Boston Condos and Real Estate for Sale

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Planning to refinance? Think Fast

For many Boston condo owners, the pandemic offered an unprecedented opportunity to build wealth. Those opportunities still exist, even though they are getting harder to come by.

Thanks to skyrocketing Boston condominium prices, the amount of home equity is at an all-time high.

As of the third quarter of last year, homeowners held $9.4 trillion in equity to tap, the largest amount ever recorded, according to the most recent data from Black Knight, a mortgage technology and research firm.

For the average homeowner, that’s nearly $178,000 in available, tappable equity before hitting a maximum combined loan-to-value ratio of 80%, according to Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske. (Most lenders require that you keep at least 20% equity in your home, if not more, as a cushion in case home prices fall.)

Taking advantage of all that extra cash, however, becomes more difficult as interest rates rise.

Boston Condo for Sale and Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are already heading higher, thanks, in part, to inflation and the Federal Reserve.

Recent inflation reports reached their highest levels in decades. The Consumer Price Index, which measures the cost of a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, surged 6.8% year over year, the fastest rate since June 1982.

In response, the Fed signaled it will dial back its economic help more quickly than anticipated with Fed officials seeing as many as three rate hikes this year, two more next year and another two in 2024.

That is causing long-term fixed mortgage rates to rise. Already, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is up to 3.33% — now about half a percentage point higher than a year ago.

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“With higher inflation, promising economic growth and a tight labor market, we expect rates will continue to rise,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

By the end of 2022, average mortgage interest rates will be as high as 4%, according to Jacob Channel, senior economic analyst at LendingTree.

“There is still time for people to tap into their home equity with either a home equity loan or a refinance,” he said. However, “the window of opportunity is closing.”

The best ways to tap your home for cash

When rates are low, a so-called cash-out refinance is particularly attractive. Homeowners can refinance their current mortgage, take out a bigger mortgage and lower the interest payment at the same time.

Even now, applicants with good credit may get a rate at or below 3%.

“If you can get it in the next few months, hopefully before summer, you might still be able to find a really good deal,” Channel said.

Homeowners may also be able to deduct the interest on the first $750,000 of the new mortgage if the cash-out funds are used to make capital improvements (although since fewer people now itemize, most households won’t benefit from this write-off)

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Updated: Boston Real Estate Blog 2022

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The average rate for a 30-year mortgage is at historic lows as of the date of this real estate blog post. If you’re paying over 0.5 percent above 3.55% you may want to consider refinancing your Boston condo mortgage. Alternatively, you should consider switching to a 15-year note, costing you far less in interest over time.

Boston Real Estate Refi Delays

The rush to refinance Boston real estate at these rates has created a bottleneck, so you’ll have to wait patiently for your turn.

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Source: Boston Globe