Mortgage rates stay stable, again

By Marcie Geffner -

Mortgage interest rates were essentially unchanged this week, giving borrowers more time to buy a home or refinance their existing mortgage at very attractive rates.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage went up to 3.57% from 3.56%, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of large lenders. A year ago, this rate was 4.03%. Four weeks ago, it was 3.63%.

The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.25 discount and origination points.

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VA loan helps vets buy pricier homes

By Marcie Geffner -

Most home mortgages have a so-called loan limit, which caps how much a home buyer can borrow to purchase a home.

The VA loan is an exception.

Instead of a loan amount limit, the VA loan has a loan guaranty limit.

The difference has major implications for veteran borrowers who want to purchase a home with a VA loan and no down payment.

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Pulte builds zero-net home in California

By Marcie Geffner -

PulteGroup, a major national homebuilder head- quartered in Atlanta, is building a prototype zero-net energy (ZNE) home in the company’s Botanica community in Brentwood, Calif.

ZNE homes, which produce as much energy from renewable sources as they consume, aren’t new. In fact, builders have constructed one-off ZNEs in cities all around the United States.

The unanswered question has been whether they can scale up the ZNE concept to build these homes in the hundreds instead of one at a time.

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Should you make a downpayment on a VA loan?

Marcie Geffner -

Many VA borrowers know the VA home loan doesn't require a down payment.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which guarantees this type of mortgage, is practically famous for its zero-down option, which opens the doors of homeownership to veterans, active-duty service members, surviving spouses and other VA-eligible buyers.

Though a down payment isn't required, borrowers can still make one. Should they? Or is the no-money-down strategy so attractive that a down payment never makes sense?

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Farther out homes better value for buyers

By Marcie Geffner -

Some brand-new homes are built in city centers. Others are constructed farther out in new-home communities of hundreds or even thousands of homes.

These days, those farther out houses can be an especially good buy for home shoppers.

That’s because city-center houses generally have rebounded in value significantly faster than suburban houses in many cities since the low of the Great Recession, says Lance Ramella, a senior vice president at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, a real estate industry consultancy headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

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Developer prices ultra-luxury L.A. condos up to $50 million

By Marcie Geffner -

Luxury condominiums aren’t rare in Los Angeles. But the city is about to get one especially expensive condo, a 12,000-square-foot penthouse with an asking price of $50 million.

The condo is part of the Four Seasons Private Residences, a 12-story, 59-unit project being built adjacent to Beverly Hills. Condos are priced from $2.5 million to $3.8 million, townhomes from $4 million to $7 million and tower units from $5.9 million to $17 million.

The developer, Genton Property Group in West Hollywood, Calif., broke ground in October 2015 and expects to open in 2017.

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Post-Brexit mortgage rates dip again

By Marcie Geffner

Mortgage interest rates dropped in late June after the so-called Brexit referendum in which United Kingdom voters signaled their wish to leave the European Union.

Since then rates have been "steadily creeping up from the low-3% to mid-3% range," says Justin Lopatin, vice president of mortgage lending at PERL Mortgage in Chicago.

This week, rates gave up some of that increase.

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