Mortgage and real estate news this week: Busy second home markets and tips for buyers

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Boo! Most people are probably thinking more about making their houses look spooky and protecting themselves from possible hordes of maskless visitors than about their property value today, but if you’re looking to keep tabs on the mortgage and real estate industries as you fill your candy dishes, here are Bankrate’s top stories from this week.

1. Real estate is booming in vacation communities

As companies expand and extend work from home arrangements for employees, many of those workers are moving to places with more space in response. The result has been a housing boom in areas that typically attract vacationers more than primary residents. While it’s unclear for now if this is the start of a long-term trend or simply a pandemic blip, it is something worth keeping an eye on.

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2. How to seal the deal

No matter where you’re looking to buy, the real estate market is likely to be super-competitive. There are a number of ways to make your offer stand out and make it easier to get into your new home, including moving fast when you find a property you like and getting your mortgage pre-processed as much as possible.

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3. Inventory is low

Part of the reason the market is so competitive is because there are fewer homes available for a growing number of prospective buyers. Existing homes are moving fast, and builders are struggling to churn out new developments quickly enough to meet demand. Coupled with higher material costs, it’s remains a seller’s market both for new and existing homes.

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4. Am I spending too much for that home?

So, despite all the competition, you’ve put in an offer on a home and you’re close to sealing the deal. How do you know if you’re really paying a fair price? In such a tight market, you have to be especially careful not to overspend. To make sure you’re not paying more than you should, pay attention to factors like how long the home you’re buying has been on the market and listen to feedback from your inspector about potential repairs you could be on the hook for down the line.

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5. ARMs cheaper than fixed-rate mortgages again

This week — for the first time in months — the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell below the average for a 30-year fixed. But don’t go jumping to refinance your mortgage into an ARM yet. There are still plenty of factors to consider that could lead you to opt for a slightly higher rate with more long-term stability than the short-term savings of a lower adjustable.

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