It’s a Great Time for Housing Deals

Paying off an underwater mortgage and buying a better home could be the best tactic in this troubled market.

“If you are trading up, what better time than when interest rates are at record lows and the cost of the trade-up is much less than it used to be?” says Christopher J. Mayer, a Columbia Business School economist.

With 15-year fixed-rate mortgages at about 4.5 percent, it also makes sense to pay off the mortgage and keep the house. “At this point,” says Jay Brinkmann, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, D.C., “if they don’t have anything else that is bringing a tremendous return, then they are buying themselves an annuity by paying their house off sooner than they needed to.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal, M.P. McQueen 

Is FHA Key to Housing Turnaround?

Federal Housing Administration loans can be a very good deal for home buyers, especially those who don’t have a lot of cash or whose credit rating isn’t stellar, experts say.

FHA loans now account for 20 percent of new mortgages, up from 3 percent in 2006. What’s more, the number of authorized FHA lenders has increased 500 percent in two years.

Other benefits of FHA loans include easy loan modifications for borrowers who fall behind, easy refinancing plans if rates decline, and low rates overall, which don’t rise if the borrower has a low credit score. There are no income restrictions on FHA loans, so even borrowers with good incomes may find them attractive.

FHA loans still require a pre-settlement inspection of the home, but the process isn’t nearly as arduous as it once was, says George Hanzimanolis, past president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

Source: CNNMoney.com (04/01/2009)