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Federal Reserve: No Change on Target Fed Funds Rate

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve did not move to increase the Fed s target federal funds rate, which is currently 0.00 to 0.250 percent. Although the committee acknowledged further progress toward achieving the Federal Reserve s dual goal of maximum employment and an inflation rate of two percent, committee members indicated that they want to see further improvements in both areas before raising the federal funds rate. In its customary post meeting statement, the FOMC said that it may not raise rates when both goals have been achieved. This statement may have been meant to calm ongoing speculation that the Fed will soon raise rates. The statement also said that FOMC members may elect to keep the target federal funds rate below levels the committee considers normal in the longer term. This stance suggests that the Fed wants to be very sure that economic improvement is on a solid track before it raises rates. The statement further indicated that the FOMC i
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An Insider’s Look at Mortgage Closing Costs and How to Minimize the Amount You’ll Pay

When buying a new home, you may be focused on finding a mortgage program that has a down payment requirement that is manageable for you. However, some home buyers will overlook the costs that they are responsible for at closing. These costs can vary, but it is common for home buyers to pay between two to three percent of the loan amount in closing costs, if not more. This can be a hefty sum of money that you will need to budget for. The good news is that there are some steps that you can take to keep these costs to a minimum. Shop For a Title Insurance Company There are numerous fees that will be listed on your closing statement, but one of the highest fees is the title company charge. The title charges vary from company to company. Most lenders and real estate agents have preferred title companies that they want to work with, but you typically have the ability to shop around and compare the fees. You simply have to inquire what the lender s or real estate agent s preferred title comp
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Hunting for the Best Local Schools? Here Are 5 Checklist Items You’ll Want to Look For

There are numerous factors that you may review when choosing a new place to live. If you have children, the quality of the schools and the level of education that your kids will receive in the schools is important. However, you may not be certain how to determine if a school is good or not. When you are looking at schools, use this helpful checklist to guide you in making a great decision. Achievement Data One of the easiest factors for you to research about different school districts and individual schools is achievement data. This may include the percentage of students graduating high school versus dropping out, the enrollment percentage for college, SAT and ACT scores and other relevant data. This is typically published online, or a call to the district s office may provide you with the information. Student to Teacher Ratio The student to teacher ratio can vary drastically between school districts. This will impact how much personal attention your child receives as well as how crow
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Buying a Home This Summer? Our Guide to Finding the Perfect New Neighborhood

Finding the perfect home to purchase is easier said than done, and savvy home buyers understand the importance of researching the neighborhood as well as the home. All home buyers have unique things that they are looking for in an ideal neighborhood, and these factors will play a major role in how enjoyable a homeowner s living experience is. Those who are shopping for a new home this summer may focus on a few points to find the perfect neighborhood to live in before deciding which home to purchase in that community. Get A Feel For The Ambience And Energy Of the Neighborhood Some home buyers want to find a lovely home in a quiet, mature community. Others may be searching for an active community with kids playing freely in their yards and people taking walks of jogging in their free time. Home buyers can get a great feel for the ambiance and energy of the neighborhood by driving around at different times of the day during the week as well as on the weekend. Look At Neighborhood Ameniti
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Four Handy Tips for Managing Your Lawn Now That the Spring Rains Have Arrived

In many areas, the spring months mean warmer temperatures, more sunshine and plenty of beneficial rainfall that your yard may thrive with. These are prime growing conditions for your lawn, but they can also make lawn maintenance a challenge. By following these helpful tips, you can take better care of your yard during this rainy spring season. Re-Seed or Re-Sod Carefully The spring months are one of the best times of the year to re-seed or re-sod your lawn. If you have bare spots in your yard, these spots can turn into giant mud puddles during a heavy rainstorm that can be a true eyesore. New grass seed and fresh sod both require ample water to grow, so you can take advantage of the rain to grow new grass in your bare areas. Mow When Possible The sunshine, warm temperatures and ample rain can all make your grass grow quickly, and it can also make your weeds grow even faster. Mowing your lawn frequently will help you to keep the weeds from spreading seeds throughout the yard and creati
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Buying a Home? What to Do if Problems Are Found During the Final Home Inspection

As a home buyer, you may go through a number of different steps to ensure that the property that you purchase is in great condition. For example, you may complete an initial walk-through or even several home tours before you make an offer. You may also order a property inspection and even negotiate for the seller to make some repairs on your behalf. A day or two before your closing date, you may set up a final home inspection to ensure that the home is still in the same condition as the initial walk-through. In most cases, there will be no problems with the final inspection. However, in the event that there is a problem with the final inspection, you will need to know how to handle it. Work With Your Real Estate Agent As a first step, you should discuss the issues with your real estate agent. Your real estate agent may have some strategies or ideas that can be used to help you overcome the issue in the best possible way. Minor issues may be resolved with a last minute negotiation to t
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 1, 2015

Last week s economic reports included the Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, FHFA s House Price Index and Pending Home Sales from the Commerce Department. The details: Home Prices Dip in March, Pending Home Sales Up According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Housing Market Index, the national reading for average home prices dipped in March. The 20-City Index moved from February s year-over-year home price growth of 4.20 percent to an average year-over-year home price growth rate of 4.10 percent in March. San Francisco, California reclaimed the top spot for home price growth of 10.30 percent year-over-year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported results that mirrored the Case-Shiller report. The FHFA House Price Index tracks purchase-only transactions for homes connected with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The March reading for home price growth slipped to 5.20 percent year-over-year as compared to February s reading year-over-year growth rate of 5.50 percent. L
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Case-Shiller Home Prices: San Francisco, Denver see Double-Digit Increases

San Francisco, California where home prices rose 10.30 percent year over year in March, and Denver, Colorado with an even 10 percent gain in year-over-year home prices led the Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index for March. Rounding out the top-five cities for year-over-year home price growth were Dallas Texas at 9.30 percent, Miami, Florida at 8.70 percent and Tampa, Florida with a year-over-year average gain in home prices at 8.10 percent. San Francisco s reading for March was the first double-digit increase in home prices since last July. The five lowest year-over-year price gains occurred in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio tied at gains of 1.0 percent, New York City with a year-over-year gain of 2.70 percent, Minneapolis, Minnesota with a gain of 3.00 percent and Phoenix, Arizona with a year-over-year increase of 3.10 percent. Overall, the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose by 5.0 percent year-over-year and by 0.90 percent in March. Analysts said that while home price
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Refinancing on a FHA Mortgage? Learn More About the FHA Streamline Refinance

Home buyers are often drawn to the FHA mortgage program due to the low interest rates, low closing costs and generally attractive loan terms. However, there will come a time when many who have an FHA mortgage want to refinance. After all, refinancing a mortgage may allow you to tap into your home s equity, obtain a lower interest rate, extend or shorten the loan term or achieve other goals you may have. While there are different loan programs that you can use to refinance, many are taking advantage of the FHA streamline refinance program. What Is the Streamline Refinance Program? This is a unique program that is ideal for many who have an FHA loan, and this includes those who are underwater with their home mortgage. This program is unique from others because there is not an appraisal requirement. Many other programs will offer a certain loan amount based on the current value of the home. When the value has declined since the purchase, it may not be possible to refinance with other loa
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Buying a Classic Older Home? Three Upgrades You’ll Need to Make Immediately

While some home buyers only want to live in a brand new home and will custom build a home to their specifications, others are drawn to the historic character and charm of a classic home. Older homes may have incredible architectural detail and special features that you simply do not want to change. These older homes can sometimes be a much better investment than a brand new home. However, there are some essential features that should be upgraded as soon as possible after you take ownership of your classic home. The Electrical Panel Many older homes were built at a time when electricity use was at a minimum, but the reliance on electricity has increased over the years. Older homes may commonly have an electrical panel with 50 amps or less, but your current needs may require you to have a panel with at least 200 amps. It may be good to have an electrician inspect the electrical panel as well as the wiring in the home to determine if an upgrade is needed in your new home. Re-Plumbing the
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Multi-Generational Living: Our Guide to Buying a Home That Suits Your Whole Family

It was very common decades ago for several generations of a family to live together, and this may have included kids, parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents in some cases. Today s modern homes are generally designed to accommodate a more traditional modern family, which includes only parents and kids or for only a married couple without kids. When you are buying a home for other generations as well, it is important for you to pay attention to a few important points. The Right Living Spaces and Accommodations Generally, a home with a floor plan that is most suitable for multiple generations is one with different wings of bedrooms and several different living areas. There is something to be said for togetherness, but you may find that having several different living areas as well as having a floor plan that keeps older family members bedrooms away from the bedrooms of younger family members is a good idea. After all, there will be plenty of times when older family members may
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Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-saving Tips to Speed Things Up

One of the most significant challenges that many people face when preparing to buy a first home relates to saving money for a down payment. While there are many different loan programs with varying down payment requirements, the fact is that it can still be difficult to save up a large sum of money. Some programs may require you to save as much as 10 percent or 20 percent of the sales price of the home. You can employ a few different tips and techniques to save money for a down payment more quickly, and these are some of the options that others have successfully used to save money for their home purchase. Make Saving Automatic One idea that works well for many people is to make saving for your new home automatic. This may be as simple as scheduling a regular draft or transfer from your checking account when your paycheck is deposited into your savings account. Some employers may even facilitate this process by contributing some of your funds into a savings account on your behalf. With
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 11, 2015

Last week s scheduled economic reports primarily revolved around the jobs sector. The federal government released reports on Nonfarm Payrolls, the national unemployment rate and weekly report on new jobless claims. ADP issued its monthly report on private sector payrolls. Readings on labor statistics are important to housing markets as stable employment conditions are a significant consideration for prospective home buyers. Private-Sector Job Creation Falls, Non-Farm Payrolls Rise According to ADP, private-sector payrolls fell by 6000 jobs in April to a reading of 169,000 new jobs. This was the fifth consecutive monthly drop in new private sector jobs. ADP also adjusted its March reading to 175,000 new private-sector jobs. The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Nonfarm Payrolls rose by 223,000 in April after a bleak reading of 85,000 new jobs added in March. Analysts said that all economic sectors added jobs in March with the exception of the energy sector. More workers joined the
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Suffering from Credit Problems? Three Ways You Can Patch Up Your Credit to Get a Mortgage Approved

Credit problems are unfortunately common, and they can make it difficult for you to obtain a mortgage. Even if you are able to obtain a mortgage with your credit issues, the rate may be rather high in comparison to what you may qualify for if you obtain a mortgage without fixing your credit problems. While some issues may take a while to fix, you may be able to see a decent increase in your credit rating when you follow a few easy steps. Pay Off Outstanding Derogatory Credit Items When you review a copy of your credit report, you may notice that some items have an outstanding balance due. If the account is in good standing, the outstanding balance is not a primary issue unless you have an excessive amount of debt. If the account is not in good standing, such as if you have a series of late payments or a collection account being reported on the credit report, you can see a boost in your credit rating when you pay off these debts. Settle Judgments Legal matters can also be reported on y
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 15, 2015

Retail Sales, Consumer Confidence Up Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month. May sales increased at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.20 percent according to Commerce Department data. Auto and gasoline sales led the charge to higher retail sales, but analysts said that most retail sectors posted gains. Upward revisions of March and April s retail sales provided evidence of stronger economic conditions. Consumer sentiment jumped nearly four points from May s reading of 90.7 to 94.6 in June. This appears to be great news compared to the year before the recession, when consumer sentiment averaged a reading of 86.9. Weekly Jobless Claims, Mortgage Rates Weekly jobless claims rose last week and were also higher than expected. 279,000 new jobless claims were filed against an expected reading of 275,000 new claims and the prior week s reading of 277,000 new jobless claims. This was the fourteenth consecutive week that new jobless claims remained below 300,000, an accomplishment that
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The Pros and Cons of Using Spare Funds to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster

A home mortgage payment can be a large or even the largest expense in a person s budget, and not having this payment any longer can be a life changing experience. Because of this, you may be dreaming about the day when you no longer have to make this payment. Some people may even actively make extra payments to their mortgage in order to pay the outstanding balance off more quickly. These may be funds from an IRS tax refund, cash received from the holidays or a birthday or some other windfall. Before you make the decision about whether to use spare funds to pay your mortgage down more quickly, consider these pros and cons. The Benefits of Making Extra Mortgage Payments You can shave many years off of your home mortgage when you make even a single extra payment each year. This can help you to achieve long-term financial goals, build equity and avoid paying more than necessary in interest charges. Keep in mind that any principal that is removed from the outstanding balance now will not
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 8, 2015

Last week s economic news included reports on construction spending, Freddie Mac s mortgage rates survey and several employment related reports. The details: Construction Spending Jumps The Commerce Department reported that construction spending reached its fastest annual pace since November 2008. Most of the momentum was caused by construction of apartments, commercial projects and roads, and construction of single family homes. Builders spent 2.20 percent more in April than they did in March, which equated to an annual outlay of $1.01 trillion for all types of construction spending. Analysts said that increased spending in construction indicated that the housing sector could see improvement as construction provides more jobs. Mortgage Rates Mixed Freddie Mac s weekly survey of mortgage rates reported that average mortgage rates were mixed last week. Average rates were reported as follows: 30-year fixed rates were unchanged at 3.87 percent with discount points also unchanged at 0.60
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Which is Better: Bi-weekly or Monthly Mortgage Payments? Let’s Take a Look

When you apply for a new mortgage, your lender may ask if you want to set up monthly payments or bi-weekly payments. At one time, monthly payments were common, but bi-weekly payments are increasing in popularity. This is because they break a large expense up into two smaller and seemingly more manageable payments. In addition, you can also make what equates to a full extra payment on the mortgage each year with a bi-weekly payment structure. Before you decide which is best for you, consider a few factors. Your Personal Budget Many people may believe that if they get paid every two weeks, a bi-weekly mortgage payment is a better option than a monthly mortgage payment. This is not always the case. You should consider other sources of income and how much your payment is in relation to your paychecks. In addition, consider which part of the month your other regular bills are due. This is critical to establishing the best payment plan for you. Control Over the Payments You can still enjoy
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An Insider’s Guide to Fannie Mae’s HomePath Program and Closing Cost Assistance

Home buyers today may be concerned about finding the perfect home to purchase, but they are also often concerned with the process of applying for a mortgage. The loan application process itself may seem daunting, but many are concerned about finding a great deal on their mortgage. This may include getting a great interest rate and finding a program with low closing costs. The Fannie Mae HomePath program and closing cost assistance program is a beneficial option for many, and you may benefit from learning more about it. What Is This Program? The Fannie Mae loan program has been around for many years, and it is designed to provide borrowers with a lower interest rate than some of the other programs available. It also has easier underwriting guidelines than some of the other options. However, the HomePath program started in 2009 in response to the rising number of foreclosures at that time. This program gives buyers a great opportunity to find homes that were financed through Fannie Mae
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Real Estate Roundup: The Top 5 Apps to Use When Buying or Selling a Home

Whether you are buying property, selling property or both, the process can be challenging, stressful and even overwhelming at times. Just as you may use various mobile apps to streamline and simplify other aspects of your life, you can also use some well-designed apps to improve your overall experience when you are buying or selling property. These are some of the best apps for you to use as you move forward with your real estate plans. iBank This app is not free for you to download, but the small fee that you pay to use iBank may be well worth paying for. This is an app that you can use to track your bank account balances and living expenses. Financial strain is one of the most significant sources of stress for those who are moving, and this is an app that you can use to ease your money management challenges. PowerOne FinancePro Calculator The property that you choose to purchase will impact your budget in a number of ways. The most obvious difference will be a change in your mortgag
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Concrete Countertops: Learn Why Concrete May Be the Best Thing to Hit Your Kitchen

Updating your kitchen may be a project that you have been looking forward to for a long time. Now that the time has come to get started working on your project, you may be exploring the different materials that are available to use in your kitchen. The counter tops are often a prime focal point for a kitchen remodeling project. While there are several materials available to consider, concrete may be the best option for a number of reasons. Endless Design Options Concrete is a popular material that is used on patios, decorative floors and more because it can be stained, scored and shaped with almost endless possibilities. Just as the design options are limitless for other areas of the home, the same holds true when using concrete for your counter tops. You can customize the size, shape, finish, edge style and color without limits to achieve the desired look for your space. Affordable Material Concrete is not quite as affordable as laminate counter tops, but it is far more affordable th
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Freelancing in 2015? Three Tips for How to Secure a Mortgage if You’re a Self-Employed Entrepreneur

If you are self-employed, either as a freelancer or as the owner of your own business, your income can fluctuate greatly from year to year. That can make it difficult to get approved for a mortgage, although there are some things you can do to improve your chances. Here are three tips for securing a mortgage if you are self-employed. Make Sure Your Credit Score Is In Good Shape While your ability to pay back a mortgage is the most important factor in approval, your credit score is a close second, and that goes for every borrower, not just those who are self-employed. If you have a credit score in the high range something above 750 or 760 it will help you get approved for a mortgage. To boost your score, make sure you pay all bills on time, pay down your debt levels and don t make any new big purchases or apply for new credit soon before you apply for a mortgage. Have a Large Down Payment The more money a bank lends you to buy a house, the more risk it is taking in that the money won t
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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 18, 2015

Last week s economic reports included data from the Federal Reserve on student loan debt, job openings and retail sales. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac s survey of average mortgage rates were released as usual on Thursday. A report on consumer sentiment wrapped up the week s scheduled economic new. Federal Reserve: Student Loan Borrowers Struggle with Payments
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Real Estate Investing: Why Buying Raw Land Can Be an Excellent Long-Term Strategy

When many people think about investing in property, they think about purchasing income-producing real estate such as a residential property or an office building with tenants. There are indeed many benefits associated with investing in income-producing property. For example, these properties may produce rent that can offset your ownership expenses. However, buying raw land can also be an excellent long-term investment strategy. By learning more about the benefits of investing in raw land, you may be ready to start searching for real estate to invest in soon. Minimal Ownership Expenses Raw land will not have as many ownership expenses as land. This property may not produce rental income for you, but you also will not have to maintain or repair a building or pay for property insurance. Property taxes and a mortgage payment may be lower as well. Typically, your main expense will be the mortgage payment, and this may be far less than what a mortgage payment on developed land may be. You e
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Mortgage 101: the Basics of How Mortgage Refinancing Works

Refinancing your home mortgage can be beneficial for you for a number of reasons. As a homeowner, you may have spoken with some of your friends and neighbors who have already refinanced, and you may have heard about some of the different benefits associated with refinancing your mortgage. For example, refinancing can result in a lower mortgage payment, the ability to pay your mortgage off more quickly, reduced interest charges and other benefits. If you have never gone through this process yourself, however, you may not know what to expect with the refinancing process. Determining if Refinancing Will Benefit You The actual benefits that you would receive by refinancing will be unique to your situation. Refinancing is a process that results in replacing your existing mortgage with a new mortgage. This will establish your home financing with a new interest rate, a new term and a different mortgage payment. In some cases, the new loan amount that you qualify for will be higher than the a
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