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Christian Penner
Branch Manager
The Christian Penner Mortgage Team
Phone: 561-316-6800
Fax: 561-355-5098
MMG Monthly - Views You Can Use (June 2017)
  "Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living." Dolly Parton. Strong job growth and improved Retail Sales in April could bode well for our economy in the second quarter. We'll ring up this story and more, including: Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends, family or co-workers who may find it helpful.

  Jobs and Retail Sales Spring Forward  
  After two sluggish months of Retail Sales, consumers ramped up their spending in April at auto dealers, hardware stores and e-commerce outlets. Retail Sales rose 0.4 percent from March to April, and March Retail Sales were revised upward to 0.1 percent from -0.3 percent originally reported.

Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of overall economic activity, and increases in retail spending are a welcome sign. The second reading on first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose to 1.2 percent from 0.7 percent, slightly higher than expected. While that is still a low number, the Atlanta Fed is predicting second quarter GDP to rise to 4.1 percent.

April showed growth in job creation following a dismal March. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 174,000 jobs were created, although this was below the 180,000 expected. March was revised lower to 50,000 new jobs, where the low numbers were due in part to harsh weather. The Unemployment Rate fell to 4.4 percent in April, the lowest level in 10 years.

In housing news, the National Association of REALTORS® reported April's Existing Home Sales fell 2.3 from March, mainly due to low inventories of homes for sale. Existing home inventories are at a 4.2-month supply, well below the six months seen as normal. April's New Home Sales fell to 569,000 units, below the expected 605,000 and the 642,000 sold in March, while year-over-year sales were up just 0.5 percent. The decline in new home sales were due in part to rising building material costs, not enough lots ready for building, and a shortage in labor supply. But new home inventories are running at a much healthier 5.7-month supply.

Home price gains remain strong. The March S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index rose 5.9 percent year over year from March 2016, matching the February reading. Gains are the biggest since July 2014. From February to March, prices were up 0.9 percent.

New construction certainly could provide much-needed relief from rising home prices and house-hunt frustrations. Read about what's happened recently in What to Watch below.

If you have any questions about housing or refinancing opportunities, please reach out at any time.

  What to Watch: Housing Starts  
  Housing Starts are a key indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy because they create a substantial "ripple effect" into other sectors.

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

What's happened recently? The Commerce Department reported Housing Starts decreased 2.6 percent from March to April. This marked the second straight month of declines and the lowest rate of Housing Starts since November. Single-family starts, which make up the largest share of the residential market, were up 0.4 percent in April. Overall, Housing Starts were up just 0.7 percent in the past year. The weakness in April's report was mainly due to a decline in apartment construction. Building Permits, an indication of future construction, also fell 2.5 percent.

What's the bottom line? Housing Starts are essential to the health of the economy. New construction helps to create jobs related to housing, which is good news for the labor market, retail sales and the economy in general. New construction also provides much-needed relief to renters and homebuyers frustrated by low housing inventory, higher 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.

  6 Ways to Save on Paint Projects  
  Don't let the high cost of paint discolor your renovation plans! Paying more for paint doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll get better quality, better colors or better coverage. Plus, you have a whole slate of opportunities to save.

Calculate the coverage. To prevent buying too much paint, retailer and manufacturer websites offer online calculators. Determine how many gallons will be required for the linear footage you want to paint and the number of coats you plan to put up.

Take it online. Follow manufacturer and home improvement retailer social media accounts and websites for coupons, rebates and news about sales.

Make it monochromatic. Using a single color throughout your home can save lots of money. A five-gallon container of paint is usually significantly less than five single gallons. Keep one color from getting boring by using pops of color in your decor.

Optimize the oops. "Oops" or "mis-tints" are containers of paint that have been returned by other customers and are often heavily discounted. If you find a great color but only a gallon is available, buy a second at regular price and mix them at home to achieve consistent color.

Wait and save. The week prior to a three-day holiday weekend is often a great time to buy paint on sale as retailers anticipate holiday home improvements.

Pan the primer. While some contractors like to use a primer, many self-priming paints have improved enough to skip the priming process.

Homeowners starting summer renovation projects that require a do-it-yourself paint job will want to keep these money-saving tips handy.

Sources: Consumer Reports, The Spruce

  Q&A: Teen Smartphone Secrets  
  QUESTION: Is my teen hiding inappropriate smartphone activity?

ANSWER: One quick way to determine if teens are hiding activity is to check their phones for missing browser history or text message threads that seem to have large sections deleted.

Other red flags may include:
  • Kids lowering or hiding the screen when someone enters the room
  • Refusing to give you passwords
  • Increases in media usage and bandwidth
Stealth apps that appear to have other functions can also provide the ability to hide pictures or keep texts private. Parents should consider staying current with any technology their children access.

Sources: TeenSafe


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