Housing Market Index Beats Estimates for July

The National Association of Home Builders report released yesterday shows that the Housing Market Index has come in at 60 for July. That’s tied with the highest it’s been since it hit 61 in November, 2005, and ahead of projection of 59 from economists. That, combined with a decrease in claims for State unemployment benefits for the first time in 3 weeks. Combined, these factors seem to indicate that the economy is strong enough to support an interest rate hike this year. The strength of the dollar is a contributing factor as well.

The Science of Lawn Care

I bet you didn’t know there was one, did you? Sure, we all know about agricultural colleges, but who really thinks scientifically about their lawn? Thankfully, the University of Illinois has done that thinking for you. These three simple tips will help get you through the summer heat, including details on proper lawn-mower height (be honest, you’ve never adjusted your lawn mower, have you?), watering amount and frequency, and when to do the rest of your maintenance, like fertilizing, weed killing, and thatch control.

Home Lifehacks Designed to Make Your Summer More Fun

Sure. You’re an adult. You’re busy. OK. Fine. But believe it or not, we’re already almost a month into summer. If you haven’t started having fun yet, it’s time to get on the ball. To help you along, here’s something a little different for today: 33 DIY Ways To Have The Best Summer Ever. These home hacks are a great way to ensure that you’re having as much fun this summer as possible. And they’re from Buzzfeed, so you’re know they’re worth it. Male, female, young, old — it doesn’t matter. There’s something in here for everyone.

Housing Bubble?

Speculation is a fool’s game — and so let’s turn to the Motley Fool for some exciting debate! Housing prices have been in recovery for a while, and as this blog pointed out recently, are now officially higher than the previous high of 8 years ago. But just because we’ve reached a new high, doesn’t mean we’re in a bubble (nor does it mean that we aren’t). Three experts from the Motley Fool take both sides of the question. Of course, as always, predictions of the future should be treated just as seriously as everyone took Cassandra’s. Still, it’s fun to think about these questions.

When To, And When Not To

It seems like a no-brainer. “Why pay $20,000 in interest to get $6,600 back from the IRS?” Paying off your mortgage early, either in a lump sum, or through regular, extra payments can be a smart choice for many people. However, it’s not always the case. You need to consider how long you’ll be in the house, how close you are to retirement, and whether or not a hedge against inflation makes sense for you. CNBC just released a special report that looks at when it might make sense, and when it might not, including commentary from several CFPs.

A Millennial on Millennial Home Buying

This blog has covered the status of home-buying by the Millennial generation several times now; but, all those times have been based on articles written in financial publications, and have largely been positive. If the title doesn’t give it away (Millennials can’t afford to buy houses, even though the U.S. really needs them to), this article by Professor of Law at UT Austin, Mechele Dickerson, has a slightly different take on things. OK. Maybe more than slightly. And she has lots of statistics from the MacArthur Foundation’s 2015 “How Housing Matters” to back it up.

Understanding WHY Greece and China Are Affecting U.S. Mortgage Rates?

Just last week mortgage rates were at a high for the year, but there’s been lots of news this week out of China, Greece, and even the halting of trading on the NYSE, which have caused rates to drop. What most of the articles fail to cover is the actual reason that those things have an impact. The good news is, while most of us don’t think in these terms, it’s actually not that complicated. When global investors get nervous, they flee to bonds. In particular, U.S. bonds. Because of increased competition, investor have to settle for lower yields. And since they’re getting lower yields from bonds, mortgage rates have to drop to remain competitive. And there you have it. Time to lock in! (Until the next completely unpredictable change).

Greece Is Still Impacting You!

Lest you thought last week’s blog about the futility of timing markets in the face of continued globalization was a one-off, rest assured, it wasn’t. With the Greek “no” vote last week, and on-going efforts to maintain Greece as part of the Euro Zone being announced every day, there’s every reason to believe that news from Europe will be affecting you for a while — and in a good way! The Washington Post covers three ways the Greek situation is (and may continue) to positively impact you, including with on-going low mortgage rates!

Fannie and Freddie CEOs Get Raises to $4 million

Did you get a raise this year? If so, was it to $4 million? OK, perhaps that’s not really a reasonable question, as perhaps you’re not the CEO of a major corporation. Still, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac CEOs just got raises to approximately $4 million per year each. Previously (since 2012), their pay had been capped at $600,000 per year as the companies came out of conservatorship. Now that the market has recovered, and the two companies are once again quite profitable, the restrictions have been lifted. For what it’s worth, the compensation is approximately what the previous CEOs were making in 2011, so it’s kind of like not getting a raise in 4 years.

Fun with Home Prices (Or, What’s A President’s House Worth?)

Let’s be honest, there aren’t too many “fun” stories that come out about homes or the housing market, but, heading into the holiday weekend, Money magazine came out with a great one! They grabbed some information on 8 former presidential residences, from Washington’s Mount Vernon to the Eisenhower home (just like Dwight, not to have a name for his), and then grabbed some comps on similarly sized homes in today’s market. Some of them are unsurprising (we know Monticello wouldn’t be cheap), but some of them are surprisingly modestly priced (hypothetically speaking).