How Do Homes Impact Health?

  1. Indoor air pollution is 4 – 5 times worse than outdoor air and sometimes even greater.
  2. We spend 90% of our time indoors.
  3. 15% of homeowners may be allergic to elements in their own homes.
  4. Prevalence of asthma has double since 1976.

Indoor air pollution has been described by EPA and Congress as America’s number one environmental health problem. Air pollutants can and do cause allergies, sick building syndrome, bacterial infections and spread viruses to name a few. The American College of Allergists state that 50% of all illnesses are caused by polluted indoor air.  NEXT: How does our air inside the house get polluted?

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September:  Highest Consumer Confidence

September: Highest Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence reached its highest level since the Great Recession in September, according to the Thomson Reuters and University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

consumer-confidenceSeptember’s increase in consumer confidence is the result of optimistic outlooks on the overall economy and personal incomes.  The consumer expectations index rose 5.8 percent over the month of September, while the current conditions index fell 0.9 percent.

Additionally, a growing number of consumers expect their incomes to increase over the next year. The median income growth expectation reported in September was 1.1 percent, which is the highest expectation since late 2008. At the same time, more households anticipate income growth now than at any time since September 2008.

The renewal of income growth is particularly important for sparking consumer spending, and adding pending changes to monetary policy will make income gains prompt to boost even more consumer’s confidence.

FHFA outreaching more Homeowners

FHFA outreaching more Homeowners

In an effort to sign more eligible homeowners up for the Home Affordablefhfa Refinance Program (HARP), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)   is holding its third HARP outreach event in October, 2014.

The goal is to get the word out about HARP to borrowers who are current but underwater, and help borrowers who are either delinquent or at risk of losing their home recognize that they too have options.

  • Borrowers are eligible for a HARP loan if they meet the following requirements:
  • Their loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac;
  • The loan must have been originated on or before May 21, 2009;
  • LTV ratio must be greater than 80 percent;
  • Borrower must be current on mortgage payments.

Borrowers who could benefit from HARP are referred to as “in the money” borrowers; they are “in the money” if they meet all the HARP eligibility requirements, have a remaining balance on their loan of greater than $50,000 with more than 10 years left on their term, and have an interest rate of more than 1.5 percent more than current market rates.

As of June 2014, about 3.1 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP since it was introduced by FHFA and Treasury in 2009 as part of the Making Home Affordable Program.

New homes sales see biggest monthly jump!

New homes sales see biggest monthly jump!

Sales of new single family houses in August 2014 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000, up from July’s printing of 427,000, the fastest rate in six years and the biggest monthly jump since January 1992.

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The biggest gains and by far the reason for the big increase were new home sales in the West, one of the two largest housing markets, along with the South.

New home sales in the West were up 50% over July.

The South saw an 8% increase. The South is by far the largest region for new home sales, outdistancing all other regions combined.

The median sales price of new houses sold in August 2014 was $275,600; the average sales price was $347,900.

Mortgage Rates and Terms Beware!

Mortgage Rates and Terms Beware!

Mortgage rates haven’t moved much this year, and the good news is they’ve been stuck at historically low levels. However, mortgage rates are expected to move higher as we head through the fall. While various groups report national mortgage rate averages each week, the rates you get can vary dramatically from that average, depending on what product you choose and how you shop.

One of the biggest mistakes home buyers make is to take a 30 year, fixed-rate mortgage when they don’t really need it. The 30-year fixed is the most expensive of all mortgage products because the rate is the highest and you’re paying for the longest time.imprevistos

It is better to consider a product that matches how long you expect to be in your home, and make some changes later. Points are an upfront payment of interest in exchange for a lower rate. This boosts your closing costs and makes the rate appear to be artificially low.

Also, a great rate can turn into a bad one if your rate lock expires and you have to pay for an extension. Get your financials ready and provide them when asked, the sooner the better so it won’t interfere with the possibility of losing your rate lock. Documentation requirements can be arduous these days, and financial institutions are not going to waive them.

Beware of hidden fees and loan level pricing adjustments. Be sure to review a full breakdown of closing costs before committing to a lender. You can shop by rate or shop by fees, but you can’t shop for both at the same time.

Be aware about the Zero-closing cost mortgages that are sometimes available for as little as 12.5 basis points (0.125 percent) added to your mortgage rate. Your payment might raise $30-50 per month, but you’ll eliminate $4,000 in closing costs or more.

And finally, don’t let multiple lenders run your credit score. This can actually damage your score.

 

 

Homeowners Pay Less for  Mortgage than Renters for Rent

Homeowners Pay Less for Mortgage than Renters for Rent

Paying a mortgage is cheaper than paying rent. But owning a home costs more.  The never ending debate…Is better to buy or rent?  This could be answered only after considering all of the expenses that contribute to homeownership.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says it’s cheaper to own. It has become less expensive to own. From 2009 to 2012, fueled by falling interest rates, ForRentForSalehomeownership has become more affordable, while renters saw costs go in the opposite direction, according to the BLS.

A recent report by Zillow found that current U.S. home buyers can expect to pay 15.3% of their incomes to a mortgage on the typical home – down considerably from the 22.1% of income homeowners had to budget in the pre-bubble years but renters pay today over 29.5% of their income to rent, compared to 24.9% in the pre-bubble period.

The main reason for the budget disparity is the income gap between owners and renters. At the end of the second quarter, the Census Bureau reported the median annual income in the U.S. was $53,216. But among homeowners, median salaries were $65,514 per year, while the typical renter’s income was just $31,888.

Fact or Fiction: Tax relief for homeowners’ on debt forgiveness.

Fact or Fiction: Tax relief for homeowners’ on debt forgiveness.

Congress is now back from its summer vacation, so the burning financial question on thousands of homeowners’ minds right now is this: Are you finally going to help the consumers who are underwater on their mortgages and have already accepted a principal reduction by their lenders? 20131125_fact copy

Under current federal tax law, when the homeowners accept reductions in what they owe, the amount forgiven by the bank gets reported to the IRS, and the owner is hit with taxes as if it were ordinary income.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 was created to help distressed homeowners; that were faced with taxes after a Principal reduction; however this law has already expired Dec. 31, 2013.

If Congress does not extend the law retroactively thousands of underwater homeowners could be hit with tax burdens they may not be able to handle. We hope for the Best!