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Mortgage Market Guide – Views You Can Use – Dec 2016 Issue

Views_You_Can_Use 2016

Mortgage Market Guide – Views You Can Use – Dec 2016 Issue

  “Born to run.” Bruce Springsteen. The housing sector has been having a fantastic run in recent economic reports. Take off with us on this story and more, including:

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends, family or co-workers who may find it helpful.


  Real Estate Run

  mortgageHousing Starts, which measure when excavation begins on a home, surged 25.5 percent in October from September. It was the highest level since September 2007. Single-family starts, which make up the largest share of the market, jumped nearly 11 percent, while multi-dwelling starts skyrocketed by 68 percent. From October 2015 to October 2016, Housing Starts were up 23.3 percent.

The Commerce Department reported New Home Sales are up 17.8 percent from October 2015 to October 2016. While month-to-month sales unexpectedly declined in October from September, and September’s figure was also revised lower, the decline seems to be a temporary setback being that the job market continues to strengthen. The median sales price also increased.

Existing Home Sales hit a record high in nearly a decade in October. See more on this story in the What to Watch section below.

Economy Also Picking Up Steam
After weak economic growth to begin 2016, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the second reading of third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) surged ahead by 3.2 percent. This was the fastest pace in two years. GDP is the monetary value of all finished goods and services produced in a specific timeframe, and it is considered the broadest measure of economic activity.

Over in the employment sector, the Labor Department reported U.S. employers added 178,000 new workers in November, which was near the 180,000 expected. The Unemployment Rate fell to 4.6 percent, the lowest level since August 2007. However, the low unemployment rate was due in part to some unemployed Americans dropping out of the workforce.

A strengthening job market is crucial for the housing industry as well as retailers, as consumers head into the holiday shopping season for the year-end boost in the U.S. economy. The Commerce Department reported that Retail Sales in October rose 0.8 percent, while September’s numbers were revised higher. The positive numbers in September and October were the best two-month rise since early 2014. Retail Sales are up 4.3 percent from a year ago.

Markets Remain Volatile
Market volatility has been intense since the presidential election, with Stock prices moving higher while Mortgage Bonds — and the home loan rates tied to them — worsened in the immediate aftermath. Investors may feel the Trump win is more Stock-market friendly with potential tax cuts, deregulation, and higher defense and infrastructure spending. There is also speculation that the president elect’s policies could spur a rise in inflation.

While home loan rates have edged higher following the election, they are still in attractive territory.

If you have any questions about housing or refinancing opportunities, please reach out at any time.



  What to Watch: Existing Home Sales

  Existing Home Sales can boost our economy and create a favorable long-term economic outlook. Here is what you need to know.

What is the Existing Home Sales report? The Existing Home Sales report measures sales of pre-owned single-family homes, condos and co-ops, as reported by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). It covers geographical numbers, prices, inventory and the number of months it would take to deplete the existing supply of pre-owned houses.

What’s happened recently? Following two straight monthly declines, sales started picking up in September, largely driven by first-time homebuyers. In October, NAR reported Existing Home Sales hit a 9.5-year high, rising 2 percent from September to an annual rate of 5.6 million. Sales are up nearly 6 percent from October 2015.

What’s the bottom line? Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, noted in NAR’s October Existing Home Sales news release that, “October’s strong sales gain was widespread throughout the country and can be attributed to the release of the unrealized pent-up demand that held back many would-be buyers over the summer because of tight supply.” Yun also said, “The ramp-up in housing starts in October is a hopeful sign that overall supply can steadily increase enough to provide more choices for buyers and also moderate price growth.”

I’ll continue to monitor economic reports closely, but if you have any immediate questions, please call or email today.



  Holiday Financial Housekeeping

  December can be one of the busiest times of the year. However, you’ll thank yourself if you take some time to get organized for next year before the end of this one. Here are a few simple suggestions to help you prioritize your financial housekeeping over the next few weeks:

Check benefits. If you or your spouse has an “open enrollment” with an employer’s health plan, review any new options and compare costs from the previous year. It may make sense to adjust or switch coverage. Also, if you have any flexible spending or pre-tax accounts for medical or childcare expenses that expire at the end of the year, be sure to use remaining funds so you don’t lose them.

Review retirement statements. Set an appointment for January to meet with your financial advisor to review and discuss if you should reallocate your investment dollars, especially if you’ve undergone a major change, financial or otherwise, in your life.

Give more. December is a great time for charitable contributions. It feels good to support organizations you care about, and it is your last chance to take advantage of tax reductions. No matter what you decide to support, giving will put a glow in your heart this holiday season … and could boost your wallet come tax time.

Automate your resolution. If your New Year’s resolution includes saving more or paying down debt, consider establishing an automated savings account or setting up automatic payments to a loan or credit card.

Amp up with technology. Platforms like Quicken, AceMoney and Mint are great tools for gaining an immediate snapshot of your spending activity and helping you make adjustments based on your needs and goals.

Analyze debt. Make sure to investigate interest rates you are paying on all outstanding debts. Understanding these numbers is crucial for achieving other important financial goals.

By following these suggestions, you’ll be better prepared for a happier, wealthier new year. Have a great holiday season!



  Q&A: Headlights in a Haze

  QUESTION: The headlight lens covers on my car are foggy. Can they be cleaned?

ANSWER: Weather and road conditions can make polycarbonate headlight lenses appear foggy over time. Keeping them clear not only increases safety but improves the appearance of your car. Fortunately, cleaning lens haze on your car’s headlights is easy.

Lens cleaning kits typically range in price from around $3 to $30 depending upon the manufacturer and what is contained in the kit. Find them at auto parts retailers.

You can also do it yourself with simple products you already use every day, like toothpaste which can remove unwanted stains just like it can on your teeth. First, wash your headlights with soap and water, then rinse and let dry. Cover the areas around your headlights with masking tape to prevent scratching. Add some toothpaste to a damp, clean cloth and firmly rub your headlights in a small circular motion. Rinse one more time and let dry. If the haze remains, the lens covers may need to be removed and treated from the inside.

In either case, follow up with car polish or plastic-safe UV clear coat replacer, also available from your local auto parts retailer.

Sources: YourMechanic, Lifehack



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