Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage Interest Rates for Fixed Rate Mortgages, rates as of Monday, April 11th, 2011.

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How Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Save Homebuyers Money

Article by
By: Jeannette Bernay
Published: January 11, 2010

Homeowners who use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages save thousands of dollars in interest payments each year.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are federally chartered organizations designed to bring global capital to local communities by purchasing and guaranteeing loans made by mortgage lenders.

As a homeowner, there are several ways you benefit from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If your loan is owned or guaranteed by one of them, you pay a lower interest rate. And, when the time comes to sell your home, the pool of buyers capable of getting a mortgage is much wider thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To see how a loan guaranteed by one of the GSEs helps you save money, download our free PDF worksheet.

Homeowners who qualify for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage, called a conventional loan, typically get interest rates that are ¼% to ½% lower than non-Fannie Mae, non-Freddie Mac loans. At times when other mortgage funding dries up, the rate difference between GSE and non-GSE loans has jumped to between 1% and 2%.

On average, homeowners who have GSE loans save $17,000 over the life of a 30-year loan. Since 30 million Americans have a GSE-backed loan, that adds up to more than $500 billion in savings for U.S. homeowners.

GSEs stabilize the market

Despite the financial advantage the GSEs create, not everyone supports their mission. Some critics worry that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are taking on too much financial risk by guaranteeing mortgages in the current economic climate. Others believe the GSEs should be purely private entities, functioning without an implied or explicit government guarantee at all.

Falling home prices and rising unemployment have challenged the GSEs. When the subprime mortgage crisis hit and expanded into the prime market, there was a sharp decline in home prices and a sharp increase in mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures. The crisis put extreme financial pressure on both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

By mid-2010, the two companies had required $145 billion of taxpayer support. However, without those funds, the GSEs would have gone under, putting an end to the steady flow of funds into the U.S. mortgage market.

“Absent the engagement of the government through the GSEs and FHA, what was a bad situation would have been catastrophic for the housing market, and potentially catastrophic for the broader economy,” says Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and Freddie Mac board member.

Today, the GSEs remain one of the few reliable sources of home mortgage funding, along with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. In 2010, 80% of U.S. home loans were bought, or guaranteed, by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Loan limits

Congress sets a maximum Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac maximum loan limit. Homeowners who need to sell find that there are more borrowers for homes priced at or below the GSE maximum loan amount, which is $417,000, or up to as much as $729,750 for some high-cost areas.

It can be hard for buyers to find lenders willing to lend more than the GSE loan limits because lenders have to hold such loans in their bank portfolio in the current financial situation. Until the recent financial crisis, lenders were able to sell mortgages above the GSE limits to companies that turned them into private mortgage-backed securities.

Until the summer of 2008, the nationwide loan limit was $417,000, far too low to be of use to many homeowners and prospective homebuyers in California and other high cost areas, says U.S. Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who has proposed legislation raising the loan limits permanently to $729,750.

“Buyers in high cost areas, such as Southern California, are at an extreme disadvantage simply because of where they choose to work and live,” he says. “For the overall economy to recover, every part of the housing market needs to improve, including high cost areas.”

Higher loan limits can also help homesellers. If the limits correspond to market values, buyers can use less-expensive GSE loans, so the number of buyers who can afford your home increases. With more potential buyers, competition for individual properties increases. With more competition, the value of the property can increase.

In the final analysis, the benefits of the GSEs outweigh the cost. Their long track record of making mortgages available in all markets benefits homeowners, communities, and the nation as a whole.

Jeannette Bernay has been in the real estate industry for over two decades. She lives in western Washington State on an 8-acre lot shared with her two horses, twp dogs, and three cats.


Published on: Apr 9, 2011 

Invest a Tax Refund in Your Home: $500 Projects

Article by
By: Mike DeSenne
Published: March 4, 2010

Tax refunds are a relief for people of all backgrounds, rich or poor. When that cheque comes in, then there’s no doubt you’ll be using it as soon as possible, or thinking of ways you could reinvest your money. Some might ask a certified financial planner for their advice on where to best put this money, but what if it is under $500? That is not enough for any kind of investment is it?

Then you are about to be surprised, here are five great ideas for investing a tax refund if you receive $500 or less back from the IRS this year. Naturally, all these investments are to do with your home, the biggest investment you have.

1. Go with the low flow

If you’re tired of watching money go down the drain, invest in the latest low-flow showerheads. Old showerheads (pre-1992) can pump out 5 gallons of water per minute. Newer showerheads, while more efficient, still use 2.5 gallons per minute. But the latest low-flow showerheads use up to 50% less water than even the newer showerheads, yet technological innovations make it seem as if you’re bathing under the same amount of water.

The latest low-flow showerheads run between $50 and $200 apiece, but the payback can be quick. Swapping out old showerheads can reduce your home’s water-heating costs by about $150 a year. If your showerheads are already updated, but you’re still looking for ways to save on water, install a low-flow toilet. One of these efficient flushers can shave $90 off your annual water bill. Plus, upgrading to more efficient appliances can also help you when paying property taxes; during the annual appraisal, you can be more informed about getting lower property taxes, because the original amount was miscalculated for a number of reasons. You could be in a better position to understand exactly how much you should be paying, and avoid over-payments.

2. When it rains, it pours

Homeowners insurance is critical, but it’s not comprehensive. Most policies offer limited liability protection that could prove inadequate if someone gets hurt on your property and you get sued. Umbrella insurance offers liability protection beyond the limits of your homeowners policy. An extra $1 million in umbrella liability coverage, which extends to your cars, too, typically costs about $300.

If your liability insurance is not sufficient, then consider flood insurance. Floods can affect homes in all 50 states, leading homeowners to often contact flood and storm damage restoration firms (the services often need a good amount of money). Yet fewer than 1 in 5 homeowners have flood insurance. Typical homeowners policies exclude floods. The average flood policy costs $540, according to the National Flood Insurance Program; the average flood claim totals more than $33,000.

3. A model of energy efficiency

A typical homeowner spends an extra $350 a year on heating and cooling due to air leaks. Gaps, even small ones, around doors, windows, and recessed lights waste energy and raise utility bills. You can conduct your own energy audit and try to seal air leaks yourself, but the result will vary wildly depending on your DIY skills.

A better option might be a professional energy audit, which can cost between $400 and $600 for a full diagnostic inspection. Expect the use of sophisticated equipment like thermal or infrared scanners, blower door testers, and smoke puffers that can pinpoint energy leaks. A visual-only inspection by a pro costs less–about $150–but the findings won’t be as accurate. It is important that you have an inspector who goes the full mile for you, that is why home inspector training is incredibly important for those who want to do the best they can for their clients.

4. Lightning only needs to strike once

A power surge, whether caused by a lightning strike or some other fluctuation in your supply of electricity, can wreak havoc on home electronics. Thousands of dollars’ worth of computers, appliances, and entertainment equipment can get fried in the blink of an eye. If you’re lucky, perhaps some of your electronics are plugged in to surge protector power strips. Most probably aren’t.

Although homeowners insurance offers peace of mind that your possessions will get replaced, a smart way to prevent damage in the first place–and avoid the hassle of filing claims and paying deductibles–is investing in a whole-house surge protector. For about $300, an electrician can install the device at your breaker box. It only takes an hour or two. Keep surge protector power strips in place for an added layer of safety.

5. Roll out the rain barrel

Why pay for water when nature supplies it free of charge? The typical homeowner spends about $140 annually on water used outdoors. Meanwhile, an inch of rain dumped on the roof of a 2,000-square-foot house produces 500 gallons of runoff. It makes sense to harvest that rainwater to nourish plants and rinse off patio furniture. Enter the rain barrel.

A rain barrel is much like it sounds: A large container hooked into a downspout that stores rainwater for later outdoor use. A basic commercial rain barrel can cost as little as $50; a more sophisticated system with multiple barrels, pumps, and spigots can run as much as $600. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a rain barrel can save 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months.

Mike DeSenne is the money and work editor with and a former executive editor of He likes to do his taxes by hand, much to the dismay of his accountant.

Invest a Tax Refund in Your Home: $1,000 Projects

Article by
By: Mike DeSenne
Published: March 3, 2010

Consider these five great projects that cost around $1,000 if you decide to invest a tax refund in your home this year.

1. It all comes out in the wash

It might not sound sexy, but equipping your laundry room with a new washing machine will pay off immediately on your utility bills. Today’s high-efficiency washers use less water per load than standard top-loaders, so you save on your water and water-heating bills. Replacing a washer made before 2000 with an Energy Star model can save a typical homeowner as much as $135 annually.

A high-efficiency top-loader costs between $700 and $900. A stylish and even more efficient alternative is a front-loading washer. Prices for front-loaders start at about $750. As a bonus, either high-efficiency option could net you an appliance rebate from the manufacturer, your local utility company, or your state government.

2. Make your mortgage disappear

A mortgage, especially one that spans three decades, can seem insurmountable. Yet it’s possible to use small sums of money over time to make a big dent in the principal. The net result is saving thousands of dollars on interest and shortening the time you spend paying off the home loan.

Let’s say you take out a $250,000 mortgage. The rate is fixed for 30 years at 6%. Your monthly payment would be $1,500. Over 30 years, you’d pay a total of $540,000. But if you pay an extra $100 per month–$1,200 per year–you’d pay off the mortgage four years early and save $52,000 in interest. Use a mortgage calculator to run your own numbers.

3. Where there’s no smoke, there’s fire

Do you dream of curling up in front of a roaring fire, yet your home lacks that one essential ingredient–namely, a fireplace? Don’t fret. Your dream can become reality at a surprisingly affordable price. Ventless fireplaces offer the ambiance of the real thing without the need for a chimney or flue to vent smoke outdoors. Besides, you can also get it checked whether investing in a fireplace would be a more energy-efficient option or getting a Heating System Installation High Point, or elsewhere. A conscious decision should be made that saves energy as well as credits.

Ventless fireplaces, which exhaust small amounts of combustion gases inside the home, can run on natural gas, propane, electricity, or flammable gel. Professional installation costs may fall between $2,000 and $6,000. It is possible to order the fuel from websites such as You could also consider an electric ventless fireplace that starts at $1,000. All you need to do is plug it in. Gel-fueled fireplaces are in the $300 to $700 range, with no professional installation required. A gel canister that’ll burn for two-plus hours costs $3.

4. Don’t knock it ’til you try it

A new door for your home’s entry can do wonders for your home. Not only can it enhance curb appeal and security, but the right door can lower utility costs too. An energy-efficiency exterior door can shave as much as 10% off energy bills. Plus, if you install an eligible door in 2011, you can claim a federal tax credit worth up to $500, excluding installation charges. Interestingly, this is not the only way to enjoy tax benefits. If you are interested to learn more ways, you can always seek meaningful advice from your personal Tax Accountants Perth, for instance, if that is where you live.

Wood and fiberglass doors are usually the most expensive options, but you can get a steel entry door installed in a couple of hours (assuming no surprises) for about $1,200. The money you get back from the tax credit will reduce this cost. As a bonus, Remodeling Magazine estimates that a $1,200 steel entry door replacement project actually will add an incremental amount of value (102%) to your home.

5. You take the high road, I’ll take the slow road

Don’t let your property line limit your spending plans. Some small investments on your part can benefit an entire neighborhood, which not only improves livability but can also increase property values. Take, for example, the speed hump, a raised mound of pavement on a residential street designed to slow lead-footed drivers.

One traffic-calming study found that 12-foot speed humps reduced average speeds by 22% and the average number of traffic accidents by 11%. You’ll need to work with your local government to have a speed hump installed, but offering to foot the bill can grease the wheels of bureaucracy. Basic speed humps start at about $1,000 apiece. Your share will be less if you convince neighbors to chip in.

Mike DeSenne is the money and work editor with and a former executive editor of He likes to do his taxes by hand, much to the dismay of his accountant.

Invest a Tax Refund in Your Home: $3,000 Projects

Article from
By: John Riha
Published: April 4, 2011
Four great, summery ways to invest your $3,000 tax refund in your house.

Boring? Hardly. Upgrading and maintaining your home preserves its value, giving you a nice return on your investment. Plus, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labors every day.

Add outdoor lighting

Show your house in its best light, even in the evening, with an outdoor lighting scheme. You’ll enhance your home’s architectural features and play up landscaping details, plus you’ll be adding safety and security to your property.

Here’s a quick price check on a professionally installed system:

  • 7 LED outdoor lighting fixtures to illuminate 100 feet of walkway: $2,275.
  • A transformer to convert household current into low-voltage: $400.
  • Two motion-detector security lighting fixtures: $300.

Total: $2,975

Replace your air conditioning

Hoping the old unit holds on for another year? New central air conditioning units require 30% less electricity and lower energy bills by 30% more than AC units made just a few years ago. You also may qualify for a $300 energy tax credit. Prices for a new energy-efficient central air conditioner start around $3,000. You can contact an HVAC company within your area to see what they can do for you and what steps you’ll be willing to take to get one fitted. However, in the event that you are unable to find a reliable HVAC service provider near you, you can search on the Internet for such firms. For instance, you can search on the web to find firms like I Need The Plumber & AC. Moreover, you can check out the “view website” option of the above-mentioned firm to learn more about them.

Install a patio

A backyard patio is an inexpensive way to add some sweet living area to your home.

For a professionally installed brick or concrete paver patio that’s 12 by 16 feet–plenty of space for a table, chairs, and barbecue equipment-you’ll pay about $15 per square foot, or $3,000 total. Get in touch with professional concrete patio installers who can give you a better idea of the price based on your specific requirements. Expect a payback of 30% to 60% on your investment (plus many hours of great outdoor living).

Other paving materials include limestone, slate, and granite. Concrete is a less expensive option that costs $6 to $12 per square foot, installed.

Upgrade your deck

Make your deck more livable with upgrades that add shade, increase privacy, and provide convenience.

  • Take up basic maintenance such as pressure washing, Deck Cleaning, staining, oiling, etc. It could be a beneficial method to provide a fresh look to your deck and might require less expenditure.
  • Shade sails provide soft, diffuse shade for areas not covered by trees and building overhangs. They’re made of weatherproof materials that never need maintenance, and come in various shapes. Professional installation of a 12-foot triangular sail costs about $3,000, including the sail and support posts.
  • Cable railings are thin stainless steel cables stretched between posts. They open up views and add a contemporary feel. Expect to pay $70 per lineal foot for the railings plus pro installation.
  • Built-in planters add visual texture and help define separate areas of your deck. Integrate their construction with built-in benches to add seating. You’ll spend $150 to $250 per lineal foot for cedar or redwood planters and benches, including materials and installation.

John Riha has written seven books on home improvement and hundreds of articles on home-related topics. He’s been a residential builder, the editorial director of the Black & Decker Home Improvement Library, and the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. His 1972 suburban house has been an ongoing source of maintenance experience.

Inflation Concerns Push Mortgage Rates Higher

With little other economic news, inflation concerns weighed on mortgage rates this week. Despite rising commodity prices, Fed officials appear to be in no rush to tighten monetary policy. Investors, worried about the risk of higher inflation, pushed mortgage rates a little higher.

While the ECB (European Central Bank) and China raised rates this week to fight inflation, US Fed officials continued to downplay the risks. According to the Fed Minutes released this week and in recent statements, the majority of Fed officials maintain the view that higher commodity prices are unlikely to raise future inflation expectations. These officials expect the impact to be “transitory” and “muted”. To support the economic recovery, they believe that the Fed should move slowly in removing monetary stimulus. The more hawkish minority at the Fed is gaining support, however, and several Fed officials have suggested that the Fed may need to tighten monetary policy before the end of the year. In light of the Fed’s debate, investors will be closely watching next week’s important inflation reports.

Even with higher energy prices, consumers continued to spend freely on other items last month. The March sales figures from about two dozen large retail chain stores released on Thursday were stronger than expected. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic activity, so this data was encouraging news for the economy.

Also Notable:

  • Continuing Jobless Claims fell to the lowest level since October 2008
  • The sovereign debt of Portugal was downgraded again
  • Oil prices reached a 30-month high above $110 per barrel
  • The Treasury will auction $66 billion in 3-yr, 10-yr, and 30-yr securities next week

Compliments of
Brian Campbell of U.S. Bank
Phone: 503-309-9800
210 E. Main Street
Hillsboro, OR 97123

Mortgage Interest Rates for April 4th, 2011

The week of April 4th – 8th has a quiet week when it come to economic reports, though news from Japan and the Middle East may keep the market volatile.  With the job report coming in lower on unemployment and flat on earnings, inflation is the primary concern both around the world and in the U.S., especially with the current monetary policy.

REMEMBER: Weak economic news normally causes money to flow out of Stocks and into Bonds, helping Bonds and home loan rates to improve, while strong economic news normally has the opposite result.


Mortgage Backed Securities are up +22 bps from yesterday’s close (4.5% coupon now @ 101.91) and the Stock Market is up +20.13 at 12,396.85 this morning. No economic reports today. Oil is $108.11 per barrel and Gold is $1,433.20 per ounce.

Newberg Art Walk Video

We had another fabulous night this past Friday at Newberg Art Walk. What can we say besides — Great art. Great wine. Great food and people. Watch this video and see for yourself! Hannelore Fischer and Remy Wines are pretty amazing.


How Long Buyers Must Wait before Obtaining Financing After Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, and Short Sales

The facts about how long buyers must wait before obtaining financing following bankruptcy, foreclosure, or a short sale:


FM = Financial Management
EC = Extenuating Circumstances

Conventional FHLMC (Freddie Mac)

  • BK – Ch. 7 or 11:  4 yrs (FM) or 2 yrs (EC)
  • BK – Ch. 13:  2 yrs from discharge or 4 yrs from dismissal (FM); 2 yrs from discharge or dismissal (EC)
  • Multiple BK – 5 yrs
  • Foreclosure:  7 yrs (FM) or 3 yrs (EC)
  • Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure or Short Sale:  4 yrs (FM) or 2 yrs (EC)

FNMA Conforming (Fannie May)

  • BK – Ch. 7 or 11:  4 yrs (FM) or 2 yrs (EC)
  • BK – Ch. 13:  2 yrs from discharge or 4 yrs from dismissal (FM); 2 yrs from discharge or dismissal (EC)
  • Foreclosure:  7 yrs (FM) or 3 yrs (EC)
  • Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure or Short Sale:  4 yrs for LTV 80.01-90% (FM) or 2 yrs (EC)

Conventional Non-Conforming

  • BK Ch 7, 11, or 13:  5 yrs w/ re-establishment of acceptable credit
  • Foreclosure, Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure:  4 yrs w/ re-establishment of acceptable credit
  • Short Sale:  4 yrs, w/ re-establishment of acceptable credit, plus loan paid off was current & no delinquencies in past 12 months.

American Dream

  • BK Ch 7 or 11:  2 yrs
  • BK Ch 13:  1 yr
  • Multiple Bankruptcies:  60 mos
  • Foreclosure:  84 mos (FM), or 36 mos (EC)
  • Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure or Short Sale:  48 mos (FM), or 24 mos (EC)


  • BK Ch 7:  2 yrs w/ re-established credit or chose not to incur new debt (FM), or 12 mos-2 yrs w/ documentation (EC)
  • BK Ch 13:  need 1 yr into payout period, satisfactory payment history, & court permission
  • Foreclosure, Deed in Lieu, Short Sale:  3 yrs w/ re-established credit (FM), or documentation of EC w/ re-established credit


  • BK, Foreclosure, Deed in Lieu, Short Sale:  7 years
  • Exceptions- Short Sale 4 years, BK CH 13- 5 years due to extenuating circumstances

Important: You should check with legal or accounting professionals to examine your individual situation in detail.

Compliments of
Brian Campbell of U.S. Bank
Phone: 503-309-9800
210 E. Main Street
Hillsboro, OR 97123

Wine Tasting Tonight with Remy Wines & Bella Casa at Newberg Art Walk

Tonight at Art Walk our featured local winery is Remy Wines. Please join us for an evening of complimentary wine-tasting, an assortment of hors d’œuvres, and a beautiful display of paintings by Hannelore Fischer. Drop in from 5-9pm at Bella Casa’s Newberg office 700 E 1st Street, Suite 100.

About Remy Wines

“Remy Drabkin makes Italian inspired wines in the Pinot-centric Oregon Willamette Valley. Sangiovese, Cannonau, Barbera, and Lagrien are some of the varietals she uses in making her polished wines.

Remy’s wines are made with considerable skill and a distinct point of view, usually developed at a much later age. She has a cult following among Willamette Valley winemaking families and friends, and has inspired many to begin their adventure into wine using the splash wine club, or other similar monthly subscriptions. It is a lasting legacy that the lady holds as the gatekeeper to many a fine tipple, and she’s on a trajectory to become one of Oregon’s winemaking stars. It’s time to try Remy’s Wines.

Remy grew up in Oregon’s wine country. “There were only about ten families in our area making wine when I was a kid – including the Adelsheims, the Ponzis, and the Letts (Eyrie). They were our neighbors.” Remy was “hanging around getting in the way” at wineries by age eight. She worked her first harvest at age 13. Through high school, she worked after school at Erath, and had even considered creating a fast fake id card that would prove she was legally old enough to be working around wine, as well as tasting the products that were being made in her presence. However, nothing came from this idea.

At the age of 18, Remy moved to Pittsburgh to manage the Enrico Biscotti Company, a restaurant, and bakery in the heart of the city’s Italian-American neighborhood. The restaurant’s basement is where everyone makes their own wine, using a 100-year-old wine press.

While in Pittsburgh, Remy made wine with “a bunch of old Italian men,” using grapes shipped from California. “They made wine from classic Italian varietals like Sangiovese, Barbera, Alicante, Nebbiolo, basically anything they could get their hands on. The final wine was a blend of whatever they could get in that vintage – a hearty, rustic Italian-style table wine, aged in old whiskey barrels.” Old whiskey bottles are great for brewing a whole range of beverages so it’s no surprise so many crafters want to get their hands on them! The whiskey barrels for sale mn often fly off the shelves.

“The experience hooked me into Italian varietals,” Remy says.” I loved that their winemaking was so rustic and traditional. They focused on the craft of it, not science.”

When Remy returned to Oregon (after some time in France) she started her own winery, Remy Wines. It’s a one-woman show, making about 1600 cases a year of delicious Sangiovese, Barbera, Syrah, and red wine blends.”

If you are a wine connoisseur or even just a huge lover of all things wine, checking out wine reviews on some brilliant and full-bodied wines, and finding out what they pair with, will up your knowledge blowing everyone away and your next wine tasting event.

Bio courtesy of