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Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 10:04am

Mortgage rates are at historic lows, but consumers remain skittish.

Mortgage rates are lower than they have been in decades, which should mean more people are looking to buy houses, but lenders say people are still skittish.

"You'd be surprised at the number of people who could get a loan, but the perception is that they can't so they're not picking up the phone to talk to their real estate agent or their lender," says Brian Weis of GuaranteedRates.com.

Over the past 60 says the number of its funded loans almost doubled, but a majority were existing owners refinancing, not the average first time buyer itching to take advantage of the lowest 30-year-mortgage rates in history.

It's a frustrating conundrum for real estate agents who have plenty of inventory awaiting buyers who may not realize a squeaky clean financial history may no longer be a necessity.

"For those who have a little banged up credit score, you still have some alternative ways of financing," says realtor Scott McKewen.

That's music to the ears of Jeff Benach, an executive with Lexington Homes, which is building about one-tenth the number of homes it erected five years ago.

He believes a lot more factors than interest rates must change.

"If we woke up one month and find out the unemployment rate came down some huge amount, I think you'd see a whole bunch of people going out to buy homes," he says.
 

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