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 It’s still an amazing time to purchase a home or re-finance your existing home.

 That’s the 2019 forecast from several local mortgage lenders who are experiencing a strong real estate market early this season in the tri-county area.

 “Interest rates had gone up the last quarter of 2018, and they’ve come back down,” said David Scott, vice president of mortgage lending at The State Bank, headquartered in Fenton. “Houses are still selling extremely fast and with multiple offers. Inventory is so limited that the housing market will continue to remain strong.”

 Ron Newton, vice president of Fenton branch operations for Simple Mortgage, said that the real estate market this spring has been very busy. “We’re getting more of an increase in volume right now. It’s picking up quite steadily and faster than normal.”

 He sees the interest rates leveling off in 2019. “The feds didn’t do us any favors in the last quarter of 2018 when rates jumped up, but in the last 30 days, they’ve been falling back to 4 ½ to 4 ¾ percent on government transactions,” Newton said.

 Scott said that because of low inventory, some potential sellers have been hesitant to put their homes on the market. The State Bank now offers an interim loan, informally called a “bridge loan,” that removes some of this uncertainty from the buying/selling process.

 “This loan allows you to purchase your new home before selling your existing house,” Scott said. “You can use the equity in your home to buy your new house. We allow for 100-percent financing of your new home, assuming you have a large amount of equity in your existing home. This helps people guarantee they’ll know where they are going to move, even if their current home hasn’t sold yet.”

 The best advice for homebuyers and sellers is to do your homework first, get pre-qualified for a loan if you’re in the market to buy, and get your home ready if you’re in the market to sell. These are interest rate-proof strategies that will put you in an optimum position on either side of the closing table.

What determines your

mortgage rate?

• The FICO credit score of each borrower

• The price of the home and amount of the mortgage

• Property location

• The amount of your down payment

• Loan term (e.g., 15-year vs. 30-year)

• Type of interest rate (e.g., fixed vs. variable)

• Loan type

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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