Category Archives: Real Estate

Mortgage Refinance Popular; Homebuying Not


In its most recent survey, the federal mortgage giant known as Freddie Mac reported average 30-year mortgage rates at record lows, continuing a trend that has kept home loans more affordable than they’ve been in decades. Unfortunately, few Americans have been able to secure new mortgages, thanks to tougher lending restrictions that have made it difficult for some prospective buyers to earn approval.

Rates Continue to Plunge

According to Frank Nothaft, VP of Freddie Mac, 30-year mortgage rates averaged 3.83 percent during the first part of May and have rested under 4 percent for all but one week since December. Affordable rates have combined with descending home prices to generate a veritable buyer’s paradise throughout much of the country; however, sales have remained stagnant, thanks to strict lending requirements.

These days, banks will only provide loans to borrowers who meet specific standards. Both the federal government and National Association of Realtors have tried to convince lenders to loosen their restrictions; unfortunately, the so-called freeze-out has continued. If you have a good job, good credit and enough loose cash to put toward a hefty down payment; you can get a very nice home at an amazing price. That said, if you don’t have all three, you aren’t likely to get approved for a mortgage.

Who is Taking Advantage

Although buyers are struggling to take advantage of low mortgage rates, many existing homeowners are having a field day. Mortgage refinance is more popular than ever, with many homeowners saving a bundle by switching their 30-year loans to 15-year plans and vice versa.

According to Freddie Mac, 15-year mortgage rates averaged 3.05 percent during the first part of May, down .75 percent from the same time in 2011. If you are doing well financially, you can save a bundle on interest fees by switching from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year plan. On the other hand, if you already have a 15-year loan, you can lessen your monthly payments by switching over to a 30-year plan.

Low rates have made mortgage refinance a smart move; however, before getting a new mortgage, it’s important to find out how much you will have to pay in closing costs and other fees. After all, these expenses can take a big chunk out of whatever savings you might enjoy by refinancing to a cheaper home loan.

Easy Home Decorating and Remodeling Ideas


The economic downturn has left homeowners struggling with unmanageable bills, and many have had to forget their plans for expensive spring upgrades. If this sounds like you, our home improvement expert has some cheap and easy home decorating and remodeling ideas that can drastically enhance the look of your apartment or house.

What to do with Floors?

According to our in-house home improvement expert, Jim Dugan, homeowners can drastically change the look of a house by altering the color of their floors.

“Many people don’t have the money to afford new carpet or hardwood floors,” he said. “If you’ve got old tile or cement floors, you can spice them up by adding the right indoor decorative concrete coatings.”

Dugan says even inexperienced do-it-yourselfers should be able to apply acrylic floor paint or epoxy floor coatings without the help of a professional; however, he does offer an important warning.

“Homeowners are usually shocked when they see what an epoxy or acrylic coating can do for their houses,” he said. “When applied properly, you’ll get a durable, glossy finish that looks just about as good as a show-room floor. Unfortunately, if you don’t properly prepare the surface first, you will get flaking; so it’s critical that you research the best way to encourage adhesion before you get started.”

Before you try this type of easy home decorating project, check out Dugan’s instructables to find out the best way to go about it.

Other Cheap Remodeling Ideas

Dugan says thrifty homeowners can also make a big impact on their home decor by buying new lighting and bathroom fixtures.

“If you don’t want to spend the money on these, you can even paint your metal fixtures with a glossy enamel,” he said. “That said, you need to research how to paint metal, or you are likely to end up with finish failure.”

According to Dugan, homeowners can also drastically change the look of their houses by refinishing the furniture.

“Refinishing is an easy home decorating strategy almost anyone can perform,” he said. “When most people think about refinishing, they picture wood stain; however, a good glossy, acrylic paint can add some real pop to a drab room. Again, though, it’s important that you know how to paint furniture, or adhesion problems may lead you to ruin the very piece of furniture you are trying to enhance.”

Mortgage Refinance Smart: Real Estate Refi News


According to the most recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.90 during the middle part of April, with 15-year FRM averaging 3.13 percent. The astoundingly low rates make now a perfect time for existing homeowners to consider mortgage refinance, especially if they fall into one of three categories.

Those Who Need Money

If you are having trouble managing your monthly bills, mortgage refinance could be the answer. If you are currently struggling with high payments associated with a shorter loan, expanding to a 30-year plan should help you lower your mortgage payments. Because current interest rates are so low, you can get a more manageable loan. This will allow you to free up money to pay down credit card debt and enhance the overall quality of your life.

Retiring Seniors

If you are an older American still paying on a 30-year loan, mortgage refinance can help you get rid of that burden before you retire. Low rates mean you can get a 15-year loan at a much lower cost. Because you save on interest fees, you’re able to pay more toward the balance every month. This allows you to pay off your house much sooner; so you won’t be burdened with monthly house payments, when you’re supposed to be enjoying your retirement.

Financially Stable Homeowners

If your finances look a lot better than they did when you first bought your home, getting a new mortgage can save you a lot of money. Most likely, the interest fees associated with your original loan are astronomical compared to the ones being offered today. By switching to a 15-year loan, you can save thousands of dollars in costly interest charges. This is a great strategy for people who can afford the higher payments. In the end, an investment like this can go a long way toward promoting a stronger financial future for homeowners who aren’t currently struggling with financial problems.

Important Considerations

Although a good refi loan can save you a lot of money, you need to consider one important point. Fees associated with the new loan can be relatively costly. Before you sign anything, do the math to make sure these fees won’t siphon away too much of your savings; otherwise, your refi strategy may not prove to be so valuable after all. Also, it’s be sure to use a mortgage calculator before contacting a lender.

Getting a New Mortgage Smart, These Days


The latest report from Freddie Mac suggests that home interest rates are on the decline again, which is good news for homeowners who are thinking about getting a new mortgage.

According to the federally-run corporation’s most recent Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), 30-year rate averages dipped below 4 percent to 3.99, while 15-year rates averaged out at 3.23 percent. Last week, reports estimated averages for 30-year loans at 4.08 percent, with 15-year plans at 3.30 percent.

Why Rates Slipped

According to Freddie Mac VP Frank Nothaft, interest rates slipped lower this week, thanks to weak economic indicators and declining home sales. Last week, rates jumped on the heels of an optimistic employment report, which caused U.S. Treasury bond yields to move upward; however, the gains were quickly erased in only seven days’ time.

What it Means for Homeowners

Low rates are generally good news for people who plan on getting a new mortgage, provided they have enough equity to fund a new loan. Unfortunately, declining property values have made it difficult for many Americans to refinance their home loans. On the other hand, if you do have enough equity; now is an ideal time to save money by shortening or lengthening your loan.

For instance, if you are currently paying on a 30-year plan, you can save thousands of dollars in interest charges by shortening to a 15-year option based on low current rates. This is a great plan for seniors who don’t want to carry a mortgage into their retirement, as well as ordinary homeowners, who don’t want to waste cash paying interest fees.

On the other hand, if you are currently struggling to handle a 15-year plan, you can free up cash for other expenses by switching to a 30-year refi option. Current rates are so low; you’ll enjoy much smaller monthly payments, which can take a lot of stress off families who are in financial distress.

Things to Consider

Although Freddie Mac reports low national rates, it bases its assessment on good-faith estimates from only a few lenders scattered about the country. Rates in your area may vary depending on the local economy and housing situation. The same can be said of property values, which remain high in many communities, despite low national averages. Finally, before getting a new mortgage, it’s important to consider any applicable fees and deduct this expense from your overall savings. Obviously, it won’t do any good to lower your monthly payment if high fees will offset your net savings.