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 Fed leaves low rates alone and sees no moves in near future

Associate Press

Chairman Jerome Powell made clear Wednesday that the Federal Reserve is prepared to keep its benchmark interest rate very low through at least next year — and possibly longer.

Fueling that expectation is the growing belief of Fed officials that inflation will remain tame even as the economy keeps growing modestly and the job market remains solid. The lowest unemployment rate in a half-century — 3.5% — won’t necessarily fan high inflation as it might have in the past, Powell suggested at a news conference.


US home prices rose 2.1% from a year ago, affortable housing stock shrinks

Associated Press
November 26, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) -  US home prices increased modestly in September from a year ago, as roughly seven years of rising home values have hurt affordabilty.For many buyers, the fall housing market provides several challenges and opportunities,” said George Ratiu, senior economist at “While lower financing costs and a rising number of new homes are welcome signs in a market parched for inventory, prices are still climbing and the number of existing houses in the affordable price range is down by double-digits.” 



Fed cuts rates

September 18,2019

The Federal Reserve decided to cut the interest rates today by 25 basis points.

"We took this step to keep the enconomy strong" said Mr. Powell in a news conference after his decision.

He also indicated rates could be cut further if the economy weakened further, even though he said officials still have a positive outlook for the US economy.



Mortgage Rates Slightly Higher; More Volatility on The Horizon

Mortgage News Daily
By; Mathew Graham
June 21, 2019

Mortgage rates have had an impressive run--the best since 2011, in fact, when it comes to total peak to trough movement.  That winning streak might not even be over, but every time rates bounce recently--even if only slightly--it's cause for concern.  For one of a few potential reasons, these big moves in rates only last so long.  This one is big enough and long enough that it makes sense to keep an eye out for the big shift. 


Fed leaves key rate unchanged

May 2, 2019
By Martin Crustsinger
Associated Press

Central bank signals no hikes or cuts in the coming months.



Home values are soaring

March 31,2019
By Kyle Arnold
Orlando Sentinel


Cassandra Davis’ search for a home in Orange County's Pine Hills community was tougher than anticipated.

With a budget of $155,000, surely she could find a home in one of Central Florida’s more affordable neighborhoods. But when she looked, there were few available and those that were for sale went fast.  
Home values are soaring in traditionally low-income neighborhoods such as Pine Hills, Parramore and Richmond Heights. The ZIP codes where those neighborhoods are located have led the region in home price appreciation for the past five years, according to sales numbers from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.


Rents increase to $1,060 for one-bedroom pad

February 6, 2019
By Kyle Arnold, Orlando Sentinel

Apartment rents are rising faster in Orlando than the national average and a one-bedroom pad in the City Beautiful now costs $1,060 a month, according to the February report from ApartmentList’s Rentonomics.

Rents on apartments are up 3.1 percent year over year in Orlando, with costs rising in every major city in the area, as well, the report said.
The prices for apartments in some suburbs are rising even faster as population growth continues to make it tough on renters in Central Florida.

Rental rates in Lake Mary lead the area, with a one-bedroom costing an average of $1,350 a month and two-bedroom apartments averaging $1,610. That’s a 1.7-percent increase for a one-bedroom from last year.

 In the region, rents have grown fastest in Maitland, with rates jumping 6.8 percent after a handful of new apartment buildings opened over the past year.

The median two-bedroom apartment in Orlando hit $1,270, which is about $100 higher than the national average.

The cheapest cities are Sanford and Apopka, where one-bedroom apartments are $960 a month.

The trend has been seen elsewhere in Florida, as well, with average increases across the state at 1.5 percent. The increase was at 2.4 percent in Jacksonville and 1 percent in Miami.

But that doesn’t match price increases seen in Orlando.

The population in the Orlando metropolitan area soared past 2.7 million in 2017 as the area’s unemployment rate was the lowest in a decade.

That was an increase of nearly 500,000 people since 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.



Mortgage rates top 5%, hitting a 7-year high
Mortgage rates climbing thanks to healthy economy

By Paul R. LaMonica, CNN Business

October 11, 2018

If you're looking to buy a home, be prepared to pay a heftier mortgage than friends who purchased houses in the past few years.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said this week that the average 30-year fixed home loan rate hit 5.05 percent -- the highest since February 2011. And federal mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage are now at 4.9 percent, also a more than seven-year high.

Mortgage rates are climbing thanks to a healthy economy. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in nearly half a century and wages are rising. Consumers are spending and businesses are investing.

That's led the Federal Reserve to nudge up short-term interest rates, and longer-term bond yields that help influence mortgage rates have climbed in the process.

But now that mortgages have breached the 5 percent level, will that scare away prospective buyers?

To be sure, rates are still relatively low. The average 30-year mortgage rate was hovering around 6.5% in 2007 -- before the epic housing market collapse that helped lead to the Great Recession.


Fed raises rate for 3rd time this year

Central bank hints at another interest increase on horizon
26 September, 2018


U.S. economy on solid ground, report signal

By Shobhana Chandra
and Sarah Foster
Bloomberg News

September 21,2018

The U.S. economy is doing just fine, thank you.

A string of reports Thursday showed the labor market is getting stronger, consumers are expanding, adding to signs that gross domestic product remains on track for a solid performance in the third quarter.

Filings for unemployment benefits fell for a third straight week to a new 48 year low, as businesses hold on to existing staff amid a shortage of skilled workers, according to Labor Department figures. That's a good sign for the September payroll reports: The claims data, covering the week containing the 12th of the month, coincide with the Labor Department's survey for the monthly figures.


Orlando is a place that is growing and changing in all the best ways! Let me share with you some of coolest facts about our City Beautiful: 

* 3rd most competitive U.S. location for business (KPMG, 2014 

* 2nd fastest growing major metro in the U.S. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013

 * Top 10 “American city of the future” (Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) Magazine, 2015

* #5 leading metro in job creation (Gallup, 2015)

* Friendliest Florida city for small business (Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation & Thumbtack, 2014)

* 4th happiest place to work in the nation (Forbes, 2014)

* More than 500,000 students within a 100 mile radius

* Top 10 state for talent pipeline (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Enterprising States, 2014)

* Home to 35 post-secondary institutions including:

         -University of Central Florida | 2nd largest university in the U.S. | Ranked by IEEE among the top universities in the world for the number of patents awarded;
          -Full Sail University | Recipient of Apple’s “Innovators in Education” Award
         -Rollins College | #1 MBA program in the state (Forbes, 2014);
         -Seminole State College of Florida | #1 college system in Florida – RN Graduate Licensures;
         -Valencia College | #1 community college in the nation (Aspen Institute); and
          -Lake-Sumter State College | voted national learning center of the year (National College Learning Center Association, 2012).

* Top 10 large city in the U.S. for infrastructure (Foreign Direct Investment (fDi) Magazine, 2015)

* Orlando International Airport: 5th best airport in America (Travel + Leisure, 2014)

* SunRail and Interstate 4 Improvements – largest public works project in Florida’s history

* Home to the 7th largest research park in the U.S. by number of employees (Central Florida Research Park)

* Home to the world’s leading software developer – Electronic Arts Tiburon (EA Games) and other powerhouse companies including Oracle and Golf Channel




Mortgage rates pause ahead of expected increases

The Washington Post
By Kathy Orton

May 10, 2018

Fixed mortgage rates barely budged this week, but they appear poised to head higher.According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average held steady at 4.55 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was the same as it was a week ago and up from a year ago when it was 4.05 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate average slipped to 4.01 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 4.03 percent a week ago and 3.29 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average climbed to 3.77 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.69 percent a week ago and 3.14 percent a year ago.


 Home prices post 6.2 percent increase

Associated Press

 Washington - U.S. home prices rose sharply in November, lifted by a shortage of homes on the market.  Standard & Poor's said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index increased 6.2 percent in November from a year earlier after climbing 6.1 percent in October.

The national housing index has registered annual gains of 5 percent or more for 16 months.


 Realtors express concern on affortable housing here

By Mary Shanklin
Orlando Sentinel

January 17,2018

Orlando's house-hunt competition was further apparent in a recent Zillow report showing 17 percent of Metro Orlando houses selling for more than the asking price during 2017

A shortage of Orlando houses on the market — particularly in affordable price ranges — is a concern for the region’s leading industry group.

The core Orlando housing market, which includes mostly Orange and Seminole counties, had the lowest year-end supply of listings in more than 10 years. Home prices grew 10.7 percent during the last year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

 “We also expect low inventory to continue to exert its influence on the market in 2018, especially in the highly desired low-priced categories,” said Lou Nimkoff, president of the association. “In fact, the lack of affordable housing in Orlando is a concern that Realtors anticipate will be at the forefront of community discussion in 2018.”

Orlando’s house-hunt competition was further apparent in a recent Zillow report showing 17 percent of Metro Orlando houses selling for more than the asking price during 2017. The amount buyers paid over asking price was a midpoint of 2.6 percent, or about $5,000. The bidding-war competition isn’t new for the region. Five years ago, more than 22 percent of Orlando houses sold for more than the asking price, according to Zillow.

The Orlando Regional Realtor Association reported the Orlando market closed out the year with a median price of $230,000, which was up from $224,995 in November; members of the association closed on 3,006 sales for December. January could shape up to see a slower pace of sales because the market had fewer pending sales, 3,792 in December, fewer than at any year-end since 2008.

Other than prices rising and supply tightening from 3 months in November to 2.5 months in December, Orlando-area buyers who purchased last month faced similar forces as those who bought a house a month earlier in November. Negotiating power remained largely unchanged, with sales prices about 97 percent of the most recent listed price and the average days on market sitting at 62 days. Interest rates remained flat at 3.97 percent in December.

Within the four-county Metro Orlando area, Lake and Osceola counties, with their residential construction booms, saw the largest price increases. During 2017, prices rose 7.9 percent in Osceola, 7.2 percent in Lake; 3.8 percent in Seminole; and 2.8 percent in Orange.


Home construction rises in November

Associated Press

Washington - Construction of new homes increased 3.3 percent in November- with the gain largely coming from single-family houses being built at the strongest pace in more than a decade.  The Commerce Department said builders broke ground on homes last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3 million units. The increase marks a key moment in the recovery from the Great Recession: Builders started work on single-family houses at the fastest pace since September 2007, which was just a few months before the start of that economic downturn.


New FHA and Conventional loan limits for 2018

FHA announced the new mortgage loan limit for case numbers assigned on or after January 1, 2018.  The new limit for all counties in Central Florida will be $294,515.  

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)  announced the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2018.  The 2018 maximum conforming loan limit for one-unit properties will be $453,100, an increase from $424,100 in 2017. 



Orlando home sales rebound after Irma

By Mary Shanklin - Orlando Sentinel
November 15, 2017

Orlando-area home sales that stalled immediately following Hurricane Irma appeared to have finally closed in October, a new report shows.

The housing market for an area of mostly Orange and Seminole counties took a hit after the hurricane’s Sept. 11 strike, with sales down 20 percent from a year earlier as houses suffered damage from winds, trees and flooding. But sales largely came back with a 7 percent increase from a year earlier, according to Orlando Regional Realtors Association.


No. 1 destination to move to? Florida

Wayne T. Price, Florida Today
Oct. 31, 2017

When it comes to places to move to and live, Florida is in and Vermont is out.

And Texas is popular with, well, Texans.

That's according to a just-released study by the mortgage company Lending Tree that reviewed purchase mortgage loan requests for primary residents in all 50 states in the last year — from October 2016 to October 2017.

The key takeaways:

  • Florida was the No. 1 destination to move to for 18 of the 50 states. Of all purchase mortgage requests during the study’s time period, 9.14 percent were for consumers looking to move to Florida. The Sunshine State, the Lending Tree study showed, has a history of bringing in visitors and new residents, particularly retirees.
  • Texas had the highest percentage of residents looking to move within the state versus outside of the state. 92.54 percent of purchase mortgage requests from individuals in Texas were for properties within the state. The second location with the highest percentage of residents looking to move within the state was Michigan.
  • Vermont has the most residents looking to move away. In contrast to Texas, Vermont had the lowest percentage of residents looking to stay in state.

    The following is a top list of states — and the percentage of people looking to leave — where Florida is the top destination:

    Vermont — 24 percent

    New York  — 20 percent

    Connecticut — 19 percent

    Maryland — 19 percent

    New Jersey — 18 percent

    Illinois — 15 percent

    Pennsylvania — 13.5 percent

    Maine — 13 percent

    Iowa — 12 percent

    Wisconsin  — 11.5 percent

    Kentucky — 11 percent

    Alabama  — 10 percent

    Tennessee — 11 percent

    Indiana  — 10.1 percent

    Georgia — 9 7 percent

    Ohio — 9.7 percent  

    Minnesota — 9 percent

    Texas — 7.5 percent


Two major lending changes mean it's suddenly easier to get a mortgage

Diana Olick/ CNBC

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


  • The nation's three major credit rating agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, will drop tax liens and civil judgments from some consumers' profiles if the information isn't complete.
  • Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are allowing borrowers to have higher levels of debt and still qualify for a home loan.
  • These changes come at a time when lenders are competing for a shrinking market of borrowers


Home prices rise on lower rates, Increased demand

National Mortgage News
By Brad Finkelstein

June 06,2017

Home prices were up 6.9% in April over the prior year, as lower mortgage rates during the month stimulated consumer demand to purchase a property, according to CoreLogic.

"Mortgage rates in April dipped back to their lowest level since November of last year, spurring home-buying activity," said CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft in a press release. "In some metro areas, there has been a bidding frenzy as multiple contracts are placed on a single home. This has led home-price growth to outpace rent gains."


Orlando home prices, rents on the rise 

By Mary Shanklin
April 24, 2017

Housing costs — both rents and home prices — in the Metro Orlando area rose faster than in most metropolitan areas within the state and the nation in March from a year earlier, two new reports show.

The midpoint price for a house that sold last month in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties was $238,000, and that was up 10.7 percent from a year earlier, according to a new report by Florida Realtors. Prices in 20 metropolitan areas in the state rose similarly but slightly less, 10.4 percent.

“Higher demand, coupled with a shortage of available homes for sale, continues to put pressure on prices — so buyers are eager to make an offer when they find the right property,” stated Maria Wells, president of Florida Realtors. Sellers, she said, “continue to receive a higher sales price as inventory remains scarce.”

Near Metro Orlando, Volusia County’s March home sales prices rose 12 percent and Brevard County’s rose 10.9 percent from a year earlier. Polk County, meanwhile, increased 6 percent. The state’s lowest price growth was in Gainesville and the rest of Alachua County, where prices rose 1.7 percent from March 2016 to a median of $183,000.

Orlando-area renters experienced higher lease-rate increases in March compared with renters nationally, according to a new report by Zillow. In March, Orlando rents were up 3.2 percent from a year earlier and reached a midpoint of $1,400, according to Zillow. Across the country, rents increased an average of 0.7 percent during that time, reaching a median of $1,408, the real estate marketing company reported.

Orlando’s trend of rising rental costs contrasted with South Florida, where rents declined 0.6 percent to a median of $1,849 during the year-long period that ended in March.

Central Florida’s rent growth slowed from a year earlier, when it climbed 4.4 percent during a 12-month timeframe.

“The slowdown in rental appreciating is mainly due to new construction finally meeting demand, and even outpacing demand in some areas,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.

Rents, he added, “are the highest they’ve ever been, weighing heavily on renters’ budgets and making it extremely difficult for those renters hoping to become homeowners to save enough money for a down payment.”



Fed leaves key rate unchanged, now

Orlando Sentinel
2 February 2017

By Martin Crutsinger

The Federal Reserve has left its key interest rate unchanged at a time of solid economic gains but also heightened uncertainty surrounding the new Trump administration.

At the same time, the Fed pointed to improved sentiment among consumers and businesses. And it said it had become more confident that inflation will reach its 2 percent target. But the Fed offered no hints about when it will resume raising rates.  

 In a statement it issued Wednesday after its latest policy meeting, the Fed said it wants more time to monitor the economy and still envisions a gradual pace of rate increases.

The statement offered a slightly more upbeat tone than it did after the Fed's previous meeting in December, reflecting rising confidence in the economy and signs that chronically low inflation is moving higher.


Orlando home prices and sales rise - along with interest rates

By Mary Shanklin

January 25, 2017

Orlando-area home prices and sales were not the only thinks that increased from November to December.  Mortgage interest rates rose too.

The midpoint price for a house purchased in an area of mostly Orange and Seminole counties during December was $207,900, which was up from $201,000 a month earlier and $185,000 a year earlier, according to Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

Higher prices didn't dissuade year-end buyers. With 2,948 sales during December, members of the association sold 425 more houses thatn they did a month earlier and 309 more than a year earlier.

"Reduced inventory resulted in a year of fewer options for buyers and dampened sales, plus contributed to consistently rising prices," said Bruce Elliot, president of the association and advisor for Regal R.E.Professionals LLC.

As rates on a 30-year mortgage increased from 3.82 percent to 4.32 percent during a one-month period, more buyers jumped into a market that was already somewhat depleted with listings. ________________________

Mortgage rates kick off new year with a drop

January 5, 2017

CNN Money

by Kathryn Vasel

Amid the prospect of a more vibrant economy and more rapidly-rising prices, lenders are raising borrowing costs. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.13% for the week ending Thursday, up from 4.08% in the previous week, according to Freddie Mac.

 Here's some good news to start the new year: mortgages are a little cheaper.

 Potential new spending and tax cut plans proposed by Donald Trump, along with a rate hike from the Federal Reserve sent the interest rate on the U.S. government's 10-year Treasury note surging in the weeks after November 8.

Treasury notes serve as a benchmark for various types of credit, including mortgages. When rates move higher, it becomes more expensive to borrow money.

"It was a run up that was based on euphoria that we are going to see fiscal stimulus and that brings about faster economic growth," said Greg McBride, Bankrate's chief financial analyst. "But there has been a lot of that priced into that run up, and the reality is even if we do get fiscal stimulus that money might not hit the economy in 2017."



Mortgage rates jump to a new high for 2016

December 8, 2016
Nathan Bomey, USA Today


Mortgage rates ticked up to a high for 2016 as anticipation of higher inflation under President-elect Donald Trump's administration and a Federal Reserve interest rate hike next week drove the cost of borrowing higher.

An increase of that amount equals a payment of about $6 more per month for a prospective home buyer taking out a 30-year, $200,000 mortgage.

The average rate for a 15-year mortgage rose to 3.36% from 3.34% last week and a 5-year adjustable mortgage jumped to 3.17% from 3.15%.

___________________________Home prices pass pre-recession peak

November 30, 2016
Associated Press

Washington - U.S. home prices have fully recovered from their steep plunge during the housing bust and Great Recesion, according to a private measure.

The Standard & Poor's CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index, released Tuesday, is slightly above the peak it set in July 2006, after rising 5.5 percent in September from a year earlier. The milestone comes after more than four years of steady gains.

Still, prices have not fully recovered in many cities and other gauges show that home prices remain below their peak



No Fed rate hike, but one may come in December

November 2, 2016
By CNN Wire

NEW YORK, NY — Like the election, the Federal Reserve is keeping America in suspense…till December.

The Fed decided not to raise the bank’s key interest rate at the end of a two-day meeting on Wednesday. The decision was widely expected, with only 6% of investors betting there will be a rate hike. A few key reasons, among them the U.S. election, were believed to be behind the Fed’s decision.

But the Fed may be looking to raise rates in December. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said in recent months that the case for raising rates has “strengthened.”

The Fed reiterated that sentiment on Wednesday.

“The Committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has continued to strengthen but decided, for the time being, to wait for some further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives,” Fed leaders said in a statement.

A December rate hike is no guarantee though, especially if Donald Trump pulls off an unexpected win, which would likely roil financial markets around the globe, forcing the Fed to hit the pause button again.

But the economy has continued to grow at a decent, 2% pace, and the job market has kept up the momentum. The unemployment rate is very low at 5%, down from 10% shortly after the Great Recession ended in 2009. And wage growth has shown nascent signs of accelerating this year.

Against that backdrop, Wall Street believes there’s a strong chance of a December hike. Right before the Fed’s announcement Wednesday afternoon, investors believed there was nearly a 70% chance of an increase at the end of the Fed’s meeting on December 14.






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