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Mortgage and real estate news this week: Advice for buyers looking at flipped properties; rates fall again

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This fall and winter could remain an unusually busy one for mortgage lenders and Realtors as homeowners and buyers try to take advantage of favorable conditions while they last. Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on this week.

1. Did you miss the refi window?

Well, the good news is mortgage rates fell again this week. But every day you wait may make it more likely that you’re leaving money on the table. The Federal Reserve announced changes to its policy this month that are likely to push mortgage interest rates higher, and fewer homeowners will stand to benefit from refis as they rise.

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2. Things to keep in mind when buying a flipped house

House flipping is an entry point to real estate investing for many people, and hyperactive home price growth has made it an even more attractive prospect for newbies during the pandemic. But, real estate experts warn, flipped houses are often renovated on a shoestring budget, and glossy finishes can mask problems behind the walls. You don’t need to avoid flips entirely, but it’s good to go in with your guard up.

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3. What credit score do you need to buy a house?

Spoiler alert: there’s no single answer. Different lenders have different requirements for mortgage applicants, and if you’re paying all-cash, a credit check may not even be necessary. But in general, a high credit score makes you more attractive both to sellers and lenders.

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4. Preserving your down payment fund through the gift-giving season

The holidays are almost here, and that can quickly get expensive if you expect (or are expected) to shower the people you know with presents. If you’re saving up to buy a house, you should be careful about guarding your cash and not draining your savings on the latest toys. Here are some strategies for preserving your bank account this winter.

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5. Where are mortgage rates headed?

Probably up. Bringing things full circle on the refi theme, we present our weekly roundup of expert mortgage rate trend predictions. A whopping 73 percent of respondents said they think rates will rise in the next seven days, which really underscores that earlier “don’t miss the window” point we made.

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Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.