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Homes & Money Newsletter – 1st Quarter 2017

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Homes & Money Newsletter – 1st Quarter 2017

Mortgage News
The Story on Inventory

Limited housing inventory continued to push home prices up in 2016, but the year ended with positive news that might pull potential buyers into the market.

Home prices, including distressed sales, rose 7.1 percent from November 2015 to November 2016, according to CoreLogic, a leading provider of consumer, financial and property information. For regions struggling with limited housing inventory, Housing Starts may provide some hope.

Housing Starts Surge
December Housing Starts surged 11.3 percent from November, the Commerce Department reported. The welcome news follows a disappointing pullback in November and a nine-year high in October. For all of 2016, average monthly Housing Starts were the best since 2007. Building Permits, which signal future construction, fell short of expectations in December.

Existing Home Sales and New Home Sales followed a similar path downward in December. But the latest reports still had good news to share.

Existing Home Sales closed out 2016 as the best year in a decade, though December’s numbers were below expectations. The National Association of REALTORS® reported that sales in 2016 were 5.45 million units, above the 5.25 million in 2015 and the highest since the 6.48 million in 2006.

New Home Sales fell 10.4 percent from November to December. It was the lowest level since February 2015 and down 0.4 percent from December 2015. Although the news was disappointing, data showed a near six-month supply of new homes for sale, which finally signals a healthy balance between supply and demand.

Expanded housing inventory along with expectations of higher home loan rates in 2017 could slow home price gains.

Home Loan Rates Rise but Remain Attractive
Home loan rates were able to improve slightly in the first part of January, following the post-election volatility in Stock and Bond markets at the end of 2016. Positive economic news, rising inflation and transitions under the new Trump administration may provide some headwinds for Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates in 2017, although rates are still in historically low territory.

If you have any questions about home financing, please let me know. Be sure to watch for next quarter’s issue of Homes & Money Newsletter coming to you in May.

Did You Know?
One of the earliest multipage telephone books printed in 1878 was sold at auction in 2008 for $170,500.
Finance News
Give the Gift of College
By Rivan V. Stinson, Kiplinger.com

Looking for a baby gift that keeps on giving? Gift of College, an online registry for 529 plans and student loan accounts, lets you contribute to a child’s college education with gift cards for 529 college savings plans. Find the cards at Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores in amounts ranging from $25 to $500, plus a service fee, or buy them online for amounts up to $300.

Parents create a profile with Gift of College and redeem the card by linking it to an existing 529 plan. If the child doesn’t have one, the site prompts parents to start one from a number of state plans available. Use a similar setup to help pay off student loans.

If you’ve got unused or unwanted gift cards from the holidays, swap them on the site for a Gift of College e-card. The exchange accepts cards from more than 200 retailers and restaurants; you keep as much as 85% of the value. For example, you could recently swap a $100 Nordstrom gift card for an $80 Gift of College e-card.

Leaf College Savings also offers gift cards for 529 plans and follows a similar redemption process.

Kiplinger LogoReprinted with permission. All Contents ©2017 The Kiplinger Washington Editors. Kiplinger.com.

Quote of the Day

One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Creative Cuisine

Easy Irish Stew

(Serves 4)


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound beef sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dry brown gravy mix
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 potatoes, cubed

In a large stockpot, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Brown beef on all sides (2 to 4 minutes each side). Stir in onion, carrots and celery. Mix water, gravy mix and bouillon together in a small bowl until evenly blended and add to stockpot. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, chili powder and oregano.

Cover stockpot and simmer on low (about 1 hour). Stir in potatoes, cover and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork (about 30 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: All Recipes

Home News
Carpet Stain Removal Tips

Whoever said “Don’t cry over spilt milk,” must not have spilled it on their carpet. But we have a remedy for even the peskiest of carpet stains. The following steps will have your carpet refreshed in no time!

Step 1 – Assess the mess: Use one of the following remedies depending on your spill. (When using dish soap, never use one with a moisturizer which can worsen stains.)

Fatty and greasy foods: Layer paper towels on top of the stain without blotting. Turn your iron on to the lowest heat setting and gently iron the paper towels over the stain. Remove paper towels and apply a mixture of white vinegar, dish soap and lukewarm water, then rinse.

Chocolate and other dark-colored stains: Scrape off as much excess food as you can. Using a sponge, apply a mixture of one part dish soap with four parts water. Then, rinse with lukewarm water.

Wine, coffee and most other foods: Blot gently with paper towels, then rinse with club soda. For extra stubborn stains, brush with soapy water and rinse.

Step 2 – Dry time: Once stains are removed, cover wet area with fresh paper towels and set something heavy on top. Let dry overnight. The remaining stain will wick into the towels instead of reappearing on the surface.

Step 3 – Fluff fibers: Gently fluff the carpet fibers with your fingers to improve carpet appearance.

Try these tips on older stains to renew the look of your carpets and area rugs, too!

Sources: Good Housekeeping, Huffington Post

Book Review
“Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film”
By Alexandra Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder was a family man, factory owner and dress manufacturer. His 26-second home movie of President Kennedy’s motorcade on November 22, 1963 has had a dramatic impact on history and American culture. Less known is the long-lasting effect this moment captured on a snippet of film would have on his family. His granddaughter, Alexandra, shares another side of the story.

Through interviews, family records and previously sealed archival sources, Zapruder chronicles how a family accidentally drawn into history dealt with many issues and questions surrounding morality, conspiracy, copyright and public good over private gain.

Alexandra Zapruder is a graduate of Harvard University, an author and two-time Emmy Award nominee. She was on the founding staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. “Twenty-Six Seconds” is currently available on Amazon and at local bookstores everywhere.

Street Smarts
Speed Up Your Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi can be slow for many reasons. Here are some tips for checking your Wi-Fi device or placing it properly to ensure the best signal.

Restart your router occasionally. Much like rebooting a mobile device, routers need to be refreshed too.

Ask your service provider to evaluate your home signal level. SpeedTest can help you check your plan against the actual service you’re getting. If you are not getting what you pay for, providers are generally required to repair signal deficiencies for free.

Secure your Wi-Fi by using password protection to ensure your neighbors don’t tap the signal.

Use the 5 GHz frequency. When you log in and see networks ending with 2.4 or 5, choose 5. You’ll get a faster connection because the 5 GHz connection has more channels.

Move your router to a clearer access point. Ideally, a router should be placed in a centrally located open space, free of walls and other electronics, and as high in the room as possible.

Purchase an internet access point rather than a signal extender if you can’t move the router to a more central location, or have dead spots. Brands like D-Link and TP-Link can be connected to your modem and increase your Wi-Fi speed two to five times.

These tips can help clear the air for your Wi-Fi signal. Happy surfing!

Sources: MarketWatch, Inc.

Facts & Figures
Nothing but Time

Time is our most valuable asset. Yet, we usually don’t put much thought into what makes it tick. With Daylight Saving Time (DST) around the corner, it’s the perfect time for fascinating facts on time!

The study and measurement of time is known as horology.

Less than 40 percent of countries around the globe currently observe DST.

Jiffy is often used as a general term to indicate a very short time — but it may be faster than you think. In physics and chemistry, jiffy is a specific unit of measurement which equals the time it takes for light to travel 1 centimeter.

Although China is larger than the United States mainland, China has only one time zone, whereas the U.S. is divided into four.

A.m. and p.m. are abbreviations for the Latin terms “ante meridiem,” meaning before noon, and “post meridiem,” meaning after noon.

France has 12 different time zones due to a number of overseas territories. The country itself only observes one time zone.

Not all states and territories of the United States observe Daylight Saving Time, including Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and most of Arizona.

Source: TimeAndDate.com

Trivia Challenge
Match the Academy Award winners for Actor in a Leading Role with their film.
  1. Daniel Day-Lewis
  2. Forest Whitaker
  3. Kevin Spacey
  4. Sean Penn
  5. Philip Seymour Hoffman
  6. Russell Crowe
  7. Michael Douglas
  8. Leonardo DiCaprio
  9. Adrien Brody
  10. Denzel Washington
  1. Wall Street
  2. American Beauty
  3. Training Day
  4. Capote
  5. Lincoln
  6. The Revenant
  7. Milk
  8. The Last King of Scotland
  9. The Pianist
  10. Gladiator
For answers, see below.
Thank You
As always, we wish to thank our clients who have been kind enough to refer business to us. We appreciate the opportunity to provide excellent service to your family, friends and co-workers.
Trivia Answers
A-5, B-8, C-2, D-7, E-4, F-10, G-1, H-6, I-9, J-3




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Questions, Comments or For more information you can contact Christian Penner at: Call/Text: (561) 373-0987 or visit us online at www.ChristianPenner.com

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American Financial Network, Inc

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