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September
30

Important Days And Dates In October 2022

Important Days And Dates In October 2022

Every month has some important days and events to celebrate and honor the things which happened. October has some of the important events and days to celebrate and honor the cause and raise awareness on different diseases, events and remember sacrifices that were made in the past. some of them are:

1-October: International Day of the Older person  

Why &When: To honour older people who made significant contributions to society and raise awareness of challenges of ageing and problems faced by them in old age 

2-October: Mahatma Gandhi birthday, International day of non-violence

Why &When: The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the strategy of non-violence and his crucial part in getting independence to India.

3-October: World Habitat Day

Why &When: observed on the first Monday of October of every year to show the state of our towns and cities and the fundamental right of all to a fair shelter.

4-October: World Animal Welfare Day

Why &When: protecting and providing shelter towards animals and taking care of them.

5-October: World Teachers Day 

Why &When-World Teachers day: to honour the teachers around the globe and their work towards the development of society.

7-October: World Cotton Day

 Why &When: reflecting the importance of cotton as a global commodity and it's in the textile sector 

8-October: Air Force Day

Why &When-Air Force DayEstablishment of Air Force in India.

9-October: World Post Day, World Migratory Bird Day

Why &When-World Post day: the anniversary of the  Universal Postal Union which was established in 1874 in the Swiss CapitalBern

Why &When-World Migratory Bird Day: global campaign devoted to raising awareness of migratory birds which comes from different parts of the world.

10-October: World Mental Health Day 

Why &When-World Mental Health Day: raising awareness of mental health problems around the world and maintaining good health.

11-October: International Day of the Girl Child

Why &When: the challenges girls face and to promote girls' empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

12-October: World Arthritis Day

Why &When: to raise and promote awareness of the symptoms connected to rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs)

13-October: International Day for Disaster Reduction, World Sight Day

Why &When: to encourage a global society of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.
Why &When-World Sight Day: awareness of blindness and vision impairment.

14-October: World Standards Day, World Egg Day

Why &When: rewarding the collective accomplishments of specialists worldwide who develop the voluntary technical standards that are published as International Standards.

Why &When-World Egg Day: it is celebrated on the second Friday in October each year. For ages, eggs have played major part in sustaining families around the world.

 15-October: World Student's Day

Why &When: To acknowledge the birth anniversary of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and his works towards the students 

16-October: World Food Day

Why &When: the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945

17-October: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Why &When: to raise awareness about poverty and its eradication by mutual help to one another.

20-October: National Solidarity Day

Why &When: a yearly remembrance of the armed forces which fought against China in 1962.

21-October: Police Commemoration Day 

Why &When: to honour the police which is seen as 'Police Commemoration Day to all Police Forces across the country.

24-October: United Nations Day, Raising day of Indo Tibetan Border Police, World Development Information Day

Why &When-United Nations Day: the anniversary of the UN Charter the founding document of the united nations which entered into force in 1945.

Why &When-Raising day of Indo Tibetan Border Police: The ITBP was meant for deployment along India's border with Tibet and their service towards the nation.

Why &When-World Development Information Day: the call to establish a global partnership to solve development difficulties around the world.

25-October: National Ayurveda day

Why &When: The Dhanvantari Jayanti, The Hindu God Dhanvantari is considered as the propagator of Ayurveda. The National Ayurveda Day is observed on his birthday 

27-October: Infantry Day

Why &When: the first regiment of the Sikh was airdropped from Delhi to Srinagar to liberate Kashmir.

31-October: Rashtriya Ekta Diwas(National Unity Day)

Why &When: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the iron man of India who made unity among the states after independence to Mark this his birthday is celebrated as national unity day 

September
28

National Sons Day

National Sons Day

National Sons Day is celebrated on September 28. It is a day to show appreciation for the boys in our lives, and for the parents of boys to reflect on how they are raising their children. All any parent want is for their children to grow up into people they can be proud of, and boys especially need strong role models to look up to and help them grow into confident, well-balanced, adult men. National Sons Day is a day to ensure that boys all over the country are getting the foundations, education, and all the support they need to have the best possible life as they grow up.

There is some debate around the date for National Sons Day. Historically, the date has been marked as September 28th, but since 2018 many also recognize March 4th as the official National Sons Day.

Background

The first attempt to create a National Sons Day occurred in the 1990s, as some people wanted a day that was similar to National Take Your Daughter to Work Day. A group called the National Sons Day eventually did create a National Take Your Sons to Work Day in 1998, but in 2003 the two days were merged into one.

The idea of a day to celebrate sons resurfaced in 2018 by the hand of Jill Nico, who wanted a day to honor sons and the people who raised them, much like National Daughters Day. As such, since 2018 many have also chosen to celebrate National Sons Day on March 4.

As the years pass, more challenges surface when it comes to raising boys. Parents should be aware that bringing up boys in these times takes a great level of guidance and communication, and they should be prepared for that. That is why National Sons Day is so important. There are many stereotypes surrounding the idea of what a man should be like, and many boys will struggle with that. It is the parent's responsibility to guide them through that and teach them values and kindness.

Both parents play an equally important role in the emotional development of boys, and they strive when they have a good relationship with both their mother and father as the maternal and paternal sides bring different contributions, so it is very important to cultivate those bonds. The lack of a mother or father figure can be attributed to developmental issues in later years.

Ultimately, the role of a parent is a challenging and important one. The hard work you put into raising your son won't only serve as a reflection of your parenting skills, it will also help them to become an upstanding and respected member of society.

What to do on National Sons Day

  • This is the perfect day to take some time to be with your sons. Talk to them about their school and life, learn more about them and their ambitions, and try to open the way to always have good communication between you. Make sure they know how supportive you are by letting them know that you're always there for them.
  • You can also show them how much you appreciate them by taking them to do their favorite activity. Whether that is going to the movies, going shopping, playing games or sports, or cooking, just make sure to spend some quality time together.
  • Apart from reflecting on the way that you are raising them from an emotional and personal perspective, you can also take this day to teach them some smaller, practical life skills, such as changing a tire, doing some DIY, and cooking a simple meal. Anything that will help them grow into a better, more confident person.
September
21

35 Must-Visit Places for Amazing Michigan Fall Colors & Tips to Maximize the Experience

35 Must-Visit Places for Amazing Michigan Fall Colors

& Tips to Maximize the Experience

The first time that you feel a crisp cool in the air, you know that it's time for the leaves to change in an explosion of orange, red, and yellow. One of the best states in which to experience fall is Michigan.

Bordered by four of the Great Lakes, the Mitten has no shortage of breathtaking views throughout the year. When autumn comes, though, going to see the Michigan fall colors makes for a wonderful relaxing or romantic getaway.

So if you're wondering when to go to Michigan for fall foliage, here's everything you need to know! Read on for tips on seeing autumn leaves, planning a trip to view the beautiful colors, and the best places to see them.

Where are the Best Places to See Fall Colors in Michigan?

We can't say that we know of any "bad" place to enjoy the fall colors in Michigan, but the Awesome Mitten contributors have been blessed to explore some pretty amazing places during the fall months, and we're eager to visit many of them ourselves.

From the shores of Lake Superior to the local breweries of Southwest Michigan, our writers will have you dreaming of a fall you'll never forget… and you might discover a new-to-you town to go visit along the way!

Let's take a look at where the best places to see fall colors in Michigan are…

P.S. If we miss your favorite fall destination in Michigan, be sure to comment below and let us know where you like to enjoy fall in Michigan!

Best Places to Visit in the Upper Peninsula for Fall Foliage in Michigan

Explore the US-41 Tree Tunnel into Copper Harbor

The fall colors in the Copper Harbor area are some of the most colorful in the state. There's no better way to experience the sheer beauty of those colors than by taking a drive through the "tunnel," US-41 into Copper Harbor. This canopy of color is breathtaking and makes for a great drive on a perfect fall day.

See Vibrant Fall Colors Around Marquette

Nestled right on the shore of Lake Superior, there are lots of great places to see fall colors in and around Marquette.

You can stroll along the Lake Superior shoreline or go chase some waterfalls. Morgan Falls is just outside Marquette, it's pet friendly and the decline to the falls is only a short distance.

You can also go for a scenic drive. If you're up for a little adventure, drive down County Road 510. It's unpaved and well-traveled during the fall, but the colors are brilliant and you can get a great view from the CR 510 Bridge.

Explore the Ghost Town of Fayette

Fall can be experienced in all kinds of ways in Michigan. One of the most interesting ways is to stop in the ghost town of Fayette. It's about an hour from Escanaba and a ghost town surrounded by fall color makes for a striking contrast.

While you're there, be sure to stop at the overlook at Snailshell Harbor. You'll get an awesome view of the fall colors, a great look at the town itself, and you'll see the limestone bluffs that surround it.

Experience the Majesty of Kitch-iti-kipi

Known as the Big Spring, travel to Palms Brook State Park in Manistique to see one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the state.

This 40-foot natural spring is beautiful to see at any time of the year, but it's even more beautiful in the fall when it's surrounded by majestic fall colors. Savor the drive to the spring and make sure to take lots of pictures.

See Fall Colors at the Soo Locks

There are a lot of great places around Sault Ste. Marie to see fall colors, including at Tahquamenon Falls. But you don't have to travel outside the city to enjoy the colors.

In downtown Sault, you can visit Soo Locks State Park. If you're lucky, you'll get a twofer: you can see the fall colors and see a freighter going through the Soo Locks. If you walk along the shore, you may just find a few more spots to enjoy the colors.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon

Covering about 60,000 acres of land, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is one of the few major wilderness areas in the Midwest. It's home to miles of streams and rivers, several waterfalls, and old hemlock-hardwood forests along Lake Superior, which offer an unrivaled natural beauty in the fall.

There's a Summit Peak observation tower, an 18-hole disc golf course, more than 90 miles of hiking trails, and several campgrounds to keep you busy.

Fall at Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet

Northeast of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and in the center of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet is a special place that tells the story of copper mining in this part of the Upper Peninsula. Its mission is to preserve the landscapes and other resources, which is why it's such a beautiful place to visit in the fall.

You can turn the visit into a scenic drive through the Keweenaw hills and charming towns.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising

As we consider the best times to catch the changing colors of fall, we continue our Michigan fall color tour in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The town of Munising along Lake Superior is best known for its waterfalls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It is also home to the Au Sable Lighthouse.

Breath-taking beauty awaits you at every turn during fall in Munising. Whether you go for a drive through a canopy of color, you brave the chilly water of Lake Superior for a water-view of the golden topped cliffs, or you hike to one of the area's majestic waterfalls, you will stand in awe of the beauty of fall in this deciduous tree-laden paradise.

Also along Lake Superior, the deep forest of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a picturesque view of Michigan's fall foliage. The park features dunes, inland lakes, waterfalls, and a wild shoreline with beaches and sandstone cliffs.

Fall at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise

With the Tahquamenon River at its center, Tahquamenon Falls State Park stretches across 50,000 acres. At almost 50 feet, its Upper Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. In addition, its Lower Falls consists of five smaller waterfalls that cascade around an island.

The River Trail connects the falls, and the mostly undeveloped park makes getting great pictures of the fall colors a breeze.

Visiting Mackinac Island in the Fall

Sitting in Lake Huron between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, Mackinac Island is a delightful place to visit during the fall. There are fewer tourists compared to the summer, which makes walking around the island more enjoyable while you soak up the hues of amber and crimson in the trees.

You could even take a carriage ride, go horseback riding or savor a picnic downtown at Marquette Park.

Where to See Michigan Fall Colors in the Northern Lower Peninsula

Road Trip on the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route

One of the most scenic road trips for viewing the fall foliage in Michigan is via the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route. Otherwise known as M-119, this historic route runs for about 30 miles along Lake Michigan. It starts at Cross Village, where a bluff with a giant white cross overlooks the lake.

The Tunnel of Trees passes through Good Hart, Middle Village, and Harbor Springs before reaching Petoskey. Along the way, there are plenty of places to stop for hiking, taking pictures, and shopping.

Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway in Ocqueoc Township

Passing through Ocqueoc Township, the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway is the best way to see Ocqueoc Falls, the biggest waterfall in the state's Lower Peninsula. The pathway has four loops, which range from 3 miles to 6 miles long and are suitable for biking and hiking.

The towering hardwoods and pines provide an awesome backdrop of fall colors for pictures.

Leelanau State Park in Northport

Located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula in Lake Michigan, Leelanau State Park has 8.5 miles of foot trails that encompass you in the fall foliage of Leelanau County.

With more than 1,500 acres, the park features a picnic area, rustic campground, and Grand Traverse Lighthouse, which is a historic monument. You can tour the lighthouse and museum, which offers treasure hunts and has a gift shop.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Maple City

While Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is known for its bluffs, sand dunes, and sandy beaches along Lake Michigan, it features inland lakes and lush forests that satisfy your craving for those Michigan fall colors.

If you're just passing through, take a detour on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Empire for a dazzle of color. You can stop and enjoy the stunning views at the Dunes Scenic Overlook, too.

Trek the Corsair Trails near Tawas

The Corsair Trails are renowned for being one of the best cross-country ski networks anywhere. But in the fall, it provides a fun and adventurous way to see the beauty of a Michigan fall.

The trail network has three trailheads, each of which is just a few miles northwest of East Tawas. There are over 26 miles of trails and loops to explore, so it's perfect whether you want to spend a day or a whole weekend.

See the Best of Lake Michigan Fall Color in Ludington

One of the best Lake Michigan towns to experience fall is Ludington and there are lots of spots to check out.

The Ludington School Forest offers more than five miles of trails where you can bike and hike to take in all autumn has to offer. Ludington State Park is also great for recreation and has more than 18 miles of trails, more than 5,300 acres of forest, and much more.

Take a Fall Ride on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes

West Michigan is blessed every year with amazing fall colors and places like Silver Lake are the best spots to see the fantastic yellow, green, and red colors.

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a fun and scenic place to see the fall colors. You can take an off-road vehicle for a spin on the dunes or take a guided tour. You"ll be able to see Silver Lake and Lake Michigan and the majestic fall colors surrounding them.

See Breathtaking Views in Gaylord

Gaylord is, in a word, exquisite in fall and there are several places where you can bike, hike, or paddle to see the best of the season.

But for truly breathtaking fall vistas, there are two locations to go. Treetrops Resort in Gaylord is well-known for its golf courses, but it also provides one of the best fall views in all of Otsego County. The Sturgeon River also offers awe-inspiring views and is a great way to experience fall from a different point of view.

Travel the In-Town Cadillac Fall Color Route

Cadillac's in-town Cadillac Route is a great way to enjoy fall in downtown Cadillac. The 7-mile Cadillac Foot and Bike Path offers a chance to explore downtown and continue on to Lake Mitchell at the edge of the Manistee National Forest.

The Around Cadillac loops allow visitors to visit numerous scenic overlooks, farm markets, and hiking experiences. These routes offer the best of everything as you cross the Pine and Big Manistee rivers.

Visit Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling

The contrasting hardwood and evergreen forests of Northern Michigan are something spectacular to behold in the fall and Grayling is the perfect place to see it all.

Head down M-93 or I-75 to Hartwick Pines State Park. Here you can bask in the colors of fall while enjoying a leisurely bike ride or hike on a crisp fall day. Hartwick Pines is one of the biggest state parks in Michigan's Lower Peninsula and it's hard to match its beauty.

Fall Things to Do in Alpena

As the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes, Alpena is the place where history and heritage collide with relaxed outdoor adventure. With its claim to fame being its position on the 45th Parallel (halfway between the North Pole and the Equator), Alpena is situated on the shores of Lake Huron in northern Michigan and is home to the nation's only freshwater marine sanctuary.

Centrally located to 7 lighthouses, and boasting 1000+ miles of shoreline, 43K+ acres of state forest land, 300K+ acres of open water, and more than 2 dozen parks, Alpena is a must-explore fall destination in northern Michigan.

Aside from exploring four hiking trails, you can tour the 80-foot-tall Alpena Light on Thunder Bay River. Also called Little Red, the lighthouse is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.

Destinations for Viewing Fall Foliage in the Southern Lower Peninsula

Visit Mt Pleasant's Exciting Park System

Great fall colors can be found anywhere in Michigan, even in Mount Pleasant in central Michigan. One of the best spots in the Mount Pleasant area is the Bundy Hill Preserve in Remus. There are two miles of trails to explore and you can scale the highest point in Isabella County at 1,270 feet.

You can also see fall beauty at Deerfield Nature Park in Remus, where you'll find a covered bridge, disc golf courses, and more.

Mount Pleasant's park system is also a great way to explore the city and see fall colors. There's space for skateboarding, picnicking, playgrounds, horseshoe pits and so much more. They're the perfect spots for fall family outings.

Explore the Thumb Coast in Port Huron

The gateway to Michigan's thumb coast is a great place to visit for fall color. In fact, it may be one of the state's best-kept secrets.

Fall is the prime time to see gorgeous autumn hues and you can't go wrong with driving along M-25. The roadway actually ends in Port Huron, but while you're in town you can take a gander at Fort Gratiot.

See the Best of Nature in Port Austin

If Michigan's fall colors are your thing, hop on M-25 in Port Huron or head north on M-53 and head to Port Austin. The drives are picturesque and the colors stretch for miles as you drive along the Lake Huron coastline.

Stop into town to visit the seasonal farmer's market or visit for one of Port Austin's fun events.

If you want to get back to nature, check out the hiking trails at Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum or Port Crescent State Day Use Park. When it comes to nature, you can't be the views the Nature Center offers, especially in the fall.

Take a Ride With BaySail in Bay City

One of the best ways to experience fall in Bay City is on the water with BaySail. This allows visitors to take a sailing trip on the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.

The boats typically depart from downtown Bay City, and you'll be able to see fall colors in a completely different way. You can bring the whole family or charter an entire ship for a private cruise or private dinner.

The Bay City Recreation Area is also a great place to see a decent amount of fall colors when conditions are right.

Leaf Peep at For-Mar Near Flint

If your idea of a fun day is hitting the trails and going on a fall hike, For-Mar Nature Preserve near Flint has you covered. The preserve and arboretum, which opened as a county park in 1970, has seven miles of trails to explore.

The arboretum stretches over 116 acres and features more than 1,800 different specimens of more than 150 species. If you love plants, trees, shrubs, and other flora and fauna, you'll be amazed at all that you see here during the fall months. You'll want to take your time to make sure that you see it all.

Coopersville & Marne Railway Train Rides

A fun way to see Michigan fall colors is to hop on a Coopersville & Marne Railway train. The railway operates vintage passenger trains with cars from the 1920s. From Coopersville, the train rides take you about 7 miles to Marne.

The track travels through fields and farms, and it crosses over four creeks and two bridges. The Famous Pumpkin Train is popular for its fall-themed entertainment.

Holland State Park in Holland

Known for its beaches on Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan, Holland State Park has many fall activities to offer. There are campgrounds, paddle rentals, fishing, and a playground.

The iconic Holland Harbor Lighthouse, also called Big Red, is a beautiful setting for sunsets. However, you get the best look at the fall foliage while walking the nearby Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk.

Fall Things to Do in Saugatuck

Saugatuck is a unique place to visit if you want to see fall colors in Michigan. With miles of Lake Michigan beaches and shorelines in southwest Michigan, this city is full of character and culture, and it has some of the best beaches in the world.

An excellent thing to do here in the fall is to explore Saugatuck Dunes State Park, which has more than 12 miles of trails through rolling hills and steep slopes.

You can also take a colorful hike up the Mount Baldhead Park trail to Mount Baldhead, which offers a panoramic view of the lake.

Fall in Kalamazoo

Named one of the top 10 affordable outdoorsy cities in the country, Kalamazoo is a perfect fall destination for Michiganders. Just 45 minutes from Lake Michigan in the southwest corner of the Lower Peninsula, this vibrant city has something for everyone to enjoy this fall.

Whether you take a hike through one of the many nature centers, visit a local pumpkin patch or apple orchard, or meander through the streets of downtown Kalamazoo, you'll be invigorated by the fresh air of fall in this beautiful city.

Whitehouse Nature Center at Albion College

Whitehouse Nature Center is a special place for seeing the changing leaves because it's located on a college campus. It's the only classroom that stretches across 140 acres, and it has a river, more than 400 plant species, and 5 miles of trails.

The River's Edge Trail follows the Kalamazoo River. You can visit live exhibits of amphibians and reptiles in the center as well.

Road Trip on Huron River Drive Between Dexter and Ann Arbor

Leading you through the trees and across the Huron River, Huron River Drive gives you an excellent glimpse of the fall colors. It runs alongside the river, and the stretch between Dexter and Ann Arbor is ideal for cycling.

Along the way, you can stop at the Dexter Cider Mill for hand-picked apples, apple cider, doughnuts, pastries, and hard cider. Further down is the Delhi Metropark in Ann Arbor, which has 52 acres of oak trees.

Fall in Ypsilanti

Just east of Ann Arbor along the I-94 corridor, the Huron River runs through the town of Ypsilanti. Riverside Park, a nearly 14-acre park along the Huron River connects downtown Ypsilanti with Depot Town and is full of fall color during the months of October and November.

"Ypsi", as it's affectionately known, has a rich history, which shines through in its vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment scenes – and is inspiring a resurgence of visitors from near and far. Two main districts, Downtown and Depot Town, are historic areas infused with innovative, bohemian, locally-driven businesses.

Sometimes overlooked because of its more famous neighbor (Ann Arbor, Michigan), Ypsilanti has its own inimitable, groovy, authentic ambiance worthy of a weekend fall getaway.

September
16

National Guacamole Day – September 16, 2022

National Guacamole Day 

MOLE DAY TIMELINE

1500s
Aztecado

The Aztecs make a spread with avocados called "ahuaca-mulli" or "avocado sauce."

1833
First in Florida

Avocado trees are first planted in Florida and three years later, they're cultivated in California.

1935
The Hass Is born

Rudolph Hass originates the term, "Hass Avocado," after purchasing a seedling from a farmer. Today, Hass is the most popular avocado variety in America.

2014
Avocados for days!

American consumption of avocados jumps from 1 to 7 pounds per capita within 20 years.

NATIONAL GUACAMOLE DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Make some fresh guacamole

    You can really get into the celebratory spirit of National Guacamole Day by actually making it at home. Select some ripe avocados at the store by squeezing each one gently. Ripe avocados will yield to gentle pressure. At home, cut your avocados open, remove the stones and spoon the green flesh into a bowl. Smash with a fork or handheld mixer and stir in some onion or a splash of salsa for extra flavor.

  2. Go on a guacamole tour

    Ready for a guacamole extravaganza? Hook up with some friends and try to visit at least three restaurants on National Guacamole Day. Sample the guac at each place to decide which one you like best.

  3. Add some guacamole to your food

    Whether you made some fresh or brought home guacamole from the store, you can celebrate National Guacamole Day simply by eating some guac. But why stop there? Guacamole has been a source of inspiration for fusion cuisine the world over, and National Guacamole Day is your time to get creative. Whatever you were planning to make for dinner, find room to add a little guacamole to the meal. Dollop some guacamole onto your chicken or try something truly crazy! Who's ready for guacamole mac-and-cheese?

WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL GUACAMOLE DAY

  1. Guacamole is healthy and delicious

    Whether you like it plain or spicy, guacamole is one of those foods that's easy to love. The avocado is rich in the good fats that help reduce cholesterol and when avocado is mashed, the texture is creamy, bringing out all the amazing flavor. Then, add onion, tomato, cumin and cilantro.

  2. It's not just for Mexican food

    Guacamole originated as a Mexican side dish. Due to its health benefits and great flavor, guacamole has grown in popularity throughout the world, especially in the United States and Canada. Now there's guacamole fusion. Look for it on salads, as sandwich spread and even on pizza!

  3. It gives you a reason to eat guacamole

    Okay, so a lot of us probably don't need a special reason to eat guacamole. But most of us still associate guacamole with Mexican cuisine. Despite a ton of innovative ways to incorporate guacamole into other types of food, we may hesitate to try those fusions at home. But whether you like classic guacamole or you're obsessing over the turkey and guacamole croissant sandwich, National Guacamole Day is a great reason to include this healthy, high-vitamin food in your diet.

NATIONAL GUACAMOLE DAY DATES

Year Date Day
2022 September 16 Friday
2023 September 16 Saturday
2024 September 16 Monday
2025 September 16 Tuesday
2026 September 16 Wednesday
September
9

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Sep. 9, 2022

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Sep. 9, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates moved lower again yesterday. It wasn't a big fall by recent standards, but it was a worthwhile one. If your lender didn't drop your rate yesterday, it might well this morning.

Mortgage rates today look likely to fall again. And, if that trend continues as the hours pass, those for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages should end the day back below 6%.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Sep 9th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 6.173% 6.205% +0.13% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 5.266% 5.3% -0.24% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 6.197% 6.259% +0.07% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 5.687% 5.797% -0.03% 
30 year fixed FHA 6.019% 6.89% +0.26% 
15 year fixed FHA 5.563% 6.17% -0.09% 
30 year fixed VA 5.778% 6.007% +0.09% 
15 year fixed VA 5.697% 6.05% -0.15% 
Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

Unfortunately, a couple of days of better news about mortgage rates isn't enough to persuade me they're likely to fall significantly for a sustained period over the next few months.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK if closing in 60 days

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose to 3.30% from 3.25%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices climbed to $85.86 from $83.23 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices increased to $1,725 from $1,722 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — moved up to 45 from 40 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today look likely to fall. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Sep 9th, 2022)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
  2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

The chances of the Federal Reserve hiking general interest rates by 75 basis points (0.75%) on Sep. 21 increased yesterday. The Financial Times summed up the situation in a subhead: "Fed chair doubles down on hawkish message and says central bank needs to act 'forthrightly'"

You might have thought markets would have gotten the message the first 10 times Chair Jerome Powell said this. But some apparently still think he's bluffing. So, there he was again yesterday, saying the same thing.

It is very much our view, and my view, that we need to act now forthrightly, strongly, as we have been doing, and we need to keep at it until the job is done.
— Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Sep. 8, 2022

Fed and MBSs

One of the main reasons mortgage rates plumbed new lows during the pandemic was that the Fed bought industrial quantities of mortgage-back securities (MBSs), the type of bond that largely determines those rates. As of yesterday, it owned $2.7 trillion of MBSs.

The extra demand created by the Fed pushed up the price of MBSs, which inevitably pulled down their yields — and therefore mortgage rates. This was part of the process called "quantitative easing" (QE). But we're now in a period of "quantitative tightening" (QT).

For a while earlier this year, I was worried that the Fed might dump too many of its MBSs into the bond market over a relatively brief period, pushing up mortgage rates even higher when they were already rising. But that probably hasn't happened much.

The quantity the Fed can sell each month will rise this month to $35 billion. That's a lot, but not compared to its $2.7 trillion holding.

And, yesterday, the New York Fed said it expected sales within a "range between $20 and $30 billion over the next several months." Click that link if you want a peek under the hood.

So, I'm not expecting the Fed's runoff of its MBS assets to affect mortgage rates too much over the rest of this year. That's good. But the risks from persistent inflation and the Fed's rate hikes remain.

And I still suspect that mortgage rates won't fall far or for long between now and 2023. But some experts disagree: see Fannie Mae's and the Mortgage Bankers Association's forecasts below.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although they've been kinder since May.

Freddie's Sep. 8 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.89% (with 0.7 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.66%.

Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Aug. 22 and the MBA's on Aug. 23. Freddie's came out around Jul. 21. But it now releases forecasts only quarterly. So, expect its figures to look stale soon.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.1% 4.8%  4.7% 4.5%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.3% 5.2%  5.1% 5.0%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive. Personally, I think they're too optimistic.

Find your lowest rate today

You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

"Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

Verify your new rate (Sep 9th, 2022)

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

September
7

Is Professional Home Staging Worth the Cost?

Is Professional Home Staging Worth the Cost?

Home staging has become a "must-do" for many sellers, as 82% of buyer's agents said home staging makes it easier for prospective buyers to visualize the property as a future home.1

 Staged homes have also historically sold faster and for more money than those that are not staged.2 Let's dive into the benefits of staging, the costs of having a company stage your home, and why for many sellers it is worth the cost.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Home staging is the curated furnishing and prepping of a home that is for sale on the real estate market.
  • The goal of home staging is to create a believable, clean, attractive living space that buyers can envision living in.
  • Proponents say that staging a home can increase a home's selling price and the likelihood that it will sell quickly as it helps prospective buyers better imagine how they can use the livable space.
  • Staging, however, comes with a cost: you will have to pay the stager as well as pay for the rental for furnishings and home accents while the house remains unsold.
  • While many have benefit from professional home stagers, you can choose to stage your home by yourself or rely on some feedback from your real estate agent.

What Is Staging? 

Home staging is a marketing strategy that temporarily refits your home with furniture, art, and other décor to make the visual space more appealing to prospective buyers. The goal of staging is to flatter the property, accentuate the strengths of the home, and give interested parties the ability to visualize themselves living in the space.

Good staging companies strive to make over a property without being obvious. A high quality staging job is beautiful without being obvious, as the intent isn't to deceive a buyer or have an interested party feel like a staging job is attempting to hide a home's flaws.

Staging is also practical as it allows other people to see spaces and how they may be used. Using furniture and property that you do not own, staging companies can demonstrate how awkward spaces can be used, what pieces go well in what areas, and how to most efficiently lay out a room.

How Home Staging Works

Home staging isn't putting a bunch of fancy furniture in your home. It's a deliberate marketing strategy with specific objectives that drive a higher real estate prices. Home staging may be more appropriate for home buyers that think they may benefit from any of the following improvements. Home staging:

  • makes your home look clean and organized.
  • strives to have rooms look bigger.
  • makes your home feel more welcoming.
  • utilizes all space, adding functionality to each room and corner.
  • modernizes your living space through new, creative furnishings.
  • depersonalizes your home and attempts to have the buyer image themselves in the space.
Home staging companies often have a number of requirements and clauses in their contracts. Make sure you're aware of whether they require all utilities to be connected, what notification periods are needed, and what cleanliness requirements they have prior to staging.

Benefits of Staging

Sellers often pursue home staging for several specific benefits. For one, staging makes it easier for potential buyers to see themselves in the home. Instead of having an empty space, staged homes have dining rooms, bedrooms, and other personal settings set up for buyers to see and imagine themselves in.

Staged houses also have the benefit of appearing clean. Staging companies own a plethora of furniture and goods, and they often ensure all property is maintained and looks professional. A staged home reduces clutter, removes personal items of the seller, and likely involved cleaner furniture than what the seller owns.

A stager can help with your online listing, too, as 93% of home buyers use the Internet during their home search.3 That means your home had better show really well online. Staging and photos by a professional can help create a beautiful digital marketing portfolio that entices buyers without needing them in the physical space.

Staging is used to demonstrate that a home is move-in ready. By demonstrating that the house can be set up and livable, staged homes are often more appealing to buyers as these houses may come across as needing less repairs or maintenance prior to being fully useful.

How Staging Affects Time on Market

The Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) has a staging savings calculator that lets you figure out how much time and money (mortgage payments, carrying costs, etc.) you save if you stage your home before listing it. They found that homes that had not been staged before listing sat on the market for an average of 143 days.4 Once these homes were staged, they sold in 40 days. In addition, homes that were staged pre-listing averaged just 23 days on the market.5 Though every market and property is different, a home is more likely to sell faster if it is staged.

Timelines will vary greatly between markets, especially during busier or slower seasons. In general, an average home can be staged in 1-2 days. It's advised to contact a stager at least 2-3 weeks prior to a listing to ensure ideal inventory is on hand for your home.

How Staging Affects Sale Price

Staging a home also impacts the sale price. According to the National Association of Realtors, 23% of buyers' agents said that home staging raised the dollar value offered by between 1% and 5% compared to home that had not been staged. 18% of agents believe home staging increased the dollar value offer between 6% and 10%.6

Downsides to Staging

The obvious downside to home staging is the cost. We'll talk more about the cost below, but it's important to note that whatever you spend, you are incurring an optional expense that is not required to sell your home.

You may encounter the issue of needing to store your belongings in preparation of a stage. Staging companies will often require your items are removed prior to their furniture being brought in. If you're not quite at the stage of having a new home lined up, you may be forced to expedite packing and incur additional costs to have your goods held off-site.

While staging may mask or cover some of your home's flaws, it doesn't fix them. In addition, they may even call attention to deficits of your home depending on how the home is staged. For example, you may have used furniture to cover poor paint jobs or scratches on the walls or floor. Staging companies often use a minimalist approach that may not cover all of the blemishes you once hid.

Staging often gets your house off the market faster. However, it also takes longer to get staged homes onto the market. In addition to removing all of your belongings, coordinating with a staging company takes planning. You may also decide to undertake repair and maintenance based on how a staged product will appear.

The Cost of Staging

The cost to stage a home is very specific to geographical location and specific real estate markets. In addition, staging expenses will vary throughout the year, as companies will be more in demand during the peak selling season. While you might be able to secure a contract, you may be faced with furniture charged a premium.

According to HomeAdvisor, the national average home staging cost is $1,608. Homeowners typically pay between $741 and $2,644, though full furniture rentals for extended periods can cost over $6,000.7

Home staging can be done while you are still living in the house. However, you may be contractually obligated to keep your home clean and responsible for any damages to furnishings while you're temporarily occupying the space.

Other Considerations

Consider the design skills, time and energy that staging will require and be realistic about whether you could undertake the task yourself. Professional companies have expertise and inventory in the field; however, many choose to design the layout of their home themselves and utilize the furniture they already own.

In addition, you can opt for your real estate agent to help stage your home, though it's traditionally not within their role to do so. Your real estate agent is motivated to sell your home as quickly as possible for as much as possible, they so may have recommendations based on what they've seen work on other listings.

Unlike some professions, there is no official licensing entity and no licensing exam for staging. Just about anyone can call themselves a stager, so the best way to find a good one is to get referrals from a seller you know who has used and found success with a particular stager or from your broker. A good broker will have connections to good stagers. 

What Is the Process of Staging a Home?

If you hire a staging company, the company will require you to remove your belongings from the site. They will often take a tour of your property, take measurements, and work with your real estate agent on obtaining information about your home. The company will then deliver furniture to your home, stage your property, and remove the furnishings at the end of your agreed-upon contract.

Is Home Staging Worth It?

For many, home staging results in a higher selling price and a quicker home sale. There are downsides to home staging such as more work prior to listing and ancillary costs like storing your property, but these downsides are often outweighed by the benefits of staging.

Is It Better to Sell a Home Staged or Empty?

Every market and property will have different strategies. In general, it is often best to stage a home to maximize bid prices. If you are looking to sell a property quickly, be mindful that there is considerable planning and coordinating prior to listing, so selling a home empty may be best in some situations.

Am I Required to Stage My Home?

You are not required to stage your home. Home staging is an optional marketing strategy used to maximize buyer interest in your home.

How Can I Stage My Own Home?

Should you choose to stage your own home, it's most often advised that you begin by simply cleaning and de-cluttering your space. This includes performing cosmetic repairs and maintenance on both the interior and exterior of your home. Remove personal items that make it more difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Consider borrowing furniture from friends or family.

The Bottom Line

The cost of staging by a professional—someone who has a great track record in the business—can mean a higher selling price for your home. For many, having a professional bring in their own expertise and furnishings leads to a more successful home selling experience.

September
2

Home Inspection

Home Inspection

What Is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection observes and reports on the condition of a real estate property, usually when it is on the market to be sold.

A qualified home inspector assesses the property's condition, including its heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical work, water, and sewage, as well as some fire and safety issues. In addition, the home inspector will look for evidence of insect, water, fire damage, or any other issue that may affect the property's value.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • A home inspection examines a property's safety and current condition.
  • A buyer arranges and pays for a home inspection and—depending on its findings—may choose to move on to closing, renegotiate the sale price, request repairs, or cancel the sales contract.
  • A home inspection is not the same as a home appraisal, which is required and scheduled by a lender to determine the value of a property for which a buyer is seeking a mortgage.
  • When valuing real estate for investment purposes, a home inspection is one of several variables considered.
  • Before buying a home, you should have it inspected. Waiving an inspection may be a risky venture.

How a Home Inspection Works

Potential home buyers often hire home inspectors to research a property and acquire a written report that details its condition, including assessing necessary or recommended repairs, maintenance concerns, and any other potentially costly issues. The home inspector will assess the physical structure of the home, from the foundation to the roof and the home's systems. This assessment will determine if the home is up to code.

A home inspection can tell a homebuyer a lot about a newly constructed home or an existing house and save them money and aggravation. For sellers, meanwhile, having an inspection done before putting their home on the market can afford them the chance to make structural repairs or upgrade and replace systems that may increase the likelihood of a sale.

Typically, a home inspection is done after a sales contract, or purchase agreement between a buyer and a seller has been signed. For this reason, it's important that the contract include an inspection contingency (also known as a "due diligence" contingency), which allows a buyer time to find an inspector, schedule and attend—if so desired—an inspection, receive the inspector's report, and decide how to proceed based on the information provided.

A report's assessment can include everything from material defects that negatively impact a home's value to minor cosmetic defects. Based on the assessment, the buyer may decide to proceed with the sale, schedule additional inspections, renegotiate the sale price with the homeowner, ask that certain repairs be made, or cancel the contract. If the buyer requests major repairs, they may also ask for a reinspection with the original inspector to verify that the original problem identified has been remedied.

Additional inspections may be done for asbestos, mold or mildew, termites, pests, radon, or lead, for example, or to check sewer lines, chimneys, or other structural components.

Home Inspection vs. Appraisal

A home inspection focuses on the home's current condition and should not be confused with a home appraisal, which determines the property's value. Both are essential steps that lead to a home sale but are done for different reasons.

The buyer sets up a home inspection and can then attend it to become educated about the condition and safety of the home and its systems. In contrast, an appraisal performed by a certified or licensed appraiser is required and scheduled by a lender when a buyer needs a mortgage to purchase a home.

Unlike a home inspection, an appraisal can impact the amount that can be borrowed and is typically done behind closed doors without the buyer's presence. The appraiser uses several valuation methods, including comparable home prices, the size and quality of the home, lot size, and more. In contrast, a home inspector is only evaluating the home's condition.

Special Considerations

Valuing real estate can be a challenging process, with the result of a home inspection acting as just one variable. Investing in real estate is similar to investing in stocks. Two basic methodologies exist absolute value and relative value. Discounting the future net operating income (NOI) of a property by the appropriate discount rate is similar to discounted cash flow (DCF) valuations for stock. Integrating the gross income multiplier model in real estate is comparable to relative value valuations with stocks.

In both methods of real estate valuation, it's critical to choose an appropriate capitalization rate or the real estate's required rate of return. This is the net of value appreciation or depreciation.

Do I Need a Home Inspection?

Because a home inspection provides a thorough assessment of the home's safety and condition, it is always a good idea to have a home inspected before purchase.

What Happens When a Home Inspector Finds Something Wrong?

If a home inspection report finds any unsafe materials or costly cosmetic defects, a buyer can decide not to proceed with the home purchase, renegotiate the sale price, or ask the homeowner to make repairs in order to keep the contract intact.

Is a Home Appraisal the Same As an Inspection?

A home appraisal is a different action than a home inspection. A mortgage lender sets up an appraisal, and the appraiser will use various valuation methods, including comparable home prices, size, and quality of the home, to assess its value. A home inspector only evaluates the home's condition for overall safety or potential trouble spots, like a leaking roof, peeling paint, or anything not up to the local building code.

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August
31

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 30, 2022

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 30, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates jumped significantly yesterday. They're just one day's moderate rise away from breaching the 6% level for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. And some borrowers will already be on the hook for 6%+ rates.

Earlier this morning it was looking as if mortgage rates today might barely move. But that could easily change as the day progresses.

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 5.953% 5.983% +0.09% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 5.379% 5.439% +0.1% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 6.001% 6.059% +0.09% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 5.231% 5.32% +0.11% 
30 year fixed FHA 5.687% 6.45% +0.15% 
15 year fixed FHA 5.585% 6.086% +0.1% 
30 year fixed VA 5.342% 5.561% +0.06% 
15 year fixed VA 5.449% 5.812% Unchanged
Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

Yesterday's rise in mortgage rates was sobering. Periods of rises are often followed by falls, but those are by no means guaranteed.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK if closing in 60 days

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell to 3.07% from 3.10%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were modestly higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices decreased to $93.39 from $95.10 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices fell to $1,742 from $1,751 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — climbed to 55 from 45 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today look likely to hold steady or move modestly. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Aug 31st, 2022)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
  2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

August has been another terrible month for mortgage rates. According to Mortgage News Daily's archives, the average for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage started the month at 5.05% and closed yesterday evening at 5.95%.

So, it would take a miracle today and tomorrow for this month to be less than a disaster. And, even then, it would still have been bad.

Yesterday, I suggested that September may be less awful than August. That's because it's usually a poor month for stocks, and investors might put some of the money from their sales into mortgage bonds. That should exert downward pressure on mortgage rates. Unfortunately, there should be other forces — notably inflation — likely pushing them higher.

Personally, I see little prospect of sustained falls in mortgage rates this side of 2023. But the expert economists at Fannie Mae and the Mortgage Bankers Association disagree. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

Yesterday

Financial media seem close to unanimity that yesterday's mortgage rate rises were a result of last Friday's crucial speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. In some ways, he said what everyone expected. Namely, that the Fed would continue to hike general interest rates for the foreseeable future.

But he failed to give any indication of when the Fed would pivot away from rate rises and return to the easy-money environment that benefits Wall Street so much.

Mr. Powell started his speech at 10 a.m. (ET) on Friday. So you may think it strange that markets had most of a business day to respond — and did so in ways that reduced mortgage rates. But markets can take a while to digest new information. All those uber-smart minds, backed up by the highest of high-tech computer systems, simply aren't as instantly responsive as they'd like you to think.

So, I was right when I predicted that, if hawkish, Mr. Powell's speech would probably push mortgage rates higher. But I was wrong about the timing.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although they've been kinder since May.

Freddie's Aug. 25 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.55% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.13%.

Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Aug. 22 and the MBA's on Aug. 23. Freddie's came out around Jul. 21. But it now releases forecasts only quarterly. So, expect its figures to look stale soon.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.1% 4.8%  4.7% 4.5%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.3% 5.2%  5.1% 5.0%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive. Personally, I think they're wildly optimistic.

Find your lowest rate today

You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

"Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

Verify your new rate (Aug 31st, 2022)

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

August
24

6 Tips to Sell Your Home Fast

6 Tips to Sell Your Home Fast

How to generate interest in your house

If you're ready to sell your home, you may have reason to want to sell it fast. Whether you're relocating for a new job that starts soon or have a pending offer on a new place, it's important to drum up interest in your house especially if you're looking to close quickly. The more potential buyers you can attract, the better your chances of selling fast - and at a good price.

Whatever your reasons for selling, here are six ways to sell a house quickly even in a slow market.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • When looking to sell a home quickly, begin by hiring a real estate agent to manage much of the process on your behalf.
  • You or your agent can price the home competitively and can adjust the terms and conditions if there is lukewarm initial interest.
  • Prior to showings, clean the whole house, remove clutter, and hide personal items so buyers can picture themselves in the space.
  • Boost the curb appeal to make the right first impression. Clear away the cobwebs, paint the front door, and plant flowers.
  • Offer terms that might sweeten the deal for buyers—such as paying part of the closing costs.

1. Find the Right Real Estate Agent

If you want to sell your home fast, the first step is to hire a real estate agent. The ideal person will know the local market and have a sales record that proves they know how to sell. Keep in mind the seller is often responsible for paying the commission for both the buyer and seller agent. In exchange for the convenience of an agent, you're likely on the hook for a selling commission between 2%-4% of your selling price.

Keep in mind that a real estate agent will help with the entire process. They'll oversee the professional photographer who will take top-notch photos of your home as well as negotiate the best price. They also will write up a real estate listing that sells, schedule and host showings, and market your property to get it seen.

2. Price It to Sell

One of the most effective ways to sell your home fast is to price it competitively. If you price it too high, you detract prospective buyers out price out potential bidders. In addition, it make take longer to settle the negotiation process if prospective buyers want your price to come down.

Your real estate agent (or realtor) will research comparable homes (aka "comps") in your area to set a realistic price. If you really need to sell fast, then consider pricing your home a little lower to attract interest (and maybe even spark a bidding war). If you haven't received any offers by a certain date, your agent can further reduce your selling price.

It's also helpful to think about the price points that buyers search for in your area. If you list your home for $302,000, for example, then you'll miss all the potential buyers who are looking for homes under $300,000. It's probably not worth asking for the extra $2,000 if it means fewer buyers will see the home.

Just-below pricing is a popular pricing strategy as $299,000 has a different psychological effect on consumers than $300,000. This pricing strategy is employed throughout supermarkets and online retail.

3. Clean, Declutter, and Depersonalize

Buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the space, but they won't be able to if your house is a mess. Give your home a thorough cleaning from top to bottom, get rid of clutter, and hide the family photos and other personal items. It's fairly standard industry practice to hire external cleaners especially prior to a major showing.

Rearrange the furniture so your home looks inviting and so buyers can move through your home without bumping into anything. If necessary, put bulky items in storage. A crowded room looks like a small room.

Consider hiring a stager to help you showcase your home's best assets, impress potential buyers, and sell it quickly for the best possible price. Staging isn't cheap, but the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that, on average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged homes.1

4. Boost Your Curb Appeal

If you want to sell quickly, it's essential to make a good first impression. The first thing a buyer sees is a home's exterior and how it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. To boost your home's curb appeal, give attention to both the house and its surroundings.

It may be too late to do major renovations. If a sale is urgent, consider minor repairs and maintenance to the outside of your house such as touch-up painting, window washing, and fixing anything broken. If repainting your entire house doesn't fit in your timeline, slap a coat of paint on just your door. You can also swap out your address numbers or door handles for newer, more attractive replacements.

If applicable, make sure the pathway from the curb to your porch is clean and safe to walk on. This includes straightening any uneven paths and pruning overgrown bushes. In addition to being a safety hazard, you want to make sure prospective buyers can see and focus on the appearance of the house as they approach.

Don't forget the lights! Swap out exterior and interior lightbulbs especially if you are showing your house later in the evening or during winter.

There's plenty to do with your surroundings as well. Plant flowers or sprinkle bark mulch to give your yard a freshly-landscaped feel. Lay out a welcome mat and make sure your mailbox is clean. Dust away spiderwebs and debris from windows, eaves, and porches.

Not only does a positive curb appeal welcome prospective buyers, it signals to the market that you've cared for the home and they can believe the rest of the house has been well-taken care of as well.

5. Take Care of Quick Repairs

You won't have time for any major renovations, so focus on quick repairs to address things that could deter potential buyers. Survey the house and take care of the easy fixes including:

  • Fix all loose tiles in the bathroom or kitchen.
  • Fix all loose hinges on doors or cabinets.
  • Unclog or replace stuck drawer tracks.
  • Repair any leaky faucets and ensure all plumbing systems work.
  • Remove carpet stains or refinish hardwood floors.

Depending on how much time and money you want to spend getting the home ready, you might also want to update fixtures, buy new appliances, install new hardware on the cabinets, and give the interior a fresh coat of (neutral) paint.

If you want your home to sell fast, consider only working with cash buyers or buyers who have secured financing pre-approval. Buyers who have not been approved may delay the process and end up not qualifying for your home.

6. Sweeten the Deal

Another way to make the home and deal more attractive is to offer something to sweeten the pot. Buyers love financial incentives, and if you are pressed for time, consider how you can make your offer attractive. Examples include:

  • covering all closing costs.
  • accommodating move-out/move-in schedules with the buyer's preference.
  • agreeing to all inspections.
  • agreeing to pay for known items of concern to a buyer.
  • offering a transferable home warranty that provides discounted repair and replacement services for household appliances and systems.

How Do I Sell My Home Fast?

If you need to sell your home quickly, consider the short-term improvements to both the interior and exterior of your home. Consider hiring a real estate agent, photographer, and staging company. Be prepared to have flexibility on sale terms and conditions.

Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent handles many aspects of selling your home for you including researching the market, coordinating viewings, and negotiating the price. For these services, the seller often pays the agent a commission between 2% and 4%.

For some, the cost is too high and the service might not be worth it. For many, a real estate agent is indispensable as they often provide peace of mind during the selling process.

How Long Is the Home Closing Process?

The average home closing process lasts between 30 and 45 days. Delays are also possible, though you can close quicker if you and the other party are prepared.

The Bottom Line

Selling a home can be stressful—even more so if you're on a tight deadline. Fortunately, whether you need to sell fast because of a new job, a life event (e.g., a divorce), or financial reasons, there are ways to speed up the process.

If you don't have a big budget to get your home sell-ready, focus on that first impression of what buyers will see when they see your home for the first time. Buyers can make a decision within seconds—a few from the curb, and a few when they step inside the front door. Make those seconds count with a great agent, spruced-up house, and strong financial offer.

August
23

Practice Your Photo Skills With These West Michigan Scenic Spots

West Michigan is a photographer's paradise. Here's where you can snap stunning pictures.

Photography is one of our favorite art forms, and it's especially fun when you live in a beautiful place like West Michigan. When you're surrounded by tulips, shorelines, lighthouses, and windmills, you won't have trouble finding beautiful subjects for your photo shoots.

Great photography takes a good eye and a lot of practice. Our real estate agents have been dabbling in photography lately and are always on the lookout for new beautiful landscapes to hone their skills. Here are some of our favorite places to snap amazing pictures in West Michigan:

  • Windmill Island Gardens - 1 Lincoln Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Windmills are not only a sign of Dutch heritage, but they also make for beautiful photo opportunities. You can snap some great windmill pics at Windmill Island Gardens. The main attraction here is the historic 'de Zwann' windmill, but there are also dozens of acres of parks and exhibits where you can also take pictures. Among the other attractions are an annual themed garden during the summer and 150,000 blooming tulips in the spring. While you're in town, be sure to check out these Holland homes for sale, which are just down the road from the park.

  • Riverview Park - Central Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    You'll find ample photo opportunities at Riverview Park in Holland. Also known as "Window on the Waterfront," this park has boardwalks, open space, and viewing decks that offer amazing views of the Macatawa River. Not to mention the park is home to more than 100,000 blooming tulips every spring. With so much natural beauty, it's easy to snap a few shareable pictures.

  • Saugatuck Dunes State Park - 38th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
    Capture gorgeous photos of the sandy dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Saugatuck Dunes State Park. The park consists of over 100 acres with 13 miles of trails that weave in and out of beach, dune, and forest landscapes while providing amazing coastal views. The park is even home to three endangered plant species.

  • Lighthouse Connector Park - Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Also known as "The Boardwalk," Lighthouse Connector Park is a 1.5-mile recreational area extending from the Chinook Pier to the South Pier. It features a trail, beach access, and an upfront look at the amazing Grand Haven South Pierhead Inner Light. It's nice to have a beach in your own backyard, and these Grand Haven homes for sale offer just that.

  • Grand Haven State Park - 1001 S Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    Snap some awesome beach photos at Grand Haven State Park — a 48-acre park consisting of sandy beaches, dunes, and two lighthouses. It's also one of the best local places to take beautiful pictures of the sunset. If you want to make a weekend out of it, the park has fantastic campgrounds and lodging.

  • The Grand Haven Musical Fountain - 1 N Harbor Dr, Grand Haven, MI 49417
    See an amazing orchestration of lights, water, and music at the Grand Haven Musical Fountain. This theatrical fountain puts on a free 25-30 minute show every evening all summer long. Enjoy some great musical hits while practicing your photography skills. With a variety of shows, it's always worth stopping back and seeing something new.

Living in a beautiful place can do wonders for your mental health and energy, which is why we love calling West Michigan home. Contact us today to explore local listings.

August
22

The 20% Mortgage Down Payment Isn't Dead Yet

The 20% Mortgage Down Payment Isn't Dead Yet

A 20% down payment usually isn't required to finance a home purchase, and most buyers who finance a home put down less.

But the 20% down payment isn't dead yet. In fact, a growing share of buyers are making down payments of at least 20% to compete in today's sizzling market.

Competitive market prompts higher down payments

Realtors reported that 48% of their home buyer clients made down payments of at least 20% in the first quarter of 2021, up from 46% in all of 2020 and 40% in all of 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors' Confidence Index Survey. Among first-time buyers, almost 28% put down at least 20% in the first quarter, up from almost 26% in 2020 and about 23% in 2011.

A larger down payment strengthens your offer because it assures the seller that you're on solid financial ground and your financing is likely to go through.

For example, if the home appraisal comes in lower than the sales price, you'll need to negotiate with the seller to lower the price or pay more money out of your own pocket. Lenders generally won't approve a loan for more than the home is worth, minus the required down payment.

If you have more than enough for a lender-required down payment, you could use some of that money to make up the difference between the appraisal figure and sales price.

Still, it's important to maintain perspective and make a down payment that's right for you.

The average down payment on a house

Even though a greater share of buyers are putting down 20%, most first-time home buyers don't make that oft-quoted benchmark.

Because outliers can skew an average, the telling figure for what other home buyers put down is the median down payment, meaning half paid that much or above, and half paid that much or below.

For first-time home buyers who financed the purchase, the median down payment was 7%, according to a 2020 survey by the National Association of Realtors. The median down payment for repeat buyers who financed was 16%.

Minimum down payment on a house

The required minimum down payment for a house depends on the type of loan and a lender's criteria. Here are the minimum down payment requirements for the most common types of loans.

  • Conventional loans, which aren't guaranteed by the federal government, can have down payments as low as 3% for qualified buyers. Some lenders offer down payment assistance grants to allow even lower down payments.

  • FHA loans, backed by the Federal Housing Administration, require a minimum 3.5% down. FHA loans allow lower minimum credit scores than conventional loans.

  • VA loans for military service members and veterans, and USDA loans for certain rural and suburban buyers, usually require no down payment. VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and USDA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

" MORE: Sign up with NerdWallet to track your savings and reach your down payment goals.

Low minimum down payments: Nothing new

Mortgages with low down payment requirements have been around for decades.

The FHA has backed home loans with 5% down or less since the 1980s. Conventional loans have had them since the 1990s. And some first-time home buyer programs offer down payment assistance that can further reduce upfront costs.

"Some first-time home buyer programs offer down payment assistance that can further reduce upfront costs."

Yet more than three-fifths (62%) of Americans think you need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home, according to the NerdWallet 2020 Home Buyer Report.  That's likely because a 20% down payment on a conventional loan is considered an exemplar and often used to quote mortgage rates. And it's an important criterion — with 20% down you can avoid paying for private mortgage insurance.

Is it worth putting down 20%?

Aside from making your offer look stronger in a competitive market and avoiding mortgage insurance, making a 20% down payment has other advantages:

  • Your monthly payment will be lower.

  • You'll likely earn a lower mortgage interest rate.

  • Lenders will be more likely to compete for your business.

How much should a first-time buyer put down?

There is no single right answer for everyone. Deciding how much to put down on your first house depends on your financial situation, how long you plan on living in the home, and the housing market in your area.

Here are some general tips:

  • Avoid draining your savings account for a down payment. You'll want to have some money on hand for closing costs, homeowners insurance, and property taxes.

  • Budget for things you'll need to buy after moving in, like a lawn mower for that new lawn, and for home maintenance and repairs.

  • Earn more interest on what you are saving by stashing money in a high-yield savings account or certificate of deposit. See NerdWallet's picks for the best high-yield savings accounts and, if you're saving a sum for years ahead, consider the best CD rates.

August
19

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 19, 2022

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 19, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates barely moved yesterday. So they remain very close to the high set earlier in the month. Don't believe Freddie Mac's survey that said on Thursday that they fell this week.

Unfortunately, it's looking this morning as if mortgage rates today might rise, perhaps appreciably. Of course, it's always possible these early morning trends might change later in the day. But that's looking less likely today than is often the case.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Aug 19th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 5.709% 5.744% +0.12% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 5.119% 5.178% -0.06% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 5.771% 5.827% Unchanged
Conventional 10 year fixed 5.276% 5.38% +0.14% 
30 year fixed FHA 5.518% 6.248% -0.11% 
15 year fixed FHA 5.387% 5.878% -0.11% 
30 year fixed VA 5.361% 5.584% +0.54% 
15 year fixed VA 5.502% 5.866% -0.28% 
Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

The only way in which I can see mortgage rates falling and staying low is if the world slides swiftly into a serious recession. Of course, that's possible. But let's hope it's unlikely. Absent such a global recession, I suspect those rates will very gradually continue higher.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations are:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK if closing in 60 days

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes soared to 2.97% from 2.85%. (Very bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were lower soon after opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices increased to $90.81 from $90.14 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices fell to $1,767 from $1,783 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — nudged lower, to 51 from 54 out of 100. (Good for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today look likely to rise, possibly sharply. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Aug 19th, 2022)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
  2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Yesterday morning, I mentioned that markets seem unwilling to believe the Federal Reserve, no matter how many times it tells them its interest rate hikes will continue. On Thursday, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard was the latest to sound the warning. He said he personally will probably support another huge 75-basis point (0.75%) increase at the Fed's next meeting on Sep. 20-21. And San Francisco Federal Reserve president Mary Daly chose that day to proclaim rate hikes will continue at least into 2023.

Also yesterday, The Wall Street Journal (paywall) made the same point I did. The headline of its story was, "Wall Street Bets the Fed Is Bluffing in High-Stakes Inflation Game." It's an interesting read and I'll explore it more in tomorrow's weekend edition of this newsletter.

Those Wall Street bets are behind some recent falls in mortgage rates. And, if it turns out the Fed isn't bluffing, we may see more rises. My money's on the Fed following through. And, looking at markets this morning, it may be Wall Street is beginning to think so, too.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although they've been kinder since May.

Freddie's Aug. 18 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.13% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.22%. But that won't include that Wednesday's big rise.

Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. The latest forecasts all appeared around Jul. 21.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.5% 5.4%  5.3% 5.1%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.2% 5.2%  5.0% 5.0%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive.

Find your lowest rate today

You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

"Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

Verify your new rate (Aug 19th, 2022)

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

August
17

National Nonprofit Day – August 17, 2022

National Nonprofit Day

August 17, 2022

National Nonprofit Day is commemorated on August 17 each year to recognize nonprofit organizations' ongoing efforts to serve the local community. If you've ever volunteered, you're well aware of the significance of these charitable organizations.

Nonprofits throughout the country work to promote awareness and offer assistance to individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Their activities contribute to the shaping of our society and provide hope for a brighter future.

We all contribute in some manner, whether it's by volunteering, giving, or just spreading the word about a nonprofit. In 2017, Americans donated more than $400 billion to a variety of charity organizations. What a great example of teamwork!

HISTORY OF NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY

The Tariff Act was signed into law on August 17, 1894. It provided exclusions from the federal income tax levied on corporations for charitable organizations and charities. Despite various changes over the years, the exemptions for N.G.O.s remain stable and continue to expedite charity organizations' operations. Incentives like this one make the nonprofit environment more accessible to new organizations.

Sherita J. Herring, an author, and respected speaker launched National Nonprofit Day. Its goal was to educate and empower everyone to be the change we want to see in the world. Recognizing that there are individuals in our midst that require assistance is the first step toward positively changing our society. Charitable organizations have been strong warriors in the struggle to close the wealth divide. They give a forum for people to reach out to the poor, either directly or through donations.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 1.5 million registered organizations in the United States. These organizations play a vital role in community development by offering services such as food banks, affordable housing, medical care, legal counsel, and education. Another important contribution of the nonprofit sector is after-school activities; the daycare centers they provide are vital assets to these communities.

The nonprofit sector is a significant contributor to the national economy, employing professionals such as lawyers, engineers, nurses. Following the recession in 2012, the nonprofit sector contributed up to $887.3 billion, amounting to 5.4% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product.

NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY TIMELINE

1897
The Tariff Act is Passed into Law

The Tariff Act, exempting nonprofits from federal income tax, is passed.

1974
National Volunteer Week is Introduced

National Volunteer Week is founded to appreciate the efforts of volunteers in addressing societal challenges.

2012
#GivingTuesday is Founded

The GivingTuesday movement is introduced to appreciate fundraisers and volunteers around the globe.

2012
Nonprofits Contribute to the G.D.P.

The American nonprofit sector contributes $887.3 billion to the Gross Domestic Product.

HOW TO OBSERVE THE NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY

  1. Research your community's needs

    Determine what is needed in your neighborhood and how you might help to improve things. It might be as simple as beginning a project or spending your time in a local business.

  2. Volunteer

    You may help out at a local food bank or homeless shelter by volunteering. Many nonprofit groups operate on a shoestring budget and would be delighted to receive free assistance.

  3. Raise awareness

    Contribute to the efforts of nonprofits around you by posting on social media to raise awareness. You can also start a blog to showcase the charity or nonprofit to the world.

5 FACTS ABOUT THE NONPROFIT SECTOR THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND

  1. It is a crowd favorite

    Every year, a quarter of the population of the United States registers to volunteer.

  2. End-of-the-year blues

    Nonprofit organizations get more donations in December than any other month.

  3. The employment genie

    The nonprofit sector is the third-largest employer in the United States, employing over 12 million people and trailing only retail and manufacturing.

  4. The world is becoming a better place

    Donations to nonprofit organizations have reached unprecedented heights in the last 10 years.

  5. Mobile phones are making us nicer people

    Over 10% of nonprofit donations are made via mobile devices.

WHY NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY IS IMPORTANT

  1. Making a difference

    We love Nonprofit Day because it allows us to recognize those who make a difference in our community. We get to work together, start new projects, and, most importantly, affect people's lives.

  2. Nonprofits provide jobs

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks nonprofits as one of the largest employment sources in the U.S. They employ over 10% of America's workforce.

  3. They address sensitive issues

    Nonprofits tackle some of society's toughest challenges. There is a charitable organization for practically every concern, from housing to education.

NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY DATES

Year Date Day
2022 August 17 Wednesday
2023 August 17 Thursday
2024 August 17 Saturday
2025 August 17 Sunday
2026 August 17 Monday
August
12

National Middle Child Day – August 12, 2022

National Middle Child Day

If you have siblings, you know the rivalry can get real. Middle children often get less attention from busy parents. But despite the commonly held belief that their insecurity and resentment carry on into adulthood, middle children actually develop some critical skills that help them become successful adults.

Whether or not "Middle Child Syndrome" is real, it's true that middle children, particularly in large families, can get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Started in 1986 by Elizabeth Walker, National Middle Child Day celebrates our middle siblings and reminds us that each child is precious and important.

National Middle Child Day is observed to honor that in-between child in the family. The interesting thing is even larger families celebrate more than one middle child, too!

Like every other year, National Middle Child Day 2021 will be celebrated on August 12th.

 

HISTORY OF NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY

Middle children have a reputation for being ignored by their family, consequently growing up resentful, withdrawn, and disaffected. Although research shows little correlation between birth order and personality, the stereotype has persisted in pop culture characters like Jan Brady, who epitomizes the embittered middle child.

In fact, middle children might have some distinct advantages in adult life. The skills they develop as the "forgotten" sibling often translate into important qualities like empathy, diplomacy, and flexibility. In fact, over half of U.S. presidents were middle children, along with many other successful leaders.

Resourceful and independent but also cooperative and patient, middle children often grow up to be good leaders and helpful teammates. They can negotiate a variety of personalities but also do well on their own, and are known as risk-takers and independent thinkers. Because they're frequently left to their own devices, middle children develop a self-sufficiency less common in their older and younger siblings.

Until the 1970s, American families had an average of 2.5 children. Today, due to modernization and economic and environmental pressures, fewer and fewer families have middle children, with the average American family having just under two kids.

National Middle Child Day began in 1986 as a way to celebrate the siblings who feel left out or unseen and give them a special day of their own. Until now, it's been celebrated on August 12.

Not everyone agrees on the holiday's date: the International Middle Child's Union, founded by Bruce Hopman, wants to change National Middle Child Day to July 2, which falls in the exact middle of the calendar year.

NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY TIMELINE

1906
Middle Child Wins Peace Prize

Middle child Teddy Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Treaty of Portsmouth, exhibiting that famous middle-child diplomacy to end the Russo-Japanese War.

1986
National Middle Child Day First Celebrated

Elizabeth Walker creates National Middle Child Day to give often-forgotten middle kids their own special celebration.

January 9, 2000
Malcolm in the Middle

The hit sitcom first hits airwaves, launching a seven-season franchise about a dysfunctional family and the middle child who — sort of — holds it all together.

March 19, 2000
The Simpsons Predicts Trump

In "Bart to the Future", during the 11th season of the beloved animated sitcom, Lisa Simpson, lovable kid genius and eternal middle child, becomes president – the episode also predicts the presidency of Donald Trump.

NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Send your middle child or sibling a gift

    Let them know you're thinking about them!

  2. Watch some episodes of your favorite TV middle child

    Grab some popcorn and spend some time with your own kids. Take a family poll to see who your favorite TV middle sibling is, and watch a few episodes of that show.

  3. Get in touch with your siblings

    Whether or not you have a middle child in your family, it's never a bad time to reach out to your siblings and say hello.

5 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT MIDDLE CHILDREN

  1. Abe Lincoln was a middle child

    Over half of U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, were middle children.

  2. We see middle children as the peacemakers

    In pop culture, middle children are often portrayed as the level-headed, responsible ones who quietly keep their siblings out of trouble. Think Malcolm Wilkerson, Michael Bluth, and Lisa Simpson.

  3. TGIF Crossover

    When Full House's middle daughter, Stephanie Tanner, feels self-conscious about wearing her new glasses, a guest star from another popular TGIF sitcom stops by to cheer her up and give her a lesson in self-confidence. That guest: Steve Urkel, the bespectacled neighbor from Family Matters.

  4. "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

    Jan and Marcia Brady's rivalry wasn't just good on-screen chemistry; the two actresses didn't have a good relationship during filming, and today they're still not on speaking terms.

  5. Bill Gates started programming as a teen

    Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist, and middle child Bill Gates wrote his first computer program as a teenager. It was a version of tic-tac-toe.

WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY

  1. Middle children are going extinct

    Today, most women with children have two children or less—making middle children a quickly disappearing breed. Appreciate the middle children in your life now!

  2. Middle children make great diplomats

    Because they have to navigate the social dynamics of large families growing up, middle children tend to develop strong negotiation skills.

  3. It reminds us to call our relatives

    In today's busy world where people scatter far from their families, it's sometimes hard to remember to check in with relatives. National Middle Child Day gives us an opportunity to reach out to our siblings, children, or grandchildren.

August
10

10 Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Home

10 Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Home

Tricks of the trade to help you get top dollar when selling your home.

Selling Secret #10: Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You'll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they'll bid up the price over what it's worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don't want to risk it, but it's the single best strategy to sell a home in today's market.

Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what's left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

Selling Secret #8: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Selling Secret #7: Play the agent field
A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.

Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you'd be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don't want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you're planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

Selling Secret #5: Don't over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won't get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.

Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes first
You're not actually selling your house, you're selling your kitchen – that's how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you'll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be "show-ready" at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don't leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It's a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.

Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It's important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home's exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home's curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you're selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

August
8

The Best Hiking in Holland

The Best Hiking in Holland

Looking for the best hiking in Holland? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping, and more around Holland. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top hiking spots in and near Holland

  • Holland, Michigan

    Riley Trails

    3.07 mi / 115 ft gain
    Riley Trails is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Mount Pisgah Dune Boardwalk

    0.47 mi / 95 ft gain
    Mount Pisgah Dune Boardwalk is an out-and-back trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Climb the Stairs up Mt. Pisgah

    4.3
    0.5 mi / 80 ft gain
    Feel the burn in your calves and thighs! If you don't feel it, pick up the pace or do it all again! The good news is it is actually just a large dune, not an entire mountain. It should not take you very long to run, even though there are over 200 steps here. Every 25th stair is marked and there a...
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Sanctuary Woods

    0.96 mi / 95 ft gain
    Sanctuary Woods is a loop trail that takes you by a lake located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Explore Tunnel Park

    4.0
    Of course, you can come any time of the year, this is always a lovely small park! It is guaranteed to be crowded and cost money (unless you have the Ottawa County park pass) in the summer, though, and I've had better luck with parking and personal space at Holland State Park. I've found that the ...
    Read more
  • Zeeland, Michigan

    Upper Macatawa Natural Area

    3.83 mi / 157 ft gain
    Upper Macatawa Natural Area is a loop trail that takes you by a river located near Zeeland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Saugatuck Dunes Loop

    1.88 mi / 118 ft gain
    Saugatuck Dunes Loop is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Saugatuck Dunes South Trail

    5.25 mi / 456 ft gain
    Saugatuck Dunes South Trail is a loop trail that takes you by a lake located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Saugatuck, Michigan

    Tallmadge Woods and Crows Nest Loop

    2.1 mi / 303 ft gain
    Crows Nest Loop is a quiet hike on publicly accessible land. It takes you along dunes that hover above the Kalamazoo River. The loop leads you to an overlook with views of Ox-Bow Lagoon and Lake Michigan. This loop is suitable for all levels and is about a 2.1 mile hike.  The trailhead can be tr...
    Read more
  • Saugatuck, Michigan

    Mount Baldhead

    0.88 mi / 26 ft gain
    Mount Baldhead is a loop trail where you may see beautiful wildflowers located near Saugatuck, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Pigeon Creek Short Loop

    1.71 mi / 184 ft gain
    Pigeon Creek Short Loop is a loop trail that is good for all skill levels located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Red Pine Loop

    2.8 mi / 322 ft gain
    Red Pine Loop is a loop trail that takes you by a river located near West Olive, Michigan.
    Read more
  • West Olive, Michigan

    Hiawatha Trail

    1.35 mi / 75 ft gain
    Hiawatha Trail is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near West Olive, Michigan.
    Read more
  • West Olive, Michigan

    Kirk Park Loop

    1.15 mi / 43 ft gain
    Kirk Park Loop is a loop trail that takes you by a lake located near West Olive, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Georgetown Township, Michigan

    Grand Ravines Loop from South Trailhead

    2.34 mi / 276 ft gain
    Grand Ravines Loop from South Trailhead is a loop trail that takes you by a river located near Jenison, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Georgetown Township, Michigan

    Hager Park Loop

    0.69 mi / 66 ft gain
    Hager Park Loop is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Jenison, Michigan.
    Read more

    August
    3

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 2, 2022

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 2, 2022

    Today's mortgage and refinance rates

    Average mortgage rates fell yet again yesterday. And that for a conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is now only just over 5%.

    First thing this morning, it was looking as if mortgage rates today might hold steady or close to steady. However, yesterday and last Friday, mortgage rates started out heading higher only to turn around and fall later in the day. When I daily warn that rates sometimes change direction as the hours pass, I mean it.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Aug 3rd, 2022)

    Current mortgage and refinance rates

    Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
    Conventional 30 year fixed 5.13% 5.164% -0.1% 
    Conventional 15 year fixed 4.583% 4.635% +0.01% 
    Conventional 20 year fixed 4.991% 5.044% -0.02% 
    Conventional 10 year fixed 4.728% 4.83% Unchanged
    30 year fixed FHA 5.431% 6.277% -0.03% 
    15 year fixed FHA 4.719% 5.198% -0.1% 
    30 year fixed VA 5.197% 5.423% +0.4% 
    15 year fixed VA 4.857% 5.223% -0.01% 
    Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

    Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

    Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

    Markets, including the one that largely determines mortgage rates, are in a state of heightened uncertainty. So there's an increased danger that my predictions and recommendations could turn out to be wrong.

    Still, the mood among investors and the tide of economic data do seem to have turned sufficiently for there now to be some hope of mortgage rates falling in a sustained way, at least for a while. Just be alert and remain ready to lock your rate if those swing back.

    So, my personal rate lock recommendations are now:

    • LOCK if closing in 7 days
    • LOCK if closing in 15 days
    • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
    • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
    • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

    Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

    Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

    • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes inched down to 2.62% from 2.63%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
    • Major stock indexes were lower soon after opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
    • Oil prices rose to $94.58 from $93.95 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
    • Gold prices barely moved: up to $1,797 from $1,788 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
    • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — edged up to 40 from 39 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

    *A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

    Caveats about markets and rates

    Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

    So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today look likely to remain steady or close to steady. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Aug 3rd, 2022)

    Important notes on today's mortgage rates

    Here are some things you need to know:

    1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
    2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
    3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
    4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
    5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

    A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

    Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

    There was some good news for mortgage rates in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (paywall):

    Growth at U.S. manufacturing companies was its weakest in two years in July, but inflationary pressures showed signs of cooling as commodity prices eased, according to surveys of purchasing managers released Monday.

    Falling orders might not be good news for most. But they're a sign of a contracting economy. And regular readers know that fears of a recession typically bring lower mortgage rates.

    The signs of inflationary pressures cooling were also good for mortgage rates. High inflation tends to push those rates higher, as we saw all too clearly during the first half of this year.

    However, it's too soon to begin popping Champagne corks. High inflation may not be done yet and remains hot in the official data. And there's a good chance of a resurgence in the fall as a looming winter concentrates the minds of the northern hemisphere on oil and natural gas shortages.

    Meanwhile, behind some poor data, the economy isn't doing as badly as many think. We'll discover how that's holding up when July's employment figures are published on Friday.

    All this means that the recovery in mortgage rates over the last few days is fragile. Yes, there are grounds for hope. But there's very little certainty.

    Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

    Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

    The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

    Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although May and June were kinder months.

    Freddie's Jul. 28 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.3% (with 0.8 fees and points), down from the previous week's 5.54%.

    Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

    Expert mortgage rate forecasts

    Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

    And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

    The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. The latest forecasts all appeared around Jul. 21.

    Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
    Fannie Mae 5.5% 5.4%  5.3% 5.1%
    Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
    MBA 5.2% 5.2%  5.0% 5.0%

    Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive.

    Find your lowest rate today

    You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

    "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

    Verify your new rate (Aug 3rd, 2022)

    Mortgage rate methodology

    The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

    August
    1

    National Girlfriend Day

    National Girlfriend Day

    Ladies, it's time for some real talk. Today is National Girlfriend Day, an annual event that rolls around every August 1. Unlike National Boyfriend Day, this day isn't for boyfriends to appreciate their girlfriends (let's be honest, that should happen every day), it's about women supporting women!

    Romantic partners will come and go. Jobs are won and lost. But no matter what happens, your girls will be there in a crunch.  It's a time to honor your "ride or die" crew of homegirls! So, why do we love our girlfriends so much? Because they're like sisters but without any of the growing-up baggage. Plus, when times are tough, your girls will let you vent and when you're done; they will offer up the support you need to get through.

    Spa days, weekend retreats, pajama parties complete with wine and nachos are even better when your girlfriends join in the fun.  This year on National Girlfriend Day 2021, spend some delicious time gossiping about lovers past, present and future. Discuss your hopes and dreams in a really safe space, the circle of sisterhood.

    HISTORY OF NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY

    It's not known for certain who created National Girlfriend Day on August 1 but the strongest claim seems to stem from Mistress Susan who runs a luxury website. She says that she created and celebrated the date in 2004 as a chance for gal pals to express gratitude to each other.

    The history of female friendships and gal pals is of course much longer than the day itself. Girls have been friends for so long that there is no way we can trace back to the first-ever female friends, so instead, we'll mention some of the more notable gal pals from recent times.

    The Edinburgh Seven were a group of female friends who fought to become the first women to go to medical school in the UK in the 1860s. Despite studying medicine at Edinburgh University they were barred from graduating and becoming doctors. Their determination put women's rights on the national agenda and led to laws in 1876 that allowed women to study medicine at university. The Edinburgh Seven had paved for the way for the female doctors of the future.

    Around the same time as this, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were forming a friendship that would become revolutionary. The two were the founders of the women's rights movement in the United States and were the trailblazers that pushed for white women's suffrage. The two initially met in 1851 and it was in 1869 that they formed the National Woman Suffrage Association.

    On a more sporty note, we raise a special mention for The Rockford Peaches, the founding members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s. Their achievements were a huge stride forward for female athletes in the U.S.

    One of our favorite stories of female friendship involves Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, with Fitzgerald attributing her big break to Monroe? The singer tried to book a gig at the Mocambo in Hollywood in 1955 but the manager turned her away because she didn't have enough "sex appeal." Monroe called the manager and said that she would sit front row every night if Fitzgerald got the job, which would pull in the press and crowds that the manager craved. Fitzgerald would say later. "After that I never had to play a small jazz club again."

    More recently Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert showed that even the fiercest of rivals can be best friends. The two did battle in an incredible 61 tennis tournament finals during the 1970s and 1980s but were still the best of friends off the court and would often travel to tournaments together and hang out between matches.

    Gal pals are always there for each other and have a history of fighting against the tide to achieve great things together. Make sure you take some time out on National Girlfriend Day 2021 to let your girlfriends know how much you appreciate them.

    Here are some other female-orientated holidays to observe and celebrate.

    NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY TRADITIONS

    As this day is all about hanging out with your girlfriends the main tradition is to spend some quality time with your friends. People tend to spend National Girlfriend Day having fun with their girlfriends in and doing activities that they have previously bonded on together.

    So, whether it is watching a movie, spending the night partying, going shopping, or eating out at a nice restaurant, the traditions of National Girlfriend Day are really the traditions that built that friendship in the first place.

    NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY BY NUMBERS

    6 – The number of best friends the average woman has in her lifetime.
    16 years – The lifespan of the average female friendship
    1 in 10 – Women admit to having more fun with their bff than with their partner.
    47% – Women wish they could spend more time with their best friend.
    1 in 4 – Women think their best friend knows them better than their partner.
    67% – More time women spend improving romantic relationships compared to friendships.
    23 years – the average friendship length for women over 55.
    9 – The number of close friends the average American has
    2% – The number of people who claim to have no close friends.
    73% – The number of Americans satisfied with their friendships

    HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY 2021

    1. Organize a paint night with your girls

      Painting and drinking? Sign me up! Going to a paint nite is a sweet idea for a night out with your girls—you even get a souvenir to remember it. For those who are not so artistically-inclined, the staff gives easy-to-understand instructions for the painting of the night. If yours still comes out bad.... just blame the alcohol.

    2. Instagram or it didn't happen

      Nothing says "I love you" than a selfie with the favorite females in your life. Why can't #WCW be every day?

    3. Everyone loves a spa day

      Invite the girls over for a spa night! Make your own pedicures, facials, the works. Your girlfriends will thank you for the pamper-filled day.

    August
    1

    Ready To Make An Offer? Make Sure You Do This First

    Before making an offer on your dream home, make sure you cross these tasks off your list.

    Shopping for a new home can be an emotional rollercoaster, and the process often takes several weeks or months. Once you discover that perfect home, it's normal to feel a mix of excitement and anxiety, which often leads buyers to act with a sense of urgency. However, before you have your agent draw up an offer, it's important to take some time to thoroughly evaluate the property and consider your terms.

    Our real estate agents always encourage clients to take these steps before submitting an offer:

    • Make a Pros and Cons List
      Finding a home that checks every box is challenging, and first-time buyers usually need to make some concessions. However, you do want to make sure the home is a good fit before making an offer. Sit down and make a list of all the pros and cons of the home. Consider the asking price, location, age, size, yard, garage, and any other components that are important to you. A pros and cons list will force you to consider every element of the home and can help you determine how aggressive to be when making an offer.

    • Have Your Agent Ask If There Are Other Offers
      Listing agents aren't able to disclose the details of other offers, but simply knowing whether the property has received multiple offers is good info to have. If there are already multiple offers on the property, you'll want to work with your agent to come up with the most competitive offer you feel comfortable putting forward.

      If there are no offers, you may want to start at or around the asking price. If more offers come in, agents usually will come back and ask for the "highest and best" at a later date, which will give you the chance to adjust your bid.

    • Estimate Your Mortgage Payment
      Before deciding what to offer, you'll want to make sure you're able to afford the down payment, mortgage payment, and closing costs. Your down payment will likely be somewhere between 3% and 20%, depending on what your lender pre-approved. Your mortgage payment is likely to fluctuate based on current interest rates, but you can use an online mortgage calculator for a close estimate. Your lender should also be able to provide you with a closing cost estimate based on the zip code and offer price. Bottom line -- you want to make sure you can afford what you're offering to pay.

    • Evaluate The Market
      The real estate market is constantly fluctuating these days due to the lingering effects of the pandemic as well as rising interest rates. As a result, it's important for buyers to keep their finger on the pulse of the market. Check out the asking prices on some other Holland homes for sale, and use those data points to inform your decision. Home prices generally appreciate over time, but as buyer demand wanes, prices could start to drop.

    • Check The Home's History
      The property's historical transactions could tell you a lot about the home. For example, if the current owners have only lived there for a short time, it could suggest a problem, and it's worth asking the listing agent for more information. Historical transactions can also tell you how much the current owners paid for the property and how the home has appreciated over time.

    Submitting an offer on a home is exciting. But before you get carried away, make sure you do your homework. Contact us today for more home buying tips. 

    July
    29

    August 2022 Calendar of United States of America

    August 2022 Calendar of United States of America

    August 2022 Holidays and Celebrations

    • 01MON
    • 01MON
      National Minority Donor Awareness Day
    • 01MON
      World Scout Scarf Day
    • 01MON
      International Childfree Day
    • 01MON
      World Lung Cancer Day
    • 01MON
      Lammas Day
    • 01MON
    • 04THU
    • 04THU
      Barack Obama's Birthday
    • 04THU
    • 05FRI
    • 05FRI
      International Beer Day
    • 07SUN
    • 07SUN
      National Lighthouse Day
    • 07SUN
      National Friendship Day
    • 07SUN
      American Family Day
    • 07SUN
      Ashura
    • 07SUN
    • 08MON
      International Cat Day
    • 08MON
      International Infinity Day
    • 08MON
    • 09TUE
      International Day of the World's Indigenous People
    • 09TUE
      International Coworking Day
    • 09TUE
    • 10WED
      National Spoil Your Dog Day
    • 10WED
    • 11THU
      Raksha Bandhan
    • 11THU
      Tu B'Av (The 15th of Av)
    • 11THU
    • 12FRI
      National Vinyl Record Day
    • 12FRI
    • 12FRI
    • 13SAT
    • 13SAT
      National Garage Sale Day
    • 13SAT
    • 14SUN
      Social Security Act
    • 14SUN
      National Financial Awareness Day
    • 15MON
      International Homeless Animals Day
    • 15MON
      National Back To School Prep Day
    • 15MON
    • 15MON
    • 16TUE
      Bennington Battle Day
    • 16TUE
      National Bratwurst Day
    • 16TUE
      Tell a Joke Day
    • 16TUE
      National Roller Coaster Day
    • 16TUE
      National Airborne Day
    • 17WED
      National Black Cat Appreciation Day
    • 17WED
      National Thrift Shop Day
    • 17WED
      National Nonprofit Day
    • 18THU
      National Couple's Day
    • 18THU
      National Fajita Day
    • 18THU
      Women's Suffrage
    • 18THU
      Janmashtami
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 20SAT
      World Mosquito Day
    • 20SAT
      International Geocaching Day
    • 20SAT
      National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
    • 20SAT
    • 21SUN
      International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism
    • 21SUN
    • 22MON
      National Tooth Fairy Day
    • 22MON
      World Plant Milk Day
    • 23TUE
      Cheap Flight Day
    • 23TUE
      National Sponge Cake Day
    • 23TUE
      International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
    • 24WED
      Kobe Bryant Day
    • 24WED
      International Strange Music Day
    • 24WED
    • 25THU
      National Secondhand Wardrobe Day
    • 25THU
      National Park Service Founders Day
    • 26FRI
      National WebMistress Day
    • 26FRI
    • 26FRI
    • 27SAT
      National Just Because Day
    • 28SUN
      March on Washington
    • 28SUN
      Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day
    • 29MON
      International Day Against Nuclear Tests
    • 30TUE
      College Colors Day
    • 30TUE
      International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance
    • 30TUE
      National Grief Awareness Day
    • 30TUE
    • 31WED
      Ganesh Chaturthi
    • 31WED
      World Distance Learning Day
    • 31WED
      International Overdose Awareness Day
    July
    22

    What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a House in 2022?

    What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a House in 2022?

    Most conventional loans require a credit score of at least 620 to buy a house. But, you'll find that there are several other loan types that have much lower requirements.

    A lot of first-time home buyers worry that their credit scores are too low to buy a home. First, know that whether your credit score is "good" or "bad" is subjective and won't affect your home buying. Second, mortgage lenders are bound by specific rules which determine what credit scores you need to buy a house, and those rules vary by your loan type.

    Conventional loans are the most common loan type. On the credit score scale, which ranges from 350-850, conventional loans require a credit score of at least 620. Other loan types allow for lower credit score minimums, and some mortgage programs have no credit score requirement whatsoever.

    Here's what credit score you need to buy a house.

    Minimum Credit Score to Buy a House by Loan Type

    Conventional Loan | Credit Score: 620

    Conventional loans are the most common home loan and have a hard minimum credit score of 620. Conventional loans are issued through mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, and credit unions. Conventional loans are the default option for home buyers because of their low rates and simple approvals.

    Conventional loan approval requires:

    • A mortgage application
    • Lender-required documents
    • Credit history
    • Current credit score

    Check your eligibility for a conventional loan.

    FHA Loan | Credit Score: 580

    FHA mortgages are the original mortgage loan, developed by the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s to keep homeownership attainable. FHA loans are more inclusive than other loan options because of their relaxed down payment requirements, and because the FHA doesn't change your interest rate based on your credit score.

    In fact, FHA loans don't require home buyers to have a credit score at all, although many lenders want to see a minimum score of 580.

    FHA loan approval requires:

    • 3.5% down payment
    • Loan lengths must be 15 years or longer

    Check your eligibility for an FHA loan.

    VA Loan | Credit Score: 580

    VA loans are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are affordable home loans for active-duty servicemembers and veterans.

    Because the VA guarantees its loans against losses, mortgage lenders make VA loans at very low-interest rates and, historically, VA mortgage rates are often the lowest of all available mortgage loans. VA loans don't require a downpayment.

    VA loans:

    • Are available as 100% mortgage loans
    • Have lower interest rates as compared to conventional loans
    • Require a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

    Check your eligibility for a VA loan.

    USDA Loan | Credit Score: 620

    USDA loans are government-backed mortgages available for homes outside of densely-populated areas. The USDA program covers about 91% of the U.S. including rural areas, small towns, and many suburbs.

    USDA mortgage loans don't require a down payment and offer interest rates that average 0.50% lower than conventional loan rates. USDA guidelines require credit scores of at least 620, but exceptions can be made for home buyers with extenuating circumstances.

    USDA loans:

    • Can only be used for non-urban home purchases
    • Have no down payment requirements
    • Require a credit score of 620 or higher

    Check your eligibility for a USDA loan.

    Jumbo Loan | Credit Score: 680

    Jumbo loans service home buyers whose mortgage loans are too large for the local mortgage loan limit. There is no specific credit score requirement for a jumbo mortgage, though higher scores are more likely to be approved and may be assigned a lower interest rate.

    Jumbo loans can be used for a variety of property types.

    Jumbo loans:

    • May require a down payment of between 5% and 25% depending on credit and income
    • Require higher credit scores
    • Are not government-backed

    Check your eligibility for a jumbo loan.

    What Changes Your Credit Score?

    The five factors that make you your credit score are your payment history, credit usage, credit length, credit types, and recently opened credit lines

    Credit scores help your lender determine the likelihood that you'll make timely mortgage payments. Fair Isaac and Co. (FICO) uses these factors to calculate your credit score:

    1. Your payment history (35%)
    2. Your current credit usage (30%)
    3. The length of your credit history (15%)
    4. Types of credit (10%)
    5. Recently opened credit lines (10%)

    These 5 factors provide a glimpse into your financial habits and history and help lenders assess your financial health.

    Home buyers with lower credit scores are typically assigned a higher interest rate.

    There is no way to get around a credit check. It is one of the things you need to buy a home during the mortgage pre-approval stage so be sure to learn more about how a mortgage pre-approval affects your credit score.

    How to Improve Your Credit Score

    To boost your credit score for your upcoming mortgage approval, first, check your credit report to learn what's comprising your score. All consumers get access to a free annual credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

    You can also check your credit score by getting pre-approved.

    If you've never reviewed a credit report, it can feel overwhelming. There are public resources that can help you, or you can ask for help in our chat. We'll consider the factors that impact your credit score and discuss ways to make improvements, like opening a secured credit card account or shifting balances between charge cards.

    Here are the best habits to improve your credit score:

    • Pay your bills on time — Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score
    • Lower your credit utilization — Increase your debt payments temporarily or request a credit limit increase
    • Avoid new credit lines — Hard credit inquiries are performed for a new line of credit and can affect your credit score for the next six months
    • Don't close old accounts — Keep old credit lines open and catch up on old payments or delinquencies
    • Be patient — It can take up to 6 months to make big changes in your credit score, so do the work and wait it out

    Credit scores don't improve overnight, and keeping your debt to a minimum pays off when you're planning to buy a house. Even small credit score improvements can reduce the interest rate you get, which saves you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run — enough to fund a retirement or college tuition!

    Learn more about how to fix your credit to buy a home.

    What Mortgage Lenders Look For When Approving a Home Loan

    Credit items lenders consider include credit history, payment timeliness, derogatory items, and personal assets

    When you apply to get pre-approved, your lenders will review your credit history and consider your current credit outlook. This includes looking at:

    • How on-time have you been with your payments and obligations?
    • What does your current debt load look like, and how is it spread out?
    • How much experience do you have managing credit?
    • Have you been recently trying to acquire access to new sources of credit?
    • Do you let items go into collections?
    • Have you previously filed for bankruptcy?

    Lenders ask these questions to get comfortable with you. Your financial health isn't the only consideration lenders make, but how you manage your bills tells a large part of your story.

    Lenders also look for specific credit events known as derogatory items, like bankruptcy or delinquent accounts.

    Derogatory items don't disqualify a mortgage approval. Generally, it's only required that they're historical events and not current ones. For example, you can get approved for a mortgage if you've declared bankruptcy in the past, or if you've lost a home due to foreclosure.

    Lenders know that life is unexpected and bad things happen. What's important is what's happened in the time since the derogatory event occurred.

    How to Buy a House With Bad Credit

    You don't have to give up on your dream of homeownership because of a low credit score or less-than-perfect credit history Here are a few ways first-time home buyers buy homes with bad credit or no credit:

    Cancel Out Your Low Credit Score With A Larger Down Payment

    Low credit scores create risk for mortgage lenders, and large down payments take the risk away. Therefore, buyers with the ability to increase their down payment size are more likely to get mortgage-approved.

    Ask Multiple Lenders

    The U.S. government establishes rules for conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loan approvals, but  mortgage lenders sometimes create additional, more stringent requirements to be met. If your mortgage application doesn't pass its first test, try again with a different mortgage lender. It's common for loans to be approved on the second or third attempt.

    Get a Co-Signer

    If you're unable to qualify for a mortgage and have somebody in your life who would serve as co-signer, ask your mortgage lender the best path forward. A co-signer is somebody who agrees to joint responsibility for your mortgage, including repayment.

    Co-signers don't have to live with you, but they will share ownership of the home. If you can't qualify on your own, then this is worth exploring.

    Learn more about options for buying a home with a low credit score.

    Our Advice – Get pre-approved to find your true credit score

    Your credit score isn't the only factor for mortgage approval. However, it's a key indicator of your financial health. Track your credit, make on-time payments, and get help to choose the home loan that's right for you. Chat with us if you have questions about your credit score and loan options.

    Happy homebuying.

    July
    20

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, July 19, 2022

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, July 19, 2022

    Today's mortgage and refinance rates

    Average mortgage rates inched higher yesterday. But the increase was too small to bother most people.

    Key markets were barely moving first thing. And mortgage rates today may be unchanged or barely changed. However, we all know how quickly these things can alter as the hours pass.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jul 20th, 2022)

    Current mortgage and refinance rates

    Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
    Conventional 30 year fixed 5.915% 5.951% -0.01% 
    Conventional 15 year fixed 5.03% 5.088% -0.02% 
    Conventional 20 year fixed 5.784% 5.838% +0.06% 
    Conventional 10 year fixed 5.228% 5.334% +0.16% 
    30 year fixed FHA 5.943% 6.674% +0.24% 
    15 year fixed FHA 5.253% 5.741% Unchanged
    30 year fixed VA 5.314% 5.536% Unchanged
    15 year fixed VA 5.191% 5.563% +0.03% 
    Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

    Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

    Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

    Mortgage rates are still moving up and down, though generally less sharply than they were doing in June. After most of those ups and downs cancel each other out, there remains a very slight upward trend.

    So, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term must remain:

    • LOCK if closing in 7 days
    • LOCK if closing in 15 days
    • LOCK if closing in 30 days
    • LOCK if closing in 45 days
    • LOCK if closing in 60 days

    Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

    Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

    • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes held steady at 2.98%. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
    • Major stock indexes were higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
    • Oil prices were close to steady, increasing to $101.80 from $101.75 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
    • Gold prices edged down to $1,712 from $1,717 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
    • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — nudged up to 35 from 32 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

    *A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

    Caveats about markets and rates

    Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

    So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today look likely to hold steady or close to steady. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jul 20th, 2022)

    Important notes on today's mortgage rates

    Here are some things you need to know:

    1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
    2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
    3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
    4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
    5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

    A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

    Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

    Might recession fears overtake inflation fears soon, allowing mortgage rates to fall for a while? They could do, though we're not there yet.

    The Federal Reserve is still hoping to avoid a US recession by slowing the economy through interest hikes in a Goldilocks way. Not too hot by slamming on the brakes. Not too cool by being timid and failing to stem inflation. Just right: eliminating inflation without strangling economic growth.

    But there's a hidden issue here that could foil its plans. The higher the Fed raises US interest rates, the more foreigners want to place their money in America. And that makes the dollar stronger against other currencies.

    A strong dollar makes life tough in emerging economies and even among some competitor nations. That's because, globally, most commodities (including oil) are traded in dollars. When their currencies are weak, it costs them a lot more to buy the dollars needed to purchase essential imported goods and materials.

    The euro recently reached parity with the dollar and remains only slightly higher. At a time when the continent is facing acute natural gas and oil shortages owing to Russia's war in Ukraine, the European Union may soon have a shrinking economy.

    Warnings from Asia

    You can see the strength of the dollar already playing out with dire consequences in emerging nations. An extreme example is a 22-million-strong country in South Asia:

    Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) — Sri Lanka is "bankrupt," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Tuesday, as the country suffers its worst financial crisis in decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine and fuel.

     -- CNN, "Sri Lanka is 'bankrupt,' Prime Minister says," Jul. 6, 2022

    More seriously from an economic standpoint, China recently unveiled its weakest growth figures since the start of the pandemic, though the Fed's role in that is likely to be small.

    What we can see is a world economy on the brink of a recession. And, if that happens in as scary a way as looks possible, the Fed can forget Goldilocks. Globalization means the US economy would be affected, too.

    We're not there yet

    Of course, that's only one possible scenario. And we're still some way off a potential global meltdown.

    In the meantime, inflation remains arguably the No. 1 issue for Americans and the Fed. And, as long as that's the case, the chances of sustained and worthwhile falls in mortgage rates are small.

    Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

    Recent trends — updated today

    Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

    The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

    Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although May and June were kinder months.

    Freddie's Jul. 14 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.51% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.3%.

    Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

    Expert mortgage rate forecasts

    Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

    And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

    The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Jun. 16, and the MBA's on Jun. 10. Freddie's were released on Apr. 18. But it now updates its figures only quarterly, so they're already looking stale.

    Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
    Fannie Mae 5.1% 5.0%  5.0% 5.0%
    Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
    MBA 5.1% 5.1%  5.0% 5.0%

    Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. Recent events certainly make them look that way.

    Find your lowest rate today

    You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

    "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

    Verify your new rate (Jul 20th, 2022)

    Mortgage rate methodology

    The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

    July
    18

    Hard Water Can Damage Your Home: Here's How To Address It

    It's not always easy to inspect your plumbing. Here's how you can ensure hard water won't ruin your pipes and appliances.

    Did you know hard water can negatively impact your home over time? While it's safe to drink, hard water can lead to many interior problems, which is why our real estate agents recommend addressing it as soon as possible. Hard water is common across much of the US, especially in the Midwest. As a result, it's an issue most homeowners have to contend with. Below, we'll tell you all about hard water and share some simple solutions for treating it in your home

    What Is Hard Water?
    While most water contains minerals, hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. Water accumulates high levels of these two minerals when it streams through deposits of limestone or chalk.  It's usually easy to tell if you have hard water as it often leaves a chalky film on your dishes, or it can even have a strong taste or odor. However, there are also inexpensive hard water test kits available that can tell you for sure.

    How Can Hard Water Affect Your Home?
    The effects of hard water range from short-term mild inconveniences to significant long-term damage. In any case, it's a good idea to address the issue right away. Here are some examples of the effects hard water can have in your home:

    • Taste And Odor - Hard water often smells bad (like a rotten egg) and has a metallic taste.
    • Residue - It can leave a white residue on your dishes that is difficult to remove, and it can also leave water stains on your sink, bathtub, and toilet.
    • Dry Skin - It makes your skin feel extra dry after you wash your hands and take a shower.
    • Laundry Issues - It can make your clothes feel stiff, and it can dull or fade colors.
    • Plumbing Problems - It can lead to build-up or corrosion in your pipes, which can ultimately result in lower water pressure
    • Poor Appliance Performance - It can affect the overall performance and energy efficiency of water-based appliances such as water heaters, washing machines, and dishwashers.

    How Do I Treat Hard Water?
    The easiest and most common way to treat hard water is with a water softener or filtration system. Some of these systems use negatively charged magnetic beads to collect calcium and magnesium particles while simultaneously allowing water to flow through. Other systems filter out calcium and magnesium from your water while pumping in sodium ions. The later types come with a separate salt tank, and the salt needs refilling periodically; however, the good news is water softener salt is usually inexpensive.

    Once the process is complete, the water then flows out of the filtration system and into your home's plumbing. Water softeners range in price, but purchase and installation are usually around $1,500 on average. However, many of these gorgeous Holland homes for sale are already equipped with a water softener.

    Eliminating hard water from your house can help you avoid unwanted water stains, unhealthy skin, and plumbing and appliance issues. It's definitely worth the investment. For more home maintenance tips, contact us today.

    July
    18

    Listing Agent vs. Selling Agent: What's the Difference?

    Listing Agent vs. Selling Agent: What's the Difference?

    Residential real estate is a complicated process with a lot of different steps. And at either end of the deal are two main parties—the buyer and the seller—both of whom want to make sure that the whole thing goes as smoothly as possible. That's where real estate agents come in, offering the knowledge, expertise, and experience that's necessary for transferring properties from one owner to another. So how do the roles for a listing agent vs. selling agent compare, and who's responsible for what? Here's what to know, plus how to go about choosing the right agent for your needs.

    The main difference between a listing agent vs. a selling agent

    The biggest difference between a listing agent vs. selling agent is who they represent. Listing agents (also called seller's agents) work with sellers while selling agents (also called buyer's agents) work with buyers. Both agents work together to negotiate on offers and close a deal. They also share the commission fee.

    If you're getting ready to buy or sell, knowing who you should call is an important first step. Fortunately, most real estate agents can work as either a listing agent or a selling agent, so if you find an amazing agent they should be able to help you out regardless of whether you're the buyer or the seller in the transaction.

    What does a listing agent do?

    Listing agents market homes on behalf of sellers. As real estate professionals, it's the listing agent's job to oversee each step in the selling process, including many of the steps that take place before a home goes to market.

    A listing agent's complete job description may vary based on the specific seller's needs, but here are some of the things that they can do for their clients:

      • Research comps and price homes
      • Help arrange for a home appraisal and/or inspection
      • Consult on the sale process and help develop a listing strategy
      • Arrange professional photography for the listing
      • Arrange professional home staging
      • Create copy for a property listing page, as well as other marketing materials
      • Oversee all marketing efforts, including posting the property on MLS (multiple listing service)
      • Network with other agents to find potential buyers, including both listing agents and selling agents
      • Host open houses
      • Coordinate showings
      • Receive offers from interested buyers and handle negotiations on the seller's behalf and with the seller's input
      • Coordinate closing paperwork

    Most listing agents sign a right-to-sell contract with sellers that gives their brokerage firm exclusive rights to the listing and sets out the terms of compensation. Typically, it is the brokerage firm that is paid the commission on the sale and then the listing agent receives a set portion of that amount.

    What does a selling agent do?

    Selling agents work with buyers to help them find and purchase homes. If the term sounds confusing, it's because these agents are traditionally referred to as buyer's agents and only get deemed selling agents after the contract is signed.

    Like a listing agent, a selling agent has a wide range of skills and job capabilities but the specific things that they do may vary from client to client. Possible tasks include:

      • Work with buyers to narrow in on the details of what they're looking for, such as location, home size, home features, and price
      • Help arrange for a mortgage pre-approval if the buyer has not completed one already
      • Help a buyer iron out their budget and financing options
      • Research available homes that fit the buyer's wants and needs and present them with potential properties to look further into
      • Schedule showings and attend showings with the buyer
      • Write offers and counteroffers
      • Guide negotiations
      • Assist with arranging for the home inspection
      • Help buyers navigate the closing process

    Compensation for the selling agent is usually handled by the listing agent, with the latter paying out a portion (typically half) of their commission to the seller's agent in what's known as a co-op commission.

    What about dual agents?

    Do you need to choose between a designated listing agent vs. selling agent? Not necessarily. Some home sales are overseen by dual agents who represent both the seller and the buyer in the transaction.

    While perfectly legal, working with a dual agent isn't always in the best interest of either party, both of whom naturally want to get an optimal deal. Since sellers want to sell a property for as much as possible and buyers want to purchase a property for as little as possible, dual agents may not be able to please everyone.

    Do you need to work with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home?

    Most of us don't have professional experience in real estate so it's a no-brainer to work with either a listing agent or a selling agent depending on whether we're selling or buying a home. Some people do try to go at it alone though, either because they're trying to save on commission fees or because they think they have all the tools they need to find houses and represent their own interests.

    There's a reason though that the majority of people do choose to work with real estate agents (recent data from the National Association of Realtors shows that 88% of buyers and 89% of sellers work with agents). Working without a listing or selling agent means you lose out on a useful resource and guide. You may also lose out on money. In 2018, sellers who worked with listing agents sold their homes for an average of $249,000, while those who oversaw the sale themselves only sold for an average of $190,000.

    On the buyer's side, working alone could mean losing out on access to a wider range of properties, plus difficulties at the negotiation table. In addition, some sellers may refuse to work with potential buyers who aren't being represented by an agent, even if their offer looks decent.

    Quick tips for choosing a real estate agent

    Regardless of whether you're looking for a listing agent or a selling agent, it pays to find someone who you can trust to get the job done right. Here are some things you can (and definitely should) do to make sure that you end up with the perfect person by your side.

    Ask for referrals

    Most towns have lots of real estate agents to choose from. One of the easiest ways to find someone great: ask a trusted local friend or family member who they've worked with and whether they would recommend them. You'll still want to do a bit of research from there, but it will help narrow down your options.

    Read online reviews

    Even with a referral (and especially without one), you should be checking out online reviews. These will give you a general idea of whether a particular agent has satisfied clients or not, and you may also be able to learn a lot about them from how they respond to reviews both good and bad.

    Meet with agents before hiring

    Think you found the one? It's still a good idea to meet with real estate agents in person before deciding whether you're going to work with them or not. Pay close attention to their communication style and how responsive they are to questions. Ultimately, you want to work with someone who values your time and input and who has tons of expertise they can utilize on your behalf.

    Talk to at least two agents

    Just like hiring a moving company, you want to compare two to three agents before making your final choice. Various factors that you'll want to consider include how many years of experience each agent has, what their specialties are, and the stats around their most recent deals. If they don't come off as capable—or if you're just not clicking—go back to the drawing board.

    Don't underestimate the importance of rapport with your agent. Selling or buying a home is a big undertaking, as well as an expensive one. It's essential that you work with a listing agent or selling agent who you feel can properly represent your interests and that you enjoy working with. It'll make the whole process more enjoyable for you—and less stressful, too.

    If you're not happy with your decision it is absolutely within your rights as a seller or a buyer to break up with your real estate agent. Even if it's awkward, it's worth doing if it means you find someone who is better suited to your needs.

    July
    15

    National Pet Fire Safety Day

    National Pet Fire Safety Day

    National Pet Fire Safety Day takes place every year on July 15, and it's a day to learn how to keep your pet safe in a fire. For many of us, pets are our most precious asset so it makes sense that we would dedicate a day to keeping them safe during one of the scariest things we can imagine. It was started by the Kennel Club and ADT Security in 2009 to help pet owners learn safety measures to protect their beloved pets and homes from fire, and it's a great opportunity to learn how to keep your fur baby safe.

    HISTORY OF NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY

    While our animals are oftentimes the culprit behind devastating fires, it's a little ironic that dogs (specifically dalmations) have become an American icon associated with firefighters today. Let's briefly explore how that came to be. A few hundred years ago, dogs were trained to trot alongside horse-drawn wagons and protect their occupants (and horses) from harm. Dalmations quickly became the ideal carriage dog for their strength, vitality, fortitude, and size. They also had a reputation for getting along well with horses and were known to have a calming effect while firefighters were battling a blaze. Overtime as motorized fire trucks replaced carriages, Dalmatians and other fire pups were seen less aboard fire trucks and more as on-site firehouse residents and mascots.

    Today, many firefighters have pet Dalmatians, and firehouses around the country still have Dalmatians as station dogs. However, Dalmatians aren't the only dog in the firehouse. It's become common for firefighters (and sometimes entire fire teams) to adopt dogs rescued from fires. These lucky pups, whatever their breed, become symbols of the resiliency, bravery, and fortitude of firefighters and the individuals they help. They also take important steps into education and helping firefighters demonstrate fire safety and emergency preparedness for schools and community groups across the country. Teaching that pets cause over 1,000 house fires each year in the United States and the preventive measures we can take to protect our beloved companions.

    NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY TIMELINE

    13,000 B.C.
    People Make Pets

    Evidence suggests people bred dogs in Europe and Asia around this time.

    6,000 B.C.
    Sacred Dog Burials

    Special dog graves include expensive items. Proof of their deep meaning to humans

    1988
    Emotional Support Animals Protected

    The Fair Housing Amendments Act allows people to keep their ESAs, despite landlords.

    2009
    The Awareness Begins

    The Kennel Club and ADT Security decided it was time to get serious about pet fire protection.

    HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY

    1. Get this useful decoration

      On July 15, get a free Pet Fire Safety Window Cling at your local volunteer firehouse. First responders will see this and know to look out for any pets inside.

    2. Share it to save lives

      Use #PetFireSafetyDay to post on social media and raise awareness to friends and family about the day and ways that they can keep their pets safe from fires.

    3. Have a fire drill

      For families with kids, this tradition is even more important. Discuss your family evacuation plan, designate someone to carry out the pets and execute a fire drill on this day every year.

      5 FACTS ABOUT PET FIRE SAFETY

      1. Pyro Pets

        Pets cause over 1,000 house fires each year in the United States

      2. A Big Problem

        Nearly 360,000 house fires occur each year in the United States.

      3. Save a Life

        Over 40,000 pets die every year in house fires. Awareness can save lives.

      4. Furry (and Slithering) Heroes

        There are thousands of stories about pets, even snakes, saving humans from house fires.

      5. Have a Plan

        The #1 tip is to have an escape plan that includes your pets.

        WHY NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY IS IMPORTANT

        1. Keep your pets out of trouble

          There are many ways to keep your pet from causing a fire. Blow out candles before leaving home, block off access to the kitchen or remove stove knobs if pets can reach it, and keep any and all wires out of chewing distance, especially from kittens and puppies!

        2. Have a pet rescue plan in place

          Discuss with your family who will be in charge of rescuing your pet in the event of a fire. Planning and practicing fire drills will help the family remain calm and help ensure that your pets are not forgotten during a chaotic evacuation.

        3. Make rescuers aware of your pets and their hiding places

          As part of your evacuation plan, include a list of your pet's hiding places, so that firefighters will know where to look in case your pets don't make it out with you. Also, make sure your pets have collars with up to date tags attached in case they escape on their own.

          NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY DATES

          Year Date Day
          2022 July 15 Friday
          2023 July 15 Saturday
          2024 July 15 Monday
          2025 July 15 Tuesday
          2026 July 15 Wednesday
    July
    13

    Best Places to go for a Swim in Holland, MI

    Our Favorite Beaches: the Inside Scoop

    Beach time in Holland means plenty of sand and sunshine! Many people head right to Holland State Park to soak up the sun, but we have a few suggestions if you're looking for something a little different.

    Beach time in Holland means plenty of sand and sunshine! Many people head right to Holland State Park to soak up the sun, but we have a few suggestions if you're looking for something a little different!

    The perfect family beach: Tunnel Park. With an extensive play area, a sand dune for running and easily accessible restrooms, families will find just what they need. Take a concrete tunnel "through" the dune, then head down a short flight of stairs to a beautiful white sand beach. A picnic shelter and sand volleyball courts are available.

    A picturesque place to watch a sunset, Tunnel Park is named for the concrete tunnel that cuts through a sand dune and provides access to a sparkling Lake Michigan beach. This 22-acre park with its extensive Lake Michigan beachfront is a great place for swimming, sunbathing and picknicking.  In addition to the unique tunnel through the dune, this park has a children's playground complete with a dune climb and a dune stairway with scenic views of Lake Michigan. Beach volleyball courts, picnic tables and grills, restrooms, and a great playground make this a very family-friendly beach.

    Tunnel Park is part of the Ottawa County Parks system; there is a per-vehicle parking fee from April 1 to October 31. Please refer to the county pet policy for information about bringing your dog to Tunnel Park.

    Want a quiet place to watch the sunset? Try Laketown beach, on the south side of Holland. Be prepared as parking is limited and there are no restrooms! A stairway over the dunes is your "admission" to the beach. (6710 142nd Ave.)  

    A bit off the beaten path, Laketown Beach, between Holland and Saugatuck, offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan from a wooden stairway that climbs up and over the dunes to the beach.  (The stairway helps protect the fragile dune environment.)  Enjoy panoramic lake vistas and a small slice of Lake Michigan's sandy beachfront. 

    Bringing your furry friend? Check out the new dog beach at Kirk Park, a county park a few miles north of Holland State Park. A short hike through a wooded dune will bring you to a beach with an off-leash dog area and plenty of room for families to spread out.

    High bluffs, wooded dunes, and more than 1/3-mile of sandy Lake Michigan beach define popular Kirk Park. You'll find a swimming beach, hiking trails that include a handicap accessible loop, ungroomed cross-country ski trails in winter, modern restrooms (closed in winter), a horseshoe pit, kids' play area, off-leash dog beach, Lake Michigan overlook deck, a couple of picnic shelters (which you can reserve), picnic tables, and grills. 

    (*Off-leash dog beach accessible year-round using south beach stairs.)

    Holland State Park: the classic. With ample parking adjacent to a wide expanse of sandy beach, visitors love the accessibility of the Holland State Park. Get the perfect view of Big Red Lighthouse, too! Enjoy a walk on the pier or a dip in the lake. Restrooms, concessions and sandy volleyball courts are available.

    Holland State Park is one of Michigan's most visited state parks. Once you take a look at the beautiful beach or take in a sunset over Lake Michigan, you'll know why! The expansive beach is open to all who have purchased a day pass or a Recreation Passport. View Big Red Lighthouse directly across the channel to the south, or take a stroll north along the beachfront. Holland State Park offers fishing, a boat launch, a concession stand with modern restrooms and changing area, a small playground and camping.  During peak hours (weekends, holidays), we recommend to arrive early.

    Miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline are waiting for you to explore! Find a full list of Holland's public beaches on our website. Share your favorite beach with us in the comments below, and don't forget to use the #discoverholland hashtag on Instagram and Twitter!

    July
    11

    HOLLAND, MI - REAL ESTATE APPRECIATION & HOUSING MARKET TRENDS

    HOLLAND, MI

    DESCRIPTION:

    HOLLAND, MI HOUSING MARKET TRENDS

    With a population of 34,378, 2,755 total housing units (homes and apartments), and a median house value of $222,408, Holland real estate and house prices are near the national average for all cities and towns.

    Single-family detached homes are the single most common housing type in Holland, accounting for 56.06% of the city's housing units. Other types of housing that are prevalent in Holland include large apartment complexes or high rise apartments ( 13.66%), row houses and other attached homes ( 12.68%), and a few mobile homes or trailers ( 11.34%).

    Owner-occupied, three and four bedroom dwellings, primarily in single-family detached homes are the most prevalent type of housing you will see in Holland. Owner-occupied housing accounts for 71.31% of Holland's homes, and 54.62% have either three or four bedrooms, which is average sized relative to America.

    There is a lot of housing in Holland built from 1970 to 1999 so parts of town may have that "Brady Bunch" look of homes popular in the '70s and early '80s, although some of these houses were built up through the early '90s as well. There is also a lot of housing in Holland built between 1940-1969 ( 32.63%). A lesser amount of the housing stock also hails from between 2000 and later ( 14.84%). There's also some housing in Holland built before 1939 ( 1.57%).

    HOLLAND HOME APPRECIATION RATES

    In the last 10 years, Holland has experienced some of the highest home appreciation rates of any community in the nation. Holland real estate appreciated 117.53% over the last ten years, which is an average annual home appreciation rate of 8.08%, putting Holland in the top 10% nationally for real estate appreciation. If you are a home buyer or real estate investor, Holland definitely has a track record of being one of the best long term real estate investments in America through the last ten years.

    Appreciation rates are so strong in Holland that despite a nationwide downturn in the housing market, Holland real estate has continued to appreciate in value faster than most communities. Looking at just the latest twelve months, Holland appreciation rates continue to be some of the highest in America, at 21.76%, which is higher than appreciation rates in 79.14% of the cities and towns in the nation. Based on the last twelve months, short-term real estate investors have found good fortune in Holland. Holland appreciation rates in the latest quarter were at 7.72%, which equates to an annual appreciation rate of 34.65%.

    Relative to Michigan, our data show that Holland's latest annual appreciation rate is higher than 80% of the other cities and towns in Michigan.

    One very important thing to keep in mind is that these are average appreciation rates for the city. Individual neighborhoods within Holland differ in their investment potential, sometimes by a great deal. Fortunately, you can use NeighborhoodScout to pinpoint the exact neighborhoods in Holland - or in any city or town - that have the best track record of real estate appreciation, by the latest quarter, the last year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, or even since 2000, to assist you in making the best Holland real estate investment or home purchase decisions.

    DATA:

    AVERAGE HOME VALUES

    MEDIAN HOME VALUE:
    $222,408

    NUMBER OF HOMES AND APARTMENTS:
    2,755

    HOLLAND APPRECIATION RATES

    RENT & OWNERSHIP

    AVERAGE MARKET RENT:
    $1,320 / per month

    HOUSING MARKET DETAILS

    July
    6

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, July 5, 2022

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, July 5, 2022

    Today's mortgage and refinance rates

    Markets were closed yesterday for Independence Day. And average mortgage rates fell last Friday, once again significantly. Last week was a seriously good one for those rates. However, it wasn't as good as one June week was bad. So, let's not get carried away.

    Still, the good news seems to be continuing this morning. Because, first thing, it was looking as if mortgage rates today might move lower. But, as always, that could change as the hours pass.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jul 6th, 2022)

    Current mortgage and refinance rates

    Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
    Conventional 30 year fixed 5.564% 5.599% Unchanged
    Conventional 15 year fixed 4.993% 5.047% Unchanged
    Conventional 20 year fixed 5.478% 5.532% -0.01% 
    Conventional 10 year fixed 4.782% 4.867% -0.01% 
    30 year fixed FHA 5.865% 6.706% +0.02% 
    15 year fixed FHA 5.058% 5.511% Unchanged
    30 year fixed VA 5.619% 5.854% +0.03% 
    15 year fixed VA 5.179% 5.552% Unchanged
    Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

    Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

    Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

    I'm less certain in my doom-mongering than I have been for some time. However, on the balance of probabilities, I still think mortgage rates are more likely to rise over this month than fall.

    So, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term must remain:

    • LOCK if closing in 7 days
    • LOCK if closing in 15 days
    • LOCK if closing in 30 days
    • LOCK if closing in 45 days
    • LOCK if closing in 60 days

      Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

      Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time last Friday, were:

      • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes decreased to 2.82% from 2.9%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
      • Major stock indexes were lower soon after opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
      • Oil prices fell to $103.10 from $108.14 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
      • Gold prices fell to $1,791 from $1,804 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
      • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — fell to 19 from 24 out of 100. (Good for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

      *A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

      Caveats about markets and rates

      Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

      So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today look likely to fall. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jul 6th, 2022)

      Important notes on today's mortgage rates

      Here are some things you need to know:

      1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
      2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
      3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
      4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
      5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

      A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

      Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

      Mortgage rates rose only a tiny bit in June. And they fell back on Jul. 1, leaving them back where they were on Jun. 6, according to Mortgage News Daily's archive.

      You can see why I wrote earlier that I'm less certain in my doom-mongering. However, it's not those rate figures that are mainly swaying me. It's the possibility that inflation might soon begin to level out and fall, which would mean the Federal Reserve would not have to hike interest rates as much as currently planned.

      Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal (paywall) ran a story under the headline, "Falling Commodity Prices Raise Hopes That Inflation Has Peaked." And it began, "A slide in all manner of raw-materials prices — corn, wheat, copper and more — is stirring hopes that a significant source of inflationary pressure might be starting to ease."

      Another Journal article, written on Sunday, reported: "China's slowdown may have a silver lining for the rest of the world: weaker inflation. Growth in the world's second-largest economy has tumbled this year as COVID-19 outbreaks triggered mass lockdowns and business closures."

      Is the Fed helpless?

      There's always been an argument (I've mentioned it previously) that current inflation levels have been caused by supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine. We could see that in real time as it happened. Lower supply resulting from those events met continuing demand, and prices rose. Economics 101.

      So, if old monetary policy (the Fed leaving rates low and building its assets) didn't cause inflation, why should we think new monetary policy (the Fed hiking rates and disposing of assets) will fix it? By this argument, the most likely outcome of the central bank's actions is a recession with only a limited effect on prices.

      That would normally be good news for mortgage rates but for little else. However, as I've been highlighting recently, the highest mortgage rates in history happened during a recession — because the Fed was furiously hiking its rates at the time.

      What's next?

      This is a roundabout way of saying nobody can be certain what's next for the economy or mortgage rates. My colleague Paul Centopani just posted his monthly column, Mortgage interest rate predictions: Will rates go down in July 2022?

      And most of the mortgage experts he quoted believe mortgage rates are more likely to rise than fall in July. However, the minority taking the opposite view was persuasive.

      For now, I'm sticking to my guns because I still think mortgage rates are overall more likely to rise than fall this month. But I'll be watching closely in the hope more evidence begins to emerge to the contrary.

      Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

      Recent trends

      Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

      The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

      Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although May was a kinder month.

      Freddie's June 30 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.70% (with 0.9 fees and points), down from the previous week's 5.81%.

      Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.9 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

      Expert mortgage rate forecasts

      Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

      And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

      The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Jun. 16, and the MBA's on Jun. 10. Freddie's were released on Apr. 18. But it now updates its figures only quarterly, so they're already looking stale.

      Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
      Fannie Mae 5.1% 5.0%  5.0% 5.0%
      Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
      MBA 5.1% 5.1%  5.0% 5.0%

      Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. Recent events certainly make them look that way.

      Find your lowest rate today

      You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As a federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

      "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

      Verify your new rate (Jul 6th, 2022)

      Mortgage rate methodology

      The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

    July
    5

    Why You Should Call Western Michigan Your New Home

    Western Michigan is full of exciting opportunities. Here's why you should make it your new home.

    There are many factors to consider when choosing a new place to live, and the decision isn't always easy. But for those searching for a great climate, a strong economy, and quality education, Western Michigan checks every box. In fact, our real estate agents say people from all over the world move to Western Michigan thanks to its many amenities. Once you see what our great communities have to offer, we're sure you'll be eager to call this area home.

    If you're on the hunt for a new place to live, here are a few reasons why you make sure Western Michigan is on the top of your list:

    • You'll Never Run Out Of Things To Do
      In Western Michigan, you can fill your weekends with fun outdoor activities and take advantage of all the local amenities our communities have to offer. For example, you can relax on a Lake Michigan beach during the day, and then grab dinner and shop in Holland or Grand Haven. Or head downtown and enjoy some of the great restaurants and breweries Grand Rapids has to offer. Festivals and community events are also a big deal in Western Michigan, which can be fun for the whole family.

    • Easy Access To Fantastic Healthcare
      Grand Rapids is home to "Medical Mile," a collection of some of the nation's best hospitals, clinics, and medical research institutions. As a result, you don't have to travel far to get the care you need. There are actually more than 10 hospitals in the area. Easy access to healthcare is also one of the many reasons why people choose to raise a family or retire in Western Michigan.

    • A Strong Job Market
      Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Holland offer tons of job opportunities in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, health care, and food processing. Meijer, Spectrum Health, and Merrill are all large employers that call Western Michigan home. Commuting to a job in Grand Haven or Grand Rapids is an easy drive from these Holland homes for sale.

    • High-Quality Education
      There are more than 15 colleges and universities in Western Michigan, including Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Davenport University, and many more, so quality higher education is easy to find. Western Michigan has tons of great public schools as well. According to Niche.com, Grand Haven received an "A" public school rating, and Holland received a "B+". There are also 22 public charter schools and 45 private schools across the area, and 5 Western Michigan schools actually rank top in the nation.

    • Fantastic Weather
      The best part about Western Michigan weather is you truly get to experience all four seasons. Summers are warm and pleasant, while winters are snowy and beautiful. You can enjoy the beauty of fall foliage and blooming tulips in the spring. With plenty of lakes and mountains, there are ample opportunities for seasonal outdoor activities like boating, biking, and skiing.

    Western Michigan has so much to offer, so it's easy to see why so many people love calling it home. Contact us to explore local listings in our area.

      July
      1

      National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

      National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

      Sure, everyone loves vanilla and strawberry, but Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day is all about trying something unique, like lavender ice cream or pickle ice cream.

      Vanilla is often touted as the favorite flavor of ice cream, but we think that's just because people haven't been daring enough with their ice cream choices. National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day encourages you to take your taste buds to the rodeo and give a new flavor a try!

      Learn about National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

      As the name suggests, the purpose of National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day is to branch away from vanilla ice cream and try something completely out-of-the-norm. It is up to you how far you go with this. For example, if you are someone who barely ever tries anything but vanilla, you may want to give mint choc chip a try or some rum and raisin ice cream.

      For you, that may be pushing the boat out! For someone else, they may feel like they have already tried every sort of ice cream that is commercially available. If you fall into this category, then why not use National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day in order to come up with a flavor of ice cream that you've never tried before or seen in any stores?

      You can go as wild and unusual as you like. You can try different flavors, such as adding herbs, like basil into the mix, and other different concoctions. It is up to you. Or, you could try and turn your favorite chocolate bar or candy into an ice cream treat? This is an approach that never fails. After all, if it tastes good as chocolate, the chances are that it is going to taste pretty amazing when turned into ice cream, right?

      Did you know that Ben & Jerry's receive more than 13,000 flavor suggestions from fans each year? They have published some of the weirdest suggestions they have received.

      This includes Salty Licorice, which is vanilla ice cream, with swirls of salty and sweet licorice in order to create a black-and-white striped experience. Someone suggested Pepperoni flavor – a simple vanilla ice cream with chunks of candied pepperoni. Yum!

      Although, we think we would probably rather eat that than the Gregarious Gorgonzola that was requested by one fan. They want dark chocolate ice cream that features gorgonzola cheese and raspberry jam. Another fan wanted Ben & Jerry's to create macaroni ice cream, called Mac and Freeze. Oh, and we can't forget about Spuds and Fudge, which would be chocolate ice cream with bits of candied French fries. Do any of these flavors float your boat?

      History Of National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

      When people think about flavors of ice cream, they mostly think about what they can get off the grocery store shelves or from 31 flavors. When you take a moment to consider that ice cream was first invented in the 5th Century BC by the Ancient Greeks, and from there has traveled around the world and through every culture, you realize that the smattering of flavors you've experienced in your life is just the beginning. Somehow this seems like a perfect metaphor about our daily lives as well, don't you think?

      Do you like vanilla ice cream? Chocolate? What about strawberry? Chances are you love all these flavors, but have you ever considered saffron ice cream? What about rose flavored? These are just some of the flavors that were possible in years past, and doesn't even begin to cover the absolute rainbow of flavors that come from fruits!

      Of course, most of these probably don't seem all that unusual or creative, do they? That's ok! If you're truly feeling adventurous you can try crab and oyster flavored ice cream, or garlic flavored!

      June
      27

      July 2022 Calendar of United States of America

      July 2022 Calendar of United States of America

      July 2022 Holidays and Celebrations

      • 01FRI
        International Joke Day
      • 01FRI
      • 01FRI
        National Postal Worker Day
      • 01FRI
        World Bronchiectasis Day
      • 02SAT
      • 02SAT
        International Day of Cooperatives
      • 02SAT
      • 03SUN
        National Stay Out of the Sun Day
      • 03SUN
        International Plastic Bag Free Day
      • 04MON
      • 04MON
        Truman Doctrine
      • 05TUE
        National Bikini Day
      • 05TUE
        National Workaholics Day
      • 06WED
        National Fried Chicken Day
      • 06WED
      • 07THU
        Global Forgiveness Day
      • 07THU
        World Chocolate Day
      • 08FRI
      • 09SAT
      • 10SUN
      • 11MON
        International Town Criers Day
      • 11MON
      • 12TUE
        National Simplicity Day
      • 12TUE
        Cow Appreciation Day
      • 12TUE
        Malala Day
      • 12TUE
        Orangemen's Day (The Twelfth)
      • 13WED
        Nathan Bedford Forrest Day
      • 13WED
        National French Fry Day
      • 14THU
        Pandemonium Day
      • 14THU
      • 15FRI
        National Give Something Away Day
      • 15FRI
        National Clean Beauty Day
      • 16SAT
        National Cherry Day
      • 17SUN
        National Lottery Day
      • 17SUN
      • 17SUN
      • 18MON
        Nelson Mandela International Day
      • 18MON
        World Listening Day
      • 19TUE
        Seneca Falls Convention
      • 20WED
        National Moon Day
      • 20WED
        International Chess Day
      • 20WED
        World Jump Day
      • 21THU
        National Junk Food Day
      • 22FRI
        National Hammock Day
      • 23SAT
        National Gorgeous Grandma Day
      • 24SUN
      • 24SUN
      • 24SUN
      • 24SUN
        National Drive-Thru Day
      • 24SUN
      • 25MON
        National Hire A Veteran Day
      • 26TUE
      • 27WED
        National Creme Brûlée Day
      • 27WED
        National Disability Independence Day
      • 28THU
        Bonus Army
      • 28THU
        World War I
      • 28THU
        National Milk Chocolate Day
      • 28THU
      • 29FRI
        NASA is Founded
      • 29FRI
        National Lipstick Day
      • 29FRI
        International Tiger Day
      • 29FRI
      • 30SAT
        Muharram
      • 30SAT
        National Father-in-Law Day
      • 30SAT
        National Cheesecake Day
      • 30SAT
        World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
      • 30SAT
      • 31SUN
      • 31SUN
        World Ranger Day
      June
      20

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, June 18, and rate forecast for next week

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, June 18,

      and rate forecast for next week

      Today's mortgage and refinance rates

      Average mortgage rates inched lower yesterday, mirroring the previous day's similarly tiny rise. However, those movements don't reflect the week as a whole, which has been disastrous for those rates. And those for conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have been above 6% since Monday.

      I guess I should resume my rate predictions for the week ahead, even though current volatility means you should have minimal confidence in their accuracy — as do I. I think, on balance, mortgage rates are more likely to rise than fall next week.

      Markets will be closed on Monday for the Juneteenth federal holiday. So we'll be back with our daily reports on Tuesday.

      Find and lock a low rate (Jun 20th, 2022)

      Current mortgage and refinance rates

      Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
      Conventional 30 year fixed 6.15% 6.185% +0.02% 
      Conventional 15 year fixed 5.072% 5.115% -0.02% 
      Conventional 20 year fixed 6.023% 6.07% -0.1% 
      Conventional 10 year fixed 5.375% 5.457% -0.05% 
      30 year fixed FHA 5.867% 6.605% Unchanged
      15 year fixed FHA 5.291% 5.808% -0.03% 
      30 year fixed VA 5.208% 5.427% -0.07% 
      15 year fixed VA 5.44% 5.814% -0.11% 
      Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

      Find and lock a low rate (Jun 20th, 2022)


      Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

      Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

      Average mortgage rates have climbed sharply higher so far in June. True, there was a day when they fell significantly, too. But, overall, the month (and especially the last eight days) has been shockingly bad. Who, 18 days ago, would have thought the most popular rate would be above 6% today?

      We might be in for a somewhat calmer time now markets have had a chance to digest Wednesday's Federal Reserve announcements. Let's hope volatility gently fades.

      But I guess that mortgage rates won't fall far or for long until inflation levels off and begins to drop. In the meantime, I reckon mortgage rate rises are likely to outweigh falls.

      And so, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

      • LOCK if closing in 7 days
      • LOCK if closing in 15 days
      • LOCK if closing in 30 days
      • LOCK if closing in 45 days
      • LOCK if closing in 60 days

      However, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So let your gut and your personal tolerance for risk help guide you.

      What's moving current mortgage rates

      Last week, I was quoting Mortgage News Daily's (MND's) data, marveling that "the average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage soared by 30 basis points yesterday (a basis point is one-hundredth of 1%). In other words, they jumped from 5.55% to 5.85%." Today, seven days later, that rate is 6.03%, according to the same source.

      I'd be shocked if those rates were to continue to climb so quickly. That's highly unlikely now that markets have digested both last Friday's inflation data and this Wednesday's Federal Reserve announcements.

      Still, I shouldn't be a bit surprised if they were to continue to rise but much more gently. As long as inflation remains uncomfortably hot, it will be a tough sell to get investors to buy bonds. And mortgage rates are primarily determined by the yields on one type of bond, the mortgage-backed security (MBS).

      You can understand why bonds are so unattractive when inflation is running hot. Investors are buying a fixed income, a "yield." And, with nearly all bonds (really risky ones would be the exception) currently, yields are lower than the inflation rate. So every bond bought has a real-terms (after inflation) loss baked in.

      Bear market

      So why are investors still buying MBS and other bonds? It's a bit like the old joke about the two hikers in the woods who encounter a bear. One changes into trainers, and the other says, "You can't outrun a bear." The other replies, "I don't have to. I just have to outrun you."

      There's a parallel with bonds. While stock markets are looking so dicey, investors crave the security of safe investments, such as MBSs. And those MBSs don't have to deliver a real-terms profit. They just have to outrun other financial contenders in the risks and rewards they offer.

      High demand for MBSs pushes mortgage rates lower. This is a bit counterintuitive. But it's easy to grasp once you recognize that bond prices always move inversely to their yields. So higher demand = higher prices = lower yields (and mortgage rates). Lower demand = lower prices = higher yields (and mortgage rates).

      What's next for mortgage rates?

      Of course, nobody can be sure what will happen to mortgage rates in the future. Those who try to peer ahead can only weigh the likelihood of different possible scenarios and extrapolate from there. No wonder experts often disagree.

      I suspect inflation will continue to be high for months to come, perhaps well into 2023. That depends on various things, including how quickly the Fed's anti-inflation measures take to work and how long Russia's war in Ukraine drags on.

      And, despite the bear metaphor, I doubt investors will be piling into MBSs until inflation has leveled out and begun to fall.

      To me, that implies mortgage rates will continue to rise, though, with luck, at a more gentle pace than so far in 2022. Of course, there will always be days and weeks when those rates fall. Such periods are inevitable.

      But I'm not convinced those rates will fall back to their pandemic-era and pre-pandemic levels for a very long time.

      If you look back through Freddie Mac's archives, you'll see that 6.x% mortgage rates were common before 2008 and would often have been perceived as low. It may be that the last 14 years have been the freaky exception and that we're returning to normalcy.

      Economic reports next week

      Next week is very light on economic reports. Several top Fed officials have speaking engagements, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who will be testifying on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday. Markets will be listening to both the tone and content of what's said as they try to assess what the Fed might do next to tackle inflation.

      The potentially most important reports, below, are set in bold. The others are unlikely to move markets much unless they contain shockingly good or bad data.

      • Tuesday — May existing home sales
      • Thursday — Weekly new claims for unemployment insurance to Jun. 18
      • Friday — June consumer sentiment index, plus five-year inflation expectations. Also, May new home sales

      In a quiet week, Fed speakers are most likely to move mortgage rates.

      Verify your new rate (Jun 20th, 2022)

      Mortgage interest rates forecast for next week

      Please don't take my weekly forecasts too seriously. There's too much volatility in markets for them to be reliable. But I'm guessing mortgage rates might move a little higher next week. Even if I'm wrong over timing, I'd expect slightly higher rates soon.

      Mortgage and refinance rates usually move in tandem. And the scrapping of the adverse market refinance fee last year has largely eliminated a gap that had grown between the two.

      Meanwhile, another recent regulatory change has likely made mortgages for investment properties and vacation homes more accessible and less costly.

      How your mortgage interest rate is determined

      Mortgage and refinance rates are generally determined by prices in a secondary market (similar to the stock or bond markets) where mortgage-backed securities are traded.

      And that's highly dependent on the economy. So mortgage rates tend to be high when things are going well and low when the economy's in trouble.

      Your part

      But you play a big part in determining your own mortgage rate in five ways. And you can affect it significantly by:

      1. Shopping around for your best mortgage rate — They vary widely from lender to lender
      2. Boosting your credit score — Even a small bump can make a big difference to your rate and payments
      3. Saving the biggest down payment you can — Lenders like you to have real skin in this game
      4. Keeping your other borrowing modest — The lower your other monthly commitments, the bigger the mortgage you can afford
      5. Choosing your mortgage carefully — Are you better off with a conventional, conforming, FHA, VA, USDA, jumbo or another loan?

      Time spent getting these ducks in a row can see you winning lower rates.

      Remember, they're not just a mortgage rate

      Be sure to count all your forthcoming homeownership costs when you're working out how big a mortgage you can afford. So focus on your "PITI." That's your Principal (pays down the amount you borrowed), Interest (the price of borrowing), (property) Taxes, and (homeowners) Insurance. Our mortgage calculator can help with these.

      Depending on your type of mortgage and the size of your down payment, you may have to pay mortgage insurance, too. And that can easily run into three figures every month.

      But there are other potential costs. So you'll have to pay homeowners association dues if you choose to live somewhere with an HOA. And, wherever you live, you should expect repairs and maintenance costs. There's no landlord to call when things go wrong!

      Finally, you'll find it hard to forget closing costs. You can see those reflected in the annual percentage rate (APR) that lenders will quote you. Because that effectively spreads them out over your loan's term, making that higher than your straight mortgage rate.

      But you may be able to get help with those closing costs and your down payment, especially if you're a first-time buyer. Read:

      Down payment assistance programs in every state for 2021

      Mortgage rate methodology

      The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

      June
      20

      The Most Common Landscaping Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them

      Great landscaping requires a lot of prepping and skill, which is why it's so easy to make these mistakes. Here's how you can avoid them.

      With so many of us spending summer weekends doing yard work, our real estate agents thought it'd be a great time to share some landscaping tips.

      Great landscaping is both an art and a science. We know creating the perfect yard takes time and practice, and it's well worth it. Remember, beautiful landscaping can make or break your curb appeal. Therefore, learning best practices and avoiding mistakes can really help boost your property value and attract attention when it comes time to sell your home.

      If you're busy working on your yard this summer, here are some common landscaping mistakes you should try to avoid:

      1. Don't Over Mulch
        The purpose of mulch is to maintain soil temperature and lock in moisture. When you apply a mountain of mulch around a tree or shrub, it actually causes the roots to rot and creates a paradise for destructive insects. It may be tempting to apply generous amounts of mulch; however,  you should limit it to only a thin layer around your plants so you can be sure your roots have room to breathe.

      2. Choosing The Wrong Plants
        When shopping for plants, it's easy to gravitate towards the most beautiful options; however, don't forget to consider whether the plant is a good fit for your yard. Where will you place it? If it's a plant that thrives in the shade, you don't want to put it in an area with lots of direct sun exposure. Also, consider if it matches your facade and the rest of your landscaping. If you need some inspiration on choosing the right plants, check out some of the landscaping at these Holland homes for sale.

      3. Planting Too Deep
        We know soil is necessary for plant growth, but you should avoid trying to bury your plant's roots too far below the surface for the same reason you shouldn't over-mulch. You run the risk of ultimately suffocating and damaging the plant roots by restricting airflow. When determining how deep to plant, use the plant's original container as a guideline.

      4. Forgetting The Importance of Sun Exposure
        Homeowners are often so concerned about where plants look the best that they actually forget to place them in an area with adequate sun exposure. In order to ensure your plants grow big, bright, and healthy, they'll need to receive adequate sunlight during most daylight hours. Don't plant them in a shady area under a tree or on a side of the house with limited sun.

      5. Cutting Your Grass Too Short
        Cutting grass in the summer is a weekly occurrence, and many homeowners falsely believe that cutting it as short as possible can buy some extra time. However, when your lawn is exposed to the summer sun all day long, your grass can dry out and die quickly. As a result, you actually want to leave a bit of extra length on your grass blades to provide some extra shade and hold moisture.

      Landscaping can be a fun summer hobby, but it's also essential for maintaining your curb appeal and home value. Contact us today for more landscaping ideas.

      June
      10

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, June 10, 2022

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, June 10, 2022

      Today's mortgage and refinance rates

      Average mortgage rates moved moderately higher yesterday. And they're now perilously close to the 13-year-record highs we saw in early May.

      Markets have been roiled by this morning's publication of May's consumer price index. And, so far, it's looking as if mortgage rates today might rise again.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jun 10th, 2022)

      Current mortgage and refinance rates

      Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
      Conventional 30 year fixed 5.648% 5.673% +0.07% 
      Conventional 15 year fixed 4.662% 4.692% +0.03% 
      Conventional 20 year fixed 5.564% 5.598% +0.13% 
      Conventional 10 year fixed 4.655% 4.757% Unchanged
      30 year fixed FHA 5.356% 6.064% -0.09% 
      15 year fixed FHA 4.962% 5.416% +0.11% 
      30 year fixed VA 5.066% 5.285% +0.04% 
      15 year fixed VA 5.622% 5.975% Unchanged
      Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

      Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

      Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

      This morning's inflation data (the consumer price index) may well generate turbulence in markets. But it's unlikely to reset the trend in mortgage rates. Because there's more — potentially bigger — news coming down the line next week.

      I can't yet find a good reason to change my mind over the likely future direction of mortgage rates. And I still think they're more likely to rise than fall. But, with luck, the pace of rises may slow.

      So, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term remain:

      • LOCK if closing in 7 days
      • LOCK if closing in 15 days
      • LOCK if closing in 30 days
      • LOCK if closing in 45 days
      • LOCK if closing in 60 days

        Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

        Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

        • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes inched up to 3.11% from 3.03%. (Very bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
        • Major stock indexes were sharply lower soon after opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
        • Oil prices were unchanged at $121.27 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
        • Gold prices fell to $1,832 from $1,850 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
        • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — fell to 29 from 35 out of 100. (Good for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

        *A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

        Caveats about markets and rates

        Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

        So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today might rise. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

        Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jun 10th, 2022)

        Important notes on today's mortgage rates

        Here are some things you need to know:

        1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
        2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
        3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
        4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
        5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

        A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

        Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

        This morning's release of May's consumer price index (CPI) was undoubtedly important. Investors are obsessed with inflation data.

        We now know that inflation that month resumed its march higher. And at a faster pace than most economists expected. In a breaking news email earlier, The Financial Times said:

        US consumer price growth resumed its rapid rise in May, accelerating 1 percent during the month as rising inflation in the services sector added urgency to the Federal Reserve's plans to aggressively tighten monetary policy.

        But it's so far unclear how markets will respond to this morning's report, once they've fully digested it. Often, important economic data provoke an initial knee-jerk reaction in markets only for that to change later in the day as investors think through the implications.

        Crucial Fed meeting next week

        Today, investors will be wondering whether and how this morning's figures will influence the Federal Reserve's monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), when it meets next week. We'll know more next Wednesday (Jun. 15) at 2 p.m. (ET), when the FOMC issues a post-meeting statement, which will include some policy plans. And there will be a news conference, hosted by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, 30 minutes later.

        If the FOMC delivers definitive guidance next week, mortgage rates may settle down a bit. But if it leaves plenty of uncertainty in place, you should probably expect the current volatility to continue.

        Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

        Recent trends

        Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

        The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

        Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although May was a kinder month.

        Freddie's June 9 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.23% (with 0.9 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.09%.

        Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.9 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

        Expert mortgage rate forecasts

        Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

        And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

        The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on May 19, and the MBA's on May 16. Freddie's were released on Apr. 18. But it now updates its figures only quarterly so they're already looking stale.

        Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
        Fannie Mae 5.1% 5.1%  5.1% 5.1%
        Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
        MBA 5.2% 5.1%  5.0% 5.0%

        Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual.

        Find your lowest rate today

        You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

        "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

        Verify your new rate (Jun 10th, 2022)

        Mortgage rate methodology

        The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

      June
      8

      National Best Friends Day

      National Best Friends Day – June 8, 2022

      Whether they're near or far, old or new, best friends help to carry us through our lives. This June 8, National Best Friends Day, it's time to tell them how much we appreciate their company. As the Mayo Clinic reports: "Friends help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one. They also encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise." Today's the day to enjoy a little one-on-one time with the people who never fail to catch us when we fall.

      WHEN IS NATIONAL BEST FRIENDS DAY 2022?

      The friends we have chosen are cherished and celebrated on National Best Friends Day on June 8.

      HISTORY OF NATIONAL BEST FRIENDS DAY

      We have our own country to thank for this lighthearted holiday. In 1935, the U.S. Congress gathered to devote a day each year in tribute to close friends. They chose June 8, which is usually a balmy day in all regions of the country—perfect for outdoor activities. Since then, many other countries have adopted the practice. Some even throw festivals to celebrate their chosen family.

      This holiday has given rise to a handful of other friendship-themed days for celebration, including Friendship Day, Women's Friendship Day, and even an entire week called Old Friends, New Friends Week. Ironically, almost all celebrations of friendship occur in the summer.

      While the holiday seems to have lost popularity through the years, it has seen a recent upsurge in engagement since the advent of social media. Now, on June 8 every year, people rush to post fun photographs of themselves with their most trusted friends. The recognizable hashtag #nationalbestfriendsday allows users to witness just how many Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter users are celebrating along with them.

      NATIONAL BEST FRIENDS DAY TIMELINE

      1935
      Origins

      National Best Friends Day is established during a U.S. Congressional hearing.

      2007
      Back Again

      Mary Wisniewski revitalizes the holiday by writing about it in a column of the "Chicago Sun-Times."

      2009
      Raising Awareness

      BFF.tv partners with DoSomething.org to host a celebration of National Best Friends Day in Times Square.

      2015
      Gone Viral

      America's most popular coffee-shop chain, Starbucks, runs a promotional social media campaign encouraging its employees to celebrate their 'work best friends.'

      NATIONAL BEST FRIENDS DAY - SURVEY RESULTS

      Data gathered by a top Vancouver Marketing

      NATIONALTODAY.COM NATIONAL BEST FRIENDS' DAY SURVEY

      Do you have a best friend?

      #1: Yes, one (46%)
      #2: Yes, multiple (39%)
      #3: No (15%)

      Who do Americans consider to be their best friends?

      #1: My significant other (43%)
      #2: My dog (19%)
      #3: My mom (19%)
      #4: My sibling (14%)
      #5: My dad (11%)
      #6: My cat (9%)

      Do you believe you can only have one best friend?

      #1: No (75%)
      #2: Yes (25%)

      Which of the following about best friends is true for you:

      #1: My best friend is like a family member (54%)
      #2: I have owned a "best friend" necklace or bracelet (22%)
      #3: I have made a friendship bracelet for my best friend (16%)
      #4: My parents like my best friend more than me (6%)

      When did you meet your best friend?

      #1: Elementary school (24%)
      #2: High school (24%)
      #3: Middle school (18%)
      #4: Post high school/college (16%)
      #5: Post-college (11%)
      #6: Preschool (8%)

      TRADITIONS OF THE DAY

      Traditions for this holiday vary. No two (or more) best friends have the same traditions; it is unique to everyone. The shenanigans that best friends get up to are enjoyed and shared only between them, which include memorable adventures, fun gatherings, and even inside jokes. These traditions are relived on National Best Friends Day.

      There are low-key common traditions — just hanging out and chilling at home watching movies with friends, or going to the mall or your favorite cafe together. And then there are more elaborate ways to celebrate this day with your best friends like dressing up and heading out to paint the town red or having a fancy dinner. Presents are also exchanged on this day like 'best friends' lockets or scrapbooks to cement the friendship and remind each other of the special bond you share, no matter how much time has passed.

      BY THE NUMBERS

      22% – the percentage of people who live longer if they have a close friendship network.

      2 – the average number of best friends an adult has.

      1994 – the year when the hit television show "Friends" first aired.

      26% – the percentage of people who come into conflict with their friends over something posted online.

      2 times – the likelihood of women with breast cancer dying if they don't have a network of friends.

      9 months – the age at which babies start recognizing friendships.

      36% – the percentage of people who quit a habit if their friends quit it too.

      7 times – the likelihood of a person being more productive at work if their close friend works there too.

      10–25 – the number of hours a week young adults spend socializing. 

      57% – the percentage of teens who make a close friend online.

      June
      7

      The Best Places In Holland For Exceptional Wine And Dining

      Looking for an unforgettable dining experience? Here are the Holland restaurants you should visit.

      Planning a weekend with friends or date night? In Holland, we take local dining very seriously. Our real estate agents are always talking up our local food and beverage scene — and for good reason! From upscale restaurants to classic brew pubs, Holland has it all.

      Dining out on the weekends is one of our favorite things to do. If you're looking for a new place to wine and dine around Holland, you can trust our recommendations. Here are some of our top choices this year:

      • Hops at 48 East - 84 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
        This restaurant has everything you'd want to see in a classic neighborhood pub. Enjoy brick-oven pizzas, tons of local craft beers, a great wine list, and friendly people at Hops at 48 East. You'll find local live music on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as an excellent brunch menu on Sundays. The best part: you can easily walk to this restaurant from these Holland homes for sale.

      • Seventy-Six - 52 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
        High-end American fare, great wine, and a contemporary atmosphere can be discovered at Seventy-Six. The restaurant, which is named for its co-owners' anniversary year, is one of the most stylish and comfortable restaurants in Holland. With a menu section titled "High-End Junk Food" and a unique cocktail menu, you know you're in for an unforgettable dining experience.

      • Butch's Dry Dock - 44 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
        Butch's Dry Dock offers one of the best wine selections in Holland. Owner Butch TerHaar sources world-class wines from many countries around the world. Enjoy them with your dinner or purchase some to-go in the retail shop attached to the restaurant. This fine-dining restaurant is an excellent place to celebrate a special event with friends or family. Happy Hour is daily from 4 to 6 pm.

      • Boatwerks - 216 Van Raalte Ave, Holland, MI 49423
        Enjoy classic American cuisine and spectacular waterfront views at Boatwerks.  Located on Lake Macatawa, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience perfect for special family celebrations. The menu has something for everyone, and you're sure to love the homemade desserts! Dinner on the patio makes for an unforgettable summer evening.

      • Salt And Pepper Pub - 11539 E Lakewood Blvd #50, Holland, MI 49424
        Another local neighborhood pub and restaurant, Salt and Pepper is a great place to catch the game, enjoy a business lunch, or catch up with friends. Choose from a wide range of traditional pub dishes, steaks, burgers, pasta, and more, as well as a huge selection of beer and wine. The laid-back outdoor patio is a popular hangout spot on the weekends.

      • HopCat - 80 W 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
        One of the largest beer lists in Holland can be found at HopCat, an excellent local pub and neighborhood hangout. Enjoy tasty bar snacks and appetizers and several unique takes on classic American entrees in a fun, artsy atmosphere. Happy Hour is Monday through Thursday from 3 to 5:30 pm burger and drinks specials on beer, wine, and cocktails.

      Fantastic local pubs and restaurants are just one of the many great things about living in Holland. Considering a move to our area? Contact us today to explore local listings.

      June
      1

      National Homeownership Month – June 2022

      National Homeownership Month – June 2022

      National Homeownership Month is in June. It celebrates the value that owning a home brings to families, communities, and neighborhoods across America. By becoming a homeowner, people get a step closer to the American dream. This month also shares the joys of being a homeowner, which can encourage others to achieve the same thing.

      HISTORY OF NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH

      Most Americans had no way of really owning a home in the 1800s. Mortgages became common only after the U.S. banking system came into being after the 1860s National Bank Acts.

      During the time of the Great Depression, the banks did not have any money to lend and the average borrower didn't have any cash. As a result, people couldn't afford to buy homes, while existing homeowners often failed to pay their debt. To stabilize the housing market, the U.S. government created the Home Owners' Loan Corporation in 1933, the Federal Housing Administration in 1934, and the Federal National Mortgage Association (now known as Fannie Mae) in 1938. All these institutions took homeownership to new heights and helped prevent a crash in the housing market.

      What changed the face of the housing industry, along with that of the American economy, was the G.I. Bill of 1944. This bill provided subsidized mortgages for the veterans of World War II. Another milestone in the history of American housing came when Congress passed the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and banned discrimination in housing based on religion, race, gender, and national origin. It came into being only a few days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

      In its 87 years of existence, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has saved America an almost $4 trillion loss of household wealth. It has helped more than 44 million citizens to become homeowners.

      National Homeownership Week began in 1995, which was a strategy of the administration under President Bill Clinton to increase homeownership across America. Later, in 2002, President George W. Bush expanded the period of observance from a week to the entire month of June. National Homeownership Month reinforces the belief that owning a home is one of the steps toward achieving the American dream.

      NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH TIMELINE

      1862
      Right to Have a House

      Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act that gives the head of each American household the right to claim a 160-acre homestead if they want to build a home on the land and farm on it.

      1890
      The First Bill for Housing

      The decennial census is introduced and is the first bill in American homeownership history that asks basic housing questions, particularly, whether a person owns or rents.

      1917
      Own Your Own Home

      Own Your Own Home, a public relations campaign is launched by the National Association of Real Estate Boards and becomes the first federal program (after being taken over by the U.S. Department of Labor) to encourage homeownership.

      1950
      More Homes than Ever Before

      For the first time in American history, more than half of all Americans own their homes.

      HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH

      1. Showcase local projects to officials

        Invite local officials, be it virtually or in person, to your area. Show them or let them know about the latest housing developments that are using eco-friendly building techniques and other new technologies.

      2. Educate local home buyers

        Organize a housing forum (virtually or in person) to bring together the public and housing experts to talk about the state of housing in your locality. It can be an economist from a nearby college, a mortgage banker, or a realtor.

      3. Get your community involved

        Organize or participate in a community service project. Help build a shelter, host a donation venture, repair a playground, and carry out other similar acts that benefit your community.

      5 FACTS ABOUT HOMEOWNERSHIP THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW

      1. The burden of cost persists

        One-third of America's 119 million households are cost-burdened, which puts more than 30% of their incomes towards housing charges and costs.

      2. Pay for housing

        The average American family spends $1,573.83 on housing expenses every month as stated by the 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey.

      3. Equal then, more now

        If the rate of black homeownership today was the same as it was in 2000, there would be 770,000 more black homeowners in America.

      4. More dropouts than graduates?

        Homeownership in the U.S. is less for a black college graduate than for a white high school dropout.

      5. An average-sized move

        In 2019, the average distance between the owned home and the newly purchased home of an American was 15 miles.

      WHY NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH IS IMPORTANT

      1. It's for a better future

        Homeownership expands your options for the future. You can plan to sell and make a profit or leverage your home equity and pay for other big expenses.

      2. It's for the benefit of a community

        Homeownership is closely tied to the economy. When home sales rise, jobs go up too. And together, these forces contribute to a stable economy on the local-, state-, and national level.

      3. It's for a sense of belonging

        Homeownership gets a person more invested in their community. Getting involved in activities and volunteering for charity and other events adds to a sense of belonging that is much greater than for a person who is just renting.

      NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH DATES

      Year Date Day
      2022 June 1 Wednesday
      2023 June 1 Thursday
      2024 June 1 Saturday
      2025 June 1 Sunday
      2026 June 1 Monday
      May
      27

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, May 26, 2022

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, May 26, 2022

      Today's mortgage and refinance rates

      Average mortgage rates moved only modestly lower yesterday. We can say mortgage rates are no longer rising swiftly. But we can't be sure how long this happy situation will last.

      This morning, it was looking as if mortgage rates today might barely move. But that might change as the day progresses.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (May 27th, 2022)

      Current mortgage and refinance rates

      Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
      Conventional 30 year fixed 5.271% 5.295% -0.01% 
      Conventional 15 year fixed 4.42% 4.452% Unchanged
      Conventional 20 year fixed 5.291% 5.323% +0.16% 
      Conventional 10 year fixed 4.488% 4.549% +0.03% 
      30 year fixed FHA 5.455% 6.224% +0.08% 
      15 year fixed FHA 4.605% 5.027% -0.02% 
      30 year fixed VA 4.884% 5.1% Unchanged
      15 year fixed VA 4.63% 4.973% -0.11% 
      Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

      Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

      Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

      By all means, welcome the current respite that mortgage rates are enjoying. May's been by far the best month for them so far in 2022.

      But it's much too soon to be sure these lower rates will endure. We can hope they do. But we'll have to wait a while before we can bank on it.

      And, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term remain:

      • LOCK if closing in 7 days
      • LOCK if closing in 15 days
      • LOCK if closing in 30 days
      • LOCK if closing in 45 days
      • LOCK if closing in 60 days

      >Related: 7 Tips to get the best refinance rate

      Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

      Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

      • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes held steady at 2.74%. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
      • Major stock indexes were higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
      • Oil prices climbed to $112.68 from $110.37 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
      • Gold decreased to $1,843 from $1,850 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
      • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — rose to 15 from 11 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

      *A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

      Caveats about markets and rates

      Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

      So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today might hold steady or near to steady. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (May 27th, 2022)

      Important notes on today's mortgage rates

      Here are some things you need to know:

      1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
      2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
      3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
      4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
      5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

      A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks, or months.

      Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

      Yesterday's document from the Federal Reserve was a damp squib. We now know that members of the Fed's monetary policy group, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), thought about hiking its rates faster and more sharply than planned. Or, in The Financial Times's report, they: "discussed the possibility of moving the US central bank to a 'restrictive' policy stance that would better fight inflation through more aggressive interest rate increases, but worried that this could undermine the strong recovery in the jobs market."

      Everyone would have been astonished if they hadn't had that discussion. And markets barely moved on the news.

      Things might liven up tomorrow when we first see the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index for April. It's the Fed's favorite measure of inflation. And its contents are likely to inform decisions made at the FOMC's next meeting on June 14-15.

      Investors will be hoping it shows inflation peaked last month and is beginning to plateau or fall. If that's the case, mortgage rates might continue to fall, though probably not sharply for long.

      But of course, it might be bad for mortgage rates if the index shows prices are continuing to move higher. With many commodity prices still sky-high due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, I wouldn't bet on getting good news tomorrow.

      In the meantime, markets remain unpredictable. And so do mortgage rates.

      Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

      Recent trends — updated today

      Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

      The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

      Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022.

      Freddie's May 26 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.1% (with 0.9 fees and points), down from the previous week's 5.25%.

      Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.9 fees and points") on closing which earns you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

      Expert mortgage rate forecasts

      Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each have a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector, and mortgage rates.

      And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

      The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on May 19, and the MBAs on May 16. Freddie's were released on Apr. 18. But it now updates its figures only quarterly so they're already looking stale.

      Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
      Fannie Mae 5.1% 5.1%  5.1% 5.1%
      Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
      MBA 5.2% 5.1%  5.0% 5.0%

      Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual.

      Find your lowest rate today

      You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As a federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

      "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

      Verify your new rate (May 27th, 2022)

      Mortgage rate methodology

      The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

      May
      25

      National Wine Day – May 25, 2022

      National Wine Day – May 25, 2022

      We don't typically need an "official" reason to celebrate over a bottle of wine but today we have one – it's National Wine Day, celebrated annually on May 25. The growing number of wineries across the US coupled with the proliferation of social media options has prompted more creative ways to celebrate with wine for people of all (legal drinking) ages and beverage preferences. Whether you host a wine tasting at your place to try the latest rosés or meet friends for an evening of professionally paired food and wine, the celebration begins as soon as the cork is popped. Cheers!

      WHEN IS NATIONAL WINE DAY 2022?

      Wine lovers celebrate the fermented drink's many types on National Wine Day on May 25.

      HISTORY OF NATIONAL WINE DAY

      Wine has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. The natural likeness for this drink is not only because it tastes wonderful, but also because of its nutritional value and psychotropic effects. 

       

      Wine has also had a significant impact on the economy and the shaping of societies. Out of all the alcoholic beverages, it is the trade of wine that allowed exploration of different cultures and paved the way for philosophical and religious ideas to spread. Wine is cited frequently in the "Bible," from the time of Noah to Jesus, indicating its integral role. Wine-making was also seen as a sign of a provident economy, as only provident societies could accommodate a well-established wine industry. In fact, it is often debated that the foundations of western society were built on wine.  

       

      The wine enjoyed in the olden days is a distant relative to the wine enjoyed today. Red, pink, green, white, and blue grapes were used by the Egyptians to prepare the drink. Palm dates, figs, and pomegranates were often added to the mix too. So the taste was completely different from what we know. Using different fruit to make wine is similar to how it is prepared using grapes, except that sugar is also added to aid the fermentation process.  

       

      The exact origin of National Wine Day is unknown, but the earliest references date back to 2009. It is a day for wine enthusiasts to unite and celebrate our favorite fermented fruit juice. 

       

      Since its establishment in 1812 by Spanish missionaries, California's wine country in the northern Bay Area of northern California has dominated American wine production and our personal vision of the elegant American vineyard. There were a mere 25 wineries in this area of California in 1974. Today, there are over 800!

       

      While California still leads U.S. wine production and is now home to over 4,000 wineries state-wide, wineries exist across the U.S. with at least three in every state. In fact, the most frequently visited winery today is the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, with over one million people annually.

       

      This availability of wineries enables us to visit the rolling hills of a beautiful vineyard closer to home. Yes, it is very likely one is near you, within range for a fun day trip or weekend getaway. So, pack your bags and set your G.P.S. to the winery closest to you!

      TRADITIONS

      Traditions for National Wine Day all revolve around indulging in and celebrating with wine! Friends and family get together and uncork their favorite bottles of wine. Splurging on expensive wine is also the norm today, so treat yourself to that fancy vino you've always wanted to buy.

      Wine tasting events are hosted, where wine lovers and connoisseurs enjoy different flavors and varieties of wine. Wine bottles are aesthetically pleasing, so reusing them for a DIY project, or making a rack from scratch to display them are also go-to celebratory traditions for National Wine Day.

      BY THE NUMBERS

      55 degrees – the optimal temperature for storing wine.

      60 gallons – the amount of wine in a single barrel. 

      4-10 – the number of clusters of grapes in a single bottle of wine.

      10 – the number of bottles of wine that a single vineyard is able to produce. 

      100-150 – the number of calories in a single serving of wine. 

      2 grams – the number of carbohydrates in a single glass of wine. 

      10,000 – the number of different varieties of grapes worldwide.

      700 million – the number of gallons of wine produced in the U.S. in 2020.

      $88 billion – the estimated value of the U.S. wine market in 2020. 

      7.3 million – the hectares of land that vineyards occupied worldwide in 2020. 

      NATIONAL WINE DAY ACTIVITIES

      1. Cool down with a sangria bar

        What better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than with friends over a sangria bar? Sangria is an easy, make-ahead beverage with wine as its base. Red, white, and rosé recipes abound but don't limit yourself to the obvious. Peach and blueberry lemonade sangria stand-out at any party.

      2. Buy a new gadget

        Chances are, if you're making plans for National Wine Day, you don't consider yourself an amateur. Aficionados need gadgets. Enhance the holiday with an electric wine bottle opener or a wine aerator.

      3. Know your glasses

        The extensive variety of stemware can be confusing. Why so many choices? The shape of the bowl controls the amount of air reaching the wine surface which impacts the taste and aroma. Celebrate National Wine Day by researching the recommended glass to use based on wine type and impress your friends with your newfound knowledge.

      May
      18

      Holland Michigan Farmers Market

      Holland Michigan Farmers Market

      Wednesdays and Saturdays, May 18 - December 17| 8am-2pm

      The Holland Farmers Market is located at the Eighth Street Market Place in Downtown Holland and is home to nearly 100 vendors throughout the season. Local farmers offer freshly-picked fruits and vegetables of every variety, beautiful bouquets of flowers and plants for home and garden. A wide variety of baked goods (including breads, pies and cookies), all natural honey and maple syrup and farm fresh cheese, eggs, and meats are also available, in addition to sweet treats, gourmet specialty foods and much, much more! The Holland Farmers Market is a producers Market, which means that all products sold at the Market are locally grown or made right here in Michigan.

      The Holland Market is open year-round! The 2022 regular season will be held from May 18 through October 29, with the Market open every Wednesday and Saturday from  from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm, rain or shine. The Market is open for holiday hours from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm every Wednesday and Saturday from November 2 through November 30 and from 9:00 am -1:00 pm Saturdays only through December 17. An Indoor Winter Market is then held from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm the first and third Saturdays from January – April.

      A food court, featuring a variety of delicious breakfast and lunch options, is also available at the Holland Farmers Market. Free parking is available onsite and in nearby public parking lots and decks. An ATM is located onsite as well. Dogs are not allowed at the Market, so please be sure to leave your pets at home. For additional information, visit www.hollandfarmersmarket.com or call 616.355.1138.

      May
      16

      Critter Barn

      Critter Barn

      9275 Adams St
      Zeeland, MI 49464
      Phone: 616-748-1110
      The Critter Barn is a delightful place to meet bunnies, ducklings, chicks, calves, hogs, goats, donkeys, cats, and sheep. Milk a goat or bottle-feed a kid. Collect eggs in the chicken coop. Visit the kitty corral. Plant seeds in our idea garden. Cuddle and pet baby animals. Learn about wool. Feed the critters. Enjoy and relax at a real farm. Click on the link to the Critter Barn website to learn about public open hours, school tours, prices, and more!
      Open six days a week, year-round, this active farm provides an unforgettable hands-on learning experience for the whole family.  The Critter Barn strives to educate with its teachings and demonstrations on animal care, agriculture, and even instructional education on how local farmers grow our food! Bottle feed a calf or kid, milk a goat, play with the kittens in the kitty corral, hug a bunny, and even find eggs from the hens! With a heated barn, the Critter Barn is a favorite year-round destination!
      May
      16

      Here's How You Can Get Ready For Your Home's Appraisal

      The home appraisal is a crucial step in the process of selling a home. Here's how you can prepare for it.

      Planning to sell your property or refinance your mortgage this year? Our real estate agents usually recommend an appraisal as a good first step. Knowing your home's true value can ultimately help you land more money when you sell (though keep in mind, that the buyer's lender will likely require their own appraisal). An appraisal is also required if you're planning to refinance.

      While the home appraisal process is actually fairly simple, it is in every homeowner's best interest to do everything possible to maximize the appraised value. Spending time on home improvement projects can help you realize a higher return. Here are some simple ways you can prepare for your appraisal.

      • Do Your Own Inspection
        Starting with your own home inspection is the best way to uncover problems and fix them before the appraisal. Do a thorough walkthrough and examine everything. Look for any leaks, signs of roof damage, cracked flooring, missing siding, or anything that might make an appraiser pause. As a general rule, minor damage or dated elements usually take a $500 hit on the appraisal, so fix what you can.

      • Make Your Home Shine
        Prior to listing a home (and the appraisal), make sure to clean like you have never cleaned before! This includes both the interior and the exterior. Go through each room and declutter, shampoo your carpets, and clean your windows and baseboards. You may even want to consider hiring professional cleaners. On your exterior, power wash your siding and remove any debris from your yard. If you need some cleaning inspiration, check out these spotless Holland homes for sale.

      • Upgrade Your Appliances
        If you have dated appliances, upgrading to new stainless-steel models can make a great impression on appraisers and buyers, which can result in a higher home value. You'd be surprised how much of a difference a new refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven can make when it comes time to sell.

      • Don't Neglect Your Landscaping
        Your appraiser will spend a good bit of time examining your exterior, so make sure your landscaping is in good shape. Mow the lawn, weed the garden, and trim trees and shrubs. Good landscaping is a great way to make a solid first impression.

      • Highlight Your Upgrades
        During the process, make sure you let your appraiser know about any recent upgrades you've made. This could include roof replacements or repairs, a new furnace or hot water tank, updated siding, or any kitchen or bathroom renovations. You'll want to be sure your effort is reflected in the appraisal.

      • Do Some Local Research
        Your own neighborhood can provide a wealth of information about local home values. Check out the recent sale prices on some similar-sized nearby homes. This can give you a frame of reference when it comes to your own appraisal. Additionally, if there are new local amenities, such as stores, restaurants, or schools, it might be worth telling your appraiser so he or she can factor that into their analysis.

      When it comes to a home appraisal, a little extra work can go a long way towards boosting your property value. If you're planning to list your home on the market this year, contact us today.

      May
      11

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, May 11, 2022

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, May 11, 2022

      Today's mortgage and refinance rates

      Average mortgage rates fell again yesterday, bringing worthwhile gains that were similar to Monday's. You now have to go back to the final days of April to find lower rates.

      Following the publication earlier this morning of April's consumer price index, mortgage rates today look likely to rise. But, of course, these things are never certain.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (May 11th, 2022)

      Current mortgage and refinance rates

      Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
      Conventional 30 year fixed 5.485% 5.511% -0.1% 
      Conventional 15 year fixed 4.672% 4.705% -0.03% 
      Conventional 20 year fixed 5.534% 5.572% -0.09% 
      Conventional 10 year fixed 4.565% 4.639% -0.01% 
      30 year fixed FHA 5.521% 6.294% -0.06% 
      15 year fixed FHA 4.816% 5.103% -0.18% 
      30 year fixed VA 5.222% 5.435% +0.08% 
      15 year fixed VA 4.75% 5.094% Unchanged
      Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

      Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

      Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

      Unfortunately, I'm still not convinced that this week's appreciable falls are a turning point for mortgage rates. And I suspect we'll soon be seeing more rises.

      But not everyone agrees with me. See below for a discussion of that debate.

      Still, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term remain:

      • LOCK if closing in 7 days
      • LOCK if closing in 15 days
      • LOCK if closing in 30 days
      • LOCK if closing in 45 days
      • LOCK if closing in 60 days

        Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

        Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

        • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes inched up to 2.98% from 2.97%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
        • Major stock indexes were mostly higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
        • Oil prices increased to $105.08 from $103.06 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
        • Gold prices fell to $1,850 from $1,859 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
        • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — fell to 24 from 27 out of 100. (Good for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

        *A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

        Caveats about markets and rates

        Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

        So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today might rise. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

        Find your lowest rate. Start here (May 11th, 2022)

        Important notes on today's mortgage rates

        Here are some things you need to know:

        1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
        2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
        3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the broader trend over time
        4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
        5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

        A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

        Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

        Are we finally seeing the start of sustained falls in mortgage rates? Some think we may be.

        A "Before the Bell" e-newsletter yesterday morning from CNN Business said:

        Many Wall Street analysts think bond prices will begin to rise again soon, noting investors likely got too far ahead of the Fed.

        What does that mean? Mortgage rates are determined mainly by a type of bond called a "mortgage-back security" (MBS). And, like every other type of bond, it's a mathematical certainty that higher prices mean lower yields, which, in the case of MBSs, also means lower mortgage rates.

        For the last few months, the MBS market has been trying to anticipate how the Fed's recent and continuing actions to rein in inflation would affect mortgage rates. And those rates have moved higher in advance of Fed announcements as markets priced in what they expected.

        So those Wall Street analysts are suggesting the MBS market's expectations were worse than the reality the Fed unveiled on May 4. That left MBS prices too low (and mortgage rates too high), and we're now witnessing its unwinding.

        That may be correct, even though mortgage rates rose on the two days following the Fed's May 4 announcements. But I'm yet to be convinced we'll see sustained falls for those rates. I suspect upward pressures caused by inflation are too powerful to allow a complete reversal in 2022's upward trend. But I'm hoping to be proved wrong.

        Unfortunately, this morning's consumer price index for April won't have helped those Wall Street analysts' case. The index was a little better than March's but not as good as economists had forecast. And mortgage rates were rising quite sharply first thing today.

        Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

        Recent trends

        Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

        The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

        Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been shooting up since the start of 2022.

        Freddie's May 5 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.27% (with 0.9 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.10%.

        Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.9 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

        Expert mortgage rate forecasts

        Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

        And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

        The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Apr. 19, Freddie's on Apr. 18, and the MBA's on Apr. 13.

        Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
        Fannie Mae 4.6% 4.5%  4.5% 4.5%
        Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
        MBA 4.7% 4.8%  4.8% 4.8%

        Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. I'm afraid I'm less optimistic than any of them.

        Find your lowest rate today

        You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

        "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

        Verify your new rate (May 11th, 2022)

        Mortgage rate methodology

        The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

      May
      4

      Happy Star Wars Day! 6 ways to celebrate May the 4th, from watching movies to building Legos

      Happy Star Wars Day! 6 ways to celebrate May the 4th, from watching movies to building Legos

      Holy Sith, you guys, Star Wars Day is upon us again.

      "May the 4th" is a day for all lovers of Jedi, the Resistance, the Skywalkers, the Hutts, Boba Fett, Baby Yoda, Gamorrean guards, Maz Kanata, General Grievous, Rancor Keeper and Jekk Porkins (RIP) to unite and celebrate all there is in the galaxy far, far away. (Why May 4, you ask? Why, it's right there in the date, a play on "May the Force be with you.")

      This Star Wars Day, fans will likely be in a nostalgic mood – and diving back into the prequels – prepping for the May 27 premiere of Disney+'s "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series, starring Ewan McGregor as the title Jedi master and a returning Hayden Christensen as Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker.

      The franchise has remained beloved to generations since George Lucas' original 1977 "Star Wars," which means a lot of options for various ways to get your "May the 4th" on. Here are some of our favorites:

      Watch the 'Star Wars' movies. Or, more likely, watch them again.

      If you can believe it, there are some people who've never seen "Star Wars." But there's no excuse now that all nine movies in the Skywalker saga – as well as the spinoffs "Rogue One" and "Solo: A Star Wars Story" – are a few clicks away on the Disney+ streaming service

      May
      2

      16 Places Readers Recommend to try a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo

      16 Places Readers Recommend to try a Margarita on Cinco de Mayo

      Great places around Michigan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

      Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican's army victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, during the Franco-Mexican war. Although a quiet holiday in Mexico, here in the United States it's usually a rowdy celebration of Mexican heritage, foods and drinks. MLive readers have some great suggestions of where to visit this Cinco de Mayo.  Always celebrate responsibly, try downloading the Uber app, an easy way to get a ride if you need one.

      Reader suggestions

      Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican's army victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, during the Franco-Mexican war. Although a quiet holiday in Mexico, here in the United States it's usually a rowdy celebration of Mexican heritage, foods and drinks. MLive readers have some great suggestions of where to visit this Cinco de Mayo.  Always celebrate responsibly, try downloading the Uber app, an easy way to get a ride if you need one.

      Skeetown Tavern: Muskegon

      While on the search for Michigan's Best Steakhouse, we were surprised to have a killer Margarita at the Skeetown Tavern in Muskegon. The drink includes fresh lime, Jose Cuervo Silver tequila and other items. On the rocks, of course.

      Lindo Mexico, Grand Rapids

      In a new location this year, Lindo Mexico has one of the best mango margaritas we've ever tried. Why? Because it's a chili mango margarita, sweet plus heat is a winner. Linda will have Mariachi music from 6-8pm, free giveaways, and margarita flights.

      Mi Pueblo, Detroit

      Reader Tommy Z said that Mi Pueblo in Detroit's Mexican Town is "Regular, true lime, on the rocks..not overdone like a lot of places." Sounds perfect. They'll have a margarita happy hour from 2-7pm on Thursday.

      Las Palapas, Livonia

      The drinks at Las Palapas in Livonia are cold, tasty and cheap. Justin, an, MLive reader, said "not only are they good but you get a lot of bang for your buck." This Cinco de Mayo they will also have a kids happy hour from 3:30 to 8:30 featuring carnival games, face painting and balloon animals. A great reason to stop by for dinner.

      Agave Mexican Grill, Traverse City

      Agave Mexican Grill is located in Traverse City, and they have had events going on all week to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. "Super friendly and efficient service. Very consistent and fresh. Great selection of premium tequila" says MLive reader Amy. Both locations will be celebrating all week long with a $9.99 all you can eat taco dinner.

      Isalita, Ann Arbor

      John says "Isalita has very solid margaritas in Ann Arbor." Jessica concurred, as did several other Ann Arbor area readers. Love that it's straight up, and not messing around.

      Michigan on Main, Frankenmuth

      A Margarita in a Bavarian village? Why not? They focus on Michigan ingredients at Michigan on Main. The Michiganrita at the Michigan on Main Bar in Grill in Frankenmuth, recommended by reader BRFamily2, features New Holland Brewing Hopquila in it. Specials on Thursday include a grilled chicken quesadilla (one of their most popular appetizers), and a tostada salad.

      Frita Batidos, Ann Arbor

      A margarita served in a fishbowl? Si, por favor at Frita Batidos. A Cuban inspired restaurant, they don't have a special party planned for Cinco, just their usual great food and drinks.

      Luna, Grand Rapids

      Featuring fresh squeezed citrus, Luna GR makes a classic, traditional margarita, as well as the Mexican favorite the Paloma. Luna goes through over 15 cases of limes every week making their margaritas, and have over 30 different premium tequilas to choose from. On Cinco de Mayo, all Margaritas will be $2 off.

      Red Mesa Grill, Traverse City

      The "biggest Cinco de Mayo party in the North" features special edible gastronomy Margaritas and sparkling Palomas from Red Mesa Grill in Traverse City. Live music will make for a hopping party.

      Beltline Bar, Grand Rapids

      Beltline Bar in Grand Rapids makes their signature Margarita with 3 ounces of liquor, a salted glass and a lime wedge. For Cinco de Mayo, you can join them for $5 Jimador margaritas. Live music starts at 8. And, of course, you can have one of West Michigan's favorite wet burritos.

      Jose's Cantina, St. Ignace

      Jose's Cantina is a great stop any time, with a beautiful lakeside setting overlooking the Straights of Mackinac. They have their signature Margarita, the Traverse City Cherry, pictured here. This Cinco de Mayo, the party starts at 7pm with taco and appetizer specials. We recommend the fish tacos, as well as the super spicy mango habanero chicken tacos.

      Coco Loco, Bay City and Saginaw

      MLive reader Jessica said that Coco Loco had a good Margarita, plus two locations, in both Bay City and Saginaw. They also have events throughout the weekend, including bottomless Mimosas for Mom on Mother's Day, Sunday May 8th.

      Mexican Gardens, Southgate

      Located Downriver, near Detroit, Mexican Gardens, has live music all day on Thursday, as well as a piñata, clowns, and face painting for the kids. They'll open their doors at 11am. This long time local favorite also has a great botana.

      Cuatro Amigos, Bay City

      Cuatro Amigos in Bay City was named Michigan's Best Taco in 2014 by John Gonzalez, who said "We found the tacos so fresh, so tasty and so memorable that we would love to spend a whole week there, trying everything on the menu." Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with $4 lime Margaritas and $5 prickly pear ones, plus $2 chicken tacos.

      The Little Fleet, Traverse City

      The Little Fleet will be hosting a Cinco de Mayo party featuring a Margarita bar and pinatas. Reader Dianna loves the tacos from Happy's Taco Shop, and they'll have their truck there on Thursday.  Starts at 3pm. They will also be having a hot pepper eating contest, all ages welcome.

      May
      2

      Celebrate The Tulip Time Festival In Holland

      The Tulip Time Festival is one of West Michigan's biggest attractions. Here's why you should visit the festival this year.

      People travel to The Netherlands from all over the world every spring to see beautiful Holland tulips, but thanks to our Dutch heritage, you can see the same beautiful tulip displays right here in Holland, Michigan. In fact, our city is home to more than 500,000 tulips every spring.

      Tulips are a big part of our history and culture, and we'll be celebrating this wonderful flower at the 2022 Tulip Time Festival, which takes places from May 7 to May 15. This is a great opportunity to see colorful tulip displays, enjoy fun events, and interact with the local community. The event is free and takes place at various locations across downtown Holland.

      Our real estate agents are very much looking forward to this year's celebration. If you're planning to head on out to the festival this year, here are some fun activities you won't want to miss:

      • Explore The Tulip Immersion Garden
        A walk through the Tulip Immersion Garden provides an amazing visual experience at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. Lose yourself among 50,000 vibrant tulips of multiple colors while reading all about the history of this beautiful spring flower.  It's a great chance to snap some Instagram-worthy pictures. Tickets for this event range from $15 to $20 for adults, $5 for children between 5 and 12, and the event is free for kids under 5.

      • Shop At The Artisan Market
        You never know what creative local gifts you'll find at the Artisan Market. With loads of handcrafted, original paintings, pottery, glass, and other unique art, it's a great place to find some new home decor. This shopping event takes place May 8 from 10 am to 5 pm and May 8th from 12 pm to 5 pm.

      • Take A Walking Tour Of Holland
        Join a 1.5-hour walking tour of beautiful Holland. You'll not only see some awesome tulip displays, but you'll also have the chance to learn all about the rich cultural history of our city. It's also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. Tours are just $35 per person. While you're out walking, you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of these Holland homes for sale.

      • Sip Some Of Holland's Best Craft Beverages
        One of the best ways to get to know Holland's local bars and wineries is with the Klomp On Passport. During the Tulip Time Festival, you can use this free passport to sample drinks from various downtown Holland locations. Each location will even give you a stamp for your passport.

      • Buy Your Own Tulips
        It's natural to want to bring Holland's beautiful tulips to your own backyard, and you can do just that with the Pre-festival Tulip Sale. The Tulip Pot Sale is a fundraiser for local events — you can buy a 10-inch pot (10 bulbs) for $15. The sale starts on May 15.

      • Tour The Tall Ship Friends Good Will
        Jump onboard this 1810 replica Great Lakes sloop and take a step back into Dutch Maritime history. The boat docks on the North wall near Boatwerks Restaurant on May 7 and tours run daily from 10 am to 4 pm.

      The Holland Tulip Time Festival attracts visitors from all over the country, brings neighbors together, and also helps to support local businesses. For more information on living in Holland, contact us today. 

      April
      27

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, April 27, 2022

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, April 27, 2022

      Today's mortgage and refinance rates

      Average mortgage rates fell again yesterday, though by a much smaller amount than on Monday. And they're now very close to where they were last Wednesday.

      So far this morning, mortgage rates today look likely to be unchanged or barely changed. But, amid such volatility, they could later take off in one direction or the other.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (Apr 27th, 2022)

      Current mortgage and refinance rates

      Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
      Conventional 30 year fixed 5.306% 5.329% -0.03% 
      Conventional 15 year fixed 4.56% 4.606% +0.02% 
      Conventional 20 year fixed 5.24% 5.279% -0.08% 
      Conventional 10 year fixed 4.396% 4.454% +0.08% 
      30 year fixed FHA 5.375% 6.164% +0.09% 
      15 year fixed FHA 4.682% 4.969% Unchanged
      30 year fixed VA 5.089% 5.305% -0.04% 
      Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

      Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

      Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer-term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

      It's much too soon to get excited about this week's falls. We've seen much bigger two-day drops just this month. And they were quickly wiped out by even larger rises.

      Still, there does seem to be a new sentiment in markets — namely, fear of a recession — that could conceivably cause mortgage rates to increase more slowly or even dip a little.

      But I very much doubt we'll see sustained and worthwhile falls anytime soon. We'll have to wait and see to be sure.

      In the meantime, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term remain:

      • LOCK if closing in 7 days
      • LOCK if closing in 15 days
      • LOCK if closing in 30 days
      • LOCK if closing in 45 days
      • LOCK if closing in 60 days

        Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

        Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

        • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose to 2.78% from 2.74%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
        • Major stock indexes were higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
        • Oil prices were down to $99.88 from $100.10 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
        • Gold prices fell to $1,892 from $1,911 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it is better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
        • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — fell to 31 from 37 out of 100. (Good for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

        *A movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

        Caveats about markets and rates

        Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

        So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today might hardly move. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

        Find your lowest rate. Start here (Apr 27th, 2022)

        Important notes on today's mortgage rates

        Here are some things you need to know:

        1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
        2. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
        3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
        4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
        5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

        A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

        Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

        Apologies for the late publication yesterday of this daily report. We had a technical glitch.

        You can read that report now if you'd like to catch up with my analysis of what's changed in markets.

        But, briefly, I suggested that Wall Street has finally noticed all the economically harmful things happening in the world. Those include:

        1. The Federal Reserve's throwing into reverse of its pandemic-era stimulus programs
        2. Russia's war in Ukraine
        3. China's continuing COVID-19 mass-lockdowns
        4. Hot inflation at home and across the world
        5. Continuing supply-chain disruptions

        Yes, I thought the same that you're thinking: "Hang on! All those have been going on for months. Why notice them now?"

        My only explanation is that markets have powerful herd instincts. And when some influential herd members are spooked and bolt, everyone else joins the stampede.

        Uncertain future

        Any actual recession could be months or years ahead. But fear of it is enough to drive markets. It's the same phenomenon that saw mortgage rates rise quickly this year due to fear of the Fed's plans to reverse its stimulus programs — before those plans are implemented or even fully unveiled.

        That fear of a recession might exert downward pressure on mortgage rates. But the Fed is highly likely to push forward with its plans, which are intended to counter inflation. And those should exert upward pressure on those rates.

        Looming data

        Tomorrow brings the publication of the first reading of gross domestic product (GDP) figures for the first quarter of this year. And economists are expecting a sharp slowdown.

        Those polled by MarketWatch expect annualized growth of 1.0%, compared to 6.9% in the previous quarter. If the actual numbers are as bad as (or worse than) expected, that would reinforce Wall Street's fears of a recession. And we might see mortgage rates fall further.

        But, on Friday, we'll get another report: the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index. And that's the Fed's favorite measure of inflation. If that remains stubbornly high, the Fed could act more aggressively to rein in inflation. And that should push mortgage rates higher.

        Ho, hum. I wish I could be more helpful over what's going to happen soon. But I can't. And I doubt anyone else can.

        Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

        Recent trends

        Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

        The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

        Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, the rises have grown more pronounced since last September.

        Freddie's Apr. 21 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.11% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5%.

        Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

        Expert mortgage rate forecasts

        Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

        And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

        The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Apr. 19, Freddie's on Apr. 18, and the MBA's on Apr. 13.

        Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
        Fannie Mae 4.6% 4.5%  4.5% 4.5%
        Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
        MBA 4.7% 4.8%  4.8% 4.8%

        Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. I'm afraid I'm less optimistic than any of them.

        Find your lowest rate today

        You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

        "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

        Verify your new rate (Apr 27th, 2022)

        Mortgage rate methodology

        The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

      April
      22

      World Earth Day 2022: Make world a happier, healthier place to live

      World Earth Day 2022: Make world a happier, healthier place to live

      Each year on April 22, the world celebrates Earth Day to create awareness about the vital need to protect our planet from pollution by taking part in activities like planting trees or picking litter.

      Each year on April 22, the world celebrates  to create awareness about the vital need to protect our planet from pollution. By taking part in activities like picking up litter and planting trees, we can make our need to protect our planet from pollution.

      What was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, as a day of environment preservation in the US has now become a global day to promote a large-scale push for clean habitats around the world.

      This was first started when peace activist John Mc Connell proposed to honour the planet and the concept of peace during a UNESCO conference in San Francisco.

       continues to grow as a worldwide event focused on promoting clean living and a healthy, sustainable habitat for all living beings. The day also reminds us how fragile our planet is and how it is important to save it from the global climate crisis that is worsening with each passing day.

      The theme of  2022 is to 'Invest in our planet', urging businesses to shift towards sustainable practices.

      As per Earth Day Organization, "We need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It's going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens -- everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet."

      On the occasion of Earth Day 2022, American tech giant Google also dedicated the artwork through its Doodle to raise awareness about climate change.

      The artwork showcases real time-lapse imagery from Google Earth Timelapse and other sources to showcase the impact of climate change across different regions.

      April
      20

      Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

      Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

      Being a first-time home buyer is exciting! But I know it can also feel overwhelming—especially when you see homes being purchased at a median of nearly $350,000 and available homes flying off the market in just over two weeks.1

      With real estate trends like those, you might be tempted to make an impulsive purchase that could hurt your financial goals and keep you paying a mortgage well into retirement.

      No one wants that! Trust me, you guys, it's worth buying your first home the right way. And that means buying a home that you love and that doesn't hurt your future money goals.

      You may be thinking, Yeah, that would be great, Rachel. But where do I even start?

      I'm so glad you asked! I've put together 10 tips for first-time home buyers as they tackle the home-buying process. Put these into practice today so your first home is a blessing, not a burden.

      10 First-Time Home Buyer Tips

      1. Pay Off All Debt and Build an Emergency Fund
      2. Use the 25% Rule to Know How Much House You Can Afford
      3. Save a 10–20% Down Payment
      4. Don't Forget to Save for Closing Costs
      5. Get Preapproved for a Loan Before House Hunting
      6. Find a Home for Sale in Your Price Range
      7. Research Neighborhoods for Best Fit
      8. Think Long Term
      9. Make a Competitive Offer (That's Within Your Budget!)
      10. Be Prepared for Closing

      1. Pay Off All Debt and Build an Emergency Fund

      It may not be the first-time home-buying tip you were expecting, but it is hands down the most important. Why? Because owning a home is expensive—much more expensive than renting, even if your monthly house payment will be similar to or cheaper than your current rent amount. When you own a home, you're responsible for everything. All the maintenance. All the mishaps. All the upkeep. And that can add up fast! Before you even think about buying your first home, make sure you're debt-free and have an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses in place.

      Buying a home debt-free (besides the mortgage) with a nice big emergency fund protects you from huge financial setbacks when things go wrong. And trust me, things will go wrong. But because your money won't be tied up in payments and boatloads of interest, you'll have the cash to pay for any expenses that suddenly come your way. Talk about peace of mind.

      Now, once you're debt-free, I want you to stay debt-free. So, as you're shopping for your first home and getting excited about decorating and filling it with new furniture, make these four words your mantra: Stick to the budget.

      The spender in me knows that's easier said than done. Especially if that means you might have some empty rooms for a little while. But your future self will thank you! And if you find yourself thinking, Oh well, I'll just put it on credit—stop right there! You want the good money habits you learned while getting out of debt to stick, which means you've got to stop repeating bad ones.

      2. Use the 25% Rule to Know How Much House You Can Afford

      Before you get emotionally attached to a beautiful house, check your monthly budget to determine how much house you can afford. Make sure your monthly housing costs (including HOA fees, taxes, insurance, etc.) are going to be no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay.

      For example, let's say you bring home $6,600 a month. Multiply that by 25% to establish your maximum monthly house payment of $1,650. But don't forget that property taxes and homeowners insurance factor into that monthly payment. So, based on a 15-year mortgage with a 4% fixed interest rate, a 1.14% property tax rate and a homeowners insurance policy that costs $1,200 per year, here are the home options you can afford:

      • $195,000 home with a 10% down payment ($19,500)
      • $225,000 home with a 20% down payment ($45,000)
      • $253,000 home with a 30% down payment ($75,900)
      • $288,00 home with a 40% down payment ($115,200)

      Remember, these are just estimates. Use our mortgage calculator to try other combinations and find the right mortgage amount, interest rate and down payment for your budget. And since property tax rates and the cost of homeowners insurance vary, check with your real estate agent and insurance company for estimates to calculate how much house you can afford.

      3. Save a 10–20% Down Payment

      If saving up to pay cash for the total price of a house isn't reasonable for buying your first home, at least save for a down payment of 10–20% or more. A 20% down payment gets you out of paying for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the mortgage company in case you can't make your payments and end up in foreclosure. PMI usually costs 1% of the total loan amount, and you'll be charged that 1% every year. So it can really add a lot to your monthly mortgage payment.

      The Worst Mortgages for First-Time Home Buyers

      If a 20% down payment seems out of reach, first-time home buyer programs that offer single-digit down payments may sound tempting. But don't use them! These options will cost you more in the long run. And remember—if it seems like a deal for you now, it's because it's an even better deal for your lender in the end.

      Here are some low-to-no down payment mortgage options to avoid:

      • Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs): ARMs might seem great with a low initial interest rate, but they allow lenders to adjust the rate to transfer the risk of rising interest rates (and monthly payments) to you.
      • FHA Loans: You may be able to get an FHA mortgage with as little as 3.5% down, but you have to pay a mortgage insurance premium (similar to PMI) for the life of the loan. That's thousands of dollars that won't go toward paying off your mortgage.
      • VA Loans: VA loans allow veterans to buy a home with no down payment. But if the real estate market shifts, you could easily owe more than the market value of your home. These loans also carry a bunch of fees and usually charge interest rates that are higher than those for conventional loans.

      The Best Mortgage for First-Time Home Buyers

      I only recommend a 15-year, fixed-rate conventional mortgage with a 10–20% down payment. Here are the reasons why:

      • A 15-year term does create a higher monthly payment, but you'll pay off your mortgage in half the time. That means in 15 years, you completely own your home and can put what you'd spend on the next 15 years of house payments toward building wealth and giving. Not to mention, a 15-year term lets you have a lower interest rate and save tens of thousands of dollars in interest.
      • A fixed-rate conventional loan keeps your interest rate the same for the life of the loan, which protects you from the increasing expenses of rising rates.

      How a 30-Year Mortgage Compares

      If you're considering a 30-year mortgage for your first home because of the lower monthly payment, please, don't do it. When you look at the math on a 15-year versus a 30-year, you'll realize you pay a whole lot more money on a 30-year mortgage in the long run. Like tens of thousands of dollars more.

      Look at it like this: Let's say you want to buy a $225,000 house with a 20% down payment. That means you need a mortgage for $180,000. Here's how the cost differences break down between your 15-year and the 30-year mortgage options.

      15-Year at 4%

      Vs.

      30-Year at 4.5%

      180

      Number of Payments

      360

      $1,608

      Monthly Payment

      $1,189

      $59,658

      Total Interest Paid

      $148,334

      $239,658

      Total Amount Paid

      $328,334

       

      Now, that's $88,676 in savings with a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage—not to mention you'll be payment-free 15 years sooner. I mean, nearly $90,000 in savings—hello!

      4. Don't Forget to Save for Closing Costs

      Along with your down payment, you'll also need to pay for closing costs. On average, closing costs are about 3–4% of the purchase price of your home.2 Your lender will give you a specific number so you know exactly what to bring on closing day. These fees pay for important steps in the home-buying process, including:

      • Appraisal
      • Home inspection
      • Credit report
      • Attorney
      • Homeowners insurance

      Let's see how this plays out with our example of a $225,000 home. If you multiply $225,000 by the higher 4% closing cost average, you'll find that you need $9,000 for closing costs. Now, let's add that to your 20% down payment of $45,000. Together, the two equal $54,000, which is about what you'll need to save to pay for the down payment and the closing costs on your first house.

      Tackle saving for your closing costs and down payment with the same amount of intensity I tell people to use when they're getting out of debt and building a full emergency fund to get it done as fast as possible. In fact, it's okay to put retirement savings on hold for a short period of time to save for a home—but you've got to hustle!

      5. Get Preapproved for a Loan Before House Hunting

      Once you're confident you have enough cash saved to pay for closing costs and 10–20% of your home, you're ready to handle the rest by talking to a mortgage lender.

      Get prequalified for a loan and take the extra time to get a preapproval letter before you start your home search. Preapproval shows sellers that you're a serious buyer, which is a great way for first-time home buyers to get ahead in a competitive market.

      To get preapproved, your lender will need to verify your financial information (proof of income, taxes, etc.) and submit your loan for preliminary underwriting. If you live a debt-free lifestyle like I teach, you may need to find a lender who believes in debt-free homeownership and will work with first-time home buyers who have no credit score.

      6. Find a Home for Sale in Your Price Range

      Most first-time home buyers typically find the home they purchased online or through a real estate agent. Doing both sets you up for success!

      Find homes you like online and send them to your real estate agent so they have a good idea of what you're looking for. Then they can use a multiple listing service (MLS) to find homes that meet your criteria in your desired areas.

      An MLS is created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals, and it can really help first-time home buyers like you to view the largest pool of properties for sale in the marketplace. Real estate agents also provide valuable market expertise and can help you find great deals on homes as soon as (or before) they're listed.

      7. Research Neighborhoods for Best Fit

      Be careful not to buy a home based on the property and price alone. According to an NAR survey, home buyers are more willing to compromise on a home's condition (20%) and size (18%) than on the quality of its neighborhood (6%) and distance from a school (2%).3 So make sure you factor neighborhood quality and location into your decision.

      Ask your real estate agent for information on crime rates and the quality of schools around your prospective neighborhoods. Calculate your new commute times to see if they seem manageable. Visit the neighborhood at different times and days to check for traffic conditions and noise levels and to see if people are comfortable being outdoors. Only choose a neighborhood that you and your family feel good about.

      Once you've narrowed down the neighborhoods, attend a few open houses. Looking at homes that are for sale—even if they're not a perfect fit for you—is a great way to learn more about the area. When you do eventually find a house you love, you'll know how your place compares to better or worse homes in that neighborhood.

      8. Think Long Term and Be Patient

      When it comes to buying, a good strategy is to find the most affordable house in the best neighborhood. If you buy at the bottom of the price range in a good neighborhood, you'll have more room to build home value. Future buyers who are shopping in a $200,000 neighborhood won't be looking for a $300,000 home.

      For instance, let's say you find a home that's the only one on the block without wood floors and granite countertops. If you have the cash to make those upgrades, you'll be able to add instant value to your home!

      Make sure to pay attention to home values and economic activity in the area. Are home prices rising or declining? Are businesses booming or closing? You can tell a lot about how valuable a neighborhood is by what's happening in the community. It may take a little longer to find a home that will be a good investment in the long run, but especially for your first home, it is so worth it. 

      9. Make a Competitive Offer (That's Within Your Budget!)

      Let's say you found the home you want and can afford. Since you're already preapproved for a loan, you're ready to make an offer. If you're a first-time home buyer, it may be hard to know how much you should offer. That's when you can rely on the expertise of your real estate agent.

      Ask your agent to help you make sure your offer is competitive but also within your budget and the home's value. Be careful not to make an impulsive offer that's higher than you can afford just to knock out the competition. A personalized letter might help your offer stand out among multiple bids in a hot market.

      10. Be Prepared for Closing

      Once a seller accepts your offer, the closing process will begin. Keep things running smoothly by knowing what to expect when closing on a house. The average closing process takes 53 days, which gives you plenty of time to tackle closing items.4 A real estate agent will schedule the remaining steps from home inspection to final walkthrough, and they'll keep you informed about any roadblocks.

      As you prepare for closing, make sure you read every document and ask your real estate agent to explain anything you don't understand—especially before you sign the official contract for the home transaction. It'll be your signature on the documents, so you'll be the one responsible for anything you sign.

      Ready to Get Started?

      Your first home is a big purchase—maybe even the biggest one you'll have ever made up to this point in your life! Because of that, you don't want to risk messing this up. A real estate professional will take the weight off your shoulders by helping you find a home, negotiate a deal, and see the process through until closing.

      Need help finding an expert you can trust with such an important purchase? Check out our RamseyTrusted Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. We only recommend real estate agents who close at least 35 home transactions per year or close more home transactions than 90% of the agents in their market. Not to mention our agents must maintain excellent levels of customer service and are personally coached by our Ramsey team.

      Trust me, these pros are the best! Find an agent now!

      April
      15

      Windmill Island Gardens

      1 Lincoln Avenue
      Holland, MI 49423
      Phone: 616-355-1030

      A palette of color awaits you as you wind along the entrance to Holland's treasured island. Tour five stories of the DeZwaan windmill, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States. From the top, you can survey 36 acres of manicured gardens, dikes, and canals. Costumed guides, an Amsterdam street organ, a hand-painted Dutch carousel, a beautiful children's garden and playground for families, and gift shops will complete your visit. Windmill Island Gardens can also accommodate groups up to 40 in our Posthouse Gathering Room (evenings only) as well as larger events in our Celebration Pavilion (available anytime.) The windmill and our beautiful gardens make for a unique backdrop to your meeting or event. Open seasonally, Mid-April to mid-October; see Windmill Island Garden's website for exact dates for this year.

      • Pet-Friendly
      • Public Restrooms
      Take a few hours to walk 36 acres of the beautifully manicured grounds of Holland's own treasured Island! Explore the gardens, dikes and canals, take a ride on a hand-painted Dutch carousel, enjoy the music from an antique Amsterdam street organ, and shop for Dutch souvenirs in the Dutch village themed gift store. Spend the afternoon and tour the 250-year-old DeZwaan Windmill, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States!
      April
      11

      National Pet Day

      NATIONAL PET DAY

      National Pet Day on April 11th dedicates the day to those pets who may not always get the companionship and attention pets deserve. While loving our pets is something we do every day, the observance encourages helping out orphaned pet companions. It will improve their health and enhance their opportunities for adoption.

      Sometimes their human companions aren't well.  Making sure their forever furry friends are receiving the best of care will help relieve stress and worry.

      National Pet Day is an excellent time to do a few checks for your pets.

      • Go through your furever family member's toys. Throw away any items that are no longer safe.
      • Maintain your pet-friendly home. Keep cords and toxins secure from your four-legged friends. This includes phone chargers.
      • Verify when vaccinations are due and schedule an appointment to update if they are due.
      • Check collars to ensure tags are secure and numbers are current. We sometimes forget to update this information when we move or change numbers.

        HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalPetDay

        • Take supplies to those pets in shelters.
        • Help a friend with pets who is recovering from an illness.  
        • Adopt a pet.
        • Give your pets extra love with a bath and rub down.
        • Use #NationalPetDay on social media.

        NATIONAL PET DAY HISTORY

        Celebrity Pet Lifestyle Expert & Animal Welfare Advocate Colleen Paige founded the day in 2005.

        Pets FAQ

        Q. What are some of the responsibilities that come with having a pet?
        A. Pet owners know that some pets require more attention than others. However, each pet deserves to be given proper care and attention. Some requirements of pet ownership include:

        • Feeding pets according to their needs. Most pets (like dogs and cats) usually need to be fed twice a day. Other pets may require more or less frequent feeding.
        • Access to freshwater.
        • A safe place to rest.
        • Daily exercise.
        • Routine checkups, vaccinations, and medical care when sick.
        • Love, affection, social interaction.
        • Training.
        • Grooming

        Q. Is National Pet Day just for cats and dogs?
        A. No. All our loveable pets can be celebrated on National Pet Day!

      April
      4

      The Best Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

      Buying a home for the first time can require quite the learning curve. Here are some tips to help you hit the ground running.

      The state of the real estate market over the last two years has created numerous challenges for first-time homebuyers. With rising home prices, low inventory, and now rising interest rates shoppers are facing unprecedented challenges. 

      Our real estate agents believe navigating the complexities of the current market is not impossible; however, to be successful, you need to start planning ahead of time. With some preparation, patience, and a good real estate agent, you can still easily land the home of your dreams. Here are our best tips for first-time homebuyers:

      1. Save, Save, And Save
        First-time homebuyers are often caught off guard by the various expenses associated with closing on a home. The first and most important is the down payment. Depending on your type of home loan, you may be required to put down anywhere from 3.5% to 20%. The more you put down, the more home equity you'll earn and the lower your monthly payments. 

        Buyers are also on the hook for closing costs, including various mortgage fees and tile fees and usually add up to another 3% to 6% of the purchase price. You may also be required to pre-pay insurance premiums, interest, or property taxes.

        Don't forget to also save for unexpected home maintenance costs. 

        Bottom line — you're going to need to start saving as early as you can.

      2. Check Your Credit
        Your credit score plays a huge role in your ability to secure a mortgage, and it also influences the mortgage rate you're eligible to receive. You can request your credit score from one of the three large Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian, or there are various apps and services that provide free credit scores. You want to make sure your credit score is in good shape before starting house hunting.

      3. Get Preapproved
        A preapproval letter from a lender signals to sellers that you're serious about home shopping and your lender has done a high-level assessment has been done on your financial situation. Preapprovals often require you to provide W2s, paystubs, and bank statements. Your lender will also look at your credit report. If everything checks out, they'll issue a letter stating you'll be pre-approved up to a certain amount. Once you obtain your letter, you can then begin touring some of these amazing Grand Haven homes for sale.

      4. Define Your Location
        Location is always one of the very most important factors to consider. Make sure to pay attention to the neighborhood. What are the average home prices? Is it walkable? How is the school district? Remember that the quality of your neighborhood and your location will be very important when it comes to resale value. If you're trying to find the right location, don't forget to check out some of these Hudsonville homes for sale.

      5. Don't Forget The Inspection Contingency
        As a first-time homebuyer, your home inspection contingency is an important protection. It gives you the ability to walk away from a deal or renegotiate without losing your earnest money if the home inspection uncovers something unfavorable.

        Remember, you can't possibly uncover every issue with a home during a quick tour. The home inspection gives you the opportunity to do a thorough visual examination of the property with a professional. While some buyers waive the home inspection contingency to sweeten the offer, this generally isn't recommended for first-time homebuyers.

      Buying your first home can be a stressful process, but by doing your research and finding the right agent, the process can be a lot easier. Contact us today for more tips!

      April
      1

      April Fools' Day

      April Fools' Day

      April Fools' Day on April 1 is a day where many of us unleash our most creative sides, all in a hilarious – sometimes over the top – attempt at bamboozling those around us.

      Why do we do this, and where did it start? Well there surprisingly isn't a concrete conclusion by historians. We'll explore the possibilities below, but nevertheless, every spring we all put on our pranking caps to plan out the most devious and diabolical, yet safe and playful pranks we can think of, making this 24 hours possibly the most fun, exciting, and anxiety-filled day of the year!

      WHEN IS APRIL FOOLS' DAY 2022?

      April Fools' Day is celebrated every year on April 1. The day is all about being neutral and serious about everything, and… HA! APRIL FOOLS!

      HISTORY OF APRIL FOOLS' DAY

      Today, pranking on April Fools' Day has transcended the confinements of the first day of April to become a year-round internet phenomenon. Thousands of videos on the most popular internet sites emerge everyday, pushing the pranking limit to sometimes dangerous territories. We do NOT condone this and below we'll illustrate how to allow this holiday to remain true to what it was meant to be – safe, and well, hilarious! 

      There's no consensus on how it all began, but a popular theory is that while nowadays, January 1 is when we start the new year, this wasn't the case before 1592. We used a calendar called the Julian calendar – created by Julius Caesar in 45 BC – which saw every new year begin on April 1! Crazy, we know. 

      Pope Gregory the 8th created a new method for keeping track of days, which was the start of the calendar we all know and love – the Gregorian calendar. When he moved the date of New Year's Eve it obviously took some time for everyone to catch on to it. Those who were a bit behind the times still celebrated on April 1, and were considered fools for doing so. 

      One lesser known, often argued explanation for our beloved prank day is buried in a 1392 book called "The Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer. One line in this publication simply references "March 32", and the debate to its meaning was born. Without much context and being dated so far back, the interpretation remains a mystery. Some believe it to be a joke, dawning this annual tradition, while some say it's none other than a misprint. 

      Whether we have Gregory the 8th or Geoffrey Chaucer to thank for April Fools' Day, it has existed for centuries and will continue to cause a flurry of creativity and excitement in the first few weeks of spring.

      APRIL FOOLS' DAY TIMELINE

      1392
      The Canterbury Tales

      Geoffrey Chaucer writes the line "March 32" in his book, potentially birthing April Fools' Day.

      1500s
      France sets the stage

      The French adopt January 1 as the first day of the year.

      1592
      Caesar vs. Pope Greg VIII

      Gregorian calendar is introduced to replace the Julian calendar, changing the first day of the new year from April 1 to January 1.

      1700s
      UK joins the party

      April Fools' Day begins to sweep across the UK.

      March
      28

      The 10 Best Sports Bars in Michigan!

      The 10 Best Sports Bars in Michigan!

      Sports bars are the perfect place to unwind after a long week and watch the big game with friends. Michigan's best sports bars provide an atmosphere comparable to that of a live event. So if you're looking for a great spot to snack on some wings, drink with friends, and watch your team go for the win, check out our favorite sports bars in Michigan! 

      1. Jamboozies Sports Bar and Grill, Sterling Heights, MI

      Featuring a wide array of food and drink—pretzel pizza with the beer cheese dip comes up frequently—and a 107-inch television backed up by 13 smaller screens to show all the gaming, Jamboozies delivers on the watching and eating. It will even round out the experience with trivia nights, karaoke, and theme events just to round it out.

      2. Andrews on the Corner, Detroit, MI

      It's not just the "million 60-inch plasmas" that get people coming in here-though there's no shortage of screens showing games. It's the frequent appearance of actual sports figures from broadcasters to coaches, and even former players, that pop in for a bite and a relaxing evening of sport.

      3. Monelli's Italian Grill and Sports Bar, Portage and Wyoming, MI

      The watchword of the day at Monelli's Italian Grill and Sports Bar is "versatility." Whether at the Portage or Wyoming location, Monelli's is not just a sports bar with plenty of screens—including a nice projector at the Portage location—but it's also a fully functional Italian restaurant. Pizza, pasta, burgers...all the best in sports bar and Italian food are right here to go with your sports viewing. Throw in a substantial array of live tap beers—including beer flights—and you'll have an evening on your hands.

      4. Steel Cat Bar, Grand Rapids, MI

      Regarded as one of the best sports bars in Grand Rapids, the Steel Cat Bar focuses on its delivery. Featuring the first Frost Rail system Michigan has ever seen—and at last report, the only such item—a cold drink is top priority for the Steel Cat. It also boasts a Chillrite 32 tap system that serves up draft beer at exactly 32 degrees. That's amazing enough—any colder and it'd be solid—but throw in a wide array of draft options and plenty of live events and Steel Cat will deliver in a big way.

      5. Big-E Bar and Grill, Holland, MI

      Head to Holland for the Big-E, billed as the "only true sports grill" in downtown Holland. Featuring a staggering array of televisions for game watching, a few playable games—including a claw game—for good measure, and a dizzying array of food choices, it's all about big at Big-E. Throw in such spectacles as over 80 taps of beer and a "video wall" measuring nine feet in height and Big-E will deliver big...in a big way.

      6. Booyah's Bar and Grill, Muskegon, MI

      Muskegon sports fans have a friend in Booyah's, a sports bar that focuses on the food first. Featuring an array of dishes from burgers and wings to ribs and perch, Booyah's is out to fill up its sports fans just as much as—potentially even more than—entertain them. Naturally, the array of flat screens showing the games off won't disappoint sports buffs, but the sheer variety of dishes on hand here will make Booyah's the match of most any restaurant around.

      7. Nuthouse Sports Grill, Lansing, MI

      Michigan's capital, Lansing, plays host to Nuthouse Sports Grill, a sports bar that pushes value. Featuring regular daily specials—Tuesday, for example, features dollar-off drafts and half-off wings—alongside the normal lineup of exciting food and beverage options, the Nuthouse seeks to deliver a value that few can match. From pizza to grinders to even salads, there will almost certainly be something new at the Nuthouse every time you go in.

      8. State Street Grille, Traverse City, MI

      Leave it to Traverse City to offer up a top-notch sports bar in the State Street Grille. It's a local haven in many senses, offering an array of beers including plenty of Bells, New Holland and Petoskey as well as spirits from the Valentine Distillery and Traverse City Distillery. You'll also be able to get in on what amounts to the Monte Cristo pickle, a dill pickle wrapped in ham and Swiss cheese, then deep fried in a wonton shell. After that, the sports will almost be an afterthought.

      9. Merl's Tavern, Saginaw, MI

      One of the most recent additions to the sports bar space in Michigan, Carrolton Township's Merl's Tavern offers an array of choices in food and drink as well as special events. For Cinco de Mayo, Merl's brought out the Cinco de Merl combo dinner featuring beans and rice and a taco, along with $3 margaritas. Add in Team Trivia functions—always fun—and signature drink the Merlixer, which is a combination of wine and vodka along with a suite of fruit juices, and Merl's Tavern will be a great destination.

      10. The 906 Sports Bar and Grill, Marquette, MI

      Not even the Upper Peninsula has escaped the sports bar fondness the rest of Michigan enjoys, and in Marquette lies one of Michigan's best. The 906 Sports Bar and Grill offers plenty of food and drink options, including a full bar. Throw in pool tables and keno for those who want to play rather than watch, and 13 separate televisions for those who prefer watching, and the whole waterfront is covered. Add in a special "country night" every Friday with live performances, and the 906 will deliver a top-notch value for area residents. Just to round it out, the 906 even boasts a view of the Ore Dock, one of the greatest sights in Marquette.

      March
      23

      Creative strategies to buy a house in 2022

      Creative strategies to buy a house in 2022

      Want to become a homeowner in 2022?

      The 2022 housing market looks a lot like 2021: bidding wars abound, houses are getting snatched up in record time, and demand still outstrips supply.

      How can home buyers succeed despite the obstacles?

      Get creative, say the experts.

      Following the status quo when home shopping and making an offer just won't cut it in today's market.

      Read on for pro tips that can help you score a deal, outmaneuver your rivals, and achieve your homeownership dreams.

      Verify your home buying eligibility. Start here (Mar 23rd, 2022)

      What to know about the 2022 housing market

      Sure, the market is tough. That's no secret. But homes sold at a record pace in 2021 – which means millions of buyers were successful in their quest.

      So how did they do it? What tactics can you use to score a home when competing against many other buyers?

      "If you want to own a home, and believe that homeownership is a strong financial move for you, then you must be prepared to fight for the available inventory," says Glenn Pizzolorusso, a licensed associate real estate broker with Compass in Connecticut. "Winning a multiple offer situation takes creativity today."

      Jay Zigmont, a certified financial planner with Live, Learn, Plan, based in Mississippi, echoes those thoughts.

      "Rising house prices require buyers to be smarter about what, where, and when they buy a home. This may require, for example, looking at smaller homes and different locations or buying with a partner to keep the house affordable," says Zigmont.

      But being inventive and resourceful doesn't mean you have to go it alone.

      Work closely with a trusted real estate agent, or at least a real estate attorney, who can help you devise the right approaches that can help you find and claim the right home. Once you have strong representation lined up, explore each of the following strategies.

      Verify your home buying eligibility. Start here (Mar 23rd, 2022)

      Creative ways to save for the down payment and closing costs

      You don't need 20% down to buy a home. In fact, many buyers can get into a home with as little as 3% or even zero down.

      But saving up for a bigger down payment can help your chances of scoring a home in today's competitive market. Remember that the more money you put down, the stronger your offer appears to a seller and the more motivated they will be to accept.

      If you're having trouble coming up with funds for your down payment and closing costs – or want to boost the savings your already have – try these tips:

      Tighten your financial belt

      The ability to reduce your spending depends on your current income and financial situation, of course.

      But, where possible, experts recommend that you stop eating out, cancel unnecessary subscriptions, shop around for cheaper insurance, choose a less expensive grocery store, and cut out unnecessary spending as much as you can.

      These might feel like sacrifices in the short term, but even small changes can make a big difference in your long–term homeownership goals.

      Look into a down payment assistance program

      There are thousands of down payment assistance (DPA) programs available nationwide and locally that offer grants, loans, and credits to qualified home buyers. To help find DPA programs, check out these links:

      Ask for help from loved ones

      Most mortgage loan programs allow you to cover part or all of your down payment using gifted money from a loved one. Note that the donor will need to write a gift letter to the lender verifying that the funds are a gift, not a loan that needs to be repaid.

      Use a low– or no–money–down loan

      If your primary goal is to buy a home sooner rather than later, your best bet might be a low–down–payment mortgage. By lowering the down payment bar you can often buy much earlier than if you waited to save 20% down.

      Conforming mortgages – the most common type of home loan – have flexible down payment requirements: You could put 3%, 5%, 10%, or 15% down if you don't have the full twenty.

      FHA loans are another great option with just 3.5% down. And qualified buyers should look into the government–backed VA and USDA loan programs, which allow 0% down.

      Compare home loan options. Start here (Mar 23rd, 2022)

      Creative ways to find an affordable home

      "Locating an affordable property in an area you prefer is the single most important box on the list to check," says Pizzolorusso. "My advice? Find the worst house on the best street and take your time improving it into your own oasis."

      Evan Rosenblum, a Realtor with JMG Realty in Los Angeles, has simple advice.

      "Look for homes that you can make perfect, not homes that are perfect right now that everyone else is fighting for," he says.

      Keep in mind that the prices of homes tend to decrease the further you get from a city center or other similar location. So it doesn't hurt to broaden your horizons and widen your map.

      "Look for homes that are technically further away but are a short commute or near public transportation," Zigmont suggests. "You might find considerable savings by adding a bit more to your commute."

      If you work from home, you can get more creative about the location.

      "Living out in a country area further from a city may save you considerably, while you can still visit the city for fun occasions. Just make sure the rural location you choose has sufficient infrastructure, resources, and amenities, including broadband access," notes Zigmont.

      Creative ways to get the seller to accept your offer

      Here's where you'll need to be extra clever and have the right timing.

      "Choose a real estate agent or broker who understands game theory and valuation comparables," says Nik Shah, CEO of San Francisco–based Home.LLC. "A quality real estate agent can be the difference between closing the deal or losing it."

      "Speed and simplicity will help you with your offer. In this market, you can't wait weeks or even days to put in an offer on something you love," Zigmont cautions. "Know your math going in, and then you can make informed decisions when you find the right house."

      For best results, consider these suggestions:

      • Focus only on the homes you truly want to purchase. "Don't put in offers on every home just because you haven't gotten accepted," says Rosenblum. "Tighten up your criteria and be hyper–focused on your search"
      • Use an escalation clause. This clause says that you will offer "X" amount but beat any higher offers that are presented by the amount you specify. "This will allow you to always try and present the highest offer," Rosenblum explains. "Just be sure to put a cap on your escalation to the max price you are willing to pay for the property"
      • Consider waiving key contingencies. "In a competitive market, you might want to rethink how many contingencies you include. Removing your financing contingency, appraisal contingency, and/or inspection contingency could give you a better shot at winning the offer," Shah suggests
      • Request an appraisal waiver from your lender. "If you are putting at least 20% down, see if your lender can confirm that the property will qualify for an appraisal waiver; therefore, you can waive your appraisal contingency," says Rosenblum
      • Ask your lender about tightening your terms. "Can you shorten the length of the escrow period? Can you get the loan pre–underwritten so that you can reduce the timeline for or remove your financing contingency completely?" Rosenblum asks
      • Ask your agent to reach out to the listing agent and establish a stronger relationship. "By developing a rapport, your agent can help you put a face to the name on the offer," recommends Rosenblum
      • Write a love letter to the seller. Explain who you are and why you love this home
      • Explore an all-cash offer. Companies like Ribbon, Knock, and FlyHomes can lend you the money to make an all–cash offer, which should convince the seller to choose you

      Creative alternatives in case you can't find a home you want

      Still no luck finding the right house or cinching a deal? Drastic times call for even more creative measures.

      Buy a fixer–upper on the cheap

      "Find a fixer–upper. You will be able to purchase at below–market prices and improve to above–market prices," says Pizzolorusso. "If you can take an outdated home and bring it into the modern day, you will come out far ahead when it's time to sell."

      To make this strategy easier, there are special loan programs that let you finance the home purchase and repairs with a single mortgage. If you're considering the fixer–upper route, look into:

      Build your home instead of buying

      Alternatively, explore hunting for a parcel of land or infill site and constructing a new home on it.

      The benefit here is that no one else will be bidding against you on your new home. And you can have it built to your exact specifications.

      However, "the problem with this tactic is that building prices are still way too high to make this a wise choice in most markets. You don't want to find yourself upside down on your mortgage upon completion," Pizzolorusso continues.

      Split the cost of buying

      Or, get a partner to come in on the deal with you as a co-borrower or co-signer on the loan, which can come in handy if you're having trouble qualifying for a mortgage loan or you're worried about affording the costs of homeownership.

      "Buying a house with a friend or other person you are not married to is an option, but you need to make sure you have a good lawyer to help on the paperwork," says Zigmont.

      Start your home buying journey

      Are you ready to get serious about buying a home in 2022?

      If so, then it's time to connect with a mortgage lender and get preapproved.

      Every prospective home buyer needs a preapproval to learn how much they can afford, which types of mortgage they qualify for, and how expensive their payments will be. Not to mention, your preapproval letter gives you the clout to make a serious offer on a home you love.

      March
      21

      Boost Your Home's Value With These Fixes

      Your home is usually your largest investment. Here's how you can make sure it holds its value.

      Your house isn't just a place to live, it's also a major investment and vehicle for accumulating wealth. While homes generally appreciate over time if you keep them in good shape, there are also things you can do to help generate an extra return when it comes time to sell. At the end of the day, investing in a more livable home is the best way to boost your sale price.

      Here are some top recommendations from our real estate agents to maximize your home value:

      • Focus On Curb Appeal
        The view of your home from the street is so important when it comes to selling because it's usually front and center in your listing photo. Good curb appeal is critical for garnering online attention, but it's also the first thing buyers see when they pull up to the home. Simple things like painting the front door, installing a new mailbox, and keeping up with lawn care are all great ways to keep your curb appeal top-notch. Some of our favorite Grand Haven homes for sale have stunning curb appeal!

      • Focus On Energy Efficiency
        Green living is an important characteristic for buyers today, so energy-efficient features are a must. You don't have to install solar panels to make your home energy efficient — there are many simple things you can do, including:
        • Install a smart thermostat to optimize heating and cooling costs.
        • Reapply caulking around your windows.
        • Replace incandescent bulbs.
        • Invest in double-pane windows for extra insulation
        • Install ceiling fans in bedrooms and living rooms to minimize cooling costs.

      • Fix-up Your Kitchen and Bathrooms
        If you're planning a remodel or a major renovation, prioritize the kitchen and bathroom over other areas of the house. These are often the two most important rooms when it comes to attracting buyers. Installing new flooring, lighting, sinks, or counters in the kitchen and bathroom are often considered to be some of the best ways to improve home value. Need some inspiration? Check out some of the beautiful kitchens in these Hudsonville homes for sale.

      • Finish The Basement
        An unfinished basement presents an excellent opportunity to unlock additional value in your property. Buyers seek finished basements to serve as game rooms, dens, extra living rooms, or even home offices. Make upgrading unfinished basement space a top priority.

      • Upgrade The Major Appliances
        Buyers don't want to worry about making major replacements or upgrades shortly after moving in. Furnaces and hot water heaters typically last 10 to 15 years, so if yours is reaching the end of its lifespan, it might be worth upgrading prior to listing your home. Convincing buyers they won't need to worry about major fixes for years to come can really help increase the home's appeal.

      • Take Care Of The Roof
        An aging roof comes with an expensive price tag, and this could quickly turn off buyers. You may want to consider a roof replacement prior to listing your home. However, depending on the cost — it can be difficult to recover your entire investment. At a minimum, make sure to take care of any cracked, missing, or warped shingles that may be leading to leaks in the attic.

      When thinking of what repairs and upgrades can drive value, put yourself in the shoes of a buyer. Try to imagine what would make your home more comfortable, liveable, and convenient. Contact us today for more home improvement tips.

      March
      18

      Spring in Holland

      Spring in Holland

      Holland is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, but many travelers love us for visits in the spring. Why? The tulips, of course! Usually blooming April to mid-May, our millions of tulips welcome not only flower-loving visitors from all over the world but also signal Holland's biggest festival: Tulip Time. Springtime in Holland also means many Spring Break activities; the Latin American Festival in May; and the opening of our famous Farmers Market that begins on Saturdays and Wednesdays following the Tulip Time Festival (and continues throughout the summer and fall). Don't miss Holland's Memorial Day Parade and "Remember When" Vintage Car Show and Cruise-in early June. Holland in the spring is blooming with fun for the whole family.

      Below are just some of the places you can enjoy during Spring in the Holland area. Check our events calendar to see what events are happening. 

      March
      16

      Today's Mortgage Rates

      Today's mortgage and refinance rates brought to you by themortgagereports.com

      Average mortgage rates inched higher yesterday. First thing that morning, I'd thought a modest fall looked more likely. But, unfortunately, markets changed direction during the day.

      Mortgage rates today are essentially unpredictable. A crucial report and news conference from the Federal Reserve early this afternoon (ET) could send those rates higher or lower – or leave them much where they are. But be aware that, before those events, mortgage rates were falling modestly this morning.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (Mar 16th, 2022)

      Current mortgage and refinance rates

      Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
      Conventional 30 year fixed 4.483% 4.505% +0.06% 
      Conventional 15 year fixed 3.658% 3.688% +0.01% 
      Conventional 20 year fixed 4.404% 4.435% Unchanged
      Conventional 10 year fixed 3.681% 3.747% +0.06% 
      30 year fixed FHA 4.585% 5.38% +0.06% 
      15 year fixed FHA 3.983% 4.645% +0.08% 
      30 year fixed VA 4.447% 4.654% +0.22% 
      15 year fixed VA 2.503% 2.826% -1.26% 
      Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

      Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

      Don't lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer–term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don't change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

      This afternoon's Fed news conference and report could change everything or nothing for mortgage rates. See below for more analysis. I prefer to take the safer route by locking at such times. But you might choose to gamble on a good outcome. Just be aware of the stakes and risks.

      So, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term remain:

      • LOCK if closing in 7 days
      • LOCK if closing in 15 days
      • LOCK if closing in 30 days
      • LOCK if closing in 45 days
      • LOCK if closing in 60 days

        Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

        Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

        • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes climbed to 2.16% from 2.08%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
        • Major stock indexes were higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
        • Oil prices rose to $97.88 from $96.52 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
        • Gold prices decreased to $1,916 from $1,927 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it is better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
        • CNN Business Fear & Greed index – nudged up to 20 from 17 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

        *A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

        Caveats about markets and rates

        Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

        So use markets only as a rough guide. However, owing to today's unusual circumstances, I'm saying that mortgage rates today are unpredictable.

        Find your lowest rate. Start here (Mar 16th, 2022)

        Important notes on today's mortgage rates

        Here are some things you need to know:

        1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
        2. Only "top–tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
        3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements – though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
        4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
        5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

        A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what will happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

        Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

        The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) concludes its current meeting this morning. And it will issue a report at 2 p.m. (ET) followed by a news conference 30 minutes later. It's hard to overstate how critically important to mortgage rates those might be.

        Few expect any shock announcements, though you can't rule those out. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has already said he expects to unveil today only a 0.25% hike in the federal funds rate. But, as The Wall Street Journal (paywall) suggested yesterday:

        The harder part of Fed officials' deliberations might be agreeing on how to signal the likely path of rate increases in the months to follow. Worsening inflation, already at a 40–year high, could force them to accelerate the process, but they have signaled they are trying to move carefully to avoid triggering a sharp correction in financial markets.

        Mortgage rates and mortgage–backed securities

        More importantly for mortgage rates, Mr. Powell might give more information this afternoon about the FOMC's plans to sell its $2.69 trillion stockpile of mortgage–backed securities. Those MBSs are the type of bond that largely determines mortgage rates.

        The Fed bought many MBSs in order to keep mortgage rates artificially low as part of its pandemic–era economic stimulus program. So selling them, even at a modest pace, is likely to push those rates higher.

        Mr. Powell told Congress earlier this month that he wasn't expecting the Fed's plans for selling MBSs (and other bonds) to be completed in time for publication today. But journalists are bound to ask him about them at the news conference.

        And his answers may well immediately push mortgage rates higher or lower this afternoon. Of course, he may duck such questions, which might see those rates barely move.

        The Fed's not the only thing on today's agenda. For example, retail sales figures for February came out earlier and turned out to be somewhat disappointing. But the FOMC's report and news conference are likely to swamp all other economic news.

        For more background, read the weekend edition of this daily article, published last Saturday.

        Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all–time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

        The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30–year fixed–rate mortgages.

        Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, the rises have grown more pronounced since last September, though not consistently so.

        Freddie's March 10 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.85%% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 3.76%. But that won't have counted most of the sharp rises on that Tuesday and Wednesday.

        Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.

        Expert mortgage rate forecasts

        Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

        And here are their current rate forecasts for the four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).

        The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Feb. 18 and the MBA's on Feb. 25. But Freddie now publishes these forecasts every quarter, most recently on Jan. 21.

        Forecaster Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22
        Fannie Mae 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
        Freddie Mac 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
        MBA 3.8% 4.0%  4.1% 4.3%

        Note that those figures were issued before Russia invaded Ukraine. Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.

        Find your lowest rate today

        You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

        "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

        Show me today's rates (Mar 16th, 2022)

        Mortgage rate methodology

        The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

      March
      14

      Virtue Cider

      Virtue Cider

      Virtue is a craft cider company launched in 2011 in Fennville, Michigan, by Gregory Hall, former brewmaster at Goose Island. Our mission is to make proper farmhouse ciders from local heirloom apples and employ traditional farmhouse production methods that include native and secondary fermentation, use of wild yeasts, and an expansive oak barrel-aging program. Tour our two traditional cider houses to see how we make our ciders. Sample our ciders straight from the source or take home some bottles for yourself from our Bottle Shop. We also have a working farm that includes expansive gardens, heirloom Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, Icelandic sheep, chickens, and more. 2018 WINTER HOURS: Open seven days a week: Wed-Sun, noon to 7 p.m; Monday & Tuesday: 10 am-6 pm Bottle Shop retail sales only (Tap Room closed Monday and Tuesdays.)

      March
      7

      International Women's Day 2022

      International Women's Day 2022 Theme

      The theme of 2022 International Women's Day is "gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow".

      "Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world's poor and are more dependent on the natural resources that climate change threatens the most. At the same time, women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation…This International Women's Day, let's claim "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow"," reads a statement by the United Nations.

      International Women's Day Significance

      International Women's Day is celebrated to recognise the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

      Organisations like colleges and institutions across the world celebrate International Women's Day by holding public speeches, rallies, exhibitions, workshops and seminars on themes and concepts, debates, quiz competitions, and lectures.

      March
      2

      Mortgage and refinance rates today, March 1, 2022

      Today's mortgage and refinance rates

      Average mortgage rates tumbled yesterday. And that wiped out more than two weeks of rises. But, of course, those rates are still significantly higher than they were at the start of the year – or the month.

      And there may be more good news today. Because markets are signaling that mortgage rates today might fall again.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (Mar 2nd, 2022)

      Current mortgage and refinance rates

      Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
      Conventional 30 year fixed 3.954% 3.977% -0.14% 
      Conventional 15 year fixed 3.357% 3.393% -0.14% 
      Conventional 20 year fixed 3.836% 3.872% -0.13% 
      Conventional 10 year fixed 3.27% 3.339% -0.15% 
      30 year fixed FHA 4.147% 4.91% -0.11% 
      15 year fixed FHA 3.597% 4.219% -0.15% 
      30 year fixed VA 4.058% 4.264% -0.12% 
      15 year fixed VA 3.63% 3.98% +0.27% 
      5/1 ARM VA 4.75% 3.9% -0.03% 
      Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

      Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

      On the day I wrote, "It's the Fed, stupid!" markets took me down. True, I predicted a fall yesterday. But I wasn't expecting such a significant one.

      As it turns out, the Federal Reserve was last Friday's focus. And the cumulative economic effect of the international community's sanctions on Russia dominated market movements yesterday. And still is this morning.

      But for how long will that last? I shouldn't be surprised if it were to end soon.

      Read on to discover why I think investors might soon switch their gaze back to their real obsessions, which are inflation and the Federal Reserve's plans to counter it. If and when that switch happens, mortgage rates are likely to rise again.

      Of course, I wouldn't lock a mortgage rate on a day, such as today, when those rates look likely to fall. But, given that I think that might turn out to be a brief period, my personal rate lock recommendations overall remain:

      • LOCK if closing in 7 days
      • LOCK if closing in 15 days
      • LOCK if closing in 30 days
      • LOCK if closing in 45 days
      • LOCK if closing in 60 days

      Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

      Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:

      • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes tumbled to 1.77% from 1.87%. (Very good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
      • Major stock indexes fell, though not as sharply as yesterday, soon after opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
      • Oil prices soared to $101.52 from $94.96 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
      • Gold prices edged up to $1,924 from $1,917 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it is better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
      • CNN Business Fear & Greed index – inched down to 22 from 23 out of 100. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

      *A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

      Caveats about markets and rates

      Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

      So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today might fall. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

      Find your lowest rate. Start here (Mar 2nd, 2022)

      Important notes on today's mortgage rates

      Here are some things you need to know:

      1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
      2. Only "top–tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
      3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements – though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
      4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
      5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

      A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what's going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

      Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

      Russia

      So why do I think markets might soon pay less attention to Russia's economic woes? Because, despite its military power, the country simply isn't important enough to the global economy.

      Russia is "basically a big gas station," in the words of one Harvard economist. And it does supply a chunk of Europe's oil and natural gas. However, with spring imminent, demand for those will fall sharply soon. In the meantime, existing reserves should tide Europe over. And it has several months to find alternative sources.

      But Russia's hardly an economic superpower at the best of times. Indeed, as economist Paul Krugman noted in The New York Times (paywall) yesterday, "Britain and France are medium–size powers; Russia's gross domestic product is only a bit more than half as large as either's."

      "It's still the Fed, stupid!"

      You can see why Russia grabbed markets' attention yesterday and continues to do so today. It's created the biggest geopolitical event in decades by invading a sovereign European nation. And the international community's sanctions are likely to cause lasting damage to Russia's economy.

      But let me remind you of the two Financial Times headlines from Monday I quoted yesterday:

      1. Ukraine war unlikely to deflect Fed from path of interest rate rises – Officials are convinced of the need to tighten policy even as Russia's invasion clouds the economic outlook
      2. Investors brace for flood of mortgage bonds when Fed trims balance sheet – US central bank is set to unwind massive pandemic–era stimulus measures

      For American mortgage rates, those are ultimately likely to have much more impact than some economic dislocation thousands of miles away. Yes, a horrible human tragedy is causing those problems. But, while investors may be shocked personally, they focus on the numbers professionally.

      And the numbers say mortgage rates are likely to move higher soon. So, if I were you, I'd hold off locking my mortgage rate to gain as much from current falls as possible. But I'd be ready to lock as soon as those rates begin to climb again.

      Uncertainty

      Of course, I can't tell the future. And it's still possible that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could push mortgage rates lower.

      The most likely scenario that could cause that is the war forcing oil prices to spike so high that it tips the global economy into recession. That could force the Fed to rethink its planned counter–inflationary measures. And mortgage rates might fall.

      But if oil prices spike without causing a recession, that would fuel higher inflation. And then the Fed would likely have to come up with even more aggressive measures – pushing mortgage rates even higher.

      And then there are all the usual other economic risks that could push mortgage rates lower. Imagine if a new variant of COVID–19 were to emerge that was as infectious as the Omicron variant and as deadly as Delta. Or if the stock market were to crash. Or if Russia were to drag America into a shooting war.

      These and other threats are possibilities. But let's hope they remain improbable.

      For a more detailed look at what's happening to mortgage rates, read the latest weekend edition of this report.

      Recently

      Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all–time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.

      The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30–year fixed–rate mortgages.

      Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since last September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so. So far in 2022, rises have been appreciable and relatively consistent.

      Freddie's Feb. 24 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.89% (with 0.8 fees and points), down from the previous week's 3.92%.

      Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would have been well over 4% that week, which is closer to the rates we and others quote.

      Expert mortgage rate forecasts

      Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

      And here are their current rate forecasts for the four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).

      The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Feb. 18 and the MBA's on Feb. 25. But Freddie now publishes these forecasts every quarter, most recently on Jan. 21.

      Forecaster Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22
      Fannie Mae 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
      Freddie Mac 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
      MBA 3.8% 4.0%  4.1% 4.3%

      Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.

      Find your lowest rate today

      You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

      "Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

      Show me today's rates (Mar 2nd, 2022)

      Mortgage rate methodology

      The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

      February
      25

      14 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time

      14 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time

      1. Focus on the sale potential of your existing home first.

      The Bay Area is a unique housing market because it's so competitive. For sellers, the high demand for housing works in your favor: the sales cycle is relatively fast in the Bay Area compared to other parts of the country. However, market conditions fluctuate here as they do in other locations, so you'll want to be conservative when it comes to estimating how long – or how quickly – it's going to take for your existing home to sell.

      In the Bay Area, where all-cash and preemptive offers are not uncommon, you need to be prepared that your home could sell faster than you expected it to, so you need a plan for where you and your family will live if the new owners want the house right away and you don't have a new home to move into yet.

      At the same time, you want to be prepared for your home to take longer to sell than you might think. The key is understanding the market conditions for your neighborhood, which an experienced real estate professional can help you with.

      Sellers, often, provide a home warranty to buyers to give them peace of mind. These warranties last for one year and help reduce the cost of unexpected repairs from normal wear and tear of appliances and systems. Then, the buyer can renew the home warranty by paying the annual fee.

      Create a list of must-haves, non-negotiables, and like-to-haves.

      Compromising on certain things is inevitable, so it's important to be clear before you begin this process on what things are must-haves, what are non-negotiables, and what are like-to-haves.

      For example, on your home sale, you may need the profits from the sale for a downpayment on your new home. In this case, you'll want to be clear ahead of time on a bottom price that you'll be willing to sell the home for. You may also have a sell-buy date, such as before the new school year starts.

       When it comes to the new home you want to buy, be clear on your needs, such as no remodeling required, in a good school district, three bathrooms, etc. Furthermore, consider the highest price you can afford if your existing home sells at the lowest price you'll accept.

      Setting these types of parameters, and sharing them with your real estate agent, will make decision-marking easier while lowering the odds that you'll experience seller's or buyer's remorse later on.

      1. Get your current home ready to sell ahead of time, so there are no surprises

      It's easier to sell an apology-free house or condo than one with issues. In addition, you want to reduce your risks as much as possible ahead of time. The last thing you want is a surprise costly repair to come up when you're trying to close on the sale of your existing home so you can buy your new one. For this reason, do a thorough inspection of the property before you plan to sell and get repairs done well ahead of time.

       

      In addition to repairs and maintenance, focus on the aesthetics of the home. Get rid of clutter, add a fresh layer of paint, install new carpeting, clean up your landscaping, etc. Real estate experts say that curb appeal of the home is one of the most important features when it comes to selling a house, as we wrote about in our post on this topic. So, be sure the exterior of your home is show-place ready before you plan to put it on the market.

      1. Create a timeline.

      Be clear about what needs to happen when, and where you're flexible on dates. Creating a rough schedule of when certain things need to happen will help everyone stay on task. For instance, if you need to install a new garage door on the current home, when will this happen? If you need to be in your new home in the new school district by a certain date, what has to happen before then? How long will you have before you need to find your new home? Getting things down on paper, in a spreadsheet, or task management software will bring a dose of reality to the project and help to ensure you stay on course. 

      1. Work with one experienced agent whom you trust.

      Navigating the complexities of selling and buying a home at the same time will be far easier if you work with an experienced real estate agent whom you trust. Professional agents are managing these kinds of transactions every day, so they know the ups and downs of what could happen and how you can pivot in certain scenarios.

      Your agent will also be able to guide you based on current market trends. For example, they can tell you if the market is so hot that contingencies are simply not an option. In the Bay Area, many homes and condos are sold without any contingencies, so you can miss out on getting the home you want if your offer has them while other buyers' offers do not.

      It's also a good idea to use one agent for both your sale and the home you're buying. This way, they'll be fully cognizant of the complexities of both deals that are on the table and can negotiate in your favor. If you would like to talk to an experienced agent about your specific circumstances, don't hesitate to contact Intempus. We can advise you on all matters related to buying and selling a property in the Bay Area. 

      1. Get your financial house in order.

      These two transactions are likely the largest you will have ever handled, so you want to get everything lined up ahead of time. Here are some items to consider:

      • The cost of repairs, fixing up, and staging your current home to get it ready to sell.
      • Setting up a cash reserve to cover the cost of potentially paying two mortgages for a set period of time.
      • Making sure you have 6-9 months in a cash reserve to cover expenses for you and your family.
      • Budgeting for maintenance for the new home you'll buy. If you're upsizing, consider how much more you might spend for yearly maintenance on the new home.
      • Budget for remodeling, new furnishings, landscaping, etc. for your new home. What will you need to do right away and what can you live with for a while before upgrading?
      • Cost of renting for a year if you decide to sell your home before you have a new home to move into. 

      As mentioned above, set a benchmark on the lowest amount that you're willing to sell your existing home for, and the top limit for the purchase price of your new home. One of the biggest regrets that homeowners say they have about buying a home is the unexpected costs of maintenance and repairs. So, be sure you have a realistic plan for what you can afford well before starting these two transactions. 

      1. Determine what size mortgage you can qualify for now.

      Real estate expert Dave Ramsey cautions that it will be more challenging to qualify for a new mortgage if you're relying on the sale of your current home for the down payment on your new one. 

      In addition, the market and mortgage rates will have changed since you bought your current home, and thus the size of mortgage you qualified for at one point in time may be a very different picture from what you can qualify for now. Understanding where you stand will bring clarity to what you can afford and what is out of range. 

      1. Discuss with your agent whether contingencies will be possible in the current market.

      As mentioned above, an experienced licensed agent can tell you if asking for a purchase contingency that involves the sale of your existing home will be acceptable in the current real estate market.

      In the Bay Area, it's common for sellers to receive multiple offers for their homes and condos, and buyers with too many contingencies, or just one, can lose out to buyers who have none. So, if a purchase contingency is not realistic, you'll want to be prepared for how you'll purchase the new place, even if the current home has not sold yet. 

      1. Don't expect that you'll be able to close on the two homes on the same day.

      While it would be great to have your current home sale close on the same day that you close on your new home, the odds are that this won't happen, so you'll want to be prepared. 

      According to Dave Ramsey, closings can be delayed for any number of reasons, such as a home inspector finds issues in your new home or your buyer runs into problems with their financing. You want to minimize the gaps between these two dates, but also be prepared that you may have to keep paying the mortgage and other expenses on your current home while starting to pay on your new home. In addition, you'll need a plan for when movers need to arrive and where your family, including pets, will stay during the gap, if there is one, between your move-out and move-in dates. 

      1. See if you can negotiate on the settlement date.

      It's important to remember that everything is negotiable. Tara Mastroeni, a contributor to Forbes, recommends negotiating for the settlement dates you need if you want to move directly from your old home into your new one. If this kind of transition is one of your must-haves, perhaps you can negotiate with your buyer and seller on this matter, meanwhile making concessions in areas that are important to them. 

      1. Be prepared that you may not have the option of a rent-back on your current home.

      Rent-back agreements are not uncommon in the Bay Area. In such a situation, you negotiate with the buyer of your current home that you can stay in it for a set amount of time, paying them rent or covering the mortgage for that period until you're able to move into your new home. 

      Buyers in a competitive market may be all-too willing to do this. However, you need to keep in mind that if you took the best offer on your home, you may not be in the position to negotiate a rent-back. The buyer may want to start remodeling right away, or even move in right away. So, while rent-backs are common in the Bay Area, you need to be prepared that a rent-back may not be a possibility. 

      1. Beware of bridge and HELOC loans.

      Dave Ramsey cautions homeowners who are selling and buying at the same time to be wary of lenders offering bridge or HELOC loans. 

      A bridge loan lets you use the equity in your current home to fund the downpayment on your new home vs. using cash you have on-hand. A bridge loan is a short-term loan that you have to repay quickly. The risk of this type of loan is that payments, penalties, and fees are higher than they are on longer term loans. 

      With HELOC, or Home Equity Lines of Credit, loans, in which you also your home's equity for the down payment, you may have to repay the full loan within one-to-three years, on top of paying your regular mortgage payments. Thus, it's critical that you understand the true costs of these types of loans. It may make more financial sense to sell your existing home and rent a place until you find your dream home. 

      1. Consider renting for a while.

      In the Bay Area's competitive market, it can take a long time to find the perfect home that you can afford. While moving twice and signing a year lease on a rental might seem like a pain, renting can take a lot of pressure off both the selling and buying process while giving you the time you need to handle both transactions to your advantage.

      1. Don't close on a Friday.

      A final tip on handling these two transactions is to try to avoid closing the sale on your new home on a Friday. The reason is, the county recorder works on business days. So, your loan may close and you start accruing interest, but you still don't legally have access to your new place!

      February
      23

      What is mortgage preapproval?

      Homebuyer tip:

      You may qualify to borrow more money than you are comfortable spending on a home. But that doesn't mean you have to spend more. It's a good idea to limit your home search to houses priced at an amount you can comfortably afford. Explore the mortgage amount that best fits into your overall budget by using Bank of America's Home Affordability Calculator

      What is mortgage prequalification?

      Prequalification is an early step in your homebuying journey. When you prequalify for a home loan, you're getting an estimate of what you might be able to borrow, based on the information you provide about your finances, as well as a credit check.

      Prequalification is also an opportunity to learn about different mortgage options and work with your lender to identify the right fit for your needs and goals.

      What is mortgage preapproval?

      Preapproval is as close as you can get to confirming your creditworthiness without having a purchase contract in place. You will complete a mortgage application and the lender will verify the information you provide. They'll also perform a credit check. If you're preapproved, you'll receive a preapproval letter, which is an offer (but not a commitment) to lend you a specific amount, good for 90 days.

      Homebuyer tip:

      Expect surprises! Lenders look at every detail of your finances when granting preapproval. You might be asked about a car loan payment you made with a credit card, for example. Be prepared to answer lender questions as soon as they come up.

      Getting preapproved is a smart step to take when you are ready to put in an offer on a home. It shows sellers that you're a serious homebuyer and that you can secure a mortgage – which makes it more likely that you'll complete your purchase of the home.

      How long does prequalification or preapproval take?

      Aside from their distinct roles in homebuying, prequalification and preapproval can take different amounts of time. Prequalifying at Bank of America is a quick process that can be done online, and you may get results within an hour. For a mortgage preapproval, you'll need to supply more information so the application is likely to take more time. You should receive your preapproval letter within 10 business days after you've provided all requested information.

      What information do I need to provide?

      PREQUAL PREAPPROVAL
      Income information Copies of pay stubs that show your most recent 30 days of income
      Credit check Credit check
      Basic information about bank accounts Bank account numbers or two most recent bank statements
      The down payment amount and desired mortgage amount Down payment amount and desired mortgage amount
      No tax information required

      W-2 statements and signed, personal and business tax returns from the past two years

      Which is right for me?

      First-time homebuyers are more likely to find that getting prequalified is helpful, especially when they are establishing their homebuying budget and want an idea of how much they might be able to borrow.

      Preapproval can be extremely valuable when it comes time to make an offer on a house, especially in a competitive market where you might want to stand out among other potential buyers. Again, a seller will be more likely to consider you a serious buyer because you have had your finances and creditworthiness verified.

      Ready to prequalify, get preapproved or apply? Get started with the Digital Mortgage Experience.

      PREQUALIFICATION VS. PRE-APPROVAL COMPARISON

        PREQUAL PREAPPROVAL
      Benefits You can start house-hunting knowing how much you might be able to borrow You'll be ready to make an offer with confidence—and gain a competitive advantage
      Process Provide basic information to a lender and quickly get a prequalification amount After submitting documentation to a lender, you should receive a decision within 10 business days
      Documentation Answer questions for this process, plus a credit check Provide proof of financial details, plus a credit check

      February
      21

      Holland State Park Beach, Holland, Michigan

      Holland State Park Beach, Holland, Michigan

      Holland State Park Beach, Holland, Michigan

      Holland State Park Beach, Holland, Michigan

      Holland State Park is well known for its enormous sandy beach on Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa. Popular among locals and tourists alike, the beach is perfect for any beach activity you like, from sunbathing and volleyball to building sandcastles, surfing, or just relaxing. Holland State Park has two large campgrounds, a number of picnic tables, grills, and fire pits.

      It also has beach volleyball courts and a small beach house. If you like to fish, the walkway and pier along the harbor channel are the best spots for it. You can also enjoy watching the passing sailboats, waiting for the sunset, or taking photos of the Big Red lighthouse. There is a concession stand if the kids get hungry from all the activities. Holland State Park Beach is one of the best things to do in Holland, Michigan.

      2215 Ottawa Beach Rd, Holland, MI 49424, 616-399-9390

      Fun day trip ideas close to me, things to do this weekend, small towns, best weekend getaways: Getaways in CaliforniaEast Coast beachesNC quick tripRomantic weekend getaways

      Holland State Park Beach, Holland, Michigan

      February
      21

      Cooking Seasonally Is Easy With These Tips

      If you're not used to cooking seasonally, now is the time to start! Here's how you can pick the best ingredients throughout the year.

      If you love cooking at home, the best way to eat fresh all year long is by cooking seasonally. Seasonal cooking means creating meals and menus around ingredients as they come into season. Seasonal ingredients taste delicious and are less expensive, and the best part is that you're supporting local farmers, businesses, and the community when you add them to your meal plans.

      Our real estate agents are big believers in the benefits of seasonal cooking. After seeing some of the amazing kitchens in these Grand Haven homes for sale, we were inspired to create a list of seasonal cooking tips to help you improve the freshness and quality of the food you eat. Here is what we recommend:

      Build Your Menu Around What's In Season
      The key is to plan your meals based on what is currently in season, not necessarily what's on sale. Take the time to learn what fruits and vegetables are at their peak around Michigan. Here is a quick guide:

      • Winter: Winter is the time to make good use of root vegetables, as these plants tend to thrive in cooler / cold weather. Kale, carrots, squash, and turnips all make for great choices. You can easily throw these tasty root vegetables into a nice stew or bake them into a casserole.

      • Spring: Now is the time you'll start seeing fresh leafy vegetables and certain fruits at their best. Asparagus, radishes, mushrooms, peas, and strawberries are all great seasonal foods come springtime. Spring is one of the best times of year for seasonal cooking.

      • Summer: Those warm summer months are the right time to enjoy so many of your favorite fruits and vegetables. From a fruit perspective, peaches, apricots, raspberries, cherries, and blueberries are all ripe and ready to be harvested. On the vegetable side, you'll find your brussels sprouts, cucumbers, zucchini, and corn are all fresh. Remember, people enjoy corn on the cob in the summer for a reason.

      • Fall: While we often associate fall with changing leaves and dying plants, there are many fruits and vegetables that thrive during these cool weather nights. Apples are perfect in the fall, as are broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. It's no surprise that many of these ingredients are found in traditional Thanksgiving dishes. 

      Don't Forget To Use Local Ingredients
      Purchasing ingredients from local farmers or small businesses is the best way to know exactly what you're eating. Some local supermarkets may sell local products, or you can make a stop by some of our wonderful local farmer's markets. Don't be afraid to ask local vendors and farmers how they grow their crops.

      Trust Your Eye And Try Something New
      You can often recognize seasonal ingredients at the grocery store or farmer's market. Not only will they be prominently displayed, but they'll look good too. Fruit and vegetables appear bigger and brighter when they're in season. Take a stroll through the produce aisle and see what looks good.

      Seasonal cooking is great for both your health and the overall community. For more tips on how to make the most out of your kitchen this year, contact us today.

      February
      18

      How to buy a house in 2022

      How to buy a house in 2022

      What to consider

      Is now a good time to buy a house?

      Yes and no. Mortgage rates reached record lows in early 2021 and have stayed low by historical standards throughout the year even as they fluctuated.  However, strong demand for homes pushed prices up and frustrated many potential homebuyers. According to the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, property prices rose by 18 percent between September 2020 and September 2021. Time may be running out to lock in an affordable mortgage because experts predict interest rates will continue to trend upward this year. In many areas of the country, Realtors reported intense competition for homes last year, with some properties getting dozens of offers and going into contract within days of being listed.

      That reality has created inevitable concerns about buying at the peak. Home values go up over time, but there is a possibility that prices in some places have hit a plateau.

      "I would be careful about buying near the top of the market, especially if I want to be in the home for only a few years," says Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University and co-author of the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. "If you look to buy, bargain aggressively and be willing to walk away. Real estate most definitely is a good investment, but don't just buy now because that's what everybody else is doing."

      Should I buy a house?

      Taking the leap to homeownership can provide a feeling of pride while boosting your long-term financial outlook, if you go in well-prepared and with your eyes open.

      When thinking about buying a home, consider whether you want to put down roots or maintain flexibility with your living situation. How secure is your job, and can you comfortably budget for home repairs and maintenance on top of monthly housing payments? Are you ready to stay in one place, and do you have kids or family members to consider?

      When should I buy a house?

      In normal times, spring is the traditional start of the home-buying season, with many listings typically hitting the market. The market still hasn't quite returned to normal since the coronavirus upended that schedule, however.. This winter should be relatively slow for buying, but with low housing inventory, it will still feel competitive compared to pre-pandemic off-seasons. 

      At any rate your own financial readiness is more important than the time of year. This means having your finances organized and your credit in order so that you'll be able to smoothly secure a reasonable mortgage.

      In addition to a down payment, potential homebuyers should have enough money set aside to cover closing costs, which can range from 2 percent to 4 percent of the purchase price.

      When budgeting for your monthly mortgage payment, factor in not only the principal amount and interest, but also property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees (if applicable), plus private mortgage insurance if you're putting down less than 20 percent. Don't forget to set aside money for ongoing maintenance and those unexpected repairs that are bound to pop up, too.

      Here's a step-by-step guide on buying a house:

      1. Understand why you want to buy a house

      Purchasing a home is a major decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you're not clear on why you want to buy a house, you could end up regretting your decision.

      How to get started: Define your personal and financial goals. "Buyers should think about things like when they intend on moving, what they want in a home (such as) amenities, ideal location and how long it could take them to save for a down payment," says Edwence Georges, a sales associate with RE/MAX in Westfield, New Jersey. "These are all important to help define the goals they would like to meet."

      Key takeaways:

      2. Check your credit score

      Checking your credit score will help you determine your financing options; lenders use it (among other factors) to set your loan pricing and see if you're able to repay your mortgage. The better your credit history, the better the chances you'll have of securing financing with the best terms and rates. 

      How to get started: You can get your credit report and score from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, for free once a year. Your bank or credit card company might offer free access to your score or credit report, too.

      Key takeaways:

      • Consider how different credit score ranges impact your interest rate, monthly payments and total interest. In general, the lower your credit score, the more expensive your mortgage will be.
      • Pull your credit reports from each of the credit bureaus for free every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you discover any discrepancies, contact each agency and report the error.
      • Learn other ways to get your free credit report and score from Bankrate.

      3. Create a housing budget

      Setting a realistic budget for your new home will help inform what you can afford and how much your all-in costs will be.

      How to get started: The purchase price isn't the whole picture. Carefully factor in other expenses to determine what you can afford.

      "Buyers tend to forget to factor in other costs like (homeowners association) fees and setting money aside for maintenance costs. Just because you can afford a mortgage and a down payment doesn't mean you can afford those long-term costs after you move."

      – Paige Kruger, Realtor, Founder, Signal Real Estate, Jacksonville Beach, Florida

      Key takeaways:

      • Determine the maximum loan you qualify for.
      • Decide how much you can set aside for a down payment, plus a buffer fund for ongoing or unexpected maintenance costs. 
      • See if your monthly budget can handle the mortgage payment along with other bills such as day care, tuition, utilities, groceries and more.

      4. Save for a down payment

      To avoid private mortgage insurance, or PMI, you'll need to save at least 20 percent of the home's purchase price for a down payment. Some lenders offer mortgages without PMI with lower down payments, but expect to pay a higher interest rate.

      How to get started: Research the down payment requirements for the loan you want so you know exactly how much you'll need. If a friend, relative or employer has offered to provide a down payment gift, initiate a conversation early on to learn how much they plan to contribute and if there's any shortfall you'll need to cover — and secure a gift letter from them well in advance, too.

      Key takeaways:

      • If you don't have much saved for a down payment, consider options backed by the federal government. FHA loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, require just 3.5 percent down, while VA loans and USDA loans have no down payment requirement.
      • Conventional loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac require just 3 percent down.
      • Look into a local or state first-time homebuyer assistance program to help with closing costs or your down payment.

      5. Shop for a mortgage

      Getting preapproved for a mortgage is helpful when you make an offer on a house, and it gives you a firmer handle on how much you can afford.

      How to get started: Shop around with at least three lenders or a mortgage broker to increase your chances of getting a low interest rate.

      Key takeaways:

      Sign up for a Bankrate account to determine the right time to strike on your mortgage with our daily rate trends.

      6. Hire a real estate agent

      An experienced real estate agent can save you time and money by helping you find your dream home and by negotiating with the seller on your behalf. 

      How to get started: Contact several real estate agents and ask to meet with them for a conversation about your needs before choosing one. "Someone with knowledge of an area can also tell if your budget is realistic or not, depending on the features you desire in a home," Kruger says. "They can also point you to adjacent areas in your desired neighborhood or other types of considerations to help you find a house."

      Key takeaways:

      • Before hiring a real estate agent, find out about their track record, knowledge of your desired neighborhood and what their workload is like. You don't want someone who is over-scheduled.
      • Agents can refer you to other professionals like home inspectors, contractors, appraisers and title companies; however, you should still shop around and compare fees from other professionals.

      7. See multiple homes

      Simply viewing listing photos isn't a substitute for visiting homes in person — with appropriate precautions in the pandemic — and getting to know the neighborhood and its amenities.

      How to get started: Let your real estate agent know what specific kinds of homes you want to see, or search for homes online yourself. Your agent can create your profile in the local multiple listing service (MLS), a database of homes for sale, and set up automatic searches for those that meet your criteria. You may not be able to check off everything on your home amenity wish list, so you'll want to prioritize what's most important to you aside from location.

      Key takeaways:

      • Drive through neighborhoods you like to see what's for sale, and attend open houses for homes that pique your interest. Remember to keep notes on each property you v