Housing and mortgage trends in 2012

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This spring, lucky refinancers get a reduction in Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, fees, while mortgage costs are going up for just about everyone else. Homebuyers discover they face competition from investors who pay cash for houses (something home sellers find attractive). And as rents rise, more renters look for homes to buy.

Spring housing trends

Those are a few of the mortgage and housing trends to watch, as Polyana da Costa describes in the centerpiece of this package of articles.

In other stories, da Costa tells what you need to know if you plan to refinance your underwater mortgage under HARP 2.0, Michele Lerner illustrates the challenges of selling a home while a tenant is living in it, Dana Dratch offers five tips on getting your house ready to sell, and in another story, she suggests six tips for people who want to buy brand-new homes.

On top of that, this quarterly roundup of housing and mortgage trends includes a video explaining how rising rents could push more people into buying homes and another video in which homeowners describe their homebuying regrets.

Finally, Bankrate offers tools for buyers and borrowers: a quiz to help you decide whether you’re ready to stop renting and start buying a home, a flowchart to help you figure out if you’re eligible for a refi under the revamped version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP 2.0, and a break-even calculator for refinancers.