Economic update for the week ending July 22, 2017

Crude Oil  $45.60    -    Gold  $1,255.00    -    Silver  $16.38     -    EUR/USD  $1.1659

Stocks almost unchanged this week -  In a calm week, the S&P and Nasdaq remained at record highs while the Dow was slightly lower than the record highs of last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week at 21,580.07, down from 21,637.74 last week. The S&P 500 closed the week at 2,472.55, up from its close last week of 2,459.27. The NASDAQ closed the week at 6,387.75, up from last week's close of 6,312.47.

Bond yields drop this week -  The 10-year Treasury bond closed the week at 2.24%, down from 2.33% last week. The 30-year treasury yield ended the week at 2.81%, down from 2.91% last week. Mortgage rates follow Treasury bond yields so we watch bond yields carefully.

Mortgage Rates lower this week -  July 20, 2017, Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey reported that the 30 years fixed mortgage rate average was 3.96%, down from 4.03% last week.  The 15 year fixed was 3.23%, down from 3.29% last week. The 5-year ARM was 3.21%, down from 3.27% last week.

Los Angeles County unemployment rate unchanged in June -  The unemployment rate remained at a record low of 4.4% in June. A year ago, the unemployment rate stood at 5.2%.

California existing home sales and prices up in June -  The California Association of Realtors announced that sales of existing, single-family detached homes totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 443,150 units in June. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2017 if sales maintained the June pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales. The June figure was up 3.3% from the revised 428,890 level in May and up 2.4% compared with home sales in June 2016 of a revised 432,880. Year-to-date sales are running 3.2% ahead of last year’s pace.  The statewide median price was up 0.9% from a revised $550,080 in May to reach $555,150 in June and was 7.0% higher than the revised $518,830 recorded in June 2016. The median sales price is the point at which half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Foreign home buyers set U.S. record -  The National Association of Realtors announced that foreigners purchased 284,455 residential properties in the 12 months ending March 31, 2017. That's an increase of about 34% from the same period one year ago. The dollar volume surged nearly 50% to $153 billion. That was a new record. Chinese nationals purchased $31.7 billion worth of residential properties, up from $27.3 billion one year earlier. The group with the largest increase was Canadians who purchased $19 billion worth of residential properties, up from $8.9 billion in the 12 months ending March 31, 2016. It was a dramatic jump considering that the strong U.S. dollar makes properties more expensive. Foreign buyers spent $35 billion on California residential properties. That was up from $27 billion one year earlier. Asian buyers represented 71% of foreign buyers in California, up from 51% a year earlier. Buyers hailing from the United Kingdom, Mexico, and India completed the top five, spending a respective $9.5 billion, $9.3 billion, and $7.8 billion. They were followed by buyers from Brazil, Venezuela, Germany, France, Vietnam, and Japan.

Want to sell and get the most money for your home? -  Of course you do! So avoid doing these seven things when you put your home on the market.

  1. Ignoring your agent's advice -  A good listing agent can assist you with pricing your home, marketing it, negotiating with buyers, and guiding you through the closing process. That's a lot of responsibility. Your agent has a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests. You need to trust the person's advice.
  2. Neglecting important repairs prior to listing your home -  Most home buyers will require a home inspection contingency. But that doesn’t mean you should wait for the home inspector to tell you what to fix. If your home has noticeable flaws, go ahead and ask your agent whether you should address them before putting your house on the market.
  3. Being restrictive with showings -  If you want the greatest number of potential buyers to see your home, you need to be extremely flexible when responding to showing requests. Bear in mind that if you decline a showing, the buyer might not come back, and you could potentially lose out on a great offer.
  4. Failing to keep the house tidy -  To be prepared for last-minute showing requests, you have to keep your home relatively clean, neat, and organized at all times. Your home should look as much like a model home as possible.
  5. Being present for showings or open houses -  Home buyers are already apprehensive about touring a stranger’s property, so don’t make things even more awkward by sticking around for open houses or showings. Buyers need to be able to envision your home as their own, which can be difficult to do if they see you hanging around the house.
  6. Letting a pet spoil your sale -  Even though you love your pet, a home buyer might not feel the same way. Also, dogs, cats, and other animals often leave behind a bad odor, which can be an immediate turnoff.
  7. Reviewing offers with a closed mind -  Many people form an emotional attachment to their home. But don't let those feelings cloud your vision, especially when you receive offers. In an ideal world, you’ll nab a full-price (or higher) offer for your home, but be willing to negotiate if you receive an offer that’s below list price.

9 Getaways without leaving the city -  From a sprawling Oceanside resort where you can lounge poolside in a private cabana to a bar that’s got the look and feel of a chic beach house, these are the off-the-beaten-path spots to erase all your weekday worries.