Mortgage and real estate news this week: Rising equity, falling rates

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It’s the weekend. No really! It’s not Tuesday anymore.

Read on for an update on the real estate and mortgage industries, which like everything else seemed to be waiting on tenterhooks for the election saga to end.

Here are the top stories from our neck of the woods.

1. More homeowners have equity, but it’s harder to tap

The booming real estate market has raised home prices, so many current homeowners are now sitting on more equity than they were last year, or even last quarter. But while that’s good for your ledger books, it may be more difficult to tap that equity than in the past. Many lenders have temporarily stopped offering home equity lines of credit, and others are just facing delays in closing new loans due to high mortgage refinance volume.

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2. Mortgage rates reach another record low

This subhead could appear in this roundup virtually every week at this point, but that would really be cheating. This week, however, Freddie Mac reported an average 30-year fixed rate that fell to 2.78 percent. It’s the first time ever that the benchmark home loan has averaged less than 2.80 percent interest.

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3. Housing affordability update

If you’re looking to move, you should check out a swing state, and not just to put your thumb on the electoral scales. Four out of the five most-affordable housing markets in the U.S. right now are in Pennsylvania and Michigan — the fifth is Albany, New York. California, meanwhile, continues to monopolize the board for most expensive real estate in the country.

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4. A refresher on mortgage rates and the Federal Reserve

Contrary to popular belief, the Fed does not directly dictate mortgage rates. However, its policies do influence rate trends in the home loan market. Bankrate offers you a brief primer on the complex interactions between monetary policy and your monthly mortgage payments. It’s easier to understand than you might think.

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5. How to finance a home renovation

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in home renovations as workers-from-home spend more time staring at their own rooms thinking of ways to make them nicer. If you’re considering a remodel, check out our tips for how to finance the project. Thanks to low interest rates across the board, it’s a good time to consider various loan products to help you do the work.

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