The Labor Department reported this morning that employers added just 113,000 jobs in January, which was below the 175,000 expected, but up from the paltry 75,000 created in December. A freeze in hiring in the health care sector is one of the factors to the lower numbers. The Unemployment Rate fell to 6.6%, the lowest level since October 2008, but that can be due in part to people falling out of the work force than finding jobs.
Filling up at the pumps will begin to be more expensive as spring nears due to more drivers being on the road along with refineries shutting down for winter maintenance, which reduces supplies. The national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline is at $3.26. For 2014, AAA predicts that the nationwide average price will peak between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon with the average price around $3.49.
The Census Bureau reports that the share of Americans who own their own homes was 65.2% in the fourth quarter of 2013, down from 65.4% in the previous quarter. Higher borrowing costs coupled with tight credit were the two factors behind the decline. The rate peaked at 69.2% in June of 2004.
Home prices continued to rise in the period from December 2012 to December 2013, but at a lesser pace than previous year-over-year readings. CoreLogic reported today that home prices, including distressed sales, rose by 11% in the period mentioned, but that is down from the 11.8% gain seen from November 2012 to November 2013. In addition, prices declined month-to-month by 0.1% from November to December.
Richmond Virginia Fed President Jeffrey Lacker reported today that U.S. growth could be muted in 2014, but the Federal Reserve will continue to taper its massive stimulus program, dubbed Quantitative Easing III. Mr.Lacker cited declining spending by both consumers and businesses. The Fed official went on to say he feels the growth will be closer to 2% in 2014, about the same rate that the country has seen since the end of the Great Recession.
Stock prices are rebounding today after yesterday’s steep plunge, which was touched off by a weaker than expected reading from a national manufacturing report, the ISM Index. The S&P 500 had recently lost nearly 6% from its record closing highs hit in late December and mid-January. The declines have come from profit taking, Fed tapering, a slowdown in China and on the notion that a small correction was due after the record levels recently hit.
Consumers opened their wallets in December and spent on holiday shopping across the nation. Personal Spending rose by 0.4% last month, above the 0.2% expected. However, Personal Incomes were unchanged and below the 0.2% expected. Digging into the report it revealed that consumer inflation pressures were almost non-existent.
Manufacturing activity in the Chicago region declined in January from December. The Chicago PMI fell to 59.6 from 60.8 and was the lowest reading since November. Within the report it showed that the employment component fell, while the prices paid number rose. In addition, Consumer Sentiment fell to 81.2 in late January and down from the 82.5 registered in December.
Today marks the last day in office for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as Janet Yellen takes over the reigns as Fed Chief on Monday. Mr. Bernanke steered the US financial system through one of its worst periods in history after the financial and housing markets blew up in 2008. Ms. Yellen becomes the first woman to head the central bank in its 100-year history.
Consumers across the nation flocked to malls for the Veteran’s Day promotions, boosting sales in the latest week. The ICSC-Goldman Sachs Chain Store Sales Index was up 0.1% for the week ending November 16. On a year-over-year basis, there was a 2.8% increase, the biggest gain since October 19, 2013.
In corporate earnings news, home improvement retailer Home Depot reported today that net earnings were up nearly 48% in the third quarter as compared to the same period of last year. The company earned 95 cents per share versus the 89 cents that was expected. The better than expected earnings stems from the continued improvement in the housing market.
The big news in the financial sector today is the massive $13B settlement between JPMorgan and the Feds over the sales of low quality Mortgage Backed Securities that plunged in value during the financial crisis. JPMorgan asserts that most of the sales were originated from Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, companies that JPMorgan acquired during the crisis.
When you apply for a mortgage or refinancing, you will have to go through the process of getting your house, or the house you are wanting to purchase appraised. An appraiser will visit the property and will evaluate the land, dwellings and all the included features. This is called Field Work and their goal is to establish a market value. This process generally can be done within a couple of days, but depending on the complexity of the order it can extend into weeks.
An appraiser will go onto a property and will evaluate the interior and exterior condition. They will look at the quality of the construction and how many upgrades or modernizations there have been. Then they will estimate the square footage by taking measurements of the exterior of the home and assess non-living areas such as covered porches, permanent sheds and garages.
Once the appraiser has all the information they need about the subject property, they will spend time looking at properties close by to further establish the market value of the home. This includes looking at recent sales as well as foreclosures, assessing tax records, courthouse records and their own personal knowledge of the area. This is one of the reasons Alpha Mortgage only uses local appraisers because we want our clients to have the most accurate and dependable source possible. Once the field work is completed the appraiser will finish the report and then submit it to the loan officer.
Once our loan officer has the report they will set up an appointment with you to review the results in detail. You are always welcome to have a copy of the report as well for your own records. Once we have the information we can move forward with the mortgage process and get you one step closer to refinancing or owning a new home. At Alpha Mortgage it is our goal to make the home buying process as simple and easy as possible and we want you educate you each step of the way. Do not ever hesitate to give us a call when you have a question. We’re here for you.
When you are ready to purchase a new home or you want to take advantage of the historically low rates and refinance, one of our loan officers is ready to work with you. We have offices in Wilmington 910-256-8999, Winston-Salem 336-760-3013, Fayetteville 910-484-7272, Asheville 828-552-0330, Jacksonville 910-347-7283, New Bern 252-634-3000, & Jacksonville 910-347-7283. We look forward to hearing from you!