Total existing-home sales increased 14.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million in December from 4.76 million in November.
(Click on the image above to view the full infographic.)
Existing-home sales snapped back solidly in December as more buyers reached the market before the end of the year, and the delayed closings resulting from the rollout of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Know Before You Owe initiative pushed a portion of November’s would-be transactions into last month’s figure, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, said “the prospect of higher mortgage rates in coming months and warm November and December weather allowed more homes to close before the end of the year.”
Low mortgage rates mean lower mortgage payments and more affordable homes,which encourages home buying. Higher rates have the opposite effect and can discourage home buying or require that buyers shop for smaller, less expensive homes.
Learn more about mortgage rates: Will Rising Interest Rates Threaten Your Home Value?
As a consumer, it’s important to enter the mortgage selection process with a firm grasp on which financial arrangement will work best for your household. The following steps are an excerpt from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Home Loan Toolkit; a clearly written and invaluable guide for home loan shoppers. The complete toolkit, including financial worksheets and valuable tips, is available as a download (in PDF).
“Only you can decide how much you are comfortable paying for your housing each month. In most cases, your lender can consider only if you are able to repay your mortgage, not whether you will be comfortable repaying your loan. Based on your whole financial picture, think about whether you want to take on the mortgage payment plus the other costs of homeownership such as appliances, repairs, and maintenance.”
Use these worksheets (in PDF) to estimate your ideal mortgage payment.
“Your credit, your credit scores, and how wisely you shop for a loan that best fits your needs have a significant impact on your mortgage interest rate and the fees you pay. To improve your credit and your chances of getting a better mortgage,get current on your payments and stay current. About 35% of your credit scores are based on whether or not you pay your bills on time. About 30% of your credit scores are based on how much debt you owe. That’s why you may want to consider paying down some of your debts.”
Instructions on how to obtain your credit report and correct errors is available here (in PDF).
“With a fixed-rate mortgage, your principal and interest payment stays the same for as long as you have your loan. Consider a fixed-rate mortgage if you want a predictable payment. You may be able to refinance later if interest rates fall or your credit or financial situation improves.
“With an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), your payment often starts out lower than with a fixed-rate loan, but your rate and payment could increase quickly. It is important to understand the trade-offs if you decide on an ARM. With an ARM your payment could increase a lot, often by hundreds of dollars a month. It’s important to make sure you are confident you know what your maximum payment could be and that you can afford it.”
“A down payment is the amount you pay toward the home yourself. You put a percentage of the home’s value down and borrow the rest through your mortgage loan.”
Learn more about how your down payment will affect your total loan package using this easy to follow chart (in PDF).
“Points are a percentage of a loan amount. For example, when a loan officer talks about one point on a $100,000 loan, the loan officer is talking about one percent of the loan, which equals $1,000. Lenders offer different interest rates on loans with different points.
“There are three main choices you can make about points.
See an example (in PDF) that demonstrates the trade-off between points as part of your closing costs vs. interest rates.
“You’ve figured out what affordable means for you. You’ve reviewed your credit and the kind of mortgage and down payment that best fits your situation. Now is the time to start shopping seriously for a loan. The work you do here could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.
Use this chart (in PDF) to easily compare your mortgage offers.
“Once you have found your best mortgage, the next step is to tell the loan officer you want to proceed with that mortgage application. This is called expressing your intent to proceed. Lenders have to wait until you express your intent to proceed before they require you to pay an application fee, appraisal fee, or most other fees.”
“Even the best prepared consumer can run into problems during their loan process. It’s important to be aware of how to smoothly navigate any potential setbacks.”
Learn more about how to deal with mortgage issues like lending discrimination, predatory lending and more with this easy flow chart (in PDF).
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a federal agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. Have a question about a common consumer financial product or problem? You can find answers by visiting consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb.
You already know this: A supportive environment and mentoring play critical roles to ensure young people become productive, responsible, and caring citizens.
But did you know this: Over 15 million children spend significant time at home or on the streets with no adult care or supervision?
In addition to protecting you and your family from policies that impact your home and wallet, your local REALTOR® associations help raise funds, do volunteer work and support local programs in many other ways in order to strengthen the fabric that holds communities together.
For example, REALTORS® are partnering with local Boys & Girls Clubs of America, offering time and resources to make a difference in the lives of young people in need.
“Every REALTOR® knows building strong communities is an important part of the job.” – Tom Salomone, NAR President
By working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, REALTORS® are contributing in meaningful ways to the lives of children in neighborhoods across the country.
Local REALTOR® Associations are teaming up with their local Boys & Girls Club to do a number of wide-ranging projects such as:
Tell us what you think about the role REALTORS® play in supporting your communities and children, or email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org