MMCD Employees in the Community: Rachel Hanna

At Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, we are proud to say that our employees are not only good at their jobs, but they are also good people who give back to their communities. This week we would like to take a moment to highlight Rachel Hanna and her awesome work with the German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California.

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Rachel has been a volunteer with GSRNC for the last year. In that year, she has provided a foster home for 5 dogs, volunteered at their many adoption event,s and assisted with the dog evaluation programs.

Volunteering with German Shepherds is a family activity for Rachel. Her parents became involved with GSRNC after adopting a German Shepherd through the rescue when she was in high school. Both of her parents became evaluators for the organization. As evaluators, they help build the profile of these adoptable dogs so that they can find the right forever home.

Rachel feels that GSRNC stands out from other organizations of its kind. Not only do they take animals with medical issues, but they also have a special program, the Thulani Program, dedicated to seniors dogs who need special care. Additionally, GSRNC allocates resources specifically to work with potential adopters to make sure that each dog is getting the right home.

How can YOU help GSRNC?

Become a Volunteer: GSRNC has regional offices in Woodland, San Jose, and Redwood City, and hold volunteer-run activities all over Northern California.

Foster: Much like many other animal rescues, GSRNC could use more foster homes. Every time a dog goes to a foster home, more space opens German Shepherds to be saved from shelters.

Donate: Monetary donations are always welcome. However, GSRNC could also benefit from the donations of beds (especially orthopedic), leashes and collars.

Attend a Fundraiser! GSRNC’s Wags to Riches Event is coming up on October 3rd at the Shrine Event Center in Livermore! To learn more, please click here.

German Shepherd who needs a forever home!

Adopt! Tera is a 1-year-old German Shepherd who has been with the rescue for over 250 days! To learn more about Tera or other German Shepherds from GSRNC, please click here.

Once again, we are proud to have Rachel Hanna in the MMCD family.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 31, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 31 2015Last week’s economic news included several reports related to housing. The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index for June rose to 4.50 percent as compared to May’s reading of 4.40 percent. Denver, Colorado was the only city to post double-digit year-over-year growth. FHFA also released its House Price Index for June. Home prices for properties associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose at a year-over-year rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent.

New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales Rise in July

Commerce Department data revealed that new home sales increased in July to a year-over-year reading of 507,000 against expectations of 510,000 new home sales and June’s revised reading of 481,000 new homes sold. The original reading for June was 482,000 new homes sold. New home sales provided a strong indicator of recovering housing markets as July’s reading was 25 percent higher than it was one year ago.

Pending home sales moved into positive territory in July after June’s reading of -1.80 percent. Pending home sales for July grew by 0.50 percent. Pending home sales are an indicator of future closings, so this is good news as the peak buying and selling season wanes.

The national median home price rose to $285,900 in July, which was two percent higher year-over-year.

Mortgage Rates, New Unemployment Claims Fall

Mortgage rates fell across the board last week. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by none basis points to 3.8r percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also fell by nine basis points to 3.06 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 2.90 percent. Discount points for fixed rate mortgages were unchanged at an average of 0.60 percent and fell from an average of 0.50 percent to 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Weekly jobless claims were also lower last week with 271,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 271,000 new claims filed and the previous week’s reading of 277,000 new claims filed. Last week’s reading was the 25th consecutive week of new jobless claims readings under the benchmark of 300,000 new claims filed; this is the longest stretch for new jobless claims under the 300,000 new claims benchmark in more than fifteen years.

New jobless claims rose by 1000 new claims to a seasonally adjusted average of 272,500 according to the four-week average. Analysts note that the four week average smooths out volatility that can occur with week-to-week readings.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, ADP and the federal Non-farm Payrolls reports. The national unemployment rate will be released along with regularly scheduled reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Case-Shiller: Home Prices Continue to Outpace Inflation

You Ask, We Answer: How the New FICO Score System Might Impact a Typical Mortgage BorrowerDenver, Colorado continues to woo homebuyers as home prices rose by 10.20 percent as of June according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The Mile-High City was the only city included in the index that posted double-digit year-over-year growth in June. San Francisco, California posted a 9.50 percent year-over-year gain in home prices and Dallas, Texas rounds out the top three cities posting highest year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 8.20 percent.

Denver’s home prices were impacted by the city’s rapidly expanding economy and demand for homes coupled with a slim supply of homes for sale. According to the National Association of Realtors®, there is approximately one month’s inventory of homes available in Denver as compared to the national average of five months.

Cities experiencing the least year-over-year growth in home prices according to the 20-City Home Price Index were Chicago, Illinois with a year-over-year growth rate of 1.40 percent, Washington D.C. with a year-over-year reading of 1.60 percent in home price growth and New York, New York with a reading of 2.80 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.

The 20-City Index indicated national home prices grew by five percent year-over-year in June, with a month-to-month increase of one percent from May to June.

Detroit Leads Gains in Month-to-Month Home Prices

Detroit, Michigan led month-over-month home price growth with a May to June reading of 1.80 percent. Cleveland, Ohio and Portland Oregon posted month-to-month gains of 1.50 percent followed by Atlanta, Georgia and Denver Colorado; each city posted month-to-month home price gains of 1.30 percent.

As economic conditions continue to improve, prospective homebuyers face obstacles including tight mortgage approval standards and home prices growing at approximately twice the rate of inflation.

FHFA: Home Prices Dip in June

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices associated with mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac slipped to a year-over year growth rate of 5.60 percent in June as compared to May’s reading of 5.70 percent. The agency also reported that home prices rose by 1.20 percent during the second quarter of 2015; this was the sixteenth consecutive quarterly increase in home prices.

FHFA Principal Economist Andrew Leventis noted that home prices continued to exceed inflation and were rising in spite of higher mortgage rates.

In general, analysts regard longer term readings as more reliable than month-to-month readings that reflect more volatility based on day-to-day influences.

A Few Common Misconceptions About Mortgage Pre-Qualification

Mythbusting: Correcting A Few Common Misconceptions About Mortgage Pre-qualificationIf you’re shopping around for mortgages, you’ve probably heard about pre-qualification processes – or maybe even received a pre-qualification offer in the mail. Lots of prospective homeowners hold misconceptions about what exactly pre-qualification is and how it works, and it leads them to opt into poor mortgage deals.

But by understanding how pre-qualification works, you’ll be able to find the right mortgage for you – at the best possible rate. So what is mortgage pre-qualification, and what isn’t it? Here are three common pre-qualification myths that you may have heard.

Myth: Mortgage Pre-qualification Commits You To A Specific Lender

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that being pre-qualified for a mortgage commits them to a specific lender. In truth, being pre-qualified only creates an opportunity for a lender to work with you.

The pre-qualification process doesn’t involve any loan contracts and doesn’t require you to pay the lender. Few homeowners know this, but you’re actually not at all committed to any particular lender until you sign the closing documents.

Pre-qualification is also generally a free process, although some lenders will ask you to pay the $20 fee it costs them to check your credit report. Typically no lender will ask you to pay more than $20 during pre-qualification.

Myth: Rate Shopping Hurts Your Credit Score

Another common myth is that shopping around for the best rate will hurt your credit score as a result of having multiple credit checks done. Some lenders may tell you this is true in order to discourage you from checking out other lenders. But according to FICO, mortgage inquiries aren’t handled the same way that other credit inquiries are.

Mortgage pre-qualification may seem like something you don’t want during a house hunt, but in truth, it’s really just a small gesture lenders make in order to make the mortgage process faster and simpler. If you’ve been pre-qualified for a mortgage, you will still need to go through the standard application process before you’re approved. To learn more about the mortgage application process, or to apply for your new mortgage today, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 24, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week August 24 2015Last week’s economic events included a number of readings on housing related topics. The National Association of Home Builders released its report on builder confidence in housing markets, Housing starts reached their highest level since the great recession, and existing home sales exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading. The Federal Reserve released minutes for its most recent FOMC meeting, which indicated that while a majority of FOMC members are leaning toward raising the Fed’s target federal funds rate, concerns over certain aspects of the economy continue to keep the Fed from citing a date for raising its target interest rate.

Home Builder Confidence Nears Highest Reading in 10 Years

The National Association of Home Builders reported its highest level of builder confidence in housing market conditions since November of 2005. August’s reading was 61 as compared to an expected reading of 59 and July’s reading of 60. Any reading over 50 indicates that housing market conditions are good. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that August’s readings were consistent with builder expectations of gradual improvement in overall housing market conditions. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose by one point to a reading of 61; confidence in buyer foot traffic in new housing developments rose 2 points to 45 and the reading for expected home sales conditions over the next six months was unchanged at a reading of 70.

Builder confidence as shown by the three-month rolling average indicated that builder confidence increased by three points for a reading of 63 for the West; the Midwest also posted a gain of three points for a reading of 58. The South posted a two point gain in builder confidence for a reading of 63. In the Northeast, builder confidence held steady at 46.

Existing Home Sales Hit New Post-Recession High in July

According to the National Association of Realtors®, sales of pre-owned homes reached a new post-recession record in July. Sales of previously owned homes rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.59 million sales as compared to expectations of 5.48 million sales and June’s reading of 5.48 million sales. Sales of existing homes have risen for three consecutive months and are 10.30 percent higher year-over-year. Higher home prices are helping homeowners move up to larger homes, but analysts said that first-time buyers are still struggling to buy due to strict mortgage requirements and high demand for homes.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts Higher, Building Permits Lower

The Commerce Department reported that June housing starts increased from 1.20 million in May to 1.21 million in June; this is a month-to-month increase of 0.20 percent. Economists had expected a dip in housing starts to a rate of 1.185 million on an annual basis. Single family housing starts rose by 12.90 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 782,000 starts.

Building permits slipped in July by 16.30 percent to an annual rate of 1.29 million permits issued. Permits for single family homes, which account for nearly 75 percent of permits issued, fell by 1.90 percent to an annual rate of 679,000 permits issued. Demand for multi-family homes such as condos and apartments is rising as would-be home buyers sit on the sidelines and many millennials prefer to rent. In spite of these factors the rate of building permits issued rose by 7.50 percent year-over-year.

Building permits issued rose by 7.70 percent in the South, and rose by 20 percent in the Midwest. In the West, permits issued declined by 3.10 percent in July, while the Northeast posted a decline of 27.50 percent in building permits issued. This was not a surprise as builders rushed to take out permits before a tax credit expired in June.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates fell for fixed rate mortgages and ticked upward for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.93 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates fell by two basis points to 3.15 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.94 percent. Discount points were unchanged across the board at 0.60 percent for 30 and 15-year fixed rates and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news includes the Case-Shiller 10 and 20 city home price index reports, FHFA’s house price report for home sales connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and pending home sales. Core inflation numbers will also be released; this is significant as the Fed has set 2.0 percent annual inflation as one of its indicators for raising the Federal funds rate. Freddie Mac’s survey of average mortgage rates and weekly jobless claims will be released on Thursday, and this week wraps up with the consumer sentiment report on Friday.

3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time

3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Home at the Same TimeIf you’re in the process of simultaneously buying and selling a home, you may be in for the most stressful experience of your life. One UK-based real estate survey of over two thousand people found that buying and selling a house is more stressful than divorce, bankruptcy, a death in the family, becoming a parent for the first time, and even planning a wedding!

It’s not easy, but staying calm will help you to plan for your upcoming home purchase and sale and make the process easier. So how can you avoid the stress? Here are three strategies that will keep you calm, no matter what may happen.

Have A Thorough Plan In Place…

Much of the stress that you’ll experience will probably be the result of poor planning. You may feel stressed if you don’t have enough time to move or if you have to pay mortgages on two homes because your old home isn’t selling fast enough.

Before you get too far into the buying and selling process, talk with your trusted mortgage professional and ensure you have a solid financial plan in place for how you’ll manage buying and selling at the same time. Leave a time and expense buffer for unexpected complications – even if nothing goes wrong, it’s still nice to know you have some room to work with.

…But Be Ready To Improvise If Things Go Sideways

There are a number of ways that buying and selling at the same time might result in complications. Poor timing might mean you need to move out before you have a home to move into, or it might mean you don’t have the money for your new home if your old home hasn’t sold. Be prepared to rent a hotel room, take out a short-term loan, or move your belongings into storage if the sale doesn’t go according to plan.

Talk Out Your Problems With Loved Ones

In times of stress, it’s helpful to turn to friends and family for a helping hand. Studies have shown that having a strong social support network can mitigate the effects of stress, and even the Mayo Clinic suggests reaching out to loved ones when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for emotional support, and whenever you have an opportunity to socialize, take it – you’ll find it easier to handle stress after a fun night out with friends.

Buying and selling a home at the same time is bound to be stressful, but working with an experienced mortgage professional and having a good financial plan in place can minimize the agony. Call your trusted mortgage professional to learn how you can successfully manage your finances while buying and selling a home at the same time.

FOMC Minutes: Rate Hike May be Near

FOMC Minutes Rate Hike May be NearThe minutes for the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that while committee members won’t specify a date, a rate hike could come sooner than later. Committee members continue to cite concerns over labor markets and other economic factors, but the minutes of the FOMC meeting held July 28 and 29 indicate that a majority of members see a rate change as likely in the near term.

Economic Conditions “Approaching” Readiness for Rate Hike

According to the minutes released Wednesday, the time for raising rates is not hear yet, but a majority of FOMC members feel that the time is approaching when economic conditions will warrant an increase of the target federal funds rate which is currently set at 0.00 to 0.25 percent. When the Fed increases this rate, consumer loan rates including mortgage rates are expected to increase as well.

Achieving maximum employment is one of the Fed’s mandates; labor markets continue to improve as the national unemployment achieved its lowest reading for 2015 as of June, but labor force participation and the unemployment to population ratio have also declined. On a positive note, the number of part-time workers was lower and under-utilization of workers was lower than since the beginning of the year.

Committee members continued to have varied opinions about whether employment rates are low enough to indicate that the Fed’s mandate of “maximum” employment had been achieved.

Inflation remains below the 2.00 percent medium-term goal set by the Fed. FOMC members have consistently indicated that they don’t expect to see inflation achieve the target rate in the near term.

Housing Markets Show Improvement

The minutes noted that while construction of new homes declined in June, new starts increased over the second quarter. Sales of new homes were lower in June, but sales of existing homes increased. Building permits issued suggest the rate of construction is stable but little changed. Pending home sales were stable and suggest little change in completed home sales in the near term.

A jump in multifamily building permits were attributed to an expiring tax credit date, but housing analysts have repeatedly cited the millennial generation as preferring to live and work in large metro areas where housing can be out of reach for all but the top tier of earners. In other economic sectors, the minutes said that auto loans and student loans continued to grow.

The FOMC minutes indicate the same position of FOMC members in recent months; while the national unemployment rate is low, the Fed does not expect to see inflation at the agency’s target rate of 2.00 percent immediately. Committee members note that they will continue to monitor domestic and global financial conditions as part of the fact-finding process necessary for deciding when to the federal target funds rate,

Speculation over when the Fed will move to raise rates has persisted for several months and will no doubt continue until the Fed does decide to raise rates.

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a Profit

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a ProfitIf you’re entering the real estate investment market for the first time, you’re embarking on a great adventure – and with a solid plan, you can turn a tidy profit on your investment.

The key to a successful real estate investment is choosing the right property. A great property will reap dividends for years to come. Look for these three features in your next investment property and you’ll have no trouble finding one that turns a profit.

Location: More Important Than You Think

The location of your investment property will be critical in determining how much you earn on it and how long you’re able to keep tenants. And as the saying goes, you can change the color of the walls, you can change the type of flooring, and you can change the layout of the home, but you can’t change the location. So before you do anything else, make sure your new investment property is in a good location.

High cash flow investment properties tend to share certain location characteristics. They tend to be in neighborhoods with great schools and great amenities like pools, parks, movie theaters, and public transit. They also tend to be in an area with quiet, low-traffic, well-kept streets. Great neighborhoods have a low crime rate and don’t mix housing types.

Average Rent Price & Vacancy Rate: Look For Marketability

Aside from local amenities, you’ll also want to consider the average vacancy rate and rent price in your neighborhood. If you can’t cover your costs by charging the neighborhood’s average rent, then the home is a poor investment.

Keep an eye on vacancies in the neighborhood. If there are a high number of vacancies in the area, it could mean that the area’s rental market is seasonal or that renters are no longer interested in it. A low-vacancy area will allow you to charge more rent, and you’ll be more likely to find renters.

Floor Plan: Know The Trends And Buy Accordingly

There are a lot of things you can change if you don’t like your home, but the floor plan is a challenge to rearrange. That means in order to make your property competitive on the market, you’ll want to choose a property with a modern floor plan. Watch the trends and buy a home with a floor plan that’s in demand – you’ll have an easier time finding tenants.

Buying an investment property is a great choice for smart investors, but it’s important to make sure you are in the right position to turn a profit. An experienced mortgage professional can help keep your costs down on your mortgage so that your profits stay high. Contact your trusted mortgage professional today to learn more about what mortgages would work best for your situation.

Understanding the “Adjustable Rate Mortgage” (ARM) and How This Type of Mortgage Works

Understanding the Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)When applying for a new home loan, there are several different types of mortgage programs available to most applicants. While there are various home loan programs to choose from, the most significant difference between the various options relates to a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustment rate mortgage. Understanding what an adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, is in comparison to a fixed rate mortgage can help applicants make a more informed decision about their mortgage plans.

What is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

A fixed rate mortgage is one with an interest rate fixed for the entire term length. This means that a home loan with a 30-year term has an interest rate that will remain the same for the full 30 years, and this also means that the mortgage payments will remain the same over 30 years. On the other hand, an ARM will have an adjustable rate that will fluctuate periodically over the life of the loan, and the mortgage payment will also fluctuate as a result.

How is an ARM Beneficial?

There are several benefits associated with an ARM. For example, the initial interest rate and related mortgage payment are typically lower than with a fixed rate mortgage. In addition, if rates decrease over the life of the loan, the mortgage payment will lower as a result without the need to refinance to take advantage of the lower rate.

Before Applying for an ARM

Before applying for an adjustable rate mortgage, there are a few points that the applicant should keep in mind. Just as the interest rate may go down over the life of the loan, the rate and the mortgage payment may increase. The loan applicant should ensure that the upper limit for the interest rate and mortgage payment will be affordable for their personal budget before applying for this type of loan.

Each loan program available to a mortgage applicant has its pros and cons, and this holds true for an adjustable rate mortgage as well. Understanding how each loan program works and what the benefits and drawbacks for each are can help an applicant make an informed decision when applying for a mortgage. Those who are interested in applying for a new mortgage for a purchase or a refinance in the coming days or weeks may reach out to a mortgage broker to inquire about the different loan programs available.

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