Mortgage interest rates near record lows - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mortgage interest rates near record lows

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Most Home mortgage interest rates are below four percent. Even that isn't enough to kick start home sales.

But a lot of homeowners are looking to refinance. That's keeping bankers busy.

Bankers say many South Georgia homeowners are ready to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of near record low interest rates. Real estate agents warn you to learn all the facts before you refinance.

Flint Community Bank Mortgage loan specialist Patsy Phillips is extremely busy with home refinancements.  "I had about 6 in 2 days."

The number of people refinancing their home mortgage is also spurring more business at A.B.& T. 

 "There's maybe a thought now the rates are pretty near the bottom, so people are getting in the market and refinancing,"  AB&T Director of Mortgage Banking Wayne Whitfield said.

30 year old fixed rate home loans are at or below four percent. The 15 year fixed rate is approximately 3.25 percent. Lenders say these low rates make it an historic opportunity.

"Best they have been in a long ,long time," Phillips said. But real estate agents remind homeowners to check out the appraisal of your home's value, because it could lead to problems after you refinance.

Realtor Patsy Martin said, "You haven't landed on a gold mine. You really haven't. You have got to pay that money back. And you need to be very, very sure that you are not considering selling here in the immediate future."

With home prices falling, a high appraisal for you loan could leave you owing more than your home can sell for when you try to sell it. But bankers are seeing the low interest rates spurring business, and hope they can lead to better economic growth.

Whitfield said "There is not a lot of positive things being said right now as it relates to employment and other issues. But the interest rate environment is extremely good."

Realtors say if you are refinancing your home loan, make sure you plan to stay in your home at least three more years. 

The fees for refinancing are usually about 3% of the amount of your loan. Banks expect lots of customers to refinance in the coming days. And the competition for those loans will be great.

Low interest rates make this a good time to buy real estate but South Georgians don't seem to be taking advantage. There are more than 300 homes for sale in Northwest Albany. They're on the market an average of 222 days before they sell.