How U.S. mortgage rates are determined

By Marcie Geffner -

Homeowners and home buyers are naturally interested in mortgage interest rates because the rate they pay for their home loan is one factor that determines their monthly housing payments and the total cost of owning their home over time.

While each lender, borrower, and loan type will have different individual rates, here’s what affects interest rates on a national level:

Federal Funds Rate
The Federal Reserve (the Fed), a semi-autonomous arm of the federal government, sets a special interest rate known as the federal funds rate, often called the “fed funds rate” for short.

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Dealing with post-holiday financial blues

By Marcie Geffner -

The gifts have been given, eggnog drunk, carols sung and tree taken out or disassembled. The guests, including the out-of-town relatives, have gone home.

Welcome to January.

It's a difficult month for many as the credit card hangover causes a raging financial headache. If that is where you find yourself, here is a five-part plan to dig yourself out and avoid it next year:

Pay it off. Make an honest and complete list of all your credit card balances and interest rates and start applying every penny you can to paying off the amounts you owe. If you need to make some sacrifices, go ahead and do that now. Otherwise, you could be suffering through the post-holiday blues for many months.

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How to say no when family or friends ask to borrow money

By Marcie Geffner -

Saying no to a friend or family member who asks for a loan can be stressful and awkward.

Yet sometimes no is the best answer, and the one you should give. The question then is how to say it without damaging your relationship with that person or others who might be involved in the situation.

Here's how:

Listen first. If you say no too quickly, your friend or family member might feel ignored, hurt, discounted or insulted. Before you give your response, hear the person out so you understand the nature of the problem and the person feels respected and cared for.

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Understanding Home Equity Credit

By Marcie Geffner - LendingTree

Home equity loans aren't difficult to understand, but homeowners should make sure they know what home equity is, how to calculate home equity, and how home equity credit works before they apply for this type of loan.

What is home equity?
Home equity refers to a homeowner's ownership interest in his or her home, often stated as a percentage of the home's value or a dollar amount.

How is home equity calculated?
To calculate home equity, start with the home's current value and then subtract the total outstanding balance of all loans secured by the home. Home equity is calculated using the estimated current market value, not the price the homeowner paid to buy the home, and the current loan balances, not the original amounts borrowed.

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Understanding Closing Costs

By Marcie Geffner -

Closing costs are fees, points and other charges that home buyers, home sellers and homeowners pay when they purchase or sell a home or refinance a mortgage.

Examples of general costs include:

  • Escrow, attorney or settlement company charges
  • Owner's title search and title insurance
  • Document or title recording fees
  • Realty brokerage commissions, typically paid by sellers
  • Termite and other inspection charges

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Mortgage Down Payment Can Be Smaller Than You Think

By Marcie Geffner -

Home buyers often think they need a mortgage down payment that's at least 20 percent of the home's purchase price. But in fact, it's possible to buy a home with a down payment that's quite a bit smaller or even with no money down at all.
Both conventional and government loans allow smaller down payments for people who don't have 20 percent or don't want to make a down payment that large.

Solving the rent-or-buy dilemma

By Marcie Geffner -

Whether to rent or buy a home is an easy decision for many people. But for those who have the means and motivation to do either, the choice can be difficult to make.

Buying offers freedom from rising rents, a mortgage interest tax deduction and the possibility of building equity in a home over time.

Renting offers flexibility and no home maintenance or repair costs or obligations.
For people who aren't in a financial position to buy, renting is the only option. And some people who are able to buy still aren't sure this major commitment is the right choice for them.

When rents are high and prices are low
Affordability is a key factor that can tip the scales to the buy side, says Wendy English, sales manager for Century 21 Commonwealth in Medfield, Massachusetts. Rapidly rising rents in many cities, combined with attractive home prices and low mortgage interest rates, make owning a home seem more affordable than renting.

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Choosing a Color Scheme for Your New Home

By Marcie Geffner -

White? Green? Brown? Shocking pink?

Whatever the choice, colors have an impact. That’s why most new home buyers enjoy selecting the colors that will define the look of their new home.

For those who have the means to build a completely custom house, the sky’s the limit with respect to color choices. For those who purchase a resale home, whatever the former owner liked is what the next buyer will get.

Between those two is the newly built house, which offers buyers a limited number of pre-determined colors for paint, trim, front door, roof tiles, cabinets, countertops and more. The options are many, though not enough to overwhelm most buyers’ ability to decide.

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