Friday

Mortgage Rate Drops to 6.1%

Mortgage rates fell sharply this week with rates on 30-year mortgages dropping to the lowest level in more than two years. U.S. fixed-rate mortgages fell again according to Freddie Mac's survey released yesterday. 30-year mortgage rates dropped to an average of 6.10 percent this week, their lowest level since the week ended Oct. 13, 2005, when they averaged 6.03 percent. Analysts attributed the decline to increased worries that a severe slump in housing and a continuing credit crunch could drag the economy into a recession. The recent turbulence in stock markets has prompted many investors to rush to the safety of U.S. Treasury securities, driving down the yields on bonds. Fifteen-year mortgage rates declined to their lowest level in more than a year, falling to 5.73 percent from 5.83 percent last week. It was the lowest rate since the week ended Jan. 26, 2006, when the 15-year averaged 5.70 percent. For five-year adjustable-rate mortgages, rates edged down slightly to 5.86 percent, compared with 5.88 percent last week. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages edged up slightly to 5.43 percent, compared with 5.42 percent last week. The housing market has been suffering through a severe slump following five years of record sales. The weakness is expected to persist well into next year.

Insured Home Mortgage Defaults Reach Higher

Defaults by U.S. home-owners with private mortgage insurance rose last month to the highest since at least August 2001, adding to evidence that the housing slump is getting deeper at the start of its third year. According to data released today by the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America the number of insured borrowers falling more than 60 days behind on their home loans climbed to 59,308 in October, 28 percent more than a year earlier. The median price of new U.S. homes fell 13 percent in October from a year earlier, according to U.S. government data released this month. Treasury department is working with large financial institutions to come up with a plan that will freeze resets on certain subprime loans. Fed Chairman Bernanke indicated in a speech last night that more rate cuts are on the table.

Foreclosure rescue scams

Foreclosure rescue scams are multiplying in the wake of the nationwide sub-prime lending crisis that has caused lenders to repossess hundreds of thousands of homes. Many victims never report these scams, and even when they do, prosecution is difficult, so no concrete statistics exist, but consumer advocates and law enforcement experts say the scams are increasingly common.

Because lenders must file public notices of mortgage defaults, it's easy to find people who are on the brink of losing their homes. Con artists promise the homeowner that a network of investors would save their house from foreclosure by taking over ownership then renting it to them, promising that they could buy it back. Sure, the plan involves deeding the home to someone else. The promised advantages were appealing: cash back from the sale, lower monthly housing costs, assistance in improving the credit score and the chance to make money referring other people for similar lease-back plans. And you can buy back your home after 2-3 years when you can afford it again.

Con artists make money by getting title to the houses and stripping out equity by getting cash back at closing or by refinancing. Even if a house has no equity, if scammers get an artificially high appraisal, they can take out cash from the sale. Often, the victims are told that they can continue living in the home for minimal rent. The cons might make mortgage payments for few months, or they might not make any. Eventually, the house goes into foreclosure, the new deed holder walks away, and the former homeowner is evicted.

If you fear a foreclosure, don't talk to someone who comes to your door and offers a solution too good to be true, or who is advertising the service on little light pole signs in your ares. Always seek professional help. Read what you sign and use your common sense. Don't respond to the "we buy homes" ads. Talk to your Realtor if you need to sell your home. Your mortgage broker can be a good source for mortgage related information.


Saturday

Interest rate cut coming to Canada

Canadian interest rates could be coming down sooner than previously expected, experts said yesterday following Bank of Canada governor David Dodge's suggestion that a change to monetary policy could come next month. Dodge hinted the Bank of Canada may cut interest rates while he was in South Africa for a meeting of the Bank for International Settlements, saying global financial turbulence will be prolonged and poses a risk that central bankers must take into account. He added that the Canadian dollar has moved outside any normal ranges that it had been in, and these are really going to contribute to additional pressures. The Canadian economy, in particular manufacturing, forestry and tourism has been pinched severely in recent months by the dollar's sharp rise. A .25% cut may not be enough to bring the value of Loonie down but it will certainly be a boost for already strong housing market. The bank may have to cut rates even further to see some results in the currency markets. Borrowers will have to wait until at least next month before they start seeing some interest rate relief, but savers are already being nicked by rate cuts, as at least one major Canadian bank on Friday reduced the rates it pays on all of its guaranteed investment savings certificates by as much as one-quarter of a percentage point.

The bank makes its next scheduled announcement on interest rates Dec. 4.

Tuesday

What You Need To Get A Mortgage These Days

Lenders have become more cautious because they can no longer be sure of unloading dicey mortgages on big investors. That means they could get stuck holding them on their books. While all lenders have become more cautious, the biggest turnaround has been in the sub-prime and jumbo mortgage markets. The sub-prime markets lend money to people with less-than-perfect credit while the jumbo market serves people with good credit who want to borrow more than $417,000. If you have good credit and want a smaller mortgage, you should have no problem qualifying. Banks are still willing to make "conforming" loans because they know they can sell them.

Now-a-days Lenders are offering more straightforward deals and requiring their borrowers to meet these updated standards:


Clean Credit

Now lenders are back to what they used to be known for: scrutinizing credit scores. Out of a perfect score of 800, borrowers in the jumbo market must generally have a score of at lest 660, up from 560 since August.

Lower Debt Service Ratios

If your credit card debt, student loans, car loans and would-be mortgage payments come to more than 40%, your application will most likely be a bust.

Prove Your Income and Assets

Be prepared not only for requests for documentation from your employer, but also for records of all savings and investment financial accounts.

More Downpayment

Generally, you can't get away with putting nothing down these days. Figure on at least 5%, and up to 20% depending on your profile."You can also forget about taking out a second loan for the down payment.

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