The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Producer Price Indexes (PPI) for October. Inflation in prices received by producers (prior to sales to consumers) declined 0.4% in October following a 0.5% decline in September and no change in August. The decline was the combination of a 0.3% decline in prices for services and a 0.4% decline in prices for goods. In contrast to prior months, energy prices were flat. The decline in the overall index was dominated by declines in services and core goods prices (excluding food and energy).
Despite flat energy prices October’s decline puts overall producer prices on track for a negative fourth quarter, a discouraging development for policy makers at the Federal Reserve who are poised to raise interest rates but have been counting on a firming of inflation before they start (FOMC).
Among wood products, softwood lumber prices ticked up in October after recent monthly declines, but the trend over the last year remains modestly downward. Slowing exports, particularly to China is keeping more supply closer to home and putting downward pressure on prices.
OSB prices ticked down in October. Monthly volatility may be masking the beginning of some recovery in prices from the recent collapse. Prices are up modestly from a low in May.
Gypsum prices added to September gains giving weight to announced price increases. Major gypsum producers have informed customers that prices will be rising through the end of this year and next (gypsum).
Location: Lakeside, Mich. Price: $3,650,000 The Skinny:ArchitectDavid Haid, the Mies van der Rohe protégé most famous for designing Cameron’s beloved modern spread from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was also the mastermind of this midcentury glass box located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Built in 1964 for clients who still call the house home, the design gets along well with the rest of Haid’s oeuvre, and owes more than a small debt to the work of that other famous modernist, Glass Housearchitect Philip Johnson. Like Johnson, Haid, who died in 1993, had a great respect for landscapes, particularly the ever-changing reaches of the upper Midwest. Like many of his designs, this place is basically a dollop of glass walls, which offer panoramic views of the property’s wooded 2.6 acre lot and of the 200-foot private beach on the other side of the rolling, manicured lawn. Inside: a pristine, open floor-plan with post-and-beam construction overhead and floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. The two-bedroom, which seems to be in very good shape even after enduring 50 years of bruising Great Lakes winters, asks$3.65M.
Britons have taken a one-way bet on house prices that could be creating bubbles in some parts of the country, research suggests.
Rapid growth in house prices is expected to continue over the next two years, according to a survey by Genworth Financial, the mortgage insurance group. It said that 72pc of respondents expected prices to keep rising until the end of 2016.
People living in London and the South of England were much more likely to believe that prices in their area would increase. The survey showed 80pc of residents in the capital thought prices would rise, compared with just 62pc of people in the North.
Rapidly increasing house prices have also made it harder for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder.
More than four-fifths of the 1,000 people surveyed said saving for a deposit remained the key obstacle to owning a home. Genworth said 79pc of adults needed help from their parents to obtain a mortgage. “With most households anticipating that house prices are going to continue to rise, while wage levels will not, the difficulties they face in saving for a deposit are not going to go away,” said Simon Crone, the vice president of Genworth.
Cushman & Wakefield may be the first to plant the flag to declare that the housing market has recovered, but they are walking back any more confidence than that about where the market will go in 2014.
The firm’s National Housing Market Overview covers 2013 and looks into 2014, and it doesn’t feel as good about 2014 as it did last year.
Affordability issues, mortgage rates and other headwinds face the housing market over the coming eight months. This is exacerbated by a weak job market, affordability challenges, and the declining pool of first-time homebuyers.
“On the positive side, home prices have been increasing, foreclosures clearing, negative equity positions declining and permit activity increasing,” the report says. “Homebuilder and consumer confidence, which was moving positive, turned slightly to the negative by the end of the year. Even so, most economic and housing metrics suggest the 2014 housing market will continue toward the positive, although unlike the first half of 2013 in which pent-up demand dramatically increased home pricing and sales activity.”
It states that there are a number of positive indicators.
“Home prices and permit activity have been increasing while foreclosures and negative equity positions declining. Population increases continue in the traditional growth markets and interest rates remain favorable for qualified buyers,” the report says.
It also highlights the challenge to the housing market coming from the weakness in the employment situation.
If you are a first-time home buyer, friends and family members may be quick to give advice about the home-purchasing process. As a result, there could be several home buying myths that may have found refuge in the back of your mind. Unfortunately, that friendly advice can help perpetuate some of the most common home-buying myths — especially when it comes to credit.
Home-buying credit myths
Myth #1: You need perfect credit to purchase a home. Fact: It is true that an individual’s credit score has an impact on the mortgage loan approval process and ultimately the resulting interest rate. However, perfect credit is not needed to secure approval for a mortgage loan. While credit scores can range widely, the higher your credit score, the more options you will have to find a mortgage with favorable interest rates.
Myth #2: Lenders have free rein in sharing your personal credit information. Fact: Not so. For a lender to share your information with an affiliate (any entity that is involved in making, holding or investing in bank loans or credit extensions), generally you must first give your permission. State and federal privacy laws are in place to help protect your personal information.
Myth #3: Lenders only use one scoring model that determines creditworthiness. Fact: There are a number of credit-scoring models used to determine credit risk in today’s marketplace. For example, many lenders use the VantageScore® as one model for determining credit worthiness. While scoring models vary, many of the same factors influence your credit score, including your payment history and your level of debt.
Before you start hunting for a house, determine what you can comfortably afford to pay each month. Even if you are pre-approved for a mortgage, you may want to consider if the mortgage is affordable. Preapproval allows you to determine how much home you can shop for and afford. It may also give you an advantage when it comes time to negotiate your home mortgage. Understanding the factors that are important to a mortgage lender can improve your chances of finding your dream home.
I remember when I found out the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. My whole world was shattered. Granted, I was about eight, but I was furious to find out that myparents had been putting a quarter under my pillow every time I’d lost a tooth, not a sweet fairy named Daphne who lived in a castle made out of my pearly whites. Continue reading →
There was another sign Tuesday morning that the housing market is cooling off. Just a bit.
One of the nation’s most closely watched home price indexes inched downward for the third straight month in January, though prices climbed slightly after seasonal variations were taken into account.
The Case-Shiller Index saw prices tick down 0.1% across the 20 major cities it tracks, though they gained 0.8% when seasonally adjusted. Prices are up 13.2% compared with this time last year, but the quick pace of gains has clearly slowed.
“The housing recovery may have taken a breather due to the cold weather,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones, which publishes the index.
In Los Angeles, where weather has been less of an issue than in the snowy Midwest and Northeast, prices slipped 0.3%, though they were up on a seasonally adjusted basis and were 18.9% ahead of last year. In San Diego, prices jumped 0.6%, their best January since 2004.From December to January, prices fell in 12 of the 20 cities Case-Shiller tracks. Still, Blitzer, like other real estate economists, remains optimistic that 2014 will be a solid if unspectacular year for the housing market.
“Expectations and recent data point to continued home price gains for 2014,” he said. “Although most analysts do not expect the same rapid increases we saw last year, the consensus is for moderating gains.”
The U.S. housing market faces a challenge at the start of the spring sales season: higher prices.
It is hard to overstate the benefits of rising prices to the economy broadly and to homeowners, banks and home builders specifically after years of declines. Price gains have pulled more Americans from the brink of foreclosure and given home buyers more confidence that they won’t get stuck with an asset whose value will decline.
But those gains have a painful edge, too, especially because prices have bounced back so strongly. The increases have rekindled concerns about affordability, particularly for first-time buyers, and could damp the gains of a housing rebound still in its early stages.
Ashley Schwartau was tired of living with her parents. She lived in their Nashville, Tennessee home for three years to save money for her own place.
“I didn’t really want to go rent a place,” says Schwartau. “I could get a house with a mortgage cheaper than renting an apartment,” she says. “Houses in this area that I wanted to move into are priced really, really low – in the low $100,000s.”
Living with her parents paid off, as the 29-year-old graphic designer bought her first home in February 2012. The best part? She was able to do so with a low 3.5 percent down payment. Read on to see the details of how she got a home with very little down.
Finding the Perfect Home
Schwartau started looking at homes to buy in October 2011. Most of the homes she viewed were foreclosures that required remodeling, but a little yellow house stood out as quaint and perfect for her. It was in an older neighborhood that was about 15 minutes from downtown Nashville.
Built in 1952, the 1,500 square feet house is comprised of three bedrooms and 1.5 baths – perfect for her and her fiancé.
She wanted a three-bedroom home so both she and her fiancé could have home offices. She works from home and runs the graphic design department for her father’s video/e-learning business.
The venerable Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS™) is a cornerstone of mortgage rate data. It is both longstanding and highly accurate in capturing week-over-week movement. The only problem is that it is unavoidably backward-looking due to its methodology. There’s no scandal here and Freddie does a good job of convey that methodology, saying
“The survey is collected from Monday through Wednesday and the results are released on Thursdays at 10 a.m. ET. Survey reminder emails are sent out on Mondays and lenders are asked to respond by close of business Wednesday. If we have received no response on Tuesday, we follow-up with a reminder email on Wednesday morning.”
There’s no harm in this if one of two conditions are met. Either rates need to be flat enough so that there’s a minimal discrepancy between Thursday morning’s rates and Freddie’s (which will be most similar to Monday or Tuesday’s rates) or mortgage rate watchers must be familiar enough with the methodology that they know it’s backward-looking. The latter isn’t going to happen on a broad scale and the former is hit and miss.
This week is a miss.
The very best rates of the week (close to the best in more than 3 months!) were seen on Monday. There would be no issues with today’s PMMS had it not been for the abrupt increase in rates over the past 2 days. As it happens, the 0.09% drop reported is more like a 0.14% increase. This is based on the average of actual lender rate sheets (not quotes that lenders subjectively report to Freddie) from last Thursday morning to this morning.
Mortgage News Daily’s “daily mortgage rate” is updated every day and adjusted for changes in closing costs that aren’t necessarily large enough to prompt a change in the actual “note rate.” These typically move in .125% increments and rates typically don’t move that much in a day–many times even in a week!
This week they did. Last Thursday morning, we calculated an adjusted “Best-Execution” rate of 4.35%, meaning that most borrowers would be quoted 4.375% with minimal closing costs and that some would be seeing 4.25%. Apart from this Monday, that’s the closest we’ve been to 4.25% since February 10th.
Today’s calculated rate is all the way up to 4.49%! It’s still early in the day for a final calculation as lenders may undergo price changes in the middle of the day, but as of right now, the true difference in cost–expressed in terms of interest rate–is indeed 0.14%. That means that most borrowers will be at least .125% higher in actual note rate (i.e. a quote of 4.375% last Thursday is likely going to be 4.5% with minimal differences in closing costs. 4.25% would be 4.375%).