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November
30

December Holidays - Daily Calendar National, World Days

About December Holidays

It's hard to believe, but the December holidays are upon us. You could say that December is one big holiday. It includes the big ones like Christmas, New Year, Hanukah, and Kwanza. It also includes a plethora of December National holidays and, December International Holidays for us to enjoy. Many of them are seasonal holidays like "Festivus for the Festivus" and "Christmas Card Day" and "Hum Bug Day". Make sure to take a little time from your busy holiday shopping and preparation, to thoroughly enjoy all of the December holidays on our calendar.

December Monthly Celebrations

  • Bingo Month
  • National Fruitcake Month
  •  Safe Toys and Gifts Month
  • World Food Service Safety Month
  • Write a Friend Month

December Weekly Events

  • National Handwashing Awareness Week –  first week of the month

  • Human Rights Week – second week in December

  • Thank a Soldier Week – the week including Christmas

Santa Baking

2022 December Daily Holidays, Special and Wacky Days:

December 1

 Eat a Red Apple Day

World Aids Awareness Day

December 2

 National Fritters Day

December 3

 National Roof over Your Head Day

December 4

 Santa's List Day – we hope you are on the "Nice" list

 Wear Brown Shoes Day

December 5

 Bathtub Party Day

 Repeal Day – The 21st Amendment ends Prohibition. I'll drink to that!

December 6

Bartender Appreciation Day – in Europe

St. Nicholas Day

Mitten Tree Day

Put on your own Shoes Day

December 7

International Civil Aviation Day

Letter Writing Day

National Cotton Candy Day – would you like some fairy floss?

Pearl Harbor Day

December 8 

National Brownie Day

Take it in the Ear Day

December 9

Christmas Card Day

National Pastry Day

December 10

Human Rights Day

Nobel Prize Day

Santa with Boy

December holidays include many International and National Holidays

Christmas Tree

Hang Up Your Stocking

November
25

Avoid These Mistakes When Selling Your Home

Selling your home can be surprisingly time-consuming and emotionally challenging. It can feel like an invasion of privacy when strangers open your closets and poke around. They will openly criticize your home and your decorating abilities, and to top it all off, they will offer you less money than you think your home is worth.

With no experience and a complex transaction on your hands, it's easy for home sellers to mistakes. The best way to sell a house comes down to a few basics:

  • Keep your emotions in check and stay focused on the business aspect.
  • Hire an agent. It'll cost you in commission, but it takes the guesswork out of selling.
  • Set a reasonable price.
  • Keep the time of year in mind and avoid the winter months if possible.
  • Prepare for the sale. Your home must look its best to compete.
  • Take time over your listing and add lots of high-quality photographs, inside and out.

See more below on the fatal errors that can prevent you from selling your home.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • To sell your home, think like a salesperson, not like a homeowner.
  • Do your research and set a realistic asking price.
  • Wait until spring if you can.
  • Take time to prepare and photograph your home.

Getting Emotional

It's easy to get emotional about selling your home, especially your first one. You spent a great deal of time and effort to find the right one, saved up for your down payment and furniture, and created many memories. People generally have trouble keeping their emotions in check when it comes time to say goodbye.

Think it's impossible? It's not. When you decide to sell your home, start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and salesperson rather than just the homeowner. In fact, forget altogether that you're the homeowner. By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you'll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property.

Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling a piece of property as well as an image and a lifestyle, you'll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and doing some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price; they'll also help you create emotional distance because your home will look less familiar.

Not Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Although real estate agents command a hefty commission—usually 5% to 6% of the sale price of your home—it's probably not a great idea to try to sell your home on your own, especially if you haven't done it before.1 It can be tempting, especially if you've seen all those "for sale by owner" signs on people's front lawns or on the Internet. So does it pay to hire an agent?

A good agent generally has your best interests at heart. They will help you set a fair and competitive selling price for your home, increasing your odds of a quick sale. An agent can also help tone down the emotion of the process by interacting with potential buyers and eliminating tire kickers who only want to look at your property but have no intention of making an offer.

Your agent will also have more experience negotiating home sales, helping you get more money than you could on your own. If any problems crop up during the process, an experienced professional will be there to handle them for you. Finally, agents are familiar with all the paperwork and pitfalls involved in real estate transactions and can help make sure the process goes smoothly. This means there won't be any delays or unforeseen legal ramifications in the deal.

After reading all this, should you really hire an agent? Only you can decide.

What to Do If You Don't Use a Real Estate Agent

So you've decided not to hire an agent. That's fine because it's not like it can't be done. There are people who sell their own homes successfully. Remember, though, you'll need to do your research first—on recently sold properties in your area and properties currently on the market—to determine an attractive selling price. Keep in mind that most home prices have an agent's commission factored in, so you may have to discount your price as a result.

You'll be responsible for your own marketing, so make sure to get your home on the multiple listing service (MLS) in your geographic area to reach the widest number of buyers. Because you have no agent, you'll be the one showing the house and negotiating the sale with the buyer's agent, which can be time-consuming, stressful, and emotional for some people.

Because you're forgoing an agent, consider hiring a real estate attorney to help you with the finer points of the transaction and the escrow process. Even with attorney's fees, selling a home yourself can save you thousands. If the buyer has an agent, however, they'll expect to be compensated. This cost is typically covered by the seller, so you'll still need to pay 1% to 3% of the home's sale price to the buyer's agent.1

Setting an Unrealistic Price

Whether you're working with an agent or going it alone, setting the right asking price is key. Remember the comparative market analysis you or your agent did when you bought your home to determine a fair offering price? Buyers will do this for your home, too, so as a seller you should be one step ahead of them.

 

You may think your home is worth more, but remember to set a realistic price based on comparable homes in the area.

Absent a housing bubble, overpriced homes generally don't sell. In a survey conducted by the informational home sale website HomeLight.com, 70% of real estate agents said that overpricing is the top mistake that sellers make.2

Don't worry too much about setting a price that's on the low side, because in theory, this will generate multiple offers and bid the price up to the home's actual market value. In fact, underpricing your home can be a strategy to generate extra interest in your listing, and you can always refuse an offer that's too low.3

Expecting the Asking Price

Any smart buyer will negotiate, and if you want to complete the sale, you may have to play ball. Most people want to list their homes at a price that will attract buyers while still leaving some breathing room for negotiations—the opposite of the underpricing strategy described above. This may work, allowing the buyer to feel like they are getting good value while allowing you to get the amount of money you need from the sale.

Of course, whether you end up with more or less than your asking price will likely depend not just on your pricing strategy but also on whether you're in a buyer's market or a seller's market and how well you have staged and modernized your home.

Selling During Winter Months

Believe it or not, there really is a right time to sell during the year. Winter, especially around the holidays, is typically a slow time of year for home sales. People are busy with social engagements, and the cold weather across much of the country makes it more appealing just to stay home.

Because fewer buyers are likely to be looking, it may take longer to sell your home, and you may not get as much money. However, you can take some consolation in knowing that while there may not be as many active buyers, there also won't be as many competing sellers, which can sometimes work to your advantage.

You may be better off waiting. Barring any mitigating circumstances that may force you to sell during the winter or holidays, consider listing when the weather begins to warm up. People are usually ready and willing to purchase a home when it's warmer.4

Skimping on Listing Photos

Because so many buyers look for homes online these days, and so many of those homes have photos, you'll be doing yourself a real disservice if you don't have high-quality visuals of your home. At the same time, there are so many poor photos of homes for sale that if you do a good job, it will set your listing apart and help generate extra interest.

Good photos should be crisp and clear and taken during the day when there is plenty of natural light available. They should showcase your home's best attributes. Consider using a wide-angle lens if possible—this allows you to give potential buyers a better idea of what entire rooms look like. Ideally, hire a professional real estate photographer to get top-quality results instead of just letting your agent take snapshots on a phone.

Consider adding a video tour or 360-degree view to further enhance your listing. This can be easily done with any smartphone. You can certainly entice more potential buyers into walking through your doors for showings. You may even get more offers if you give them an introductory walk-through of your property.

Not Carrying Proper Insurance

Your lender may have required you to acquire a homeowners insurance policy. If not, you'll want to make sure you're insured in case a viewer has an accident on the premises and tries to sue you for damages. You also want to make sure there are no obvious hazards at the property or that you take steps to mitigate them (keeping the children of potential buyers away from your pool and getting your dog out of the house during showings, for example).

Hiding Major Problems

Think you can get away with hiding major problems with your property? Any problem will be uncovered during the buyer's inspection. You have three options for dealing with any issues. Either fix the problem ahead of time, price the property below market value to account for it, or list the property at a normal price and offer the buyer a credit to fix the problem.

Remember: if you don't fix the problem in advance, you may eliminate a fair number of buyers who want a turnkey home. Having your home inspected before listing is a good idea if you want to avoid costly surprises after the home is under contract.

Further, many states have disclosure rules.5 Some require sellers to disclose known problems about their homes if buyers ask directly, while others decree that sellers must voluntarily disclose certain issues.

Not Preparing for the Sale 

Sellers who do not clean and stage their homes throw money down the drain. Don't worry if you can't afford to hire a professional. There are many things you can do on your own. Failing to do these things can reduce your sales price and may also prevent you from getting a sale at all. If you haven't attended to minor issues, such as a broken doorknob or dripping faucet, a potential buyer may wonder whether the house has larger, costlier issues that haven't been addressed either.

Have a friend or an agent (someone with a fresh pair of eyes) point out areas of your home that need work. Because of your familiarity with the home, you may be immune to its trouble spots. Decluttering, cleaning thoroughly, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and getting rid of any odors will also help you make a good impression on buyers.

Not Accommodating Buyers

If someone wants to view your house, you need to accommodate them, even if it inconveniences you. Clean and tidy the house before every single visit. A buyer won't know or care if your house was clean last week. It's a lot of work, but stay focused on the prize.

Selling to Unqualified Buyers

It's more than reasonable to expect a buyer to bring a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender or proof of funds (POF) for cash purchases to show that they have the money to buy the home. Signing a contract with a buyer may be contingent on the sale of their own property, which may put you in a serious bind if you need to close by a particular date.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Sell a House With a Mortgage?

Yes, you can sell a house with a mortgage. During the escrow process, you will get a mortgage payoff statement (sometimes called a payoff quote) from the lender holding your mortgage that lists the exact remaining balance. When your loan closes, the escrow agent will send the balance of your mortgage to your lender, paying off your mortgage.

Should I Stage My House?

Staging a home can lead to quicker sales and higher home prices.6 However, not everyone needs to hire a professional staging service. Just taking a few steps like cleaning and decluttering can have a significant impact on a home's sale and will need to be done before moving regardless of the sale.

How Much Will I Make Selling My House?

How much you will make depends on the sale price, agent commissions, closing costs, and the remaining mortgage balance. If working with a real estate agent, you should receive a seller's net sheet before you even list your property, which details what you can estimate to make.7 When you have accepted an offer and are in escrow, you will get a closing disclosure from your lender that details exactly how much you will receive after your loan closes.

Should You Sell Your Home for Cash?

Selling a home for cash is a quick way to avoid the hassle and stress of staging a house, showing it, making repairs, and juggling competing offers. However, most cash buyers won't buy a home for more than 75% of the home's value, minus any anticipated fixing-up expenses.8 Selling a home for cash is easier, but at a significant financial cost that should be considered.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to sell a house is crucial. Make sure you prepare mentally and financially for less-than-ideal scenarios, even if you don't make any of these mistakes. The house may sit on the market for far longer than you expect, especially in a declining market.

If you can't find a buyer in time, you may end up trying to pay two mortgages, having to rent your home out until you can find a buyer, or, in dire situations, in foreclosure. However, if you avoid the costly mistakes listed here, you'll be a long way toward putting your best foot forward and achieving that seamless, lucrative sale for which every home seller hopes. 

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November
23

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Nov. 22, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates remained almost steady yesterday. So, there has still been no noticeable bounce following those rates' record-breaking tumble on Nov. 10.

So far this morning, it's looking as if mortgage rates today might move lower. But that could change later in the day.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Nov 23rd, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 6.753% 6.782% -0.12% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 5.938% 5.97% +0.04% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 6.482% 6.539% -0.27% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 6.522% 6.618% +0.02% 
30 year fixed FHA 6.508% 7.288% +0.1% 
15 year fixed FHA 6.133% 6.663% +0.05% 
30 year fixed VA 6.421% 6.654% +0.21% 
15 year fixed VA 6.375% 6.736% +0.09% 
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.

Of course, there's a chance that mortgage rates will fall over the next few months. But I reckon rises are more likely.

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 edged lower to 3.77% from 3.79%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates typically tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were mostly higher soon after opening. (Sometimes bad for mortgage rates.) When investors buy shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes those prices down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices climbed to $80.95 from $76.43 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices rose to $1,747 from $1,743 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally better for rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy.
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index —rose to 64 from 60 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to fall. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change speed or direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Nov 23rd, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Mortgage rates have been becalmed since their dramatic tumble on Nov. 10. Indeed, according to Mortgage News Daily's archive, they were just 2 basis points higher last night than they were on the morning of Nov. 11.

And a basis point is one-hundredth of 1% (0.01%). So those 2 bps really do represent an imperceptible difference.

The bounce that never came

Ever since that tumble, I've been predicting that mortgage rates would bounce back, at least to a limited extent. But no. Not a sign of one.

For once, I doubt I was wrong to expect one. The Federal Reserve and leading figures in the financial media have all been saying that markets called their play wrongly on Nov. 10.

The fall in mortgage rates was triggered by a single better-than-expected inflation report. And Investing 101 says you never bet heavily on a just one month's report. But betting heavily is precisely what Wall Street did.

So, why's there still been no bounce? I haven't a clue. And, over the weekend, my best guess was a metaphor: Investors are sticking their fingers in their ears and chanting la-la-la-la.

What's next?

Of course, there's still a possibility of investors suddenly recognizing how exposed they are and pushing mortgage rates higher. Or they might choose to wait to see how the next couple of inflation reports turn out. They're due on Dec. 1 and Dec. 13.

If those confirm the Nov. 10 report's inflation trend, mortgage rates might fall even further. But if they show it to be an outlier, stand by for a big — if belated — bounce.

To catch up and to discover more background, please read the weekend edition of this report.

According to Freddie Mac's archives, the weekly all-time low for mortgage rates was set on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

Freddie's Nov. 17 report put that same weekly average at 6.61%, sharply down from the previous week's 7.08%.

Belatedly, from Nov. 17, Freddie has stopped including discount points in its forecasts. It has also moved later the time of day at which it publishes its Thursday reports. And, from now on, we'll be updating this section on Fridays.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts — updated today

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 rate forecasts for the current quarter (Q4/22) and the first three quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23 and Q3/24).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Nov. 22, the MBA's on Oct. 23 and Freddie's on Oct. 21.

Forecaster Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23 Q3/23
Fannie Mae 7.0% 7.0%  6.9% 6.7%
Freddie Mac 6.8% 6.6%  6.5% 6.4%
MBA 6.7% 6.2%  5.7% 5.5%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive.

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."

Verify your new rate (Nov 23rd, 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.

November
21

National Stuffing Day

Stuffing is a major player in the world of Thanksgiving. Let's face it: chicken and turkey can pop up at any time of the year, but when we want to dress those birds up, there's just no substitute for some good ol' carbyfilling. Even better, stuffing comes in all shapes and sizes. There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes it—it can be bread, any kind of bread, rice, quinoa, and even matzo. There's only one hard and fast stuffing rule: mix some ingredients, stuff it inside a cavity of another food item, and voila! Make no bones about it—it's delicious. That's why, on November 21, we celebrate National Stuffing Day!

NATIONAL STUFFING DAY TIMELINE

2nd century B.C
Much Ado About Stuffing

A chef named Apicius created recipes for stuffed rabbit, chicken and even dormouse in his cookbook "Apicius de re Coquinaria."

1836
Turkey Traditions

Stuffing Turkey became a regular staple for the Thanksgiving Day meal.

1972
Making Thanksgiving more delicious

Ruth Siems made life easier and Turkey more delicious with 'Stove Top Stuffing.'

November 21, 2005
National Stuffing Day

National Stuffing Day seems to have started in 2005 as a promotion for stuffing, and is now observed annually with great zeal.

NATIONAL STUFFING DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Have a stuffing tasting party

    Invite friends or family to come for a stuffing tasting party. Not only can others pre-test their stuffing, but also a whole group of people can benefit from it! Plus, who ever argued with getting to try lots of stuffing varieties? Who knows—one of your friends might have your next greatholiday recipe.

  2. Make a stuffing you've always wanted to try

    There's a whole world of stuffing out there, and yet, we only tend to make it for the holidays. Today's the day to stray away from that boring turkey stuffing and try some of the other varieties. If anyone in your family turns up their noses, tell them you made it all for yourself and you're not sharing!

  3. Get inspired

    Go back into vintage Julia-Child-Land and watch her make stuffing. Go to your favorite food blogger's page and see what heor she has kicking in the recipe department! There's no shortage of places to look for stuffing inspiration. So get onto that internet and go crazy.

WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL STUFFING DAY

  1. It's a practice session

    With Thanksgiving just around the corner, today is the day to perfect your stuffing recipe. Making a traditional apple and onion stuffing? Use today to hone your ratios of caramelized onions to tart apples to thyme. Or, if you're hosting a holiday for the first time, test that fabulous stuffing recipe before it's too late.

  2. There's an endless variety of stuffing recipes

    Do you want a simple formula for making stuffing? Here it is: Start with a grain, add liquid and/or fat, spices and herbs and something with flavor and texture. For example, start with cooked rice, add chicken stock, season with thyme, garlic, marjoram, salt and pepper and add dried cherries and cranberries with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts. Stuff the whole mixture into pork chops and you have stuffed pork chops! Are you more of a traditionalist? Start with cubed stale bread, add turkey stock and melted butter. Throw in some rosemary and parsley, and cube some apples for texture. Mix together and stuff the entire mixture into your favorite member of the fowl family. Roast and relax until dinner is ready!

  3. It's a great way to use up leftovers

    With the holidays on the way, you're going to need some serious refrigerator space. Stuffing is a great way to use up some of the leftovers taking up valuable refrigerator real estate. Take those croutons left over from last week's salad, a little butter, those sad looking celery stalks and half an onion and mix it together using a little hot water and stuff them into those red peppers that are going to go bad if you don't use them soon. Pop the whole the whole thing into a casserole dish with a little oliveoil on top and bake in a hot oven and no one will ever guess that last night's leftovers have become tonight's dinner. You're a culinary superstar!

NATIONAL STUFFING DAY DATES

Year Date Day
2022 November 21 Monday
2023 November 21 Tuesday
2024 November 21 Thursday
2025 November 21 Friday
2026 November 21 Saturday
November
21

Local breweries are often where you find the best food and drinks. Here are the Holland spots you should visit.

Nothing beats hanging with friends and family while enjoying craft beer, which is probably one of the many reasons why local breweries have become so popular. Our real estate agents love seeing new breweries pop up all over time, as they're great for the local economy. They offer a great place to hang out while also attracting people from out of town. Plus, they give you the chance to try a new beer! It's a win-win situation.

We've been scoping out all the breweries and brewpubs around Holland this year, and here are some of our favorites:

  • Our Brewing Company - 76 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Sip a refreshing glass of Careless Whisper IPA or a German-style Brent's Dunkel at Our Brewing Company. Don't be fooled by this nano-breweries small size, it has everything you want in a fun brewpub, including rotating taps, trivia nights, live music, and an easy-going atmosphere. It's quickly becoming one of the best breweries in Holland. While they don't have a kitchen, outside food is welcome. If you have a good time at this brewery, we recommend scheduling a tour of one of these beautiful Holland homes for sale just down the road.

  • Brewery 4 Two 4 - 321 Douglas Ave #120, Holland, MI 49424
    When it comes to the beer selection, Brewery 4 Two 4 has something for everyone. With a name stemming from the north side Holland zip code, this place strives to be a community asset and gathering space. The bar area features 20 taps of high-quality beers and ciders, and plenty of tables, as well as darts and board games.

  • New Holland Brewing - 66 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Brewers of the famous Dragon Milk Stout, New Holland Brewing is a leader in the craft beer revolution, and they call Holland, Michigan home. Enjoy your favorite beer or spirit at their comfortable brewpub and distillery. If you're hungry, bar snacks, pizzas, salads, and soups are available on the menu. Make sure to check out their daily specials!

  • Big Lake Brewing - 13 W 7th St, Holland, MI 49423
    Big Lake Brewing offers quite a unique beer selection with nearly two dozen drafts, including options like Cotton Candy Haze, Mango Habanero Haze, and Lemonade Beer. With so many variations, you'll definitely want to order a flight. The large bar area has an industrial vibe, and the large food menu is loaded with starters, snacks, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads.

  • Copper Craft Distillery - 184 120th Ave, Holland, MI 49424
    While it's technically not a brewery, Copper Craft Distillery had to make our list due to their delicious spirits, great food, and fun atmosphere. The Straight Bourbon Whiskey and the Citrus Flavored Vodka are two of our favorites. Sip your favorite spirit in the rustic-themed tasting room or browse the shop and purchase some to take home. A tour or tasting session is a fun activity for a group of friends.

Breweries and brewpubs are a lot of fun, and we have some great options here in Holland. Contact us today to learn more about local listings.

November
14

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Like any big project, a successful homebuying experience is all about getting the details right from start to finish. These tips for first-time home buyers will help you navigate the process, save money and close the deal. We organized them into four categories:

  • Preparing to buy tips.

  • Mortgage selection tips.

  • Home shopping tips.

  • Home purchasing tips.

Preparing to buy tips

1. Start saving early

Here are the main costs to consider when saving for a home:

  • Down payment: Your down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender. Some conventional loans aimed at first-time home buyers with excellent credit require as little as 3% down. But even a small down payment can be challenging to save. For example, a 3% down payment on a $300,000 home is $9,000. Use a down payment calculator to decide on a goal, and then set up automatic transfers from checking to savings to get started.

  • Closing costs: These are the fees and expenses you pay to finalize your mortgage, and they typically range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount. If you were making a 3% down payment on that $300,000 home, your closing costs could be between $5,820 and $14,550. That's additional money you'd have to pay, on top of your down payment. In a buyer's market, you can often ask the seller to pay a portion of your closing costs, and you can save on some expenses, such as home inspections, by shopping around.

  • Move-in expenses: You'll need some cash after the home purchase. Set some money aside for immediate home repairs, upgrades, and furnishings.

2. Decide how much home you can afford

Figure out how much you can safely spend on a house before starting to shop. NerdWallet's home affordability calculator can help with setting a price range based on your income, debt, down payment, credit score and where you plan to live.

3. Check and strengthen your credit

Your credit score will determine whether you qualify for a mortgage and affect the interest rate lenders will offer. Having a higher score will generally get you a lower interest rate, so take these steps to strengthen your credit score to buy a house:

  • Get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and dispute any errors that could hurt your score.

  • Pay all your bills on time, and keep credit card balances as low as possible.

  • Keep current credit cards open. Closing a card will increase the portion of available credit you use, which can lower your score.

Mortgage selection tips

4. Explore mortgage options

A variety of mortgages are available with varying down payment and eligibility requirements. Here are the main categories:

  • Conventional mortgages are not guaranteed by the government. Some conventional loans targeted at first-time buyers require as little as 3% down.

  • FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and allow down payments as low as 3.5%.

  • USDA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are for rural home buyers and usually require no down payment.

  • VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are for current and veteran military service members and usually require no down payment.

You also have options when it comes to the mortgage term. Most home buyers opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is paid off in 30 years and has an interest rate that stays the same. A 15-year loan typically has a lower interest rate than a 30-year mortgage, but the monthly payments are larger.

When interest rates are increasing, you might consider an adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM. ARM rates are often lower than fixed rates, enabling you to buy a more expensive home for the same monthly payment, but they can also increase (or decrease) over time.

5. Research first-time home buyer assistance programs

Many states and some cities and counties offer first-time home buyer programs, which often combine low-interest-rate mortgages with down payment assistance and closing cost assistance. Tax credits are also available through some first-time home buyer programs.

6. Compare mortgage rates and fees

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends requesting loan estimates for the same type of mortgage from multiple lenders to compare the costs, including interest rates and possible origination fees.

Lenders may offer the opportunity to buy discount points, which are fees the borrower pays upfront to lower the interest rate. Buying points can make sense if you have the money on hand and plan to stay in the home for a long time. Use a discount points calculator to decide.

In a buyers' market, some motivated sellers may offer to pay some or all of the buyer's points to close the deal.

7. Get a preapproval letter

A mortgage preapproval is a lender's offer to loan you a certain amount under specific terms. Having a preapproval letter shows home sellers and real estate agents that you're a serious buyer and can give you an edge over home shoppers who haven't taken this step yet.

Apply for preapproval when you're ready to start home shopping. A lender will pull your credit and review documents to verify your income, assets and debt. Applying for preapproval from more than one lender to shop rates shouldn't hurt your credit score as long as you apply for them within a limited time frame, such as 30 days.

Home shopping tips

8. Choose a real estate agent carefully

A good real estate agent will scour the market for homes that meet your needs and guide you through the negotiation and closing process. Get agent referrals from other recent home buyers. Interview at least a few agents, and request references. When speaking with potential agents, ask about their experience helping first-time home buyers in your market and how they plan to help you find a home. You might also ask how they find homes that aren't yet on the market, which can be a handy skill when buyer competition is fierce.

9. Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

Weigh the pros and cons of different types of homes, given your lifestyle and budget. A condominium or townhome may be more affordable than a single-family home, but shared walls with neighbors will mean less privacy. Don't forget to budget for homeowners association fees when shopping for condos and townhomes, or houses in planned or gated communities.

Another option to consider is buying a fixer-upper — a single-family home in need of updates or repairs. Fixer-uppers usually sell for less per square foot than move-in ready homes. However, you may need to budget extra for repairs and remodeling. Renovation mortgages finance both the home price and the cost of improvements in one loan.

Think about your long-term needs and whether a starter home or forever home will meet them best. If you plan to start or expand your family, it may make sense to buy a home with extra room to grow.

Research potential neighborhoods thoroughly. Choose one with amenities that are important to you, including schools and entertainment options, and test out the commute to work during rush hour.

10. Stick to your budget

A lender may offer to loan you more than what is comfortably affordable, or you may feel pressure to spend outside your comfort zone to beat another buyer's offer. To avoid financial stress down the road, set a price range based on your budget, and then stick to it.

In a competitive market, consider looking at properties below your price limit to give some wiggle room for bidding. In a buyer's market, you may be able to view homes a bit above your limit. Your real estate agent can suggest a range for your offering price.

11. Make the most of open houses

Online 3D home tours have become more popular as technology improves. These tours let shoppers virtually walk through a home at any hour and observe details that regular photos don't catch. They don't supply all the information in-person visits do — like how the carpets smell — but they can help you narrow the list of properties to visit.

Open your senses when touring homes in person. Listen for noise, pay attention to any odors and look at the overall condition of the home inside and out. Ask about the type and age of the electrical and plumbing systems and the roof.

Home purchasing tips

12. Pay for home inspections

A home inspection is a thorough assessment of the structure and mechanical systems. Professional inspectors look for potential problems, so you can make an informed decision about buying the property. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Standard inspections don't test for things like radon, mold or pests. Understand what's included in the inspection and ask your agent what other inspections you might need.

  • Make sure the inspectors can get to every part of the house, such as the roof and any crawl spaces.

  • It's usually helpful if the buyer attends any inspections. By following the inspectors around you can get a better understanding of the home and ask questions on the spot. If you can't attend the inspections, review the reports carefully and ask about anything that's unclear.

13. Negotiate with the seller

You may be able to save money by asking the seller to pay for repairs in advance or lower the price to cover the cost of repairs you'll have to make later. You may also ask the seller to pay some of the closing costs. But keep in mind that lenders may limit the portion of closing costs the seller can pay.

Your negotiating power will depend on the local market. It's tougher to drive a hard bargain when there are more buyers than homes for sale. Work with your real estate agent to understand the local market and strategize accordingly.

14. Buy adequate home insurance

Your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance before closing the deal. Home insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your home and belongings if they're damaged by an incident covered in the policy. It also provides liability insurance if you're held responsible for an injury or accident. Buy enough home insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home if it's destroyed.

It may be worth buying an umbrella policy if you need to cover your home, cars and other major assets.

November
7

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Nov. 5, and rate forecast for next week

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates barely moved yesterday. Unfortunately, however, they rose appreciably over the last seven days.

Last week, I managed a rare (and correct) forecast of where mortgage rates would head this week. But that's something I can't repeat today. And we're back to those rates being wholly unpredictable over that period.

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 7.409% 7.44% -0.07% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 6.63% 6.66% -0.07% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 7.356% 7.409% -0.05% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 6.618% 6.697% -0.01% 
30 year fixed FHA 7.001% 7.709% -0.26% 
15 year fixed FHA 6.714% 7.286% -0.1% 
30 year fixed VA 6.888% 7.127% -0.05% 
15 year fixed VA 6.606% 6.97% -0.02% 
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.

Find and lock a low rate (Nov 7th, 2022)


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.

The Federal Reserve's report and comments on Wednesday only reinforced my view that mortgage rates are unlikely to fall far (at least for long) for several months.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations 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

However, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So let your gut and your own tolerance for risk help guide you.

What's moving current mortgage rates

Unfortunately, last week's Federal Reserve activity panned out pretty much as I predicted. The central bank remains committed to doing what it takes to tame inflation. And that includes hiking interest rates.

When the Fed raises the federal fund rate, almost all interest rates rise in line with it. There's a direct tie.

Now, it's true that mortgage rates are different. They're not directly tied to any other rate. Instead, they're largely determined by the yield on a type of bond (the mortgage-backed security or MBS) traded on a specialist bond market.

However, the Fed has a huge influence on that market. And we've seen mortgage rates rise this year as Fed rate hikes have been implemented.

What's next?

With Wednesday's Fed activities out the way, what's next? Well, there's a repeat due on Dec. 14. And markets are already focusing on that.

CME's FedWatch tool puts the probability of a 50-basis-point (0.5%) hike that day at 52% and of another 0.75% increase at 48%. But those will change as the weeks pass.

In the meantime, of course, data in economic reports will move mortgage rates. But reactions to those reports will at least in part be driven by a single question: What impact will these data have on the Fed's next rate hike?

What to look out for

The reports that are most likely to influence mortgage rates over the coming weeks are those for:

  1. Inflation — Notably the consumer price index (CPI) and the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index
  2. Employment — Especially the monthly employment situation report
  3. Growth — Gross domestic product (GDP) revisions

Higher unemployment and lower growth and inflation are likely to be good for mortgage rates. But the opposites of those would probably be bad news for those rates. That would typically be true at all times, but, currently, their influence on the Fed could magnify their effect.

The first of those comes next Thursday in the shape of the CPI report for October. And at least one of each are scheduled before those Dec. 14 Fed events.

All this leaves me pessimistic about mortgage rates over the next few months. In its communications on Wednesday, the Fed noted that "recent data indicate modest economic growth, a very tight labor market, and elevated inflation," to quote a Comerica Bank e-newsletter yesterday.

Of course, there's always hope that future figures will become more friendly to mortgage rates. But I fear it would take an exceptionally sharp turn to divert the Fed from its rate-hiking path before next spring. And yesterday's employment situation report suggests good news is unlikely anytime soon.

Economic reports next week

Next week, it's all about Thursday's consumer price index. There's really very little else to worry about. Oh, and markets are closed on Friday for the Veterans Day holiday.

That important report is shown below in bold. Others are unlikely to move mortgage rates unless they contain shockingly good or bad data.

  • Tuesday — October small business index from the National Federation of Independent Business
  • Thursday — Consumer price index (CPI) for October. Plus weekly new claims for unemployment insurance to Nov. 5
  • Friday — Bond markets closed for Veterans Day holiday. Mortgage rates shouldn't move and we won't be publishing our usual daily report. However, the consumer sentiment report for November should appear that day

Thursday's the big day next week.

Verify your new rate (Nov 7th, 2022)

Mortgage interest rates forecast for next week

Unfortunately, I have to revert to my recent default position and fail to provide a forecast for where mortgage rates will move next week. Things are simply too volatile and unpredictable to make a judgment.

How your mortgage interest rate is determined

Mortgage and refinance rates are generally determined by prices in a secondary market (similar to the stock or bond markets) where mortgage-backed securities are traded.

And that's highly dependent on the economy. So mortgage rates tend to be high when things are going well and low when the economy's in trouble. But inflation rates can undermine those tendencies.

Your part

But you play a big part in determining your own mortgage rate in five ways. And you can affect it significantly by:

  1. Shopping around for your best mortgage rate — They vary widely from lender to lender
  2. Boosting your credit score — Even a small bump can make a big difference to your rate and payments
  3. Saving the biggest down payment you can — Lenders like you to have real skin in this game
  4. Keeping your other borrowing modest — The lower your other monthly commitments, the bigger the mortgage you can afford
  5. Choosing your mortgage carefully — Are you better off with a conventional, conforming, FHA, VA, USDA, jumbo or another loan?

Time spent getting these ducks in a row can see you winning lower rates.

Remember, they're not just a mortgage rate

Be sure to count all your forthcoming homeownership costs when you're working out how big a mortgage you can afford. So, focus on your "PITI." That's your Principal (pays down the amount you borrowed), Interest (the price of borrowing), (property) Taxes, and (homeowners) Insurance. Our mortgage calculator can help with these.

Depending on your type of mortgage and the size of your down payment, you may have to pay mortgage insurance, too. And that can easily run into three figures every month.

But there are other potential costs. So you'll have to pay homeowners association dues if you choose to live somewhere with an HOA. And, wherever you live, you should expect repairs and maintenance costs. There's no landlord to call when things go wrong!

Finally, you'll find it hard to forget closing costs. You can see those reflected in the annual percentage rate (APR) that lenders will quote you. Because that effectively spreads them out over your loan's term, making that higher than your straight mortgage rate.

But you may be able to get help with those closing costs and your down payment, especially if you're a first-time buyer. 

November
4

Which home renovations have the best ROI (return on investment)?

No matter what the motivation for your home renovation may be, you'll want to know that your money is well spent. These are the home improvements that provide the best return on investment (ROI) to increase your home's value.

Summary

  • On average, home renovations provide a 70% ROI.
  • Home renovations are one of the only investments that can improve the quality of life in your living space and increase the value of your home for the future.
  • The home improvements with the best ROI are projects that add functional space and square footage. Common examples are finishing basements, addition projects that add bedrooms/bathrooms, and new kitchens.
  • Home improvements that don't add value are: luxury upgrades, aesthetic-only improvements, or out-of-the-norm projects for your homes in your neighborhood.
What is the ROI of a Home Renovation?#

The ROI from a home renovation, depends on several factors:

  • Real estate market
  • Location
  • Project type
  • Timing

However, most home improvements will not give you a 100% return on investment. While HGTV shows like Fix it or Flip it can make it seem like renovations are a great way to make money, that's not the reality for the majority of home remodeling. 

The rule of thumb that we share with homeowners is that you can expect a 70% ROI, on average, with home renovation projects. 

If you're looking for a way to invest your money and turn good profit, any financial expert worth their salt will not advise renovating as the way to do it. There are many other routes to invest your money, like putting money into the S&P 500, for example, that will give you a better return than a home renovation.

The reason why ROI is such a big factor in home renovations is that remodeling is the only method of investing where you get two means of value: you can get the ROI, and the greatly improved quality of life with a new space in your home.

For example, when you purchase a car and get repairs, you're spending money on a depreciating asset. You're putting money into your car and you won't get back a single dollar. 

When you purchase and renovate a home, you're putting work into an appreciating asset - and chances are some of that money will stay with you! But there are still better ways to invest if that's your number one priority.

So while ROI is exciting and important, it should not be the end-all-be-all of your project. 

With that said, there are some insights we can provide based on experience in the renovation world, as well as remodeling research.

What Home Improvements Give the Best Return?#

'Type of project' is one of the biggest factors in determining your renovation's ROI. While obviously the other factors like timing, market and location will make a difference too, there are some common projects that generally provide a better ROI than others. 

In general, projects that add functional space and square footage add the most value. 

But let's break that down even further:

1. Remodeling Kitchen & Bathrooms#

As the two most utilized spaces in a home, investing in these rooms makes sense for both ROI and quality of life. 

While renovating your kitchen or bathroom can be the most expensive in terms of construction, you'll get as much out of it as you put in. 

In some of the hottest housing markets, that means a return of 100% or more of the renovation costs. 

These spaces are functional, filled with appliances and a necessary piece of every home - which means that they're useful for any future buyer, no matter what. 

However, this high ROI does not ring true if you're completing a renovation that is purely aesthetic, using luxury materials and finishes, or creating a kitchen that's far outside the norms for your neighborhood. 

If you stick to a moderate kitchen or bathroom renovation, and your home actually needs an update, you can get a great ROI.

2. Finishing the Basement#

High-income buyers value a finished basement, according to a study by NAHB. 

On average, finishing this space will provide 70% ROI, meaning you can increase your property value by $700 for every $1,000 you spend. 

With some drywall, flooring, and paint, this space offers more heated square footage, which can bump a home into a different price bracket.

Adding functional space to your home is always a surefire way to get a good ROI when you're doing renovations, and more homeowners in high-income areas expect basements to be functional, livable areas.

3. Upgrading the Curb Appeal#

In addition to enhancing the beauty of your property, certain upgrades also help improve your home's efficiency and security. 

Overall, projects that involve exterior improvements - from new windows, roofing, and siding to painting and landscape maintenance - can result in 80% ROI (see the table below).

One reason for this is that "curb appeal" is the first thing home buyers notice when they see a property - even if they don't go inside. 

So, a general rule of thumb for top ROI projects: adding more functionality and square footage will add value.

What Home Improvements Give the Worst Return?#

Generally, any home improvements that are purely aesthetic and outside of the norm for your neighborhood will give you a worse than average ROI. 

Luxury, entertainment, and aesthetic upgrades#

Luxury entertainment upgrades probably won't give you a great ROI because they're not necessary for all future homebuyers, and they're also heavily based on personal preference. 

What do we mean by this?

  • Pools/hot tubs
  • Renovations with unusually expensive materials
  • Luxury or upscale kitchen/bathroom designs
  • In-home theatres
  • Backyard sports courts
  • Other highly specialized spaces, like wine cellars or home movie theatres

The only exception is if you live in an extremely high-income area. Then it's possible that some of these spaces will be expected or common for homes and the ROI won't be as low. 

However, if you live in a low-income or medium-income area, these spaces will provide little to no ROI, because future home buyers will not be willing to pay for them. 

A general rule of thumb for bottom ROI projects: purely aesthetic or entertainment-based upgrades with no extra square footage will not add value. 

For example, if you're redoing your kitchen and picking out luxury materials, finishes and appliances - there's a good chance that the person purchasing your home in the future may not like these choices more than their more moderately-priced equivalents. 

Renovation Return on Investment Chart 2021#

Another factor that impacts ROI with renovations is timing. Depending on the month or year, certain renovations can provide more value than others. 

For example, after the pandemic, more homeowners value functional outdoor spaces - like backyards, porches, decks and patios - because of the safety and distance they offer when people are sick.

According to Remodeling Magazine, this is the average ROI for these 22 common renovation projects in 2021:

Project Job Cost Resale Value Cost Recouped
Garage Door Replacement $3,907 $3,663 93.8%
Manufactured Stone Veneer $10,386 $9,571 92.1%
Minor Kitchen Remodel | Midrange $26,214 $18,927 72.2%
Siding Replacement | Fiber-Cement $19,626 $13,618 69.4%
Window Replacement | Vinyl $19,385 $13,297 68.6%
Siding Replacement | Vinyl $16,576 $11,315 68.3%
Window Replacement | Wood $23,219 $15,644 67.4%
Deck Addition | Wood $16,766 $11,038 65.8%
Entry Door Replacement | Steel $2,082 $1,353 65.0%
Deck Addition | Composite $22,426 $14,169 63.2%
Grand Entrance | Fiberglass $10,044 $6,116 60.9%
Roofing Replacement | Asphalt Shingles $28,256 $17,147 60.7%
Bath Remodel | Midrange $24,424 $14,671 60.1%
Bath Remodel | Universal Design $38,813 $22,475 57.9%
Major Kitchen Remodel | Midrange $75,571 $43,364 57.4%
Roofing Replacement | Metal $46,031 $25,816 56.1%
Bath Remodel | Upscale $75,692 $41,473 54.8%
Master Suite Addition | Midrange $156,741 $85,672 54.7%
Major Kitchen Remodel | Upscale $149,079 $80,284 53.9%
Bathroom Addition | Midrange $56,946 $30,237 53.1%
Bathroom Addition | Upscale $103,613 $54,701 52.8%
Master Suite Addition | Upscale $320,976 $152,996 47.7%

As you can see, outdoor improvements that are part of curb appeal make the list, as well as kitchen and bath remodels. But upscale remodels in general provide a worse return on value.

How Do You Calculate the ROI on Home Renovations?#

There is no tried-and-true mathematical formula for calculating the ROI for home improvements.  And the only official way to calculate home value is an appraisal, which is a process where a real estate appraiser determines the fair market value of a home. 

This is usually only done when you're buying and selling a home, so it might be tough to correlate the calculated value with a renovation project to see how home improvements may have impacted the value.

As-Completed Appraisals#

However, there is a unique type of appraisal called an "as-completed appraisal" where an appraiser will look at your renovation plans and your current home value and determine how much value they will add upon completion. 

As-completed appraisals cost money, and are normally only completed if part of the process for applying for a "renovation loan," where the borrowing power is based on the equity of the home "as-completed."

For this unique type of appraisal, an inspector will look at sales comparisons in your neighborhood, as well as your current home's specs and your renovation plans. 

But this process is an art not a science, and two different appraisers could come to different conclusions on the same house. 

One benefit of financing a renovation with a renovation loan, which relies on this type of appraisal, is that you can be sure exactly how much value you're getting from a renovation.

In other cases where you're not getting an "as-completed appraisal" - all you can do is guess - or use our 70% rule of thumb to determine your project's ROI.

Short term value vs. long-term value#

One important thing to note is short-term value vs. long-term value when thinking about ROI. 

Projects that are adding functional space and square footage - like additions, finishing the basement, or making moderate upgrades to appliances - are value-adds that will stand the test of time, because they do not rely on design trends. 

These types of projects add "long-term value." For example, if you're adding a bed and a bath to your home (and this addition won't take it outside of the norm for the neighborhood), this renovation will be useful to homeowners now and in 50 years.

But other renovations, like new kitchens, will add "short-term value," because in 20 years any aesthetic improvements made could be out of style. 

For example, giving your kitchen a farmhouse, all-white style renovation could greatly boost your home's value in a hot market within the next 5-10 years. 

But if you're not planning on selling for another 20 years - this design style could be seen as a negative, and out of date, by homebuyers. Thus - the value of this upgrade only holds up for so long. Think about your mom's pink bathroom from the 80s. At one point it was the peak of style. Now, you'd struggle to sell that without re-doing it.

This is why we don't recommend making ROI your biggest motivator when it comes to kitchen and bathroom renovations - because your style preferences might not be "in" in thirty years. 

You should make your quality of life your top motivator for your remodel, so you can make choices based on your family's needs when it comes to renovation style. 

Just because an open floor plan might not be the hottest new layout, that doesn't mean it won't be awesome now for you and your family.

Is Renovating a Good Investment?#

Any financial advisor will tell you that there are a lot of smarter and easier places to invest your money and get a better return. But renovating your home is a really unique investment because it kills two birds with one stone: it improves your quality of life, and it adds value at the same time. 

Your home is an appreciating asset - and therefore it makes sense to put money into it over time to keep it in good condition, especially toward safety hazards, or broken/non-functioning parts.

But - renovation, solely as a means to add value, does not make sense and isn't necessary unless you're fixing and flipping. 

If you're considering renovation outside of adding value though, when you factor in 70-90 cents on the dollar in ROI AND a major improvement in quality of life? It's genius.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you're considering a renovation:

  • Is my renovation plan really "trendy"?
  • Will these upgrades stay within the bounds of what is "normal" in my neighborhood?
  • Is my renovation adding square footage?
  • Is my renovation making my house more functional?
  • Am I choosing materials, appliances and finishes that are well-priced?
  • Is the main motivator behind this renovation my own quality of life?
  • How long do I plan to stay in this house before moving?
November
2

Cleaning your carpets may seem like a hassle, but it's a necessary task. This guide will make the process easier.

While a nice, clean carpet is often a key component of a comfortable living space, it doesn't take long for it to get nasty. Carpet is a harbor for germs, dust, debris, dirt, and so regular cleaning is important for keeping your family healthy and your home's interior looking good.

A good carpet cleaning routine involves more than just regular vacuuming; however, the process doesn't have to be difficult. Establishing a regular cleaning cadence is key. Our real estate agents pulled together this quick guide to carpet cleaning options so you can help preserve the floors and air quality in your home:

Click Here to Read More...

October
31

Halloween 2022

Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2022 will occur on Monday, October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.

Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the 400 years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of bobbing for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

All Saints' Day

On May 13, A.D. 609, Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1.

By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites. In A.D. 1000, the church made November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It's widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, church-sanctioned holiday.

All Souls' Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints' Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-Hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Halloween Comes to America

The celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies.

As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties," which were public events held to celebrate the harvest. Neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance and sing.

Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the 19th century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the 19th century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing the Irish Potato Famine, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.

History of Trick-or-Treating

Borrowing from European traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.

Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

Halloween Parties

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide Halloween parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague some celebrations in many communities during this time.

By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated.

Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats.

Thus, a new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

Halloween Movies

Speaking of commercial success, scary Halloween movies have a long history of being box office hits. Classic Halloween movies include the "Halloween" franchise, based on the 1978 original film directed by John Carpenter and starring Donald Pleasance, Nick Castle, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tony Moran. In "Halloween," a young boy named Michael Myers murders his 17-year-old sister and is committed to jail, only to escape as a teen on Halloween night and seek out his old home, and a new target. A direct sequel to the original "Halloween" was released in 2018, starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle. A sequel to that—"Halloween Kills," the twelfth film in the "Halloween" franchise overall—was released in 2021.

Considered a classic horror film down to its spooky soundtrack, "Halloween" inspired other iconic "slasher films" like "Scream," "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Friday the 13." More family-friendly Halloween movies include "Hocus Pocus," "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Beetlejuice" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." 

All Souls Day and Soul Cakes

The American Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling," was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry.

On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits.

On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Black Cats and Ghosts on Halloween

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

Today's Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into black cats.

We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred (it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe). And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred (it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe). And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

Halloween Matchmaking and Lesser-Known Rituals

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today's trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead.

In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it.

In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl's future husband. (In some versions of this legend, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)

Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband.

Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands' initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands' faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry. At others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we're asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the goodwill of the very same "spirits" whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.

October
26

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Oct. 25, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates just edged lower yesterday. Rejoice! That was the second consecutive business day of falls, which has been a rare phenomenon recently. However, I wouldn't yet read too much into the good news.

Still, so far this morning, mortgage rates today look likely to fall. Just be aware that these short trends can turn on a dime, so there are no guarantees.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Oct 26th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 7.351% 7.384% +0.05% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 6.71% 6.748% -0.1% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 7.421% 7.484% +0.11% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 6.716% 6.834% -0.06% 
30 year fixed FHA 7.217% 7.931% -0.1% 
15 year fixed FHA 7.125% 7.401% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 6.75% 6.982% +0.02% 
15 year fixed VA 6.125% 6.483% Unchanged
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.

Next week's likely to bring another big rate hike by the Federal Reserve. They may get smaller after that, but it's looking likely they won't stop rising for a while. And I doubt mortgage rates will fall far and for long until they do.

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 fell to 4.08% from 4.23%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were mostly higher soon after opening. (Sometimes bad for mortgage rates.) When investors buy shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes those prices down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices decreased to $84.78 from $84.83 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices nudged up to $1,661 from $1,650 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 — climbed to 53 from 47 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to decrease. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change speed or direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Oct 26th, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

The Federal Reserve's rate-setting body (the Federal Open Market Committee or FOMC) begins a two-day meeting one week today. And it will announce the size of its next rate hike the following day, Nov. 2.

Markets seem convinced it's going to be another giant 75-basis-point (0.75%) one. Overnight, CME's FedWatch tool reckoned there was a 97.2% probability of that big an increase.

If that's correct, mortgage rates may barely move next Wednesday as a result of the hike. That's because investors are expecting it and will have traded ahead based on that expectation.

However, they could still move that day as a result of something called the "dot plot." That's a graph on which each FOMC member plots his or her forecast of where the Fed rate will be at various points in the future.

And Wall Street will be hoping several members are expecting that rate to plateau and fall soon. If that's the case, mortgage rates might fall that day. But if most members still expect high rates well into 2023, mortgage rates might rise.

Key economic reports this week

A couple of highly influential economic reports are due out later this week. They're likely to be viewed largely through the prism of how they'll affect the FOMC's plans for its rate.

Thursday sees the publication of the first reading (of three) of gross domestic product (GDP) during the third quarter. Economists polled by MarketWatch are expecting healthy annualized growth of 2.3% during that period. If it's much higher, mortgage rates might rise — or fall if its appreciably lower.

Friday brings the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) report for September. And that includes the PCE price index, which is the Fed's favorite measure of inflation. MarketWatch says economists are expecting a year-over-year number of 5.2%. Again, a higher figure could push mortgage rates up while a lower one might drag them down.

In the meantime, while we're waiting for those reports, mortgage rates might (no promises!) continue to drift. Let's hope they continue to do so in a downward direction. But drifting is generally pretty random.

For more background on where mortgage rates might be heading, read the weekend edition of this daily report.

According to Freddie Mac's archives, the weekly all-time low for mortgage rates was set on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

Freddie's Oct. 20 report put that same weekly average at 6.94% (with 0.9 fees and points), up from the previous week's 6.92%.

Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.9 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. Belatedly, Freddie says it plans to stop including discount points in its forecasts later this year.

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 rate forecasts for the current quarter (Q4/22) and the first three quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23 and Q3/24).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Oct. 10, the MBA's on Oct. 23 and Freddie's on Oct. 21.

Forecaster Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23 Q3/23
Fannie Mae 6.7% 6.6%  6.5% 6.4%
Freddie Mac 6.8% 6.6%  6.5% 6.4%
MBA 6.7% 6.2%  5.7% 5.5%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive. Personally, I think they're too optimistic.

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."

Verify your new rate (Oct 26th, 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.

October
24

Halloween is almost here! Visit these Holland events that are fun for the whole family.

Halloween is one of our favorite times of the year. Our real estate agents love decorating for Halloween and preparing for trick-or-treating, and we also try to attend one local Halloween event every year. We truly can't get enough of this spooky time of year!

From Halloween concerts to kid's parties, there are Halloween events around town suitable for all age groups. If you're looking for a great way to celebrate the holiday with the family, here are some Halloween events to put on your calendar this year:

Click Here to Read More...

October
24

How to prepare your house for sale

Investing some time and effort upfront to prepare your house for showings will generally increase the likelihood of receiving offers soon after you list your home. The longer your home stays on the market, the harder it can be to sell.

Things like repairs, staging, and cleaning can help attract better offers, but they can also be a time-consuming and expensive process.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to prepare your home for sale so you can get the most value from the effort you put in.

1. Identify repairs and make a plan

Normal wear and tear can add up, especially if you've lived in your home for a long period of time. From a door that squeaks to a window that sticks or a toilet that runs until you jiggle the handle, it's easy to ignore minor issues that seem like quirks.

Buyers, however, may see these quirks as problems that lower the value of your home or as bargaining chips during the closing process. If you have too many noticeable repairs, buyers may also wonder if more serious issues lurk below the surface, and that could prevent them from making a good offer.

Go through your home room by room, noting repairs that need to be made. Check out our blog to learn more about the most important things to repair before selling a house. Look for holes or dents in walls. Floors should be free from cracks or chips.

In the kitchen, appliances should be in working order. Examine cabinets and drawers to ensure that they open and close properly. Kitchen and bathroom faucets, fixtures and drains must be leak-free and operational. Bathroom tubs and showers should have no broken tiles. Also, look for signs of water damage.

→ Want to skip the hassle of listings, showings, and repairs? Learn how selling to Opendoor works.

Your home's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system should work and be leak-free. So should your water heater, smoke detectors, electrical panel and circuit breakers.

Outside, examine exterior surfaces, weather-stripping, eaves and windows. Look for damage such as peeling, cracks or rot. Decks and patios should be in good condition. Fencing should be free from damage, like rot or rust. Landscaping should be trimmed back from your home, eliminating the potential for causing damage.

Some repairs might be easy do-it-yourself projects, such as patching a hole in drywall or unclogging a slow drain. If it's your first time making repairs like these, video tutorials on YouTube are a great place to get started.

More serious or complicated repairs may require hiring a professional. If your roof leaks, outlets don't work, or you have cracks in your foundation, having the job done by someone who has the right tools and know-how can save time and ensure the repairs are done correctly.

Repairs and upgrades can increase the value of your home so you'll need to consider the time and cost it will take versus the impact on your home value — read our list of improvement projects that can generate higher returns (based on proprietary Opendoor market data).

A pre-sale inspection can ensure all repairs necessary for the sale are handled before buyers walk through. If the inspection unearths costly issues, such as needing a new roof, you can decide to make the fix or price your home a little lower to account for the needed repair. An inspection typically costs between $200 and $483, according to HomeAdvisor.com. Most buyers will include an inspection contingency in their offer so if both parties aren't able to agree on repairs following an inspection, the buyer can walk away without a penalty.

Dreading the hours of prep work and home showings? Consider selling your home to an iBuyer like Opendoor. At Opendoor, we take a single service charge to provide you with a hassle-free sales process without listing, showings, and months of stress. You're in complete control of your moving timeline, and choose your own closing date. Read our guide and learn more on how Opendoor's home condition assessment and repair process works.

2. Declutter and clean – make it feel spacious

Big kitchens, bathrooms and storage tend to be big selling points so it can help to make your rooms look as spacious as possible. Professional home stagers recommend that you remove 50% of your items.

Go through your home, decluttering and organizing spaces. Don't just shove belongings in closets, cabinets, attics and basements, as buyers look inside all of those places. Use storage bins that can be tucked under beds or neatly stacked in a basement or closet. Baskets or cubbies inside cabinets can make things look neat and clean.

Decluttering also includes furniture. The scale of your pieces should match the size of the room, and buyers should be able to easily walk around spaces without bumping into furniture. Make sure furnishings don't block doors, windows or architectural features. In a small living room, for example, consider removing end tables or accent chairs. Such moves aren't convenient, but remember, they're temporary.

You may need to rent a storage unit during the home-selling process. Keeping your belongings offsite is the best way to maximize the space in your home. Storage units can range in price from $30 to $300 per month, depending on size, location and features like climate control and security, according to MovingTips.

Consider hiring a professional organizer to help you declutter. He or she can help you identify items to discard, store or donate. Organizers typically charge hourly fees ranging from $30 to $80, according to Angie's List. This process also makes moving easier since you'll have fewer items, and others already boxed.

After decluttering comes deep cleaning. Hiring a professional may prove the most effective way to do the job quickly and thoroughly. The average cleaning service charges $167, according to HomeAdvisor.com. You'll also want to clean carpeting, bringing the fibers and colors bring back to life. Rent a machine from a home improvement store for about $50, or hire a professional. The average cost of a carpet cleaning service is $176, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

3. Depersonalize your home and help buyers to see its full potential

In addition to cleaning and decluttering, you should consider depersonalizing your home. The goal when selling is to have a buyer fall in love with your house, picturing themselves living there and imaging their belongings inside. That can be difficult if your home has your personal stamp all over it.

Neutralize the space by removing items such as family photos, souvenirs, religious symbols, diplomas and certificates, hobby supplies, and collections, including CDs and DVDs. You don't want a buyer to feel like they're intruding in your space or, worse, take offense at your lifestyle.

Also, consider updating your accessories and furnishings if your décor is outdated or avant-garde. You don't want buyers to miss out on key features of your home because they're distracted by your belongings.

4. Paint where it needs it most

A fresh coat of paint can make a home feel new. In fact, painting is one of the most common recommendations real estate agents make to sellers before they list. Paint can help small rooms appear larger and highlight architectural details, such as crown molding and trim. Be mindful of your color choice, however. Experts recommend warm neutral colors, such as beige, tan, gold, gray, and "greige," a blend of gray and beige. Because these shades go with anything, they can help buyers to picture their belongings in your home.

If you don't have time to paint your entire home, HouseLogic.com recommends painting the kitchen, bathrooms, entryway and foyer. If you've had your house painted in the past few years, you can likely just touch up scuff marks or stains on walls or baseboards.

Homeowners often tackle painting projects themselves. For best results, prep the rooms by cleaning the dust and dirt from walls, repairing any damage or holes, applying painter's tape to trim, and covering furniture and floors with a drop cloth. While painting isn't difficult, it can be time-consuming. The average bedroom will take 30 minutes to two hours to prepare, and one to two hours per coat to paint, according to the paint company Glidden. Hiring a professional painter runs from $380 to $790 per room, not including ceilings, trim or paint costs, while doing the project yourself can cost between $200 and $300 per room, according to HomeAdvisor.com.

5. Set the stage—make it feel like home

Now comes the final step: staging your home. The goal is to create a great first impression so that buyers put your home at the top of their list. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than those that aren't staged, according to Realtor.com.

You don't need to spend a lot of money — a few updates can make a room feel new. Tuning into HGTV shows like "Fixer Upper," "Flip or Flop," and "Love It Or List It" can provide you with decorating inspiration. They showcase the most popular looks and trends in home decor, which can help you make design decisions when staging your home.

You don't need to stage your entire home. Focus instead on rooms that impress buyers most, such as the kitchen, living room, master suite, and bathrooms. In the kitchen, for example, place a bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop and set the table with beautiful dinnerware and linens.

In the living room, toss a decorative blanket on the arm of the sofa and add a vase of fresh flowers to the coffee table. Update bathrooms with fluffy new towels and display a dish of decorative soaps.

Put a tray with a book and teapot on the edge of the master bed. Create a single focal point in each room, hanging a simple piece of artwork that enhances your staging, or highlighting architectural details, such as a fireplace or beautiful windows.

While staging is mostly about the details, you might need to update your furniture, especially if your current furnishings are dated or in bad condition. If you were thinking of replacing your worn out sofa, for example, it might be a good idea to do that before you sell your home. You can also rent furniture while your house is on the market. This is a good idea if you've already moved into your new home, and the home you need to sell is vacant. Unfurnished rooms look smaller, and placing furniture in rooms helps buyers better understand where they would put their own belongings.

Staging also helps you give rooms purpose, giving prospective buyers ideas about how they might use an extra bedroom, basement or nook. Choose a function that might appeal to your demographic. For example, if your house is a starter home in an area that appeals to young families, set up a bedroom as a nursery or playroom. If your condo appeals to single buyers, think about designing a home office or home gym. Staging is about design and lifestyle.

Don't forget to stage the exterior, creating curb appeal. A buyer's first impression happens when they pull up in front of your house. The appearance of your home's exterior can increase your home's value up to 17%, according to a study from Texas Tech University.

Stage your exterior by keeping your yard tidy. Mow the grass, trim bushes and shrubs, and freshen your mulch. Add color by planting flowers in your front yard or in pots on your front porch. In winter, consider seasonal touches like a wreath or holiday lights.

If decorating isn't your strength, you can hire a professional stager. An initial consultation costs between $300 and $600, according to Realtor.com. If the stager brings in new furnishings, you'll pay a monthly rental fee. Some professional home stagers require a minimum contract, even if your house sells quickly. The national average for home staging is between $2,000 and $3,200, according to Fixr.com.

A real estate agent can recommend a professional stager, and in many cases agents will cover the cost of staging to help your home sell. Staging your home will helps set the stage for creating the best listing photos—and that can boost interest and showings.

6. Keep it clean and consistent

Once your home is ready to sell, the trick can be maintaining that level of repair and decoration. Showing requests can happen at a moment's notice, and you won't always have time to ready your home.

Create a cleaning schedule and stick to it. Control of clutter by putting things away when you're done using them. Enlist the whole family, so the responsibility is shared. Make a habit of wiping kitchen and bathroom fixtures and surfaces daily. Keep wastebaskets emptied. Vacuum or sweep before you leave the house. Mow your lawn and remove weeds every week. Keep your walkway and porch clean and accessible.

Home showing checklist

It's showtime! Before each showing, complete these tasks on your way out the door:

  • Spot check rooms for clutter or dirt
  • Vacuum or sweep
  • Wipe down sinks and faucets
  • Clean kitchen countertops
  • Empty the trash
  • Secure your valuables
  • Put away pet dishes
  • Sweep your front porch
  • Open curtains and shades
  • Turn on the lights
  • Play soft music

If you have children, keeping things tidy can be more challenging. Streamline their toys for the time being, or create a rule around how many toys can be out at one time. If you have pets, keep their belongings and food put away, and pick up your yard.

Nothing would be worse than a potential buyer walking around your yard and getting an unwelcome surprise. If possible, consider boarding your pets with a relative, friend or kennel for a few weeks or during showings to help eliminate pet odors.

It can take several showings before you receive your first offer, which means your house can sit on the market for weeks or even months. If you have babies or toddlers who nap or several pets, consider moving out of your house while it's on the market if at all possible.

Ask friends or family if you can stay with them, look for a month-to-month rental, or consider an extended-stay hotel. You might plan a vacation for the first week, or weeks, after listing the home. The initial two weeks of listing can bring a flurry of showings and getting away can reduce the stress.

7. Takeaway

When you live in a home, especially for a long time, it's easy to overlook the things that can make or break an offer. Selling your home is about taking an objective look from a buyer's point of view. Remove yourself and your memories from the equation, and imagine that you are seeing your home for the first time.

Consider asking friends or family for their honest feedback so you can be sure you've done everything possible to make your home look its best before you put it on the market. You'll impress buyers who, in turn, will impress you with good offers.

October
17

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Oct. 15, and rate forecast for next week

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates rose yesterday. And they did so over the short week, though more modestly than they sometimes have recently. Still, those rates start today at a new 20-year high.

Forecasts for the week ahead remain as impossible as they have for several months. Flipping a coin will give you as reliable a guide to mortgage rates over the next seven days as I can.

Find and lock a low rate (Oct 17th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 7.24% 7.272% +0.12% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 6.601% 6.639% +0.13% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 7.198% 7.258% -0.13% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 5.85% 6.061% -0.45% 
30 year fixed FHA 6.984% 7.697% -0.17% 
15 year fixed FHA 7.013% 7.289% +0.02% 
30 year fixed VA 6.75% 6.982% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 6.125% 6.483% Unchanged
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.

Find and lock a low rate (Oct 17th, 2022)


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.

Volatility may mean I'm unable to forecast where mortgage rates will move next week. But the longer term is clearer, though not certain. I doubt those rates will fall far — at least for long — until sometime in 2023.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations 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

However, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So let your gut and your own tolerance for risk help guide you.

What's moving current mortgage rates

Mortgage rates are largely determined by the yields on a type of bond called the mortgage-backed security (MBS). And those yields — which move inversely to MBS prices — are very sensitive to changes in the economic outlook.

So, when investors are worried about that outlook, they tend to buy "safe" bonds as they flee riskier investments. That pushes the price of MBSs up, which sends yields and mortgage rates lower. The opposite usually happens when those investors are confident about the future.

There's another big influence on MBSs. And that's inflation. When you buy any bond, you're buying a fixed income, often over many years. So, you're nervous about high inflation, which might eat up all your profits and then some. You might also look at rapidly rising yields and ask, "Why would I buy a bond with a 2% yield now when I look likely to get 3% in a few months' time?"

So that's the theory of how mortgage rates are set. But how's the current economy affecting them?

Resilient economy

Reporting yesterday's quarterly results from megabank JPMorgan Chase, The Wall Street Journal (paywall) ran the headline, "JPMorgan Chase Earnings Show Economy Is Resilient, but [CEO] Jamie Dimon's 'Hurricane' Looms."

The article explained about the wider financial sector: "The banks sit smack in the middle of an uncertain economy. Inflation is near its highest level in decades and the Federal Reserve is trying to curb it by rapidly lifting rates. That is making loans more expensive, putting pressure on Americans on multiple fronts. Investors worry that the higher interest rates will eventually tip the U.S. into recession."

And that's where we are now. The economy's holding up surprisingly well. But there's a real possibility of a recession. Normally, that would provide the prospect of rates moderating if and when that recession arrives. But there's more to this story ...

Inflation and the Fed

In normal times, the Federal Reserve would intervene when a recession looms, cutting interest rates and perhaps buying bonds. Those moves would typically help drive mortgage rates lower.

But, right now, the Fed is obsessed with taming inflation, partly because it's embarrassed by its role in letting price increases grow to their current levels. And it's made crystal clear that it has no intention of backing off its plans to rein in rising prices, no matter how painful any resulting recession.

Some market players seem convinced that the Fed will cave and pivot if a recession gets bad enough. But I'm not so sure. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has repeatedly said he regards one of his predecessors, Paul Volker, as a hero for fighting inflation by hiking rates during a terrible recession. Here's what happened then, according to FederalReserveHistory.org:

"Prior to the 2007-09 recession, the 1981-82 recession was the worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression. Indeed, the nearly 11 percent unemployment rate reached late in 1982 remains the apex of the post-World War II era. ... Three-fourths of all job losses in the goods-producing sector were in manufacturing, and the residential construction industry and auto manufacturers ended the year with 22 percent and 24 percent unemployment, respectively."

Mr. Powell may see even a recession of historic proportions next year as an opportunity to emulate his hero.

Recessions and mortgage rates

If that turns out to be the case, mortgage rates may remain elevated throughout any 2023 recession. The Fed directly determines most interest rates, but not mortgage rates. However, its policies certainly influence MBS yields.

Now, in theory, it's possible for mortgage rates to fall while the Fed is hiking other rates. So none of us can be certain about anything.

However, Freddie Mac's archives show mortgage rates averaging 16.63% in 1981 and 16.04% in 1982, when Mr. Volker was hiking other, general interest rates during a ghastly recession. So I'm not holding my breath while I wait for a recession to make mortgages more affordable.

And, in my opinion, significant and sustained falls in mortgage rates are unlikely until well into 2023.

Economic reports next week

This week was crammed with economic reports and events that might have moved mortgage rates. However, next week provides a bit of a respite. And reports over the coming seven days are unlikely to have much impact unless they contain shockingly good or bad data.

  • Tuesday — September's industrial production index and capacity utilization rate. Plus the home builders' index for October from the National Association of Home Builders
  • Wednesday — September building permits and housing starts
  • Thursday — September existing home sales and leading economic indicators. Plus weekly new claims for unemployment insurance to Oct.15
  • Friday — Third quarter indexes of common inflation expectations for the coming five and 10 years

If there are sharp movements in mortgage rates next week, they're unlikely to be triggered by these usually innocuous reports.

However, you might want to keep an eye on events in the United Kingdom, where a new and inexperienced government has unleashed economic and political mayhem through its radical policies. If it manages to regain the markets' confidence, mortgage rates might move lower. But if it fails to do that (and there's a chance the prime minister could be forced to resign), those rates may rise.

Verify your new rate (Oct 17th, 2022)

Mortgage interest rates forecast for next week

Longer-term forecasts for mortgage rates can be based on where the economy is heading. And daily ones have the benefit of each morning's market performance. But weekly ones lack any such insights. And current volatility and unpredictability make weekly forecasts impossible.

Sorry! I'll reinstate them just as soon as I can.

How your mortgage interest rate is determined

Mortgage and refinance rates are generally determined by prices in a secondary market (similar to the stock or bond markets) where mortgage-backed securities are traded.

And that's highly dependent on the economy. So mortgage rates tend to be high when things are going well and low when the economy's in trouble. But inflation rates can undermine those tendencies.

Your part

But you play a big part in determining your own mortgage rate in five ways. And you can affect it significantly by:

  1. Shopping around for your best mortgage rate — They vary widely from lender to lender
  2. Boosting your credit score — Even a small bump can make a big difference to your rate and payments
  3. Saving the biggest down payment you can — Lenders like you to have real skin in this game
  4. Keeping your other borrowing modest — The lower your other monthly commitments, the bigger the mortgage you can afford
  5. Choosing your mortgage carefully — Are you better off with a conventional, conforming, FHA, VA, USDA, jumbo or another loan?

Time spent getting these ducks in a row can see you winning lower rates.

Remember, they're not just a mortgage rate

Be sure to count all your forthcoming homeownership costs when you're working out how big a mortgage you can afford. So, focus on your "PITI." That's your Principal (pays down the amount you borrowed), Interest (the price of borrowing), (property) Taxes, and (homeowners) Insurance. Our mortgage calculator can help with these.

Depending on your type of mortgage and the size of your down payment, you may have to pay mortgage insurance, too. And that can easily run into three figures every month.

But there are other potential costs. So you'll have to pay homeowners association dues if you choose to live somewhere with an HOA. And, wherever you live, you should expect repairs and maintenance costs. There's no landlord to call when things go wrong!

Finally, you'll find it hard to forget closing costs. You can see those reflected in the annual percentage rate (APR) that lenders will quote you. Because that effectively spreads them out over your loan's term, making that higher than your straight mortgage rate.

But you may be able to get help with those closing costs and your down payment, especially if you're a first-time buyer. Read:

Down payment assistance programs in every state for 2021

October
14

After the strong rebound for the U.S. economy in 2021, growth in 2022 has slowed in the face of rising inflation, the household incomes squeeze, and geopolitical events. While the economy continues to deal with elevated inflation, there is a slowdown in the growth of commercial real estate. 

Multifamily and industrial properties were the leading sectors in 2022. With healthy balance sheets, consumer demand boosted retail, multifamily, and industrial asset classes. While the industrial boom continues to show no signs of stopping, multifamily absorption and rent growth are decelerating. Multifamily absorption in the last four quarters was below the pre-pandemic levels, in the range of 60,000-70,000 units. In the meantime, rents rose year-over-year at a slower pace, by less than a double-digit percentage. However, multifamily housing demand remains relatively strong. Considering rising mortgage rates and home prices, people may be forced to rent for longer due to decreasing affordability.

As consumers cut back on spending due to elevated inflation, the net absorption of retail store space decreased to 16 million sq. ft. in the third quarter of the year. However, neighborhood retail that offers in-person services continues to advance. Net absorption for neighborhood centers rose by 35 percentage points compared to the second quarter of the year.

As the country navigates hybrid work, the office sector continues to struggle. Although more people return to their offices, after four quarters with positive net absorption, demand for office space dropped as net absorption turned negative again.

Inflation, interest rates, supply chain, and geopolitical events are the main factors that will determine how commercial real estate will perform in the following months. The National Association of REALTORS® will keep you informed monthly about the developments in commercial real estate.

October
12

The appraisal is an important step in selling your home. Here's how you can prep for it.

While a home appraisal is a normal part of the closing process, it's common for sellers to be a bit nervous about the outcome. The purpose of an appraisal is to gain an independent third-party valuation of your property. Naturally, sellers want the appraised value to come back as high as possible. If the appraisal comes in lower than the offer price, then you may need to return to the negotiating table to determine who is going to cover the difference, which could ultimately eat into your return.

While a good portion of your appraisal will be based on recent sales of nearby homes, some of the assessment is subjective. Therefore, doing everything you can to make a good impression can impact the outcome. Our real estate agents suggest these tips for preparing for your home appraisal.

Click Here to Read More...

October
12

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Oct. 11, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates rose last Friday, capping a bad week for new borrowers. By some measures, the average rate for a conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage closed at a 20-year high that day.

So far this morning, mortgage rates today look likely to rise again. But that could change later in the day.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Oct 12th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 7.189% 7.219% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 6.589% 6.626% +0.02% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 7.285% 7.344% Unchanged
Conventional 10 year fixed 6.464% 6.584% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 6.931% 7.649% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 7.125% 7.401% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 6.685% 6.92% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 6.125% 6.483% Unchanged
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.

I doubt mortgage rates will fall for long while the Federal Reserve is increasing its rate. And it plans to do that well into 2023.

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 last Friday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes nudged up to 3.94% from 3.90%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were lower soon after opening. (Sometimes good for mortgage rates.) When investors buy shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes those prices down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices decreased to $89.61 from $90.26 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices fell to $1,679 from $1,709 an ounce. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 — tumbled to 18 from 27 out of 100. (Good 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to rise. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change speed or direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Oct 12th, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Mortgage rates have been rising, both last week and over the year so far. You don't get to a new 20-year high (as happened last Friday) without some serious mountaineering.

A volatile week ahead?

It's a big week for important economic reports and events. And several of them are capable of moving mortgage rates.

Three concern inflation in September, which is a particular obsession of markets at the moment. The most important is Thursday's consumer price index (CPI). But tomorrow's producer price index and Friday's import price index both give early indications of the direction the CPI will likely take in the coming months.

The other big report this week reveals September's retail sales. This indicates how the economy and consumer confidence are holding up.

This week's important economic event is the publication on Wednesday of the minutes of the last meeting of the Federal Reserve's rate-setting group, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Markets will be studying in detail these minutes in the hope of gleaning new insights into the Fed's thinking.

Meanwhile, big banks and major companies will be kicking off the reporting season for the third quarter. That's more likely to affect stock markets than mortgage rates, but there might be some indirect impact.

What these might mean for mortgage rates

Of course, nobody has any idea what those reports and minutes will say. Typically, signs that suggest inflation is remaining stubbornly high would likely push mortgage rates upward. The same goes for retail sales: those rates might move higher if the figures are good.

Conversely, of course, rates may well fall if the reports' numbers show lower-than-expected prices and sales.

Similarly, the FOMC minutes might drive mortgage rates higher if they show the Fed to be even more aggressive or "hawkish" than currently believed in its determination to keep hiking rates. But, if those minutes show a softer, more "doveish" line, mortgage rates could fall. I wouldn't hold my breath on the latter.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background about mortgage rates generally.

According to Freddie Mac's archives, the weekly all-time low for mortgage rates was set on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

Freddie's Oct. 6 report put that same weekly average at 6.66% (with 0.8 fees and points), down slightly from the previous week's 6.7%.

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. Belatedly, Freddie says it plans to stop including discount points in its forecasts later this year.

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 remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Sep. 21 and the MBA's on Sep. 20. Freddie's came out around Jul. 21. But it now releases forecasts only quarterly. So, its figures soon turn stale.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.4% 5.7%  5.7% 5.6%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.5% 5.5%  5.3% 5.3%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive. Personally, I think they're too optimistic.

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."

Verify your new rate (Oct 12th, 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.

October
7

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Oct. 6, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates soared yesterday. And, once again, they're close to 7%, with some lenders higher than that and others lower.

So far this morning, mortgage rates today look likely to move modestly higher. But, of course, that could change as the hours pass.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Oct 7th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 7.024% 7.062% +0.22% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 6.363% 6.394% +0.24% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 7.227% 7.271% +0.28% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 6.214% 6.332% +0.24% 
30 year fixed FHA 6.976% 7.662% +0.08% 
15 year fixed FHA 7.122% 7.398% +0.13% 
30 year fixed VA 6.488% 6.721% +0.26% 
15 year fixed VA 6.125% 6.483% Unchanged
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.

I find it hard to envisage mortgage rates falling far for extended periods for as long as the Federal Reserve continues to hike its interest rate (and consequently most others). And that looks likely to continue into 2023.

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 rose to 3.80% from 3.75%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were mixed and barely moving soon after opening. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) When investors buy shares, they're often selling bonds, which pushes those prices down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices increased to $87.99 from $87.08 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices edged up to $1,724 from $1,715 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 — rose to 34 from 31 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to rise a little. 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 (Oct 7th, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

What happened yesterday that caused mortgage rates to climb so quickly? It was probably a combination of reasons. But one stands out.

That was yesterday's meeting of OPEC+, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus Russia. That decided that its members would cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day.

And you don't need a Nobel Prize in economics to know that cutting the supply of a product increases its price, providing demand remains high. Unfortunately, oil and natural gas remain in great demand around the world.

This is going to put upward pressure on inflation, just as everyone was hoping to see prices begin to fall. And that means the Fed is likely to continue to hike interest rates — and perhaps more aggressively — for longer than it and markets wanted.

Both those are bad news for mortgage rates.

Tomorrow's jobs report

Tomorrow's official employment situation report for September could send mortgage rates up or down, depending on what it contains.

Usually, investors focus on the number of new jobs ("nonfarm payrolls") created during the month. But, this time, they'll also be studying the average hourly earnings figure.

The latter might indicate whether we're entering a 1970s-style inflationary spiral in which prices and wages chase each other upward.

Higher-than-expected numbers for jobs and earnings are likely to push mortgage rates up. Of course, lower-than-expected figures might drag them down. Just remember that markets occasionally respond to economic data contrary to expectations.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background about mortgage rates generally.

According to Freddie Mac's archives, the weekly all-time low for mortgage rates was set on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

Freddie's Oct. 6 report put that same weekly average at 6.66% (with 0.8 fees and points), down slightly from the previous week's 6.7%.

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. Belatedly, Freddie says it plans to stop including discount points in its forecasts later this year.

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 remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Sep. 21 and the MBA's on Sep. 20. Freddie's came out around Jul. 21. But it now releases forecasts only quarterly. So, its figures soon turn stale.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.4% 5.7%  5.7% 5.6%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.5% 5.5%  5.3% 5.3%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive. Personally, I think they're too optimistic.

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."

Verify your new rate (Oct 7th, 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.

October
5

10 Tips for Home Buying and Selling

Follow these steps to save the most on one of the biggest transactions you'll ever make

Buying or selling a home for the first time is like learning to play chess. There are terms to master, skills to learn, strategies to grasp, competitors to outmaneuver. These home buying and selling tips can help you capitalize on strengths and play down weaknesses:

Buyers: Edge Out the Competition

Establish a price range. Use Redfin's home-affordability calculator. This home buying tool considers not only your income and down payment but also total recurring monthly payments such as car payments, student loans, and credit card minimum payments.

Clean up your credit. If your credit reports are accurate, the home buying process is likely to go more smoothly. Read "Are Mortgages Now Harder or Easier to Get?" for more for information.

Get preapproved. Usually, that means a mortgage lender has checked your credit reports and determined how much it could lend you. It's one step better than prequalification, in which a lender just gives you an idea of what you can afford. Lenders use different terminology, though, so make sure you ask for clarification. For instance, EverBank, based in Jacksonville, Fla., uses the term "preapproval" for what other banks define as prequalification. And what most banks call a "pre­approval," EverBank terms a "credit only approval."

Sweeten the deal. Cash offers or large down payments get attention in a competitive bidding situation when you're buying a home. But other considerations, such as flexibility with the closing date and shorter inspection periods, can sway sellers.

Shop for mortgages. Online sites such as Bankrate and HSH make it easy to find a variety of lenders. Investigate several. Find local credit unions at culookup.com. New standardized loan estimates mandated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should make it easy to compare terms.

Sellers: Put Your Best Square Footage Forward

Get the best deal from your broker. The traditional 5 to 6 percent sales commission isn't carved in stone. Our 2015 survey of real estate brokers found that 63 percent negotiated their fees at least half the time. Almost half of agents charged 4 percent or less. An agent may be more amenable if you've sent him or her referrals, or have done some legwork, says Lee Williams, an agent with Level Group, a New York City residential brokerage firm. That might involve obtaining property surveys, original floor plans, or tax records.

Fix the big things. Prior to listing your home, get inspections for roof damage, termites, and other hidden concerns, says Aaron Drucker, a Redfin Realtor based in Miami. Make sure certificates of occupancy are in order.

Declutter, depersonalize. Remove family mementos from the main living areas. Clear surfaces of daily detritus. Clean out closets, too. "Overstuffed closets, no matter how large, give the impression of a lack of storage," says Christine Lutz, director of residential brokerage for Kinzie Brokerage, based in Chicago. Taking those simple, cost-free steps could add 3 percent to a home's value, according to Bree Al-Rashid, a managing broker for Redfin in Seattle. For an edge, hire a home stager. Prices vary, but a 2-hour consultation can cost about $300.

Post lots of images. A survey last year by Zillow found that listings with fewer than nine photos were 20 percent less likely to sell within 60 days than those with 22 to 27 photos. More than that, the study found, didn't help much.

Get squeaky clean. Shampoo rugs, change burnt-out lightbulbs, replace broken switch plates and outlets, and exorcise pet odors, recommends Ann Ferguson, a New York City broker with Klara Madlin Real Estate.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the March 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

October
3

Expert Tips for Buying and Selling a House at the Same Time

Buying or selling a house can be a monumental task. Doing both at the same time takes the complexity to a whole new level.

If you're buying and selling a house at the same time, you'll need to navigate a hot seller's market as both the seller and buyer. You'll benefit from a seller's market on the one hand, but could also face challenges as a buyer. 

With fewer homes for sale than there are buyers, there is greater urgency and competition in the market. However, there are signs the housing market is beginning to cool down

There's no way to make the process of buying or selling a home totally predictable, but thinking through your preferred strategy will help you navigate the ups and downs a little bit more easily.

While you can't control the market, you can plan ahead to minimize the impact of any potential challenges that may arise. 

Here are some expert tips to address some of the questions that could arise when buying and selling your home at the same time.

Advice for Buying and Selling at the Same Time

When buying a new home and selling an old one at the same time, one transaction always goes first. Sometimes one happens first due to personal preference, while other times, it's a matter of finding the perfect home before you're ready to sell. With such a hot market, each of these moves should be considered carefully and a qualified real estate agent can help strategize based on local market conditions.

No matter which path you choose, these expert tips can help you have a successful transaction and minimize the stress of buying and selling at the same time.

Buying a House Before Selling 

While some buyers are able to buy a new home without waiting to sell their current home, many don't have that luxury. 

For people who need the proceeds from one sale to move forward with an offer on a new house, that's where an offer contingency comes in. It essentially means the homebuyer has a set amount of time to sell their current home to help finance the new home purchase. While "contingent offers are not as strong," there are still ways you can help yourself, says Shelby Osborne, CEO of Five Pillars Team at eXp Realty in Charlotte, North Carolina.

For homebuyers who plan on making a contingent offer, consider the following:

  1. Request an extended closing. While most buyers want to move into their new home right away, you still need time to sell yours. As part of your purchase offer, request an extended closing of 60 days to have extra time to find a buyer.
  2. Have your current home ready to go on the market. By preparing your home for listing ahead of time (fresh paint on the walls, decluttered, and spacious staging), you'll be ready to publish your listing and attract a buyer as soon as you get your new home under contract. Osborne recommends "talking to your agent about how to prepare your home to sell."
  3. Make an offer that is contingent on selling your current home. Having this contingency in your purchase contract allows you the option to back out of the purchase if you are unable to sell your home. This contingency allows you to cancel the purchase without any legal consequences and can save you from losing your deposit. 
  4. Make an offer with a home inspection or appraisal contingency. Contingencies are clauses meant to protect the buyer and seller to formally signal their interest assuming certain conditions can be met. 
  5. Using a HELOC to fund your down payment. Homeowners with an established HELOC can use their credit lines to fund the down payment on a new home. When the home sells, the HELOC balance is paid off from the sale proceeds. Just make sure that you can afford the extra monthly bill that comes with borrowing this money.

Pros of Buying First

  • Ability to take your time finding the right home
  • Guarantees that you have a new home to move into when your old home sells
  • Only have to pay for moving expenses once

Cons of Buying First

  • May need to make two mortgage payments at once if your old home doesn't sell
  • Harder to qualify for the new loan while still making payments on the old mortgage
  • Financial strain may lead you to accept a lower offer on your house

Selling a House Before Buying

In some cases, it will make sense to sell your home before you have your next move in mind. "Some sellers are selling and moving into a rental property or leasing back from the buyer" to lock in profits and cash out their equity before deciding on their next move, says David Lee, owner of the David Lee Group with Keller Williams in Yorba Linda, California. Some sellers are waiting for lower prices before buying again. Others are considering moving to a lower-cost area.

If you're planning to sell your house before buying a new one, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Request a lease-back to provide extra time. A lease-back allows sellers to "rent" their home for up to 60 days after selling it. Lee says that a lease-back "provides sellers extra time to locate a property or if something delays the purchase."
  2. Place personal items in a storage unit. Sellers should declutter their homes before taking pictures and listing their property. Storage units can hold additional personal items if they need to live someplace temporarily until finding a new home.
  3. Buyers without contingencies make stronger offers. If you don't have to sell your home first when making an offer on a new house, a seller will consider your offer stronger than others. When you've sold your home first, you know exactly how much your down payment will be, which can also strengthen your offer.

Pros of Selling First

  • Prevents two mortgage payments while waiting for your old home to sell
  • Easier to qualify for the new home mortgage without the existing mortgage payment on your credit report

Cons of Selling First

  • Could make you stuck without a home for an extended period of time
  • Additional storage and moving costs for all of your items
  • Home values may continue to increase before you can get an offer accepted
  • Interest rates may rise before locking in a rate

Why Knowing Your Market Matters 

Knowing what type of market you're in can help you set the right expectations before you shop for a home or list your property for sale. Here are some characteristics and trends to help you understand what type of a market you're in, and what it means for you:

Characteristics of a Buyer's Market

  • Buyer is more likely to negotiate on price 
  • Sellers are generally more willing to discount their sales price, approve requested repairs, and accept other buyer-friendly terms 
  • Homes are sitting on the market longer
  • You will see drops in list prices 
  • There isn't a noticeable rush of people lining up to check out every Saturday morning open house 

Characteristics of a Seller's Market

  • The seller might ignore bids below the list price 
  • Buyers will need a stronger purchase price and a larger down payment to make their offer more competitive 
  • Buyers might get creative with their offers, such as by sharing a personalized letter to make an emotional appeal to the sellers
  • Buyers more likely to overbid or stretch beyond their homebuying budget
  • Buyers might overpay for a home that needs considerable work or upgrades
  • Buyer are more likely to remove contingencies

Be aware that removing contingencies reduces the opportunity to back out of the transaction if something bad happens. For instance, removing a home inspection contingency could mean that you don't learn about expensive repairs until after you've bought the property. 

September
30

Important Days And Dates In October 2022

Every month has some important days and events to celebrate and honor the things which happened. October has some of the important events and days to celebrate and honor the cause and raise awareness on different diseases, events and remember sacrifices that were made in the past. some of them are:

1-October: International Day of the Older person  

Why &When: To honour older people who made significant contributions to society and raise awareness of challenges of ageing and problems faced by them in old age 

2-October: Mahatma Gandhi birthday, International day of non-violence

Why &When: The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the strategy of non-violence and his crucial part in getting independence to India.

3-October: World Habitat Day

Why &When: observed on the first Monday of October of every year to show the state of our towns and cities and the fundamental right of all to a fair shelter.

4-October: World Animal Welfare Day

Why &When: protecting and providing shelter towards animals and taking care of them.

5-October: World Teachers Day 

Why &When-World Teachers day: to honour the teachers around the globe and their work towards the development of society.

7-October: World Cotton Day

 Why &When: reflecting the importance of cotton as a global commodity and it's in the textile sector 

8-October: Air Force Day

Why &When-Air Force DayEstablishment of Air Force in India.

9-October: World Post Day, World Migratory Bird Day

Why &When-World Post day: the anniversary of the  Universal Postal Union which was established in 1874 in the Swiss CapitalBern

Why &When-World Migratory Bird Day: global campaign devoted to raising awareness of migratory birds which comes from different parts of the world.

10-October: World Mental Health Day 

Why &When-World Mental Health Day: raising awareness of mental health problems around the world and maintaining good health.

11-October: International Day of the Girl Child

Why &When: the challenges girls face and to promote girls' empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.

12-October: World Arthritis Day

Why &When: to raise and promote awareness of the symptoms connected to rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs)

13-October: International Day for Disaster Reduction, World Sight Day

Why &When: to encourage a global society of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.
Why &When-World Sight Day: awareness of blindness and vision impairment.

14-October: World Standards Day, World Egg Day

Why &When: rewarding the collective accomplishments of specialists worldwide who develop the voluntary technical standards that are published as International Standards.

Why &When-World Egg Day: it is celebrated on the second Friday in October each year. For ages, eggs have played major part in sustaining families around the world.

 15-October: World Student's Day

Why &When: To acknowledge the birth anniversary of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and his works towards the students 

16-October: World Food Day

Why &When: the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945

17-October: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Why &When: to raise awareness about poverty and its eradication by mutual help to one another.

20-October: National Solidarity Day

Why &When: a yearly remembrance of the armed forces which fought against China in 1962.

21-October: Police Commemoration Day 

Why &When: to honour the police which is seen as 'Police Commemoration Day to all Police Forces across the country.

24-October: United Nations Day, Raising day of Indo Tibetan Border Police, World Development Information Day

Why &When-United Nations Day: the anniversary of the UN Charter the founding document of the united nations which entered into force in 1945.

Why &When-Raising day of Indo Tibetan Border Police: The ITBP was meant for deployment along India's border with Tibet and their service towards the nation.

Why &When-World Development Information Day: the call to establish a global partnership to solve development difficulties around the world.

25-October: National Ayurveda day

Why &When: The Dhanvantari Jayanti, The Hindu God Dhanvantari is considered as the propagator of Ayurveda. The National Ayurveda Day is observed on his birthday 

27-October: Infantry Day

Why &When: the first regiment of the Sikh was airdropped from Delhi to Srinagar to liberate Kashmir.

31-October: Rashtriya Ekta Diwas(National Unity Day)

Why &When: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the iron man of India who made unity among the states after independence to Mark this his birthday is celebrated as national unity day 

September
28

National Sons Day

National Sons Day is celebrated on September 28. It is a day to show appreciation for the boys in our lives, and for the parents of boys to reflect on how they are raising their children. All any parent want is for their children to grow up into people they can be proud of, and boys especially need strong role models to look up to and help them grow into confident, well-balanced, adult men. National Sons Day is a day to ensure that boys all over the country are getting the foundations, education, and all the support they need to have the best possible life as they grow up.

There is some debate around the date for National Sons Day. Historically, the date has been marked as September 28th, but since 2018 many also recognize March 4th as the official National Sons Day.

Background

The first attempt to create a National Sons Day occurred in the 1990s, as some people wanted a day that was similar to National Take Your Daughter to Work Day. A group called the National Sons Day eventually did create a National Take Your Sons to Work Day in 1998, but in 2003 the two days were merged into one.

The idea of a day to celebrate sons resurfaced in 2018 by the hand of Jill Nico, who wanted a day to honor sons and the people who raised them, much like National Daughters Day. As such, since 2018 many have also chosen to celebrate National Sons Day on March 4.

As the years pass, more challenges surface when it comes to raising boys. Parents should be aware that bringing up boys in these times takes a great level of guidance and communication, and they should be prepared for that. That is why National Sons Day is so important. There are many stereotypes surrounding the idea of what a man should be like, and many boys will struggle with that. It is the parent's responsibility to guide them through that and teach them values and kindness.

Both parents play an equally important role in the emotional development of boys, and they strive when they have a good relationship with both their mother and father as the maternal and paternal sides bring different contributions, so it is very important to cultivate those bonds. The lack of a mother or father figure can be attributed to developmental issues in later years.

Ultimately, the role of a parent is a challenging and important one. The hard work you put into raising your son won't only serve as a reflection of your parenting skills, it will also help them to become an upstanding and respected member of society.

What to do on National Sons Day

  • This is the perfect day to take some time to be with your sons. Talk to them about their school and life, learn more about them and their ambitions, and try to open the way to always have good communication between you. Make sure they know how supportive you are by letting them know that you're always there for them.
  • You can also show them how much you appreciate them by taking them to do their favorite activity. Whether that is going to the movies, going shopping, playing games or sports, or cooking, just make sure to spend some quality time together.
  • Apart from reflecting on the way that you are raising them from an emotional and personal perspective, you can also take this day to teach them some smaller, practical life skills, such as changing a tire, doing some DIY, and cooking a simple meal. Anything that will help them grow into a better, more confident person.
September
21

35 Must-Visit Places for Amazing Michigan Fall Colors

& Tips to Maximize the Experience

The first time that you feel a crisp cool in the air, you know that it's time for the leaves to change in an explosion of orange, red, and yellow. One of the best states in which to experience fall is Michigan.

Bordered by four of the Great Lakes, the Mitten has no shortage of breathtaking views throughout the year. When autumn comes, though, going to see the Michigan fall colors makes for a wonderful relaxing or romantic getaway.

So if you're wondering when to go to Michigan for fall foliage, here's everything you need to know! Read on for tips on seeing autumn leaves, planning a trip to view the beautiful colors, and the best places to see them.

Where are the Best Places to See Fall Colors in Michigan?

We can't say that we know of any "bad" place to enjoy the fall colors in Michigan, but the Awesome Mitten contributors have been blessed to explore some pretty amazing places during the fall months, and we're eager to visit many of them ourselves.

From the shores of Lake Superior to the local breweries of Southwest Michigan, our writers will have you dreaming of a fall you'll never forget… and you might discover a new-to-you town to go visit along the way!

Let's take a look at where the best places to see fall colors in Michigan are…

P.S. If we miss your favorite fall destination in Michigan, be sure to comment below and let us know where you like to enjoy fall in Michigan!

Best Places to Visit in the Upper Peninsula for Fall Foliage in Michigan

Explore the US-41 Tree Tunnel into Copper Harbor

The fall colors in the Copper Harbor area are some of the most colorful in the state. There's no better way to experience the sheer beauty of those colors than by taking a drive through the "tunnel," US-41 into Copper Harbor. This canopy of color is breathtaking and makes for a great drive on a perfect fall day.

See Vibrant Fall Colors Around Marquette

Nestled right on the shore of Lake Superior, there are lots of great places to see fall colors in and around Marquette.

You can stroll along the Lake Superior shoreline or go chase some waterfalls. Morgan Falls is just outside Marquette, it's pet friendly and the decline to the falls is only a short distance.

You can also go for a scenic drive. If you're up for a little adventure, drive down County Road 510. It's unpaved and well-traveled during the fall, but the colors are brilliant and you can get a great view from the CR 510 Bridge.

Explore the Ghost Town of Fayette

Fall can be experienced in all kinds of ways in Michigan. One of the most interesting ways is to stop in the ghost town of Fayette. It's about an hour from Escanaba and a ghost town surrounded by fall color makes for a striking contrast.

While you're there, be sure to stop at the overlook at Snailshell Harbor. You'll get an awesome view of the fall colors, a great look at the town itself, and you'll see the limestone bluffs that surround it.

Experience the Majesty of Kitch-iti-kipi

Known as the Big Spring, travel to Palms Brook State Park in Manistique to see one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the state.

This 40-foot natural spring is beautiful to see at any time of the year, but it's even more beautiful in the fall when it's surrounded by majestic fall colors. Savor the drive to the spring and make sure to take lots of pictures.

See Fall Colors at the Soo Locks

There are a lot of great places around Sault Ste. Marie to see fall colors, including at Tahquamenon Falls. But you don't have to travel outside the city to enjoy the colors.

In downtown Sault, you can visit Soo Locks State Park. If you're lucky, you'll get a twofer: you can see the fall colors and see a freighter going through the Soo Locks. If you walk along the shore, you may just find a few more spots to enjoy the colors.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Ontonagon

Covering about 60,000 acres of land, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is one of the few major wilderness areas in the Midwest. It's home to miles of streams and rivers, several waterfalls, and old hemlock-hardwood forests along Lake Superior, which offer an unrivaled natural beauty in the fall.

There's a Summit Peak observation tower, an 18-hole disc golf course, more than 90 miles of hiking trails, and several campgrounds to keep you busy.

Fall at Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet

Northeast of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and in the center of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet is a special place that tells the story of copper mining in this part of the Upper Peninsula. Its mission is to preserve the landscapes and other resources, which is why it's such a beautiful place to visit in the fall.

You can turn the visit into a scenic drive through the Keweenaw hills and charming towns.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising

As we consider the best times to catch the changing colors of fall, we continue our Michigan fall color tour in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The town of Munising along Lake Superior is best known for its waterfalls and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It is also home to the Au Sable Lighthouse.

Breath-taking beauty awaits you at every turn during fall in Munising. Whether you go for a drive through a canopy of color, you brave the chilly water of Lake Superior for a water-view of the golden topped cliffs, or you hike to one of the area's majestic waterfalls, you will stand in awe of the beauty of fall in this deciduous tree-laden paradise.

Also along Lake Superior, the deep forest of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore offers a picturesque view of Michigan's fall foliage. The park features dunes, inland lakes, waterfalls, and a wild shoreline with beaches and sandstone cliffs.

Fall at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise

With the Tahquamenon River at its center, Tahquamenon Falls State Park stretches across 50,000 acres. At almost 50 feet, its Upper Falls is one of the biggest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. In addition, its Lower Falls consists of five smaller waterfalls that cascade around an island.

The River Trail connects the falls, and the mostly undeveloped park makes getting great pictures of the fall colors a breeze.

Visiting Mackinac Island in the Fall

Sitting in Lake Huron between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan, Mackinac Island is a delightful place to visit during the fall. There are fewer tourists compared to the summer, which makes walking around the island more enjoyable while you soak up the hues of amber and crimson in the trees.

You could even take a carriage ride, go horseback riding or savor a picnic downtown at Marquette Park.

Where to See Michigan Fall Colors in the Northern Lower Peninsula

Road Trip on the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route

One of the most scenic road trips for viewing the fall foliage in Michigan is via the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route. Otherwise known as M-119, this historic route runs for about 30 miles along Lake Michigan. It starts at Cross Village, where a bluff with a giant white cross overlooks the lake.

The Tunnel of Trees passes through Good Hart, Middle Village, and Harbor Springs before reaching Petoskey. Along the way, there are plenty of places to stop for hiking, taking pictures, and shopping.

Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway in Ocqueoc Township

Passing through Ocqueoc Township, the Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway is the best way to see Ocqueoc Falls, the biggest waterfall in the state's Lower Peninsula. The pathway has four loops, which range from 3 miles to 6 miles long and are suitable for biking and hiking.

The towering hardwoods and pines provide an awesome backdrop of fall colors for pictures.

Leelanau State Park in Northport

Located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula in Lake Michigan, Leelanau State Park has 8.5 miles of foot trails that encompass you in the fall foliage of Leelanau County.

With more than 1,500 acres, the park features a picnic area, rustic campground, and Grand Traverse Lighthouse, which is a historic monument. You can tour the lighthouse and museum, which offers treasure hunts and has a gift shop.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Maple City

While Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is known for its bluffs, sand dunes, and sandy beaches along Lake Michigan, it features inland lakes and lush forests that satisfy your craving for those Michigan fall colors.

If you're just passing through, take a detour on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Empire for a dazzle of color. You can stop and enjoy the stunning views at the Dunes Scenic Overlook, too.

Trek the Corsair Trails near Tawas

The Corsair Trails are renowned for being one of the best cross-country ski networks anywhere. But in the fall, it provides a fun and adventurous way to see the beauty of a Michigan fall.

The trail network has three trailheads, each of which is just a few miles northwest of East Tawas. There are over 26 miles of trails and loops to explore, so it's perfect whether you want to spend a day or a whole weekend.

See the Best of Lake Michigan Fall Color in Ludington

One of the best Lake Michigan towns to experience fall is Ludington and there are lots of spots to check out.

The Ludington School Forest offers more than five miles of trails where you can bike and hike to take in all autumn has to offer. Ludington State Park is also great for recreation and has more than 18 miles of trails, more than 5,300 acres of forest, and much more.

Take a Fall Ride on the Silver Lake Sand Dunes

West Michigan is blessed every year with amazing fall colors and places like Silver Lake are the best spots to see the fantastic yellow, green, and red colors.

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a fun and scenic place to see the fall colors. You can take an off-road vehicle for a spin on the dunes or take a guided tour. You"ll be able to see Silver Lake and Lake Michigan and the majestic fall colors surrounding them.

See Breathtaking Views in Gaylord

Gaylord is, in a word, exquisite in fall and there are several places where you can bike, hike, or paddle to see the best of the season.

But for truly breathtaking fall vistas, there are two locations to go. Treetrops Resort in Gaylord is well-known for its golf courses, but it also provides one of the best fall views in all of Otsego County. The Sturgeon River also offers awe-inspiring views and is a great way to experience fall from a different point of view.

Travel the In-Town Cadillac Fall Color Route

Cadillac's in-town Cadillac Route is a great way to enjoy fall in downtown Cadillac. The 7-mile Cadillac Foot and Bike Path offers a chance to explore downtown and continue on to Lake Mitchell at the edge of the Manistee National Forest.

The Around Cadillac loops allow visitors to visit numerous scenic overlooks, farm markets, and hiking experiences. These routes offer the best of everything as you cross the Pine and Big Manistee rivers.

Visit Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling

The contrasting hardwood and evergreen forests of Northern Michigan are something spectacular to behold in the fall and Grayling is the perfect place to see it all.

Head down M-93 or I-75 to Hartwick Pines State Park. Here you can bask in the colors of fall while enjoying a leisurely bike ride or hike on a crisp fall day. Hartwick Pines is one of the biggest state parks in Michigan's Lower Peninsula and it's hard to match its beauty.

Fall Things to Do in Alpena

As the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes, Alpena is the place where history and heritage collide with relaxed outdoor adventure. With its claim to fame being its position on the 45th Parallel (halfway between the North Pole and the Equator), Alpena is situated on the shores of Lake Huron in northern Michigan and is home to the nation's only freshwater marine sanctuary.

Centrally located to 7 lighthouses, and boasting 1000+ miles of shoreline, 43K+ acres of state forest land, 300K+ acres of open water, and more than 2 dozen parks, Alpena is a must-explore fall destination in northern Michigan.

Aside from exploring four hiking trails, you can tour the 80-foot-tall Alpena Light on Thunder Bay River. Also called Little Red, the lighthouse is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.

Destinations for Viewing Fall Foliage in the Southern Lower Peninsula

Visit Mt Pleasant's Exciting Park System

Great fall colors can be found anywhere in Michigan, even in Mount Pleasant in central Michigan. One of the best spots in the Mount Pleasant area is the Bundy Hill Preserve in Remus. There are two miles of trails to explore and you can scale the highest point in Isabella County at 1,270 feet.

You can also see fall beauty at Deerfield Nature Park in Remus, where you'll find a covered bridge, disc golf courses, and more.

Mount Pleasant's park system is also a great way to explore the city and see fall colors. There's space for skateboarding, picnicking, playgrounds, horseshoe pits and so much more. They're the perfect spots for fall family outings.

Explore the Thumb Coast in Port Huron

The gateway to Michigan's thumb coast is a great place to visit for fall color. In fact, it may be one of the state's best-kept secrets.

Fall is the prime time to see gorgeous autumn hues and you can't go wrong with driving along M-25. The roadway actually ends in Port Huron, but while you're in town you can take a gander at Fort Gratiot.

See the Best of Nature in Port Austin

If Michigan's fall colors are your thing, hop on M-25 in Port Huron or head north on M-53 and head to Port Austin. The drives are picturesque and the colors stretch for miles as you drive along the Lake Huron coastline.

Stop into town to visit the seasonal farmer's market or visit for one of Port Austin's fun events.

If you want to get back to nature, check out the hiking trails at Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum or Port Crescent State Day Use Park. When it comes to nature, you can't be the views the Nature Center offers, especially in the fall.

Take a Ride With BaySail in Bay City

One of the best ways to experience fall in Bay City is on the water with BaySail. This allows visitors to take a sailing trip on the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.

The boats typically depart from downtown Bay City, and you'll be able to see fall colors in a completely different way. You can bring the whole family or charter an entire ship for a private cruise or private dinner.

The Bay City Recreation Area is also a great place to see a decent amount of fall colors when conditions are right.

Leaf Peep at For-Mar Near Flint

If your idea of a fun day is hitting the trails and going on a fall hike, For-Mar Nature Preserve near Flint has you covered. The preserve and arboretum, which opened as a county park in 1970, has seven miles of trails to explore.

The arboretum stretches over 116 acres and features more than 1,800 different specimens of more than 150 species. If you love plants, trees, shrubs, and other flora and fauna, you'll be amazed at all that you see here during the fall months. You'll want to take your time to make sure that you see it all.

Coopersville & Marne Railway Train Rides

A fun way to see Michigan fall colors is to hop on a Coopersville & Marne Railway train. The railway operates vintage passenger trains with cars from the 1920s. From Coopersville, the train rides take you about 7 miles to Marne.

The track travels through fields and farms, and it crosses over four creeks and two bridges. The Famous Pumpkin Train is popular for its fall-themed entertainment.

Holland State Park in Holland

Known for its beaches on Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan, Holland State Park has many fall activities to offer. There are campgrounds, paddle rentals, fishing, and a playground.

The iconic Holland Harbor Lighthouse, also called Big Red, is a beautiful setting for sunsets. However, you get the best look at the fall foliage while walking the nearby Mt. Pisgah Dune Boardwalk.

Fall Things to Do in Saugatuck

Saugatuck is a unique place to visit if you want to see fall colors in Michigan. With miles of Lake Michigan beaches and shorelines in southwest Michigan, this city is full of character and culture, and it has some of the best beaches in the world.

An excellent thing to do here in the fall is to explore Saugatuck Dunes State Park, which has more than 12 miles of trails through rolling hills and steep slopes.

You can also take a colorful hike up the Mount Baldhead Park trail to Mount Baldhead, which offers a panoramic view of the lake.

Fall in Kalamazoo

Named one of the top 10 affordable outdoorsy cities in the country, Kalamazoo is a perfect fall destination for Michiganders. Just 45 minutes from Lake Michigan in the southwest corner of the Lower Peninsula, this vibrant city has something for everyone to enjoy this fall.

Whether you take a hike through one of the many nature centers, visit a local pumpkin patch or apple orchard, or meander through the streets of downtown Kalamazoo, you'll be invigorated by the fresh air of fall in this beautiful city.

Whitehouse Nature Center at Albion College

Whitehouse Nature Center is a special place for seeing the changing leaves because it's located on a college campus. It's the only classroom that stretches across 140 acres, and it has a river, more than 400 plant species, and 5 miles of trails.

The River's Edge Trail follows the Kalamazoo River. You can visit live exhibits of amphibians and reptiles in the center as well.

Road Trip on Huron River Drive Between Dexter and Ann Arbor

Leading you through the trees and across the Huron River, Huron River Drive gives you an excellent glimpse of the fall colors. It runs alongside the river, and the stretch between Dexter and Ann Arbor is ideal for cycling.

Along the way, you can stop at the Dexter Cider Mill for hand-picked apples, apple cider, doughnuts, pastries, and hard cider. Further down is the Delhi Metropark in Ann Arbor, which has 52 acres of oak trees.

Fall in Ypsilanti

Just east of Ann Arbor along the I-94 corridor, the Huron River runs through the town of Ypsilanti. Riverside Park, a nearly 14-acre park along the Huron River connects downtown Ypsilanti with Depot Town and is full of fall color during the months of October and November.

"Ypsi", as it's affectionately known, has a rich history, which shines through in its vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment scenes – and is inspiring a resurgence of visitors from near and far. Two main districts, Downtown and Depot Town, are historic areas infused with innovative, bohemian, locally-driven businesses.

Sometimes overlooked because of its more famous neighbor (Ann Arbor, Michigan), Ypsilanti has its own inimitable, groovy, authentic ambiance worthy of a weekend fall getaway.

September
16

National Guacamole Day 

MOLE DAY TIMELINE

1500s
Aztecado

The Aztecs make a spread with avocados called "ahuaca-mulli" or "avocado sauce."

1833
First in Florida

Avocado trees are first planted in Florida and three years later, they're cultivated in California.

1935
The Hass Is born

Rudolph Hass originates the term, "Hass Avocado," after purchasing a seedling from a farmer. Today, Hass is the most popular avocado variety in America.

2014
Avocados for days!

American consumption of avocados jumps from 1 to 7 pounds per capita within 20 years.

NATIONAL GUACAMOLE DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Make some fresh guacamole

    You can really get into the celebratory spirit of National Guacamole Day by actually making it at home. Select some ripe avocados at the store by squeezing each one gently. Ripe avocados will yield to gentle pressure. At home, cut your avocados open, remove the stones and spoon the green flesh into a bowl. Smash with a fork or handheld mixer and stir in some onion or a splash of salsa for extra flavor.

  2. Go on a guacamole tour

    Ready for a guacamole extravaganza? Hook up with some friends and try to visit at least three restaurants on National Guacamole Day. Sample the guac at each place to decide which one you like best.

  3. Add some guacamole to your food

    Whether you made some fresh or brought home guacamole from the store, you can celebrate National Guacamole Day simply by eating some guac. But why stop there? Guacamole has been a source of inspiration for fusion cuisine the world over, and National Guacamole Day is your time to get creative. Whatever you were planning to make for dinner, find room to add a little guacamole to the meal. Dollop some guacamole onto your chicken or try something truly crazy! Who's ready for guacamole mac-and-cheese?

WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL GUACAMOLE DAY

  1. Guacamole is healthy and delicious

    Whether you like it plain or spicy, guacamole is one of those foods that's easy to love. The avocado is rich in the good fats that help reduce cholesterol and when avocado is mashed, the texture is creamy, bringing out all the amazing flavor. Then, add onion, tomato, cumin and cilantro.

  2. It's not just for Mexican food

    Guacamole originated as a Mexican side dish. Due to its health benefits and great flavor, guacamole has grown in popularity throughout the world, especially in the United States and Canada. Now there's guacamole fusion. Look for it on salads, as sandwich spread and even on pizza!

  3. It gives you a reason to eat guacamole

    Okay, so a lot of us probably don't need a special reason to eat guacamole. But most of us still associate guacamole with Mexican cuisine. Despite a ton of innovative ways to incorporate guacamole into other types of food, we may hesitate to try those fusions at home. But whether you like classic guacamole or you're obsessing over the turkey and guacamole croissant sandwich, National Guacamole Day is a great reason to include this healthy, high-vitamin food in your diet.

NATIONAL GUACAMOLE DAY DATES

Year Date Day
2022 September 16 Friday
2023 September 16 Saturday
2024 September 16 Monday
2025 September 16 Tuesday
2026 September 16 Wednesday
September
9

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Sep. 9, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates moved lower again yesterday. It wasn't a big fall by recent standards, but it was a worthwhile one. If your lender didn't drop your rate yesterday, it might well this morning.

Mortgage rates today look likely to fall again. And, if that trend continues as the hours pass, those for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages should end the day back below 6%.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Sep 9th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 6.173% 6.205% +0.13% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 5.266% 5.3% -0.24% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 6.197% 6.259% +0.07% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 5.687% 5.797% -0.03% 
30 year fixed FHA 6.019% 6.89% +0.26% 
15 year fixed FHA 5.563% 6.17% -0.09% 
30 year fixed VA 5.778% 6.007% +0.09% 
15 year fixed VA 5.697% 6.05% -0.15% 
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.

Unfortunately, a couple of days of better news about mortgage rates isn't enough to persuade me they're likely to fall significantly for a sustained period over the next few months.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations 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 rose to 3.30% from 3.25%. (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 climbed to $85.86 from $83.23 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices increased to $1,725 from $1,722 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 — moved up to 45 from 40 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to 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 (Sep 9th, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

The chances of the Federal Reserve hiking general interest rates by 75 basis points (0.75%) on Sep. 21 increased yesterday. The Financial Times summed up the situation in a subhead: "Fed chair doubles down on hawkish message and says central bank needs to act 'forthrightly'"

You might have thought markets would have gotten the message the first 10 times Chair Jerome Powell said this. But some apparently still think he's bluffing. So, there he was again yesterday, saying the same thing.

It is very much our view, and my view, that we need to act now forthrightly, strongly, as we have been doing, and we need to keep at it until the job is done.
— Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Sep. 8, 2022

Fed and MBSs

One of the main reasons mortgage rates plumbed new lows during the pandemic was that the Fed bought industrial quantities of mortgage-back securities (MBSs), the type of bond that largely determines those rates. As of yesterday, it owned $2.7 trillion of MBSs.

The extra demand created by the Fed pushed up the price of MBSs, which inevitably pulled down their yields — and therefore mortgage rates. This was part of the process called "quantitative easing" (QE). But we're now in a period of "quantitative tightening" (QT).

For a while earlier this year, I was worried that the Fed might dump too many of its MBSs into the bond market over a relatively brief period, pushing up mortgage rates even higher when they were already rising. But that probably hasn't happened much.

The quantity the Fed can sell each month will rise this month to $35 billion. That's a lot, but not compared to its $2.7 trillion holding.

And, yesterday, the New York Fed said it expected sales within a "range between $20 and $30 billion over the next several months." Click that link if you want a peek under the hood.

So, I'm not expecting the Fed's runoff of its MBS assets to affect mortgage rates too much over the rest of this year. That's good. But the risks from persistent inflation and the Fed's rate hikes remain.

And I still suspect that mortgage rates won't fall far or for long between now and 2023. But some experts disagree: see Fannie Mae's and the Mortgage Bankers Association's forecasts below.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

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.

Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although they've been kinder since May.

Freddie's Sep. 8 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.89% (with 0.7 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.66%.

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 remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Aug. 22 and the MBA's on Aug. 23. Freddie's came out around Jul. 21. But it now releases forecasts only quarterly. So, expect its figures to look stale soon.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.1% 4.8%  4.7% 4.5%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.3% 5.2%  5.1% 5.0%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive. Personally, I think they're too optimistic.

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."

Verify your new rate (Sep 9th, 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.

September
7

Is Professional Home Staging Worth the Cost?

Home staging has become a "must-do" for many sellers, as 82% of buyer's agents said home staging makes it easier for prospective buyers to visualize the property as a future home.1

 Staged homes have also historically sold faster and for more money than those that are not staged.2 Let's dive into the benefits of staging, the costs of having a company stage your home, and why for many sellers it is worth the cost.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Home staging is the curated furnishing and prepping of a home that is for sale on the real estate market.
  • The goal of home staging is to create a believable, clean, attractive living space that buyers can envision living in.
  • Proponents say that staging a home can increase a home's selling price and the likelihood that it will sell quickly as it helps prospective buyers better imagine how they can use the livable space.
  • Staging, however, comes with a cost: you will have to pay the stager as well as pay for the rental for furnishings and home accents while the house remains unsold.
  • While many have benefit from professional home stagers, you can choose to stage your home by yourself or rely on some feedback from your real estate agent.

What Is Staging? 

Home staging is a marketing strategy that temporarily refits your home with furniture, art, and other décor to make the visual space more appealing to prospective buyers. The goal of staging is to flatter the property, accentuate the strengths of the home, and give interested parties the ability to visualize themselves living in the space.

Good staging companies strive to make over a property without being obvious. A high quality staging job is beautiful without being obvious, as the intent isn't to deceive a buyer or have an interested party feel like a staging job is attempting to hide a home's flaws.

Staging is also practical as it allows other people to see spaces and how they may be used. Using furniture and property that you do not own, staging companies can demonstrate how awkward spaces can be used, what pieces go well in what areas, and how to most efficiently lay out a room.

How Home Staging Works

Home staging isn't putting a bunch of fancy furniture in your home. It's a deliberate marketing strategy with specific objectives that drive a higher real estate prices. Home staging may be more appropriate for home buyers that think they may benefit from any of the following improvements. Home staging:

  • makes your home look clean and organized.
  • strives to have rooms look bigger.
  • makes your home feel more welcoming.
  • utilizes all space, adding functionality to each room and corner.
  • modernizes your living space through new, creative furnishings.
  • depersonalizes your home and attempts to have the buyer image themselves in the space.
Home staging companies often have a number of requirements and clauses in their contracts. Make sure you're aware of whether they require all utilities to be connected, what notification periods are needed, and what cleanliness requirements they have prior to staging.

Benefits of Staging

Sellers often pursue home staging for several specific benefits. For one, staging makes it easier for potential buyers to see themselves in the home. Instead of having an empty space, staged homes have dining rooms, bedrooms, and other personal settings set up for buyers to see and imagine themselves in.

Staged houses also have the benefit of appearing clean. Staging companies own a plethora of furniture and goods, and they often ensure all property is maintained and looks professional. A staged home reduces clutter, removes personal items of the seller, and likely involved cleaner furniture than what the seller owns.

A stager can help with your online listing, too, as 93% of home buyers use the Internet during their home search.3 That means your home had better show really well online. Staging and photos by a professional can help create a beautiful digital marketing portfolio that entices buyers without needing them in the physical space.

Staging is used to demonstrate that a home is move-in ready. By demonstrating that the house can be set up and livable, staged homes are often more appealing to buyers as these houses may come across as needing less repairs or maintenance prior to being fully useful.

How Staging Affects Time on Market

The Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) has a staging savings calculator that lets you figure out how much time and money (mortgage payments, carrying costs, etc.) you save if you stage your home before listing it. They found that homes that had not been staged before listing sat on the market for an average of 143 days.4 Once these homes were staged, they sold in 40 days. In addition, homes that were staged pre-listing averaged just 23 days on the market.5 Though every market and property is different, a home is more likely to sell faster if it is staged.

Timelines will vary greatly between markets, especially during busier or slower seasons. In general, an average home can be staged in 1-2 days. It's advised to contact a stager at least 2-3 weeks prior to a listing to ensure ideal inventory is on hand for your home.

How Staging Affects Sale Price

Staging a home also impacts the sale price. According to the National Association of Realtors, 23% of buyers' agents said that home staging raised the dollar value offered by between 1% and 5% compared to home that had not been staged. 18% of agents believe home staging increased the dollar value offer between 6% and 10%.6

Downsides to Staging

The obvious downside to home staging is the cost. We'll talk more about the cost below, but it's important to note that whatever you spend, you are incurring an optional expense that is not required to sell your home.

You may encounter the issue of needing to store your belongings in preparation of a stage. Staging companies will often require your items are removed prior to their furniture being brought in. If you're not quite at the stage of having a new home lined up, you may be forced to expedite packing and incur additional costs to have your goods held off-site.

While staging may mask or cover some of your home's flaws, it doesn't fix them. In addition, they may even call attention to deficits of your home depending on how the home is staged. For example, you may have used furniture to cover poor paint jobs or scratches on the walls or floor. Staging companies often use a minimalist approach that may not cover all of the blemishes you once hid.

Staging often gets your house off the market faster. However, it also takes longer to get staged homes onto the market. In addition to removing all of your belongings, coordinating with a staging company takes planning. You may also decide to undertake repair and maintenance based on how a staged product will appear.

The Cost of Staging

The cost to stage a home is very specific to geographical location and specific real estate markets. In addition, staging expenses will vary throughout the year, as companies will be more in demand during the peak selling season. While you might be able to secure a contract, you may be faced with furniture charged a premium.

According to HomeAdvisor, the national average home staging cost is $1,608. Homeowners typically pay between $741 and $2,644, though full furniture rentals for extended periods can cost over $6,000.7

Home staging can be done while you are still living in the house. However, you may be contractually obligated to keep your home clean and responsible for any damages to furnishings while you're temporarily occupying the space.

Other Considerations

Consider the design skills, time and energy that staging will require and be realistic about whether you could undertake the task yourself. Professional companies have expertise and inventory in the field; however, many choose to design the layout of their home themselves and utilize the furniture they already own.

In addition, you can opt for your real estate agent to help stage your home, though it's traditionally not within their role to do so. Your real estate agent is motivated to sell your home as quickly as possible for as much as possible, they so may have recommendations based on what they've seen work on other listings.

Unlike some professions, there is no official licensing entity and no licensing exam for staging. Just about anyone can call themselves a stager, so the best way to find a good one is to get referrals from a seller you know who has used and found success with a particular stager or from your broker. A good broker will have connections to good stagers. 

What Is the Process of Staging a Home?

If you hire a staging company, the company will require you to remove your belongings from the site. They will often take a tour of your property, take measurements, and work with your real estate agent on obtaining information about your home. The company will then deliver furniture to your home, stage your property, and remove the furnishings at the end of your agreed-upon contract.

Is Home Staging Worth It?

For many, home staging results in a higher selling price and a quicker home sale. There are downsides to home staging such as more work prior to listing and ancillary costs like storing your property, but these downsides are often outweighed by the benefits of staging.

Is It Better to Sell a Home Staged or Empty?

Every market and property will have different strategies. In general, it is often best to stage a home to maximize bid prices. If you are looking to sell a property quickly, be mindful that there is considerable planning and coordinating prior to listing, so selling a home empty may be best in some situations.

Am I Required to Stage My Home?

You are not required to stage your home. Home staging is an optional marketing strategy used to maximize buyer interest in your home.

How Can I Stage My Own Home?

Should you choose to stage your own home, it's most often advised that you begin by simply cleaning and de-cluttering your space. This includes performing cosmetic repairs and maintenance on both the interior and exterior of your home. Remove personal items that make it more difficult for buyers to envision themselves living in your home. Consider borrowing furniture from friends or family.

The Bottom Line

The cost of staging by a professional—someone who has a great track record in the business—can mean a higher selling price for your home. For many, having a professional bring in their own expertise and furnishings leads to a more successful home selling experience.

September
2

Home Inspection

What Is a Home Inspection?

A home inspection observes and reports on the condition of a real estate property, usually when it is on the market to be sold.

A qualified home inspector assesses the property's condition, including its heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical work, water, and sewage, as well as some fire and safety issues. In addition, the home inspector will look for evidence of insect, water, fire damage, or any other issue that may affect the property's value.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • A home inspection examines a property's safety and current condition.
  • A buyer arranges and pays for a home inspection and—depending on its findings—may choose to move on to closing, renegotiate the sale price, request repairs, or cancel the sales contract.
  • A home inspection is not the same as a home appraisal, which is required and scheduled by a lender to determine the value of a property for which a buyer is seeking a mortgage.
  • When valuing real estate for investment purposes, a home inspection is one of several variables considered.
  • Before buying a home, you should have it inspected. Waiving an inspection may be a risky venture.

How a Home Inspection Works

Potential home buyers often hire home inspectors to research a property and acquire a written report that details its condition, including assessing necessary or recommended repairs, maintenance concerns, and any other potentially costly issues. The home inspector will assess the physical structure of the home, from the foundation to the roof and the home's systems. This assessment will determine if the home is up to code.

A home inspection can tell a homebuyer a lot about a newly constructed home or an existing house and save them money and aggravation. For sellers, meanwhile, having an inspection done before putting their home on the market can afford them the chance to make structural repairs or upgrade and replace systems that may increase the likelihood of a sale.

Typically, a home inspection is done after a sales contract, or purchase agreement between a buyer and a seller has been signed. For this reason, it's important that the contract include an inspection contingency (also known as a "due diligence" contingency), which allows a buyer time to find an inspector, schedule and attend—if so desired—an inspection, receive the inspector's report, and decide how to proceed based on the information provided.

A report's assessment can include everything from material defects that negatively impact a home's value to minor cosmetic defects. Based on the assessment, the buyer may decide to proceed with the sale, schedule additional inspections, renegotiate the sale price with the homeowner, ask that certain repairs be made, or cancel the contract. If the buyer requests major repairs, they may also ask for a reinspection with the original inspector to verify that the original problem identified has been remedied.

Additional inspections may be done for asbestos, mold or mildew, termites, pests, radon, or lead, for example, or to check sewer lines, chimneys, or other structural components.

Home Inspection vs. Appraisal

A home inspection focuses on the home's current condition and should not be confused with a home appraisal, which determines the property's value. Both are essential steps that lead to a home sale but are done for different reasons.

The buyer sets up a home inspection and can then attend it to become educated about the condition and safety of the home and its systems. In contrast, an appraisal performed by a certified or licensed appraiser is required and scheduled by a lender when a buyer needs a mortgage to purchase a home.

Unlike a home inspection, an appraisal can impact the amount that can be borrowed and is typically done behind closed doors without the buyer's presence. The appraiser uses several valuation methods, including comparable home prices, the size and quality of the home, lot size, and more. In contrast, a home inspector is only evaluating the home's condition.

Special Considerations

Valuing real estate can be a challenging process, with the result of a home inspection acting as just one variable. Investing in real estate is similar to investing in stocks. Two basic methodologies exist absolute value and relative value. Discounting the future net operating income (NOI) of a property by the appropriate discount rate is similar to discounted cash flow (DCF) valuations for stock. Integrating the gross income multiplier model in real estate is comparable to relative value valuations with stocks.

In both methods of real estate valuation, it's critical to choose an appropriate capitalization rate or the real estate's required rate of return. This is the net of value appreciation or depreciation.

Do I Need a Home Inspection?

Because a home inspection provides a thorough assessment of the home's safety and condition, it is always a good idea to have a home inspected before purchase.

What Happens When a Home Inspector Finds Something Wrong?

If a home inspection report finds any unsafe materials or costly cosmetic defects, a buyer can decide not to proceed with the home purchase, renegotiate the sale price, or ask the homeowner to make repairs in order to keep the contract intact.

Is a Home Appraisal the Same As an Inspection?

A home appraisal is a different action than a home inspection. A mortgage lender sets up an appraisal, and the appraiser will use various valuation methods, including comparable home prices, size, and quality of the home, to assess its value. A home inspector only evaluates the home's condition for overall safety or potential trouble spots, like a leaking roof, peeling paint, or anything not up to the local building code.

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August
31

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 30, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates jumped significantly yesterday. They're just one day's moderate rise away from breaching the 6% level for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. And some borrowers will already be on the hook for 6%+ rates.

Earlier this morning it was looking as if mortgage rates today might barely move. But that could easily change as the day progresses.

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 5.953% 5.983% +0.09% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 5.379% 5.439% +0.1% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 6.001% 6.059% +0.09% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 5.231% 5.32% +0.11% 
30 year fixed FHA 5.687% 6.45% +0.15% 
15 year fixed FHA 5.585% 6.086% +0.1% 
30 year fixed VA 5.342% 5.561% +0.06% 
15 year fixed VA 5.449% 5.812% Unchanged
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.

Yesterday's rise in mortgage rates was sobering. Periods of rises are often followed by falls, but those are by no means guaranteed.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations 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 fell to 3.07% from 3.10%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were modestly 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 decreased to $93.39 from $95.10 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices fell to $1,742 from $1,751 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 — climbed to 55 from 45 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to hold steady or move modestly. 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 (Aug 31st, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

August has been another terrible month for mortgage rates. According to Mortgage News Daily's archives, the average for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage started the month at 5.05% and closed yesterday evening at 5.95%.

So, it would take a miracle today and tomorrow for this month to be less than a disaster. And, even then, it would still have been bad.

Yesterday, I suggested that September may be less awful than August. That's because it's usually a poor month for stocks, and investors might put some of the money from their sales into mortgage bonds. That should exert downward pressure on mortgage rates. Unfortunately, there should be other forces — notably inflation — likely pushing them higher.

Personally, I see little prospect of sustained falls in mortgage rates this side of 2023. But the expert economists at Fannie Mae and the Mortgage Bankers Association disagree. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

Yesterday

Financial media seem close to unanimity that yesterday's mortgage rate rises were a result of last Friday's crucial speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. In some ways, he said what everyone expected. Namely, that the Fed would continue to hike general interest rates for the foreseeable future.

But he failed to give any indication of when the Fed would pivot away from rate rises and return to the easy-money environment that benefits Wall Street so much.

Mr. Powell started his speech at 10 a.m. (ET) on Friday. So you may think it strange that markets had most of a business day to respond — and did so in ways that reduced mortgage rates. But markets can take a while to digest new information. All those uber-smart minds, backed up by the highest of high-tech computer systems, simply aren't as instantly responsive as they'd like you to think.

So, I was right when I predicted that, if hawkish, Mr. Powell's speech would probably push mortgage rates higher. But I was wrong about the timing.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

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.

Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although they've been kinder since May.

Freddie's Aug. 25 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.55% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.13%.

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 remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's forecast appeared on Aug. 22 and the MBA's on Aug. 23. Freddie's came out around Jul. 21. But it now releases forecasts only quarterly. So, expect its figures to look stale soon.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.1% 4.8%  4.7% 4.5%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.3% 5.2%  5.1% 5.0%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive. Personally, I think they're wildly optimistic.

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."

Verify your new rate (Aug 31st, 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.

August
24

6 Tips to Sell Your Home Fast

How to generate interest in your house

If you're ready to sell your home, you may have reason to want to sell it fast. Whether you're relocating for a new job that starts soon or have a pending offer on a new place, it's important to drum up interest in your house especially if you're looking to close quickly. The more potential buyers you can attract, the better your chances of selling fast - and at a good price.

Whatever your reasons for selling, here are six ways to sell a house quickly even in a slow market.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • When looking to sell a home quickly, begin by hiring a real estate agent to manage much of the process on your behalf.
  • You or your agent can price the home competitively and can adjust the terms and conditions if there is lukewarm initial interest.
  • Prior to showings, clean the whole house, remove clutter, and hide personal items so buyers can picture themselves in the space.
  • Boost the curb appeal to make the right first impression. Clear away the cobwebs, paint the front door, and plant flowers.
  • Offer terms that might sweeten the deal for buyers—such as paying part of the closing costs.

1. Find the Right Real Estate Agent

If you want to sell your home fast, the first step is to hire a real estate agent. The ideal person will know the local market and have a sales record that proves they know how to sell. Keep in mind the seller is often responsible for paying the commission for both the buyer and seller agent. In exchange for the convenience of an agent, you're likely on the hook for a selling commission between 2%-4% of your selling price.

Keep in mind that a real estate agent will help with the entire process. They'll oversee the professional photographer who will take top-notch photos of your home as well as negotiate the best price. They also will write up a real estate listing that sells, schedule and host showings, and market your property to get it seen.

2. Price It to Sell

One of the most effective ways to sell your home fast is to price it competitively. If you price it too high, you detract prospective buyers out price out potential bidders. In addition, it make take longer to settle the negotiation process if prospective buyers want your price to come down.

Your real estate agent (or realtor) will research comparable homes (aka "comps") in your area to set a realistic price. If you really need to sell fast, then consider pricing your home a little lower to attract interest (and maybe even spark a bidding war). If you haven't received any offers by a certain date, your agent can further reduce your selling price.

It's also helpful to think about the price points that buyers search for in your area. If you list your home for $302,000, for example, then you'll miss all the potential buyers who are looking for homes under $300,000. It's probably not worth asking for the extra $2,000 if it means fewer buyers will see the home.

Just-below pricing is a popular pricing strategy as $299,000 has a different psychological effect on consumers than $300,000. This pricing strategy is employed throughout supermarkets and online retail.

3. Clean, Declutter, and Depersonalize

Buyers need to be able to picture themselves in the space, but they won't be able to if your house is a mess. Give your home a thorough cleaning from top to bottom, get rid of clutter, and hide the family photos and other personal items. It's fairly standard industry practice to hire external cleaners especially prior to a major showing.

Rearrange the furniture so your home looks inviting and so buyers can move through your home without bumping into anything. If necessary, put bulky items in storage. A crowded room looks like a small room.

Consider hiring a stager to help you showcase your home's best assets, impress potential buyers, and sell it quickly for the best possible price. Staging isn't cheap, but the National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that, on average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged homes.1

4. Boost Your Curb Appeal

If you want to sell quickly, it's essential to make a good first impression. The first thing a buyer sees is a home's exterior and how it fits into the surrounding neighborhood. To boost your home's curb appeal, give attention to both the house and its surroundings.

It may be too late to do major renovations. If a sale is urgent, consider minor repairs and maintenance to the outside of your house such as touch-up painting, window washing, and fixing anything broken. If repainting your entire house doesn't fit in your timeline, slap a coat of paint on just your door. You can also swap out your address numbers or door handles for newer, more attractive replacements.

If applicable, make sure the pathway from the curb to your porch is clean and safe to walk on. This includes straightening any uneven paths and pruning overgrown bushes. In addition to being a safety hazard, you want to make sure prospective buyers can see and focus on the appearance of the house as they approach.

Don't forget the lights! Swap out exterior and interior lightbulbs especially if you are showing your house later in the evening or during winter.

There's plenty to do with your surroundings as well. Plant flowers or sprinkle bark mulch to give your yard a freshly-landscaped feel. Lay out a welcome mat and make sure your mailbox is clean. Dust away spiderwebs and debris from windows, eaves, and porches.

Not only does a positive curb appeal welcome prospective buyers, it signals to the market that you've cared for the home and they can believe the rest of the house has been well-taken care of as well.

5. Take Care of Quick Repairs

You won't have time for any major renovations, so focus on quick repairs to address things that could deter potential buyers. Survey the house and take care of the easy fixes including:

  • Fix all loose tiles in the bathroom or kitchen.
  • Fix all loose hinges on doors or cabinets.
  • Unclog or replace stuck drawer tracks.
  • Repair any leaky faucets and ensure all plumbing systems work.
  • Remove carpet stains or refinish hardwood floors.

Depending on how much time and money you want to spend getting the home ready, you might also want to update fixtures, buy new appliances, install new hardware on the cabinets, and give the interior a fresh coat of (neutral) paint.

If you want your home to sell fast, consider only working with cash buyers or buyers who have secured financing pre-approval. Buyers who have not been approved may delay the process and end up not qualifying for your home.

6. Sweeten the Deal

Another way to make the home and deal more attractive is to offer something to sweeten the pot. Buyers love financial incentives, and if you are pressed for time, consider how you can make your offer attractive. Examples include:

  • covering all closing costs.
  • accommodating move-out/move-in schedules with the buyer's preference.
  • agreeing to all inspections.
  • agreeing to pay for known items of concern to a buyer.
  • offering a transferable home warranty that provides discounted repair and replacement services for household appliances and systems.

How Do I Sell My Home Fast?

If you need to sell your home quickly, consider the short-term improvements to both the interior and exterior of your home. Consider hiring a real estate agent, photographer, and staging company. Be prepared to have flexibility on sale terms and conditions.

Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent handles many aspects of selling your home for you including researching the market, coordinating viewings, and negotiating the price. For these services, the seller often pays the agent a commission between 2% and 4%.

For some, the cost is too high and the service might not be worth it. For many, a real estate agent is indispensable as they often provide peace of mind during the selling process.

How Long Is the Home Closing Process?

The average home closing process lasts between 30 and 45 days. Delays are also possible, though you can close quicker if you and the other party are prepared.

The Bottom Line

Selling a home can be stressful—even more so if you're on a tight deadline. Fortunately, whether you need to sell fast because of a new job, a life event (e.g., a divorce), or financial reasons, there are ways to speed up the process.

If you don't have a big budget to get your home sell-ready, focus on that first impression of what buyers will see when they see your home for the first time. Buyers can make a decision within seconds—a few from the curb, and a few when they step inside the front door. Make those seconds count with a great agent, spruced-up house, and strong financial offer.

August
23

West Michigan is a photographer's paradise. Here's where you can snap stunning pictures.

Photography is one of our favorite art forms, and it's especially fun when you live in a beautiful place like West Michigan. When you're surrounded by tulips, shorelines, lighthouses, and windmills, you won't have trouble finding beautiful subjects for your photo shoots.

Great photography takes a good eye and a lot of practice. Our real estate agents have been dabbling in photography lately and are always on the lookout for new beautiful landscapes to hone their skills. Here are some of our favorite places to snap amazing pictures in West Michigan:

Click Here to Read More...

August
22

The 20% Mortgage Down Payment Isn't Dead Yet

A 20% down payment usually isn't required to finance a home purchase, and most buyers who finance a home put down less.

But the 20% down payment isn't dead yet. In fact, a growing share of buyers are making down payments of at least 20% to compete in today's sizzling market.

Competitive market prompts higher down payments

Realtors reported that 48% of their home buyer clients made down payments of at least 20% in the first quarter of 2021, up from 46% in all of 2020 and 40% in all of 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors' Confidence Index Survey. Among first-time buyers, almost 28% put down at least 20% in the first quarter, up from almost 26% in 2020 and about 23% in 2011.

A larger down payment strengthens your offer because it assures the seller that you're on solid financial ground and your financing is likely to go through.

For example, if the home appraisal comes in lower than the sales price, you'll need to negotiate with the seller to lower the price or pay more money out of your own pocket. Lenders generally won't approve a loan for more than the home is worth, minus the required down payment.

If you have more than enough for a lender-required down payment, you could use some of that money to make up the difference between the appraisal figure and sales price.

Still, it's important to maintain perspective and make a down payment that's right for you.

The average down payment on a house

Even though a greater share of buyers are putting down 20%, most first-time home buyers don't make that oft-quoted benchmark.

Because outliers can skew an average, the telling figure for what other home buyers put down is the median down payment, meaning half paid that much or above, and half paid that much or below.

For first-time home buyers who financed the purchase, the median down payment was 7%, according to a 2020 survey by the National Association of Realtors. The median down payment for repeat buyers who financed was 16%.

Minimum down payment on a house

The required minimum down payment for a house depends on the type of loan and a lender's criteria. Here are the minimum down payment requirements for the most common types of loans.

  • Conventional loans, which aren't guaranteed by the federal government, can have down payments as low as 3% for qualified buyers. Some lenders offer down payment assistance grants to allow even lower down payments.

  • FHA loans, backed by the Federal Housing Administration, require a minimum 3.5% down. FHA loans allow lower minimum credit scores than conventional loans.

  • VA loans for military service members and veterans, and USDA loans for certain rural and suburban buyers, usually require no down payment. VA loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and USDA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

" MORE: Sign up with NerdWallet to track your savings and reach your down payment goals.

Low minimum down payments: Nothing new

Mortgages with low down payment requirements have been around for decades.

The FHA has backed home loans with 5% down or less since the 1980s. Conventional loans have had them since the 1990s. And some first-time home buyer programs offer down payment assistance that can further reduce upfront costs.

"Some first-time home buyer programs offer down payment assistance that can further reduce upfront costs."

Yet more than three-fifths (62%) of Americans think you need a down payment of 20% or more to buy a home, according to the NerdWallet 2020 Home Buyer Report.  That's likely because a 20% down payment on a conventional loan is considered an exemplar and often used to quote mortgage rates. And it's an important criterion — with 20% down you can avoid paying for private mortgage insurance.

Is it worth putting down 20%?

Aside from making your offer look stronger in a competitive market and avoiding mortgage insurance, making a 20% down payment has other advantages:

  • Your monthly payment will be lower.

  • You'll likely earn a lower mortgage interest rate.

  • Lenders will be more likely to compete for your business.

How much should a first-time buyer put down?

There is no single right answer for everyone. Deciding how much to put down on your first house depends on your financial situation, how long you plan on living in the home, and the housing market in your area.

Here are some general tips:

  • Avoid draining your savings account for a down payment. You'll want to have some money on hand for closing costs, homeowners insurance, and property taxes.

  • Budget for things you'll need to buy after moving in, like a lawn mower for that new lawn, and for home maintenance and repairs.

  • Earn more interest on what you are saving by stashing money in a high-yield savings account or certificate of deposit. See NerdWallet's picks for the best high-yield savings accounts and, if you're saving a sum for years ahead, consider the best CD rates.

August
19

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 19, 2022

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates barely moved yesterday. So they remain very close to the high set earlier in the month. Don't believe Freddie Mac's survey that said on Thursday that they fell this week.

Unfortunately, it's looking this morning as if mortgage rates today might rise, perhaps appreciably. Of course, it's always possible these early morning trends might change later in the day. But that's looking less likely today than is often the case.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Aug 19th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 5.709% 5.744% +0.12% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 5.119% 5.178% -0.06% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 5.771% 5.827% Unchanged
Conventional 10 year fixed 5.276% 5.38% +0.14% 
30 year fixed FHA 5.518% 6.248% -0.11% 
15 year fixed FHA 5.387% 5.878% -0.11% 
30 year fixed VA 5.361% 5.584% +0.54% 
15 year fixed VA 5.502% 5.866% -0.28% 
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.

The only way in which I can see mortgage rates falling and staying low is if the world slides swiftly into a serious recession. Of course, that's possible. But let's hope it's unlikely. Absent such a global recession, I suspect those rates will very gradually continue higher.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations are:

  • 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 soared to 2.97% from 2.85%. (Very bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were lower 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 increased to $90.81 from $90.14 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices fell to $1,767 from $1,783 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 lower, to 51 from 54 out of 100. (Good 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to rise, possibly sharply. 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 (Aug 19th, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Yesterday morning, I mentioned that markets seem unwilling to believe the Federal Reserve, no matter how many times it tells them its interest rate hikes will continue. On Thursday, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard was the latest to sound the warning. He said he personally will probably support another huge 75-basis point (0.75%) increase at the Fed's next meeting on Sep. 20-21. And San Francisco Federal Reserve president Mary Daly chose that day to proclaim rate hikes will continue at least into 2023.

Also yesterday, The Wall Street Journal (paywall) made the same point I did. The headline of its story was, "Wall Street Bets the Fed Is Bluffing in High-Stakes Inflation Game." It's an interesting read and I'll explore it more in tomorrow's weekend edition of this newsletter.

Those Wall Street bets are behind some recent falls in mortgage rates. And, if it turns out the Fed isn't bluffing, we may see more rises. My money's on the Fed following through. And, looking at markets this morning, it may be Wall Street is beginning to think so, too.

Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

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.

Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although they've been kinder since May.

Freddie's Aug. 18 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.13% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.22%. But that won't include that Wednesday's big rise.

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 remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. The latest forecasts all appeared around Jul. 21.

Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
Fannie Mae 5.5% 5.4%  5.3% 5.1%
Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
MBA 5.2% 5.2%  5.0% 5.0%

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive.

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."

Verify your new rate (Aug 19th, 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.

August
17

National Nonprofit Day

August 17, 2022

National Nonprofit Day is commemorated on August 17 each year to recognize nonprofit organizations' ongoing efforts to serve the local community. If you've ever volunteered, you're well aware of the significance of these charitable organizations.

Nonprofits throughout the country work to promote awareness and offer assistance to individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Their activities contribute to the shaping of our society and provide hope for a brighter future.

We all contribute in some manner, whether it's by volunteering, giving, or just spreading the word about a nonprofit. In 2017, Americans donated more than $400 billion to a variety of charity organizations. What a great example of teamwork!

HISTORY OF NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY

The Tariff Act was signed into law on August 17, 1894. It provided exclusions from the federal income tax levied on corporations for charitable organizations and charities. Despite various changes over the years, the exemptions for N.G.O.s remain stable and continue to expedite charity organizations' operations. Incentives like this one make the nonprofit environment more accessible to new organizations.

Sherita J. Herring, an author, and respected speaker launched National Nonprofit Day. Its goal was to educate and empower everyone to be the change we want to see in the world. Recognizing that there are individuals in our midst that require assistance is the first step toward positively changing our society. Charitable organizations have been strong warriors in the struggle to close the wealth divide. They give a forum for people to reach out to the poor, either directly or through donations.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 1.5 million registered organizations in the United States. These organizations play a vital role in community development by offering services such as food banks, affordable housing, medical care, legal counsel, and education. Another important contribution of the nonprofit sector is after-school activities; the daycare centers they provide are vital assets to these communities.

The nonprofit sector is a significant contributor to the national economy, employing professionals such as lawyers, engineers, nurses. Following the recession in 2012, the nonprofit sector contributed up to $887.3 billion, amounting to 5.4% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product.

NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY TIMELINE

1897
The Tariff Act is Passed into Law

The Tariff Act, exempting nonprofits from federal income tax, is passed.

1974
National Volunteer Week is Introduced

National Volunteer Week is founded to appreciate the efforts of volunteers in addressing societal challenges.

2012
#GivingTuesday is Founded

The GivingTuesday movement is introduced to appreciate fundraisers and volunteers around the globe.

2012
Nonprofits Contribute to the G.D.P.

The American nonprofit sector contributes $887.3 billion to the Gross Domestic Product.

HOW TO OBSERVE THE NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY

  1. Research your community's needs

    Determine what is needed in your neighborhood and how you might help to improve things. It might be as simple as beginning a project or spending your time in a local business.

  2. Volunteer

    You may help out at a local food bank or homeless shelter by volunteering. Many nonprofit groups operate on a shoestring budget and would be delighted to receive free assistance.

  3. Raise awareness

    Contribute to the efforts of nonprofits around you by posting on social media to raise awareness. You can also start a blog to showcase the charity or nonprofit to the world.

5 FACTS ABOUT THE NONPROFIT SECTOR THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND

  1. It is a crowd favorite

    Every year, a quarter of the population of the United States registers to volunteer.

  2. End-of-the-year blues

    Nonprofit organizations get more donations in December than any other month.

  3. The employment genie

    The nonprofit sector is the third-largest employer in the United States, employing over 12 million people and trailing only retail and manufacturing.

  4. The world is becoming a better place

    Donations to nonprofit organizations have reached unprecedented heights in the last 10 years.

  5. Mobile phones are making us nicer people

    Over 10% of nonprofit donations are made via mobile devices.

WHY NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY IS IMPORTANT

  1. Making a difference

    We love Nonprofit Day because it allows us to recognize those who make a difference in our community. We get to work together, start new projects, and, most importantly, affect people's lives.

  2. Nonprofits provide jobs

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks nonprofits as one of the largest employment sources in the U.S. They employ over 10% of America's workforce.

  3. They address sensitive issues

    Nonprofits tackle some of society's toughest challenges. There is a charitable organization for practically every concern, from housing to education.

NATIONAL NONPROFIT DAY DATES

Year Date Day
2022 August 17 Wednesday
2023 August 17 Thursday
2024 August 17 Saturday
2025 August 17 Sunday
2026 August 17 Monday
August
12

National Middle Child Day

If you have siblings, you know the rivalry can get real. Middle children often get less attention from busy parents. But despite the commonly held belief that their insecurity and resentment carry on into adulthood, middle children actually develop some critical skills that help them become successful adults.

Whether or not "Middle Child Syndrome" is real, it's true that middle children, particularly in large families, can get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Started in 1986 by Elizabeth Walker, National Middle Child Day celebrates our middle siblings and reminds us that each child is precious and important.

National Middle Child Day is observed to honor that in-between child in the family. The interesting thing is even larger families celebrate more than one middle child, too!

Like every other year, National Middle Child Day 2021 will be celebrated on August 12th.

 

HISTORY OF NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY

Middle children have a reputation for being ignored by their family, consequently growing up resentful, withdrawn, and disaffected. Although research shows little correlation between birth order and personality, the stereotype has persisted in pop culture characters like Jan Brady, who epitomizes the embittered middle child.

In fact, middle children might have some distinct advantages in adult life. The skills they develop as the "forgotten" sibling often translate into important qualities like empathy, diplomacy, and flexibility. In fact, over half of U.S. presidents were middle children, along with many other successful leaders.

Resourceful and independent but also cooperative and patient, middle children often grow up to be good leaders and helpful teammates. They can negotiate a variety of personalities but also do well on their own, and are known as risk-takers and independent thinkers. Because they're frequently left to their own devices, middle children develop a self-sufficiency less common in their older and younger siblings.

Until the 1970s, American families had an average of 2.5 children. Today, due to modernization and economic and environmental pressures, fewer and fewer families have middle children, with the average American family having just under two kids.

National Middle Child Day began in 1986 as a way to celebrate the siblings who feel left out or unseen and give them a special day of their own. Until now, it's been celebrated on August 12.

Not everyone agrees on the holiday's date: the International Middle Child's Union, founded by Bruce Hopman, wants to change National Middle Child Day to July 2, which falls in the exact middle of the calendar year.

NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY TIMELINE

1906
Middle Child Wins Peace Prize

Middle child Teddy Roosevelt becomes the first U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Treaty of Portsmouth, exhibiting that famous middle-child diplomacy to end the Russo-Japanese War.

1986
National Middle Child Day First Celebrated

Elizabeth Walker creates National Middle Child Day to give often-forgotten middle kids their own special celebration.

January 9, 2000
Malcolm in the Middle

The hit sitcom first hits airwaves, launching a seven-season franchise about a dysfunctional family and the middle child who — sort of — holds it all together.

March 19, 2000
The Simpsons Predicts Trump

In "Bart to the Future", during the 11th season of the beloved animated sitcom, Lisa Simpson, lovable kid genius and eternal middle child, becomes president – the episode also predicts the presidency of Donald Trump.

NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Send your middle child or sibling a gift

    Let them know you're thinking about them!

  2. Watch some episodes of your favorite TV middle child

    Grab some popcorn and spend some time with your own kids. Take a family poll to see who your favorite TV middle sibling is, and watch a few episodes of that show.

  3. Get in touch with your siblings

    Whether or not you have a middle child in your family, it's never a bad time to reach out to your siblings and say hello.

5 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT MIDDLE CHILDREN

  1. Abe Lincoln was a middle child

    Over half of U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, were middle children.

  2. We see middle children as the peacemakers

    In pop culture, middle children are often portrayed as the level-headed, responsible ones who quietly keep their siblings out of trouble. Think Malcolm Wilkerson, Michael Bluth, and Lisa Simpson.

  3. TGIF Crossover

    When Full House's middle daughter, Stephanie Tanner, feels self-conscious about wearing her new glasses, a guest star from another popular TGIF sitcom stops by to cheer her up and give her a lesson in self-confidence. That guest: Steve Urkel, the bespectacled neighbor from Family Matters.

  4. "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

    Jan and Marcia Brady's rivalry wasn't just good on-screen chemistry; the two actresses didn't have a good relationship during filming, and today they're still not on speaking terms.

  5. Bill Gates started programming as a teen

    Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist, and middle child Bill Gates wrote his first computer program as a teenager. It was a version of tic-tac-toe.

WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY

  1. Middle children are going extinct

    Today, most women with children have two children or less—making middle children a quickly disappearing breed. Appreciate the middle children in your life now!

  2. Middle children make great diplomats

    Because they have to navigate the social dynamics of large families growing up, middle children tend to develop strong negotiation skills.

  3. It reminds us to call our relatives

    In today's busy world where people scatter far from their families, it's sometimes hard to remember to check in with relatives. National Middle Child Day gives us an opportunity to reach out to our siblings, children, or grandchildren.

August
10

10 Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Home

Tricks of the trade to help you get top dollar when selling your home.

Selling Secret #10: Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You'll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they'll bid up the price over what it's worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don't want to risk it, but it's the single best strategy to sell a home in today's market.

Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what's left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

Selling Secret #8: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Selling Secret #7: Play the agent field
A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.

Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you'd be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don't want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you're planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

Selling Secret #5: Don't over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won't get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.

Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes first
You're not actually selling your house, you're selling your kitchen – that's how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you'll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be "show-ready" at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don't leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It's a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.

Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It's important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home's exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home's curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you're selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

August
8

The Best Hiking in Holland

Looking for the best hiking in Holland? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping, and more around Holland. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top hiking spots in and near Holland

  • Holland, Michigan

    Riley Trails

    3.07 mi / 115 ft gain
    Riley Trails is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Mount Pisgah Dune Boardwalk

    0.47 mi / 95 ft gain
    Mount Pisgah Dune Boardwalk is an out-and-back trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Climb the Stairs up Mt. Pisgah

    4.3
    0.5 mi / 80 ft gain
    Feel the burn in your calves and thighs! If you don't feel it, pick up the pace or do it all again! The good news is it is actually just a large dune, not an entire mountain. It should not take you very long to run, even though there are over 200 steps here. Every 25th stair is marked and there a...
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Sanctuary Woods

    0.96 mi / 95 ft gain
    Sanctuary Woods is a loop trail that takes you by a lake located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Explore Tunnel Park

    4.0
    Of course, you can come any time of the year, this is always a lovely small park! It is guaranteed to be crowded and cost money (unless you have the Ottawa County park pass) in the summer, though, and I've had better luck with parking and personal space at Holland State Park. I've found that the ...
    Read more
  • Zeeland, Michigan

    Upper Macatawa Natural Area

    3.83 mi / 157 ft gain
    Upper Macatawa Natural Area is a loop trail that takes you by a river located near Zeeland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Saugatuck Dunes Loop

    1.88 mi / 118 ft gain
    Saugatuck Dunes Loop is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Saugatuck Dunes South Trail

    5.25 mi / 456 ft gain
    Saugatuck Dunes South Trail is a loop trail that takes you by a lake located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Saugatuck, Michigan

    Tallmadge Woods and Crows Nest Loop

    2.1 mi / 303 ft gain
    Crows Nest Loop is a quiet hike on publicly accessible land. It takes you along dunes that hover above the Kalamazoo River. The loop leads you to an overlook with views of Ox-Bow Lagoon and Lake Michigan. This loop is suitable for all levels and is about a 2.1 mile hike.  The trailhead can be tr...
    Read more
  • Saugatuck, Michigan

    Mount Baldhead

    0.88 mi / 26 ft gain
    Mount Baldhead is a loop trail where you may see beautiful wildflowers located near Saugatuck, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Pigeon Creek Short Loop

    1.71 mi / 184 ft gain
    Pigeon Creek Short Loop is a loop trail that is good for all skill levels located near Holland, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Holland, Michigan

    Red Pine Loop

    2.8 mi / 322 ft gain
    Red Pine Loop is a loop trail that takes you by a river located near West Olive, Michigan.
    Read more
  • West Olive, Michigan

    Hiawatha Trail

    1.35 mi / 75 ft gain
    Hiawatha Trail is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near West Olive, Michigan.
    Read more
  • West Olive, Michigan

    Kirk Park Loop

    1.15 mi / 43 ft gain
    Kirk Park Loop is a loop trail that takes you by a lake located near West Olive, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Georgetown Township, Michigan

    Grand Ravines Loop from South Trailhead

    2.34 mi / 276 ft gain
    Grand Ravines Loop from South Trailhead is a loop trail that takes you by a river located near Jenison, Michigan.
    Read more
  • Georgetown Township, Michigan

    Hager Park Loop

    0.69 mi / 66 ft gain
    Hager Park Loop is a loop trail that takes you through a nice forest located near Jenison, Michigan.
    Read more

    August
    3

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, Aug. 2, 2022

    Today's mortgage and refinance rates

    Average mortgage rates fell yet again yesterday. And that for a conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is now only just over 5%.

    First thing this morning, it was looking as if mortgage rates today might hold steady or close to steady. However, yesterday and last Friday, mortgage rates started out heading higher only to turn around and fall later in the day. When I daily warn that rates sometimes change direction as the hours pass, I mean it.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Aug 3rd, 2022)

    Current mortgage and refinance rates

    Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
    Conventional 30 year fixed 5.13% 5.164% -0.1% 
    Conventional 15 year fixed 4.583% 4.635% +0.01% 
    Conventional 20 year fixed 4.991% 5.044% -0.02% 
    Conventional 10 year fixed 4.728% 4.83% Unchanged
    30 year fixed FHA 5.431% 6.277% -0.03% 
    15 year fixed FHA 4.719% 5.198% -0.1% 
    30 year fixed VA 5.197% 5.423% +0.4% 
    15 year fixed VA 4.857% 5.223% -0.01% 
    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.

    Markets, including the one that largely determines mortgage rates, are in a state of heightened uncertainty. So there's an increased danger that my predictions and recommendations could turn out to be wrong.

    Still, the mood among investors and the tide of economic data do seem to have turned sufficiently for there now to be some hope of mortgage rates falling in a sustained way, at least for a while. Just be alert and remain ready to lock your rate if those swing back.

    So, my personal rate lock recommendations are now:

    • LOCK if closing in 7 days
    • LOCK if closing in 15 days
    • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
    • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
    • FLOAT 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 inched down to 2.62% from 2.63%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
    • Major stock indexes were lower 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 rose to $94.58 from $93.95 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
    • Gold prices barely moved: up to $1,797 from $1,788 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 — edged up to 40 from 39 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to remain steady or close to steady. 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 (Aug 3rd, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

    Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

    There was some good news for mortgage rates in yesterday's Wall Street Journal (paywall):

    Growth at U.S. manufacturing companies was its weakest in two years in July, but inflationary pressures showed signs of cooling as commodity prices eased, according to surveys of purchasing managers released Monday.

    Falling orders might not be good news for most. But they're a sign of a contracting economy. And regular readers know that fears of a recession typically bring lower mortgage rates.

    The signs of inflationary pressures cooling were also good for mortgage rates. High inflation tends to push those rates higher, as we saw all too clearly during the first half of this year.

    However, it's too soon to begin popping Champagne corks. High inflation may not be done yet and remains hot in the official data. And there's a good chance of a resurgence in the fall as a looming winter concentrates the minds of the northern hemisphere on oil and natural gas shortages.

    Meanwhile, behind some poor data, the economy isn't doing as badly as many think. We'll discover how that's holding up when July's employment figures are published on Friday.

    All this means that the recovery in mortgage rates over the last few days is fragile. Yes, there are grounds for hope. But there's very little certainty.

    Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

    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.

    Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although May and June were kinder months.

    Freddie's Jul. 28 report puts that same weekly average for conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.3% (with 0.8 fees and points), down from the previous week's 5.54%.

    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 remaining two quarters of 2022 (Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first two quarters of next year (Q1/23, Q2/23).

    The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. The latest forecasts all appeared around Jul. 21.

    Forecaster Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23 Q2/23
    Fannie Mae 5.5% 5.4%  5.3% 5.1%
    Freddie Mac 5.5% 5.4%  5.2% 5.2%
    MBA 5.2% 5.2%  5.0% 5.0%

    Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. And their past record for accuracy hasn't been wildly impressive.

    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."

    Verify your new rate (Aug 3rd, 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.

    August
    1

    National Girlfriend Day

    Ladies, it's time for some real talk. Today is National Girlfriend Day, an annual event that rolls around every August 1. Unlike National Boyfriend Day, this day isn't for boyfriends to appreciate their girlfriends (let's be honest, that should happen every day), it's about women supporting women!

    Romantic partners will come and go. Jobs are won and lost. But no matter what happens, your girls will be there in a crunch.  It's a time to honor your "ride or die" crew of homegirls! So, why do we love our girlfriends so much? Because they're like sisters but without any of the growing-up baggage. Plus, when times are tough, your girls will let you vent and when you're done; they will offer up the support you need to get through.

    Spa days, weekend retreats, pajama parties complete with wine and nachos are even better when your girlfriends join in the fun.  This year on National Girlfriend Day 2021, spend some delicious time gossiping about lovers past, present and future. Discuss your hopes and dreams in a really safe space, the circle of sisterhood.

    HISTORY OF NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY

    It's not known for certain who created National Girlfriend Day on August 1 but the strongest claim seems to stem from Mistress Susan who runs a luxury website. She says that she created and celebrated the date in 2004 as a chance for gal pals to express gratitude to each other.

    The history of female friendships and gal pals is of course much longer than the day itself. Girls have been friends for so long that there is no way we can trace back to the first-ever female friends, so instead, we'll mention some of the more notable gal pals from recent times.

    The Edinburgh Seven were a group of female friends who fought to become the first women to go to medical school in the UK in the 1860s. Despite studying medicine at Edinburgh University they were barred from graduating and becoming doctors. Their determination put women's rights on the national agenda and led to laws in 1876 that allowed women to study medicine at university. The Edinburgh Seven had paved for the way for the female doctors of the future.

    Around the same time as this, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were forming a friendship that would become revolutionary. The two were the founders of the women's rights movement in the United States and were the trailblazers that pushed for white women's suffrage. The two initially met in 1851 and it was in 1869 that they formed the National Woman Suffrage Association.

    On a more sporty note, we raise a special mention for The Rockford Peaches, the founding members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s. Their achievements were a huge stride forward for female athletes in the U.S.

    One of our favorite stories of female friendship involves Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, with Fitzgerald attributing her big break to Monroe? The singer tried to book a gig at the Mocambo in Hollywood in 1955 but the manager turned her away because she didn't have enough "sex appeal." Monroe called the manager and said that she would sit front row every night if Fitzgerald got the job, which would pull in the press and crowds that the manager craved. Fitzgerald would say later. "After that I never had to play a small jazz club again."

    More recently Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert showed that even the fiercest of rivals can be best friends. The two did battle in an incredible 61 tennis tournament finals during the 1970s and 1980s but were still the best of friends off the court and would often travel to tournaments together and hang out between matches.

    Gal pals are always there for each other and have a history of fighting against the tide to achieve great things together. Make sure you take some time out on National Girlfriend Day 2021 to let your girlfriends know how much you appreciate them.

    Here are some other female-orientated holidays to observe and celebrate.

    NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY TRADITIONS

    As this day is all about hanging out with your girlfriends the main tradition is to spend some quality time with your friends. People tend to spend National Girlfriend Day having fun with their girlfriends in and doing activities that they have previously bonded on together.

    So, whether it is watching a movie, spending the night partying, going shopping, or eating out at a nice restaurant, the traditions of National Girlfriend Day are really the traditions that built that friendship in the first place.

    NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY BY NUMBERS

    6 – The number of best friends the average woman has in her lifetime.
    16 years – The lifespan of the average female friendship
    1 in 10 – Women admit to having more fun with their bff than with their partner.
    47% – Women wish they could spend more time with their best friend.
    1 in 4 – Women think their best friend knows them better than their partner.
    67% – More time women spend improving romantic relationships compared to friendships.
    23 years – the average friendship length for women over 55.
    9 – The number of close friends the average American has
    2% – The number of people who claim to have no close friends.
    73% – The number of Americans satisfied with their friendships

    HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY 2021

    1. Organize a paint night with your girls

      Painting and drinking? Sign me up! Going to a paint nite is a sweet idea for a night out with your girls—you even get a souvenir to remember it. For those who are not so artistically-inclined, the staff gives easy-to-understand instructions for the painting of the night. If yours still comes out bad.... just blame the alcohol.

    2. Instagram or it didn't happen

      Nothing says "I love you" than a selfie with the favorite females in your life. Why can't #WCW be every day?

    3. Everyone loves a spa day

      Invite the girls over for a spa night! Make your own pedicures, facials, the works. Your girlfriends will thank you for the pamper-filled day.

    August
    1

    Before making an offer on your dream home, make sure you cross these tasks off your list.

    Shopping for a new home can be an emotional rollercoaster, and the process often takes several weeks or months. Once you discover that perfect home, it's normal to feel a mix of excitement and anxiety, which often leads buyers to act with a sense of urgency. However, before you have your agent draw up an offer, it's important to take some time to thoroughly evaluate the property and consider your terms.

    Our real estate agents always encourage clients to take these steps before submitting an offer:

    Click Here to Read More...

    July
    29

    August 2022 Calendar of United States of America

    August 2022 Holidays and Celebrations

    • 01MON
    • 01MON
      National Minority Donor Awareness Day
    • 01MON
      World Scout Scarf Day
    • 01MON
      International Childfree Day
    • 01MON
      World Lung Cancer Day
    • 01MON
      Lammas Day
    • 01MON
    • 04THU
    • 04THU
      Barack Obama's Birthday
    • 04THU
    • 05FRI
    • 05FRI
      International Beer Day
    • 07SUN
    • 07SUN
      National Lighthouse Day
    • 07SUN
      National Friendship Day
    • 07SUN
      American Family Day
    • 07SUN
      Ashura
    • 07SUN
    • 08MON
      International Cat Day
    • 08MON
      International Infinity Day
    • 08MON
    • 09TUE
      International Day of the World's Indigenous People
    • 09TUE
      International Coworking Day
    • 09TUE
    • 10WED
      National Spoil Your Dog Day
    • 10WED
    • 11THU
      Raksha Bandhan
    • 11THU
      Tu B'Av (The 15th of Av)
    • 11THU
    • 12FRI
      National Vinyl Record Day
    • 12FRI
    • 12FRI
    • 13SAT
    • 13SAT
      National Garage Sale Day
    • 13SAT
    • 14SUN
      Social Security Act
    • 14SUN
      National Financial Awareness Day
    • 15MON
      International Homeless Animals Day
    • 15MON
      National Back To School Prep Day
    • 15MON
    • 15MON
    • 16TUE
      Bennington Battle Day
    • 16TUE
      National Bratwurst Day
    • 16TUE
      Tell a Joke Day
    • 16TUE
      National Roller Coaster Day
    • 16TUE
      National Airborne Day
    • 17WED
      National Black Cat Appreciation Day
    • 17WED
      National Thrift Shop Day
    • 17WED
      National Nonprofit Day
    • 18THU
      National Couple's Day
    • 18THU
      National Fajita Day
    • 18THU
      Women's Suffrage
    • 18THU
      Janmashtami
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 19FRI
    • 20SAT
      World Mosquito Day
    • 20SAT
      International Geocaching Day
    • 20SAT
      National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
    • 20SAT
    • 21SUN
      International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism
    • 21SUN
    • 22MON
      National Tooth Fairy Day
    • 22MON
      World Plant Milk Day
    • 23TUE
      Cheap Flight Day
    • 23TUE
      National Sponge Cake Day
    • 23TUE
      International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
    • 24WED
      Kobe Bryant Day
    • 24WED
      International Strange Music Day
    • 24WED
    • 25THU
      National Secondhand Wardrobe Day
    • 25THU
      National Park Service Founders Day
    • 26FRI
      National WebMistress Day
    • 26FRI
    • 26FRI
    • 27SAT
      National Just Because Day
    • 28SUN
      March on Washington
    • 28SUN
      Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day
    • 29MON
      International Day Against Nuclear Tests
    • 30TUE
      College Colors Day
    • 30TUE
      International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance
    • 30TUE
      National Grief Awareness Day
    • 30TUE
    • 31WED
      Ganesh Chaturthi
    • 31WED
      World Distance Learning Day
    • 31WED
      International Overdose Awareness Day
    July
    22

    What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a House in 2022?

    Most conventional loans require a credit score of at least 620 to buy a house. But, you'll find that there are several other loan types that have much lower requirements.

    A lot of first-time home buyers worry that their credit scores are too low to buy a home. First, know that whether your credit score is "good" or "bad" is subjective and won't affect your home buying. Second, mortgage lenders are bound by specific rules which determine what credit scores you need to buy a house, and those rules vary by your loan type.

    Conventional loans are the most common loan type. On the credit score scale, which ranges from 350-850, conventional loans require a credit score of at least 620. Other loan types allow for lower credit score minimums, and some mortgage programs have no credit score requirement whatsoever.

    Here's what credit score you need to buy a house.

    Minimum Credit Score to Buy a House by Loan Type

    Conventional Loan | Credit Score: 620

    Conventional loans are the most common home loan and have a hard minimum credit score of 620. Conventional loans are issued through mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, and credit unions. Conventional loans are the default option for home buyers because of their low rates and simple approvals.

    Conventional loan approval requires:

    • A mortgage application
    • Lender-required documents
    • Credit history
    • Current credit score

    Check your eligibility for a conventional loan.

    FHA Loan | Credit Score: 580

    FHA mortgages are the original mortgage loan, developed by the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s to keep homeownership attainable. FHA loans are more inclusive than other loan options because of their relaxed down payment requirements, and because the FHA doesn't change your interest rate based on your credit score.

    In fact, FHA loans don't require home buyers to have a credit score at all, although many lenders want to see a minimum score of 580.

    FHA loan approval requires:

    • 3.5% down payment
    • Loan lengths must be 15 years or longer

    Check your eligibility for an FHA loan.

    VA Loan | Credit Score: 580

    VA loans are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are affordable home loans for active-duty servicemembers and veterans.

    Because the VA guarantees its loans against losses, mortgage lenders make VA loans at very low-interest rates and, historically, VA mortgage rates are often the lowest of all available mortgage loans. VA loans don't require a downpayment.

    VA loans:

    • Are available as 100% mortgage loans
    • Have lower interest rates as compared to conventional loans
    • Require a Certificate of Eligibility (COE)

    Check your eligibility for a VA loan.

    USDA Loan | Credit Score: 620

    USDA loans are government-backed mortgages available for homes outside of densely-populated areas. The USDA program covers about 91% of the U.S. including rural areas, small towns, and many suburbs.

    USDA mortgage loans don't require a down payment and offer interest rates that average 0.50% lower than conventional loan rates. USDA guidelines require credit scores of at least 620, but exceptions can be made for home buyers with extenuating circumstances.

    USDA loans:

    • Can only be used for non-urban home purchases
    • Have no down payment requirements
    • Require a credit score of 620 or higher

    Check your eligibility for a USDA loan.

    Jumbo Loan | Credit Score: 680

    Jumbo loans service home buyers whose mortgage loans are too large for the local mortgage loan limit. There is no specific credit score requirement for a jumbo mortgage, though higher scores are more likely to be approved and may be assigned a lower interest rate.

    Jumbo loans can be used for a variety of property types.

    Jumbo loans:

    • May require a down payment of between 5% and 25% depending on credit and income
    • Require higher credit scores
    • Are not government-backed

    Check your eligibility for a jumbo loan.

    What Changes Your Credit Score?

    The five factors that make you your credit score are your payment history, credit usage, credit length, credit types, and recently opened credit lines

    Credit scores help your lender determine the likelihood that you'll make timely mortgage payments. Fair Isaac and Co. (FICO) uses these factors to calculate your credit score:

    1. Your payment history (35%)
    2. Your current credit usage (30%)
    3. The length of your credit history (15%)
    4. Types of credit (10%)
    5. Recently opened credit lines (10%)

    These 5 factors provide a glimpse into your financial habits and history and help lenders assess your financial health.

    Home buyers with lower credit scores are typically assigned a higher interest rate.

    There is no way to get around a credit check. It is one of the things you need to buy a home during the mortgage pre-approval stage so be sure to learn more about how a mortgage pre-approval affects your credit score.

    How to Improve Your Credit Score

    To boost your credit score for your upcoming mortgage approval, first, check your credit report to learn what's comprising your score. All consumers get access to a free annual credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

    You can also check your credit score by getting pre-approved.

    If you've never reviewed a credit report, it can feel overwhelming. There are public resources that can help you, or you can ask for help in our chat. We'll consider the factors that impact your credit score and discuss ways to make improvements, like opening a secured credit card account or shifting balances between charge cards.

    Here are the best habits to improve your credit score:

    • Pay your bills on time — Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score
    • Lower your credit utilization — Increase your debt payments temporarily or request a credit limit increase
    • Avoid new credit lines — Hard credit inquiries are performed for a new line of credit and can affect your credit score for the next six months
    • Don't close old accounts — Keep old credit lines open and catch up on old payments or delinquencies
    • Be patient — It can take up to 6 months to make big changes in your credit score, so do the work and wait it out

    Credit scores don't improve overnight, and keeping your debt to a minimum pays off when you're planning to buy a house. Even small credit score improvements can reduce the interest rate you get, which saves you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run — enough to fund a retirement or college tuition!

    Learn more about how to fix your credit to buy a home.

    What Mortgage Lenders Look For When Approving a Home Loan

    Credit items lenders consider include credit history, payment timeliness, derogatory items, and personal assets

    When you apply to get pre-approved, your lenders will review your credit history and consider your current credit outlook. This includes looking at:

    • How on-time have you been with your payments and obligations?
    • What does your current debt load look like, and how is it spread out?
    • How much experience do you have managing credit?
    • Have you been recently trying to acquire access to new sources of credit?
    • Do you let items go into collections?
    • Have you previously filed for bankruptcy?

    Lenders ask these questions to get comfortable with you. Your financial health isn't the only consideration lenders make, but how you manage your bills tells a large part of your story.

    Lenders also look for specific credit events known as derogatory items, like bankruptcy or delinquent accounts.

    Derogatory items don't disqualify a mortgage approval. Generally, it's only required that they're historical events and not current ones. For example, you can get approved for a mortgage if you've declared bankruptcy in the past, or if you've lost a home due to foreclosure.

    Lenders know that life is unexpected and bad things happen. What's important is what's happened in the time since the derogatory event occurred.

    How to Buy a House With Bad Credit

    You don't have to give up on your dream of homeownership because of a low credit score or less-than-perfect credit history Here are a few ways first-time home buyers buy homes with bad credit or no credit:

    Cancel Out Your Low Credit Score With A Larger Down Payment

    Low credit scores create risk for mortgage lenders, and large down payments take the risk away. Therefore, buyers with the ability to increase their down payment size are more likely to get mortgage-approved.

    Ask Multiple Lenders

    The U.S. government establishes rules for conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loan approvals, but  mortgage lenders sometimes create additional, more stringent requirements to be met. If your mortgage application doesn't pass its first test, try again with a different mortgage lender. It's common for loans to be approved on the second or third attempt.

    Get a Co-Signer

    If you're unable to qualify for a mortgage and have somebody in your life who would serve as co-signer, ask your mortgage lender the best path forward. A co-signer is somebody who agrees to joint responsibility for your mortgage, including repayment.

    Co-signers don't have to live with you, but they will share ownership of the home. If you can't qualify on your own, then this is worth exploring.

    Learn more about options for buying a home with a low credit score.

    Our Advice – Get pre-approved to find your true credit score

    Your credit score isn't the only factor for mortgage approval. However, it's a key indicator of your financial health. Track your credit, make on-time payments, and get help to choose the home loan that's right for you. Chat with us if you have questions about your credit score and loan options.

    Happy homebuying.

    July
    20

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, July 19, 2022

    Today's mortgage and refinance rates

    Average mortgage rates inched higher yesterday. But the increase was too small to bother most people.

    Key markets were barely moving first thing. And mortgage rates today may be unchanged or barely changed. However, we all know how quickly these things can alter as the hours pass.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jul 20th, 2022)

    Current mortgage and refinance rates

    Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
    Conventional 30 year fixed 5.915% 5.951% -0.01% 
    Conventional 15 year fixed 5.03% 5.088% -0.02% 
    Conventional 20 year fixed 5.784% 5.838% +0.06% 
    Conventional 10 year fixed 5.228% 5.334% +0.16% 
    30 year fixed FHA 5.943% 6.674% +0.24% 
    15 year fixed FHA 5.253% 5.741% Unchanged
    30 year fixed VA 5.314% 5.536% Unchanged
    15 year fixed VA 5.191% 5.563% +0.03% 
    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.

    Mortgage rates are still moving up and down, though generally less sharply than they were doing in June. After most of those ups and downs cancel each other out, there remains a very slight upward trend.

    So, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term must 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 held steady at 2.98%. (Neutral 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 were close to steady, increasing to $101.80 from $101.75 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
    • Gold prices edged down to $1,712 from $1,717 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 35 from 32 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to hold steady or close to steady. 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 (Jul 20th, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

    Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

    Might recession fears overtake inflation fears soon, allowing mortgage rates to fall for a while? They could do, though we're not there yet.

    The Federal Reserve is still hoping to avoid a US recession by slowing the economy through interest hikes in a Goldilocks way. Not too hot by slamming on the brakes. Not too cool by being timid and failing to stem inflation. Just right: eliminating inflation without strangling economic growth.

    But there's a hidden issue here that could foil its plans. The higher the Fed raises US interest rates, the more foreigners want to place their money in America. And that makes the dollar stronger against other currencies.

    A strong dollar makes life tough in emerging economies and even among some competitor nations. That's because, globally, most commodities (including oil) are traded in dollars. When their currencies are weak, it costs them a lot more to buy the dollars needed to purchase essential imported goods and materials.

    The euro recently reached parity with the dollar and remains only slightly higher. At a time when the continent is facing acute natural gas and oil shortages owing to Russia's war in Ukraine, the European Union may soon have a shrinking economy.

    Warnings from Asia

    You can see the strength of the dollar already playing out with dire consequences in emerging nations. An extreme example is a 22-million-strong country in South Asia:

    Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN) — Sri Lanka is "bankrupt," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Tuesday, as the country suffers its worst financial crisis in decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine and fuel.

     -- CNN, "Sri Lanka is 'bankrupt,' Prime Minister says," Jul. 6, 2022

    More seriously from an economic standpoint, China recently unveiled its weakest growth figures since the start of the pandemic, though the Fed's role in that is likely to be small.

    What we can see is a world economy on the brink of a recession. And, if that happens in as scary a way as looks possible, the Fed can forget Goldilocks. Globalization means the US economy would be affected, too.

    We're not there yet

    Of course, that's only one possible scenario. And we're still some way off a potential global meltdown.

    In the meantime, inflation remains arguably the No. 1 issue for Americans and the Fed. And, as long as that's the case, the chances of sustained and worthwhile falls in mortgage rates are small.

    Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

    Recent trends — updated today

    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.

    Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although May and June were kinder months.

    Freddie's Jul. 14 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.51% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 5.3%.

    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 remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

    The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Jun. 16, and the MBA's on Jun. 10. Freddie's were released on Apr. 18. But it now updates its figures only quarterly, so they're already looking stale.

    Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
    Fannie Mae 5.1% 5.0%  5.0% 5.0%
    Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
    MBA 5.1% 5.1%  5.0% 5.0%

    Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. Recent events certainly make them look that way.

    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."

    Verify your new rate (Jul 20th, 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.

    July
    18

    It's not always easy to inspect your plumbing. Here's how you can ensure hard water won't ruin your pipes and appliances.

    Did you know hard water can negatively impact your home over time? While it's safe to drink, hard water can lead to many interior problems, which is why our real estate agents recommend addressing it as soon as possible. Hard water is common across much of the US, especially in the Midwest. As a result, it's an issue most homeowners have to contend with. Below, we'll tell you all about hard water and share some simple solutions for treating it in your home

    Click Here to Read More...

    July
    18

    Listing Agent vs. Selling Agent: What's the Difference?

    Residential real estate is a complicated process with a lot of different steps. And at either end of the deal are two main parties—the buyer and the seller—both of whom want to make sure that the whole thing goes as smoothly as possible. That's where real estate agents come in, offering the knowledge, expertise, and experience that's necessary for transferring properties from one owner to another. So how do the roles for a listing agent vs. selling agent compare, and who's responsible for what? Here's what to know, plus how to go about choosing the right agent for your needs.

    The main difference between a listing agent vs. a selling agent

    The biggest difference between a listing agent vs. selling agent is who they represent. Listing agents (also called seller's agents) work with sellers while selling agents (also called buyer's agents) work with buyers. Both agents work together to negotiate on offers and close a deal. They also share the commission fee.

    If you're getting ready to buy or sell, knowing who you should call is an important first step. Fortunately, most real estate agents can work as either a listing agent or a selling agent, so if you find an amazing agent they should be able to help you out regardless of whether you're the buyer or the seller in the transaction.

    What does a listing agent do?

    Listing agents market homes on behalf of sellers. As real estate professionals, it's the listing agent's job to oversee each step in the selling process, including many of the steps that take place before a home goes to market.

    A listing agent's complete job description may vary based on the specific seller's needs, but here are some of the things that they can do for their clients:

      • Research comps and price homes
      • Help arrange for a home appraisal and/or inspection
      • Consult on the sale process and help develop a listing strategy
      • Arrange professional photography for the listing
      • Arrange professional home staging
      • Create copy for a property listing page, as well as other marketing materials
      • Oversee all marketing efforts, including posting the property on MLS (multiple listing service)
      • Network with other agents to find potential buyers, including both listing agents and selling agents
      • Host open houses
      • Coordinate showings
      • Receive offers from interested buyers and handle negotiations on the seller's behalf and with the seller's input
      • Coordinate closing paperwork

    Most listing agents sign a right-to-sell contract with sellers that gives their brokerage firm exclusive rights to the listing and sets out the terms of compensation. Typically, it is the brokerage firm that is paid the commission on the sale and then the listing agent receives a set portion of that amount.

    What does a selling agent do?

    Selling agents work with buyers to help them find and purchase homes. If the term sounds confusing, it's because these agents are traditionally referred to as buyer's agents and only get deemed selling agents after the contract is signed.

    Like a listing agent, a selling agent has a wide range of skills and job capabilities but the specific things that they do may vary from client to client. Possible tasks include:

      • Work with buyers to narrow in on the details of what they're looking for, such as location, home size, home features, and price
      • Help arrange for a mortgage pre-approval if the buyer has not completed one already
      • Help a buyer iron out their budget and financing options
      • Research available homes that fit the buyer's wants and needs and present them with potential properties to look further into
      • Schedule showings and attend showings with the buyer
      • Write offers and counteroffers
      • Guide negotiations
      • Assist with arranging for the home inspection
      • Help buyers navigate the closing process

    Compensation for the selling agent is usually handled by the listing agent, with the latter paying out a portion (typically half) of their commission to the seller's agent in what's known as a co-op commission.

    What about dual agents?

    Do you need to choose between a designated listing agent vs. selling agent? Not necessarily. Some home sales are overseen by dual agents who represent both the seller and the buyer in the transaction.

    While perfectly legal, working with a dual agent isn't always in the best interest of either party, both of whom naturally want to get an optimal deal. Since sellers want to sell a property for as much as possible and buyers want to purchase a property for as little as possible, dual agents may not be able to please everyone.

    Do you need to work with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home?

    Most of us don't have professional experience in real estate so it's a no-brainer to work with either a listing agent or a selling agent depending on whether we're selling or buying a home. Some people do try to go at it alone though, either because they're trying to save on commission fees or because they think they have all the tools they need to find houses and represent their own interests.

    There's a reason though that the majority of people do choose to work with real estate agents (recent data from the National Association of Realtors shows that 88% of buyers and 89% of sellers work with agents). Working without a listing or selling agent means you lose out on a useful resource and guide. You may also lose out on money. In 2018, sellers who worked with listing agents sold their homes for an average of $249,000, while those who oversaw the sale themselves only sold for an average of $190,000.

    On the buyer's side, working alone could mean losing out on access to a wider range of properties, plus difficulties at the negotiation table. In addition, some sellers may refuse to work with potential buyers who aren't being represented by an agent, even if their offer looks decent.

    Quick tips for choosing a real estate agent

    Regardless of whether you're looking for a listing agent or a selling agent, it pays to find someone who you can trust to get the job done right. Here are some things you can (and definitely should) do to make sure that you end up with the perfect person by your side.

    Ask for referrals

    Most towns have lots of real estate agents to choose from. One of the easiest ways to find someone great: ask a trusted local friend or family member who they've worked with and whether they would recommend them. You'll still want to do a bit of research from there, but it will help narrow down your options.

    Read online reviews

    Even with a referral (and especially without one), you should be checking out online reviews. These will give you a general idea of whether a particular agent has satisfied clients or not, and you may also be able to learn a lot about them from how they respond to reviews both good and bad.

    Meet with agents before hiring

    Think you found the one? It's still a good idea to meet with real estate agents in person before deciding whether you're going to work with them or not. Pay close attention to their communication style and how responsive they are to questions. Ultimately, you want to work with someone who values your time and input and who has tons of expertise they can utilize on your behalf.

    Talk to at least two agents

    Just like hiring a moving company, you want to compare two to three agents before making your final choice. Various factors that you'll want to consider include how many years of experience each agent has, what their specialties are, and the stats around their most recent deals. If they don't come off as capable—or if you're just not clicking—go back to the drawing board.

    Don't underestimate the importance of rapport with your agent. Selling or buying a home is a big undertaking, as well as an expensive one. It's essential that you work with a listing agent or selling agent who you feel can properly represent your interests and that you enjoy working with. It'll make the whole process more enjoyable for you—and less stressful, too.

    If you're not happy with your decision it is absolutely within your rights as a seller or a buyer to break up with your real estate agent. Even if it's awkward, it's worth doing if it means you find someone who is better suited to your needs.

    July
    15

    National Pet Fire Safety Day

    National Pet Fire Safety Day takes place every year on July 15, and it's a day to learn how to keep your pet safe in a fire. For many of us, pets are our most precious asset so it makes sense that we would dedicate a day to keeping them safe during one of the scariest things we can imagine. It was started by the Kennel Club and ADT Security in 2009 to help pet owners learn safety measures to protect their beloved pets and homes from fire, and it's a great opportunity to learn how to keep your fur baby safe.

    HISTORY OF NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY

    While our animals are oftentimes the culprit behind devastating fires, it's a little ironic that dogs (specifically dalmations) have become an American icon associated with firefighters today. Let's briefly explore how that came to be. A few hundred years ago, dogs were trained to trot alongside horse-drawn wagons and protect their occupants (and horses) from harm. Dalmations quickly became the ideal carriage dog for their strength, vitality, fortitude, and size. They also had a reputation for getting along well with horses and were known to have a calming effect while firefighters were battling a blaze. Overtime as motorized fire trucks replaced carriages, Dalmatians and other fire pups were seen less aboard fire trucks and more as on-site firehouse residents and mascots.

    Today, many firefighters have pet Dalmatians, and firehouses around the country still have Dalmatians as station dogs. However, Dalmatians aren't the only dog in the firehouse. It's become common for firefighters (and sometimes entire fire teams) to adopt dogs rescued from fires. These lucky pups, whatever their breed, become symbols of the resiliency, bravery, and fortitude of firefighters and the individuals they help. They also take important steps into education and helping firefighters demonstrate fire safety and emergency preparedness for schools and community groups across the country. Teaching that pets cause over 1,000 house fires each year in the United States and the preventive measures we can take to protect our beloved companions.

    NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY TIMELINE

    13,000 B.C.
    People Make Pets

    Evidence suggests people bred dogs in Europe and Asia around this time.

    6,000 B.C.
    Sacred Dog Burials

    Special dog graves include expensive items. Proof of their deep meaning to humans

    1988
    Emotional Support Animals Protected

    The Fair Housing Amendments Act allows people to keep their ESAs, despite landlords.

    2009
    The Awareness Begins

    The Kennel Club and ADT Security decided it was time to get serious about pet fire protection.

    HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY

    1. Get this useful decoration

      On July 15, get a free Pet Fire Safety Window Cling at your local volunteer firehouse. First responders will see this and know to look out for any pets inside.

    2. Share it to save lives

      Use #PetFireSafetyDay to post on social media and raise awareness to friends and family about the day and ways that they can keep their pets safe from fires.

    3. Have a fire drill

      For families with kids, this tradition is even more important. Discuss your family evacuation plan, designate someone to carry out the pets and execute a fire drill on this day every year.

      5 FACTS ABOUT PET FIRE SAFETY

      1. Pyro Pets

        Pets cause over 1,000 house fires each year in the United States

      2. A Big Problem

        Nearly 360,000 house fires occur each year in the United States.

      3. Save a Life

        Over 40,000 pets die every year in house fires. Awareness can save lives.

      4. Furry (and Slithering) Heroes

        There are thousands of stories about pets, even snakes, saving humans from house fires.

      5. Have a Plan

        The #1 tip is to have an escape plan that includes your pets.

        WHY NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY IS IMPORTANT

        1. Keep your pets out of trouble

          There are many ways to keep your pet from causing a fire. Blow out candles before leaving home, block off access to the kitchen or remove stove knobs if pets can reach it, and keep any and all wires out of chewing distance, especially from kittens and puppies!

        2. Have a pet rescue plan in place

          Discuss with your family who will be in charge of rescuing your pet in the event of a fire. Planning and practicing fire drills will help the family remain calm and help ensure that your pets are not forgotten during a chaotic evacuation.

        3. Make rescuers aware of your pets and their hiding places

          As part of your evacuation plan, include a list of your pet's hiding places, so that firefighters will know where to look in case your pets don't make it out with you. Also, make sure your pets have collars with up to date tags attached in case they escape on their own.

          NATIONAL PET FIRE SAFETY DAY DATES

          Year Date Day
          2022 July 15 Friday
          2023 July 15 Saturday
          2024 July 15 Monday
          2025 July 15 Tuesday
          2026 July 15 Wednesday
    July
    13

    Our Favorite Beaches: the Inside Scoop

    Beach time in Holland means plenty of sand and sunshine! Many people head right to Holland State Park to soak up the sun, but we have a few suggestions if you're looking for something a little different.

    Beach time in Holland means plenty of sand and sunshine! Many people head right to Holland State Park to soak up the sun, but we have a few suggestions if you're looking for something a little different!

    The perfect family beach: Tunnel Park. With an extensive play area, a sand dune for running and easily accessible restrooms, families will find just what they need. Take a concrete tunnel "through" the dune, then head down a short flight of stairs to a beautiful white sand beach. A picnic shelter and sand volleyball courts are available.

    A picturesque place to watch a sunset, Tunnel Park is named for the concrete tunnel that cuts through a sand dune and provides access to a sparkling Lake Michigan beach. This 22-acre park with its extensive Lake Michigan beachfront is a great place for swimming, sunbathing and picknicking.  In addition to the unique tunnel through the dune, this park has a children's playground complete with a dune climb and a dune stairway with scenic views of Lake Michigan. Beach volleyball courts, picnic tables and grills, restrooms, and a great playground make this a very family-friendly beach.

    Tunnel Park is part of the Ottawa County Parks system; there is a per-vehicle parking fee from April 1 to October 31. Please refer to the county pet policy for information about bringing your dog to Tunnel Park.

    Want a quiet place to watch the sunset? Try Laketown beach, on the south side of Holland. Be prepared as parking is limited and there are no restrooms! A stairway over the dunes is your "admission" to the beach. (6710 142nd Ave.)  

    A bit off the beaten path, Laketown Beach, between Holland and Saugatuck, offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan from a wooden stairway that climbs up and over the dunes to the beach.  (The stairway helps protect the fragile dune environment.)  Enjoy panoramic lake vistas and a small slice of Lake Michigan's sandy beachfront. 

    Bringing your furry friend? Check out the new dog beach at Kirk Park, a county park a few miles north of Holland State Park. A short hike through a wooded dune will bring you to a beach with an off-leash dog area and plenty of room for families to spread out.

    High bluffs, wooded dunes, and more than 1/3-mile of sandy Lake Michigan beach define popular Kirk Park. You'll find a swimming beach, hiking trails that include a handicap accessible loop, ungroomed cross-country ski trails in winter, modern restrooms (closed in winter), a horseshoe pit, kids' play area, off-leash dog beach, Lake Michigan overlook deck, a couple of picnic shelters (which you can reserve), picnic tables, and grills. 

    (*Off-leash dog beach accessible year-round using south beach stairs.)

    Holland State Park: the classic. With ample parking adjacent to a wide expanse of sandy beach, visitors love the accessibility of the Holland State Park. Get the perfect view of Big Red Lighthouse, too! Enjoy a walk on the pier or a dip in the lake. Restrooms, concessions and sandy volleyball courts are available.

    Holland State Park is one of Michigan's most visited state parks. Once you take a look at the beautiful beach or take in a sunset over Lake Michigan, you'll know why! The expansive beach is open to all who have purchased a day pass or a Recreation Passport. View Big Red Lighthouse directly across the channel to the south, or take a stroll north along the beachfront. Holland State Park offers fishing, a boat launch, a concession stand with modern restrooms and changing area, a small playground and camping.  During peak hours (weekends, holidays), we recommend to arrive early.

    Miles of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline are waiting for you to explore! Find a full list of Holland's public beaches on our website. Share your favorite beach with us in the comments below, and don't forget to use the #discoverholland hashtag on Instagram and Twitter!

    July
    11

    HOLLAND, MI

    DESCRIPTION:

    HOLLAND, MI HOUSING MARKET TRENDS

    With a population of 34,378, 2,755 total housing units (homes and apartments), and a median house value of $222,408, Holland real estate and house prices are near the national average for all cities and towns.

    Single-family detached homes are the single most common housing type in Holland, accounting for 56.06% of the city's housing units. Other types of housing that are prevalent in Holland include large apartment complexes or high rise apartments ( 13.66%), row houses and other attached homes ( 12.68%), and a few mobile homes or trailers ( 11.34%).

    Owner-occupied, three and four bedroom dwellings, primarily in single-family detached homes are the most prevalent type of housing you will see in Holland. Owner-occupied housing accounts for 71.31% of Holland's homes, and 54.62% have either three or four bedrooms, which is average sized relative to America.

    There is a lot of housing in Holland built from 1970 to 1999 so parts of town may have that "Brady Bunch" look of homes popular in the '70s and early '80s, although some of these houses were built up through the early '90s as well. There is also a lot of housing in Holland built between 1940-1969 ( 32.63%). A lesser amount of the housing stock also hails from between 2000 and later ( 14.84%). There's also some housing in Holland built before 1939 ( 1.57%).

    HOLLAND HOME APPRECIATION RATES

    In the last 10 years, Holland has experienced some of the highest home appreciation rates of any community in the nation. Holland real estate appreciated 117.53% over the last ten years, which is an average annual home appreciation rate of 8.08%, putting Holland in the top 10% nationally for real estate appreciation. If you are a home buyer or real estate investor, Holland definitely has a track record of being one of the best long term real estate investments in America through the last ten years.

    Appreciation rates are so strong in Holland that despite a nationwide downturn in the housing market, Holland real estate has continued to appreciate in value faster than most communities. Looking at just the latest twelve months, Holland appreciation rates continue to be some of the highest in America, at 21.76%, which is higher than appreciation rates in 79.14% of the cities and towns in the nation. Based on the last twelve months, short-term real estate investors have found good fortune in Holland. Holland appreciation rates in the latest quarter were at 7.72%, which equates to an annual appreciation rate of 34.65%.

    Relative to Michigan, our data show that Holland's latest annual appreciation rate is higher than 80% of the other cities and towns in Michigan.

    One very important thing to keep in mind is that these are average appreciation rates for the city. Individual neighborhoods within Holland differ in their investment potential, sometimes by a great deal. Fortunately, you can use NeighborhoodScout to pinpoint the exact neighborhoods in Holland - or in any city or town - that have the best track record of real estate appreciation, by the latest quarter, the last year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, or even since 2000, to assist you in making the best Holland real estate investment or home purchase decisions.

    DATA:

    AVERAGE HOME VALUES

    MEDIAN HOME VALUE:
    $222,408

    NUMBER OF HOMES AND APARTMENTS:
    2,755

    HOLLAND APPRECIATION RATES

    RENT & OWNERSHIP

    AVERAGE MARKET RENT:
    $1,320 / per month

    HOUSING MARKET DETAILS

    July
    6

    Mortgage and refinance rates today, July 5, 2022

    Today's mortgage and refinance rates

    Markets were closed yesterday for Independence Day. And average mortgage rates fell last Friday, once again significantly. Last week was a seriously good one for those rates. However, it wasn't as good as one June week was bad. So, let's not get carried away.

    Still, the good news seems to be continuing this morning. Because, first thing, it was looking as if mortgage rates today might move lower. But, as always, that could change as the hours pass.

    Find your lowest rate. Start here (Jul 6th, 2022)

    Current mortgage and refinance rates

    Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
    Conventional 30 year fixed 5.564% 5.599% Unchanged
    Conventional 15 year fixed 4.993% 5.047% Unchanged
    Conventional 20 year fixed 5.478% 5.532% -0.01% 
    Conventional 10 year fixed 4.782% 4.867% -0.01% 
    30 year fixed FHA 5.865% 6.706% +0.02% 
    15 year fixed FHA 5.058% 5.511% Unchanged
    30 year fixed VA 5.619% 5.854% +0.03% 
    15 year fixed VA 5.179% 5.552% Unchanged
    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.

    I'm less certain in my doom-mongering than I have been for some time. However, on the balance of probabilities, I still think mortgage rates are more likely to rise over this month than fall.

    So, my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term must 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 last Friday, were:

      • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes decreased to 2.82% from 2.9%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
      • Major stock indexes were lower 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 fell to $103.10 from $108.14 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a prominent role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
      • Gold prices fell to $1,791 from $1,804 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) It is generally 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 — fell to 19 from 24 out of 100. (Good 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 movement of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a change of 1% or less. 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 look likely to 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 (Jul 6th, 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 broader 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 the coming hours, days, weeks or months.

      Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

      Mortgage rates rose only a tiny bit in June. And they fell back on Jul. 1, leaving them back where they were on Jun. 6, according to Mortgage News Daily's archive.

      You can see why I wrote earlier that I'm less certain in my doom-mongering. However, it's not those rate figures that are mainly swaying me. It's the possibility that inflation might soon begin to level out and fall, which would mean the Federal Reserve would not have to hike interest rates as much as currently planned.

      Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal (paywall) ran a story under the headline, "Falling Commodity Prices Raise Hopes That Inflation Has Peaked." And it began, "A slide in all manner of raw-materials prices — corn, wheat, copper and more — is stirring hopes that a significant source of inflationary pressure might be starting to ease."

      Another Journal article, written on Sunday, reported: "China's slowdown may have a silver lining for the rest of the world: weaker inflation. Growth in the world's second-largest economy has tumbled this year as COVID-19 outbreaks triggered mass lockdowns and business closures."

      Is the Fed helpless?

      There's always been an argument (I've mentioned it previously) that current inflation levels have been caused by supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine. We could see that in real time as it happened. Lower supply resulting from those events met continuing demand, and prices rose. Economics 101.

      So, if old monetary policy (the Fed leaving rates low and building its assets) didn't cause inflation, why should we think new monetary policy (the Fed hiking rates and disposing of assets) will fix it? By this argument, the most likely outcome of the central bank's actions is a recession with only a limited effect on prices.

      That would normally be good news for mortgage rates but for little else. However, as I've been highlighting recently, the highest mortgage rates in history happened during a recession — because the Fed was furiously hiking its rates at the time.

      What's next?

      This is a roundabout way of saying nobody can be certain what's next for the economy or mortgage rates. My colleague Paul Centopani just posted his monthly column, Mortgage interest rate predictions: Will rates go down in July 2022?

      And most of the mortgage experts he quoted believe mortgage rates are more likely to rise than fall in July. However, the minority taking the opposite view was persuasive.

      For now, I'm sticking to my guns because I still think mortgage rates are overall more likely to rise than fall this month. But I'll be watching closely in the hope more evidence begins to emerge to the contrary.

      Read the weekend edition of this daily article for more background.

      Recent trends

      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.

      Rates then bumbled along, moving little for the following eight or nine months. But they began rising noticeably that September. Unfortunately, they've been mostly shooting up since the start of 2022, although May was a kinder month.

      Freddie's June 30 report puts that same weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 5.70% (with 0.9 fees and points), down from the previous week's 5.81%.

      Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.9 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 remaining three quarters of 2022 (Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22) and the first quarter of next year (Q1/23).

      The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Jun. 16, and the MBA's on Jun. 10. Freddie's were released on Apr. 18. But it now updates its figures only quarterly, so they're already looking stale.

      Forecaster Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22 Q1/23
      Fannie Mae 5.1% 5.0%  5.0% 5.0%
      Freddie Mac 4.8% 4.8%  5.0% 5.0%
      MBA 5.1% 5.1%  5.0% 5.0%

      Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual. Recent events certainly make them look that way.

      Find your lowest rate today

      You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As a 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."

      Verify your new rate (Jul 6th, 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.

    July
    5

    Western Michigan is full of exciting opportunities. Here's why you should make it your new home.

    There are many factors to consider when choosing a new place to live, and the decision isn't always easy. But for those searching for a great climate, a strong economy, and quality education, Western Michigan checks every box. In fact, our real estate agents say people from all over the world move to Western Michigan thanks to its many amenities. Once you see what our great communities have to offer, we're sure you'll be eager to call this area home.

    If you're on the hunt for a new place to live, here are a few reasons why you make sure Western Michigan is on the top of your list:

    Click Here to Read More...

    July
    1

    National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

    Sure, everyone loves vanilla and strawberry, but Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day is all about trying something unique, like lavender ice cream or pickle ice cream.

    Vanilla is often touted as the favorite flavor of ice cream, but we think that's just because people haven't been daring enough with their ice cream choices. National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day encourages you to take your taste buds to the rodeo and give a new flavor a try!

    Learn about National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

    As the name suggests, the purpose of National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day is to branch away from vanilla ice cream and try something completely out-of-the-norm. It is up to you how far you go with this. For example, if you are someone who barely ever tries anything but vanilla, you may want to give mint choc chip a try or some rum and raisin ice cream.

    For you, that may be pushing the boat out! For someone else, they may feel like they have already tried every sort of ice cream that is commercially available. If you fall into this category, then why not use National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day in order to come up with a flavor of ice cream that you've never tried before or seen in any stores?

    You can go as wild and unusual as you like. You can try different flavors, such as adding herbs, like basil into the mix, and other different concoctions. It is up to you. Or, you could try and turn your favorite chocolate bar or candy into an ice cream treat? This is an approach that never fails. After all, if it tastes good as chocolate, the chances are that it is going to taste pretty amazing when turned into ice cream, right?

    Did you know that Ben & Jerry's receive more than 13,000 flavor suggestions from fans each year? They have published some of the weirdest suggestions they have received.

    This includes Salty Licorice, which is vanilla ice cream, with swirls of salty and sweet licorice in order to create a black-and-white striped experience. Someone suggested Pepperoni flavor – a simple vanilla ice cream with chunks of candied pepperoni. Yum!

    Although, we think we would probably rather eat that than the Gregarious Gorgonzola that was requested by one fan. They want dark chocolate ice cream that features gorgonzola cheese and raspberry jam. Another fan wanted Ben & Jerry's to create macaroni ice cream, called Mac and Freeze. Oh, and we can't forget about Spuds and Fudge, which would be chocolate ice cream with bits of candied French fries. Do any of these flavors float your boat?

    History Of National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

    When people think about flavors of ice cream, they mostly think about what they can get off the grocery store shelves or from 31 flavors. When you take a moment to consider that ice cream was first invented in the 5th Century BC by the Ancient Greeks, and from there has traveled around the world and through every culture, you realize that the smattering of flavors you've experienced in your life is just the beginning. Somehow this seems like a perfect metaphor about our daily lives as well, don't you think?

    Do you like vanilla ice cream? Chocolate? What about strawberry? Chances are you love all these flavors, but have you ever considered saffron ice cream? What about rose flavored? These are just some of the flavors that were possible in years past, and doesn't even begin to cover the absolute rainbow of flavors that come from fruits!

    Of course, most of these probably don't seem all that unusual or creative, do they? That's ok! If you're truly feeling adventurous you can try crab and oyster flavored ice cream, or garlic flavored!

    June
    27

    July 2022 Calendar of United States of America

    July 2022 Holidays and Celebrations