 percent of homebuyers in today’s markets are making down payments of less than 10 percent. So if you are going to buy a home without saving the 20 percent, what are your options?

If you have strong credit, many lenders are still offering piggyback loans. These loans allow you to take out a smaller loan for part of your down payment, then a traditional loan for the rest of the purchase price. You may still need about 5 percent of your own money to put down on the purchase. Then you can work with your lender to borrow 15 percent with a smaller, and many times shorter-term loan, and the remainder with a conventional mortgage.

Down payment assistance is another option to consider. These programs, which are available through non-profit organizations or government-run programs, give homeowners a hand in coming up with the down payment they need to purchase the home.

Finally, consider the low down payment options that are out there. USDA loans, VA loans, FHA loans and similar loan products are designed for those with just a little bit to put down on the home. The FHA loan, for example, is a government-backed loan that requires just 3.5 percent down on the home.

Forbes indicates it is even possible to get a conventional loan with as little as 3 percent down. In some instances, like the USDA home loan program, you can even buy a home with no down payment.

While these home loans do have additional costs, like the funding fee for the VA loan or private mortgage insurance for conventional low down payment loans, they give you the ability to buy now without 20 percent down so you can start enjoying the benefits of homeownership sooner.

When buying a home, getting sound financial advice is always wise. Whether you choose to put down a large amount on your home or take advantage of these different loan options to buy with a smaller amount down, make sure you weigh your options before making your choice.

Marcy James  |  661-755-4883  |  mjames@myccmortgage.com

What Items Can Change My Mortgage Pre-Approval Status?

What is a mortgage pre-approvalWhen you are purchasing a home, your lender may recommend you obtain a mortgage pre-approval before you find the home of your dreams. There are some benefits to being pre-approved before you find a home, but oftentimes, people confuse pre-qualifications with pre-approvals.

So the question many buyers have is what exactly is a mortgage pre-approval? In a nutshell, it’s when the lender provides you (the buyer) with a letter stating that your mortgage will be granted up to a specific dollar amount.

What Do I Need For Pre-Approval?

In order to obtain a pre-approval for your home purchase, you will have to provide your lender all of the same information you would need to show for qualifying for a mortgage. This means providing tax returns, bank statements and other documents that prove your net worth, how much you have saved for your down payment and your current obligations.

What Conditions Are Attached to a Pre-Approval?

Generally speaking, a pre-approval does have some caveats attached to it. Typically, you can expect to see some of the following clauses in a pre-approval letter:

  • Interest rate changes – a pre-approval is done based on current interest rates. When rates increase, your borrowing power may decrease
  • Property passes valuation and inspection – your lender will require the property you ultimately purchase to come in with a proper appraisal and meet all inspection requirements
  • Credit check requirements – regardless of whether it’s been a week or six months since you were pre-approved, your lender will require a new credit report. Changes in your credit report could negate the pre-approval
  • Changes in jobs/assets – after a pre-approval is received, a change in your employment status or any substantial assets may result in the pre-approval becoming worthless

What Items Can Change My Mortgage Pre-Approval Status?

One of the major issues that affect some borrowers as they are preparing to purchase their new home is financing large ticket items before the home purchase loan is completely funded.  Even if you are buying new furniture or other items for the home, it’s best to wait until after your home loan is entirely complete before purchasing any of these new items.

Work changes can also drasitically affect your pre-approval status.  Make sure your loan professional is well aware of any changes well in advance of them happening in order to plan effectively.  There are ways to work with job changes but it is a delicate matter during the mortgage underwriting process.

Getting pre-approved for a home mortgage may allow you more negotiation power with sellers and may help streamline the entire loan process. It is however important to keep in mind there are still things that may have a negative impact on actually getting the loan.

It is important to make sure you keep in contact, especially if interest rates increase or your employment status changes after you are pre-approved. If you have any questions, I would be glad to help.  You can contact me directly at 661-755-4883 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

Can I Have A Co-Signer For My Mortgage Loan?

Can I Have A Co-Signer For My Mortgage LoanLike credit cards or car loans, some mortgages allow borrowers to have co-signers on the loan with them, enhancing their application. However, a co-signer on a mortgage loan doesn’t have the same impact that it might on another loan. Furthermore, it poses serious drawbacks for the co-signer.

Mortgage Co-Signers

A mortgage co-signer is a person that isn’t an owner or occupant of the house. However, the co-signer is on the hook for the loan. Typically, a co-signer is a family member or close friend that wants to help the main borrower qualify for a mortgage. To that end, he signs the loan documents along with the main borrower, taking full responsibility for them.

When a co-signer applies for a mortgage, the lender considers the co-signer’s income and savings along with the borrower’s. For instance, if a borrower only has $3,000 per month in income but wants to have a mortgage that, when added up with his other payments, works out to a total debt load of $1,800 per month, a lender might not be willing to make the loan.

If the borrower adds a co-signer with $3,000 per month in income and no debt, the lender looks at the $1,800 in payments against the combined income of $6,000, and may be much more likely to approve it.

Co-Signer Limitations

Co-signers can add income, but they can’t mitigate credit problems. Typically, the lender will look at the least qualified borrower’s credit score when deciding whether or not to make the loan. This means that a co-signer might not be able to help a borrower who has adequate income but doesn’t have adequate credit.

Risks of Co-Signing

Co-signing arrangements carry risks for both the borrower and the co-signer. The co-signer gets all of the downsides of debt without the benefits. He doesn’t get to use or own the house, but he’s responsible for it if the mortgage goes unpaid.

The co-signer’s credit could be ruined and he could be sued (in some states) if the borrower doesn’t pay and he doesn’t step in. For the borrower, having a co-signer adds an additional level of pressure to make payments since defaulting on the loan will hurt him and his co-signer.

If you have questions regarding your specific situation, I would be glad to assist. You can contact me directly at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 12th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 12th, 2018Last week’s economic releases included reports on Non-Farm Payrolls, ADP payrolls, and the national unemployment rate. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Public and Private Sector Jobs Show Mixed Readings

ADP Payrolls reported 235,000 private sector jobs added in February as compared to January’s updated reading of 243,000 jobs added. Analysts estimated 205,000 private sector jobs would be added, but this was based on the original reading of 234,000 jobs added. February was the fourth consecutive month when private sector job growth exceeded 200,000 jobs.

According to the federal government, Non-Farm payrolls added 74000 public and private-sector jobs in February for a reading of 313,000 jobs added. February’s gain was the largest in a year and a half. Analysts expected 222,000 jobs added in February. Analysts cited solid economic strength as contributing to higher-than-expected job growth.

Strong economic growth can encourage prospective home buyers to move from renting to buying a home, but first-time and moderate-income buyers continued to face headwinds including short supplies of available homes and strict mortgage requirements. Rising mortgage rates have also impacted buyers’ ability to qualify for mortgage loans.

National unemployment was unchanged at 4.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates rose again last week; the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage gained three basis points to 4.46 percent. 15-year fixed rate mortgage rates rose by four basis points to 3.94 percent. 

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 3.63 percent. Discount points held steady at 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims rose to 231,000 new claims filed as compared to an expected reading of 220,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 210,000 first-time claims filed. 

Analysts said that job growth remains robust regardless of higher first-time jobless claims. While layoffs rose in February, analysts said that anomalies including bad weather made it difficult to project February readings for first-time jobless claims.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from the National Association of Home Builders, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued and the University of Michigan’s report on consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Tired of Waiting for Summer? 3 DIY Projects That Will Keep You Busy Until the Weather Warms Up

Tired of Waiting for Summer? 3 DIY Projects That Will Keep You Busy Until the Weather Warms UpDo you find yourself staring out the window, longing for an early sunrise, hot days and late evenings? With spring just around the corner, it might feel like summer is a lifetime away.

However, the good news is that you can be productive around the home while you wait for summer to arrive. Let’s take a quick look at three easy do-it-yourself projects that will keep you busy until the summer sun is shining.

Add A Splash Of Spring-y Color

As long as you are willing to do the prep work, painting is one of the most straightforward home improvement projects you can undertake. It is also the best way to put your own personal touch in each room in your home.

If you haven’t painted before, it is best to start with a single room. Spend an hour or two watching instructional videos on YouTube before you head out and begin buying supplies.

The colors that you choose are up to you, but if you are going for a ‘spring’ look, consider pastel colors including soft greens, powder blues and creamy whites.

New Planters For The Garden

If you have a flower or vegetable garden, building new planters is a fun weekend DIY project. You can make planters out of wood, but a more durable option is to use granite, marble or another hard stone.

Simply buy four slabs of stone and a tube or two of stone adhesive. Line up the slabs together and, using a ruler, ensure they are at 90-degree angles. Caulk or glue the slabs on the inside of where they meet and then tape them together on the outside to hold them until the glue cures.

Bird Seed Rings For Your Feathered Friends

Do you enjoy the sound of birds around your home? If so, bird seed rings are the perfect treat to attract them. Creating these delicious treats is easy. Combine gelatin, corn syrup and flour into a thick paste. Mix this paste with a bag of bird seed, ensuring that it is fully combined. Then mold the rings together using a donut pan. Hang these tasty treats outside for your feathered friends to enjoy.

Investing your time in home improvement projects is an excellent way to wait out the sunny days of summer. If you decide that it’s too much work to renovate and that you would rather explore the options of buying a new home, give me a call. You can contact me directly at 66-755-4883 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.