The Fed rate cuts: Good for Mortgages?

If you follow the housing market at all, odds are you have seen that interest rates for buying a home have dropped twice over the last year and are lower than they’ve been in quite some time. So, what does this mean for consumers and therefore, mortgages?

Well, check out the article below from Prescott’s own The Daily Courier to read what they’ve learned from sources such as The Federal Reserve and Freddie Mac:

What Fed’s rate cut means; good for mortgages?

The Federal Reserve has cut its benchmark interest rate again, big news for the U.S. economy but something that will likely have a muted impact on Americans’ personal finances, experts say.

That’s because the reduction doesn’t offset the increases of recent years. And as the key rate creeps closer to zero, financial institutions are less eager to pass borrowing benefits along. Lower rates could also further dampen the perks of savings.

As a reminder, the Fed slashed its benchmark rate — which affects a host of consumer and business loans — to near zero during the recession and kept it there until 2015. Then, as the economy improved, it raised rates several times. Now it has lowered them twice in one year, despite a fairly healthy economy, due to concerns about slowing economic growth and global trade tensions.

The central bank on Sept. 18 reduced its key rate by a quarter-point to a range of 1.75% to 2% and said it’s prepared to do what it deems necessary to sustain the U.S. economic expansion.

Here’s how the latest move may play out for consumers:

MORTGAGES

This is a bright spot for consumers. Mortgage rates remain at near historic lows and, while they do not move in lockstep with the Fed, they are influenced by some of the same factors. As of last week, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.56%. A year ago, it stood at 4.6%, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, said that this full percentage point difference is “the single biggest impact on consumers” in this low rate environment. Low interest rates on mortgages can open the door for homeowners to refinance and save money or for people shopping for a house to secure an attractive rate. Someone with a $200,000 mortgage could potentially save $125 to $150 a month with a reduction of that size, McBride estimates, which is a meaningful increase in a household budget.

Mortgage rates fell sharply over the summer as broader economic concerns caused interest rates on government bonds to tumble. The yields on government bonds, especially the 10-year Treasury note, influence long-term mortgage rates. And while mortgage rates may move up slightly as they have in recent weeks, they remain historically low and no one expects major hikes soon.

BORROWING

The rate for other forms of borrowing — credit cards, home equity loans or personal loans — won’t see much of a change.

“The Fed raised interest rates nine times between 2015 and 2018,” McBride said. “Unwinding a couple of those puts us back to where we were this time last year, and rates are still notably higher than they had been as recently as a couple years ago.”

Lenders are also less likely to pass along decreases to consumers than increases.

Credit cards, for example, track the bank prime rate, which is 3% above the federal funds target rate. The prime rate will move down immediately after the Fed’s decision but many credit card issuers do not automatically adjust rates downwards because they have leeway in their contracts to do so. Some issuers may elect to keep rates unchanged to account for default risk or increase profits, said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at LendingTree.

The average interest rate on a credit card is 17.61% as of Wednesday, according to Creditcards.com. A year ago it was 16.92%.

Other types of short-term borrowing, such as adjustable rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit, are more directly impacted by changes by the Fed. But Kapfidze said that as rates approach zero, they’ve been less responsive and he expects the latest reduction will see a muted reaction as well.

SAVINGS

Interest rates on savings accounts were already historically quite low and will likely stay that way.

The FDIC reports that the average rate paid on savings accounts in the U.S. is 0.09%. While some lenders have been competing online to offer high yield savings accounts with rates well above 2%, a few banks have already opted to dial back those offers. Marcus, the retail bank arm of Goldman Sachs, and Ally Bank both lowered the rates on their savings accounts this spring, just ahead of the Fed’s prior rate cut in July. There are still some savings accounts well above the national average available but those rates will likely dip after this most recent announcement.

All the same, this shouldn’t discourage people from saving, McBride said.

Consumers who find themselves worried about an economic downturn should still take steps now to shore up their finances, regardless of rates. That includes paying down debt, refinancing at lower rates and boosting emergency savings.

This “will enable households to better weather an economic downturn whenever one should materialize,” he said.

9/11

September 11th is tomorrow. It’s been eighteen years since one of the most memorable days in the history of the United States when more than 3,000 people were killed in multiple terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

When looking for the right things  to say to convey the gravity and magnitude of this horrid day, there were/are no words to encapsulate it.

Researching 9/11 for content for this blog, we came upon this video from history.com. Striking awe and unspeakable sadness in us with a small glimpse reminding us of how awful this day truly was, this video is better than anything we could say. September 11, 2001. We will never forget.

September 11th Facts from CNN.com:
  • Nineteen men hijacked four fuel-loaded US commercial airplanes bound for west coast destinations. In the attacks, people were killed in New York City, Washington, DC and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attack was orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
  • At the World Trade Center (WTC) site in Lower Manhattan, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the north and south towers, or as a result of the crashes.
  • Of those who perished during the initial attacks and the subsequent collapses of the towers, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers and 37 were officers at the Port Authority. The victims ranged in age from two to 85 years. Approximately 75-80% of the victims were men.
  • At the Pentagon in Washington, 184 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.
  • Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93 died when the plane crashed into a field. It is believed that the hijackers crashed the plane in that location, rather than their unknown target, after the passengers and crew attempted to retake control of the flight deck.
  • As of July 2019, 1,644 (60%) of 2,753 WTC victims’ remains have been positively identified, according to the medical examiner’s office.

9/11 Remembrance in Prescott, Arizona:

If you’re looking for a way to further remember this day, don’t forget about Healing Fields going on at the Prescott Valley Civic Center Lawn this week. Stop by to see each life lost on 9/11 represented by an American flag, including a short bio of their life. For more information about this week long event, check out our blog about it here.

 

The History of Labor Day!

Today is Labor Day and, ironically, we celebrate it by not laboring. That’s right, for the majority of American’s today, we celebrate Labor Day by getting an extended three-day weekend to vacation, relax, or do whatever else our hearts desire.

In case you didn’t know, this year is the 125th anniversary of Labor Day being celebrated as a national holiday and what it is, is the celebration of the American worker. The U.S. Department of Labor defines Labor Day as this: “Labor Day is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

The first time the government recognized Labor Day was when municipal ordinances passed in 1885 and 1886. From these ordinances, a movement was developed to secure state legislation. After this, the first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but it was actually Oregon who became the first to pass it into law on February 21, 1887. More states followed suite in the years to come, but it wasn’t until June 28, 1894 that Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

It wasn’t an easy fight though to get this holiday passed, which came about by those fighting to start getting more fair working conditions and wages in this time. According to history.com, Labor Day “…originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks. As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.”

There is far more to this historical time than can fit into one small blog, but read the history channels full article here to get all the details.

This Labor Day, while we’re grilling, relaxing, and spending time with our loved ones, let’s try to remember those who’ve gone before us to fight for many of the freedoms and rights we have today within in the workplace. AND, thanks to them, we get a long holiday weekend!

Home Chores for the Summer

With the warmer weather comes more opportunities to do the outdoor chores you haven’t been able to do, or haven’t needed to do, because of winter. Whether it be you doing the chores yourself, or maybe taking advantage Summer vacation and assigning your kids more household chores, here are some summer chore ideas to keep your whole family busy and get the house in tip-top shape and ready to be used:

Mow the lawn:  Since you laid down your summer grass seed a few months ago (right?), it’s time to mow it and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Get that grass cut and take a blanket out on the lawn for a picnic with the family, or to lay in the sun and read a book. Don’t forget to make sure it’s getting adequate watering, though hopefully monsoons will hit soon and do that job for you!

Trim the yard plants: This is one chore that – done properly – can really make a difference in the appearance of both your front and back yard. Whether you just want your home to have a clean-cut look, or you’re throwing a backyard BBQ, trimming the bushes and trees in your yards make your house look amazing and show that you take pride in taking care of your home. This is also very beneficial for your plants, as it gets rid of dead or excess branches, and helps them to grow healthier.

Do some landscaping projects: Always wanted to add a gardening bead for flowers or fruits, or vegetables? Why not this summer? Or maybe you’d like to make an easy path to and from somewhere? Some large pavers surrounded by mulch is an easy and cheap way to accomplish this clean look. Another idea would be building your very own firepit to enjoy the summer night skies and family time over s’mores. There are dozens of tutorials online of how to do this well and how to do this on a budget!

Pull some weeds: This one seems like a no-brainer considering the weeds are EVERYWHERE, but it is also a chore that easily gets put off for “next weekend” almost every weekend. If you aren’t careful though, those weeds will seed and spread, making next years weeds even worse! So, put on your gloves and grab your hula hoe, and go get those weeds! This simple chore will make your home look so much better and well cared for!

Wash the car: Now that we’re in that middle season between winter rains and monsoons, it’s a good idea to get your car washed. Get off the dirt and grime from weather and use, and get your car looking shiny and new. There are plenty of car wash business in the Prescott and Prescott Valley area if you just don’t have the time, or you could do this yourself or with the kids as a fun way to cool off while also accomplishing some work.

Clean outdoor items: This could include outdoor furniture like benches, tables, or hammocks, or maybe toys you’ll be using this summer such as boats, ATVs, or campers. Either way, we’re sure they could use a good spruce up after a long winter of not being used. Dusting, getting rid of cobwebs, and just a general overall cleaning are probably in order here. This will make that outdoor furniture ready to use and enjoy in the warm weather and will also make you ready to take those summer vacations or day trips where you’ll be using your recreational toys.

Spraying the house for bugs: This chore is probably best left to the adults rather than the kids, but if you live in Arizona, you know it is a must! Now is the time where all those not so missed creepy crawlies start making their long legged and winged return. Spiders such as wolf, daddy long leg, and even black widows can be common. Aunts, centipedes, and scorpions also make the list of bugs trying to call your home their home. Spray both the inside and outside of your home, getting every edge, door jam, windowsill, and point of access you can think. Of course, the bugs will be inevitable, but this will drastically reduce the amount of them you see in your house.

Mouse traps: Lastly, don’t forget to set up your mouse traps (gasp!). Yes, we have mice here in Prescott, Arizona. Field mice, pack rats, and more… you better get used to it if you plan to stay here. For the occasional mouse, setting up a few traps should do the trick, however, if you are having a real problem with them, it might be a good idea to call the exterminator. Make sure to be checking those traps and replacing them as needed.

Making Your Bedroom Feel Luxurious on a Budget!

For most of us, our bedroom is little more than a place to sleep and hold our belongings. However, just because it has always been that way doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way. You don’t have to settle for drab and dreary when what you really want is a bedroom that feels welcoming and relaxing the moment you walk into it. You don’t have to settle for a bedroom that’s just for sleeping when it can be so easy to jazz it up and make it your own!

One home trend that we’ve seen to be gaining some steam these days is converting your current bedroom into a luxury suite, or something comparable, no matter its size. If you want to live like royalty rather than just feel like you’re renting a cheap room for the night, then you’ll want to follow these tips.

 

Compartmentalize Your Activities

Organizing your bedroom and getting rid of the clutter will not only make it a more relaxing place to be, but it will also make it feel larger and will open up more space for new additions to make it more functional. These things could include adding a gorgeous desk for doing work or perhaps craft projects. Or, maybe you could even add a TV area for entertainment, providing a good way for you to use your bedroom for rest and relaxation.

 

Make it Chic

Choose a color palette that is both luxurious and classy. Silver and gold can seem tacky, so choose muted shades that complement each other. These types of color schemes are shown to make one feel more calm and relaxed, not to mention they go with just about anything and make it far easier to design your ideal space.

Another chic addition you could do that would make a statement is getting a brilliant and commanding headboard. This can instantly upgrade the look of your room without any other changes and also become a beautiful focal point in your room. Little tweaks and additions like these come at minimal cost with a great reward.

 

Light it Properly

Make sure that you have the right light to show off your designs. If you don’t have many windows, you’ll want to use more brilliant lightening to make up for the lack of light. However, if it’s too washed out or yellow, then it will look drab and run down. Switch to brilliant LEDs and see the difference.

 

Choose Your Accents Wisely

We already mentioned a headboard, but some elegant drapes can also make your room feel more royal. Hang them high and wide to make your windows appear grander. Being strategic with your furniture accessories is key for keeping you under budget, helping you avoid doing too much with the space, and putting minimal effort into the project while still seeing a huge difference.

Are you ready to make your bedroom more luxurious? If you tweak just the few small things mentioned above, you’ll be impressed by the results. The feeling of decadence and truly making a space your own will make you more confident in your surroundings, and also help you to fully relax in your very own bedroom.

Must Have Household Tools

When you own your home, things will inevitably break and get messy. Unless you want to spend your money on visits from a licensed contractor or a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to learn how to fix some of these household breaks yourself. Now, some may actually be severe enough that calling a licensed professional is your best and only option. However, some fixes are easily learned and performed on your own given you own the right tools. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.

Cordless drill: A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month. It makes installations and removals so much easier than if you just had a handheld screw driver (which may not even be sufficient enough for some of the projects you need to do). Don’t forget to purchase the proper screws for this either, or perhaps even some drywall anchors as well depending on where you want things hung up.

Drain cleaners: Shower and bathroom sink drains are very susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of human hair, use with animals, food, and so much more. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but not only do they not seem to work well on more difficult clogs, they’re expensive and can leave a lingering chemical scent that is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price. If your sinks are prone to larger clogs, then it might be worth investing in a “drain snake” that is more powerful at unclogging sinks and drains.

Shop-vac: No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass. A shop-vac can handle your large spills, or huge breaks with ease, and make your clean-up that much cleaner and safer.

Loppers: Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some kind of loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard. Whether you only need a pair of small sheers, or large powerful ones to cut off whole branches, these will definitely get put to use come springtime when everything is blooming and you need to trim things up a bit. You’d be surprised how affordable these can be, and also how useful!

Flashlight: When something happens that makes it so you need to get into that crawlspace, or that attic area, you’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight. Or, perhaps there is a huge storm at night and the power goes out. You’re going to want a few flashlights on hand in case you need to navigate through your home,

Clorox Wipes: These are SO handy to keep around and have easy access to. Need to quickly clean the house for last minute company, use these. Need to wipe up a spill real quick, use these. They are so helpful and convenient, and will get used on nearly a daily basis!

 

The Holiday Light Parade!

We hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends yesterday eating all the best foods, and giving thanks for all you have.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, those of us who have been waiting eagerly for the Christmas festivities have to wait no longer!

Tomorrow night, November 24th, is Prescott’s 23rd annual Holiday Light Parade.

The Holiday Light Parade happens every single year on the weekend after Thanksgiving Thursday. The parade starts at 6PM and begins at the corner of South Cortez Street and Carleton Street in downtown Prescott. As one might guess from the name, this isn’t any ol’ parade. No, this parade is a spectacular sight to see with everything in it adorned with Christmas lights from bottom to top! Floats, dancers, marching bands, and so much more – all decked to the nines in lights to truly give meaning to the name “Holiday LIGHT Parade.” This is the first “Christmas event” that takes place in Arizona’s Christmas city and there’s nothing else like it to help you jump into the Christmas season and cheer.

After the parade, there are plenty of festivities going on around downtown to keep the fun going. There will be a bonfire and party at the Mile High Middle School field after the parade. Grab a bite to eat with family and friends at one of the many local restaurants within easy walking distance around downtown like The Raven, Bill’s Pizza, Bills Grill, The Park Plaza and Liquor Deli, Prescott Brewing Company, Rosa’s, and many more. Meet with friends for coffee or hot chocolate at one of the numerous coffee shops downtown such as Wild Iris and Cuppers Coffee House. Or, meet them out for a drink on the famous Whiskey Row with bars like The Point, Jersey Lily’s, and Matt’s Saloon to name a few.

There is much to do and see to kick of your Christmas Holiday season this weekend in downtown Prescott. We hope you’ll join us there, and bring your friends and family to enjoy the show!

Black Friday!

Not to skip over the Thanksgiving Holiday and the many things we have to be thankful for, but speaking of things… Black Friday is almost here!

Black Friday used to just be on the day which is in its title: Friday. However, that soon became not soon enough for many stores and people, and now Black “Friday” often begins in stores on Thursday night, the night of Thanksgiving!

Black Friday signifies the first day of the traditional Christmas shopping season in the United States and is a day that stores offer up special discounted deals in order to sell more merchandise. This day has caused much pandemonium in the past with deals to good to be true. People camping out outside of stores, lines around corners to get into the store first to grab all the Black Friday gifts they’ve eyed in the sales catalog, and even so far as to have mobs of people all pushing to get into the store first causing shoving and injuries that land people in the ER! When it comes to sales, people do not mess around! Once that 60” TV you’ve had your eye on is gone, it’s gone, so one can understand the urgency to grab yours before they’ve all been taken.

Perhaps taking some of the pressure off the Black Friday holiday is Cyber Monday, which has almost become just as big. Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving promoted by online retailers who sell their merchandise at exceptional discounts comparable to Black Friday deals. The best part about Cyber Monday is all your shopping is done online, so you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home!

When researching what some of the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals were going to be this year, what we came up with mostly ranged on the technological side and it seemed as though the best deals will be taking place at affordable retail stores like Walmart and Target. Big screen TVs, tablets, phones, smart watches, video game consoles, Bluetooth speakers and headphones, laptops, and more. Nearly anything technological you could name seems to be being sold at an incredible discount this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, whether you normally partake in these days as part of your holiday season or not, it might be worth taking a look at the sales ads if you’ve been seeing a new TV or device in your near future.

All that being said, it is good to remember, and remind ourselves, that this holiday season isn’t about buying new “toys” and receiving all the things on our Christmas lists. The true meaning of the holidays is to give and give thanks. To be with loved ones and friends, and tell them how much we care for them. To be thankful for all that we have and are blessed with, not focus on what more we can attain. We pray your holiday season is filled with good food, good conversation filled with laughter and joy, and good time spent with those you cherish most.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Black Friday hunting!

When is the Right Time to Decorate for Christmas?

With Thanksgiving only three days away, we’re sure you’ve seen eager friends and family members already setting up for the Christmas Holiday. Every year after Halloween it becomes more and more common for many people to seemingly skip right over Thanksgiving (not the actual holiday – because we still love a good excuse to stuff our faces with amazing food) and go straight to the tree trimming and light hanging.

Imagine sitting down at the family table for your Thanksgiving meal with the Christmas tree already set up in the corner. This is a common thing for many families and some of you may be asking, “What’s wrong with that?” Nothing at all! However, it does beg the question: is there a right and wrong time to set up for Christmas?

For those of us who love our fall decorations, waiting to set up for Christmas until Thanksgiving has passed makes the most sense. While we love Christmas decorations, we also love our pumpkins, fall leaves, and cute little scarecrows. Having these decorations up for the fall Holiday makes it feel more like Thanksgiving and removing them to set up for Christmas before the Holiday has passed would feel like skipping over it. As soon as that Thursday is done and over with though, we’re pulling out the tree and blasting Christmas music for all to hear.

On the other hand, there are those of us who somewhere between the first of November and Thanksgiving just can’t help ourselves! Out come the Christmas decorations and away go the fall decorations. To those people, one month is just not long enough time to get in all the Christmas joy and cheer they’ve been waiting to have all year round. Because that is what Christmas brings right? It’s not called “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for nothing. We love our Christmas lights that bring awe and wonder, our joyful songs to which we know all the lyrics, the cookies and treats overflowing, the gifts to show your loved ones you care, caroling, hot cocoa, family gatherings, and the list could go on! There is just something about the Christmas season that makes it nearly everyone’s favorite holiday.

Maybe you land somewhere in the middle with your fall and Christmas decorations out at the same time? Maybe you don’t decorate for Christmas until two weeks before? Or, maybe you don’t decorate for the holidays at all? Write your comments below; we’d love to hear what your family does as far as decorating for the holidays.

Though everyone has their own opinions, I’m sure we can agree that there is no right or wrong time to decorate for the holidays. To each their own we say! So, whether your Christmas tree is waiting to be put up this weekend, or is already up, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry early Christmas to you and your family!