Today, 7/29/10, Freddie Mac reported that the average mortgage interest rate for 30 year fixed-rate mortgages was 4.54% (4.60% in the southeast), down from 4.56% a week ago. The average interest rate for 15 year fixed-rate mortgages was 4.00%, down from 4.03% last week. A year ago the 30 year rate was 5.25%. Again, these are record lows for the Freddie Mac survey that we may not see again for a very long time! Hard to believe they have dropped to this level.
Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac said, "For the sixth week in a row, interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages eased to all-time record lows during a week of mixed housing data reports. The number of local markets experiencing annual increases in home prices appears to be growing. For instance, 13 metropolitan areas in the S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city index experienced price appreciation over the 12-months ending in May, compared to 11 in April and 10 in March."
They also reported that existing home sales slowed in June 2010 to just 4.37 million units, the lowest since last March. New home sales did jump, but was still pretty low in relation to past years. Only 1963 had a lower increase in new homes sales.
However, here in our part of Florida, things still seem a lot better than in the past couple of years. More calls, more sellers and buyers, and more closed sales. Ours are almost 50% higher than they were in 2009. Other companies may, or may not have similar increases. I am just glad we do! My own sales volume is up 100% so far. Hope it stays that way for the rest of 2010.
Do keep in mind that we are a very large country. So figures that come out for the entire nation, may have little or no relevance for your particular area. In the end, it is best if you speak with a local REALTOR or financing expert to see what the situation is for your part of the United States. Florida is not Michigan, nor is Maine the same as California. Market conditions can be very different from place-to-place. Also, your own credit history, the property you want to buy, etc. will effect your specific loan options and interest rates. Your mortgage broker or bank loan officer can give you more specific information.
If you want to learn more about Freddie Mac or see the details of their survey, go to: www.freddiemac.com and click on the link for "Current Weekly Survey". They break down the survey by specific regions in the United States so you can see how your state compares to other parts of the country. They also explain the mission of Freddie Mac and offer a lot of useful information for consumers.
If you would like to speak with a lender you can find some at my website: www.jelwell.century21bnr.com . You can also speak with your own bank, credit union, or mortgage broker to see what your particular interest rate would be, should you decide to finance a home purchase.
This year Hillsborough River State Park, a few miles south of Zephyrhills, Florida on US 301, will be offering art activities on the last Friday of the coming months from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The cost of admission to the park covers these activities. So there are no extra fees to pay in order to participate. The whole family can enjoy these fun activities.
The programs will be held in the recreation building (Parking Lot #3) and different activities will take place on each of the evenings.
July 30th - Paint With All of the Colors of the Wind - You can create multi-media works of art that interpret the sights, sounds, and music of nature.
August 27th - Picnic Prints - Print-making using items from nature such as: leaves, twigs, rocks, bug skeletons, bark, etc.
September 24 - Edible Art - Learning how to make natural and health snacks to enjoy. Cucumber snakes, strawberry laybugs, and more! All of the materials will be provided. Nothing for you to bring. Just come and enjoy.
October 29th - Spooky Spray Art - Using toothbrushes, paint, and cardboard shapes to create Halloween themed works of art.
November 26th - Web Art - Learning how to identify web-footed animals that inhabit the park like alligators, frogs, ducks, etc. Also the webs that spiders make. Then create art using these types of "webs" to help you in the creative process.
Our state parks are great resources that we have close at hand. It is a shame not to enjoy them. So take advantage of these opportunities and take the whole family out for an evening of safe fun!
For more information and details, you can e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following link should also provide you with additional information: http://www.floridastateparks.org/thingstodo/events.cfm?sortpark=&viewevent=5754#5754
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – July 28, 2010 – Fears about the economic effects of the BP oil spill caused a slight decline in Florida’s consumer confidence in July, while expectations about personal finances reached a record low, according to a new University of Florida survey.
“It was no surprise that consumer confidence remained subdued among Floridians in July as the oil from Deepwater Horizon continued to flow into the Gulf most of the month,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “This comes at a time when other economic indicators were showing signs of changing for the better.”
Consumer confidence fell two points to 65, its lowest point in 16 months, with respondents especially pessimistic about their future finances, he said.
“Perceptions of personal finances a year from now is at the lowest level ever recorded as Floridians do not anticipate a good outcome to the spill’s effect on the Florida economy,” he said.
That component of the index fell four points to 72. Three of the other four components also dropped, while one rose. Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year fell three points to 61, while expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years fell two points to 69. Both of these components are at their lowest levels since February 2009. Perceptions of whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket consumer items fell one point to 76. Perceptions of personal finances now compared with a year ago rose two points to 48.
“Although Florida was by no means recovered from the recession, there were signs that the economy was turning around prior to the oil spill,” McCarty said.
Housing prices continue to reflect a market where prices have hit bottom, although sales are down as a result of the spent demand from the tax rebates that ended in April, McCarty said. “It is possible that prices could decline further, particularly if the effects of the oil spill ultimately reach the west coast of Florida or if perceptions of these effects remain negative,” he said.
The rate of unemployment statewide has actually declined for the third month, down from a record 12.3 percent in March to 11.4 percent in June, the latest figure available, McCarty said.
While some of this decline is still due to the enormous number of Census workers hired, many of those people would already have been laid off by June, McCarty said. This trend is reflected in the loss of 25,000 jobs in government, which has been more than offset by increases in other sectors, such as jobs associated with tourism — 7,000 — and administrative and waste services — 7,700 — that possibly relate to the oil spill cleanup.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests that future reports of taxable sales will show a decline, attributable both to declines in tourism and caution on the part of Florida consumers, who are uncertain about the effect of the spill’s aftermath on their future finances,” he said.
At this point, the spill’s effects seem to be limited to Florida’s northwest coast, but perceptions outside Florida among tourists and potential in-migrants around the globe are hampering the state’s economic recovery, he said.
The research center conducts the Florida Consumer Attitude survey monthly. Respondents are 18 or older and live in households telephoned randomly. The preliminary index for July was 420 responses.
Note from John Elwell: Now that it appears that the oil leak has been plugged and that the spill ony seemed to touch the more northwestern part of our state, it will be interesting to see if a drop in the "fear factor" will help boost the confidence level of Floridians. Time will tell.
NEW YORK – July 27, 2010 – The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined sharply in June, retreated further in July. The Index now stands at 50.4 (1985=100), down from 54.3 in June. The Present Situation Index decreased to 26.1 from 26.8. The Expectations Index declined to 66.6 from 72.7 last month.
Says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “Consumer confidence faded further in July as consumers continue to grow increasingly more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. Concerns about business conditions and the labor market are casting a dark cloud over consumers that is not likely to lift until the job market improves. Given consumers’ heightened level of anxiety, along with their pessimistic income outlook and lackluster job growth, retailers are very likely to face a challenging back-to-school season.”
Consumers’ assessment of current conditions was more downbeat in July. Those saying conditions are “bad” increased to 43.6 percent from 41.0 percent; however, those saying business conditions are “good” increased to 9.0 percent from 8.4 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was also more negative. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 45.8 percent from 43.5 percent, while those saying jobs are “plentiful” remained unchanged at 4.3 percent.
Consumers’ short-term outlook also deteriorated further in July. The percentage of consumers expecting an improvement in business conditions over the next six months decreased to 15.9 percent from 17.1 percent, while those anticipating conditions will worsen rose to 15.7 percent from 13.9 percent.
Consumers were also more pessimistic about future job prospects. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 14.3 percent from 16.2 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 21.1 percent from 20.1 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes declined to 10.0 percent from 10.6 percent.
The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. The monthly survey is conducted for The Conference Board by TNS, one of the world’s largest custom research companies. The cutoff date for July’s preliminary results was July 21.
Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.
If you like, you can download an Adobe PDF version of the above poster to print up for your organization or homeowners association. Just click on the following link: Download National Night Out in Zephyrhills
John Elwell - REALTOR at CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. 813-783-4444
WASHINGTON – July 26, 2010 – A viral email that keeps circulating seems to die out but then returns with a vengeance. Florida Realtors and the National Association of Realtors have received numerous calls from concerned members.
The email incorrectly states that “all real estate transactions will be subject to a 3.8% sales tax.” It then goes on to blame Democrats for inserting the language at the last minute into the recent health care package. To back up the email’s message, it includes an attachment that looks like a newspaper article from the Spokesman-Review, a Spokane, Wash., publication.
Part of the email is true: There is a new real estate tax that will help pay for Medicare, but it impacts a very small number of people. It applies only to sellers making more than $200,000 per year or $250,000 for couples.
The email fails to include information on the article, however, which is actually an editorial opinion of an outside writer and not a news piece. It was written by a representative of The Washington Policy Center (http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/Centers/healthcare/index.html), which includes a link on its website outlining the group’s stance on health care reform.
The National Association of Realtors has created a page explaining the new law that includes rebuttals of the false email. It can be found here.
A Washington Post article created a fictional couple with a joint income of $300,000 (over the $250,000 limit) that made a $600,000 profit on a home sale. In the example, the couple could pay a new real estate tax equal to about $1,900. Read more about the Washington Post example.
Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.
Note from John Elwell: Don't you just love rumors on the internet? They spread so easily and are so hard to kill once they start. I am glad that the National Association of REALTORS has come out with sites where you can get the truth about this issue. You have to wonder what pleasure people get out of starting these false rumors and lies in the first place. Guess it takes all kinds.
In recent months there has been a lot of talk about STRATEGIC DEFAULTS of mortgage notes. These occur when homeowners find that their homes are worth less than the money they owe on them. Yet, in these cases, the owners have the financial ability to still comfortably make the monthly mortgage payments. They just decide that that they do not like paying for a home that is now worth less.
On television, and in many internet forums, there are discussions as to the ethics of doing this. After all, the borrower made a promise to repay the full amount if the lender gave him/her the loan. Now, that word is being broken because the home is worth less. In my personal situation, my own little (and I do mean little) home is worth less than it was when I bought it. But nevertheless, I promised to repay my loans and will do so unless financial situations make that impossible.
Now, Fannie Mae, a huge backer of 40% of the mortgages in the United States, is saying "enough is enough". Just letting people walk away from their obligations when they can afford to complete them will no longer be accepted without retribution.
Fannie Mae is now saying that those homeowner who walk away from a Fannie Mae backed loan just because their homes are worth less than the loans will not be able to get another Fannie Mae backed loan product for 7 years! They are also saying that in states where it is permitted, they will go after the defaulters for the balance of the loan that a foreclosure sale does not recapture.
Add to that legislation in the US Congress that, if passed, would prohibit FHA from issuing loans to borrowers who strategically defaulted on their loan obligations. FHA covers about another 30% of the mortgage loans in the United States.
It is said Freddie Mac, who buys many of the loans on the secondary market, is also rethinking its policies on strategic defaults.
It is reported that these actions are not aimed at those who are truly in hardship situations through a loss of a job, a serious illness, and other financial set-backs. They are aimed at people who are financially solvent, but CHOOSE not to continue to make their payments.
It is not my job to say you should or should not take any action regarding defaults. Only you and your financial/legal/tax advisors can do that. But before you make a move, be sure to speak with the experts who can advise you on your best course of action. A wrong move could cost you now or for years to come. Be an informed consumer and get the expert answers you need before you act.
If you would like to contact me, you can reach me at: John Elwell - REALTOR at CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. 813-783-4444 I also invite you to drop by my main webpage at: www.jelwell.century21bnr.com
A total of 18,038 single-family existing homes sold statewide last month compared to 15,732 homes sold in June 2009, according to Florida Realtors. June’s statewide existing home sales increased 7.7 percent over statewide sales activity in May. Meanwhile, last month’s statewide existing-home median price of $143,400 was 2.1 percent higher than May’s statewide existing-home median price of $140,400. It marks the fourth month in a row that the statewide existing-home median price has increased over the previous month’s median.
Fifteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing home sales in June, while 16 MSAs posted increased existing condo sales. A majority of the state’s MSAs have reported increased sales for 24 consecutive months.
Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $143,400; a year ago, it was $147,700 for a decrease of 3 percent. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.
The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2010 was $179,400, up 2.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). In California, the statewide median resales price was $324,430 in May; in Massachusetts, it was $299,000; in Maryland, it was $249,177; and in New York, it was $194,900.
More jobs are key to the continued recovery of the housing market, according to NAR’s latest industry outlook. “If jobs come back as expected, the pace of home sales should pick up later this year and reach a sustainable level of activity given very favorable affordability conditions,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “We’ll also keep a close eye on market conditions on the Gulf Coast.”
In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 6,916 units sold statewide last month compared to 5,215 units in June 2009 for an increase of 33 percent. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $95,000; in June 2009 it was $112,800 for a 16 percent decrease. The national median existing condo price was $181,300 in May, according to NAR.
The interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.74 percent in June, down from the 5.42 percent averaged during June 2009, according to Freddie Mac. Florida Realtors’ sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written.
Among the state’s larger markets, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA reported a total of 3,226 homes sold in June compared to 2,848 homes a year earlier for a 13 percent increase. The market’s existing home median sales price was $138,400; a year earlier it was $139,400 for a decrease of 1 percent. A total of 912 condos sold in the MSA in June compared to 671 units sold in June 2009 for an increase of 36 percent. The existing condo median price was $99,100; a year earlier, it was $113,300 for a decrease of 13 percent.
Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.