By VICKIE ELMER – New York Times
IF your New Year’s resolutions include buying a house or refinancing, the Federal Reserve has you covered. It has committed to keep long-term interest rates low through next year, so a 30-year mortgage will be pegged about where it is now — 4.32 percent in New York — at least through spring, said Frank E. Nothaft, the chief economist at Freddie Mac.
“Rates are very much at the bottom,” Mr. Nothaft said. But, he added, they may start inching up in the second half of the year. “If you’re planning to refinance, do it sooner rather than later.”
In order to cash in fully on some of the lowest interest rates ever recorded, buyers and owners need to start taking steps now, experts say. Rather than look for a house you really want, they suggest first finding out how much money you can afford to borrow, and what you can do in the next three to six months to improve your creditworthiness.
“Sometimes it takes a few extra months to get your ducks in a row,” particularly if there are mistakes or blemishes on your credit report, said Gene Tricozzi, the president of Northern Funding Corporation, a mortgage brokerage in Clifton Park, N.Y. If your score is below 700, your mortgage interest rate could be a quarter to a half percentage point higher than for those with stronger scores, experts say.