Why young people are postponing the American Dream

Concentrated young man holding documents and looking at them while woman sitting close to him and holding hand on chin

Home ownership has long been the American Dream, but more and more young people today are postponing it in hopes of better times to come.

For the past 3 years or so, real estate has been under a dark cloud, and it is not likely to lift this year.

First we had a shortage of homes for sale.

After the “boom and bust,” home prices plummeted in many areas. Because they seemed to be a good investment, investors snapped up many of the low to medium priced homes and even some at the high end. Most of these homes became rental properties.

With a shortage of homes for sale, prices began to rise. And the Fed made it easy for people to buy when they dropped interest rates to historic lows. That gave buyers more buying power, so bidding wars drove home prices back to where they had been – and even higher.

Inflation, rising mortgage interest, and rising home prices combined to keep housing inventories low while pushing home ownership out of the reach of a large number of Americans.

Rising interest rates are keeping homeowners in their current homes, and no wonder. The high price they’d receive from selling would be offset by the high price of a replacement home. And, if they now have an interest rate below 3 or 4 percent, they aren’t interested in replacing it with a mortgage loan at 7 percent.

That left us with an inventory of homes belonging to people with a compelling reason to sell.

New construction was going to save us…

Home builders got busy trying to fill the gap in housing inventory, and did have some success. But then, about 3 years ago, things changed.

The new construction industry is hampered by inflation, interest rates, and regulatory burdens.

Inflation has caused the price of building materials to soar, some materials now costing more than twice what they did just 4 years ago.

For home builders, construction financing is now in the 12 to 13% range, which further increases the cost of construction.

Then we add the regulatory burdens. Meeting new regulations and gaining all the necessary permits is not only expensive, but time-consuming – adding to the cost of construction financing.

A study by the National Association of Home Builders found that since January 2021, new regulations have significantly increased costs. While state and local restrictions vary, on average these restrictions, combined with Federal regulations now account for about 23% of the cost of a new single-family home.

Median home prices as they relate to median income and current interest rates.

The latest news is that the median home price in the U.S. is now $420,800. The median income is $74,755, or $6,229 per month. At today’s interest rate of 6.87%, the payment on $420,800 would be $2,762.95, or 44% of the median income.

Since banks prefer borrowers to stay within 28% of income, that means a median priced house is out of reach for a person earning a median income. Naturally this will vary depending upon where you live.

This problem has been steadily increasing since 2022, and peaked in the fall of 2023, when interest rates went to 7.8 and brought the ratio to 40%.

Yes, this happened before…

The last time Americans saw this kind of problem was in 1981, when the interest rate soared over 18% and brought the ratio to 39%. That’s when the median price of a home was $47,200 and the median income was $21,900. An 18% interest rate brought the payment over $700. When rates dropped back to 10%, and the payment dropped to about $500, the ratio was only 23%.

Is hope on the horizon?

Of course. If interest rates ease off and regulatory burdens are lifted, homes will once again become affordable. In the meantime, more will remain tenants and more first-time buyers will likely buy smaller or less elaborate homes.

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Want a home mortgage loan? Heed these 10 do’s and don’ts.


The do’s and don’ts for getting a home mortgage loan have changed a bit since interest rates started climbing. In addition, some of the old assumptions about mortgage loans are simply wrong.

Let us begin with the don’ts…

  • Don’t assume that you need a 20% down payment.

This assumption has been around seemingly forever, and for most of those years it simply has not been true. Some loans require far less. Fannie Mae has a 3% down first-time buyer program, and FHA requires only 3.5% down on approved credit. Do keep in mind that borrowers must pay for private mortgage insurance when paying less than 20% down.

In addition, VA has a zero down payment program for veterans and members of the military.

  • Don’t focus exclusively on the interest rate.

Naturally every borrower wants the lowest possible interest rate. However, sometimes that lower interest rate is too expensive!

Lenders with big splashy ads touting the lowest rates anywhere are probably not telling you the whole story. That is that to get that rate you may have to pay points.

Points are a fee that lenders can charge to “buy down” the rate. Essentially, what it amounts to is pre-paid interest. Each point equals 1% of the loan amount, so one point on a $300,000 loan would be $30,000.

Mortgage seekers, therefore, must ask potential lenders for an estimate of all costs and fees associated with obtaining a loan at the interest rate they quote.

They must also remember that different lenders have different programs, so it is wise to shop around.

  • Don’t choose a loan program without exploring the alternatives.

As stated, there are an abundance of loan programs to choose from. You might be best off with a conventional loan – or with FHA, VA, or USDA.

Different lenders offer different programs and some loan officers may not even be aware of the other programs available.

Do your own research and talk with more than one lender.

  • Don’t confuse pre-qualification with pre-approval.

Years ago, home buyers could get a pre-qualification letter from a lender and use it to go shopping. Today, most home sellers demand that potential buyers have a pre-approval in hand before touring their homes.

Why? What’s the difference between them?

A lender can give you a pre-qualification letter based on a conversation. They ask about your income and your obligations and then say “I think you’ll qualify for a loan up to X dollars.”

That doesn’t count for much today.

A pre-approval is completely different. The borrower fills out all the same paperwork necessary to apply for a loan. Then the lender verifies all the information, just as if they were ready to go forward on that loan immediately.

Many savvy buyers today take this a step further and become fully approved. They can then approach a homeowner with a letter verifying that they can pay the amount they’ve offered.

Full approval in advance can also mean that the loan will close much faster than normal.

Do keep in mind, however, that even a fully approved borrower can be rejected at the last minute. Lenders do check again before closing, so borrowers who were foolish enough to quit their jobs, empty their bank accounts, or buy a new car before closing will likely not be buying a house.

  • Don’t assume that you can get a loan instantly.

There is no instant gratification when it comes to getting a home mortgage loan.

First you’ll fill out the paperwork. Then the lender will check your credit and verify things like your employment, your bank accounts, and your obligations. They’ll want to know the source of your down payment, and if it has not been in your bank account for at least six months, they’ll want proof of where it came from.

After that’s done, they’ll call for an appraisal, because no bank wants to lend more than a house is worth.

  • Do take time to understand all of the fees and costs in addition to your down payment.

In addition to a down payment and a fee to the closer for “closing costs,” borrowers pay for title insurance, an appraisal, a home inspection, and homeowner’s insurance. These additional charges can easily add $5,000 to $12,000 to the funds needed to close.

  • Do consider first-time homebuyer programs.

You might as well take advantage of help that is freely offered!

Go on line to look around, then talk with lenders about programs available. Different communities have different offerings, so be thorough in your search. Some offer help with closing costs and/or down payments, some offer lower interest rates or tax credits, and if you’re a first responder or educator, they may be programs just for you.

  • Do check your credit score before you do anything else.

This number offers a numerical opinion of you and the way you handle your finances. Because it reflects how well you’ve paid your obligations in the past, it will determine the amount of interest you’ll be required to pay when obtaining a home mortgage loan.

If you’ve had a few bumps in the road that caused your score to go down, the time to address the problem is before you apply for a mortgage loan.

You may be able to bring your scores up significantly simply by paying off a credit card – or even by moving debt from one card to another. This is a topic to explore with a mortgage lender you trust, because he or she can give you helpful advice.

Order a copy of your credit report and read it carefully, because mistakes and identity theft do happen. So check to see that:

  • Every account listed is really yours.
  • Your address on every account is correct.
  • That the spouse named on every account is really your spouse.

An error with any of those things could indicate that someone else is using your credit, and that could mean trouble for you. If you see such an error, contact the credit company immediately.

  • Do prepare for the possibility of a low appraisal.

Given today’s high listing prices and the prevalence of bidding wars, some houses do go under contract for more than their current market value.

As already mentioned, the lender won’t lend more than the appraiser says the house is worth. So what will happen if the appraisal comes in low?

This is a subject you should discuss with your real estate professional. Then the answer to that question should be written into your offer. The possibilities are:

  • The agreement becomes null and void and the earnest money is returned to the buyer.
  • The seller agrees to sell for the appraised value and the sale goes forward.
  • The buyer pays the difference in cash. If they are unable or unwilling to do so, they forfeit their earnest money.

As you can see, having it in writing could prevent future trouble.

  • Do take the time to interview lenders and choose the best one for you.

Your real estate agent will advise you to use a local lender, and there’s a good reason for that.

You’ll get the best success when you work with someone who will answer your phone calls – even outside of business hours, if necessary. This is important because questions can come up at unexpected times.

That person should be willing to help you explore your options and come to financial decisions that are in your best interest.

You’ll also do best when you work with someone you like – someone you’re comfortable talking with.

And one more…

Do Call Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group

We’re known for our fast, friendly service and some of the lowest rates available in Texas. We’re always glad to sit down with you or get on the phone to discuss your options – and we do keep abreast of the special programs available to Texas borrowers.

We’re also glad to show you just what your loan will cost under different scenarios- and to show you exactly what fees and costs would be included in each of them.

If you’re unsure about where you stand, we’ll be happy to take a look at your financial situation and let you know the interest rate we could offer today.  And, if your scores need improvement, we’ll provide some sound advice on raising them.

Call us today at 800-223-7409

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If you want a mortgage loan, be quiet!


Sometimes telling everything you know or think can be counter-productive. One of those times is when you are meeting with a mortgage lender.

Here are 5 things you should not say during that meeting:

  1. “Please don’t tell my spouse what you find on my credit report.”

A statement like this can wave a couple of red flags for a lender. The first, of course, is whether your credit report is going to reveal an inordinate amount of debt. Of course, a lender can’t make that promise, because it all has to go on your credit application. And unless the loan will be in your name alone, your spouse will need to read and sign that application.

The second red flag will be about the state of your marriage. The lender can’t discriminate against you because he or she has doubts about whether you’ll still be together a few months from now, but they may look more closely at other issues because of it.

  • “I’m still working on getting my down payment together.”

If you make a statement like that, complete it by telling the lender what toys you’re selling or what investments you’re cashing in to come up with the money.

Lenders want to see that you have something to lose should you default on your loan. With that in mind, they want assurance that none of your down payment funds are borrowed – either from a friend or relative or from, for instance, a cash advance on a credit card.

Banks do allow borrowers to use gift monies, but they must present proof that the money was a gift – and the giver must provide documentation to show that they could afford the gift.

Down payment fraud is second only to income fraud in lending scams, so lenders are careful to verify the source of down payment funds.  

  • “I’m a little concerned about getting the right insurance coverage on this house.”

While you definitely should research insurance availability and costs before purchasing a house, this is not something to discuss with your lender. You’ll have to present proof of insurance before closing, but don’t send up any red flags during the approval process.

  • “We aren’t going to be able to move in right away. There’s a lot of work to be done first.”

You don’t need to give your lender a reason to reject your house or to reduce its value. They’ll call for an appraisal, and that’s enough.

Don’t mention the inspection report or what negotiations you did before coming to agreement. Otherwise, the lender may request more inspections or assurances that the house isn’t about to fall apart.

If you are able to do those repairs and will gain a nice chunk of sweat equity in the process, that’s wonderful. So just be quiet. Do the work and smile.

  • “I’m sure glad the seller agreed to sell me the hot tub on the side.”

With this one you not only should not talk about it, you should not do it. You‘ll be required to sign a document at closing stating that no money has been exchanged between you and the seller outside of the closing.

Making a deal like that and not disclosing it constitutes fraud. So if there’s something you want that was not included, have your agent write it into the contract and include the payment in the price of the house.

  • “I’ll be so glad when this loan is closed so I can quit my job.”

Again, your lender has to look at your situation as it is or will be on the day of closing. But revealing your plan to reduce your income will make him or her look very closely at every other detail in your transaction.

You may have a very good reason for quitting. Perhaps you’re starting something you believe will bring in even more money. Perhaps one of you is going to do more overtime so the other can quit a hated job. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure the plan does not include immediately defaulting on your loan. So – just keep your mouth shut.        

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Simple ways to pay off your mortgage sooner


If you’ve decided that you want to remain in your home for the long term, then you’d probably love to pay it off long before the 30 years – or 15 or 20 if you opted for a shorter term.

Unless you had cash with which to buy your home, you know you’ll be paying a house payment no matter what. It will either be for your house or for a house belonging to your landlord. But when you think about all the interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan, it’s still painful!

Paying your loan off early means paying less interest, so consider these options:

Add a few extra dollars to each payment. I have a friend who shortened her car loan by about 5 months simply by adding $3.24 to each payment. She rounded the payment from $271.76 to $275. That was painless.

If she’d added $13.24 the term would have been even shorter.

However, if you can afford it…

Add an extra payment to each payment. And no, I don’t mean make double payment. Just double the amount of the payment that is going toward the principal. Here’s an example:

An actual home loan with an interest rate of 3.625% carries payments of $1,632.53 per month. Since the loan is only a few years old, the amount going to the principal each month is only $427.09. That means paying $2,059.62 is equal to paying two payments. A payment of $2,486.71 would effectively make 3 payments.

As time goes by, you’d have to increase that amount, because more of each payment will go to principal as less goes to interest. But you’d still reap the benefit of shaving a few interest-bearing months off your loan early on.

The beauty of these methods is that you can do it when you can afford it, and not do it if you need the money for car repairs instead.

Make one extra payment a year. If you receive a Christmas bonus or get a tax refund each year, consider putting that money toward an extra payment on your loan. In the example above, that one extra payment added to your regular payment would be equal to making 3 extra payments.

Create your own amortization schedule.

If you’d like a bit more structure, first decide how soon you want to pay off that mortgage. Then go on line to find an amortization schedule and plug in your numbers. You’ll learn what your new payment would need to be (minus the taxes and insurance) to pay off the loan in that amount of time.

Do Note:

With any of these methods, be sure to fill out your payment coupon or screen correctly. When you pay extra money, designate it to go to the principal of your loan.

Refinance to a shorter term loan.

While this method might lock you in to a higher payment each month, it has advantages.

I say “might” because one of the advantages is that if you have an FHA loan and now have 20% equity, your refinance to a conventional loan will remove your mortgage insurance premiums.

Second, since shorter term loans generally carry lower interest rates, you may be able to refinance at a lower rate.

Refinancing does come with costs, so talk it over with your mortgage broker and get all the facts before making a decision.

Before you make a decision on paying your mortgage loan off early…

Consider the rest of your financial situation. Would those extra dollars be better spent somewhere else? For instance, if you have credit card debt, or any other higher interest loans, they should be paid off first.

Are you saving for retirement or for your children’s educations? Do you have some money set aside for emergencies – or opportunities?

Would you like to talk it over with a professional?

Then call us today at Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group. We’ll be glad to show you the facts and figures regarding a refinance – or to help you cerate your own new amortization schedule.

We offer fast, friendly service, combined with some of the lowest rates and best terms available anywhere in Texas.

Call us today at 800-223-7409

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Who makes the final decision on your home mortgage?


When you decide to buy a home, you will likely visit a lender and gain a pre-approval before beginning to shop. After looking at your income, expenses, and credit scores, your loan officer will tell you how much you can borrow and quote you an interest rate. (This is, of course, subject to change as the Fed raises or lowers interest rates.)

You may think that means you’re home free, but that isn’t so. Even though your lender will have checked your credit and done verifications, your loan still must gain approval from an underwriter.

Although underwriting guidelines have been around since 1935, prior to 1970 most lending decisions were based on local knowledge. The banker knew the customers, knew what they did for a living and knew their reputation for paying bills on time – or not.  But then, in the 1989, the Fair Issac Corporation came up with FICO scores and during the 90’s lending became more standardized.

During the housing boom that began in the early 2000’s, underwriting standards were loosened. A sub-prime market was born. For a while, some joked that all you has to do to obtain a loan was have the ability to fog a mirror.

Then, of course, that whole sub-prime scheme crashed, along with home prices. Lenders lost money when borrowers simply could not pay.

The result: tougher standards. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enacted requirements for tougher background checks into a potential borrower’s bank accounts and other assets, employment and employment history, spending habits, and credit rating.

An Underwriter will check your credit history.

He or she will look at your FICO scores from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. If your reports contain a red flat such as a bankruptcy or a collection, you’ll be required to submit a letter explaining why that happened and what you’re doing to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Depending upon the credit problems you’ve had and how long ago they happened, you may be required to make a larger down payment. And of course, poor credit scores always mean that you’ll be offered a higher interest rate than a borrower with no blemishes.

Your perceived risk comes next.

In addition to your credit score, the underwriter will want to know your income and the amount of money you owe. He or she will consider all debts, including student loans, child-support payments, car loans, and private loans. The difference between your income and outgo is known as your debt-to-income ratio.

Different lenders have different regulations, but in general your total monthly debt obligation, including your home mortgage payment, should be no more than 43% of your pre-tax monthly income.

The underwriter or an investigator will verify your bank information and will contact your employer to verify your employment. Lenders like to see stability in employment, and 3 years or more in the same job (or with an employer who has given you job advancements) is a good thing.

If there is anything about your employment history, finances, or credit history that raises questions, the underwriter will ask for additional information. The best thing you can do to assure that you’ll get that loan is to respond quickly, completely, and with good humor.

Lastly, the Underwriter will examine your home appraisal.

Learning from the past, underwriters (and the lenders who hire them) want assurance that the appraised value does make sense.  Yes, that does mean that some of the loans granted in the early 2000’s were based on fraudulently inflated home values. Appraisers were sometimes being pressured by buyers, sellers, and even real estate agents and loan officers. Backed by the belief that the true price is the one that a buyer is willing to pay, those appraisers allowed prices to climb, and climb, and climb.

The attempt to avoid this problem led to a shake-up in the appraisal process with unintended consequences. New regulations called for the use of appraisers who were not familiar with the lenders or agents, or with the communities and the real estate markets in which they were appraising homes.

In addition to scrutinizing the appraisal, a good underwriter will consider the location of the home and how it might be affected by natural disasters, such as floods.

Underwriting standards and loan requirements were extremely tight immediately following the housing crash in the late 2000’s. Fortunately, they have now relaxed a bit.

Underwriters take their task very seriously.

The term originated with the insurance industry – Lloyds of London, specifically. The person who said “Yes, I will accept and insure that risk” signed his name at the bottom of the paper – under the proposal.

Today, the person signing is not risking his or her own funds, but is obligating the bank to take that risk. It’s no wonder that they want to be very careful.

If you want to buy a home, call or come and see us…

We at Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group, will be happy to get you pre-approved using the same methods and underwriter uses.

In addition, we have a well-deserved reputation for fast, friendly service, combined with some of the lowest rates and best terms available anywhere in Texas.

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Before you attempt to buy a house…



Before you attempt to buy a house…

Unless you are sitting on a bag of money large enough to purchase a house for cash, you should become pre-approved for a home mortgage loan. If you skip that step, home sellers will not take your offers seriously.

Before you become pre-approved – which is exactly like making an application for that loan – you need to consider three things:

  • Your credit score – because it will affect everything
  • How much down payment you’ll need
  • Your debt-to-income ratio

Since your credit score affects everything, let’s start there.

The higher your score, the better your odds of qualifying for favorable loan terms.

While many credit scoring models exist for different purposes, most lenders will use your FICO score. A perfect FICO score is 850, but few people are perfect. Here’s how scores are rated:

  • 760 and above: excellent
  • 700 – 759: good
  • 650 – 699: fair
  • Below 650: poor.
  • 580-649: you’ll only qualify for a FHA loan or possibly a VA loan.
  • 579 and less: Get busy improving your credit before you try to buy a home.

Before visiting a lender, go to annualcreditreport.com and request a copy of your credit report. You’re entitled to one free report every year, and you should take advantage of that. Even if you aren’t planning to borrow money, checking your report will allow you to catch mistakes that could cause trouble later. That means do read each entry and make sure it is accurate.

If you’re planning to purchase a home, do pay the extra fee to get your FICO score. Then, if you need to raise the score, begin taking those steps.

How much down payment will you need?

You’ve no doubt heard/seen the figure 20% named as the gold standard. It rates that nickname for two reasons:

You’ll get the best rate and terms if you put down 20% or more.

If you put down 20% you will not be subject to private mortgage insurance, which can add several hundred dollars per month to your house payment.

Many lenders offer programs with down payment requirements ranging from 5% to 15%, and FHA loans require only 3 ½% down. Veterans can get VA loans with zero down and no private mortgage insurance. USDA loans are available with the same zero down terms.

Will you ever need MORE than 20% down?

Yes, if you want a jumbo loan (a loan above the limits for government sponsored loans) your down payment may need to be as much as 30%

Right now the limit for government-sponsored loans in most communities is $726,200. In areas with an extremely high cost of living (such as Manhattan and San Francisco) the threshold is $1,089,300.

The more you can put down, the better, so seek help if you qualify.

This USDA website https://www.hud.gov/states/texas/homeownership/buyingprgms offers information on down payment assistance programs in Texas.

What is your DTI ratio?

First, what is a DTI ratio? DTI stands for debt-to-income and it is the ratio of how much you earn to how much you are obligated to pay out each month.

It encompasses all of your debts, such as a car loan, credit card balances, school loans, etc.

If you earned $6,000 per month and paid out $1,000 in debts, your DTI would be 16.6% (1,000 divided by 6,000). In general, lenders want to see your DTI ratio to be 36% or less after figuring in your new monthly mortgage payment.

So if your new payment would be $1,000 they would add that to the $1,000 you’re paying in other debts and calculate DTI by dividing 2,000 by 6,000. Your new DTI would be 33.3%. Some lenders will allow a DTI of up to 43%, but if you plan ahead to keep your DTI ratio under 36% you’ll always be safe.

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What happens next with interest rates?


What happens next with interest rates?

Anyone wanting to buy a house with a home mortgage loan right now is wishing interest rates would come down. But is that likely to happen? And if so, when?

People are also wondering: “Why have mortgage interest rates increased so much in 2022 and 2023?”

Because inflation has been raging. In response to that, the Fed raised interest rates to bring it under control.

The thirty-year mortgage interest rate hit 7.2% in August, 2023, marking the highest rate in more than 20 years. This was done purposely to rein in spending. When there’s less spending, inflation cools.

Thinking back: Following the global financial crisis, rates were dropped to stimulate the economy. Now it appears to been over-stimulated, possibly by the “stimulus money” and abundant unemployment benefits that were distributed to citizens in response to the pandemic shutdowns. This influx of money, together with increased fuel prices, brought about inflation. Now interest rates have been raised higher than anticipated because the increase has not been working as well as expected.

Housing has taken a severe hit, but other sectors of the economy have been slower to respond. Many financial experts believe that household savings and a greatly increased use of credit card debt has kept other spending moving along. That should change over the coming months, when we’ll see a sharp drop in spending in other parts of the economy.

What about the yield-curve inversion?

First, what is a yield-curve inversion? It is the situation that comes about when short-term (2 year fed-funds) bonds yield a higher rate than long-term (10 year Treasury) bonds.

I expect the current situation to hold steady as long as the yield-curve inversion holds.

Will interest rates fall?

Hopefully, the last rate hike was in July. Then, again hopefully, the Fed will begin cutting the fed-funds rate after its first 2024 meeting in February.

An inflation rate of 2% is the goal. When that happens, which they hope will be by the end of 2025, the concern will shift to shoring up economic growth. At that time, we expect to see the 30-year home mortgage rate drop to about 4.5%. So far, the average for 2023 is 6.75%.

As for inflation…

Many of us do expect inflation to drop drastically. In fact, it may well fall below the target of 2% and average only 1.8% from 2024 through 2027.

Since everything is tied together, the GDP is also affected by interest rates.

We believe that if the fed shifts to easing the rates by the end of this year, the GDP should start to accelerate in 2024 and 2025. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, then we’ll see the fed raising rates higher than we expect in order to cause a short-term recession.

Housing is a major component of the GDP, and is the most interest-rate sensitive. Thus, we’re hoping to see lower rates in order to enable more consumers to obtain mortgages.

It’s a tough call for many consumers, since higher interest rates may lessen demand and thus reduce home prices in some markets. The question for them will be “Do I buy now and refinance when interest rates drop, or should I hold off because prices will come down and I could get stuck with an upside-down mortgage?”

Looking to the future, we’re choosing optimism…

We believe the fed funds rate will fall below what many investors are expecting, and we believe inflation will fall faster than the Fed expects. If we’re right, then the Fed will cut interest rates more than current projections would indicate.

Following rate cuts, we expect to see GDP growth.

This should begin to happen approximately 9 months from now and continue on into 2025, 2026, and 2027. As supply constraints ease, the GDP should grow without triggering inflation again. We expect to see about 3% more growth than the consensus of opinion expects.

While we are still experiencing shortages in durable goods, energy, and automobiles, we believe those shortages could shift into gluts in just a few years. If we’re right, inflation will fall.

What does the future hold for interest rates?

Right now, the forecast is focused on the Fed and what it will or won’t do to reduce inflation. That’s the short run.

In the long run, the Fed will be less important and interest rates will be determined by other aspects of the economy. For decades, forces such as age demographics, productivity growth, and economic inequality have played a role by creating an excess of savings over investment. These forces haven’t gone away. They’ve simply taken a temporary back seat to more forceful and chaotic forces.

The tide will turn, and we believe interest rates will come down and stay down for quite some time.

For the lowest home mortgage rates available in Texas today…

Contact Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group. We have a well-deserved reputation for fast, friendly service, combined with some of the lowest rates and best terms available anywhere in Texas.

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These home mortgage mistakes will cost you money, so avoid them!


Homeowners who have made these home mortgage mistakes wish they could back up and start over, but sometimes it’s too late.

Instead of having regrets later, heed these warnings before you apply for a home mortgage loan.

Mistake #1: Thinking that bigger is always better.

When it comes to obtaining a mortgage loan, that big-name bank might be the absolutely wrong choice. A small local bank or a mortgage broker with access to programs from multiple banks might be the best choice.

While it’s true that we no longer live in towns with a local banker who knows our family, knows our reputation, and can make decisions based on his or her own judgement, locals do have knowledge that can be helpful to us. They might also have more flexibility and more ability to actually consider each circumstance and find a program to suit your needs.

In addition, your local banker or mortgage broker might be far more interested in helping you, if for no other reason than to promote his or her own business and reputation.

Mistake #2: Taking too long to make decisions.

If you’re making comparisons between two or more lenders, make it a priority to decide. If you’ve got a house in mind that you want to buy, you need to move quickly. If you don’t already have that house under contract, it could already be sold to someone who made faster decisions.

If you do have the house under contract, do not delay over choosing a lender and locking a loan rate.

Sit down with the paperwork as soon as you have it and make your comparisons. Don’t wait until morning – or until after dinner. Rates can and do change drastically, sometimes not just overnight but from morning to afternoon.

Mistake #3: Not fiercely protecting your credit rating.

Just one missed payment on a credit card can drop your FICO credit score up to 110 points! And in case you didn’t know it, reducing your score by that much will make a profound difference in the mortgage interest rate you’ll be offered. Even worse news is that the missed payment will remain on your credit report for 7 years.

So – just don’t miss a payment. Pay every bill on time, every time. Some accounts do have grace periods, but don’t get into the habit of using them. If you do, you could fall prey to “time creep” and suddenly realize that a payment was due yesterday.

Mistake #4: Becoming complacent.

You purchased your house a few years ago and got a rate that you could comfortably pay. In the years since, your income has increased, so the payment is even less of a burden. As a result, you just make the payment each month and don’t think much about it.

That could be costing you a bundle! Even now that rates have gone up, it could pay to take a look at the rate you’re paying and the rate you could be paying. It’s true that a refinance does usually come with fees, but it could still be worth the time to do the calculations.

Here’s a for-instance: If you’ve been paying 10% and could now refinance at 7%, your savings on each $100,000 that you owe would be $212 per month.

Mistake #5: Paying only the minimum.

Whether it’s a credit card or a home loan, paying a bit more than required can pay off handsomely.

Remember that the interest you pay is calculated on the balance owing each month. So when you make extra payments toward the principal of your loan, you pay less interest and more of each payment goes to the principal. A few cents less interest becomes a few dollars less interest – and over time can mean paying off your mortgage years sooner.

Some people make a whole extra payment each year. Some make bi-monthly payments. Some make a large lump sum payment when they get a tax refund or a bonus at work.

But it doesn’t have to be that dramatic. I know someone who rounded a car payment up from $271.65 to $275 per month. The result was that the car was paid off 3 months early.

So think about it. Even adding an extra $20 to your payment each month will save you money in the long run.

If you’d like to see where you stand…

Contact us at Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group. We’ll be glad to talk with  you, determine which loan program would be most beneficial to you, and provide you with a loan estimate that you can use in comparing us to other lenders.

We do have a reputation for fast, friendly service, with some of the lowest rates and best terms available anywhere in Texas.

Call us today at 800-223-7409

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Mortgage loans becoming more difficult to obtain…


The grumbling we’re hearing across the nation from real estate agents is valid – many of their potential home buyers really cannot obtain a mortgage loan.

Do you remember the banking industry’s reaction to the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007-2010? After years of easy lending, it became nearly impossible for many to buy a home, even though prices had come down. Now it is happening again.

According to mortgagenewsdaily.com. the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), fell by 0.3 percent in July, bringing the availability of mortgage credit to its lowest point since 2013.

When this index falls, it indicates a tightening of lending standards. In this case, it also represents a pullback on underutilized loan programs in order to reduce operational costs. Lower loan volumes equate to lower profits, so this is an interesting reaction.

In addition to tightening standards, fewer homeowners are requesting cash-out refinancing.

A drop in cash-out loan programs was partially responsible for the decline in the MCAI, even as fewer homeowners made application. The 30 year fixed rate in July was more than a full percentage point above the rate last year, making cash-out refinance far less desirable. Homeowners are instead turning to home equity or consumer loans. Jumbo lenders have also reduced the number of loan programs on offer.

The MCAI is compiled using data from more than 95 lenders and investors. Thus they may not accurately reflect the situation in any one city or with every lender.

Here at Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group, we have become creative in order to get things done for our clients. While other lenders have turned them away, we’ve been busy creating in-house specialty loans to meet the challenge.

These specialty loans include bridge loans, construction loans, down payment loans, and more. At the Mike Clover Group, we find it gratifying to help clients get into homes when they’ve previously been told that there was no chance!

If you’ve been told that there’s no loan program to help you, or if you just want to begin your quest for a loan with a mortgage company that is focused on solutions, call Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group.

Call us today at 800-223-7409

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What’s the prognosis for interest rates in 2023?


Prospective home buyers are naturally confused and wondering what to do. With interest rates double what they were not all that long ago, they’re wondering whether they’ll continue to rise or whether waiting a bit will mean paying a lower rate.

In July it looked as if mortgage rates were rising, but then at the end of the month they dropped back to 6.81%, which is where they were at the beginning of the month.

Various financial gurus are making predictions, but of course no one can know what will happen.

According to Mortgage News Daily, “U.S. Treasuries are at the core of the rate market.  When investors become less interested in buying them or when the government becomes more interested in selling them, rates rise.”  

The inflation rate, the Federal Reserve’s attempts to rein it in, the consumer price index, and the monthly jobs reports also play roles. Due to all these factors, the Fed has been making rate hikes to the benchmark federal funds rate since March. As of July 2023, the federal funds rate is the highest it has been in 22 years.

The official inflation reading for June 2023 was 3%, after going to 9.1% in June of 2022, but the target number is 2%. The word is that it won’t be easy, but the Fed committee will continue efforts to “wrestle inflation down” to the 2% target. The next meeting is scheduled for September 19-20, and no one knows yet whether they’ll raise rates again or pause.

While many are expecting rate increases, other economists are saying no. Higher interest rates have slowed home sales, caused people to cut back on investments, and put strain on community banks.

Fannie Mae’s July Housing Forecast predicted a third quarter average mortgage interest rate of 6.8% on a 30 year loan. Realtor.com economist Jiayi Xu believes rates could drop to near 6% by year’s end. Others, such as New American Funding CEO Rick Arvielo, Transformational Mortgage Solutions founder David Lykken, and Home Qualified president Ralph DiBugnara say they believe rates have crested and will likely remain in the6.9% range through the end of the year.

Refinancing numbers have dropped considerably.

Fourteen million homeowners refinanced in 2020 and 2021, when rates were at their lowest. In addition, 40% of current U.S. mortgages originated during those years. Those homeowners have enviably low mortgage interest rates, so have no incentive to refinance in 2023.

After years and years of low rates, current rates are a bit of a shock to consumers. Thus, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data, purchase and refinance applications are near their lowest level since the 1990’s.

Some homeowners ARE still paying a higher interest rate than is currently available. For them, a refinance is feasible – but only if the rate will be at least 1% lower, and only if they intend to remain in that home for several more years. Remember that refinancing does cost money, so it could be a few years before you’ll reach a break even point to balance what you’ll save with what it costs to refinance.

Refinance could also be a good idea if you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and want to refinance to a fixed mortgage. Since ARMS due fluctuate, a fixed rate lends much more stability to household budgeting.

What about purchasing a home in 2023?

Purchasing a home right now, even at today’s elevated mortgage interest rates, is a wise idea if your other choice is renting.

That advice is, of course, conditioned on you planning to stay in the community to occupy that house for a few years.

Renting gives you no stability at all, since rental properties can be sold (or foreclosed upon) and landlords can either raise rents or ask you to vacate at the end of your rental contract. Rents are going up across the country, so higher rents are a probability rather than a possibility.

Additionally, should rates come down, prices are likely to go up, in accordance with the law of supply and demand.

To get the very best rates you can get…

First and foremost, take steps to increase your credit score. And… check your credit regularly in order to spot and correct errors. Yes, they do happen!

Save for a larger down payment. If necessary, sell some seldom-used toys to build your down payment fund. (Do keep records of anything sold.)

Or – use some of your saved funds to buy discount points. Once you’ve chosen a lender, he or she can help you determine which would save you the most money in the long run.

Shop around. Get quotes from multiple lenders. Do NOT assume that they all offer the same rates and terms – they do not.

Negotiate with lenders – ask them to match the best deal or to reduce or waive some loan fees. Remember that when demand is low, lenders do want your business and are likely to offer incentives to get it.

Opt for a shorter-term loan.

Keep an eye on rates and forecasts and lock in when rates are down.

What is the 5-year forecast for mortgage rates?

Most experts believe rates will come down again, by perhaps as much as 2%, but when? Some think within a year. Others think it will happen within 2 or 3 years.

Most do admit that mortgage interest rates will fluctuate in reaction to other issues, such as the inflation rate, the bond market, consumer confidence, etc. Events outside of our realm, such as the war in Ukraine, could also affect our rates.

No one can accurately predict the future, so you should do what makes the most sense for you today.

If you have a high interest mortgage loan or an adjustable rate loan that is apt to turn into a high interest rate loan, then you should at least consider refinancing.

If you’re currently renting, and planning on staying in your community for at least the next 3 or 4 years, then you should consider purchasing your own home.

If you’d like to discuss your options…

Contact us at Homewood Mortgage, the Mike Clover Group. We’ll be glad to go over your situation with you and help you determine the best course of action. We’ll also be glad to provide you with a loan estimate that you can use in comparing us to other lenders.

We do have a reputation for fast, friendly service, with some of the lowest rates and best terms available anywhere in Texas.

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