Hard Work and Market Update

Nov 4
Category | Mortgage Speak

QUOTE OF THE WEEK... "Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind." --Andre Agassi, American retired professional tennis player and former World No. 1

... Realtors are clearly working hard, grinding out a 0.3% rise in Pending Home Sales in September, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This measure of existing homes under contract but not yet closed is now 1% higher than a year ago, above year-over-year levels for the first time in 11 months. The NAR's chief economist commented, "...the current spectacularly low mortgage rates should help more buyers reach the market." He also observed " for existing homes was up in September 6% from a year ago, which is preventing prices from rising at the accelerated clip seen earlier this year."

That slower rate of home price gains was confirmed by the latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price indexes. The 20-City Composite was up 5.6% year-over-year, but down from the 6.7% gain it posted in July. The National Index registered a 5.1% annual increase in August, down from 5.6% in July. But an economist at a major financial analytics firm said that in spite of the slowing rate of home price gains, every metro area covered in the current release recorded price growth compared with its year-ago level. That growth ranged from 0.8% to 10.5%. It makes sense that home price appreciation is slowing, since inventory has grown to 5.2 months, from 4.8 months a year ago.


1. Watch where you walk. Use sidewalks, driveways, and paths. Cross the street at the corner or on a crosswalk.
2. Carry a cell phone, if possible.
3. Make sure kids are visible. Put a light or reflective tape on their costumes and have them carry a glow stick or flashlight.
4. Feed kids first. To keep kids from hitting the candy before they get home, give them a snack or dinner beforehand.
5. Don't lose the dog. If you bring along the family pet, use a leash and collar with ID.
6. Drive extra carefully. If you drive, stay super alert and go extra slow through neighborhoods.
7. Have ground rules. If your child is old enough to go trick-or-treating without you, agree on the route and make sure it only goes through familiar neighborhoods.
8. Go over stranger dangers. Remind kids they must never get into a stranger's car. Tell them to scream loudly and run if someone stops and asks for help or offers them candy.
9. Don't forget to have fun. Hey, it's Halloween–how great is that!

Monday Market Update

Oct 27
Category | Mortgage Speak

QUOTE OF THE WEEK... "You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." --Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc.

... All of us working in the housing market have long trusted that real estate was destined to recover, and signs of that continue to abound. September saw Existing Home Sales head up 2.4%, to a very healthy 5.17 million unit annual rate. They've gained now in five of the last six months and are at their highest annual pace of the year. Sales are still off a bit compared to a year ago, but other data is up. The median price is up 5.6% and average prices are up 3.7% versus last year. This should bring more homes onto the market to help inventories, which are still up 6% from a year ago. Sales in which the buyer uses a mortgage are up 11.5% versus last year.

New Home Sales were also up in September, but only by 0.2%. Some media reported this as a "stall-out" in sales gains. But 0.2% more sales are in fact a greater number of sales, so nothing has "stalled out." More importantly, new home sales are now up 17.0% from a year ago and are at their highest level in more than six years. By the way, buyers have shifted slightly to multi-family homes (condos), which are not counted in the new home sales data. The FHFA index of prices for homes financed with conforming mortgages gained 0.5% in August, up 4.8% from a year ago. Prices are increasing, though at a gentler pace, which is not a bad thing.

The Internet can do a lot for your business. But as you expand from website to blogs to business pages on social media, you want to measure how well these platforms are working for you. For small and mid-sized businesses, there are many free or relatively inexpensive web analytic tools available, such as Google Analytics and HubSpot. These can tell you the traffic you're getting on each of your platforms, so you can eliminate ones that aren't working and improve those that are. In order to make data-backed web decisions, you need to understand the web traffic terms these analytic tools use:

1. Pageviews/Views. A pageview, called a view by some analytic tools, is logged every time a browser loads a page on your website. That means if a visitor views a page, goes to a second page on your site, then returns to the original one, that counts as three pageviews. This data determines your site's stickiness, since it tells you whether visitors are seeing one page and then leaving, or sticking around to check out more content.

2. Visits. A visit is counted when someone lands on your site from a source outside your website domain. Analytic tools usually count only one visit, even if a user goes to several pages on your site while there. This is why visit counts are generally smaller than pageviews, since multiple pageviews still only log as one visit. With some analytic tools, when a person visits your website, clicks a link to another site, but then comes back to yours, it counts as two visits.

3. Sessions. In Google Analytics, this is a series of interactions on your website by a visitor, occurring within a given time frame. Think of it as a container for the actions a visitor takes during a specific period of time. Google's default sessions are 30 minutes, but you can specify any time, from a few seconds to several hours. A session ends and a new one starts when either: 1) the day ends at midnight; 2) there's been no activity for the specified length of time and the user resumes activity; or 3) a visitor comes from one campaign, leaves, then returns by a different campaign.

4. Unique Pageviews. This term is used within sessions. If a person views the same page two or more times during a single session, all those views are counted as only one unique pageview.

5. Visitors or Users. A visitor, called a user by some web analytic tools, is someone who lands on your site. One visitor can make multiple visits to a site, or be involved in multiple sessions (in Google Analytics). Some tools track visitors by placing cookies in their browsers, which are generated by tracking code installed on your site. Others use complex calculations to tell you how many different people-"unique visitors"-visited your site during a particular time frame.

6. New vs. Returning Users or Visitors. Data comparing these gives you a sense of how well you're keeping visitors interested, as well as how good you are at attracting prospects. Some tools, however, will track a visitor on a computer as new again if they visit for the second time on a mobile device.

Bear in mind that different web analytic tools can have different definitions for the same term. Check the tool's documentation to understand what it in fact is measuring. Here's to your continued success online and off-line, as you keep putting together your best year ever... Enjoy a great month!

Market Transformation

Oct 6
Category | Mortgage Speak

QUOTE OF THE WEEK... "Don't spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door." --Coco Chanel, French fashion designer

... It seems like more than a few observers are beating on the housing market trying to transform it into a disaster that it isn't. For example, some jumped all over the 1% drop in the Pending Home Sales index for August. But this measure of contract signings is still above 100, considered an average level of activity, for the fourth month in a row. It's also at the second highest level since last August. The National Association of Realtors chief economist sees contract signings holding steady, with fewer investors and distressed sales causing the dip. He said, "...the market is shifting more towards traditional and first-time buyers who rely on mortgages to purchase a home."

Naysayers also jumped on the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index reporting a slowdown in the rate of price increases for July. But the fact is, the 10-City and 20-City Composites did increase 0.6% for the month and 6.7% for the year. The chief economist of an online real estate listing site reported that home prices nationally are actually 3% undervalued in Q3.The Mortgage Bankers Association reported purchase applications flat for the week ending September 26, but their chief economist added, "Although total purchase application volume was little changed, conventional purchase applications were at the highest level since July." 

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