Mortgage and real estate news this week: End of the refi fee, mortgage rates fall and more

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In the mortgage and real estate space, interest rates are still pretty low, and competition is cooling for limited housing supply somewhat. Here’s what else you need to know.

1. Goodbye to FHFA’s mortgage refinance fee

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Friday that it will end the 0.5 percent fee on most mortgage refinances as of August 1. The announcement is a boost for consumers, who are likely to benefit from lower interest rates when they overhaul their mortgages. The fee applied to loans valued at $125,000 or more.

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2. Mortgage rates head down again

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell this week to 3.11 percent, its lowest level since February. The dip is thanks in large part to the perception that inflation risk has diminished, and signals from the Fed that they will keep propping markets up for the time being. With most experts still predicting a rising trend to hold long-term, now is a great time to consider a refinance if you haven’t already.

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3. Are shipping containers the next trend in starter homes?

As lumber prices soared over the last year, construction firms looked for alternative materials to use in their projects. Surplus shipping containers are one option that’s gaining popularity, although regulatory hurdles and limited interest from prospective buyers pose major challenges to interested builders.

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4. What to do when a house has unpermitted renovations

It’s fairly common for homeowners to try to slip updates to their house under the radar and avoid the cost of getting permits, but that decision can become a costly one when they’re ready to sell. Real estate agents say unpermitted work can complicate a home sale, but so long as both buyer and seller are aware of the situation going in, it’s a problem that can be overcome.

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5. Understanding mortgage closing disclosures

When you’re getting ready to close on a mortgage, your lender will be required to provide a document called a disclosure, which outlines all the terms of your loan, including all the costs associated with it. It’s important for borrowers to understand what they’re signing on for when they agree to take on a mortgage.

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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.
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Senior mortgage editor