The past few weeks has seen some major volatility within the stock markets. Some weeks have seen major pullbacks and others we have seen significant bounce-backs. The first ten days of April, the volatility of the markets hit on the downside. One thing which is interesting about this pullback is that it happened as the economy was pulling out of its pause caused by a very cold and harsh winter. For example, the first week in April we saw a stronger employment report and the second week first time claims for unemployment fell to levels not seen for many years.
When stocks drop the analysts are always searching for explanations, yet sometimes there seems to be no logic. One card which keeps coming up in explanations this month is the threat of slower growth in China. So we must ask, why is China so important to us other than it is a huge economy? Certainly at a growth rate of over 7.0%, this is not an economy in trouble. For one thing, the Chinese populace travels overseas to the United States in great numbers — almost two million per year. In 2012, the Chinese spent almost $9 billion in the United States.
Secondly, China helps keep our interest rates low in two ways. Their low cost of manufacturing lowers cost to our consumers. And the profits these manufacturers produce are eventually invested in US Treasuries. Basically, China is helping to finance our Federal budget deficit. More economic growth and lower rates? These are good enough reasons for us to hope that the growth in China continues. And good enough reasons to fret when it appears that the Chinese growth cycle is abating. So, if you are shopping for a home this week and enjoying the fact that rates on home loans are very low — don’t forget to thank the Chinese, as improbable as that may seem. Continue reading
For years the slow recovery was hampered by the existence of tighter credit. A vicious cycle was created when the recession caused consumer credit to worsen and at the same time banks tightened up on lending standards. For some time we have been predicting that lending standards in the real estate sector would not loosen up until two factors emerged. Factor one was the stability or recovery of real estate values. It makes sense that lenders would be shy about lending in a real estate sector in which the underlying asset was unstable.
Yet, the real estate markets recovered over the past few years without a significant improvement in lending standards. Why? Some blamed it on new legislation aimed at making lenders more responsible with regard to their lending. But most aspects of the legislation were not implemented until recently. In reality, there was a second aspect we cited over the past few years which has now come to fruition. For the past three years lenders were inundated with refinances because of record low rates. Now with rates still really low but a bit higher than they were, the refinance craze has abated. Continue reading
When the time comes that you decide you want to sell your home, the question you might ask yourself is, “Should I list my home with a Realtor or try to sell it myself?”
There is no right or wrong answer here. However, I wanted to give you 11 questions to ask yourself to help you make an educated decision.
- Do you have access to accurate data regarding selling prices, square footage, floor plans and amenities of other homes that have sold in your surrounding area within the last 6 months?
- Do you know how long it has been taking to sell a home in your area?
- Will you be available to answer phone calls and show your home to prospective buyers?
- Will you be able to screen prospects to make sure they are qualified (or worse yet, thieves)?
- Do you have a plan to market your home so people know it’s for sale?
- Can you handle criticism if negative comments are made about your home?
- Are you able to negotiate the highest sales price—either on the phone or face-to-face?
- Do you have access to purchase contracts and all state-required disclosures?
- Do you know how to obtain title insurance, deeds and any other legal documents needed to transfer ownership?
- Will you be available to meet appraisers, inspectors and contractors during the process?
- Do you understand all the fees you will be charged at closing and exactly how much you will end up with?
If you decide that you’d rather list your home with an agent, please contact me because I can refer you to a quality agent that can get your home sold.
After 10 years in the mortgage business, I made the decision to move the Jeff Baxter Mortgage Team to Fairway Independent Mortgage. I’ve been here now for about 5 weeks and I thought I’d share the reasons I chose Fairway over the other lenders I had spoken with during my decision-making process. And, I’ll share a suprise. You’ll see why this company has revealed itself to me as an absolutely awsome place to be associated with – it’s the culture, the belief system, and doing what you say you are going to do.
This is who we are. . .
I wanted a mortgage company that would be able to continue to support us operationally with quick and no hassle closings. At our old company, we were able to get over 85% of our closing packages out at least 48 hours prior to settlement. That is critical and Fairway delivers on that front. I have a settlement on Monday that was clear to close 3 days ago and our docs were at the attorney’s office this past Tuesday.
Friday’s employment report has given us three things we have been waiting for. First, this jobs report was relatively good after a string of disappointments over the winter. It tells us that at least part of the slowdown was definitely due to the weather — a question everyone has been asking. Secondly, the report contains another upward revision to the previous two months’ of data. There were actually 37,000 more jobs created in January and February when compared to last month’s release. That is a revision which we speculated could be coming. Finally, the economy has now recovered all of the millions of private sector jobs lost during the recession.
That is a lot of jobs to recover and represents a very significant milestone. The problem is, it took the economy four years “post recession” to regain the jobs lost. During the recession and afterwards, the population has been growing. As reported by CNN/Money, Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute, estimates that we need an additional five thousand jobs to reach a healthy pre-recession labor market. That is a long way to go and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Yellen said as much in testimony to Congress just a few weeks ago. What this means is that the economy is indeed recovering, but still painfully slow. We need a few more years of this level of growth to become healthy or we need for the recovery to accelerate. There is another piece of good news here. The better jobs report did not cause another increase in interest rates — at least initially. Again, this is evidence that the markets believe we need even more good news.