Current Mortgage Rates at Bank of America, Wells Fargo and SunTrust Remain …

Current Mortgage Rates at Bank of America, Wells Fargo and SunTrust Remain Unchanged on August 27, 2014Last week, the number of applications for US mortgage loans increased as the demand for both new home purchase as well as refinancing loans experienced a hike.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported its seasonally adjusted index of home loan application activity, which includes both, home purchase as well as refinancing demand, increased 2.8% for the week ending August 22, 2014. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index for refinancing home loan applications increased 2.8%, while the gauge of mortgage applications for new home purchase loans, hiked 2.6%. The fixed 30 year mortgage interest rates averaged at 4.28% for the last week, down by 1 basis point from the rates quoted in the prior week. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s survey covered about 75% of US retail residential mortgage applications.

Bank of America

Today, according to the most recent mortgage information released by the Charlotte based mortgage provider, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), the standard, long term, 30 year fixed rate mortgage loans can be seen advertised at an interest rate of 4.125% and an annual return rate of 4.226%. The short term, 15 year fixed rate mortgage home loans can now be seen traded at an interest rate of 4.000% and an annual percentage rate of 4.151% today. The flexible, 5 year adjustable rate mortgage loans can now be seen listed against an interest rate of 3.375% and an annual percentage yield of 3.577% today.

In the refinancing home loan category, the bank quotes its popular 30 year fixed rate mortgage home loan options at an interest rate of 4.250% and an APR yield of 4.336%. The short term, 15 year refinancing fixed rate mortgage home loan options can now be locked in at an interest rate of 4.000% today and an annual return rate of 4.206%. The mortgage shoppers, who are planning on securing more flexible home loan deals, can opt for the best 5 year refinancing adjustable rate mortgage packages, which are currently traded at a starting lending rate of 3.500% and are backed by an APR yield of 3.664% today.

Wells Fargo

At one of the most popular US based mortgage financiers, Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), the standard, long term, 30 year fixed rate mortgage home loans are currently listed at an interest rate of 4.500% and an annual return rate of 4.670% on August 27, 2014. In the relatively shorter, 15 year fixed rate mortgage home loans are now quoted at an interest rate of 3.625% and an annual percentage rate of 3.890% this Wednesday.

In the refinancing mortgage home loan division, the mortgage shoppers can find the popular 30 year fixed rate mortgage home loan options listed at an interest rate of 4.250% and an APR yield of 4.335% today. The seekers of shorter and less expensive refinancing deals can now opt for 15 year fixed rate mortgage plans, which are traded at an interest rate of 3.500% and an APR yield of 3.647% today.


A closer look at the most recent mortgage information provided by SunTrust Bank (NYSE: STI) on August 27, 2014, will reveal that the standard, long term, 30 year fixed rate mortgage home loans, are still traded at an interest rate of 4.375% and an annual percentage rate of 4.4853%. In the short term lending section, the 15 year fixed rate home loans are advertised at an interest rate of 3.300% and an APR yield of 3.5109% this Wednesday.

When it comes to adjustable rate mortgage loans are concerned, the mortgage shoppers can find the 5 year variable rate home loans being traded at an interest rate of 3.200% and an APR yield of 3.0908%. The more flexible, 7 year adjustable rate mortgage options can now be locked in at an interest rate of 3.750% and an APR yield of 3.3954% today.

Disclaimer: The rates quoted above are basically the average advertised by a particular lending company. No guarantee of taken from the lender’ aspect whether the borrower will qualify for the mortgage rates mentioned in the article. The lenders dole out interest depending upon various facets, some of which may be unique to the borrower. This website does not engage in the sale or promotion of financial products and makes no claims as to the accuracy of the quotation of interest rates.

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With Current Mortgage Rates In The 3s, Home Values Hit 6-Year Best

FHFA Home Price Index (HPI): Home values reach a 74-month best as current mortgage rates fall into the 3s

According to the FHFA Home Price Index, U.S. property values climbed in June, the seventh straight month of home price growth nationwide. Home values are up 5% percent from last year and appear headed higher into fall.

Demand for homes is outweighing supply; and today’s mortgage rates are so low that they’re changing the economics of “Buy vs Rent”.

30-year mortgage rates are at their lowest point of 2014 and their best levels in more than a year. 

Click to compare today’s live rates.

Home Price Index: Highest In More Than 6 Years

The FHFA Home Price Index is a product of the Federal Home Finance Agency (FHFA). It tracks changes in a home’s value between subsequent sales. Data is supplied via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of the mortgage approval process.

The Home Price Index is benchmarked to a value of 100, which is meant to represent the U.S. housing market as it existed in 1991.

In June 2014, the Home Price Index climbed to 212.7 – its highest reading since April 2008.

Matching the value from April 2008 is significant to today’s U.S. housing market. At the time, last decade’s housing downturn was less than 12 months old and home values had yet to drop in many U.S. markets. The Housing and Recovery Act had yet to be created; and the HARP refinance program was twelve months for inception. 

The June Home Price Index shows a housing market in expansion, albeit a slowing one. Demand still outpaces supply, and listing prices for home are still rising. Competition for homes remain fierce.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 40% of all homes sold in 30 days or fewer in July. For today’s buyers, it’s become tough to find great, inexpensively-priced homes.

Thankfully, current mortgage rates are at their lowest point in more than a year.

Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey puts the 30-year fixed at 4.10 percent, on average, nationwide. Many lenders routinely quote mortgage rates in the 3s, however, and adjustable-rate mortgage rates are in the 2s.

Low mortgage rates give buyers extra purchasing power and expanded home affordability.

Click to get today’s live mortgage rates.

California, Washington, Oregon Gain Most

The FHFA’s Purchase-Only Home Price Index rose 0.4% in June 2014, and is up 5.1% from one year ago. The index is at its highest point in more than 6 years.

Home values cannot be considered on a national level, however. Indices such as the Home Price Index examine housing broadly, and do little to capture the buyer-seller activity of any one state, city, or neighborhood.

The Home Price Index does group its findings by region, however, and, in June, the Pacific Region led all U.S. markets, expanding 0.8% from the month prior. The North West Central Region was the laggard, losing 0.5 percent.

Over the last 12 months, home price growth has varied by region:

  • Pacific : +9.4% (Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California)
  • Mountain : +7.3% (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona)
  • Middle Atlantic : +3.0% (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania)
  • East North Central : +3.8% (Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio)
  • South Atlantic : 6.1% (Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida)

The New England Region, an area which includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut is +4.1 percent since last year.

Compare Today’s Mortgage Rates

Home values are higher nationwide but mortgage rates are down. The average 30-year mortgage rate is lower than it’s been in more than one year, and today’s low rates help to keep homes affordable. Low rates can’t last forever, though.

Get today’s mortgage rates now. Rates are available for online at no cost, with no social security number required to get started, and with no obligation to proceed.

Click here to get rates.

Try the Mortgage Payment Calculator

The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.

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How Long Will Low, Flat Mortgage Rates Last?

So many questions have been raised by the surprising state of affairs in the world of mortgage rates this year.  Why did rates move in the opposite direction from broad-based expectations to start the year?  Why have rates continued to hold their low ground in such a stable way?  Why have rates been able to push to year-over-year lows despite ever-stronger economic data?  Why do we now seem ‘stuck’ at those lows while Treasury yields have continued to fall?  And most importantly, how long will this relatively favorable environment stick around?

Mortgage rates are driven by movements in financial markets–most directly by MBS (mortgage-backed-securities, which actually dictate how much mortgage debt is worth to investors).  MBS are always trading with some level of correlation to broader bond markets where 10yr Treasuries are one of the best big-picture reference points. 

As is always the case when it comes to financial markets, there’s rarely ever a single answer that explains why things are the way they are.  This is certainly true of the current situation with mortgage rates.  That said, if we had to pick one predominant answer to all of the above questions, the only obvious candidate would be–in a word–Europe.

European market considerations have taken US markets on several wild rides since 2010.  This came to a head in 2012 with the 2nd Greek debt crisis.  That wasn’t just about Greece though.  Because the Eurozone countries share a currency, if Greece defaulted on its obligations, it would affect the currencies value, making it significantly more likely that the next weakest country would share a similar fate.  From there, the fear was that an irreversible domino effect would wreak havoc on the global economy and financial system.

That Greek drama ushered in all-time low rates in the US, because in 2012, it coincided with a time in the history of domestic monetary policy where markets saw the Fed’s only two choices as “hold steady” or “more easing.”  In other words, QE and other easy money policies were at no risk of being reversed.  The Fed’s foot never left the vicinity of the gas-pedal.  Treasuries hit all-time lows and Mortgage rates fell into the low 3′s.

It wasn’t until mid-2013 that the Fed’s metaphorical foot moved to the vicinity of the brake pedal and the conversation opened in earnest about the circumstances that might result in hitting the brakes.  The “taper tantrum” ensued, but for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the Fed did a reasonable job of snapping investors’ mindsets back to reality.  Investors, themselves, did a brutally efficient job of bracing for the expected slow-down in Fed accommodation. 

They did such a good job, in fact, that when the slowdown in accommodation finally got underway, rates had moved high enough already that there was no additional selling pressure.  The paradoxical improvements in rates in early 2014 were a result of expectations being so widespread that rates would go higher.  When everyone in the room is taking the same side of a bet, no one makes money.  So the entire month of January was spent moving sharply lower in rate–effectively resetting a new baseline for 2014.

And oh what a baseline it was!  Compared to the volatility of 2013, rates were barely budging in 2014!  There was no reason for them to move in either direction until inspiration of one form or another came along.  It finally did in early April.  That was when a Friday jobs report came out in line with expectations–something that rarely results in an abrupt improvement for rates–yet rates IMPROVED ABRUPTLY.  The culprit was news that had come out around the same time suggesting the the European Central Bank (ECB) had begun modelling a €1 trillion QE program. 

Europe hasn’t done QE yet–at least not in the same way we’ve done it in the US.  So this was big news.  The European economic weakness that brought about this news wasn’t nearly as relevant as the potential presence of an extra €1 trillion in the global monetary system.  If we’ve learned anything from the various instances of domestic QE, it’s that these big injections are worth something in and of themselves when it comes to trading levels.  As such, they’re immediately worth something to rates.

Of course, this was only the first phase of real QE consideration in Europe, but the ensuing weeks and months would show they were indeed serious about it.  Even as recently as this past weekend, the ECB President had reiterated the council’s commitment to “do what it takes,” and promised that work was continuing on their asset purchase program. 

In short, this has created tidal momentum in global rates markets, and it has made no sense for domestic bond markets to try to swim against it any more than they already are.  The benchmark European 10yr government debt is currently trading around 0.94%!  Compare that to US 10yr Treasuries at 2.40%!  These rates are no longer simply reflecting that “good old stuff” from days past (economic outlook and inflation), but are now serving as tactical betting tables for Central Bank policy. 

In other words, investors are not buying and holding German/European debt because they want to earn 0.94% interest over time.  They’re buying it because the trend is for that rate to move lower as European QE becomes more of a reality, and any drop in rate tomorrow or beyond equates to solid short-term profit for investors that buy those bonds today (as rates fall, the PRICE of the bonds rises, so investors are essentially buying low to eventually sell high).

US Treasuries don’t get nearly as much benefit from this phenomenon, but their movement certainly correlates heavily with European debt.  For Treasuries, this is really the only big-ticket inspiration in town in 2014.  So they’ve moved lower in rate despite improvements in economic data and stocks.  MBS are yet another degree removed from European influence.  They benefit, to be sure, but not as much as Treasuries.

Those benefits for domestic bond markets have been compounded by geopolitical risk in Ukraine (which incidentally also drives demand for core European bonds, further helping rates fall).  Geopolitical risk also has a distinct tendency to benefit sovereign debt markets over things like mortgage-backed-securities–offering yet another reason for Treasury rates to be falling faster than mortgage rates. 

To conclude, Europe is a wet blanket on domestic interest rates.  The proportions may not be epic, but they’ve been utterly persistent.  The nature of the degrees of separation between the source of the market movement and MBS has meant that US mortgage rates have only managed to trickle modestly lower in the last few months.  But the good news is that until something changes about the situation in Europe, it would be very hard for rates to embark on any significant move higher.  That’s a really long way of saying that the best 30yr fixed rates are in the low 4′s until they aren’t any more.  On the upside, it also leaves the possibility open for an ongoing trickle to get us back into the high 3′s.  This isn’t necessarily likely, but it’s possible, and that’s a lot more than we might have hoped for 9 months ago when the threat of moving out of the 4′s instead meant “low 5′s.”


Loan Originator Perspective

“Lender pricing improved once again today. The rate sheets i have viewed
showed lenders improving pricing by about .20bps. So if a rate
yesterday was giving you a one point credit, it now should give about a
1.20 credit. My advice is unchanged from yesterday. If you are within
10 days of closing, you should take this opportunity to lock in the
recent gains. Longer term closings should continue to float to see if
these gains can be built upon. However, rates are putting up quite the
resistance to move much lower. ” -Victor Burek, Open Mortgage

“Rates were pretty flat once again today even in the face of a much
better than expected consumer confidence reading which ended up being
one of the best reports in many years. Thursday and Friday we will get
some hard hitting data with the release of GDP and PCE reports. With
equities trading at all time highs it is possible for the numbers to
miss expectations and spark a bond rally but it is also equally possible
for stronger than expected numbers to create a bond sell off. Locking
today or tomorrow to protect your rate is the safest way to play the
data. ” -Manny Gomes, Branch Manager, Norcom Mortgage

“We’re getting all too familiar with a slow and mostly sideways grind at
or near current resistance levels. There is no telling when we bounce
off these levels which direction the bounce will take us or what exactly
might cause it. For borrowers with little risk tolerance and closing
in the next 30 days, my opinion is to go ahead and lock in as pricing
deteriorates quicker than it improves and my opinion is there is little
to gain in floating “  -Steve Chizmadia, Mortgage Advisor, American Capital Home Loans

“Another day of limited movement in rate markets, which is not a bad
thing. The one month charts for both bonds and MBS show continued
improvement. Until economic or geopolitical sentiment changes, we may
enjoy further gains. As always, those close to closing or with
limited/no risk tolerance could do worse than locking at current levels.” -Ted Rood, Senior Mortgage Planner,

“Markets are eerily quiet so far this week with very little movement.
Some potentially market moving data coming up on Thursday and Friday
with another GDP reading, jobless claims, inflation data and some other
economic data tidbits. I still think a locking stance for shorter term
closings is warranted. Evaluation of your risk tolerance is warranted
for longer term closings but in general the lack of recent volatility
seems like it wants to stick around for awhile. Watch out for surprises
though!” -Hugh W. Page, Mortgage Banking Officer, Seacoast National Bank


Today’s Best-Execution Rates

  • 30YR FIXED - 4.125
  • FHA/VA – 3.75%
  • 15 YEAR FIXED -  3.25%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS -  3.0-3.50% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • The hallmark of 2014 so far has been a disconcertingly narrow range in rates.  Too many market participants bet on rates going higher in 2014, and markets have punished that imbalance with a paradoxical move lower.

  • As of June, rates were officially lower year-over-year, but that’s due to rates’ path higher in 2013.  The current path in 2014 remains sideways. 

  • European markets continue to play a nagging role in the background, generally helping rates in the US remain lower than they otherwise might be. 

  • From a wider point of view, we’re in limbo, waiting for the first significant move away from the narrow range.  A rally into late May stood a chance to act as this break, but rates have since returned to what were previously the lower limits of the 2014 range.

  • As always, please keep in mind that the rates discussed generally refer to what we’ve termedbest-execution(that is, the most frequently quoted, conforming, 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers, based not only on the outright price, but also ‘bang-for-the-buck.’  Generally speaking, our best-execution rate tends to connote no origination or discount points–though this can vary–and tends to predict Freddie Mac’s weekly survey with high accuracy.  It’s safe to assume that our best-ex rate is the more timely and accurate of the two due to Freddie’s once-a-week polling method). 

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Rodinia Lithium Announces Shares for Debt Settlement

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – Aug. 26, 2014) -


Rodinia Lithium Inc. (“Rodinia” or the “Company”) (TSX VENTURE:RM), has entered into a shares for debt settlement agreement with Aberdeen International Inc. (“Aberdeen”), pursuant to which Rodinia will issue 15,362,811 common shares of Rodinia (the “Shares for Debt”) at a deemed price of $0.065 per Common Share in full and final satisfaction of $998,582.72 owing to Aberdeen with respect to a credit facility agreement entered into between the parties dated February 25, 2013 (the “Credit Facility Agreement”). The debt settlement represents a 62.5% premium to the closing market price of the Company’s shares on the TSX Venture Exchange on August 22, 2014. Upon closing of the transaction, the Credit Facility Agreement will be terminated in its entirety.

Currently, Aberdeen holds 2,000,000 Common Shares and upon completion of the shares for debt settlement will hold in the aggregate 17,362,811 Common Shares, resulting in Aberdeen holding 13% of the Company. Accordingly the shares for debt settlement is subject to approval of the TSX Venture Exchange (the “TSXV”) and Aberdeen completing all necessary filing and submitting all necessary documentation required by the TSXV to become an insider of Rodinia. Pursuant to the rules of the TSXV, Aberdeen is considered a non-arm’s length party as Aberdeen has a common senior officer and director.

The Common Shares to be issued in connection with the transaction shall remain subject to a statutory hold period of four months and one day.

About Rodinia Lithium Inc.:

Rodinia Lithium Inc. is a Canadian mineral exploration and development company with a primary focus on Lithium exploration and development in Argentina. The Company is also actively exploring the commercialization of a significant Potash co-product that is expected to be recoverable through the lithium harvesting process.

Please visit the Company’s web site at or write us at

Cautionary Notes

Except for statements of historical fact contained herein, the information in this press release may be deemed to constitute “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian securities law. Such forward-looking information may include, without limitation, statements (express or implied) regarding the shares for debt settlement, anticipated timing and results of the development of the Diablillos property and the ability of the Company to complete a strategic transaction. There can be no assurance that such statements (express or implied) will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from such statements. Investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking information. Except as otherwise required by applicable securities statutes or regulation, the Company expressly disclaims any intent or obligation to update publicly forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

This news release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any of the securities in the United States. The securities have not been and will not be registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “1933 Act”), or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold within the United States or to, or for the account or benefit of U.S. persons (as defined in Regulation S under the 1933 Act) absent such registration or an applicable exemption from such registration requirements.


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30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates Remain Unchanged; Current Rate is 4.08 …

SEATTLE, Aug. 26, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The 30-year fixed mortgage rate on Zillow® Mortgages is currently 4.08 percent, up two basis points from this time last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose early last week, peaking at 4.23 percent on Wednesday before falling to the current rate on Tuesday.

“Mortgage rates inched up early last week during a brief reprieve from worrisome geopolitical headlines, before easing back down and stabilizing for the remainder of the week,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “This week, Thursday’s GDP data has the most potential to move markets, which could cause rates to rise or fall depending on how it meets expectations.”

Zillow’s real-time mortgage rates are based on thousands of custom mortgage quotes submitted daily to anonymous borrowers on the Zillow Mortgages site, and reflect the most recent changes in the market. These are not marketing rates, or a weekly survey.

The rate for a 15-year fixed home loan is currently 3.15 percent, while the rate for a 5-1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is 2.92 percent.

Purchase Mortgage Application Activity

Zillow predicts tomorrow’s seasonally adjusted Mortgage Bankers Association Weekly Application Index will show purchase loan activity increased by 6 percent from the week prior. Zillow combines loan requests made on Zillow Mortgages last week with the previous week’s Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Weekly Application Index to predict the MBA’s Weekly Application Index for purchase loans, which will be released tomorrow. For more information about this prediction, visit         

Below are current rates for 30-year fixed mortgages by state. Additional states’ rates are available at:

About Zillow Mortgages

Zillow Mortgages, operated by Zillow, Inc., is a free, open, and transparent lending marketplace, where borrowers connect with lenders to find loans and get the best mortgage rates.  Borrowers anonymously submit loan requests and receive an unlimited number of custom mortgage quotes with real rates directly from thousands of competing lenders.  Zillow Mortgages also provides mortgage calculators, mortgage advice, mortgage widgets, and lender directories

The Zillow logo is available at

Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

CONTACT: Media Contact:
         Alison Paoli, Zillow
         206-757-2701 or

Zillow logo

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Royal Bank of Scotland Faces Fine Over Mortgage Advice

Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC is set to be fined millions of pounds by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority over mortgage advice it gave customers, people familiar with the matter said.

The bank is expected to be found responsible for offering faulty advice to several thousand customers, and the fine, which may come as soon as Wednesday, could be as much as £15 million ($24.9 million), one person said.

While the size of…

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Many Homeowners Still Qualify For Mortgage Relief

Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, says many homeowners who could qualify to refinance their mortgages under HARP are suspicious.i

Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, says many homeowners who could qualify to refinance their mortgages under HARP are suspicious.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, says many homeowners who could qualify to refinance their mortgages under HARP are suspicious.

Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, says many homeowners who could qualify to refinance their mortgages under HARP are suspicious.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The financial crisis pushed millions of Americans from their homes. And housing advocates complain that the government did more to prop up big banks on Wall Street than it did to help average people on Main Street.

But many of those people on Main Street could still qualify for a government program to help them save money by refinancing their mortgages.

At a recent town hall event at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, former U.S. Rep. Mel Watt laid out the numbers: The Home Affordable Refinance Program, known as HARP, saves people who take advantage of it an average $200 a month. Several million Americans have refinanced their home loans this way. But the program could still reach a lot more people.

Watt recently became the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and oversees the HARP program. He says many Americans who hear about it think it sounds fishy.

He says if you’re current on your mortgage and “somebody calls you on the phone and says, ‘You are eligible to refinance your mortgage and save $2,400 a year,’ what would you think?” With all the scams out there, Watt says, many people think “this cannot be true.”

Related NPR Stories

 One of Freddie Mac's restrictions blocks people who have a short sale in their past from refinancing for two to four years following the short sale.

Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., listens as President Obama announces his nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt was nominated in May, but Republicans blocked his confirmation until this week.

But Watt says it is true. And he’s speaking to community leaders in cities around the country to encourage people to apply. So far he’s gone to Chicago and Atlanta. He’ll be heading in coming months to Miami and Detroit.

Watt says there are “800,000 more families nationwide that would benefit from the HARP program if they would just step forward.”

Falling Interest Rates Make HARP A Better Deal

Bob Walters is the chief economist with Quicken Loans. His company was aggressive early on in trying to qualify homeowners for the program after it was launched five years ago.

He says interest rates have been falling again in the past few months, which means homeowners who qualify can save more money. He also says it’s not just that homeowners think the program is too good to be true.

In many cases, he says, there’s another reason many people aren’t taking advantage of it. “You get denied maybe once or twice, and then all of a sudden you say, ‘I can’t qualify,’ ” Walters says.

Walters explains that in the first couple of years that HARP was in place, the rules about who could qualify excluded a lot of people.

500,000 Foreclosures That Didn’t Need To Happen

Chris Mayer, a housing economist at Columbia University, was critical of HARP for this reason when it was launched. “You have to give it a C-minus in terms of what the government did in the early years of the program,” he says.

Mayer explains that the idea behind HARP is pretty simple: The government guaranteed millions of home loans. It was on the hook if the loans went bad. And many of those homeowners were stuck unable to refinance into lower-interest mortgages. It didn’t cost the government anything if it allowed those people to refinance at the current lower market rates. And that would prevent some foreclosures, which would save taxpayers’ money.

But Mayer says that in its first couple of years, HARP could have reached a lot more people if it was better designed.

“There’ve been people who lost their homes to foreclosures that were otherwise preventable,” he says. Mayer says he’s done calculations based on data from a Freddie Mac study that suggest “500,000 people could have stayed in their homes.”

With Current Rules, It’s Easier To Qualify For HARP

Since HARP was launched in 2009, there have been several efforts to improve the program. And under the current rules, Mayer says he now gives HARP a B-plus or an A-minus.

Quicken’s Bob Walters says “because the program has changed so much and gotten so much more flexible, the opportunity for people to get approved is much higher.” But he says often “they don’t know that.”

Getting back to those scams Watt referred to, Walters says homeowners should know it doesn’t cost anything to find out if they qualify for HARP. Any reputable lender can tell a homeowner that free of charge. To be eligible, borrowers need to have originated their loan on or before May 31, 2009.

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press release: Jumbo Rates Rise in Weekly Mortgage Market Index

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New Home Sales Drop Despite Falling Mortgage Rates; National Supply …

New Home Sales: New Home Supply reaches 6.0 months, suggesting a market in balance between buyers and sellers

Sales of new homes slipped to a 4-month low in July, despite the lowest mortgage rates more than a year.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 412,000 new homes were sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in July; and the national supply of new homes for sale reached a multi-year high.

Despite weaker-than-expected numbers, the average sale price of a new home is up 3 percent from last year and demand for new homes remains strong.

Mortgage rates are at their lowest levels of the last 14 months. Purchasing power is up 8% from the start of the year.

Click to get today’s live mortgage rates.

New Home Supply Reaches 6.0 Months

The number of new homes sold fell by ten thousand units in July 2014, moving to 412,000 units on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

This figure was below Wall Street’s expectations, but the government also reported a net 33,000 upward revision to the results from April, May, and June.

The July New Home Sales data was inline with consensus opinion. However, different from prior months, the mix of July’s New Home Sales skewed toward buyers of luxury homes.

  • 14% of homes sold were sold at prices of $500,000 or more
  • 8% of homes were sold at prices of $150,000 or less

In addition, the national New Home Supply increased 0.4 months to 6.0 months as the number of homes for sale topped 200,000 for the first time in several years. At the current pace of sales nationwide, all new homes for sale would be “sold out” in six months exactly.

This 6-month marker is an important one — six months of supply is the purported housing balance point between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market.

When home supply exceeds six months, buyers tend to gain negotiation leverage over sellers. Conversely, when home supply falls below six months, sellers tend to have control. 

July ended a 32-month streak in which New Home Supply favored sellers over buyers. Home prices were up markedly during that time, rising by as much as 25% in some markets.

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Current Mortgage Rates Boost Buyer Purchasing Power

As home prices have climbed this year, mortgage rates have dropped. 30-year mortgage rates have been on steady decline en route to the lowest rates of 2014 and the best rates since June of last year.

Assuming a purchase price of $300,000, today’s homeowners with a VA mortgage rate of 3.50% can expect to pay $1,347 monthly to their lender — $177 less as compared to eight months ago.

Savings are similarly large with other low- and no-downpayment mortgage options including the FHA mortgage, which requires just 3.5% down; the USDA loan, which requires nothing down; and, conventional financing via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with as little as 5% down.

Of all the low-downpayment programs, though, the FHA-backed loan has the most traction. Recently, several large U.S. lenders relaxed their FHA minimum credit score requirements, lowering minimum FICO scores to 580, which has spiked FHA loan applications.

An estimated 14% of the U.S. population carries credit scores between 580-640.

Another reason why FHA loans have been popular is because FHA loans are “assumable”. This means that a homeowner can transfer a home’s existing mortgage to the “next” homeowners when the home is eventually sold — whenever that may be.

With today’s mortgage rates sinking to the 3s, the FHA’s assumable feature can be an attractive selling point — especially if mortgage rates return toward historical norms within the next half-decade. 

Buying A New Home? “Deals” Are Disappearing

For today’s new home buyers, there’s a window to find great deals. Mortgage rates are low, housing supply has moved into balance, and purchasing power has been extended.

See today’s live mortgage rates now. Mortgage rates are available online at no cost, with no social security number required to get started, with no obligation to proceed.

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The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.

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Big Lenders Will Help Active-Duty Military Get Lower Mortgage Rates

Active-duty military qualify for breaks on their mortgage loan rates. Here, U.S soldiers raise the flag in Afghanistan.
Ahmad Massoud/Xinhua/ZUMA Wire

The White House announced a new partnership Tuesday with five large banks and mortgage companies that is designed to make it easier for members of the military to lower their mortgage payments when they’re called to active duty.

Currently, military personnel can request to have their mortgage rates capped at 6% when they’re called up to active duty as part of a federal law known as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA.

Under the program announced Tuesday, the five financial institutions will begin proactively reaching out to eligible service members among their borrowers every quarter after screening their loan portfolios against a military database. The announcement came as part of a speech President Barack Obama made to the annual convention of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veteran service organization.

The five firms participating in the program are Bank of America , Citigroup , Ocwen Financial , Quicken Loans and Wells Fargo . A government audit earlier this year found that one third of SCRA-eligible borrowers at an unnamed financial institution had a loan with an interest rate above 6%, and that more than 80% of those borrowers eligible for a reduction hadn’t availed themselves of the loan break.

“Under the law, our servicemembers are entitled to reduced mortgage rates, but the burden is on them to ask for it and prove they’re eligible, which means a lot of folks don’t get the low rates they deserve,” said Mr. Obama on Tuesday. “Today, we’re turning that around.”

The five banks and mortgage companies are “stepping up to go above and beyond what is required” under the law,  said Jeff Zients, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, in a statement.

In recent years, banks have run afoul of the SCRA, which also lays out specific steps to prevent service members from foreclosure while on active duty. Bank of America, for example, was required to pay $36.8 million as part of a 2011 settlement for illegal foreclosures of nearly 300 homes. Wells and Citi also signed a federal settlement stipulating that they would conduct a review for possible SCRA violations and pay a minimum $116,785  to each of the military borrowers that had been wrongfully foreclosed upon.

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