Real Estate Insider Blog

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How are Mortgage Rates Affecting Buying?

There is good news to report for both buyers and sellers at the start of 2016. When mortgage rates were raised by the Federal Reserve in December for the first time in almost a decade, many assumed that end was near for record-low mortgage rates. So, far this hasn't been the case.

Mortgage Rates and Real Estate

What we are currently seeing in the mortgage market tells us that the Federal Reserve isn't the sole determinant of U.S. mortgage rates.  According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year mortgage rate fell for a fourth straight week to 3.79%.   Rates on 15-year fixed mortgages have also dropped to 3.07%.

While some adjustments in mortgage disclosure rules slowed down closings at the end of 2015, the market was able to adapt and end the year on a high note. According to the most recent report by the National Association of Realtors, sales of existing homes increased 14.7% in the last month of 2015. According to the same report, homes are moving faster as well. The average days on market in December was 58, down from an average of 66 the year before.

As favorable mortgage rates continue to make homes affordable, we can expect to see first-time home buyers and repeat buyers both show interest in home ownership and gain loan approvals more quickly. Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home, right now is an excellent time to be in the real estate market.

Tampa Bay Real Estate

Locally, the Tampa-St. Petersburg market...

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By Brian Honea

Following months of talk and speculation, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently announced they will begin allowing qualifying first-time borrowers to purchase homes with just a 3 percent down payment.

By lowering the down payment down to 3 percent, leaders from the GSEs and the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) hope to increase homeownership and particularly household formation by offering loans to those who can afford mortgages but lack resources to make a 20 percent down payment plus closing costs.

Those who have pushed for the lower down payment, such as FHFA Director Mel Watt, have endured criticism from lenders due to the perceived risk involved with making a mortgage loan such a high maximum loan-to-value ratio.

"These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices," Watt said in a prepared statement. "To mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness.  In addition, the new offerings will also include homeownership counseling, which improves borrower performance. FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans."

Freddie Mac has announced the launch of Home Possible Advantage, which is an affordable, conventional mortgage with a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 97 percent to...

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