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Digging Up The Hidden Costs Before They Trip You Up

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Home Purchase BasicsBuying a home usually comes with hidden costs, bills that pop up at some point in the process. While these may be unexpected if you are unprepared, a little research before you buy can save you hassle later on. Even once you have closed, picked up your keys and settled in, some expenses can appear like magic.

However, you are not the first person or a person to buy a home, whatever your unexpected cost, someone else has probably had to deal with it before. This simple fact means the information you need is out there somewhere, and this post will tell you about where to find it.

Costs At Closing Are The Least Of Your Worries

You expect that there will be costs at closing. The point of sale gives you the advantage of having professionals around who depend on the deal going through. The cost of closing and homeowners insurance are very predictable and you settle them as part of the escrow process.

Improving The Property

You need a clear understanding of what it will take to make the house or condo habitable and you can move in. If the property has been in regular habitation until you purchase it, the basics should be in place. On the other hand, if your new home has been vacant for an extended period there could be a variety of problems waiting for you. Most of the faults and failings in the structure and fixtures of your intended home should reveal themselves during the building inspection.

When The Sellers Take The Kitchen Sink

Even if the building is sound according to the experts, you might find that the seller grabs everything that they can when they prepare to exit. Foreclosed properties often lose fixtures and fittings, doors, countertops, plumbing, and so on.

While at some point it could be necessary to bring in the authorities or an attorney, minor issues of snatch and grab will be annoyances. The seller might take the appliances with them or replace luxury faucets with cheap ones. Be ready for minor replacement issues that don’t warrant litigation but will cost you out of pocket all the same.

The Higher Cost Of Owner Occupation Versus Renting

Renting has costs that are predictable, with landlords paying out of pocket costs and factoring them in monthly rent payments. Many of the costs that they handle can come as surprises for first-time homeowners. Disbursements will include some of the more critical costs as mortgage impounds, such as property tax and monthly insurance payments.

You will no longer have a manager or landlord to call about leaky pipes or heating problems; these will be your problems to fix and expenses to pay. It is very likely there will also be additional utility costs that landlords pay, these include water rates and trash collection.

Make Research Part Of Your Buying Strategy

Once you find a home that you decide to purchase you can research the costs that you can expect for the property. You will base this estimate on the condition of the home, the way you want to change and upgrade it, and the expenses for that particular neighborhood. A little careful research is the difference between the satisfaction of owning a new home and the shock of dealing with hidden costs for which you had not previously accounted.

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Income Stability Gets The Mortgage Done Better Here Is Why

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Mortgage Pre-Approval BasicsIncome stability is the key attribute that mortgage underwriters wish to see in a home loan applicant. When you begin the process of buying a home and applying for a mortgage, your lenders review your financial history very carefully.

Based on the policies of the bank, what they know about risking large piles of cash, and what they can determine about you. Loan officers will look at both you the property that will secure the mortgage, particularly if it is a conforming loan.

Impressing Your Mortgage Decider With Income Stability

It all comes down to lenders liking what they see in your background. Banks have financial targets and specific definitions about the kinds of loans they want to make and to whom. Competition in the lending market limits how much profit bank can make, but they can control much else of what they want to lend.

The critical point is when your application goes to the person who releases the funds, the underwriter. Mortgage underwriters know their typical borrower exactly, and any deviation will cost you at closing, and in the interest rate, you pay for the privilege of borrowing to buy a home. A record of stable income of at least two years will usually be sufficient.

Get Ready For An Inspection

So, what does income stability look like to a mortgage underwriter? It is a regular, recurring payment in cash, check direct deposit, or wire transfer. Banks have experience lending money and the data to determine if you are a sound investment or not.

Consumers that have stable histories of earning a living and making payments tend to go the course in the long run. Your credit history with the three major reporting agencies will show how responsible at making your payments.

However, credit agencies do not indicate how much income you have or if your paychecks come through regular employment channels. Lending underwriters want to inspect both sides carefully, income and spending to determine how much of a there is that you might not make all of your payments on time.

Dealing With Income Hiccups

Income stability is not the only factor that goes into the lending decision. There are a whole set of factors that lenders review before they make the final credit decision. Gaps in your income can happen for many reasons; don’t lose hope just because you have short gaps in your history.

Situations that might cause concern are missing a few months of income, changing jobs frequently, or being self-employed. Banks and mortgage brokers work with income variations and credit statuses of every description. It is unlikely your situation has never occurred before.

Get advice on how to proceed in financing your future home before you start house hunting. Discuss your income history with your agent or broker. However, you will get a prime mortgage package if you can demonstrate at least two years of income stability.

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Foreclosures Are Still Hot But Wait! Read This First!

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Foreclosure BasicsForeclosed Homes Are Still Waiting For Buyers

Perhaps you have heard that the potential for building a real estate empire from foreclosures is as good now as it has been in recent years. They say you can make the proverbial killing in real estate by buying foreclosed homes as investments. The question is: Who is “They”?

Banks have a strong motivation to get defaulted homes off the books. They still have large numbers of foreclosed homes to dispense with like they need the ultimate cure for a bad hangover.

Experienced investors will tell you that, with the right team to support you, you can make a very respectable return in foreclosures, as they have done themselves. However, for the novice investor and individual looking to get a killer deal on a new home it might be a steep learning curve.

  • How do you analyze the structural condition of a derelict home if access is restricted? Foreclosure buyers need to know how to get past that and how much of a gamble to take.

Rolling The Dice Of Profit And Loss

Buying foreclosures is an extended process that has specific technical and legal concerns and a wheel of fortune element of risk that means there will be random obstacles and unexpected issues throughout the process.

That is why there is the possibility of reward, by dealing with the risks and doing all of the work an investor gets the reward. Considering the extra risk and all of their work the possibility is an extra large reward.

  • What if the former owner delays the process with a court action? You have to be able to hold your nerve through an uncertain and extended battle.

The Foreclosure Box Of Chocolates

Buying foreclosures as investments is not for everyone. If you are new to homeownership or you are hoping to just find a bargain fro your first home this may not be the way to tackle it.

The hazards are complex and varied and competition comes from investors who hold all of the cards. When you finally get past the front door you really never know what you are going to get.

  • Can you get the jump on the sharks that have piles of cash, tons of experience and the aggression to grab the best deals? Determine if the market is large enough for another shark to jump in the pool.

An Adventure Or A Fiasco: You Decide

Attempting to purchase a foreclosed home from a bank is not an easy task. If you do have your mind set on winning a home via this process then you are going to have to start by building a team of professionals who will work with you and help you to overcome the obstacles.

Determine if the risk is something that you can handle and you have the reserves to ride out a storm to win the deal you want. The irony is that you need to be in a position of strength to earn the largest rewards. If you still think you should dip your toe in the shark-infested waters of foreclosed homes then you should do so. But precede with caution you adventurous soul.

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Jumbo Loans For Luxury Homes – Going Beyond The Conforming Limits

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Jumbo Mortgage BasicsConforming Versus Non-Conforming Loans

So, where are the limits in conventional home lending and why do they matter? It certainly matters if you are seeking a luxury home that exceeds the limits for conventional home loans as defined by the FHA. Or if you have a high income, and you would like to live in a home that is more distinctive than the ordinary, whether you define that by location, style, or historical significance.

Why Do Loans Conform To Anything Anyway?

The division between conforming and non-conforming loans defines the structure of the home lending market, or at least the upper edge of it. It is the terms guaranteed by agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that give the home loan finance industry its internal structure, by guaranteeing the initial loans and then purchasing the paper and bundle the income streams of many loans into bonds that they hold or sell to institutions as investment securities.

The price to be a part of this government-backed system is the requirement that lenders “conform” to a set of regulatory standards that have become a fundamental part of home finance. The purpose is to help Americans become homeowners at affordable prices. The constraints are that borrowers must meet conditions such as credit score, down payment, and loan value.

Institutional Investment In Luxury Lending

Lenders act as mortgage originators, by signing up house buyers, advancing the funds at closing, and collecting the initial payments, then selling the rights to the cash flow on the paper. The maximum amount for single unit properties on conforming loans is $417,000 and in Alaska and some high-cost territories up to $625,500.

Jumbo loans lie above the conforming limits; Fannie and Freddie will not consider purchasing jumbo loans for their portfolios of securitized debt. Banks do securitize jumbo loans, but they expect higher yields on non-conforming loans. That, in turn, means higher interest rates for the consumers who make the payments on them. Jumbo mortgage interest rates have historically been about a quarter percent higher than their smaller conforming equivalents.

Differences In Lending Details

The demand for jumbo loans comes from the high-earning consumers that take them out to buy luxury homes. Banks look for borrowers with the ability to make at least a twenty percent down payment, have a low debt-to-income ratio, and a high credit score. Whereas conforming loans require six months of cash left after closing jumbo loans are more stringent; requiring twelve months of liquid reserves after the loan closes.

High earners often have significant portions of their income as bonus payments or shares and lenders will consider lowering installments as the balance drops, so the borrower can have the flexibility of making lump-sum payments when their proverbial ships come in.

If you have the income and the cash to set up a jumbo loan, you can purchase a distinctive home. Jumbo loans facilitate closing for properties that grace the covers of magazines and featured on television shows about the lives of celebrities. Whether you want a cottage in the most exclusive suburbs, a mansion in the hills or a distinguished townhome that expresses your status, a jumbo loan is a sensible alternative to tying all of your cash up in real estate.

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Hard Money Basics

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Mortgage BasicsWhat Is A Hard Money Loan?

Hard money loans are financial tools for sophisticated buyers who need to take drastic measures to secure real estate. The sources of such secured lending are usually private investors or syndicates of investors; this type of lending usually has a one-year term; this might extend up to five years in extreme cases.

Hard money is a resource that discretely supports real estate investment and development in communities across the country. Investing in debt secured against real assets is one way that investors can earn income from their capital. It is also one method that developers and real estate investors can use to get the leverage they need to purchase the assets they believe will increase their wealth.

Why Use Hard Money?

Hard money investors put up the cash for properties based on their experience and knowledge of the market. A hard money transaction is a contract that funds real estate purchases in return for a defined rate of interest, points, and other terms stated in the contract.

It is a method to get access to funding for real estate that is faster than the conventional route of applying to a bank or mortgage company for the funds. In return, hard money lenders charge higher rates of interest that reflect the perceived greater risk involved.

Hard money loans can be a way to secure real estate deals that just cannot wait. You might find a property to fix up and flip for a quick profit; hard money would be suitable in this case. Other instances would be for construction loans, land loans, where your credit history might preclude lending or you just need to move quickly to secure a bargain offered by a motivated seller.

What Do Hard Money Lenders Want?

Lenders focus on the value of the real estate property against which you will secure the loan, but they will expect you to have equity in the property. For example, if you own land and wish to build on it to sell at a profit later, a hard money construction loan will add to the value of the undeveloped land.

If you have cash for a significant down payment, and you need financing, but cannot go the conventional route for any of the reasons discussed above you can borrow the funds you need from a hard-money lender.

Lenders will provide two-thirds to three-quarters of the equity in the property. Some investors may consider the extra value added by improvements but most will take a conservative stance and would demand interest rates of fifteen percent or more and as much as six points to extend more than the basic. An Internet search will reveal who the local lenders for hard money are in your area. You may also find them at local investment club meet-ups.

The Hard Money Reality

Hard money is not for everyone; if you have the time and financial resources to source conventional lending, then you most likely will not choose it. However, if you need funding quickly to close at a discount to market value, or you just have no other source of finance, hard money lenders can make the deal happen for you at a price. Used wisely, hard money can be an excellent tool for making deals happen in investment real estate.

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Should You Trade Discount Points For Your Down Payment?

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Should I Pay Mortgage PointsShould you divert funds from your down payment to get better terms on your monthly payments? Or should you go the opposite direction and add to your equity? How about getting cash back at closing? These are all things that you can do by adjusting the level of discount points that you agree to pay at the start of your new home loan.

Purchasing A Discount On Your Home Loan

The American system of mortgage lending and home lending is unique because of one valuable feature: The ability to pay points in advance, to control the repayment interest rate. By setting up a payment at the start of the loan period, lenders and borrowers have the flexibility to negotiate terms where they might otherwise not be able to come together in agreement on prices and other details.

The more you pre-pay as points, the lower the interest rate that your lender will allow. Conversely, if you are willing and able to withstand higher payments but you have little or no cash for your down payment, you can use negative points to supplement your deposit. Depending on what your lender offers, one point is equivalent to about a quarter percent in interest on your loan.

Your Discount Points Options

So, do you pay discount points? Or finance without points or do you go negative? A point is worth the equivalent of one percent of your loan and a discount for points will reduce your payments over the long term. Points are tax deductible and down payments are not.

If you put the funds into down payment instead of discount points, it could allow you to avoid buying private mortgage insurance. Depending on how close you are to gathering the cash for a substantial down payment, you may want to use negative points to get to twenty percent of the sale price. It will mean that you do not have to make monthly PMI payments, which will save you significantly on your monthly payment.

Going Negative On Points

Negative points might add a quarter of a percent to your rate for each negative point that you take, but it could give you the funds to increase your deposit or pay for closing costs. Negotiating the points you pay is one of the tried and true techniques that investors have been using for years, and it has the potential to secure investment properties or as your home.

However, it does hold moderate risk; if you intend to stay long-term, you will save money on monthly payments by refinancing as soon as you have the equity to do so. The experiences of the last dozen years in real estate show the extremes at both ends; we can see that the market can boom, or in the worst case, the market can collapse.

The uniquely American feature of discount points in real estate finance is an option that has more flexibility than most borrowers realize; you can negotiate the points you pay, not pay them at all, use them more creatively to secure the property that you want. Use home loan discount points to your advantage and you are one step closer to being the master of your real estate realm.

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Finding The Absolute Lowest Interest Rate

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Home Mortgage BasicsWhere Do You Find The Lowest Interest Rate On Offer Today?

Many factors play roles in determining home loan interest rates. Some of these things are structural and economic, and others are because of the terms that you accept when you take out a new home loan.

The Prime Interest Rate

The prime rate is the lowest rate offered by banks for commercial lending; the Wall Street Journal publishes a periodic survey of lenders about their current rates. Those current rates come from the Federal discount rate, set by the Federal Reserve; which the banks pay to borrow funds from the Fed and that they then offer to clients at anything from the prime rate upward. Only the most strongly favored customers can borrow at the prime rate, but it is a benchmark level of the markets for the rest of us.

Home Lending Market Supply And Demand

Banks earn their income by borrowing from the Federal Reserve’s discount window and taking in deposited funds and lending that capital to other customers as interest-bearing loans. The rates that they charge depend on what customers are willing to pay to get access to cash. The banks provide the supply and charge interest rates that will support the demand from borrowers.

In an open market that has competition between many lenders seeking to attract many borrowers, the rates of interest reflect these levels of supply and demand. Of course, it is never as simple as that; some borrowers are worthier of trust than others, as determined by the credit rating agencies, and they will receive preferred rates on their loans. Those customers that appear to be riskier will pay higher rates.

Prime rates and the economics of supply and demand set the background of the economy and the lending market. Now let’s look at the differences in the types of loans.

The Two Things That Define Low Rate Home Loans

Adjustable rates mean safer investments for banks – Lenders like to know that, if conditions change, they can update the interest that they charge occasionally. The adjustable rate home loan faces strict statutory limitations on how the rate can change but even so, lenders still have more flexibility than fixed rate loans. When banks can update at least once during the term, they offer slightly lower rates of interest in return.

Shorter terms mean better cash flow and less risk – When a loan has a shorter term it earns less interest than longer ones. But lenders can always replace a completed loan with new lending. The shorter term means that there is less time in which something can go wrong, and the higher repayments of principal mean more cash flow. Lenders will give lower rates in return for larger monthly payments.

So, in exchange for faster principal repayment and the right to adjust your interest rates banks and finance companies will give you the lowest rate on your home loan.

Choose Your Terms And Buy Your Home

From the principles discussed above, the lowest rates are for adjustable rate loans with a fifteen-year term. The conventional choices for term length are between thirty and fifteen years, without stretching too far into customized territory the best deal will be with a fifteen-year loan. It will be a better rate if you accept an adjustable rate loan. The question is whether you want to take the risk of there being unusual economic conditions at the time that the lender sets the new rate.

Whether you have excellent credit or not, some options for home loans will be less expensive than others. The structure of the lending market and the regulations around it mean that the best rate you are likely to receive for a home loan will be for a fifteen-year adjustable rate loan.

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Funding Home Upgrades By Cash Back At Closing

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Financing HomOptions For Financing Rehab And Home Repair

When you buy a home, whether to occupy or as an investment, no lender is going just to give you cash at closing and hope that you do the right thing; being smarter than that is how they stay in business. Fortunately, if you do need to find some cash to renovate or upgrade the property once you take ownership, there are a couple of options available to you.

If you hope to get cash at closing for home renovations, your best bets are either an FHA 203(k) program home loan or a Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan. Both of these programs provide practical solutions to funding your home upgrade and protect the interests of the lender at the same time.

The FHA 203(k) Home Improvement Loan

Section 203(k) Rehab Mortgage Insurance from HUD allows buyers to purchase or refinance, and rehab a property simultaneously. This policy insures up to the final, rehabilitated value so that borrowers can pay a discounted price and adds the value through repairs and refurbishment.

The cost of rehab must be at least $5,000, and the FHA mortgage limits still apply to the final value of the revitalized home. HUD provides a list of the permitted repairs, which range from the simple to the drastic. You can essentially rebuild a structure using this program. The Section 203(k) program is available through FHA-approved lenders.

There are some drawbacks to this program: Not all properties will qualify, there are funding limits, and the application process is complicated. Even so, they make repairs affordable, and the down payment requirements are low, in line with FHA lending.

The HomeStyle Loan From Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae offers something like a construction loan with the HomeStyle Renovation loan. This facility is available for purchasing or refinancing primary residences of up to four units and the minimum construction cost is, again, $5,000. Unlike the 203(k) program you can use it for some types of single-unit investment properties.

The deposit requirements depend on the kind of property; single unit owner-occupied have the lowest deposit requirements at five percent of the sale price if it is a fixed rate loan or ten percent for an ARM. The deposit requirements are higher for multi-unit properties, second homes, and investment purchases, or refinances. You should consider your options carefully and discuss them with an experienced lending professional before you commit to any of them.

The HomeStyle loan allows you to draw up to fifty percent of the appraised post-renovation value for costs of repair and construction. The improvements to the property must add value to it to qualify for inclusion in the loan.

The project must finish within six months, and you will have to make mortgage payments throughout the construction period. Like the 203(k) program the application process is extensive, you will need to hire a general contractor or other licensed professional to develop and submit your plans before you receive approval for the loan.

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Funding Home Improvement With Home Equity

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home-equity-loan-basicsHow To Withdraw Equity For Home Improvement

It may be that you are purchasing a property that needs renovation or perhaps you want to give your existing home a tune up. The cost of doing major renovations is likely to be too high for you to fund it out of pocket, so what do you do?

The obvious answer is to borrow the cash and let’s make the assumption here that you don’t have a family member who is willing to lend to you. The answer is to call on the financial services industry to give you what could amount to a sum that rises well into five figures.

Loan Or Line Of Credit

One of the priorities to consider will be the rate of interest at which you borrow so take advantage of secured lending because of the lower interest rate than that of credit cards or unsecured lines of credit. You will be applying to a bank or finance company for a second or junior loan secured against the property that you are renovating; these loans come in two main varieties: Home equity loans and lines of credit.

The home equity loan is a junior loan that dispenses a lump sum at the start of the term, which means of course that you will pay interest on the entire amount from beginning to end. The second option, the home equity loan (HELOC) allows you to draw funds against the line of credit as and when you need to use them to support the progress of your project.

A HELOC only requires that you pay interest on the portion of the line that you withdraw them, which saves cost for you on interest payments; it gives you the flexibility to use as much or little of the line of credit as you might choose. It is worth noting that this facility usually carries an adjustable rate of interest. However, you have the advantage of being able to draw the funds, repay the balance, and then advance cash again, as many times as you may require completing the project.

It Is All About The Numbers

Home equity loans command a higher rate of interest than HELOCs; you advance the full amount, and then you pay a fixed interest rate on the outstanding balance. If your renovation plan calls for an exceptionally high level of funding, other options such as cash-out refinancing or refinancing with an FHA 203(k) home loan might be preferable. These options are suitable for projects that require $100,000 or more.

Withdrawing the equity from your home or investment property is something to do only after careful consideration and only for purposes such as renovations that directly improve the value of the asset by at least the amount that you draw from it. Done correctly, borrowing against your property to improve it can be an excellent way to increase your equity, and therefore your wealth.

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What Do Mortgage Originators Do After Your FHA Home Loan Closes?

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FHA Mortgage BasicsMortgage Originators Initiate The Process

Your mortgage lender is part of an extensive and wealthy system of residential real estate finance. The person at the very knife-edge of the lending process is the loan originator, the loan officer or independent arranger who helps loan applicants fill out forms, gather documents and submit the loan application; they are there to help you. Applying for a home loan is uniquely stressful, and surprises can pop up, even after you begin making payments.

However, the mortgage originator is also responsible to the lender, and they have to balance the conflicting responsibilities of being the person in the middle. The range of organizations that offer residential mortgages to consumers is diverse; banks, credit unions, and finance companies to name just a few, but, the function of the loan officer who directly facilitates the process of setting up home loans is a constant.

Back Office Issues And Secondary Action

The first factor is that there are many regulations involved in mortgage lending, which includes requirements for loan originator licensing under the 2008 SAFE Act, a Federal statute that dictates that all originators must hold either Federal or state issued licenses. Also, the practices that work well in one instance tend to apply to the whole market; consumer behavior determines lending officer behavior to a large extent.

In all likelihood, the next thing that happens to your loan once you have begun the term, your lender will sell it on the secondary mortgage market. As a borrower in good standing, this means little to you directly. However, it sends the loan into a system that spreads the risk among many investors and gives liquidity back to the mortgage companies, so they can keep funding new loans.

Your loan officer or independent originator hands off the mortgage to the company that funds it, the funder may hold it and service it in-house or, when it is an FHA conforming loan, sell it to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to bundle into mortgage-backed securities (MBSs).

Mortgage companies routinely sell home loans on the secondary market for real estate loans. The transfer does not impact borrowers directly. However, the servicer will stake a fraction of a percent as a fee to send the payments to the MBS holders.

Sending Home Loans Down The Pipeline And Servicing Them

The organization that takes your payments and passes them to the MBSs is your mortgage servicer, which may be the same company that initially underwrote your loan, or it may not. Do not be surprised if, not long after you have bought a new home or refinanced, your lender sends you a formal letter of notification of a new servicer.

It is a common practice for lenders to sell to your loan on the secondary market. They may also introduce another financial company that will service your loan by taking your payments. As surprising as this is to unsuspecting consumers, you need not worry, it is all business as usual and part of the structure of the financial industry that forms the foundation of America’s dreams of homeownership.

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Mortgage Rates