Mortgage and real estate news this week: Why some homeowners are avoiding refis, and mortgage rate update

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It’s been a fairly quiet week with all eyes on the Fed waiting to see what will happen to interest rates as a result of their upcoming policy meeting. Meanwhile, we take a look at prevailing trends and go back to basics for homebuyers.

1. 74% of eligible homeowners still haven’t refinanced

Even though mortgage rates have been near all-time lows for well over a year, a recent Bankrate survey showed that a huge share of borrowers still haven’t refinanced. Only 19 percent of those who took out their loans prior to the pandemic have taken advantage of the potential savings, meaning millions of homeowners are tossing money to their lender that could be spent elsewhere.

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2. Refi window remains open even as rates edge up

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose (slightly) for the third week in a row. At 3.22 percent, rates are still low by historical standards, but the upward trend should be a sign to borrowers that now’s the time to refinance if you haven’t already.

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3. First-time homebuyer programs to help you out

Home prices have risen dramatically over the last year, but that doesn’t mean becoming a homeowner has to be out of reach. If you’re looking to purchase your first house but are worried about affordability, it’s worth knowing about all the first-time buyer programs. These include government-sponsored loans, some of which don’t even require a down payment, as well as local grants that may be available where you’re looking to live.

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4. What is a down payment?

If you read the section above and said “a down what now?” here’s a chance to step back. A down payment is the money you pay up front–your equity in the home–to secure your mortgage and get the deed to your new property. If you’re still confused, that’s ok. We have a whole writeup about how it works, and importantly, how much you can expect to spend.

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5. What are closing costs?

Buying a house is expensive, and the purchase price and down payment, unfortunately, aren’t the only money you’ll have to shell out. Closing costs include fees you have to pay to your lender and local jurisdictions to make your property transaction official. Here’s what you need to know.

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