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For most people, buying a home for the first time is memorable. With fixed interest rates dipping to 3.375% on 30-year mortgages, now is a great time to buy your first house. A few people in California are eligible for a home mortgage with no down-payment because of the Neighborhood Lift Program sponsored by FHA and Wells Fargo Home Mortgages.

For borrowers who qualify, receiving $15,000 to finance a home is a great deal. But how does it work, and who pays? Rosie Padilla was at the Sacramento Convention Center bright and early Friday, hoping to buy her first home. The mother of five and grandmother of two, says it’s about time. “It’ll be exciting to have my own place and have my kids grow up there, stay there,” said Padilla. Padilla can’t help but smile. Who wouldn’t after qualifying to receive $15,000 toward the down payment of a new home? “It’ll change my life not only mine but my kids too. This is actually our first time buying a house,” said Padilla. Padilla and hundreds of others applied for the Neighborhood LIFT program, a $7 million grant from Wells Fargo.  This is a great program with low rates on the first time homebuyers loan. Organizers say it’s a program that not only helps hopeful homeowners, but the community. “The values go up. They pay their taxes, and those taxes go to the city, and the tide lifts all boats,” a spokesperson said.

Qualifiers must make less than $91,300 for a family of four and $63,950 for an individual buyer. They also must qualify for a bank loan and take a home buyer education course. Wells Fargo also offered qualifiers a tour of homes on the market. For Padilla though, it will still be an uphill climb. People with even 20 percent down payments are struggling to compete with cash offers from investors flooding the market. Still for Padilla, the $15,000 puts her much closer than she’s ever been to achieving a dream. “It was a good experience. I’m happy we came here and have the chance to actually know what this is about,” she said. “I’m excited.”

More than 100 applicants qualified for the down-payment and more than half the grant is still available for those who show up and qualify at the convention center Saturday. Read Sacramento CBS Article on New Home Buyers.

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Finally we got some positive news in regards to the housing recovery. Reuters reported yesterday that the number of underwater home loans has fallen to a four-year low. With that being said, there are still millions of people that need direction on getting a refinance without any equity. Nationwide posted an article for distressed homeowners that need advice on securing a refinance loan when a borrower is underwater. They underscored the opportunity that the HARP 3.0 would afford borrowers that did not have liens owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Lead Planet founder, Bryan Dornan posted an article a few days ago that spells out the the best methods for achieving an underwater mortgage refinance.

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With home mortgage rates continuing to be available near record lows, new home buyers and homeowners should be locking an interest rate if it makes sense for their situation. If you are considering refinancing a mortgage and you have the ability to save more than $50 a month without increasing your mortgage balance you should. Most experts suggest that borrowers be assertive and get in line to refinance before rates go the other direction.

Last week, Freddie Mac reported that the average 30-year mortgage rates with fixed interest at 3.39%. Rates will continue to stay low for the foreseeable future with the National Association of Realtors expecting the rate to hold steady around 4.1% a year from now. Mortgage rates determine what your payments will be at any given rate—making the difference on whether you should rent or buy. Experts agree that today’s mortgage rates underscore the timing for consumers in the U.S. to refinance or buy if you’re looking at a minimum 5-year time-frame.

According to David Stiff, chief economist and vice president of Quantitative Research at Fiserv, the Federal Reserve sets the federal funds rate what rate banks pay to the Fed when they borrow money. At the moment, the Federal Reserve has kept rates low until the labor market improves, which some experts expect to be when unemployment is below 6%. Refinancing mortgage

Qualifying for a Home Mortgage

“People need to look at their credit scores and how that affects their ability to buy a home,” says Molony. You can impact your credit score by paying bills on time and all or some of the principal due while not taking on any additional debt. If you’re looking to buy a new car or make another large purchase, wait until after you buy a home.

Experts also advice checking your credit report for errors and making sure your paperwork’s in order. “Low risk borrowers will get more favorable terms, like lower interest rates with less points,” says Molony. “As the economic recovery starts to accelerate and home price appreciation picks up, banks will feel that it’s less risky to lend,” says Stiff. As credit standards loosen, consumers who can’t refinance their mortgages or purchase homes because of their credit will be able to qualify for a mortgage.

Read the original Fox Business article about mortgage rates now.

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