Rate Watch

Latest rate drop brings a rush to refinance..

A few months ago, no one was predicting that mortgage interest rates would fall below 4 percent. Now that they are at an average 3.9 percent at this writing, lenders are scrambling to keep up with the demand for refinanced mortgages. Some lenders were offering 30-year jumbo mortgages at 3.75 percent, the lowest interest rate since June 2013. 

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, mortgage rates are following a slide in 10-year Treasury yields, with investors seeking safe haven amid weaker-than-expected economic news from Europe and China as well as worries about the Ebola virus.

An economist at George Mason University noted that we usually associate lower interest rates with lower volatility. Now we are seeing the opposite.

Home buyers may not have an opportunity to take advantage of the current rate, according to Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities. Unless they are just now closing on a mortgage,  it will take months for new buyers to find properties and close deals, and by then rates will likely have changed.

Forecasters don't agree on the outlook for the coming months. The Mortgage Bankers Association thinks the average 30-year-fixed mortgage rate will increase to 4.5 percent.

Wells Fargo's Vitner expects borrowing costs to fall for weeks and maybe months.  He says the refi boomlet will give a lift to the financial sector.

Rates at record lows and HARP continues to be a winner for many

Interest rates remain at all time lows as we begin 2013.  If you are in the market to purchase you are in luck.  With prices remaining low and rates incredibly low, home affordability is extremely high.  For example on a 30 year fixed rate purchase loan of $400,000 with 20% down payment the monthly payment would be $1740.83 (Principal & Interest) at a rate of 3.25 % (APR 3.292%) Usually when you hear someone say "there has never been a better time to buy" it is a sales pitch... well, you do the math.

The refinance market continues to be very strong with HARP loans leading the charge.  The HARP loan is a product designed for under water home owners however we are frequently using it for qualifying borrowers because underwriting guidelines are easier and often there is no appraisal needed.  With refinance rates on the 30 year fixed remaining below 3.625% and on the 15 year fixed below 2.75% it is a great opportunity to save some serious bucks.  Most of my refinance clients are saving between $400 and $500 per month.  What would you do with an extra $6,000 a year?

You can check rates and see what is happening in the mortgage markets any time by logging into my website at http://www.northstonemortgage.com/DailyRateLockAdvisory for rate advisory and http://www.northstonemortgage.com/RateSheet for rates.  If you would like to see if you qualify for the HARP program just give me a call.  Better yet, if you know an underwater home owner you might be able to really help them out a  ton by letting them know about the program.  Give me a call with their contact info and I will do a free check for them to see if this would help them out.

Let's make this a GREAT 2013!

Rates At Record Low

Sep 20, 2012 2:32pm

Mortgage Rates Match All-Time Low

With help from the Federal Reserve, mortgage rates plunged to tie the lowest on record for the week ending today, with the 30-year fixed loan down to 3.49 percent.

The Federal last week announced it would purchase $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities in an effort to spur job creation and lower borrowing costs. The 30-year stood at 3.55 percent a week ago,  Freddie Mac said in a statement.

The real estate market appears to be recovering after more than three years of declines. Sales of existing homes rose to a two-year high in August, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday. Single-family housing starts advanced at the best pace since April 2010, the Commerce Department said.

The average 15-year mortgage declined to 2.77 percent from 2.85 percent, a record low, Freddie Mac reported.


HARP Here we come

The latest news on the new Home Affordable Refinance Program, HARP, is that Federal regulators have recently made key changes that will help borrowers who owe more on their loans than their homes are worth. Every week I receive inquiries from home owners who are current on their mortgages but can't refinance because their loan balances are higher than the value of their homes. The new HARP guidelines will help many homeowners reduce their interest rate. Based on today's rates this would be at or below the 4% range for a 30 year fixed loan.

There are two options with the new HARP changes. Timing is critical on both options and require clear understanding of your home's value. I am uniquely positioned as both a real estate broker and mortgage broker to assist you with this.

OPTION 1: Applications taken from December 1st 2011 to February 29th 2012 (yes, an extra day for us for leap year) are eligible for a loan to value (LTV) up to 125%. Appraisals will be necessary during this time period to determine the LTV. Unlimited combined loan to value ratios (CLTV) are acceptable. The combined loan to value ratio is the combination of your first mortgage and second mortgage or home equity lines (HELOC).

OPTION 2: Applications taken on or after March 1st 2012 are eligible for unlimited LTV and CLTV and this is where those most highly impacted by declining values will get relief. There has been no specific announcement if appraisals will be required but I think not since the plan is to allow unlimited LTV.

The following conditions will apply to both options:

  1. Current 1st mortgages must have closed prior to May of 2009.
  2. The loan cannot have mortgage insurance.
  3. Loans must be owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Call or email and I can research this for you.
  4. Primary, Second Home, investment, and condos all qualify.
  5. Second mortgages can be subordinated with no maximum CLTV.
  6. You must have a qualifying credit score of 640 or more with no credit lates in the past 12 months.
  7. You will still have to qualify based upon income but the good news (better news?) is that with a significant decrease in interest rate your payments should go down.

Mortgage lenders are going to be swamped with applications on this program so right now is the time to get ready. Since applications must be dated no sooner than December 1, 2011 we can have everything ready to go so that we can submit the application as early as possible. For some of you it will be necessary to wait until March 1st 2012 but the anticipated rush will be even greater.

This is by far the best opportunity "underwater" home owners have had during the course of the recession.

If you are a home owner finding yourself in this position my advice is that we review your situation to determine if you are eligible and if it is best to proceed on December 1st or wait until March 1st.

Call or email me today! I will answer your questions and run the numbers to determine just how much money you can save each month!

Brian Leavitt

Designated Broker

Northstone Mortgage

MB 114722

MLO 114864


Lowest interest rates on record

This is an excellent time to refinance.  Northstone Mortgage rates are significantly lower than the national average.  Check them out at northstonemortgage.com


Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), coming on the heels of the Federal Reserve's recent announcements. The conventional 30-year fixed averaged an all-time record low at 4.01 percent; likewise the 15-year fixed averaged an all-time record low at 3.28 percent for the week. Of the five regions surveyed in Freddie Mac's survey, the West region recorded the lowest average rate for the 30-year fixed dipping below 4.00 percent to 3.95 percent.

30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.01 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending September 29, 2011, down from last week when it averaged 4.09 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.32 percent.

15-year FRM this week averaged 3.28 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.29 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.75 percent.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.02 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, matching last week when it also averaged 3.02 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.52 percent.

1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.83 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.82 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 3.48 percent.

Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac, reports, "Fixed mortgage rates fell to all-time record lows this week following the Federal Reserve's announcement of its Maturity Extension Program and additional purchases of mortgage-backed securities. Interest rates for ARMs, however, were nearly unchanged as the Federal Reserve plans to sell $400 billion in short-term Treasury securities, which serve as benchmarks for many ARMs."

"Meanwhile, the spring and summer home-buying season gave a boost to a number of house price indexes. The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that its National index (not seasonally adjusted) rose for the fourth consecutive month in July. Similarly, the S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-City composite index, which has a broader scope of properties, rose 0.9 percent between June and July with 17 of the cities experiencing positive monthly growth. Finally, CoreLogic® reported that its index, excluding distressed sales, increased at a 1.7 percent monthly rate for the same month."

Dear Zillow please blog this

From Zillow April 27, 2010


“Dear Brian,


In reviewing your recent quote ZQ-XXXXXX, we see that this rate is too low. If you feel this is not the case please provide information with the details such as who is the investor, what is your base rate, and lastly what are the ad-ons.

Community Relations



Response April 27, 2010


“Dear Zillow,

I reviewed the quote, and in fact reviewed all of my recent quotes, and have verified that indeed the quote is correct.  I suspect that once again my competitors are complaining about our rates.  You might find this surprising but our clients NEVER see this as a problem.  As far as telling you who my investor is that information is confidential.  My base rate and all fees are disclosed in the quote.  Perhaps the best way for you to verify these rates is to allow me to refinance your home or assist you in a purchase.  Upon completion of a loan application I will be delighted to lock your loan as disclosed in the quote and guarantee this rate.  What is your rate now?


If you have an opportunity I would appreciate it if you would blog about this on the Zillow website.  I find it interesting that just because my competitors can’t compete this is viewed as a problem.


A mutual friend of ours works for Zillow and I forwarded him a confidential copy of our wholesale pricing matrix so that you may verify the authenticity of these rates although he will not provide you with the investor details.


P.S.  If you think this is low wait until you see our new JUMBO program rolling out this afternoon.


Brian Leavitt

Designated Broker

Northstone Mortgage



Refinance rates drop again

If you have considered a refinance, now may be the best time ever.  Rates took a surprising dip today moving to new lows in the 4.25% to 4.75% range on the 10, 15 and 30 year products.  In recent weeks rates have been hovering just under 5% so right now we are seeing rates at their best.

One option I am suggesting my clients consider is moving to a 15 year loan instead of the typical 30 year loan.  If you take a look at the difference in monthly payments between a 15 year fixed and a 30 year fixed often the difference is very manageable.  If the difference is manageable then take a look at the difference in total interest you will pay over the life of the loan.  You will be pleased with the substantial savings.   Dave Ramsey goes into this in some detail in his book, total money makeover.  His advice is that it is better to have no debt.  What a concept in a society that views debt as a fact of life.  I read this book with my wife Diane over our recent vacation and we give it two thumbs up.

If you would like a detailed analysis of the difference a 15 year loan could make for you and or if you would like to put together a plan to be completely debt free, just call or email.

Brian Leavitt is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and a Licensed Mortgage Broker representing  Northstone Real Estate Inc and Northstone Mortgage.

Brian Serves clients within the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

You can contact Brian directly by phone at 425-837-4700 or toll free at 800-806-3145 or by email at broker@northstone.net

Click here to see Brian's client newsletter.

Brian is licensed by the Washington State Department of Licensing and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions License number 510-MB-19802 and is a memberr of the Seattle King County Association of Realtors and Northwest Multiple Listing Service.