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3 Steps to Becoming an Expert

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Peter Economy, management expert and co-author of the bestselling book, “Managing for Dummies,” says the secret to being more valuable at your job, revitalizing your career, or getting paid more is simple–become an expert. He recommends the following three steps to get there:

Step 1. Understand what you’re interested in. What you already know can put you within short reach of being an expert in your field (if you aren’t one already). This is the least time-intensive route. But if what you’re already doing no longer interests you, you must find something inspiring enough to make learning feel effortless.

Step 2. Focus on one thing at a time. Learn too many things at once and you’ll be overwhelmed and probably fail. Don’t move on to the next subject of your expertise until you feel comfortable with the one you’re working on now.

Step 3. Practice makes perfect. There’s no such thing as an overnight expert. Be willing to invest the time for:

  • Studying. Reading, taking courses, attending training or seminars, watching videos, hiring a mentor, and learning from other experts are all great avenues.
  • Applying. Getting practical experience will help you go deeper, work out the kinks, and fully explore your field of expertise.
  • Presenting. Documenting your findings with a journal or blog will help you understand even more facets of your expertise. If at all possible, write or speak about your trials and resolutions, teaching others about your journey.


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Economic Update – October 27, 2014

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Existing home sales rose 2.4% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million units. Compared to a year ago, September existing home sales were down 1.7%. The inventory of unsold existing homes on the market fell 1.3% to 2.3 million in September, a 5.3-month supply at the current sales pace.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending October 17 rose 11.6% from the previous week. Purchase volume fell 5%. Refinancing applications increased 23%.

Single-family new home sales rose 0.2% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 467,000 units. August’s initial reading of 504,000 units was revised to 466,000 units. On a year-over-year basis, new home sales were 17% higher than September 2013. At the current sales pace, there is a 5.3-month supply of new homes on the market.

Consumer prices rose 0.1% in September, following a 0.2% decrease in August. Compared to a year ago, September consumer prices have risen 1.7%. Consumer prices at the core rate — excluding volatile food and energy prices — were also up 0.1% in September.

Retail sales fell 0.3% for the week ending October 18, according to the ICSC-Goldman Sachs index. On a year-over-year basis, retailers saw sales increase 2.1%.

The index of leading economic indicators — designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months — rose 0.8% in September, following no change in August.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits for the week ending October 18 rose by 17,000 to 283,000. Continuing claims for the week ending October 11 fell by 38,000 to 2.351 million, the lowest level since December 2000. The less volatile four-week average of claims for unemployment benefits was 281,000, the lowest level since May 2000.

Upcoming on the economic calendar are reports on pending home sales on October 27, the home price index on October 28 and gross domestic product on October 30..

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Mortgage Market Guide Weekly – October 26, 2014

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Last Week In Review


It’s been said that “opportunity comes knocking.” And that’s certainly the case for people looking to purchase or refinance a home, as home loan rates remain near 18-month lows.

In recent weeks, investors have moved into the safe haven of the Bond markets for several reasons, including weak economic data here at home, concerns about Ebola, and economic and geopolitical uncertainty overseas. This has helped Mortgage Bonds reach 18-month highs, and since home loan rates are tied to Mortgage Bonds, rates have reached 18-month lows.

In addition, Stocks have been volatile due to the upcoming end of the Fed’s Bond-buying program. The Fed has been slowly tapering its purchases throughout the year, and every indication is that the Fed will completely end the program at its meeting on October 28 to 29. The key takeaway is that Stocks performed terribly after the first and second rounds of the Fed’s Bond-buying program ended. If Stocks worsen, Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates could continue to improve.

In other news, key housing reports showed mixed results for the sector. September Existing Home Sales reached its highest pace of the year, showing gains in all major regions except for the Midwest. September New Home Sales also reached a six-year high. However, New Home Sales for August, which were originally reported at 504,000, were revised to 466,000. Sales in June and July were also revised lower.

The bottom line is that home loan rates remain near some of their best levels of the year, and now is a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance.


Forecast for the week

A packed economic calendar is in store this week. Plus, the Fed meeting could cause volatility in the markets.

  • Housing news kicks off the week with Pending Home Sales on Monday, followed by the S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index on Tuesday.
  • Durable Goods Orders will also be released on Tuesday.
  • We’ll get a read on how consumers are feeling with Consumer Confidence on Tuesday and the Consumer Sentiment Index on Friday.
  • Thursday’s reports feature Weekly Initial Jobless Claims and the first reading on Q3 Gross Domestic Product.
  • Friday brings Personal Income, Personal Spending, Personal Consumption Expenditures (inflation index), the Employment Cost Index, and Chicago PMI (a regional manufacturing report).

In addition, the Fed’s next two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee begins Tuesday, with the Monetary Policy Statement being released on Wednesday. Investors will be watching closely to see if the Fed fully tapers its ongoing Bond-buying program. This announcement has the potential to create volatility in the markets.

Remember: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result. The chart below shows Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), which are the type of Bond on which home loan rates are based.

When you see these Bond prices moving higher, it means home loan rates are improving–and when they are moving lower, home loan rates are getting worse.

To go one step further–a red “candle” means that MBS worsened during the day, while a green “candle” means MBS improved during the day. Depending on how dramatic the changes were on any given day, this can cause rate changes throughout the day, as well as on the rate sheets we start with each morning.

As you can see in the chart below, Mortgage Bonds remain near 18-month highs, helping home loan rates reach 18-month lows. I’ll continue to monitor them closely.

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