Month: June 2012

Positive Thinking: 7 Easy Ways to Improve a Bad Day


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I needed to hear this today…….

Positive Thinking: 7 Easy Ways to Improve a Bad Day

Don’t let a bad morning ruin your entire day. Use these mental tricks to change your momentum.

Positive Thinking Hot Air Balloon

 

Had a lousy morning? Things looking grim?

Not to worry. The rest of your day need not be a disaster. It can in fact become one of your best, providing you take these simple steps:

1. Remember that the past does not equal the future.

There is no such thing as a “run of bad luck.” The reason people believe such nonsense is that the human brain creates patterns out of random events and remembers the events that fit the pattern.

2. Refuse to make self-fulfilling prophesies. 

If you believe the rest of your day will be as challenging as what’s already happened, then rest assured: You’ll end up doing something (or saying) something that will make sure that your prediction comes true.

3. Get a sense of proportion.

Think about the big picture: Unless something life-changing has happened (like the death of a loved one), chances are that in two weeks, you’ll have forgotten completely about whatever it was that has your shorts in a twist today.

4. Change your threshold for “good” and “bad.”

Decide that a good day is any day that you’re above ground. Similarly, decide that a bad day is when somebody steals your car and drives it into the ocean. Those types of definitions make it easy to be happy–and difficult to be sad.

5. Improve your body chemistry.

Your body and brain are in a feedback loop: A bad mood makes you tired, which makes your mood worse, and so forth. Interrupt the pattern by getting up and moving around.  Take a walk or eat something healthy.

6. Focus on what’s going well.

The primary reason you’re convinced it’s a bad day is that you’re focusing on whatever went wrong. However, for everything going badly, there are probably dozens of things going well.  Make list, and post it where it’s visible.

7. Expect something wondrous.

Just as an attitude of doom and gloom makes you see more problems, facing the future with a sense of wonder makes you alive to all sorts of wonderful things that are going on, right now, everywhere around you.

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Home Sales Reach Two-Year High as U.S. Rates Fall


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Reported by BLOOMBERG TODAY JUNE,25, 2010

Demand for new U.S. homes rose more than forecast in May as mortgage rates dropped, bolstering the residential real-estate market while other parts of the world’s largest economy cool.

June 25 (Bloomberg) — Demand for new U.S. homes rose more than forecast in May as mortgage rates dropped, bolstering the residential real-estate market while other parts of the world’s largest economy cool. Erik Schatzker reports on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.” (Source: Bloomberg)

The deck of a Toll Brothers Inc. model home stands in Randolph, New Jersey. Falling borrowing costs and more affordable properties may keep luring buyers, even as a cooling job market and limited access to credit restrain the recovery. Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

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Purchases climbed to a 369,000 annual rate, the most since April 2010 and up 7.6 percent from the prior month, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 67 economists was 347,000. The number of houses on the market held near a record low.

Falling borrowing costs may keep luring buyers to builders like Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL), even as a cooling job market and limited access to credit restrain the recovery. The Federal Reserve last week extended a program to keep long-term interest rates low in a bid to reduce unemployment, sustain housing and prevent a global slowdown from stalling the expansion.

“It’s another sign of life in the housing sector,” said Brian Jones, a senior U.S. economist for Societe Generale SA in New York, who forecast a gain to 362,000. “It’s consistent with a gradual improvement in activity, but we’ve got miles to go before we get back to normal.”

Stocks dropped amid concern that a meeting of European leaders later this week will fail to help contain the region’s debt crisis. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 1.6 percent to 1,313.72 at the 4 p.m. close in New York. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.60 percent from 1.68 percent late on June 22.

BIS Report

Elsewhere, the Basel, Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements said in its annual report published yesterday that central banks in developed nations are confronting the limits of their ability to aid economic recovery as government efforts to strengthen finances fall short.

Bloomberg survey estimates for U.S. new-home sales, which are counted when contracts are signed, ranged from 327,000 to 375,000. The April reading was unrevised at the previously estimated 343,000, while March and February were revised up.

The median sales price increased 5.6 percent from the same month last year, to $234,500, today’s report showed. Prices have climbed on a 12-month basis since February, the best performance in five years.

Purchases rose in two of four U.S. regions last month, led by a 37 percent jump in the Northeast, while the South climbed 13 percent. Demand dropped 11 percent in the Midwest and 3.5 percent in the West.

Lean Supply

The number of newly constructed houses on the market was at 145,000 compared with the record low of 144,000 reached in April and March. The record high of 572,000 was reached in July 2006. The supply of new houses on the market at the current sales pace dropped to 4.7 months, the lowest since October 2005, from 5 months in April.

In response to improving demand, builders broke ground on 516,000 single-family houses last month at an annual pace, up 3.2 percent from April and the most this year, the Commerce Department reported last week.

The Washington-based National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo sentiment index rose by 1 point this month to 29, the highest since May 2007, another report last week showed.

Horsham, Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers, the largest U.S. luxury-home builder, on May 23 reported second-quarter profit that beat estimates as orders jumped.

Suppliers Benefit

United Technologies Corp. (UTX) and Lennox International Inc. (LII), makers of heating and air conditioning units, are among companies benefitting from developers’ positive outlook. Lennox, based in Richardson, Texas, had a 40 percent increase in sales to new-home builders in the first quarter. United Technologies, in Hartford, Connecticut, forecasts about 700,000 housing starts this year, Chief Financial Officer Gregory Hayes said.

“The expectation is we’re not going to see a huge recovery in the U.S. residential marketplace, but we should see a steady recovery,” Hayes said at a June 14 conference. “Residential is coming back, but it’s very, very slow.”

The stabilization in housing has boosted builder shares this year. The Standard & Poor’s Supercomposite Homebuilder Index has climbed 33 percent this year through June 22, compared with a 6.2 percent gain for the broader S&P 500.

Residential construction hasn’t contributed to economic growth over the course of an entire year since 2005, when it accounted for 0.4 percentage point of the 3.1 percent increase in gross domestic product. From 2006 through 2009, the homebuilding slump subtracted 0.8 percent point from growth on average. The declines diminished over the past two years.

Shrinking Share

Newly constructed houses made up 6.7 percent of the residential market last year, down from a high of 15 percent during the boom of the past decade.

Sales of existing homes declined in May as fewer distressed properties reached the market, the National Association of Realtors reported last week. The decline in transactions involving foreclosures and short sales, where a lender agrees to accept less than the balance of the mortgage, helped push the median price of a previously owned house up 7.9 percent from the same time last year, the biggest 12-month gain since February 2006.

Less competition from existing houses and even lower mortgage rates may keep spurring the market. The average rate on a 30-year fixed loan dropped to 3.66 percent last week, the lowest in data going back to 1972, according to Freddie Mac.

The central bank last week aimed to keep borrowing costs low. Policy makers announced they will expand the Operation Twist program to extend the maturities of assets on its balance sheet. They said they stood ready to take further action to put unemployed Americans back to work. Fed officials also lowered their outlook for growth and employment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net

Under-35 Population Staying Home Not Buying One


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Under-35 Population Staying Home Not Buying One.

Mortgage News: Taking Advantage of Low Rates


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Mortgage News 
Taking Advantage of Low Rates
By VICKIE ELMER of The NYT – 6/14/12

The mortgage market seems to have been dancing its own version of the limbo, as interest rates headed lower and lower for six consecutive weeks.

 
Although they inched up this past week, home buyers and refinancers may be wondering how low rates can go — and how they can capture the best rates now.

“Mortgage rates tend to fall when there are concerns about the economy,” said Jed Kolko, the chief economist for Trulia, the housing information Web site.

Lately, those concerns have centered on the economic and fiscal woes in Europe, especially in Greece and Spain — along with slow job growth and weaker-than-usual corporate profits in this country, as noted in a recent Freddie Mac market survey.

Many economists are forecasting that mortgage rates will rise again later this year as the American economy gradually improves and as more global investors turn to the United States as a safe haven for their money.

“It’s really tough for rates to go much lower,” said Cristian de Ritis, the director of Moody’s Analytics. “It’s almost unbelievable that you can get a 30-year mortgage at that rate.”

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record 3.67 percent nationwide in Freddie Mac’s June 7 survey, though it rose to an average 3.71 percent on Thursday. The rate had averaged 3.9 percent just three months earlier and 4.5 percent a year earlier.

Mr. Kolko said the uptick was not entirely unexpected. “We’re in the midst of so much short-term uncertainty,” he said, adding that “no single week-over-week change can be taken as the start of a long-term trend.”

Mr. de Ritis said that rates could possibly fall further, perhaps as much as a quarter of a percentage point, but he added that it was more likely that they would start “a slow drift” upward. In six months, the rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage could be at 3.8 to 3.9 percent, he predicted, and a year from now, 4.1 to 4.2 percent.

“If the economy does recover more aggressively than what we think, or what investors think,” he said, “then the Fed will likely raise rates.” The next two Federal Reserve Open Market meetings, which determine credit policy, are scheduled for June 19 and 20 and July 31 and Aug. 1.

Those planning to refinance or buy a home in the next two or three months, meanwhile, might want to consider locking in their mortgage rate now.

Borrowers with rate lock-ins, with a built-in deadline, often receive priority treatment from lenders, according to Russell Tucker, a senior vice president of Investor Home Mortgage in Short Hills, N.J. By having a lock-in, he said, a borrower is telling the lender that he or she is serious about closing soon. “If you’re not willing to lock in the interest rates,” Mr. Tucker said, “you’re not doing the push-ups.”

Lock-in costs and policies vary widely, and are based partly on the time frame you want covered.

Most people will need a 60- to 90-day lock. In New York State, especially, refinancing can take longer if the borrower is transferring the balance on a loan to a new lender to avoid paying a second mortgage transfer tax, a process known as “mortgage assignment.”

If interest rates continue to fall during the lock period, borrowers can ask their lenders to rewrite the rate lock, at an additional cost, or they can obtain a “float-down” provision in the original agreement, industry experts say. A lock with a float-down agreement allows the borrower to change the rate, often only once, before closing on the mortgage. This option is generally more expensive than a standard lock.

Although mortgage rates are at historic lows, borrowers need to understand that the advertised rates are generally for those with the best credit. “If your credit is in the mid-600s instead of the mid-700s, that could be as much as an extra percentage point on your mortgage rate,” Mr. Kolko said, referring to the widely used FICO credit score.

And if you’re in the New York area and borrowing more than $625,500 — the maximum allowed for loans resold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac — you will be obtaining a “jumbo” loan, which tends to carry higher rates.

Harvard Study : 2012 Marks The Start Of “True Housing Market Recovery”


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Mortgage Rates are at historic All-Time Lows today!

Housing Market Showing Positive Signs

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies says stabilizing home prices will boost single-family home construction throughout 2012.

The State of the Nation’s Housing 2012 report highlights several areas which suggest that U.S. housing markets are in recovery.

  • Sales of homes were up 5.2% in Q1 2012 as compared to Q1 2011
  • Sales of new construction homes were up 16.7% in Q1 2012 as compared to Q1 2011
  • Housing starts were up 16.6% in Q1 2012 as compared to Q1 2011.

The report also found that building permits for single-family homes were up by 16.9% between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012. Building permits can be a strong indicator of home construction levels.

Echo-Boom Generation Driving Future Sales

It’s not just raw housing data that’s improving. Buyer demographics look favorable for long-term housing trends, too.

An estimated 84.7 million young adults in the “Echo Boomer” generation, the oldest of whom turned 25 in 2010, are expected to enter the housing market within the next 20 years. The Harvard study states that, as housing markets improve, more “fence-sitting” young adults will convert from renters into first-time home buyers.

Obstacles remain for the housing market overall, including a backlog of foreclosed homes. However, the report’s conclusion that concludes that “2012 will mark the beginning of a true housing market recovery” is not at all far-fetched.

Today’s home buyers face a shrinking home supply but, with mortgage rates low and lots of low down payment options available, timing could be right to buy a home. If the Harvard study is right, by next year, home values — and mortgage rates — will be higher.

 

 

Americans See Biggest Home Equity Jump in 60 Years: Mortgages


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By Kathleen M. Howley – Jun 14, 2012 12:00 AM ET

 

Americans are digging themselves out of mortgage debt.

Home equity in the first quarter rose to the highest level since 2008 as homeowners taking advantage of record-low borrowing costs to refinance their loans brought cash to the table to pay down principal. The gain in percentage terms was the biggest jump in more than 60 years, according to an analysis by Bloomberg of Federal Reserve data.

Enlarge image

Residential mortgage debt peaked in 2007 at $10.6 trillion, doubling in six years, according to Fed data. Since then, it has fallen 7 percent as the value all residential property has dropped 23 percent. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

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It’s the strongest sign yet that Americans’ home-loan debt burden is beginning to ease after the record borrowing that created, and ultimately popped, the housing bubble, leaving almost a quarter of homeowners with mortgages owing more than their properties were worth, said Richard DeKaser, deputy chief economist at Parthenon Group LLC in Boston. Half the mortgages refinanced in the fourth quarter reduced loan size, a record, according to Freddie Mac, the government-owned mortgage buyer.

“The willingness of homeowners to carry housing debt has been radically altered,” said DeKaser, chairman of the American Bankers Association’s Economic Advisory Council. “When the market was booming, a mortgage was used as a leveraging tool, and now it’s seen as a risk.”

Measured as a share, rather than in dollars, homeowner equity was 41 percent of U.S. residential property value in the first quarter, including homeowners who don’t have mortgages, according to the Fed study released last week. The last time the share was that high was in the third quarter of 2008.

‘Bubble Burst’

“People got too overleveraged in the boom years, and that left them with too much debt when the bubble burst,” said Paul Miller, a managing director with FBR Capital Markets in Arlington, Virginia. “Now, they’re trying to put themselves back on solid ground.”

Residential mortgage debt peaked in 2007 at $10.6 trillion, doubling in six years, according to Fed data. Since then, it has fallen 7 percent as the value of all residential property has dropped 23 percent.

Americans aren’t just bringing money to the table when they refinance their mortgages. Many also are choosing to shorten the term of their loans, which increases monthly payments. The average mortgage term fell to 27 years in March and April from 29 years February. Almost all U.S. mortgages have either 30-year or 15-year terms. When the average falls, it shows more people are choosing the shorter period.

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has tumbled since early 2011 to last week’s record 3.67 percent and refinancing applications are at a three-year high. The average 15-year rate declined to 2.94 percent.

Lackluster Recovery

DeKaser of Parthenon attributes the reduction in mortgage debt to a “fear factor.” A lackluster recovery that still has one of every 15 people unemployed has persuaded some borrowers of the wisdom of thriftiness, he said.

“People are worried about falling home prices and they’re worried about the economy,” said DeKaser. “If they can afford it, they’re paying down their mortgages instead of buying things because it makes them feel like they’ll sleep better at night.”

Home prices tumbled for six straight months through March to the lowest level in a decade, 35 percent below the peak prices of the housing boom, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller price index of 20 U.S. metropolitan areas. A 3.4 percent increase in home sales last month may signal prices are beginning to stabilize, according to Eric Belsky, managing director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, in its “State of the Nation’s Housing” report issued today.

Economic Growth

The U.S. economy probably will grow at a 2.2 percent pace in 2012, the third year after the end of the recession, according to the median forecast of 93 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That compares with a 3.9 percent average expansion rate in the third-year period following the 1982, 1994, and 2001 recessions. In 2013, the growth rate probably will be 2.4 percent, according to the economists’ average estimate.

Homeowners who are able to shorten the terms of their loans or reduce their balances when they refinance are the lucky ones, said Chris Christopher, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

“Homeowners who are paying down mortgage debt are the survivors,” said Christopher. “They probably didn’t lose their jobs, so they’re in a better position to do that.”

About 23 percent of mortgage holders are underwater on their loans, meaning they owe more than their homes are worth, according to CoreLogic Inc., a mortgage data and software firm in Santa Ana, California. About 2.1 million properties were in foreclosure in April, according to Lender Processing Services, a mortgage data firm in Jacksonville, Florida.

‘Bubble Days’

“Consumers’ view of the housing market clearly has been radically changed since the bubble days,” said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc in New York. “We saw what happened to people who were way overleveraged.”

“Paying down mortgage debt is bad for economic growth — putting your money into your house usually means you’re spending less,” said FBR’s Miller. “It’s good for our economic health in the long run, though, because it improves household balance sheets.”

Retail sales in the U.S. fell in May for a second month, prompting economists to cut forecasts for economic growth as limited job growth and income gains hold back consumers. The 0.2 percent decrease matched April’s drop that was previously reported as a gain, Commerce Department figures showed yesterday in Washington.

National Income

Annual increases in national income slowed to $581 billion in 2011 from $693 billion in the prior year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The first quarter’s $127.7 billion gain puts 2012 on course for a $510.8 billion increase, the lowest since income dropped in 2009.

“People are looking around them and seeing people they know getting their salaries cut or losing their jobs,” said Miller, a former examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. “If you want security, you can put your money in a savings bank for half a percentage point, or you can pay down your mortgage.”

FBR’s Miller said when he refinanced his home loan last year, he “brought a big check to the table” to reduce his mortgage balance. The reason?

“So my wife would leave me alone,” said Miller. “Just like a lot of people, she wants to have no mortgage debt.”

To contact the reporter on this column: Kathleen M. Howley in Boston at kmhowley@bloomberg.net.

Newton, MA. Housing Recap


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To say the real estate market here in Newton, MA is busy would be an understatement.  So to put the market is perspective here are the current numbers.

Currently Active Single Families:

142

Currently Under Contract

308

With Under Contracts outpacing actives by 2-1 we are clearly in an accelerating market.  This is a simple supply and demand business.

Price your home to sell and it will sell!