Mortgage and real estate news this week: Advice for homebuyers, home equity update from FHA, and more

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While my people are celebrating a new year, (l’shana tovah for those observing) much remains the same in the mortgage and real estate industry. Here’s what you need to know in these early days of 5782 — or the 2021-22 school year, for the rest of you.

1. The risk of high home prices

Record-breaking home prices are great for sellers, but they pose more than a little risk for buyers. Experts are warning that we must be nearing the top of the current housing cycle, so buying now can be risky if you’re counting on big returns when it’s time to sell. Here’s what you need to know, and strategies for how to proceed in the current market.

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2. Equity keeps going up

For homeowners, those rising prices are also a boost, because a more valuable home has more equity. That means there’s more collateral available for those looking to do a renovation or consolidate other debt into their mortgage. Just remember the supply chain doesn’t care how much your home is worth if you’re thinking about doing some construction.

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3. A boost for minority mortgage applicants

Last month the Federal Housing Finance Agency set out new goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraging the mortgage giants to lend more in minority and low-income census tracts. Experts say the aim is a worthy one, but how it’s implemented could have a big impact on whether or not it’s achieved.

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4. What to know about downsizing your home

For many retirees, downsizing is a great lifestyle choice, or possibly a necessity. In the current market, however, it can be an especially complicated decision. Selling a big family home may be easy, but finding a smaller property to buy can be tough, because lower tiers of the housing market are even more competitive right now. In general though, there are a lot of benefits for seniors, so long as they play their cards right.

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5. A mortgage rate update

Mortgage rates ticked up slightly this week, but they’re still hovering near all-time lows. Experts have been predicting for months that rates would end the year higher, so this could be a signal that the refi window is tightening.

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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.
Edited by
Senior mortgage editor