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Mortgage and real estate news this week: Locking in your rate and changes to appraisals

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As the mercury drops in much of the country, mortgage rates continue to rise, albeit slowly. Fortunately they’re still low enough to be favorable for most borrowers. Here’s the latest on what’s going on in the industry.

1. Why you should probably get a mortgage rate lock

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee is set to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the likeliest outcome is that the rise of mortgage rates will accelerate. That means the window may be closing to take advantage of the current low rates, and if you’re looking to refinance your loan or take out a new one, you’d probably benefit from guaranteeing something in line with the pre-meeting market.

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2. The rise of desktop home appraisals

One of the chokepoints in the pandemic real estate boom has been a lack of qualified home appraisers to sign off on the value of properties. That bottleneck should be eased somewhat as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac roll out policies that will allow appraisals to be conducted without the traditional in-person property visit. Here’s how it would work, and how it might help.

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3. Mortgage rates keep going up

The latest Bankrate survey shows mortgage rates have been rising throughout October, and the trend is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks. For now though, the refi train is still in the station for millions of homeowners.

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4. Preparing for the end of your HELOC

If you have a home equity line of credit, it’s important to understand that after the initial draw period when you can take money out of your equity, you enter into the repayment phase, during which you’re responsible for paying off your balance. When that time comes you have options for how to proceed. Here’s a guide to some of the most common courses of action.

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5. Getting rid of PMI

Even homeowners who aren’t planning to move can benefit from skyrocketing property prices thanks to the related increase in their equity. If you made a low down payment when you first purchased your home you may be paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI) in addition to your regular loan charges. If the value of your house went up enough that you now owe 80 percent or less of your home’s total value, you may be able to stop paying that additional charge.

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Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a former 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.