Mortgage Applications, Interest Rates Rise

23 07 2009

The number of people taking out home loans and refinancing existing ones rose again in the week ended July 17, even as interest rates climbed, according to a weekly survey of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The MBA’s Market Composite Index, which measures loan application volume, rose 2.8 percent, week-over-week, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The Refinance Index was up 4 percent from the previous week.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 4.8 percent from 5 percent of total applications from the previous week.

The average interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.31 percent from 5.05 percent, with points increasing to 1.18 from 1.12.

The average interest rate for 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.8 percent from 4.59 percent, with points decreasing to 1.03 from 1.07.

The average interest rate for one-year ARMs increased to 6.5 percent from 6.47 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.11.

Florida Property Tax Rates Going Up

23 07 2009

Most of Florida’s 67 school boards are expected to approve property tax increases under a local option included in the state budget.

Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, says the boards aren’t happy about it but have little choice because of their dire financial straits.

Blanton says some boards already have passed the increases and others are expected to take votes during the next two weeks.

Each district is allowed to raise property taxes by $25 per $100,000 of taxable value for the next two years.

Voter approval, though, is required to retain the increase any longer than that.

Source: The Associated Press

Average U.S. Home Prices Rise in May

23 07 2009

Average U.S. home prices have started to rise, according to a monthly report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

FHFA says U.S. home prices rose 0.9 percent from April to May. In the Southeast, which includes Florida, the average price rose 1.4 percent.

On a year-over-year comparison, the FHFA report says average home prices are still down 5.6 percent and are 10.7 percent blow their April 2007 peak.

“Revisions and volatility of the monthly index make it hard to draw any conclusions, but the seasonally-adjusted Home Price Index for the first five months of this year is up 0.3 percent or 0.7 percent on an annualized basis,” FHFA Director James Lockhart said in a statement.

FHFA’s monthly and quarterly Home Price Index is based on conforming mortgages that are purchased or backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Source: Federal Housing Finance Agency

Minimum Wage Increases Friday

23 07 2009

The last of a three-phase increase in the federal minimum wage will go into effect on July 24, 2009. The base pay level of $7.25 an hour replaces Florida’s current minimum wage of $7.21 an hour.

While 4 cents may not seem like a lot to Florida workers, the hike is an 11 percent increase from the $6.55 an hour that was mandated by federal law.

The state’s minimum wage was raised to $7.21 in January from $6.79 in 2008.

The minimum wage applies to all employees who are eligible, and is different for employees who work off of tips.

Florida’s current rate for those in the latter category – $4.19 an hour plus tips – will increase to $4.23 on Friday.

State law requires the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation to calculate a new minimum wage each year and publish it on Jan. 1.

Employees who are entitled to receive minimum wage, but are not paid the minimum wage, can sue their employers for violating Florida’s minimum wage law.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

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