Mortgage and real estate news this week: Rates fall and credit tightens

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It’s been another week of record-breaking low interest rates, with the 30-year fixed mortgage falling to 3.05 percent. But that’s not all that’s going on in the mortgage and real estate industries these days. Lenders are getting a little more cautious about underwriting risky loans, and Bankrate took a look at how the pandemic is making tech even more important when it comes to home shopping. Here are our top five mortgage and real estate stories this week.

1. Lenders tighten up on FHA mortgages

The Federal Housing Administration is a crucial resource for borrowers with shakier finances to get into the housing market. FHA-backed loans are available to prospective homeowners with lower credit scores or less ability to make a downpayment than lenders generally accept. However, as mortgage delinquency rates rise, FHA lenders are being a little picker about which loan applications they will accept.

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2. Don’t be needlessly delinquent on your mortgage

If you’re one of those borrowers making the FHA worried about extending credit, you should know that you don’t have to be delinquent on your mortgage. As part of the CARES Act, Congress authorized a provision to extend forbearance protection to homeowners whose finances were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. That means you can get in touch with your borrower about pausing your payment schedule, and it won’t affect your credit. According to one report, some 400,000 borrowers who could get forbearance for some reason have not requested it.

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3. Will local budget shortfalls affect my property taxes?

Probably not right away. It’s true that many states and municipalities have quite empty coffers as tax revenues decline as a result of the pandemic, but it’s unlikely to affect your property taxes, especially in the near-term. Local officials usually recognize that it’s tough and unpopular to ask their constituents to pay more when so many are already facing personal financial woes.

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4. Ding-dong, it’s your virtual Realtor

Coronavirus hasn’t just shifted more of the population from cities to suburbs, it’s also changing how people shop for houses. Buyers are more reluctant than ever to show up for in-person open houses, and that means real estate agents are turning to in greater numbers to tech tools to help their marketing. Video tours and virtual open houses have gotten more popular as people try to shop for homes without leaving theirs.

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5. The art of the mortgage closing date

All days are not created equal when it comes to closing on your home. There are benefits, for example, to closing toward the end of the month, but that strategy is not without its drawbacks. If you’re getting ready to schedule your own closing, here’s what you should know about when is best to do it.

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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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