Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for the 'refinance' Category

That new Pinellas County home just got more affordable, thanks to historically low interest rates

     What is it with interest rates? They just seem to get lower and lower. Today’s rates are at historic lows. Is that stimulating home sales? It doesn’t seem so – not that much, anyway.
 intderest rate art    How low are interest rates? Right now they are as low as 3.90 percent, or even a bit lower. Last year at this time the average rates for a conventional 30-year mortgage loan were a little over 5 percent, and we thought that was breathtakingly low.
     It is the lowest that interest rates have ever been in this country.
     Just for comparison, rates four years ago were around 7 percent, and we thought that was pretty darn good.
     So, should you actually consider refinancing if you bought your house a year ago? Maybe so.
     Let’s say you bought your house last February, and you financed $200,000 at 5.05 percent. That would make your principal and interest payment $1,079.76.
     Refinance that same $200,000 amount now at 3.87 percent, and your principal and interest payment would drop to $939.90. That’s a monthly saving of $139.86, or 13 percent. Not bad.
     I spent many years in the mortgage business, before I returned to my first love, real estate sales. I know a lot about the ins and outs of home financing. If you have questions about your plans for buying and financing a home, get in touch and we’ll talk – 727-643-7100, or [email protected] .

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Rates down, but down payments up for Pinellas County real estate (and real estate everywhere)

I’ve mentioned here a number of times how low mortgage interest rates are, and how they – along with the lowest home prices in at least a decade – make homes really affordable right now.

But to be fair, there is another side of the coin (isn’t there always?) which makes home-buying more of a challenge than it was in the rock-n-roll days.

down paymentI’m talking about down payments.

Home prices may be down, and interest rates may be at historic (or near-historic) levels, but the demand for more substantial down payments is up. It’s all part of the tougher underwriting standards; lenders want to see buyers begin the home buying process with a bigger personal stake in the transaction, and that means larger down payments.

Just a few years ago, it seemed like down payments were going to become a thing of the past. Nothing-down and little-down mortgages were all the rage, and you could buy expensive homes and finance them with big mortgages without having to come up with actual cash – or not much of it, anyway.

Great interest rates are available now, as I’ve written about in the past. But if you really want that rock-bottom rate, you’d better be ready to come up with a 20 percent down payment.  It’s still possible to get a mortgage and put less than 20 percent down, but the rates are going to be higher.

LendingTree came out with a report last week that listed state-by-state average down payments, and the average of all of them was 12.29 percent.

lendingtree(I know you’re wondering what the average rate is for Pinellas County real estate. Actually, LendingTree didn’t get that fine on rates, but the company DID say what the average down payment is for the state of Florida: 13.16 percent.)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac want at least 10 per cent down.  If you want the very best rate, you’re going to have to also pay for private mortgage insurance – not part of the down payment, but an upfront cost you can’t avoid.

A Lending Tree spokesperson said, “The reality is when you put less than 20 percent down, you have to pay for some kind of insurance to protect the lender from the higher risk that you’ll default…but private mortgage insurers these days aren’t always willing to do business with low down payments.”

There is some speculation out there that if we are going to continue to have record low interest rates, the mortgage industry may increasingly move toward that 20 per cent down payments.

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Rates keep on tumbling – in Pinellas County and elsewhere

Do you think of yourself as a nervy risk-taker? Steely-eyed, firm of hand, able to discern real opportunities when they come along?

If so, and you have a mortgage on your home, you may be starting to think about refinancing. After all, interest rates are at historic lows. Just about 10 days ago, Freddie Mac reported the average rate for 30-year fixed mortgages had dropped to 3.94 percent, which was the lowest rate in history.

So why wouldn’t you take advantage of that unbelievably low rate and refinance the old ranch?

graph downWell, because a lot of experts are saying that mortgage rates might go even lower, that’s why. That’s where the steely eyes and the firm hands come into play.

You could re-finance now and take advantage of great mortgage interest rates. OR, you could wait a little longer and (perhaps) take advantage of even lower interest rates.

Rates may vary a little bit in different areas around the country. But rates are WAY down almost everywhere you look, and the end of falling rates may not be in sight yet.

Why do these rates keep coming down? There are several reasons:

The Federal Reserve has been buying up mortgage-backed securities in hopes of forcing interest rates down.

President Obama is trying to strengthen the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which helps home owners refinance their properties – even properties with little or no equity.

The idea behind all this is that if lots of people refinance their mortgages, it could have a stimulating effect on the economy at large.

With current rates hovering around (or even below) four percent, it’s tempting to think about refinancing now. After all, how much lower can the rates go?

Many industry observers believe that you should be able to cut at least one percent off your rate when you re-finance. If you can’t do that, they say, closing costs and fees could counteract the benefits of the refinance.

But if you can talk the lender into waiving many of the fees associated with a refinance, then it may make sense to refinance, even if the new rate is only a half-percent better than the old one.

So… do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya?

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