In the Competitive Coronavirus Housing Market, This Loophole Is Making It Easier to Buy a House

The pandemic’s latest effect on the housing market could be a good one for borrowers: Fewer mortgages are requiring a home appraisal, which is making it a whole lot easier for some people to purchase a home or qualify for a loan refinance.

According to a September report from the public policy think tank American Enterprise Institute, appraisals were waived on 42% of all government-sponsored purchase and refinance mortgages in July, up from roughly 20% in December.

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Procrastinators, It’s Not Too Late to Refinance Your Mortgage and Save Thousands

Mortgage rates keep falling. Freddie Mac’s widely quoted Primary Mortgage Market Survey put rates at 2.86%, the lowest rate since the company began tracking mortgage rates in 1971. Yet, some experts say refinancing right now doesn’t make sense for every homeowner. What are the questions every homeowner needs to ask to determine whether now is the right time to refinance?

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How the Pandemic Is Persuading Millennials to Leave the City and Make Living in the Suburbs … Cool?

City living treated Dylan Gray well. For two years, Gray, 26, rented an apartment in downtown Indianapolis with bars, restaurants, and his office all in walking distance. But when the coronavirus pandemic required him to start working remotely, Gray set his sights on buying a home in Broad Ripple, a neighborhood with a suburban feel located six miles north of downtown.

“Once my ability to walk to work was no longer a factor, it made sense for me to buy a house, especially given how low rates are right now,” says Gray, a business analyst at Salesforce. He purchased a 3-bedroom detached house for $230,000 last month, using a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 3.3% interest rate.

Before the pandemic, many Americans relished the perks of living in a big city. According to a 2016 Census Bureau report, about eight in 10 Americans lived in urban areas. But COVID-19 has some urbanites reevaluating where they want to live—and the type of homes the want to live in. During the second quarter of this year, 51% of property views by urban residents of America’s 100 largest metros went to suburban properties, an all-time high since Realtor.com began tracking metro level search data in 2017.

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Fall Homebuying Outlook: Everything You Need to Know About Prices, Supply and Mortgage Rates

With spring homebuying season disrupted by the coronavirus, would-be house hunters may be wondering if this fall will be a good time to buy.

The housing market is typically slow after August, as kids settle in for the school year and the weather starts to cool in much of the country. But, this year, the answer to that question—like so many posed since the start of the pandemic—is maybe, it depends.

To help you make the best decision for you, we’ve outlined a few expert predictions, as well as four pros and three cons of purchasing a home this fall.

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How to Get Preapproved for a Mortgage: A Step-by-Step Guide for Homebuyers

Ready to get serious about buying a home? Get preapproved for a mortgage.

In a nutshell, a mortgage preapproval letter is a written statement from a lender affirming that you’ve qualified for a home loan and specifying how much money the lender will allow you to borrow. Historically, sellers have preferred offers that include such a letter, but many have begun requiring that buyers get preapproved before even taking a tour.

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Jumbo Mortgages Are in High Demand but Harder to Get Than Ever

Mortgage lenders began to tighten their purse strings when the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S. earlier this year, raising requirements for all borrowers and for those taking out large home loans in particular.

Mortgages that are too large to be purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprises that buy home loans, are known as jumbo loans. Across most of the country, a mortgage larger than $510,400 is considered non-conforming and fits in the jumbo bucket, though in some expensive markets the jumbo loan limits is as high as $765,600.

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House Hunters Now Need Pre-Approval Letters to Walk in the Door. What the Trend Means for Buyers, Sellers and Agents

Home buyers eager to take advantage of low interest rates are rushing to schedule home tours, just recently allowed in some places as stay-at-home restrictions are eased. To curtail potential exposure to the coronavirus, however, many sellers are trying to limit the number of people traipsing through their properties. To achieve this, real estate agents are suggesting that sellers only admit buyers who have been pre-approved for a mortgage.

A pre-approval letter is a written offer from a lender stating that a potential buyer has been tentatively approved for a mortgage and how much they would be permitted to borrow.

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With Mortgage Rates So Low, Getting a Floating Rate Mortgage Might Seem Crazy. Here’s Why I Did It Anyway

My mortgage payments are by far my largest monthly expense, so when I recently got the chance to cut them, I cut them as deeply as I could — even though it meant doing something I never thought I’d do: Forgoing the security of a fixed-rate mortgage for an adjustable one.

An ARM, also known as a “variable-rate mortgage,” offers a low introductory interest rate—typically for three, five, seven or 10 years—and when that period ends the rate turns into a floating rate for the remainder of the loan. Once rates adjust, mortgage payments for an ARM can double or even triple. With today’s mortgage rates at or near record lows, future rates may have only one way to go: up.

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Booking a Vacation Rental Is Complicated This Summer. Here’s How to Stay Safe and Get a Good Deal

Usually summer is the busiest time of the year for Tiare Cowan, a longtime Airbnb host in St. Augustine, Fla. But after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic in mid-March, Cowan, who rents out two units of her family’s beach home, saw a tidal wave of cancellations.

“We lost every single reservation through June over a three-week period,” Cowan says. “It was terrible.”

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Coronavirus ‘Contact Tracer’ is One of the Most In-Demand Jobs Right Now. Here’s How to Get Hired

States across the country are hiring tens of thousands of contact tracers to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It’s important work: Contact tracers help infected Americans recall the names of everyone they’ve recently come into contact with, and then track those individuals down to avert the disease’s path of infection.

Emily Gurley, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist and the lead instructor of a free online course on the fundamentals of contact tracing, calls the people who fill these roles “part detective, part therapist, and part social worker.”

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