These factors can increase your rates and fees, but you can work to reduce them.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 9:38 AM

© Stockbrokerxtra Images, PhotolibraryBy Scott Sheldon,


Applying for a mortgage? Do your fees and rates appear to be a little higher than what you see advertised? If yes, there could be several key factors driving up the cost of your mortgage that you may not know about. These additional mortgage-pricing factors can make your mortgage cost more. Don't be fooled by a lower-priced mortgage offer if your financial picture contains any of these key cost drivers.


1. Credit score

Most lenders have a credit threshold of 740 or above. If the middle of the three credit scores the lender pulls is under 740 — even if it's 739 —  you could be paying slightly more in terms of interest rate, associated costs or both with your new mortgage application. If you attempt to raise your score by opening up new credit or paying off debts, it may or may not help you, depending on your credit history. Besides, opening new lines of credit too soon before you buy can be seen as a red flag by lenders, which can hurt your chances of getting a mortgage. Sometimes your best score is a byproduct of how you've managed your liabilities over time.

Tags: loans

Rates and home-price gains are down, but application volume fell 2.7 percent this past week.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 8:57 AM

© Alex Stojanov/AlamyBy Diana Olick, CNBC


Mortgage applications continue to falter despite lower mortgage rates and far less dramatic home-price gains than a year ago.


Last week, total application volume fell 2.7 percent from the previous week on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications to refinance were down 4 percent. They had risen slightly in previous weeks despite basically stagnant rates — but possibly on a slight easing of some underwriting. Refinance volume is down nearly 28 percent from a year ago.

Tags: loans

These states have had the lowest average mortgage rates, according to GoBankingrates and RateWatch.

By MSN Real Estate partner Aug 12, 2014 1:03PM

Providence, R.I. (© John Pitocco/Alamy)By Christine DiGangi,


A property with an affordable listing price is only part of finding a home within your budget, because if you can't access low mortgage rates, you may not be able to buy as much house as you hoped.


Your mortgage rate heavily depends on you: your credit score, your ability to repay the loan, your track record with meeting debt obligations and the size of your down payment. At the same time, your mortgage rate is in some ways beyond your control, because unless you're looking to move to a place where financing is cheap, you're stuck with the trends in your state. Depending on where you live, that can be good or bad news.


Not everything about your potential new home may be visible on your first walkthrough.

By MSN Real Estate partner Aug 12, 2014 12:28PM

© Burle/Triolo Productions/JupiterimagesBy Virginia C. Mcguire, Trulia


Visiting an open house gives would-be buyers the opportunity to speak directly to the seller's agent. And the best way to take advantage of this personal meeting is to be prepared. Get the inside scoop by asking these 10 questions:


1. How many offers have been made? Does the agent look suspiciously happy? The agent might have received word that an offer is coming in any minute. If the agent has received offers, the agent will probably be eager to tell you, in hopes that you'll bid as well and drive the price up.


The alternative-currency home sale reportedly is the largest to use BitPay.

By MSN Real Estate partner Aug 12, 2014 11:10AM

JIM URQUHART/Newscom/RTRBy Candace Jackson, The Wall Street Journal


A Lake Tahoe property sold Thursday for $1.6 million — in bitcoins.


The property is one of just a handful of residential real estate transactions in months that have used virtual currency — and potentially a record in terms of price. The price in bitcoins was 2,739.


The 1.4-acre acre home site has views of the Pacific Crest, a surrounding mountain range. It is located in Martis Camp, a private luxury recreational resort in Truckee, Calif. The 2,177-acre resort, near Lake Tahoe's north shore, has a Tom Fazio golf course, a 44-seat movie theater and an "aerial adventure park" with rope courses and a zip line.

Tags: selling

Listings are up 6.5 percent from a year ago, which has moderated prices, the National Association of Realtors says.

By MSN Real Estate partner Aug 12, 2014 8:42AM

By Diana Olick, CNBC


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Get estimates, check your moving company's reputation and mind these other tips before you move.

By MSN Real Estate partner Aug 11, 2014 1:12PM

© Purestock/SuperStock/CorbisBy Susannah Snider, Kiplinger


Make sure you entrust your stuff to the good guys. Here are five tips to keep in mind for your move.


1. You want a bill, not a ransom note. The Better Business Bureau says it received more than 9,300 complaints about movers in the U.S. in 2013. Common among them: a bait-and-switch scheme in which a mover quotes a price and then holds your possessions hostage unless you pay an unexpected fee, says Katherine Hutt, a spokeswoman for the BBB.


2. Get it in writing. Start by asking for estimates from at least three movers, and be skeptical if one company quotes a much lower rate than the others.

Tags: moving

Residential construction lags as builders cite high costs and bureaucracy.

By MSN Real Estate partner Aug 11, 2014 12:25PM

fotog/Getty ImagesBy Laura Kusisto and Eliot Brown, The Wall Street Journal


Residential construction in the city has been slow to rebound after the recession, posing an obstacle to the de Blasio administration's goal to leverage the real estate market to build 80,000 apartments for low- and middle-income families.


In contrast to other major U.S. cities, the number of units authorized in New York City through building permits remains well below levels before the market crashed in late 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.



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