Real Estate News Roundup

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The "lowest mortgage rates ever" are spurring an intensified interest in residential real estate.

But the news media agree that it's much harder to qualify for a mortgage than it used to be, making the benefits of the super-duper rates harder to spread around. Home sales and mortgage applications are down. And Fannie Mae is getting angry with homeowners who simply walk away from their existing mortgages.

HousingWatch explores the last 24 hours in real estate headlines:
Lowest Mortgage Rates Offer Opportunity, but Tough Terms:
Diane Sawyer on the ABC World News informed viewers, "Mortgage rates have just fallen to the lowest point ever. The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, now 4.69%. Is this a large opportunity?" Um, do one-legged ducks swim in circles? ABC added, "They are the lowest mortgage rates since they began keeping records in 1971.... But banks aren't making it easy." More stringent credit terms are making it hard for average homebuyers to qualify for the best rates. And for those who are struggling to make their current payments, there was "a new warning shot from mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Walk away from home and you won't get another mortgage for at least seven years." Fannie Mae is threatening to sue homeowners who can afford to pay their mortgages but choose not to, due to plummeting home values.

Investors Shift to Treasury Bonds, Helping to Push Rates Lower: The Associated Press reports "[mortgage] rates are at their lowest since" Freddie Mac "began keeping records in 1971," noting that "the last time they were any cheaper was the 1950s, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years." AP says that rates have "fallen over the past two months as investors have become nervous about Europe's debt crisis and the global economy and have shifted money into safe Treasury bonds." It seems that investing in the U.S. is helping others invest in U.S. real estate -- now if we could only nab the World Cup.

Home Sales and Mortgage Applications Decline: Maybe those low rates aren't so great, after all. The Washington Post writes that home sales "are tumbling and mortgage applications are slipping" because "potential buyers have retrenched, discouraged by employment fears, the recent expiration of a home buyer's tax credit and tough lending standards." Mortgage rates "are low because investors [are] nervous about global economic stability and a volatile stock market." If the low rates were such a great opportunity, wouldn't more people be biting? Anyone wanna buy a house real cheap?


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