Mortgage and real estate news this week: Mortgage rates, building costs on the move

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The theme of this week’s roundup is “up.” Home prices, credit scores, and interest rates — they’re all going up. Here’s what it means for you.

1. Home renovation costs are increasing

The price of home improvement projects went up last year as supply chains were stretched thin and labor shortages complicated matters. Some forms of work were more than 50 percent more costly than they were in 2019.

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2. Borrowers have better credit than ever

The typical mortgage applicant had a credit score of 788 in the first quarter of this year — the highest level ever. While that may sound like good news, it actually underscores how the negative economic effects of the pandemic hit lower-income earners hardest.

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3. Housing prices soaring higher in some places than others

Real estate prices are up across the board, but some locations are seeing greater gains than others. The median home price in 2021’s first quarter rose to $320,000 from $280,000 in the first quarter of 2020. Affordability can still be found in some places though.

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4. Mortgage rates are rising. It’s not helping prices much.

Although mortgage rates are going up, the higher borrowing costs aren’t doing much to ease the pressure on home prices. Instead, strong buyer demand and limited housing supply are the bigger factors in the market these days.

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5. Expanding opportunities for low-income refinancers

Fannie Mae will open a new program to low- and middle-income homeowners today meant to help streamline the refinancing process and extend the benefits of still-low interest rates to borrowers who may have been left out of the initial refi wave.

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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.