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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 16, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included minutes of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September along with releases on inflation and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

FOMC Meeting Minutes Indicate December Rate Hike is No Sure Thing

According to minutes for the September 19 and 20 meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed has adopted a wait-and-see posture concerning a possible rate hike at December’s meeting. Although analysts previously indicated that additional rate hikes were expected by the end of 2017, the Fed chose not to raise the federal funds rate in September.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Impact Industrial Production

Hurricane damage was expected to slow industrial production in the short term. The impact of hurricane damage in Texas and Fl0rdia are expected to be short term, but the full impact of the two hurricanes had not been fully assessed at the time of the FOMC meeting.

Labor and real GDP readings rose, but the year-over-year reading for inflation was lower than the two percent inflation rate set by the Fed as a positive economic indicator. The Fed’s dual mandate also includes achieving maximum employment as measured by the national unemployment rate. The Fed originally set a goal of 6.50 percent unemployment in the immediate aftermath of the recession, but the national unemployment rate has exceeded expectations and currently hovers near 4.30 percent. Strong labor markets help propel renters into housing markets as they have more confidence in maintaining long-term employment.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose last week. Freddie Mac reported an average rate of 3.91 percent, which was six basis points higher than for the previous week. Rates for a fifteen-year fixed rate mortgage also rose by six basis points to 3.21 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dipped two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rates and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

New jobless claims fell to 243,000 as compared to expectations of 258,000 claims and the prior week’s reading of 260,000 first-time jobless claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims will also be released.

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Thinking of Selling? You Should Do It TODAY!!

Thinking of Selling? You Should Do It TODAY!! | Simplifying The Market

That headline might be a little aggressive; however, as August 2017’s housing market data begins to roll in, we can definitely say one thing: If you are considering selling, IT IS TIME TO LIST YOUR HOME TODAY!

In a recent article by CBS News, they explained that the number of existing home sales is shrinking, and Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, said:

“There should be 3 million homes on the market right now…Yet, there are only 1.9 million.”

And this situation will be affected greatly by recent natural disasters. Yun continued by saying:

“Before the hurricanes I would have predicted 1.35 million in new-home construction in 2018…I’ll have to scale that down now.”

NAR, in their August 2017 Realtors® Confidence Index, indicated that:

“Amid sustained job creation and sustained historically low mortgage rates, REALTORS® reported…that buyer demand is stronger compared to conditions one year ago… and that fifty percent of properties were on the market for less than one month when sold.”

The only challenge to today’s market is a severe lack of inventory. A balanced market would have a full six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, there is only a 4.2-month supply of inventory, which is down from 4.5 months one year ago.

Bottom Line

With demand increasing and supply dropping, this may be the perfect time to get the best price for your home. Let’s get together and discuss the inventory levels in your neighborhood to determine your next steps.

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Caffeine Spike: Foot Traffic To Coffee Shops Rises Almost 2 Percent

Visits to U.S. coffee shops this year grew 1.7 percent year-over-year, location intelligence company Foursquare has found, noting that despite the ubiquity of Starbucks, it was the smaller independents that are behind the gains.

Independent coffee shops saw traffic rise 5 percent year-over-year, compared to larger coffee chains, which saw a little less than 1 percent growth during the same period.

Naturally, when it comes to loyalty, having multiple locations is clear benefit. Foursquare looked at a number of factors related to chain loyalty, such as how often and regular a coffee shop was visited as well as its share of traffic within the cafe category.

As Foursquare put it, “chains with strong food and coffee pairings inspire the most consumer loyalty.”

The top 5 coffee chains that Americans are most loyal to:

  1. Starbucks
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts
  3. Tim Horton’s
  4. Scooter’s Coffee & Yogurt
  5. Dutch Bros Coffee
QSRs vs Coffee Shops … Source: Foursquare

While loyalty is key, when it comes to actual feet walking through the door,  Philz Coffee, a San Francisco based, third-wave coffee chain, is the winner in terms of growth, something that is indicative of a larger preference for smaller brands by caffeine addicts.

According to Foursquare, Philz, which has locations in Washington, DC and Los Angeles in addition to its SF hometown, saw visits rise 11 percent since May 2016.

For the most part, it appears that the increased amount of independent coffee shops popping up around the country while larger chains have tried to be smarter about their locations amid greater competition from quick serve restaurants like McDonald’s seeking to expand its breakfast offerings in order to generate more visits throughout the day.

At the same time, Starbucks shuttered all of its 379 Teavana outlets this summer, even as U.S. sales rose 5 percent at established locations.

Coffee Shops’ Prime Times

As for when is the “prime time” for coffee shops, while a 2015  “coffee report” by Square among its retail clients found that 8:30am during the week saw the most customer activity, Foursquare, which based its analysis on foot traffic patterns and lifestyle preferences of visitors to coffee chains from its apps, Foursquare City Guide, and Foursquare Swarm, found two particular times for drawing the coffee crowd.

With regard to highest traffic spikes for coffee, a Foursquare rep said that that Saturday at 10am is the most popular moment to get coffee, as that time 15 percent busier than the rest of the week. With regard to weekdays, coffee shop foot traffic initially spikes between 8-9am, and then again around noon.

As for the most popular month: yep, thanks to Starbuck’s cult of Pumpkin Spice, October is the busiest month for coffee shops, followed by the chill of December, while promotions for National Coffee Month in August makes that the third highest in terms of foot traffic, Foursquare said.

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4 Reasons to Sell This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC]

4 Reasons to Sell This Fall [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale! Buyers are often competing with one another for the listings that are available!
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market.
  • Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

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Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Decor Ideas

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Décor IdeasThe kids are heading back to school, the leaves are starting to turn and the weather is getting cooler. Yes, autumn has arrived, but the end of summer does not mean that your home décor has to suffer. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can brighten up your home and give it that warm, autumn feeling.

Start With Oranges, Yellows And Light Browns

A quick walk through your local neighborhood will offer a good sense of the color palette that you should be using in your décor makeover. In much of the country, trees will be turning a variety of yellows, oranges, and golds as the leaves change and begin to fall. These colors make for a warm palette and are ideal for use in the living room, dining room and other areas where you might host guests.

Of course, you do not need to run out and change the wallpaper. Simply look to add color touches in areas that it makes sense. For example, you can get a couple of new sets of towels for the bathroom that match up with the colors you picked. In the dining room, look to replace your tablecloth and placemats with an autumn theme.

Add Leaves And Natural Décor Items

Autumn is one of the more “natural” feeling seasons and this should be incorporated into your décor. Look to add leaves, acorns, pine cones and other natural elements that make sense for the area of the country that you live in.

Note that you don’t need to head out and gather up these items for your home. A quick trip to the local craft shop and you will be able to find everything that you need.

Pumpkin Spice Candles For An Autumn Scent

Finally, no décor makeover is complete without adding a little seasonal fragrance. Nothing smells more like autumn than a subtle pumpkin spice. Scented candles are an excellent way to add a scent to a room without being overpowering. They are also an excellent centerpiece for tables and can be used for mood lighting as well.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can add a sense of autumn warmth to your home. And if your home just isn’t “autumn” enough, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We are happy to share some fantastic opportunities.

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Want to Learn Digital Marketing? 25 Blogs You Need to Follow [Infographic]

Are you just getting started with your digital marketing efforts? Want to learn the correct techniques from the world’s most reputable sources?

WordStream share 25 digital marketing blogs you need to read in the infographic below.

I follow these and tons more sites as they are great sources of infographics and infographic content for the Red Website Design Blog.

You’ll see Social Media Today on the list, you’ll find a fair few of my own posts over there, you can take a look at those here.

Hope the infographic helps.

 

The post Want to Learn Digital Marketing? 25 Blogs You Need to Follow [Infographic] appeared first on Red Website Design Blog.

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Target Adds Google Voice Assistant Shopping Nationwide

Target is the latest brick-and-mortar brand to sign on to accept requests made by owners of the Google Home through their voice-activated Google Assistant (aka “Okay, Google”) for delivery or pickup via its local online shopping marketplace Google Express.

In essence, the arrangement represents an expansion of Target’s existing use of Google Express.

Starting today, Target shoppers at most of its 1,800 stores in the United States can access items through Google Express and with the Google Assistant (except for Alaska and Hawaii). Target will offer two-day delivery, as well as free shipping for any orders over $35, Google says in a blog post.

Coming In 2018

Most of the capabilities of shopping through Google Express won’t be available until 2018. For example, after the new year, Target customers will also be able to use their Target loyalty membership through REDcard to get 5 percent off most Target purchases and free shipping when using Google Express. In addition, in 2018, Target shoppers will be able to link their Target.com and Google accounts, so the service will remember all their favorite items.

“We’re teaming up with Google to create innovative digital experiences using voice and other cutting-edge technologies to elevate Target’s strength in style areas such as home, apparel and beauty,” Target says. “Work is underway for Google and Target teams to bring this all to life.”

In August, Walmart unveiled plans to rollout a similar voice-activated shopping via Google Express and Google Home tools for its 4,700 U.S. stores and its fulfillment network “to create customer experiences that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else,” including choosing to pick up an order in store (often for a discount) or using voice shopping to purchase fresh groceries across the country.

These partnership on voice-activation comes roughly a year after Google Home debuted as a Connected Home product to augment Google Assistant.

“Shopping isn’t always as easy as it should be,” Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP for Ads and Commerce, said in a blog post at the time of the Walmart deal’s announcement “When was the last time you needed to pick up something from the store but didn’t have the time to make the trip? Or you went to the store only to realize they didn’t have the brand you wanted? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get what you want, however you want, from the stores where you already shop? We launched Google Express and shopping on the Google Assistant to do just that: make it faster and easier for you to shop your stores like Costco, Target and  Walmart.”

Okay, Google, Target shoppers are ready to talk.

Target’s Many Omnichannel Steps

For Target, the expanded Google partnership follows a series of steps designed to tackle one of the primary challenges facing its omnichannel strategy by rivals like Amazon. In August, for example, Target acquired transportation tech company Grand Junction to promise same-day delivery to customers to match one of key appeals of Amazon’s discount shopping subscription program, Prime.

It’s the latest salvo store brand has taken to meet consumers’ demands in the age of Amazon and e-commerce. Those demands include personalized recommendation and satisfying customers’ purchasing preferences, such as online shopping/in-store pickup.

But as Amazon has expanded its discounts and two-day shipping with its Prime membership option, and has just heralded its Instant Pickup option, retailers have turned to one advantage they still possess — at least for the moment — in relation to Amazon: proximity to their customers and known inventory, which makes it possible to offer the ultimate convenience of letting someone click “buy” and then having it brought to them within a few hours.

The Rise Of Connected Intelligence, The Knowledge Graph

In general, the adoption of voice-activation and on-demand delivery/pickup follows the wider capabilities stemming from the rise of Connected Intelligence and the Knowledge Graph, which have propelled personalized, one-to-one connections between brands and digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s Bixby as they enter the mainstream of consumer behavior.

While Amazon’s Alexa has assumed an early position as a leading voice-activated assistant, Google has stepped up its push into the space as its aligns its services to brick-and-mortar brands such as Panera Bread, which became one of the first national restaurant chains to begin offering voice-activated ordering and payment through Google Assistant.

The voice-activated ordering is currently available in Panera’s hometown of St. Louis and at its six locations in the Silicon Valley area. A full rollout of voice ordering is expected to come to all of Panera’s 2,000-plus U.S. locations by the end of the year, the company has said.

Other national brands that have formally aligned with Google’s voice-activated virtual assistant to accept spoken orders via the delivery marketplace Google Express, including Costco, Guitar Center, Kohl’s, L’Occitane, Payless, PetSmart, Road Runner Sports, Sur La Table, Ulta, Walgreens, and Amazon’s Whole Foods.

In the case of Target, the retailer has been aggressively — and at times, fitfully — revising its omnichannel strategy. For example, earlier this year, it decided to abandon its sub rosa e-commerce program called Goldfish, which was dubbed as the “store of the future.”

Before that, in August 2015, Target started a beacon program with Estimote to round out its in-store sales assistance. It’s unclear how vital the beacon program has been — or even whether Target has continued to use it —  since the company has not discussed those efforts publicly. Along the way, Target’s experiments with interactivity has included retail pop-ups and a showcase IoT-based connected home store in San Francisco.

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Net Worth of Homeowners 44X Greater than Renters

Net Worth of Homeowners 44X Greater than Renters | Simplifying The Market

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey data, covering 2013-2016 was released two weeks ago.

The study revealed that the 2016 median net worth of homeowners was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth

As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home.

That is why, for the fourth year in a row, Gallup reported that Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment. This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26% and then gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

Greater equity in your home gives you options

If you want to find out how you can use the increased equity in your home to move to a home that better fits your current lifestyle, let’s get together to discuss the process.

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Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious One

Go Big or Go Home: 3 Reasons Why Your First Home Should Be a Spacious OneBuying a home for the first time? One of the key considerations you’ll need to make is just how much ‘house’ you want to buy. While going minimal might seem like a good idea to save on costs, having a smaller living space can end up cramping your lifestyle in many ways. Let’s take a look at three great reasons why your first home should be roomy, spacious and luxurious.

You Might End Up With More Family Than You Think

Have you considered whether or not you want to have a family? Whether you’re a single young professional or part of a newlywed couple, there’s always a chance you’ll end up with more kids than you think. If you’re buying a home for the long haul, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough bedrooms to contain a growing family. It’s much easier to make other use of a spare room than to invent an extra bedroom if you end up with one or two more children than you had planned. Even if you don’t have kids, you may end up welcoming other family members into your home for extended periods.

Small Spaces Limit You In Just About Every Way

As you might imagine, small living spaces will limit your options. Whether you want to build out a new media room or just want more luxurious furniture, much of the time living small means living without. Buying a larger home from the start will give you all of the space needed to build your dream home. And over time, you’re far more likely to enjoy living in a home that you can tweak and customize to suit your changing tastes.

You Can Always Monetize The Extra Space

Don’t forget that extra space can always be put to good use. If you have a finished basement, you can possibly rent the suite out to a tenant. Or, you can host guests in your extra bedrooms using apps like Airbnb. If you’re more of an entrepreneurial type, you can start a small business out of one of the spare rooms.

These are just a few of the many reasons why buying a larger home is an excellent idea. For more information about purchasing a luxurious home, contact your trusted mortgage professionals today.

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Over 60 Million People In The U.S. Will Use Voice-Enabled Assistants On A Monthly Basis This Year

Approximately 60.5 million of U.S. consumers will use voice-enabled assistants monthly or more often this year, according to an eMarketer forecast — and the heaviest usage occurs on voice-enabled speakers powered by these intelligent assistants, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.

The fact that 65 percent of smart speaker owners use their smart speaker’s assistant daily or multiple times weekly isn’t surprising — and marketers are beginning to understand the importance of ensuring that their brand is represented when users ask their assistants to carry out tasks from “order dish soap on Amazon” to “call me a car.”

But more “novel” uses for the technology has yet to catch up to adoption as a whole, according to eMarketer’s research: Most of the skills and apps for smart speakers downloaded by consumers are not used again after two weeks.

Do Skills Work At All?

This isn’t to say that brands should explore the idea of creating skills for these devices: For example, to promote its year-old Patrón Cocktail Lab, Patron enabled its “Patrón skill” in the Alexa app on Amazon Alexa voice-enabled devices, allowing users can ask for cocktail recommendations, recipes and tips — everything from the perfect brunch recipe to the proper way to shake and strain a cocktail.

The liquor marketer launched the effort concurrently with turning to Foursquare for targeted ads — and while execs wouldn’t reveal sales figures, VP of marketing Adrian Parker said that Patrón’s business saw “double-digit growth.”

Additionally, even if such a skill isn’t widely used after two weeks, it can still generates value for the brand loyalists who stick with it — as well as showing that the brand has a presence on a platform that consumers are relying on to power more and more aspects of their daily lives.

That said, given current usage trends, marketers may do well to first focus their energy instead on improving their listings and data such that they show up in the knowledge graph. As consumers make more searches by voice expecting these kind of structured answers, the importance is only growing — and brands who prepare now will be ready for the next phase of connected intelligence.

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