Economic Overview

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Increased concerns about European debt issues and the pace of global economic growth has caused investors to shift to relatively safer assets over the last week.  As a result, mortgage rates have nestled down to right at the low point of the year.

Investors hoping for the European Central Bank (ECB) to expand its role in providing aid to euro zone countries have again been disappointed.  The ECB has indicated that it currently has no plans to introduce any major new aid programs.  It appears that ECB officials believe that the appropriate next step in easing the debt issues is for tighter budgetary discipline.  In addition, European Union officials suggested that working out the details of an agreement on fiscal integration between the many EU countries may take months.  Investors responded to the lack of significant progress by selling many European stocks and bonds and purchasing relatively safer assets such as US government guaranteed Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

Last week’s Fed statement also disappointed any investors looking for a shift in policy.  It contained no major changes from the last statement.  According to the Fed, the economy has been “expanding moderately”, which is a small upgrade from the prior statement.  The Fed gave no indication of providing additional stimulus or changing its communications policies.

A lot of economic data is due out tomorrow with Durable Orders, Core PCE inflation, Personal Income, and New Home Sales all scheduled to be released.  The mortgage markets will close early tomorrow on Friday ahead of the Christmas holiday.  Also, note that trading volume is generally very light during the final two weeks of the year, which means that mortgage rates may be more volatile than usual.

Real Estate Listing Tips

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In today’s challenging market, where inventory is high and good buyers are in demand, it is more critical than ever that your listings stand out.  To do so, they must be creative and exciting yet at the same time efficient, making the most of little space.  Even if you’ve been selling homes for decades, this is one area that you constantly need to be evaluating and looking for ways to improve.  Compliments of, here are four tips to consider:

Tip #1: Use bullet points to highlight key data.  A typical listing might contain several initial paragraphs requiring a reader to spend a few minutes reading to learn more about the house.  In a world of short attention spans, home buyers often don’t have the patience to read the entire listing and, as a result, they often miss key selling points.  Highlighting key facts with bullet points is a much more effective way to market your listing.  Think like David Letterman by being brief and concise and listing the five or six best aspects of the house in bullet point style.

Tip #2: Highlight the best rooms with photos.  If you write about a gourmet kitchen or fantastic spa shower in the master bathroom, make sure you include pictures of those rooms!  You would be surprised at how many listings don’t include photos of the rooms that will sell the home.  Be intentional about the photos you choose.  If they are out of focus or dark, retake them.  Read your listing and then review the photos to be sure they complement the story you are telling.  Pretend you are a buyer.  What would motivate you to tour the home?

Tip #3: Back up a flashy headline with truth.  We’ve all seen headlines like: “A backyard paradise” or “Convenient to everything.”   Bold and flashy catch attention, but when the prospective buyer arrives and sees a muddy yard with overgrown bushes or a home that’s right next to a gas station, the flashy headline can backfire.  Lofty expectations are not met and the potential home buyer usually won’t stay when you’ve promised something that stretches the truth.

Tip #4:  Proof and fact check before you publish.  Be sure to proofread your listings or have someone else with fresh eyes proof them for you.  Not only are you looking for misspellings and grammar problems, but it’s also time to fact check against your photos.  Does the picture show a 2-1/2-car garage and you list it as 3?  Does the listing boast of wood floors in every room, but there’s linoleum in the laundry room?  Catch inconsistencies before they make it into your ad!