Mortgage rates soar to 7-year highs

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average climbed to 4.72 percent with an average 0.5 point. Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. It was 4.65 percent a week ago and 3.83 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate average jumped to 4.16 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 4.11 percent a week ago and 3.13 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average rose to 3.97 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.92 percent a week ago and 3.20 percent a year ago.

The article is written by Kathy Orton for The Washington Post. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Interest on Home Equity Loans Is Still Deductible, but With a Big Caveat

The interest paid on that home equity loan may still be tax deductible, in some cases.

Many taxpayers had feared that the new tax law — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted in December — was the death knell for deducting interest from home equity loans and lines of credit. The loans are based on the equity in your home, and are secured by the property. (Home equity is the difference between what the house is worth and what you owe on your mortgage.)

But the Internal Revenue Service, saying it was responding to “many questions received from taxpayers and tax professionals,” recently issued an advisory. According to the advisory, the new tax law suspends the deduction for home equity interest from 2018 to 2026 — unless the loan is used to “buy, build or substantially improve” the home that secures the loan.

The article is written by Ann Carrns for NY Times. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Factors to consider for refinancing into a 15-year mortgage

For most people, a 30-year mortgage is a good option. You can always make extra principal payments to pay down the loan faster, but the lower monthly payment is easier to handle if you face financial setbacks such as a job loss.

If you can swing the payments, you’d be building equity much faster and while paying less interest. You’ll still have home debt into your 70s, which isn’t ideal, but it’s certainly better than having a mortgage in your 80s.

The article is written by Liz Weston for LA Times. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Of course California should require solar panels on new homes

Starting in 2020, California will be the first state in the nation to require newly constructed homes and low-rise apartment buildings to have solar panels to generate electricity. This mandate, adopted this week by the California Energy Commission, may be the simplest, most logical policy yet to help wean the Golden State off fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The benefits of solar power are well established. Photovoltaics harness the sun to create electricity, reducing the need for dirtier forms of energy. And residents generate their own power, cutting their utility bills.

The article is written by The Times Editorial Board for LA Times. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Common Misconceptions: What First-Time Home Buyers Need To Know

As you get ready to start finding your first home, you may think you are already in good shape — anything you don’t already know, you can figure out as you go along. However, without a solid grasp on how things work, you may find, after an exhaustive search, that your preferred new home isn’t within your price range — something that can lead to a lot of scrambling and tears.

This means you need to be aware of the common misconceptions out there, ideas a lot of first-time homebuyers have before they’ve gone through the full process. While many of these misconceptions just make the search a little bit harder on you, some can actively cause grief, such as thinking you can put off seeking financing until after you find your ideal home, or believing that you can safely ignore how local market conditions are developing.

So what do you need to know? Below, six members of Forbes Real Estate Council highlight some of the more common misconceptions first-time homebuyers have, as well as discuss how these misconceptions can hamper buying a home. Here’s what they had to say.

The article is written by Forbes Real Estate Council for Forbes Online. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Looking For An Affordable New Home? They Do Still Exist

Anyone who’s searched for an affordable home lately – new-construction or not – knows it’s rough in cities with a tight housing inventory. Newly built homes have become an attractive option for those who want to skip bidding wars and start with a clean slate. But, many builders now are focused on higher-priced homes, making it harder to find new-construction within reach for many homebuyers, particularly first-time buyers.

However, there still are affordable new homes being built. Homebuilders with a national reach have been building a small number of starter homes at affordable prices. These affordable new-construction homes tend to be smaller single-family residences that have fewer customizable features. On the other hand, the new-construction townhome market has increased by 23%. That’s because Millennials and Boomers, who make up a large share of today’s homebuyers, are more accepting of housing types other than single-family homes and because, for builders, it’s an economically useful way to build more homes on a smaller amount of space.

The article is written by Patricia Garcia for Forbes Online. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

15 Dos And Don’ts Of Property Maintenance Homeowners Should Be Aware Of

Many homeowners take great efforts and spend time to renovate their homes to provide that personal touch. While there is nothing wrong with making upgrades to enhance the appearance of a property, the next buyer may not appreciate them as much as you do. You may think that when it’s time to sell you’ll get back every penny you stuck into your remodel, whereas a new buyer just sees the improvements they will have to make in order to make a home their own.

Fifteen members of Forbes Real Estate Council share some of the most common dos and don’ts of property maintenance that homeowners should be aware of to make sure they get a good deal when they decide to sell.

The article is written by Forbes Real Estate Council for Forbes Online. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Should You Move From California? Or Your High-Tax State?

The new Tax Plan went into effect for 2018 and the full extent of how many high earners (if any) will flee high tax states to lower taxed locales remains to be seen. States like California, New York and New Jersey which have high income tax rates that are aligned with high property values.

A recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle indicated that dozens of millionaires fled California after the 2012 tax increase. The report quotes a study noting that 138 high-income Californians left the state after the that tax increase. This is out of the 312,000 Californians expected to be hit with the new 2012 state specific tax.

Should you move to a low tax state to avoid a big tax hit under the Tax Plan?

The article is written by David Rae for Forbes Online. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Make These Five Energy-Efficient Improvements To Increase Your Home’s Value

Energy efficient improvements can help your home stand out in a crowded market. They can be as minor as replacing your lightbulbs and switching detergents, or as large as installing solar panels.

In states like California that suffer from droughts and strained power grids, the benefits of installing energy-efficient measures are poised only to go up in the future. Here’s what you should — and shouldn’t — prioritize if you’re considering energy-efficient home upgrades.

The article is written by Gina Michelle for Forbes Online. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.

Non-Traditional Credit Options For Mortgage Applicants

Credit scores can be the difference between getting a good interest rate on a mortgage or in some cases even getting a mortgage at all. Most housing markets throughout the country favor sellers at the moment because there are so few listings available so buyers have an extra obstacle of needing to come with a solidly underwritten offer in order to remain competitive.

But what if you don’t have a great credit score? Or have recently left your job and have a gap in income? Luckily more and more lenders are willing to look at non-traditional ways of determining if someone is a low risk for defaulting on a loan.

The article is written by Amy Dobson for Forbes Online. You can read the full article here.

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Sheila Abai is a senior mortgage consultant at PNC Bank. She utilizes her 20+ years of finance and mortgage experience to identify the best mortgage and refinancing solutions for her clients. Sheila can be contacted via email at Sheila.Abai@PNC.com or via telephone at 310-666-5959.