Mortgage Rates Newsletter - Market Analysis

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Mortgage Rates Just Barely Higher, But Lower This Week
Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:36:49 GMT - Mortgage rates rose modestly today, but many lenders were essentially unchanged compared to yesterday's latest offerings. Moreover, rates ended the week slightly lower compared to last Friday's latest levels. That's no small victory in 2018, despite the fact that it is a small victory in general. Part of the motivation toward slightly higher rates over the past 2 days could be the looming Fed announcement next week. Oftentimes, bond markets (which underlie rates) don't want to move too far outside recent ranges when there's a risk the Fed may say or do something to redefine that range. In the current case, Wednesday's improvement brought average rates to their best levels in roughly 3 weeks. Traders aren't eager to explore anything lower without the Fed's blessing. But at the same time, they
Mortgage Rates Hold Steady at Lowest Levels in March
Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:42:23 GMT - Mortgage rates held steady today as political headlines helped to offset some initial weakness in bond markets. When bonds weaken, rates tend to move higher. That said, this morning's weakness was quite modest. The helpful headlines (regarding Robert Mueller's subpoena of members of the Trump Organization) had a similarly modest effect, thus leaving bonds and rates in relatively unchanged territory. That's perfectly acceptable in this case because it means rates are holding in line with their lowest levels since March 1st. The risk is that March 1st served as a floor for rates after they began falling from mid-February highs. It could be the case that rates will have a tough time moving any lower than today's levels without more meaningful motivation and that they're waiting to decide on such
Mortgage Rates Match 2-Week Lows
Wed, 14 Mar 2018 20:10:58 GMT - Mortgage rates fell again today as several economic updates painted a slightly gloomier picture. In general, weaker economic data coincides with lower rates. First up were Retail Sales numbers, which moved into negative territory in February. Analysts expected a modest improvement. Later in the morning, several widely-followed sources of GDP tracking adjusted Q1 estimates significantly lower. For instance, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta keeps a running tally of where GDP would come out today given the incoming data. Today's reading fell to 1.9% from 2.5% last week. Following the GDP tracking updates, stock prices added to an already weaker performance and bond yields followed. Declining bond yields coincide with lower mortgage rates although that depends on lenders seeing enough of a decline
Mortgage Rates Lowest in More Than a Week
Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:58:14 GMT - Mortgage rates fell today following a tame read on inflation as well as the announcement of Rex Tillerson's departure from the White House. The Consumer Price Index--the most widely followed economic report on consumer-level inflation--showed prices moving up 0.2% in February (rounded up from 0.1501%). The median forecast called for a 0.2% increase. When inflation is falling (or rising more slowly), it tends to benefit bond markets, thus pushing rates lower . Given that the inflation data was fairly close to forecasts, it didn't have any sort of extreme impact today, but it added some downward pressure on rates. The Tillerson news came out a few minutes later. Markets reacted as they typically do to news that creates uncertainty with stocks and rates moving lower together. But since Tillerson
Mortgage Rates Just Barely Lower Ahead of Key Inflation Data
Mon, 12 Mar 2018 21:23:17 GMT - Mortgage rates spent the entirety of last week at the same levels based on end-of-day rates sheets from the average lender. That was a tremendously uncommon length of time for rates to remain unchanged and it was especially notable against the backdrop of recent volatility. Today's rate sheet offerings came fairly close to extending the "unchanged" streak, but by the end of the day, lenders had improved just enough for the average to move 0.01% lower. When we talk about 0.01% changes in mortgage rates, it's important to know that most lenders only offer rates in increments of 0.125% . That's a much bigger move than we see on the average day, so lenders need a way to make adjustments beyond the rate itself. They accomplish this with upfront costs and/or credits. For instance, lower the upfront


When you have little equity in your home, or owe as much or more on your mortgage than your home is worth, it can be difficult to find a lender willing to help you refinance. But for borrowers who have remained current on their mortgages, and have loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is hope. It's called HARP. 

Introduced in March 2009, HARP enables borrowers with little or no equity to refinance into more affordable mortgages without new or additional mortgage insurance. HARP targets borrowers with loan-to-value (LTV) ratios equal to or greater than 80 percent and who have limited delinquencies over the 12 months prior to refinancing. 

Significant changes have been made to HARP since the program was first introduced. For example, in 2011 the LTV ceiling was removed, property appraisal requirements were waived in certain circumstances, certain risk fees for borrowers selecting shorter amortization terms were eliminated, and certain representations and warranties were waived. In 2013, the eligibility date was changed from the date the loan was acquired by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to the date on the note, increasing the pool of eligible borrowers. 

HARP has also been extended several times and will now expire on December 31, 2016. 

Through HARP, you can get a lower interest rate (which means less out-of-pocket costs each month), get a shorter loan term, or change from an adjustable to fixed-rate mortgage. There's no minimum credit score needed, either. 

And now that HARP guidelines are simpler, even people who were formerly turned down may now be eligible for HARP refinancing.  

How can HARP help me?

If you are current on your mortgage; have a mortgage that is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and owe as much or more than your home is currently worth, you may be eligible for HARP refinancing. That can mean significant savings by: 

  • Lowering your monthly payment
  • Reducing your interest rate
  • Securing a fixed-rate mortgage that won't change over time
  • Building equity faster—shorter term options may be available
  • Lower closing costs because an appraisal is not usually required

HARP program includes:

  • No underwater limits
    Borrowers will now be able to refinance regardless of how far their homes have fallen in value. Previous loan-to-value limits were set at 125 percent.
  • No appraisals or underwriting
    Most homeowners will not have to get an appraisal or have their loan underwritten, making their refinance process smoother and faster.
  • Modified fees
    Certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term loans have been reduced.
  • Less paperwork
    Lenders now need less paperwork for income verification, and have the option of qualifying a borrower by documenting that the borrower has at least 12 months of mortgage payments in reserve.
  • Program Deadline
    The end date to get a HARP refinance is December 31, 2016.

How do I know if I'm eligible for HARP? You may be eligible for HARP if you meet all the following criteria:

  • Your mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
  • Your mortgage must have been originated on or before May 31, 2009.
  • Your current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80%.
  • You are current on your mortgage, with no 30-day+ late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

How do I find out if Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae owns my loan? Visit the eligibility page and use the Loan Look-up Tools to help you determine if your loan is owned or backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. After entering basic information (e.g., name, address) into the tool, you will receive an immediate response indicating whether Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae owns your mortgage. How do I find out if my lender offers HARP? We encourage you to call your lender as soon as possible and ask them if they participate in HARP. For your convenience, visit for guidance on how to get started. There you will find helpful links for lender information and lenders who work with existing borrowers. If your lender is not listed, it doesn't mean they don't offer HARP — reach out to them using the contact information on your mortgage statement and ask for the refinance department. If your current lender does not offer HARP, there are other lenders that you can contact. Review the list of participating HARP lenders, available under the "Resources" tab on, to find a lender who can discuss your options and eligibility with you. Frequently Asked Questions I tried to refinance through HARP when the program was first introduced, but I owed more than 105% of the value of my home. Should I try again? Yes. HARP has been enhanced since the program was first introduced in 2009. Now, HARP allows borrowers, who owe significantly more than their house is worth, to refinance and take advantage of today's low interest rates. If I owe more than my house is worth and don't have the money to pay my loan balance down, can I still refinance through HARP? Yes. HARP allows you to refinance even if you owe more than your house is worth. If you refinance under HARP and your new loan is a fixed-rate mortgage, there is no maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. * If you refinance under HARP and your new loan is an adjustable rate mortgage, your LTV may not be above 105%. To calculate your LTV, divide the outstanding mortgage balance by the approximate value of your home. * The interest on any portion of your loan that is greater than the fair market value of your property is not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes. Please consult your tax advisor for more information. It is very time consuming to pull together all the paperwork to refinance. Do I need the same amount of paperwork to refinance under HARP? HARP offers a more streamlined process than traditional refinance programs, requiring less documentation and allowing for a smoother and faster transaction. Please contact a HARP lender for more details on what you will need to provide. I've had my loan for seven years and don't want to start all over again with a 30-year mortgage. Can I refinance into a shorter-term loan? Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae allow you to refinance into fixed-rate mortgages with terms anywhere from 10 years to 30 years. Check with your lender to see if they offer shorter-terms and ask about refinancing into a shorter-term mortgage. Is there a benefit for homeowners to shorten the terms of their mortgage? A shorter-term mortgage enables you to pay down the amount you owe much faster than a traditional 30-year mortgage. Furthermore, interest rates on shorter-term mortgages usually are lower than 30-year mortgages. The lower interest rate may allow you to shorten the term of your mortgage without much change in your monthly payment and you will pay less interest over the life of the loan. Can I refinance under HARP if my property isn't my primary residence? Yes. In addition to primary residences, HARP allows you to refinance even if your property is an investment property or second home. I live in a condominium. Can I refinance under HARP? Yes. HARP allows mortgages on condominiums to be refinanced. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guidelines indicate that I should be eligible for HARP, but my lender said I am not. Why? Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae purchase mortgages that meet each of their requirements from banks and other lending institutions. Lenders may have their own requirements in addition to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae HARP guidelines. It is important that you reach out to your lender to discuss your eligibility for the program. My loan was previously modified; can I still refinance under HARP? You may be able to refinance with HARP as long as your original loan meets the basic eligibility requirements outlined in Question #1. It is best to speak with your lender directly so they can ensure you meet the other eligibility requirements for HARP. Frequently Asked Questions Will refinancing through HARP reduce the principal amount that I owe on my loan? No. HARP is designed to help borrowers get into more affordable loans, but will not reduce the principal amount you owe on your mortgage. However, refinancing through HARP can benefit you with a new loan that has more favorable terms, such as a lower interest rate that will save you money by reducing your monthly payment and the amount of interest that you pay over the life of the loan. Is HARP the only refinance program available? What if I am not eligible? HARP is only one of several refinancing options that may be available to you. HARP is unique because it enables homeowners with little to no equity in their homes to take advantage of today's low interest rates and other refinancing benefits. If you find that you are not eligible for HARP, we encourage you to contact your existing lender or another lender in your area to explore other refinancing options that meet your specific needs. Are offers from companies promising to help me get a HARP loan legitimate? Many borrowers have become wary of the multiple solicitations they receive to refinance their mortgage. Legitimate offers often have specific information identifying your current mortgage, including the loan number your mortgage servicer uses with your mortgage — which is printed on your statement. Valid offers will not require you to pay an upfront fee for services. If you are unsure if an offer is legitimate, we recommend you call your lender before responding to third-party companies that advertise themselves as "mortgage experts" or "foreclosure specialists" to apply for a HARP loan.


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