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  Provided to you Exclusively by Lillian Wong
Lillian Wong
Lillian Wong
Sr. Loan Officer NMLS ID 630337
Lillian Wong & Associates
Fairway Independent Mortgage
Office: 480-650-5412
Email: lillian@lillianwong.com
Website: www.lillianwong.net
  Lillian Wong & Associates <br>Fairway Independent Mortgage
For the Month of February 2018 --- Vol. 13, Issue 2
 
  IN THIS ISSUE...  
     
 

"Don't bring me down." Electric Light Orchestra. Key housing data fell in December. We'll unwrap this story and more, including:

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends, family or co-workers who may find it helpful.

 
 
  December Chilly for Housing  
     
 

December Existing Home Sales fell 3.6 percent from November to an annual rate of 5.570 million units, the National Association of REALTORS® reported. Declines were seen across the board in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Inventories of homes for sale on the market fell to a 3.2-month supply, well below the 6-month supply that is seen as normal.

Sales of new homes didn't fare much better in December, due in part to unseasonably cold and harsh weather coupled with fading sales in the South after people replaced houses following the September hurricanes. New Home Sales fell 9.3 percent in December from November to an annual rate of 625,000 units, the Commerce Department reported. This was below the 679,000 expected, and the largest monthly decline in nearly a year and a half.

Housing inventories are also down 10.3 percent from a year ago. December Housing Starts came in at 1.192 million annualized units, per the Commerce Department, falling 8.2 percent from November and driven lower by a sharp decrease in single-family units. December's reading marked the largest monthly percentage drop since November 2006.

Building Permits, a sign of future construction, were essentially unchanged from November. The disappointing numbers on Housing Starts and Building Permits might add to the ills of potential homebuyers facing inventory shortages around the country.

Fourth Quarter Economic Growth Eases
Economic growth eased in the fourth quarter of 2017, led lower by drags on trade and inventories. The first read on fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product rose 2.6 percent, just below the 2.9 percent expected and down from 3.2 percent in the third quarter.

Despite the slip in fourth quarter, GDP rose 2.3 percent for all of 2017, which was a nice improvement after the anemic 1.5 percent in 2016. Gross Domestic Product is the monetary value of all finished goods and services produced within a country's borders in a specific time period. It is a key measure used to gauge the strength of our economy.

At this time, home loan rates remain attractive and near historic lows. If you have any questions about home loan rates or products, please reach out at any time.

 
 
  What to Watch: Retail Sales  
     
 

December numbers are in and retailers enjoyed a strong finish for 2017.

What is the Retail Sales report? Produced by the Commerce Department, the report measures a sample of store receipts from businesses of all sizes. It is the timeliest indicator of broad consumer spending patterns, and usually the first picture of consumer spending for a given period.

What's happened recently? Consumer spending ended 2017 on a high note as Americans purchased an array of goods. Retail Sales rose 0.4 percent in December, in line with estimates, while November was revised higher to 0.9 percent from 0.8 percent. December 2017 Retail Sales jumped 5.4 percent above December 2016.

What's the bottom line? Retail Sales rose 4.2 percent in 2017 compared to the 3.2 percent increase in 2016. This was a good sign for our economy, as consumer spending makes up two-thirds of our nation's overall economic activity.

I'll continue to monitor economic reports closely, but if you have any immediate questions, please call or email today.

 
 
  How to Buy a Great TV  
     
 

If you're in the market for a new TV, information overload is often part of the program. Luckily for most viewers, the essential ingredients for finding a great TV aren't as complicated as you might expect. These tips will make sure you don't end up with a screen that leaves you flat.

Size it up. Recommended TV sizes are at least 40 inches for bedroom viewing and at least 55 inches (65 inches or larger is best) for a main or living room TV. If the TV is placed in an existing entertainment center, ensure there is at least an inch on the sides and top of the TV cavity to allow for ventilation. Don't forget to view TVs in the store from the approximate distance you will be watching at home.

Beat the clock. If you can still find leftover 2017 TVs, great deals can be had as retailers make room for new models. You can also plan your purchase in advance of Black Friday this year, as prices for 2018 models should drop significantly during that time.

Don't sweat the specs. Most specification sheet details are attempts for up-selling to more expensive sets, not enhanced viewing. The main specs to check:

  • Compatibility with existing components: DVD players, gaming devices, etc.
  • Enough HDMI ports to accommodate your existing components

The scoop on 4K. These TVs have four times the pixels of HD 1080p TVs; however, you may only notice the sharper image on TVs larger than 50 inches. The price difference between 1080p and 4K TVs is shrinking, making 4Ks a more affordable option than in the past. One important caveat: Not all cable companies transmit shows in 4K. While many steaming services offer shows in this new digital format, you should consider your viewing habits as you make your purchase decision.

Get a picture that's worth the pixels with these timely tips.

Sources: Consumer Reports, CNET

 
 
  Q&A: Preserving Family Memories  
     
 

QUESTION: How do I stop my film and VHS home movies from deteriorating?

ANSWER: Aside from storing these family heirlooms in a cool and dry location in your home, temporarily sending them to a digital conversion specialist will ensure you can enjoy them for years to come:

Legacy Republic digitizes videotapes, film reels, photo prints, slides and negatives (or a mix and match of all the above) in about 4 weeks. Packages start at $100*.

iMemories offers to digitize VHS tapes. Pricing starts at $12.99 for single tapes or movies and $0.49 per image for photos, negatives and slides*.

Check your local CVS, Walmart or Costco for even more options.

* Pricing current at time of writing.

 
 

Equal Housing Lender