How to Stage Your Home for the Fall Season

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As the seasons change so does the real estate market, and it’s important to embrace these changes throughout your home to capture every buyer opportunity before the winter slump. If you’re looking to sell your home before year’s end follow these simple home staging tips for your exterior and interior to welcome buyers into your home.

Exterior:

Create a welcoming front porch. If needed, paint your front door, add a new welcome mat and a few seasonal plants and pumpkins. Hang a wreath on the door that embraces fall foliage, so it can be used through the Thanksgiving holiday. Try adding a seating area if you have the space. Put out colorful, fall-inspired pillows and a throw blanket when showing.

Add seasonal plants. Speaking of seasonal foliage, change out your plant containers and pots around your home to show off hardier plants that will flourish this time of year. Try colorful mums, cabbages, goldenrods, burning bush or aster to show off a lively space.

Prune back landscaping. Take a look at the trees, shrubs and bushes around your home. Cut away anything dead or overgrown, especially around your windows. This will help safeguard your home from falling debris, as well as allow for maximum natural light to enter the home.

Inspect the roof. Fall is essentially the last time of the year you’ll be able to make any repairs on your roof. Depending on where you live, brutal weather can cause leaks, collapses and other damage, so do yourself a favor and a schedule an inspection.

Clean gutters and downspouts. This time of year, trees shed their leaves and can clog up your gutters. Because moisture can turn to ice during the fall and winter, you want to make sure any water is easily being removed from your home’s structure.

Spruce up the lawn. Those leaves can also make a mess on your lawn, so rake them frequently while on the market. Also, now is the time to repair any brown spots in your lawn and fertilize it. Winterize your sprinkler system now too, to save on electric.

Winterize the patio or deck, and pool. Most of us will have to say “bye, bye” to those fun summer days in the pool. Now is the time to close up the pool and put away or cover up most lawn furniture. Despite colder days, you should still set a scene to entice buyers. Try using an outdoor fire pit – create a seating area where you can chat around the fire, roast marshmallows and sip hot cocoa. Use a string of white lights to highlight the area, and don’t forget to add seasonal plants.

Interior:

Find the perfect temperature. Check your heater, schedule your oil delivery and prepare to transfer from the air conditioning to heat. When showing your home you want to make sure it’s the perfect temperature to reduce any buyer distractions.

Focus on the fireplace. During this time of year the fireplace will become the center of attention. Make sure to check the fireplace and chimney are working properly. Create a seating area around the fireplace, bring in wood and set up a fall scene on your mantel.

Update your window treatment. Treat your windows to a good cleaning inside and out. Change out curtain panels for more luxurious fabrics, like velvet in darker or bolder colors. Make sure to keep your window treatments open to maximize the amount of natural light entering the home.

Light up the interior. With shorter days upon us you may need to add more lighting inside your home to really highlight the space during showings. Have at least three light sources in every room and turn on all the lights when showing your home. Try putting your lights on a timer and keep your front lights on to welcome buyers up to the house.

Add warmer tones. Besides using light to add warmth to a space, switch out your cooler-tone colors, like blues and greens for orange, red, burgundy, and yellow. Add these colors in your home with paint, curtains, artwork, a rug or other smaller accessories. Remember a little goes a long way with these colors.

Incorporate cozy upholstery. Time to add on the layers. Bring in textured upholstery in your furniture, window treatments, bedding, pillows, throws and rugs by using plush, soft materials – burlap, silk, fur, velvet and other heavier, durable materials work well.

Use autumn scents. Intrigue the senses this fall by adding familiar fall scents like vanilla, pumpkin spice or apple cinnamon.

Change up decor. Time to remove the lighter-colored accents, summer photos and boating, fiesta and beach house themes. Replace those accessories with warmer colors like those mentioned above – pumpkins, owls or birds, leaves or other natural elements to remind you of farm stands and harvest time.

What Happened to Rates Last Week?

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Mortgage backed securities (FNMA 3.00 MBS) lost -57 basis points (BPS) from last Friday’s close which caused fixed mortgage rates to move higher for the week.  The week before that, MBS lost -43 BPS.  So, for the past two weeks, MBS have pulled back -100 BPS.

We had a holiday-shortened week that was dominated by focus on our Federal Reserve. We had a very light week for domestic economic data but we saw strength in Retail Sales and the labor sector which are both very important to our economy.  Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s comments on Friday about “letting our economy run hotter” was negative for bonds (and drove up mortgage rate) as bonds do not like inflation.

The Talking Fed:

We got the Minutes from the last FOMC meeting on Wednesday. You can read the official release here: https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomcminutes20160921.htm
It is an interesting read.  Overall, it supported the expected “hawkish” tone.  Members expressed concern over loosing credibility (you know making all these speeches that point to higher rates and then doing nothing about it).  It was also clear that many supported a rate hike and or felt that they were close to seeing labor slack tightening enough to justify a hike.  There was also concern that if they didn’t raise rates soon, that it would snuff out the momentum in the labor market.  But the bottom line for long bond traders is that obviously Yellen did not agree and that’s all that matters at this point.

Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren (one of the 3 dissenting votes) said that investors were probably right in placing “very high” odds on a U.S. interest rate increase in December, a step he argues is already overdue. “The market seems to think that there’s a very high probability of December. We’ll see how the economic data actually comes in, but I think that is priced appropriately.”

Fed Chair Janet Yellen spoke a the same conference in Boston and while she didn’t specifically address rate hikes she did discuss some academical conjecture on letting the economy running hotter for longer. She said “Increased business sales would almost certainly raise the productive capacity of the economy by encouraging additional capital spending, especially if accompanied by reduced uncertainty about future prospects,” Yellen said. “In addition, a tight labor market might draw in potential workers who would otherwise sit on the sidelines and encourage job-to-job transitions that could also lead to more efficient – and, hence, more productive – job matches. Finally, albeit more speculatively, strong demand could potentially yield significant productivity.”

Domestic Flavor:

Retail Sales:  This is the biggest piece of economic data this week.  The September Headline MOM (month over over month) matched expectations with a 0.6% gain.  But the more closely watched Ex-Autos data was stronger than expected (+0.5% vs est of 0.4%) Plus, August was revised higher from -0.3% to -0.2%.  If it weren’t for that revision. Ex Autos would have been up +0.6%.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs:  The August Job Openings and Labor Turn Over Survey showed a trimming of labor slack as it fell from July’s revised 5.831M unfilled positions down to 5.433M which was below the market expectations of 5.724M.
Weekly Initial Jobless Claims were lighter than expected and (246K vs est of 255K) and last week was revised lower to 246K.  This moved the more closely watched 4 week moving average down to 249,250 which is basically averaging 10K less than just a month ago. Labor Slack? Not in this metric.

What to Watch Out For This Week:

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The above are the major economic reports that will hit the market this week. They each have the ability to affect the pricing of Mortgage Backed Securities and therefore, interest rates for Government and Conventional mortgages. I will be watching these reports closely for you and let you know if there are any big surprises.

It is virtually impossible for you to keep track of what is going on with the economy and other events that can impact the housing and mortgage markets.  Just leave it to me, I monitor the live trading of Mortgage Backed Securities which are the only thing government and conventional mortgage rates are based upon.

Brought to you by:

Taff Weinstein
Broker/Owner

Office: 832-794-2136
Cell: 832-794-2136
taff@firstimperialmortgage.com

First Imperial Mortgage
3409 Morrison St
Houston, TX 77009
NMLS 225846

www.firstimperialmortgage.com

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Huge Shortage of Appraisers Causing Delays

MBSauthorityHousing

Housing demand is rising rapidly, but a key cog in the wheel to homeownership is in deep trouble. The people most needed to close the deal are disappearing. Appraisers, the men and women who value homes and whom mortgage lenders depend upon, are shrinking in numbers.

That is causing growing delays in closings, costing buyers and sellers money and in some cases even scuttling deals.

The share of on-time closings has dropped from 77 percent last April to 64 percent today for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance. Appraisal-related issues in these delays jumped by 50 percent in that time.

“The appraisal shortage is massive. You’re seeing significant delays, you’re seeing cost increases, you’re seeing rate [locks] expire,” said Brian Coester, CEO of Rockville, Maryland-based CoesterVMS, a national appraisal management company.

Housing demand is rising rapidly, but a key cog in the wheel to homeownership is in deep trouble. The people most needed to close the deal are disappearing. Appraisers, the men and women who value homes and whom mortgage lenders depend upon, are shrinking in numbers.

That is causing growing delays in closings, costing buyers and sellers money and in some cases even scuttling deals.

The share of on-time closings has dropped from 77 percent last April to 64 percent today for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance. Appraisal-related issues in these delays jumped by 50 percent in that time.

“The appraisal shortage is massive. You’re seeing significant delays, you’re seeing cost increases, you’re seeing rate [locks] expire,” said Brian Coester, CEO of Rockville, Maryland-based CoesterVMS, a national appraisal management company.

Since 2007, when the U.S. housing market came crashing down, the number of appraisers has shrunk by 22 percent, according to the Appraisal Institute, an industry association. With so few new cadets, the current population of appraisers is aging. More than 60 percent are over the age of 50.

Ironically, the decline in new appraisers is largely due to new regulations designed to safeguard both banks and borrowers. They were put in place at the end of 2008 by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA, as the entire mortgage banking community was under strict scrutiny after the financial crisis. They changed the rules that would allow appraiser apprentices to do full appraisals and instead require the licensed appraiser to be on-site for the inspection.

The result is that appraisers no longer see a need to pay apprentices, but at the same time, licensing requirements to become an appraiser include 2,500 hours of appraisal experience to be completed in two years as an apprentice.

“The typical appraiser, he’s going to do approximately 10-15 appraisals a week. For him to be able to take a trainee, he needs the ability for the trainee to go ahead and inspect the property for him,” said Coester. “The rules have changed now, and you cannot do what you used to be able to do 10 years ago, which is hire three to four trainees and really have them go and inspect the properties, go and do work for you and really function as an apprentice. That market has been completely eliminated.”

What Happened to Rates Last Week?

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Mortgage backed securities (FNMA 3.00 MBS) gained just +9 basis points (BPS) from last Friday’s close which caused fixed mortgage rates to move sideways for the week.  But we certainly had some volatility as MBS had a -42 BPS spread between our best pricing of the week (lowest rates) and our worst pricing of the week (higher rates).

The 3rd Quarter is in the bag, and our benchmark MBS gained just +21BPS over a 3 month period.  A very narrow range indeed as mortgage rates were very stable during that period.

We had a slew of big name domestic data points that were overall stronger than expected with terrific consumer, manufacturing and income readings.  OPEC was the biggest international event of the week.

Personal Outlays: The one area of our economy that shows steady inflation (wages) continues its upward trend as Personal Income for August increased yet again.  This time by 0.2% as this has increased each and every month this year.  The market was expecting 0.2%.  But despite monster Consumer Confidence readings and steady increases in wages, Personal Spending was flat at 0.0% which was just a tick below the consensus estimates.

Consumer Confidence:  The September reading was a block-buster at 104.1 which was much stronger than the estimates of 99.8.  Plus, August was revised upward from 101.1 to 101.8.  The Sept reading is the highest level in almost a year.

Consumer Sentiment:  The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index (final for September) was better than expected (91.2 vs est 90.0) in yet another report that shows consumers have a good outlook on the future.

GDP: For the third time, we have had to digest the Gross Domestic Data for the 2nd QTR.  And this time, it was revised from 1.1% up to 1.4% which was higher than expectations calling for a revision to 1.3%.  The QoQ Core PCE was 1.8% but the Fed actually uses the YOY Core PCE as their basis for inflation and it came in at 1.7% on Friday.

Durable Goods Orders: This report has seen some wild swings over the past year.  Today’s release showed that the headline August data was flat at 0.0%.  But that was a fairly nice beat over forecasts of -1.4%.  July was revised lower from 4.4% down to 3.6%.  When you strip out the transportation sector, it fell -0.4% which matched market forecasts.  Core Capital Goods Orders (which are nondefense excluding aircraft) improved by a nice 0.6%.

Texas Tea, Black Gold: The markets are still VERY skeptical that the fragile “agreement” will turn into official policy in November but are encouraged that they at least reached a consensus for the first time in 8 years. But news “snippets” of OPEC members like Iraq saying that they cant agree to the terms because the production freeze is based upon a “current” production level that is far below what Iraq is actually producing, has kept many investors from bidding up oil.

What to Watch Out For This Week:

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The above are the major economic reports that will hit the market this week. They each have the ability to affect the pricing of Mortgage Backed Securities and therefore, interest rates for Government and Conventional mortgages. I will be watching these reports closely for you and let you know if there are any big surprises.

It is virtually impossible for you to keep track of what is going on with the economy and other events that can impact the housing and mortgage markets.  Just leave it to me, I monitor the live trading of Mortgage Backed Securities which are the only thing government and conventional mortgage rates are based upon.