Everyone -- well, practically everyone -- applauds lower mortgage rates. And why not? Lower rates mean homebuyers have more buying power.
In May, the average 30-year loan rate was 3.6 percent -- the lowest it has been in 36 months. But there is a downside.
When rates slip, points out Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com, the availability of credit declines. Lenders pull in their horns because it becomes more difficult to make a profit. "With little margin, lenders become more risk-averse," says Smoke.
While Smoke believes mortgage rates are likely to remain under 4 percent through the summer and into the early fall, they could spring up to more than 4 percent by the holidays. His advice: Stay on top of rates, work closely with your lender, and become familiar with options like interest rate locks and float-downs (a type of rate reduction).
"Given how volatile rates have been this year," he says, "borrowers are likely to see both lower and higher rates from time of application to time of closing, which is what makes these options potentially attractive. However, they do come at a price, so you need to weigh the potential gains against the costs with your lender."
There is garden-variety customer service, as practiced by many real estate professionals. There is great customer service, practiced by some. And there there's Jeff Miller.
Miller, a loan officer with PrimeLending in Tucson, Arizona, outshone them all in April, when he officiated the wedding of clients Donovan Riley and Rebecca Noreen.
When working to secure the engaged couple's mortgage in January, Miller half-jokingly told the pair that he was ordained, and that if they needed an officiant for their wedding, he would be happy to step in. He said he never expected to actually receive a call, but in March, he did: Riley and Noreen were experiencing difficulty lining up an officiant. So they reached out to Miller to see just how serious he was.
The pair was married, by their mortgage officer, on April 9.
A mortgage is definitely a long-term commitment, but this one came with an "until death do us part" rider. Now that's customer service.
President Herbert Hoover promised "a chicken in every pot." Now, South Florida real estate developer Tim Lobanov is promising a jet with every condo.
To boost sales at the Aurora development in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, Lobanov -- managing director of the Verzasca Group -- is offering complimentary one-year memberships with JetSmarter, a service that allows members to charter private jets.
Surprisingly, prices at the 61-unit "boutique" condominium on the famed Collins Avenue seem fairly reasonable, at least for South Florida: $840,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, $920,000 for two bedrooms and a den and $1.4 million for a three-bedroom unit.
There's no doubt that the internet has allowed would-be homebuyers to do much of their searching online. There are about 123 million unique visitors per month to the top three real estate web portals, most of whom are seeing what's available and reading the latest "how-to" articles.
Now, QValue, a Denver technology company, has developed a formula that allows the computer to actually find specific houses based on what buyers say they want. In a test in April, a buyer told the computer and an agent what he liked, and the machine and the real estate professional went about the task of finding just the right house.
The experiment went on for three consecutive days, with the buyer entering different requirements each day. And each day, the computer turned in the buyer's favorite.
The difference: The QValue algorithm runs on "emotionally triggering" qualitative criteria, as opposed to quantitative measures such as price and number of bedrooms.
Chinese investment in the U.S. real estate market has surpassed $300 billion and is still growing, despite China's economic weakness and increased currency controls, according to new research.
Between 2010 and 2015, Chinese buyers bought $93 billion worth of residential real estate, nearly $208 billion of mortgage-backed securities and roughly $17 billion of commercial real estate, including office towers and hotels. The data comes from a report by the Rosen Consulting Group and the Asia Society.
Despite those eye-popping numbers, direct investment from China still makes up only 10 percent of all foreign investment into U.S. real estate.