Rising mortgage rates, closing costs joining higher home prices | Bedford Corners NY Homes

Home prices are higher in metro Atlanta, and so are mortgage rates and closing costs.

All three are signs that the local housing market continues to roar  back from the meltdown just a few years ago as the economy continues to  strengthen with more homeowners and prospective homeowners finding jobs  and a paycheck.

The strengthening economy was a primary reason that Federal Reserve  policymakers signaled recently that they will do a little less in trying  to stimulate economic activity by influencing interest rates.

In interviews with Biz Beat, analysts at Zillow, the online housing  listing service, and Bankrate, which tracks loan rates in Georgia and  nationally, say consumers can expect to see mortgage rates trending  higher in the new year even if they are still at historically low  levels.

Erin Lantz, director of mortgages at Zillow, said weeks of  anticipating that the Fed would “dial back” its influence on interest  rates and the actual announcement that changes in its economic stimulus  program would begin in January have already begun to push rates higher.

“The stimulus program was meant to keep interest rates lower,” Lantz said. “The economy is getting back on its own footing and doesn’t need to rely on federal stimulus as much.”

In a weekly report, Bankrate said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in metro  Atlanta rose to 4.54 percent most recently, from 4.47 percent in the previous report and  3.76 percent at the start of 2013. The average 15-year fixed rate  rose to 3.59 percent from 3.48 percent.

Greg McBride, Bankrate’s senior financial analyst, said closing  costs, which lenders charge to process a loan, are up 6 percent from  last year in metro Atlanta. By comparison, inflation is up less than 2  percent.

McBride said lenders, who are paying out billions of dollars to  settle claims they botched loans and wrongly foreclosed on thousands of borrowers, are  facing higher costs in complying with new regulations designed to  prevent the problems that led to the housing crises. The due diligence now includes verifying  applicants’ employment, income and debt obligations multiple times before closing on a loan.

Those higher loan processing costs are being passed on to borrowers.

“Secondly, there is no wiggle room in terms of fees quoted by a  lender on the good-faith estimate of costs,” McBride said. Lenders are  required by law to provide borrowers with a written best estimate of  what a loan will cost, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if they go with the higher end of a range. “Once they put that number on the form they are  locked in. It can’t be a penny more,” McBride said



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