November 2010

Chicago Illinois Mortgage Rates Week in Review for the Week Ending 11/26/2010

The markets had a short week last week with a break for Thanksgiving, but the reports released continue to paint a picture of an economy that is improving in some areas while still in the mire in others. First, the good news. Retail sales fell 0.6% for the week ending November 20, but are a 2.8% higher year-over-year basis. Retailers are optimistic as we head into the Christmas buying season. GDP (Gross domestic product — the total output of goods and services produced in the US) increased at an annual rate of 2.5% in the third quarter, better than the1.7% growth in the second quarter and a real sign that the economy is improving. Initial unemployment claims fell by 34,000 to 407,000 for the week ending November 20. That’s the lowest level (best reading) since July of 2008. Continuing claims also fell. Analysts say the jobs situation is definitely easing,…

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Chicago Illinois Mortgage Rates Week in Review for the Week Ending 11/19/2010

QE2, the Fed’s second round of quantitative easing has now been in place for about 2 weeks and mortgage rates are sharply higher. This is the exact opposite of what the program intended, but the markets are now focused on the risk of inflation rather than deflation or disinflation, which the Fed sees as our primary problem. Last week a group of economists and pundits, most associated with the Republican party, came out with a public letter in the Wall Street Journal calling for the Fed to stop the program immediately, again citing inflationary threats. So has the Fed already lost the battle? Is the program a flop already? Time will tell, but if history is a guide, it doesn’t pay to bet against the Fed. Part of this relates to what is really happening in the economy and what the real threat of inflation is, but part of the…

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Chicago, Il – How Can An FHA 203k Rehab Loan Save You Money?

The other day I met with a client who had just gotten a contract on a new home. She was excited about being a first time home owner, and she’d just found a home in a great neighborhood at a price and mortgage payment that would have been a fantasy a few years back. As we talked, she told me some of her plans for the home. It was a well maintained home, in great shape, but it was an estate sale and hadn’t been updated in years. In order to make the home the way she wanted, she planned on ripping out all the carpet, replacing it in some areas and refinishing the hardwood floors in others, updating the kitchen, and doing some work on the bathrooms, too. Once this work was done she felt the home would be transformed into an up to date, beautiful home. This sounded…

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Cook County Tax Bills Are in the Mail – How to Appeal Real Estate Taxes in Cook County, Dupage County and Throughout the Chicago Area

Now that the election is over, the 2nd installment of Cook County real estate tax bills are now out. The tax bills are due to be paid next month, and this is sure to dampen some home owner’s holiday spirit. Especially when you consider that the first installment of the 2010 bills will be due just a few months later.  Home values have gone down sharply over the last few years, but the accessed values aren’t going in the same direction. No one wants to pay extra for taxes when their values are down, but with local governments in a cash crunch, they aren’t in a sympathetic mood. Our real estate tax system is complicated and there are a number of factors that go into calculating the tax bill. The first thing to do is to check your bill and make sure you are getting all the correct exemptions. If…

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Chicago Illinois Mortgage Rates Week in Review for the Week Ending 11/05/2010

Do you remember what it was like when you were a kid, waiting for Christmas to come? This was a magical time, and, if you were like me, you spent hours looking through catalogs, made up lists that went on for pages and fantasized about all the loot you were going to get. Your parents probably tried to lower your expectations some, saying that this was a big list, and Santa wasn’t going to be able to get you everything you wanted. But maybe there were one or two things that were the real deal, the things that you were really hoping for. Then, Christmas finally came, and there were presents under the tree, and when you unwrapped everything, you got exactly what you expected. Not everything you wished for, maybe, but you did get what you were expecting, which after all was what you really wanted. Maybe you even…

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Fed Meeting Update – Quantitative Easing 2 Has Arrived, But the Reactions Are Mixed

All the markets waited with breathless anticipation over the last month to see what the Fed had up its sleeve to spark the economy back to life. At their last meeting in October, they telegraphed their intention to start another round of quantitative easing, or pumping new money into the system by buying treasury bonds as a way to lower interest rates and force some movement in the economy. Over the last month, analysts dissected each Fed members every speech or statement for any hint of what the details would look like. Over the last week the consensus formed that the Fed would step in with about $500 billion in purchases. The markets, both bonds and stocks, have swung wildly trying to anticipate the announcement and square up their positions ahead of time. Well, the big day finally arrived and, as expected the Fed announced the new quantitative easing program…

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Chicago Illinois Mortgage Rates Week in review for the Week Ending 10/29/2010

Mortgage rates improved a little over the last week, and are now near the midpoint of the range they have traded in over the last month. The economic reports released last week pointed to some improvement in the economy (housing numbers were slightly better, consumer confidence was up and jobless claims improved), but the numbers weren’t enough to suggest that the economy was really making a turn for the better. In the markets, the economic reports are now just a side show. The main event is the Fed meeting and the announcement at the conclusion this week, which will tell their initial plans for quantitative easing. This program is a way for the Fed to pump more money into the economy to try and create some inflation (back to the target rate of 2%) and force banks to start lending and for businesses to start chasing higher yields than they…

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