Mortgage and real estate news this week: Rising Treasury bonds, iBuyers lose their mojo

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Welcome to 2021, a year that — so far  — seems a lot like 2020.

We’re back in the rhythm of rounding up the week’s top mortgage and real estate stories, and here are the ones you shouldn’t miss.

1. 10-year Treasury bonds up

The rate on 10-year Treasury notes rose above 1 percent this week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on the nation’s economy in March. It’s a good sign for the broader economy, which shows that investors are optimistic about the incoming government, but it could hit homeowners and buyers in the wallet by driving up mortgage interest rates.

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2. Where are mortgage rates headed?

Like Treasury rates, probably up before too long. The COVID-induced spate of record-low mortgage interest was never going to last forever, and experts predict they’ll begin to rise sometime this year. In the short term, uncertainty around the vaccine could actually drive them marginally lower, but by the end of the year, they’re likely to be firmly in an upward trajectory.

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3. 2021 FHA loan limits

The Federal Housing Administration raised the maximum value for government-insured mortgages again this year. Securing FHA-backed loans can mean lower interest rates for buyers, and the higher limits make that advantage more accessible to more buyers. In most areas of the country, the maximum amount for an FHA mortgage is now $356,362 for single-family homes in most areas.

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4. The iBuyer fall

In this hot housing market, companies that buy homes and flip them for a profit in the Sun Belt, known as iBuyers, have lost some of their appeal. With strong competition for housing, homeowners don’t have to worry about making their properties picture perfect before they sell, and the high fees the companies charge makes their offers less attractive, despite some of the conveniences those transactions offer.

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5. Tips for first-time homebuyers

With the spring buying season just around the corner, it’s a good idea to start getting your act together if you’re planning to buy a house this year. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get your ducks in a row.

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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.