JULY 2015

In This Issue

6 Ways to Lower Your Mortgage Bill

 by FOXBusiness



Before moving into a cheaper house, there are some things you can do to cut that big mortgage obligation. Most mortgage payments are made up of four parts: principle, interest, taxes and (homeowners) insurance. Lowering any one or more of these of components is worth considering.


Refinance at a Lower Interest Rate

Sometimes it's better to refinance your loan at a lower rate -- even if your monthly payment is higher -- in order to cut the amount of money you will ultimately pay the bank.


You can also restructure the loan from a 30-year to a 15-year. Your monthly payment will be higher, but you'll cut the total number of years of making payments.


"This will save money in the long run," said Holden Lewis, senior mortgage analyst at Bankrate.com in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Shop Around for Homeowners Insurance

"It's a good idea to periodically shop around for a lower premium," Lewis said.


He also mentioned making some improvements to your home that could make you eligible for a discount. For example, homes in hurricane-prone areas can be reinforced with special hurricane-resistant glass and roof reinforcements to better protect the home and qualify for a lower quote.


Grieve Your Tax Bill

You can do it yourself or hire a company to petition your town for a lower tax assessment.


Make an Extra Mortgage Payment Each Year

According to Lewis, if you take one-twelfth of the principle and interest portion and add that to each monthly payment, you'll be making an extra payment every year which will help reduce the total number of years of the mortgage.


Recast Your Mortgage 

Rich Zito, co-founder of Flynn Zito Capital Management in Garden City, New York says "If you like your bank, you can ask to recast your loan at a lower rate." He said it depends on the bank and other factors, but it's worth looking into.


Eliminate PMI Insurance 

If your original down payment was less than 20%, you've probably paid PMI insurance. "But if you have more than 20% equity in the home, you no longer need PMI insurance, and you can petition the bank to eliminate it," Zito said.


These 4 Charts Prove the Strength of Dallas Housing
by HousingWire

The Dallas-Fort Worth housing market and economy are not only outpacing the rest of the state, but are also outpacing the national average.


Although the metro's economy slowed in May, with job growth dipping at a 0.6% annualized rate, it is still growing on a yearly basis, a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said.


Year-to-date, DFW employment grew 1.5%, outperforming the state's 1.1% rate.


Looking ahead, the Dallas Fed business-cycle indexes point to continued growth, albeit at a slower pace, for the metroplex.


Here are four charts that show the state of the Dallas-Fort Worth economy.


1. Employment



Source: Dallas Fed


2. Home prices



Source: Dallas Fed


3. Unemployment rate


Source: Dallas Fed


4. Housing Affordability



Builder sentiment hits decade high, at 60



The nation's single-family home builders are feeling a lot better about their business, even as mortgage rates move higher. A monthly sentiment index hit the highest level in July since November of 2005, matching June's revised level.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) came in at 60; 50 is the line between positive and negative sentiment. The index was at 53 in July of 2014. June's reading was revised higher from 59 to 60.


"This month's reading is in line with recent data showing stronger sales in both the new and existing home markets as well as continued job growth," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. "However, builders still face a number of challenges, including shortages of lots and labor."

That sentiment was echoed in the latest survey of economic conditions by the Federal Reserve, known as the Beige Book:

"Firms from several districts continued to describe shortages for particular types of skilled labor, predominantly in the construction industry."


Builders have benefited from a tight supply of existing homes for sale, which has given them significant pricing power, but some builders are reporting more pushback from buyers lately. Of the three HMI sentiment index components, current sales conditions rose one point to 66, expectations of sales in the next six months rose two points to 71, but buyer traffic dropped one point to 43, still mired in negative territory.


Another monthly reading released Thursday showed a one percent increase month-to-month in mortgage applications to purchase new homes in June. That report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) does not include seasonal adjustments. 


"Application activity in June was slightly higher compared to the past two years, leading us to estimate that new homes sales increased 8 percent from May on a seasonally adjusted annual basis," said Lynn Fisher, MBA's vice president of research and economics.


While home construction has been increasing steadily, it is nowhere near historical norms, nor is it even close to demand levels. Builders are still very cautious, perhaps too cautious, according to investors in the sector.


"There's not a ton of building going on, leverage in the system is reasonable and we still think this economic cycle has a bit of a ways to go," said Jonathan Gray, global head of real estate at Blackstone at the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor. "That's why we're optimistic." 


Regionally, on a three-month running average, builder confidence in the West and Northeast each rose three points to 60 and 47, respectively. The South and Midwest posted respective one-point gains to 61 and 55.



Odds on for September Rate Hike: Fisher
 by Fox Business


An interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve should come in September, Richard Fisher, former president and chief executive of the Dallas Fed, told CNBC Tuesday.


"The markets, to me, have already discounted a first rate rise and (Fed Chair) Janet Yellen has made it very clear it's being considered and is on the table," he told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box."


"I would personally expect that the odds are highest for September. You don't want to do something in December because that's when the markets are so thin and you could have a reaction that is perhaps more exaggerated."


Following the financial crisis, the Fed cut interest rates to record lows and implemented quantitative easing (QE) in an effort to stimulate growth in the U.S. economy. When the country's economy started to pick up last year, the Fed tapered off its monthly bond-buying program and now all eyes are on the first rate hike.


Fisher said this would be a slow process, but needed to begin sooner rather than later.


Fisher was known for being a policy "hawk" (opposed to further easing) during his time at the head of the Dallas Fed, from 2005 until his retirement in 2015 and has previously called for a "prompt" rate hike.

When asked whether the Fed should have hiked rates already, Fisher laughed that he had "already lost that argument."


"I can only tell you what I advocated which was: 'Let's do one rate hike and wait and see how it's digested.' We will still have uber-accommodative monetary policy in the U.S," he said.


The Fed's reluctance to increase interest rates to date has been put down to concerns from more "dovish" members of the Fed's monetary policy committee (FOMC) that such a move could damage the economic recovery.

The U.S. economy stalled in the first quarter of 2015, decreasing at an annual rate of just 0.2 percent -- a far cry from the 2.2 percent growth recorded in the fourth quarter of 2014.


Fed doesn't have 'smoking gun'

The Fed has always said a hike would depend on improving U.S. employment data and the rate of inflation moving towards 2 percent. U.S. consumer prices increased 0.4 percent in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Speaking to CNBC Tuesday, Fisher conceded that monetary policy "takes a great deal of time to work itself into the system."


"I view it as a large tanker at sea that takes a long time to turn, with highly-explosive fuel on board - these excess reserves they've piled up on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet of $2.65 trillion," Fisher said.


He added that it was "only a matter of time" before a rate hike. "Even if we have a raise of 25 basis points in September, that doesn't mean it would follow through (with another rise) at the next meeting."



10 Biggest Reasons Men Resent Their Wives
by Woman's Day

Get Rid of Resentment


Despite the picture-perfect impressions we get from upbeat Facebook posts or boastful holiday letters, even the healthiest marriages aren't 100% free of conflict.  At some point, virtually everyone feels wronged by a romantic partner.  Bob Navarra, PsyD, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), says that those feelings aren't what throw a marriage off course - it's how couples handle them. "While it may be frustrating that the toothpaste cap was left off, happy couples talk about these small things," he says.  But when those emotions are swept under the rug, a more toxic variety of negativity begins to fester: resentment.  Here, marriage experts share some of the most common reasons husbands resent their wives and how to protect your relationship.


1. Not Fighting Fair


Happy couples don't necessarily fight less, Dr. Navara says; they just fight better, by "describing their own feelings and needs rather than labeling their partner as faulty."  And the ball is probably in your court for that.  Research shows that wives are more likely to bring up problems for discussion, while husbands are more likely to withdraw at the first sign of an argument.  When this keeps happening, women tend to start conversations on a negative note, which only makes things worse.  Instead of resorting to personal attacks - "You're such a slob!" "We're going to be late because of you!" - which lead to defensiveness, Dr. Navarra recommends sticking to "I-statements," such as "When (this happens), I feel (frustrated, angry).  What I needed was..."


2.  Treating him like a child.


"A big issue I see in couples is a man resenting his partner because he feels she talks down to him," says Mary Kelleher, LMFT.  This can leave him feeling "less-than," and nothing triggers resentment faster than inadequacy.  So avoid threatening his independence - the way pressuring him to go for a promotion so he'll bring home more money may be perceived - suggests couples therapist Vagdevi Meunier, PsyD. "No one wants to feel "managed" by a spouse," Dr. Meunier says.


3.  Involving other people in you marriage


What you think of as harmless complaining to friends and family can actually break your husband's trust.  It threatens the safety of the "couple bubble" you've created together.  "Men find this humiliating and hurtful," says Norene Gonsiewski, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a couples' therapist at the Portland Relationship Center in Oregon.  If you really need to vent, consider talking to a doctor or therapist to keeps things confidential.


4.  Not showing appreciation for things he does right.


"Men will never ask for it,"  Gonsiewski says, but regular doses of praise are important.  "They need to hear that their wives are proud of them."  Scott Haltzman, MD, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women, notes that men tend to be more action-oriented that women, which means they show affection in different ways.  "He may empty the dishwasher as a way of saying he cares about you."  Haltzman's suggestion:  "Pay attention to what he does, and let him know you notice."


5.  Withholding sex as punishment.


While women generally need emotional intimacy to make love, men express emotional intimacy through sex, says Marla Taviano, author of Is That All He Thinks About?  When a wife turns down sex, in her huband's mind, "she's turning him down as a person," explains Taviano.  Using sex as a bargaining chip to get your needs met isn't negotiating - it's emotional blackmail, which can alienate him.  "Withholding sex may make your partner feel less love from you and give you less love in return," says Dr. Haltzan.


6.  Trying to change him.


"Every person can change, but it's better to focus on our own changes, rather that our spouse's behaviors," says Anne Ziff, LMFT, author of Marrying Well.  And yet, some women see marriage as a starting point for a "husband makeover."  This isn't all bad - studies show that married men tend to eat healthier and have fewer problems with drugs and alcohol than single guys -but avoid creating a relationship in which your husband can't be himself. "When a man feels his home is not his castle, and he can't just be a guy - whether its walking around in his boxers or letting out a burp - he'll feel like he's been put in a box where he has to act prim and proper all the time," Dr. Meunier says.  Sometimes, it's smarter to let the little things slide.


7.  Making important decisions without his input.


Research shows that money is a top source of disagreements among married couples, even those with bigger budgets.  In a lot of ways, money equals power, and balancing power is important to harmonious relationships, Meunier says.  Whether you're considering booking a vacation or buying a dishwasher, your partner deserves a say.  The same goes for decisions that affect how you and your husband spend your time, such as inviting company over for dinner or signing up your kids for soccer.  Although it may seem simpler to beg for forgiveness instead of getting him on board, unilateral decision making can drive you two part.


8.   Not giving him the last chance to be the kind of dad he wants to be.


Mothers often parent differently than fathers, but not necessarily better.  For instance, some studies show that parenting styles more common with dads, such as rough-and-tumble play, offer children unique developmental benefits.  "Men's resentment grows as their children develop with gaps in their competency and independence, two attributes men rate highly," Gonsiewski says.  "When a woman doesn't trust her husband to parent she sends a message that he's wrong and only she's right."  Instead, "reinforce your husband for the positive contributions he makes to your children's lives,"  Dr. Haltzman recommends.


9.  Acting jealous when he looks at other women. 


Men are visual creatures, Dr. Meunier says, so it's not surprising that a typical heterosexual man would notice a good-looking woman.  "Women who understand this and don't take it personally minimize unproductive fights about jealousy."  When a wife overacts to a situation, her husband will likely feel defensive, and eventually, resentful.  Dr. Meunier's advice? "Chill out."  Responding to a visual cue isn't cause for worry, she says - curious comments or behaviors, like dropping your hand to head across the room to talk to another woman, could signify a lack of commitment to you. 


10.  Expecting immediate forgiveness after you apologize.


Studies show that seeking and granting forgiveness greatly contributes to marital satisfaction and longevity.  But beware of empty words.  While apologizing manages conflict, Dr. Navarra says a simple "I'm sorry" often isn't enough.  To truly earn her husband's forgiveness, a wife needs to show that she understands why her husband is upset.  Dr. Haltzman recommends being specific about what you're apologizing for, accepting responsibility for what you did, acknowledging that you've gotten to the first three steps cleanly, most men will say "forget about it" to the last questions," Dr. Haltzman says.