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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 December 2017 --- Vol. 12, Issue 12

"Wherever you wander, there's no place like home." Elvis Presley. Families on the lookout for housing await the sound of new construction to curb the inventory shortage. We'll settle into this story and more, including:

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

  The Lowdown on Low Inventory  

Sales of new homes climbed to their highest level in 10 years in October, rising 6.2 percent from September to an annual rate of 685,000 units, according to the Commerce Department. Year over year, New Home Sales rose an impressive 18.7 percent. Despite the good news, there is just a 4.9-month supply of new homes for sale on the market, where a six-month supply is seen as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that Existing Home Sales in October rose 2 percent from September to an annual rate of 5.48 million units, the highest sales level since June. However, a severe shortage of existing homes for sale on the market continues to drive prices higher, buoyed by low mortgage rates, an improving economy and a strong labor market.

In fact, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose 6.2 percent year over year in September, the biggest increase in more than three years.

While rising prices mean that some people may be squeezed out of the market, the pressure to build more homes will increase. As the main indicator of future construction, the Building Permits reading suggests some relief could be ahead for families looking for housing, with October permits rising by 5.9 percent from September. You can read more about Housing Starts, which measure current levels of residential construction, in the What to Watch section just below.

In other economic news, wholesale inflation came in hotter than expected in October. The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.4 percent versus the 0.1 percent expected, fueled by higher costs for services. Core PPI, which excludes food and energy, also rose 0.4 percent, above expectations. Year over year, PPI saw the biggest increase since February 2012.

These inflationary pressures didn't carry over to the more closely-watched consumer inflation reading, which remained tame. The October Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI were in line with expectations.

Inflation is an important measure to watch because inflationary pressures reduce the value of fixed investments like Mortgage Bonds and can harm the home loan rates tied to them.

For the time being, home loan rates remain attractive, presenting a window of opportunity for those in the market to buy or refinance a home.

If you have any questions about current loan products, or home purchase or refinancing opportunities, please reach out at any time.

  What to Watch: Housing Starts  

Housing Starts are a key indicator of economic health because they create a ripple effect in other sectors.

What is the Housing Starts report? This report measures the number of residential single and multifamily units upon which construction has begun each month. In construction terms, a "start" is when the excavation of a new building's foundation begins.

What's happened recently? New residential construction surged to a one-year high in October due in part to builder's resuming construction following disruptions caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in September. The Commerce Department reported that Housing Starts jumped 13.7 percent from September, but the annual reading was down nearly 3 percent from October 2016. However, single-family starts, which account for the largest share of the housing market, rose 5.3 percent from September to October. Starts on multifamily dwellings of five or more units rose a whopping 37.4 percent from September.

What's the bottom line? Housing Starts are essential to a healthy economy because new construction helps to create jobs in both the housing and retail sectors. New construction also provides relief to renters and homebuyers frustrated by current low housing inventory, rising rents and increasing home sale prices.

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

  Chill Winter Utility Bills  

If you've already prepped for winter by replacing your HVAC filter, checking the weather-stripping around your home for air leaks, and scheduling an energy audit from your local power company, you're ahead of the game on reducing utility expenses this winter. Here are even more ways to lower your bills.

Know your thermo. For each degree you drop your thermostat (between 60-70 degrees), you can reduce energy expense by 5 percent. For maximum savings, set your thermostat to 68 degrees when you're home and 55 degrees when away or sleeping. Programmable and smart-home thermostats help save even more by regulating temperatures automatically.

A tankless job. Heating water accounts for about 12 percent of utility costs for most households. Traditional tank-style heaters are less efficient than on-demand or tankless systems because they must constantly keep water warm. However, lowering the temperature to 120 degrees on tank-style heaters will lower costs. Every 10-degree reduction in temperature can lead to savings of 3 to 5 percent on your bill.

Flip (or fill) your fridge. According to the EPA, more than 60 million refrigerators are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.4 billion a year. If you're in the market for a new fridge, consider a top-freezer model certified by Energy Star, which uses less energy than a 60-watt light bulb. If a new refrigerator isn't an option, keep your current one as full as possible. Food acts as insulation and shortens the amount of time your fridge needs to run to keep items cool.

Shed a little light. Swap household incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs, which are approximately 90 percent more efficient and last years longer. Also consider installing dimmer switches, giving you even more control over energy use as well as the ability to add an ambient touch to your space.

Preempt your phantoms. Seventy-five percent of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when devices are off but still plugged in. The most common culprits of "phantom" or stand-by power include TVs, DVD players, stereos, computers, kitchen appliances and phone chargers. Placing these items on a power-strip that can be turned off when not in use will save money by the minute.

Big fan of savings? While running a fan during winter seems counterintuitive, you can boost HVAC efficiency and reduce your costs up to an additional 10 percent by changing the direction of your ceiling fans to run clockwise. This will push warm air that rises to the ceiling down throughout the rest of the room. The switch is usually located on the side of the motor.

Wishing you and yours a happy, energy-efficient holiday season!

Sources: The Balance, Apartment Therapy, EnergyStar.gov

  Q&A: Lost Contact Lens  

QUESTION: What's the best way to find a lost contact lens?

ANSWER: Contact lenses can be difficult to find (especially if you're the one who lost it!) and expensive or inconvenient to replace. If you or someone you know loses a lens, act fast and try these tips:

  • Take off your shoes and request people and pets leave the area, so the lens won't be crushed by foot traffic.
  • Try using a smartphone camera zoomed in to help you search.
  • Darken the room and then rotate a flashlight horizontally on the floor; the lens will reflect back the light.
  • Wrap a vacuum attachment in hosiery and then gently sweep the immediate area until the lens is suctioned to the nylon.
Once you find the contact, carefully inspect it for damage that may irritate your eyes. Clean and disinfect thoroughly before using. If you wear contact lenses regularly, carry a pair of glasses just in case you can't find a lost lens.

Sources: Quick & Dirty Tips, WikiHow


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