Date Archives: March 2022

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Buying A Home | 2 Posts
Holland, MI | 20 Posts
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Mortgage | 36 Posts
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West Michigan | 6 Posts
March
28

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

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

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

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 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 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
8

Looking for your new favorite restaurant? Here are the local Italian staples you have to visit.

Few meals are more satisfying than a warm bowl of pasta topped with your favorite sauce and paired with a nice glass of wine, especially when celebrating a special event with your family. When we heard National Meatball Day was on March 6th, we thought it'd be a great excuse to head out to our favorite local Italian eatery and indulge in our favorite pasta or pizza.

Italian cuisine has always been a favorite of our real estate agents, so it wasn't too difficult for us to compile a list of our favorite Italian restaurants around Western Michigan. Here are six of our favorite restaurants:

Click Here to Read More...

March
7

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

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% 
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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.

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