Brutal Week For Rates But There’s Hope (Hopefully)

Rising rates have been on the menu for months, but the drama kicked into a higher gear this week.

Maybe you heard about this?  We’ve certainly been discussing it in recent newsletters (especially last week’s).  The rising rate narrative hit the mainstream this week as it was widely credited for doing damage to the stock market.

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Perhaps you even caught one of Thursday’s many mortgage rate headlines citing the spike in Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey.  Freddie reported a jump in 30yr fixed rates from 2.81 to 2.97, their biggest in nearly a year.

Unfortunately, Freddie was low last week and they’re WAY low this week.  This is a common problem when things are this volatile.  Although their survey is published on Thursdays, most of the responses are in by Monday.  As such, their numbers didn’t capture the brutal spikes that came later in the week.

How brutal can a spike really be if we’re still talking about rates in the low 3’s?  That’s entirely a matter of perspective.  If you’d decided to float your rate back at 2.75%, figuring that rates only ever go lower, February hasn’t been great for you.  

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So why is all this happening?  And more importantly, is it going to KEEP happening?

First off, two separate things are happening.  On the one hand, we have the well-known, well-understood, and well-explained rising rate trend that’s been intact for months.  If you’re a regular reader of the newsletter, you might be tired of that one by now.  You can revisit one of any number of past newsletters for a refresher (here’s a good one from late January).  

In a nutshell, if covid caused a rapid surge to persistent all-time low rates, the improving outlook had the opposite effect–albeit a gradual one at first. 

The other thing that’s happening is a recent acceleration in the longstanding trend–first in 2021, but then to an even greater degree over the past 2 weeks. 

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Plummeting case counts played a big, logical role here as well as the Georgia senate election and progress on fiscal stimulus.  Stimulus hurts rates by increasing the supply of Treasuries, and higher supply means higher rates, all other things being equal.

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There was a fresh reminder about Treasury market supply at center stage for this week’s rout.  The 7yr Treasury auction on Thursday was the worst of its kind since its debut in 2009 (a bad auction speaks to an absence of demand, which has a similar effect on rates as an abundance of supply).  Bonds hit their weakest levels of the week/month/year immediately after that, but thankfully appear to have stabilized since then.

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The Treasury auction definitely wasn’t the only consideration this week.  After all, the volatility had already kicked into higher gear last week.  There aren’t any satisfying specifics though.  It’s a combo deal that all speaks to the improved outlook for covid and the post-covid economy. 

There are also some highly technical trading motivations for bond investors that have to do with the changes in the rate landscape.  These can force money managers to make big adjustments to their holdings, and those adjustments often play out in these sorts of “snowball selling” episodes when traders have the same collective realizations.

As for the mortgage market specifically, everything is happening exactly as we said it would more than 2 months ago.  Mortgage rates have increasingly been forced to pay attention to broader bond market volatility.  This week was the best (worst) example yet.  The cushion is deflated, and the mortgage market is no longer invincible.  

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Reasons aside, the big question is whether the drama continues, or the bounce back is just the beginning of a deeper recovery.  While there’s never any way to know for sure, what we CAN know is that our odds (of a recovery) improve as rates move higher.  In that sense, the brutality of the past 2 weeks is one of the best indications of potential support.  While that doesn’t necessarily make a friendly bounce likely, it’s more likely than it was after last week’s big rate spike.

Optimism aside, keep in mind that this is a rising rate environment in general, and we don’t currently have a reason to believe that trend is at risk of dying.  What we’d be hoping for here is a return to a more stable uptrend in rates.  That “return” could help rates move a bit lower in the short term before resuming their gradual uptrend.  Ultimately, it will be up to the course of the pandemic, the economy, fiscal spending, Fed policy, inflation, and other macroeconomic factors to determine the rate range through the end of the year.

Next week brings important updates as far as economic data is concerned.  There will be several reasonably important reports throughout the week culminating in Friday’s all-important jobs report.  


The 10 Worst States for Millennials


Millennials are struggling. With rising student debt, stagnant wages, and avocado toast, many are working hard to hardly get by.

It is no surprise millennials are struggling financially. As a group, 24-39 years old earn less and have less assets than their parents did a generation ago. However, just like the job market and cost of living, where you live matters. We analyzed all 50 states and the District of Columbia to uncover where it is hardest for millennials to thrive.

Below we detail the criteria we used to rank the states and have the full ranked list. But first, let’s see the 10 states where millennials have it the roughest.

The south dominates this list with 5 of the top 10 being southern states. The other 5? Include some areas notorious for high costs of living or in economic distress.

Keep reading to see why these states have the least to offer millennials and to see the full list.

How We Determined The Worst States For Millennials

Each state and DC were ranked 1 to 51 in four categories:

  • Millennial Unemployment Rate
  • Average Student Loan Debt
  • Millennial Home Ownership
  • Percent Of Millennials Living In Poverty

All four categories were then averaged together, each weighted equally. The lower score in each category, the lower the rank. For example, DC’s $55,400 was the highest average student loan debt, earning it a rank of #1 for student loan debt.

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We used the most recent American Community Survey 2014-2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau to get unemployment rate by state for those 25-34. The ACS data also provided the poverty rate by state for the 25-34 age demographic.

To analyze millennial home ownership, we once again used the ACS data to find the percentage of homeowners under 35 in each state.

To gather average student loan debt by millennial borrower, we used the most recent report from

If your state isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see where it lands on the full list. Otherwise, learn more about why these states are the worst place to be a millennial.

1. Mississippi

mississippi class=

Unemployment: 10%
Poverty Rate: 29%
Homeownership: 10%

It is no surprise to see Mississippi top the list of worst places to be a millennial. Mississippi often comes in dead last in education and quality of life metrics. Why is it so hard being a millennial in
the Magnolia state?

More than 1-in-4 Mississippi millennials live in poverty, in addition to facing the worst unemployment in the nation. While housing in Mississippi is relatively affordable, it’s simply not enough to help the millennials struggling just to get by.

2. Florida

florida class=

Unemployment: 7%
Poverty Rate: 22%
Homeownership: 7%

Florida may be a beloved destination for vacationers, but millennial residents may find themselves experiencing hardship. Not only do Floridian millennials stand a 22% chance of living in poverty, the state also the 3rd worst Millennial homeownership rate in the nation.

The beautiful surroundings can only provide so much comfort to adults striving to make a living.

3. Alabama

alabama class=

Unemployment: 8%
Poverty Rate: 27%
Homeownership: 10%

Alabama comes in at #3 for the worst place to be a millennial. While unemployment for millennials is 2% lower than Mississippi, it’s still not great. 27% of Alabama millennials are below the federal poverty rate.

4. South Carolina

south carolina class=

Unemployment: 7%
Poverty Rate: 22%
Homeownership: 10%

Just graduating college in South Carolina sets you up for an average $38,300 in student loan debt. Considering 7% of millennials are unemployed, it can’t be easy paying off those hefty student loan payments.

5. Georgia

georgia class=

Unemployment: 7%
Poverty Rate: 21%
Homeownership: 10%

Georgia tells a similar story to other southern states that top the list– a high poverty rate, paired with less than stellar unemployment. Toss in the high average student debt and it’s easy to see it isn’t all peaches for millennials in the peach state.

6. North Carolina

north carolina class=

Unemployment: 7%
Poverty Rate: 22%
Homeownership: 10%

North Carolina has similar stats to its neighbor, South Carolina- paired with worst homeownership and slightly less crippling debt.

7. West Virginia

west virginia class=

Unemployment: 9%
Poverty Rate: 32%
Homeownership: 9%

West Virginia is one of the states with a shrinking population. Every year residents are packing up and moving in hopes of a brighter future. Millennials in West Virginia have the highest poverty rate in the nation, with a depressing 1-3 live below the poverty level).

Pair that with sky high unemployment, and chances are pretty good wherever they move, the grass is greener.

8. New Mexico

new mexico class=

Unemployment: 8%
Poverty Rate: 27%
Homeownership: 10%

Why is it so rough being a millennial in New Mexico? A terrible 8% unemployment rate. Since jobs make creature comforts affordable, like food and shelter, this doesn’t bode well for millennials who call New Mexico home.

9. Oregon

oregon class=

Unemployment: 6%
Poverty Rate: 23%
Homeownership: 9%

In Oregon, more millennials are working than most other states. However judging from dismal homeownership rate and a surprisingly high poverty rate, folks are working just to get by in Oregon.

10. California

california class=

Unemployment: 7%
Poverty Rate: 20%
Homeownership: 8%

California may be the golden state, but for millennials living there may not look so shiny. High home costs mean home ownership is out of reach for many millennials. When paired with high unemployment and an unpleasantly high poverty rate, it earns California its spot at #10.

Some states offer Millennials worst opportunities than others

There you have it, the 10 states where millennials have the hardest time thriving.

At the end of the day, millennials are struggling nationwide. However, some states have less job opportunities, higher costs of living, and other blockers to achieving the American Dream– or even just not living in desperate poverty.

Where should millennials go for the best opportunities? Out west! Western states dominate the top 10 best states for millennials.

Best States For Millennials

  1. North Dakota
  2. Nebraska
  3. Iowa
  4. South Dakota
  5. Wyoming
  6. Minnesota
  7. Utah
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Kansas
  10. Colorado

If your state wasn’t in the top 10, you can see where it landed below.

See Where Your State Fell On The List:

Rank Geographic Area Name Unemployment(%) Poverty Rate(%) Homeownership(%) Student Debt
1 Mississippi 9 28 10 $36,700
1 Florida 6 21 7 $39,700
3 Alabama 8 26 10 $37,100
4 South Carolina 7 21 9 $38,300
5 Georgia 7 20 9 $41,500
6 North Carolina 6 21 9 $37,500
7 West Virginia 8 32 9 $31,800
8 New Mexico 8 27 10 $33,600
9 Oregon 6 22 9 $36,900
10 California 6 20 8 $36,400
11 New York 6 18 7 $37,800
12 Michigan 7 22 10 $35,900
13 Louisiana 7 26 11 $34,400
13 Tennessee 6 22 10 $36,200
15 Delaware 6 17 9 $37,000
15 Connecticut 7 17 7 $34,900
15 Hawaii 4 20 6 $36,500
18 Arizona 6 22 9 $34,100
19 New Jersey 6 17 7 $35,100
20 Illinois 6 18 10 $37,600
21 Maryland 6 15 9 $42,700
22 Pennsylvania 6 19 9 $35,400
23 Kentucky 6 24 11 $32,500
23 Ohio 6 21 10 $34,600
25 Nevada 6 20 10 $33,600
26 Maine 5 22 9 $32,500
26 Arkansas 6 24 11 $33,300
26 Virginia 5 16 9 $39,000
29 Rhode Island 6 18 8 $31,800
30 Vermont 4 15 8 $36,700
31 Missouri 5 20 11 $35,400
32 Massachusetts 5 16 8 $34,100
33 New Hampshire 3 15 8 $36,700
34 Washington 5 17 10 $35,000
35 Indiana 5 21 11 $32,800
36 Alaska 7 15 12 $33,600
37 Idaho 4 23 12 $32,600
37 District of Columbia 5 10 12 $55,400
39 Montana 4 21 10 $33,300
40 Oklahoma 5 23 12 $31,500
41 Texas 5 18 11 $32,800
42 Colorado 4 15 11 $35,800
43 Kansas 4 20 12 $32,500
44 Wisconsin 4 16 10 $31,800
45 Utah 3 20 15 $32,200
46 Minnesota 3 14 12 $33,400
47 Wyoming 5 17 13 $31,000
48 Iowa 3 19 13 $30,500
48 South Dakota 3 19 14 $31,100
50 Nebraska 3 17 13 $32,100
51 North Dakota 2 13 16 $29,200

Want the latest research and most engaging stories first? Email Kathy Morris at to be added to our weekly newsletter.

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Your Complete Midtown, Atlanta Neighborhood Guide

Right where I-75 and I-85 connect (hence the “Downtown Connector” name), you’ll find the Atlanta neighborhood of Midtown.

As a business center and many amenities, Midtown remains one of the most coveted areas in Atlanta. Its tree-lined streets, multi-unit small buildings, street-facing retail, green spaces (perfect for a dog!) and walkability are hard to beat.

Midtown is also a hub for the arts, fine dining, late-night bars and the city’s LGBTQIA community. As a newcomer, it is often challenging to get to know the neighborhood and make sure it’s a good fit before you move. Get to know Midtown below.

Where is Midtown in Atlanta?

Nestled between Buckhead to the north and downtown Atlanta to the south, Midtown borders the connector’s east side. Midtown is one of the priciest neighborhoods in the city, thanks to its endless amenities.

The iconic Peachtree Street cuts through half of the neighborhood and follows a semi-grid pattern. All streets are numbered consecutively, with 10th street being a hub for most attractions. Midtown ZIP codes are 30308 and 30309.

map of midtown atlanta


Midtown’s main demographic skews younger, including young families, Georgia Tech students and business professionals. The neighborhood is home to several museums, several Fortune 500 companies like Turner Broadcasting and plenty of ways to reduce your commutes via bike and public transportation.

  • Studio average rent: $1,519
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,205
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,542

Living in Midtown

Living in Midtown is living in the heart of the city. In Atlanta, nightlife, the arts scene and dining all congregate in this 1.2-mile area. From festivals like Music Midtown to cultural events like the Dogwood Festival, you can easily immerse yourself in the neighborhood’s culture. Keep reading to get to know this neighborhood a bit more.


Midtown is home to young families, business professionals and students heavily involved in their community — 79 percent have a strong sense of community. According to a report from the Midtown Alliance, two in three residents are millennials or Gen-Xers. The neighborhood has seen five times the population growth compared to the city of Atlanta as a whole.


With four MARTA stops available to its residents and ample bike lanes, Midtown residents truly have an array of options to leave their car at home. The neighborhood street grid encourages walking. The Atlanta BeltLine connects to more than five miles of bike lanes as well across the neighborhood.

midtown atlanta ga


Midtown has over 20 million square feet of office space, with 96% of it being less than a six-minute walk from a MARTA stop. That kind of convenience is rare in Atlanta. Thanks to its proximity to Georgia Tech and its emerging talent, world-class startup incubators and accelerators live within the neighborhood.

Technology Square, a project sponsored by Georgia Tech, has nurtured innovation, research and venture funds within Midtown. Companies like Fortune 500 NCR Corporation are one of many that have moved their headquarters into the area.

Outdoor recreation

With more than 300 acres of green space between Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Botanical Garden and nearby smaller parks, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Atlanta’s mild weather. You can also hop onto the BeltLine right on 10th Street to explore beyond Midtown, as the trail connects all 45 neighborhoods in the city of Atlanta.


From jazz nights at the Woodruff Arts Center and exhibitions at the High Museum of Art to plays at the 14th Street Playhouse and concerts at the Fox Theatre, there’s no lack of entertainment in Midtown. You can also find late-night entertainment at bars along Peachtree and 10th Street. On average, you can see more than 3,000 cultural events in Midtown.


Top-ranked institutions like Georgia Tech and SCAD Atlanta have bred talent within Midtown. Corporate innovation centers like Coca-Cola’s and co-working spaces with workshops for entrepreneurs have helped keep Midtown the hub for all things tech in Atlanta.

atlanta botanical garden midtown

10 things to do in Midtown

Thanks to its great walkability, Midtown feels like a real city neighborhood with many attractions that even locals enjoy. Thanks to Atlanta’s mild weather, you can enjoy the neighborhood mostly year-round. But it’s lovely during spring when the dogwoods bloom and in the fall as the tree-lined streets turn from yellow to orange.

Here are 10 out of the many things you can do in Midtown.

1. Alliance Theatre

In the heart of Midtown, you’ll find the Woodruff Arts Center complex and the core of the arts district. Catch a show at the Alliance Theatre, whether it’s the classic A Christmas Carol or one of their new shows that feature emerging Broadway stars.

2. Laughing Skull Lounge

Comedy and improv scene is alive and well in Atlanta. You can get a few laughs at the Laughing Skull Lounge in Midtown, a small, less than 75-seat venue inside burger joint, The Vortex.

3. Atlanta BeltLine Eastside trail

The Atlanta BeltLine has several sections, and the Eastside Trail, the first one to debut, comes right through Midtown. You can hop on the trail at Monroe Drive and 10th Street by foot or on your bike. The trail will connect you to other attractions in Old Fourth Ward, like Ponce City Market.

4. The High Museum of Art

Pay a visit (or better yet, become a member) of the Southeast’s leading museum, the High Museum of Art. Part of the Woodruff Arts Center complex, the museum holds more than 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection. Plus ongoing new, visiting exhibitions, like Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors.

5. Coffee at Café Intermezzo

For the past 40 years, Café Intermezzo has remained an afternoon beacon for long conversations and delicious cakes in Atlanta. At its Midtown outpost, you can quickly walk over after a long day at the office or on the weekends to enjoy a hot latte and a slice of one of their exquisite desserts.

6. Piedmont Park

One of Atlanta’s main green spaces, Piedmont Park transforms into a concert venue, festival site or just an excellent place to have a picnic depending on the time of year. Right in the middle of the city, the park is an incredible amenity to have nearby with a dog park, a community pool and, of course, plenty of walking trails to unwind at the end of the day.

7. Atlanta Botanical Garden

Attached to the back of Piedmont Park, the 30-acre Atlanta Botanical Garden changes from season to season. From lighting shows during the holidays to large, blooming sculptures during the spring, it’s worth visiting throughout the year.

8. Fox Theatre

The Moorish architecture of the Fox Theatre will take your breath away before you even go in through its doors. The historic landmark now functions as a venue for concerts, plays and musicals. You can also take a ghost tour of the facilities in the fall to learn more about the theatre.

9. Center of Puppetry Arts

Did you know that Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog cut the ribbon on the Center of Puppetry Arts’ opening day? It is one of the only puppet museums in the world. While this family-friendly attraction offers exhibitions and workshops for children, it hosts after-hours adult-only events that are just as fun.

10. Orpheus Brewery

Atlanta has more breweries than you can count on two hands, all with their niche and personality. Orpheus Brewery, right next to Piedmont Park, hires local artists to illustrate their sour beers’ cans. Head to their beer garden tasting room with a beautiful view of the park.

Finding an apartment in Midtown

With a vibrant arts scene and walkability, Midtown is hard to beat. One of the many neighborhoods around town that are lucky to have access to MARTA trains and buses, plus the Atlanta BeltLine and a high walk score, is easy to get around within the neighborhood.

Get from work to your Midtown apartment by skipping traffic. On the weekends, enjoy the outdoors at Piedmont Park or ride your bike on one of its many bike lanes.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in February 2021, and it goes back for one year. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


AimLoan Review: You Can Check Their Rates and Fees 24/7

Posted on February 22nd, 2021

Today we’ll take a look at American Internet Mortgage, more commonly known as “AimLoan,” which is a streamlined discount mortgage lender that focuses mostly on conforming loans.

Doing so allows them to do what they do best, and ideally offer lower mortgage rates to their customers by running more efficiently and keeping costs low.

At the time of this writing, they were offering the lowest APR for both a 30-year fixed and a 15-year fixed mortgage for a sample loan scenario on the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace.

So they appear to offer competitive interest rates and reasonable lender fees. Let’s find out more about them.

AimLoan Fast Facts

  • Direct-to-consumer mortgage lender that offers home purchase and refinance loans
  • Founded in 1998, headquartered in San Diego, California
  • Funded roughly $1.3 billion in home loans last year
  • Most active in the states of California, Arizona, and Texas
  • Licensed to do business in all 50 states and D.C.

AimLoan is a proper veteran in the mortgage industry, having been around since 1998. Not many companies last that long without being acquired or going out of business.

The San Diego, CA-based direct mortgage lender was founded by Vince Kasperick, who continues to serve as the company’s president.

Since that time, they’ve funded more than $23 billion in home loans, with nearly $1.3 billion originated last year.

Their bread and butter product is the mortgage refinance, whether it’s a rate and term refinance or a cash out refinance. But they also offer home purchase loans too.

They tend to stick to plain vanilla loans, meaning straightforward stuff that can easily be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shortly after funding.

AimLoan operates as a direct-to-consumer mortgage lender, meaning it’s a call center you can’t visit in person. So you’ll be working with a loan officer and processor remotely.

The company appears to be most active in their home state of California, which accounts for more than a quarter of total loan volume.

They also do a lot of business in nearby Arizona and Texas, along with Florida and Georgia.

At the moment, AimLoan is licensed to lend in all 50 states nationwide, along with the District of Columbia.

How to Apply for a Mortgage with AimLoan

  • They offer the so-called AimLoan 6-Step Process
  • It starts with a digital mortgage application powered by Ellie Mae
  • Then your loan is run through their automated underwriting system
  • Once approved you can manage your loan via the online borrower portal and upload any required conditions

It’s easy to apply for a home loan with AimLoan. Simply visit their website and click on “Apply Now.”

From there you’ll need to provide personal and financial information, then your application will be run through their automated underwriting system.

Assuming you receive a conditional loan approval, you’ll be given the opportunity to lock or float your rate at your desired fee/credit combination.

A human loan officer and loan processor will also assist you along the way and provide you with a list of any conditions that need to be met.

During that time, a home appraisal will be scheduled if necessary and third-party items like title and escrow will be set up.

Speaking of, you will be asked to submit an appraisal fee at the time you lock your rate, which kind of acts like the application fee, though it covers the appraisal if and when you fund.

All in all, they appear to make it pretty simple to apply, lock, and close your loan.

If you don’t want to use their self-service option, you can also call them up directly and connect with a loan officer before beginning the application.

Loan Programs Offered by AimLoan

  • Home purchase loans
  • Rate and term refinances
  • Cash out refinances
  • Conforming loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • VA loans
  • Fixed-rate mortgages: 30-, 25-, 20-, 15-, and 10-year terms available
  • They lend on primary residences, second homes, and investment properties (1-4 units)

As alluded to, AimLoan is a streamlined mortgage lender that likes to keep its product menu short and sweet.

Doing so allows them to offer lower rates and superior customer service. But it also means you may not be able to get what you’re looking for.

While they offer all the usual stuff, like home purchase loans and mortgage refinances, along with conforming loans and VA loans, several items appear to be missing.

Those include jumbo loans, which exceed the conforming loan limit, along with FHA loans and USDA loans. If you’re in need of one of these loan types, you may need to go elsewhere.

Additionally, while you can get a fixed-rate mortgage in a variety of loan terms, they aren’t offering adjustable-rate mortgages at the moment.

Or at least not displaying them on their website because they say they’re currently pricing higher than fixed rates, which tends to be true.

AimLoan Mortgage Rates

One advantage to using AimLoan is the fact that you can see their mortgage rates online. And you don’t need to sign up or speak to someone first.

Additionally, you can compare a variety of rates all at once tailored to your own unique loan scenario, instead of simply looking at promotional rates that make a bunch of assumptions.

To get started, simply head to the AimLoan website and start filling out the instant rate quote form on the homepage. It’s easy to complete and you should see a variety of rates in about a minute.

In terms of fees, they appear to charge a flat $995 origination fee, which can often be offset by a lender credit.

They say their pricing model differs from other lenders because their profit is mostly from that flat fee.

As such, they can pass on the savings to consumers by not marking up the pricing they receive on the secondary market.

Anyway, once you click on a given mortgage rate, it will show you a full fee breakdown including their fees and third-party costs like appraisal and title insurance.

You can also get an idea of cash to close by inputting your estimated property taxes and current loan balance if it’s a refinance.

If you like what you see, simply click on “Apply Now” or “Talk to a Loan Officer” to get started on your application.

AimLoan Reviews

On Zillow, they have a 4.15-star rating out of 5 from nearly 400 customer reviews, which is good but not excellent. There are some mixed reviews that seem to be dragging down their overall score.

On Google, they have a 4.3-star rating from nearly 300 reviews, and on Bankrate a 4.4-rating from almost 200 reviews with an 84% recommend score.

AimLoan has a more inferior 3.5-star rating on Yelp from about 300 reviews.

They also list a bunch of customer reviews on their own website, though it’s unclear if they provide much value.

Lastly, they have a 4.61/5-star rating with the Better Business Bureau and an ‘A+’ rating based on complaint history.

They’ve been an accredited business since 2015 and were awarded the BBB Torch Award for Ethics, which goes to businesses with “the highest standards of leadership character and organizational ethics.”

To sum it up, AimLoan is probably best suited for an existing homeowner looking to refinance their mortgage to a lower rate, who doesn’t have a complicated scenario.

I’m talking someone with good credit, a steady W-2 job, and nothing out of the ordinary to ensure the loan process moves along smoothly.

Those who have more complex loan scenarios or need more hand-holding may want to consider other lenders.

AimLoan Pros and Cons

The Good Stuff

  • Can apply for a mortgage directly from their website
  • Offer a digital application powered by Ellie Mae (ICE)
  • View mortgage rates online without providing contact info
  • Offer 60-day rate locks standard
  • Licensed to do business in all 50 states and D.C.
  • Mostly good customer reviews
  • A+ BBB rating, accredited since 2015
  • Free mortgage calculators and mortgage glossary on site

The Perhaps Not

  • Do not appear to offer FHA, jumbo, or USDA loans
  • Typically do not allow FICO scores below 620
  • Do not finance co-ops or manufactured/mobile homes
  • No physical locations

(photo: Ann Oro)


951: RERR Highlights – The Best Real Estate Podcast Clips of January 2021

It’s a brand-new year, along with new opportunities and new challenges in the real estate sphere. Last month, we brought in several of 2020’s most successful Realtors to get their take on what agents must do to thrive during the global pandemic. We also interviewed Trevor Mauch, the CEO of Carrot, to take a look at trending real estate searches and what they say about today’s savvy consumers. Catch this special highlight episode and catch up on the strategies you’ll need to build a bigger, better real estate business in 2021.

Listen to today’s show and learn:

  • An introduction to house hacking  [2:06]
  • How to target your niche [3:32] 
  • The steps to take when prepping a business for sale [6:16]
  • How to position your business to succeed in 2021 [7:09]
  • Democrats win two senate seats in Georgia [9:16]
  • 8 ways the Biden tax plan may impact real estate [10:17]
  • The perfect storm for real estate searches [13:35]
  • What you need on your real estate website [14:23]
  • How to get the best real estate testimonials [15:51]
  • How to make working from home work for you [21:26]
  • Tips for virtual showings [22:32]
  • Advice for real estate agents in 2021 – Be adaptable [23:55]
  • Advice on building a lead funnel [25:02]
  • Why commercial real estate will make a major recovery [28:39]
  • Ari’s prediction on retail recovery [28:39]

Thank You Rockstars!

It might go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: We really value listeners like you. We’re constantly working to improve the show, so why not leave us a review? If you love the content and can’t stand the thought of missing the nuggets our Rockstar guests share every week, please subscribe; it’ll get you instant access to our latest episodes and is the best way to support your favorite real estate podcast. Have questions? Suggestions? Want to say hi? Shoot me a message via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Email.

-Aaron Amuchastegui


The 10 Worst Climate Disasters in U.S. History

Woman outside her ruined home after a natural disaster or fire
Vlad Teodor /

This story originally appeared on Porch.

One impact of climate change is that the number and severity of climate-related disasters is on the rise.

With the warming of the planet, several factors combine to make extreme weather more common.

Higher temperatures are more likely to produce heat waves and drought conditions, which increase the likelihood of wildfires. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, which leads to wetter storms, and with them, more flooding. Increased heat and evaporation have also combined to make tropical cyclones more common and more severe in recent years.

The financial consequences of these trends are enormous. Loss of life, property damage, infrastructure failures and business interruptions are some of the widely felt direct consequences when more intense natural disasters occur.

In the U.S., the costs associated with so-called billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events — those in which total damages exceeded $1 billion in today’s dollars — have grown sharply over the last decade, from a five-year annual average of $29.2 billion in 2010 to $121.4 billion in 2020.

Apart from direct damages, even the threat of weather disasters can have financial impacts. Property values in vulnerable areas may shift downward as severe weather disasters become more likely. Insurers can charge higher rates or make coverage harder to obtain for properties that could be at risk. And property owners may find themselves paying a premium for structures that are resistant to weather-related damage.

To find the worst disasters, researchers analyzed data from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and ranked events based on their estimated cost in 2020 dollars.

Following is the list of the worst climate disasters in U.S. history.

10. U.S. drought/heatwave

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  • Date: 2012
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $34.5 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $30 billion
  • Number of deaths: 123
  • Most impacted area: Midwest and West

High temperatures and low moisture brought on the most severe drought the U.S. had seen in decades during the summer of 2012. Drought conditions and more than two months of heat waves were directly responsible for more than 100 deaths and billions in economic losses due to failed harvests for crops like corn and soybeans.

9. Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike causing flooding in Florida
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  • Date: September 2008
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $36.9 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $30 billion
  • Number of deaths: 112
  • Most impacted area: Texas

After hitting Cuba as a Category 4 storm several days earlier, Hurricane Ike made landfall as a Category 2 storm near Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 13, 2008.

Ike damaged or destroyed more than 75% of the homes in Galveston and brought widespread damage elsewhere in eastern Texas. Damage totaled $30 billion.

8. Midwest flooding

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  • Date: Summer 1993
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $38.1 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $21 billion
  • Number of deaths: 48
  • Most impacted area: Midwest

The Midwest experienced unusually high precipitation from rain and snow in 1992 and the first half of 1993.

As a result, parts of the Upper Mississippi River were at flood levels for almost 200 days in some locations, while the Missouri River basin experienced flood levels for nearly 100 days.

The ongoing floods destroyed tens of thousands of homes and inundated millions of acres of farmland.

7. U.S. drought/heatwave

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  • Date: Summer 1988
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $45 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $20 billion
  • Number of deaths: 454
  • Most impacted area: Midwest, West, Southeast

As the worst drought the U.S. had seen since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the drought of 1988 covered nearly half of the United States at its peak, and continued as late as 1990 in some locations.

The persistent hot, dry conditions led to billions of dollars in losses from crops and livestock, along with wildfires in Yellowstone National Park that burned nearly 800,000 acres.

6. Hurricane Andrew

Homes destroyed by Hurricane Andrew
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  • Date: August 1992
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $50.8 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $27 billion
  • Number of deaths: 61
  • Most impacted area: Florida and Louisiana

The 1992 Atlantic hurricane season’s first major storm was one of the most powerful on record. Andrew is only one of four hurricanes ever to make landfall in the U.S. as a Category 5 storm, with winds reaching nearly 174 miles per hour.

The storm ripped through southern Florida before re-emerging in the Gulf of Mexico and making a second landfall on the Louisiana coast several days later, causing more than $27 billion in damage.

5. Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma flooding in Florida
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  • Date: September 2017
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $52.5 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $50 billion
  • Number of deaths: 97
  • Most impacted area: Florida and South Carolina

2017’s hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season remains the costliest on record, and Hurricane Irma is one of the major reasons why.

After making landfall as a Category 4, Irma carved a path northward through the heart of Florida and into the southeastern U.S., bringing coastal flooding to Georgia and South Carolina as well. The storm’s damage totaled $50 billion.

4. Hurricane Sandy

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  • Date: October 2012
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $74.8 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $65 billion
  • Number of deaths: 159
  • Most impacted area: New York and New Jersey

At more than 900 miles in diameter, Hurricane (or Superstorm) Sandy was felt in 24 states, but Sandy is most remembered for its damage to the Mid-Atlantic region. After following a path north along the Atlantic coast, Sandy made an unusual westward turn into New York and New Jersey before merging with another storm system. Flooding and storm damage in New York City and other major East Coast metros contributed to Sandy’s $65 billion in damage.

3. Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria damage in Puerto Rico
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  • Date: September 2017
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $94.5 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $90 billion
  • Number of deaths: 2,981
  • Most impacted area: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Another one of 2017’s major hurricanes, Hurricane Maria brought catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

With the region still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Irma from two weeks prior, Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Storm surge, heavy rains, and high winds leveled neighborhoods and destroyed much of Puerto Rico’s power grid, causing $90 billion in damage and nearly 3,000 deaths.

2. Hurricane Harvey

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  • Date: August 2017
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $131.3 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $125 billion
  • Number of deaths: 89
  • Most impacted area: Texas

The costliest of the storms from the catastrophic 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey also holds the distinction of being the wettest tropical cyclone on record.

Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, but it was the storm’s prolonged stall over Houston and the Gulf Coast that made Harvey so expensive.

Over several days, Harvey dropped more than 5 feet of rain in some locations, causing floods that produced $125 billion in damage.

1. Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina flooding damage
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  • Date: August 2005
  • Estimated cost (2020 dollars): $170 billion
  • Estimated cost (actual dollars): $125 billion
  • Number of deaths: 1,833
  • Most impacted area: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama

Hurricane Katrina is perhaps remembered more for the infamously mismanaged government response than for the damage of the storm itself, but Katrina brought widespread devastation to the Gulf Coast. After reaching Category 5 strength in the Gulf of Mexico, Katrina eventually made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 3. Storm surge and heavy rains led to catastrophic failures in New Orleans’ flood protection infrastructure, leaving most of the city underwater for weeks. At $170 billion in 2020 dollars, Katrina remains the most expensive climate disaster in U.S. history.

Methodology and detailed findings

A man studies financial data at his computer
NicoElNino /

To determine which climate disasters were the worst in U.S. history, researchers analyzed data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information’s (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (2021) report. Weather events were ranked according to their CPI-adjusted estimated cost (adjusted to 2020 dollars).

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


Your Complete Buckhead, Atlanta Neighborhood Guide

This Atlanta neighborhood has something for everyone.

Only seven miles north of downtown Atlanta, you’ll find the thriving business district of Buckhead. The neighborhood is home to one of the wealthiest ZIP Codes in the country and several Fortune 500 companies. You can find some of the finest brands at Phipps Plaza, Lenox Mall and Buckhead Village District for those that enjoy luxury shopping. The neighborhood’s name comes from a meeting point on Paces Ferry Road that displayed a Buck’s Head, caught by a local hunter.

Keep on reading to learn more about this swanky neighborhood and see if it fits your lifestyle.

Where is Buckhead in Atlanta?

Buckhead Atlanta is located north of Midtown and borders other residential neighborhoods like Brookhaven and Sandy Springs. You can access Buckhead via State Route 400, which often causes long gridlocks during rush hour. You’ll find more entertainment and dining options between Peachtree Road and Roswell Road.

Buckhead has a few ZIP Codes including 30327, 30305, 30326 and 30342.

buckhead atlanta map


Despite being one of the most expensive Atlanta neighborhoods, Buckhead still has a few apartments that hover around the city’s average rent. However, once you’re a resident of the area, you can take advantage of its walkability and amenities like niche gyms and luxury shopping.

  • Studio average rent: $1,694
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,966
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,836

Living in Buckhead

Like any other neighborhood in Atlanta, Buckhead has its personality. If you’re a young professional looking for active nightlife, workout studios, luxury shopping and apartments with fancy on-site amenities, this is a good fit for you. It’s also a central commercial hub in Atlanta, offering multiple employment opportunities to residents.


Buckhead sees the full spectrum of demographics, with young professionals making up the most significant percentage, followed by older families and retirees in the residential areas. Since the mid-1950s, Buckhead has earned its spot as one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Atlanta and the U.S.

highway and marta train in buckhead atlanta ga


Buckhead is serviced by two MARTA stops, Buckhead and Lenox. It also has access to several commuter lines from nearby counties like Gwinnett and Cobb, plus MARTA’s bus lines. Buckhead is primarily car-driven, but the newly-built Peachtree Road bike lane provides a haven for bike riders.

  • Walk score: 64
  • Bike score: 34
  • Transit score: 41


Before moving anywhere, safety makes the top for priorities. Buckhead is a relatively safe neighborhood. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the number of serious reported crimes in the community has decreased 11 percent.


Green spaces like Sara J. Gonzalez Park, the first park named after a Latinx leader in Georgia, and the Blue Heron Nature Preserve offer plenty of opportunities to spend the day outdoors and enjoy Atlanta’s mild weather. At Blue Heron, you can find various trails and even a turtle sanctuary for the family to enjoy.


Buckhead Theatre is the place for all concerts, stand-up comedy and plays when it comes to entertainment. But if you’re looking for nightlife, Atlanta staples Havana Club, Tongue & Groove and Rose Bar are all accessible from MARTA. Those looking for more of a college scene, head over to the Buckhead Strip to stop by the Red Door Tavern and Buckhead Saloon.

Large mansion with a staircase leading down into a very green garden.

10 things to do in Buckhead

While Buckhead is primarily a business district, it still has plenty going on after hours. From local history and brunch to comedy and nightlife, Buckhead entertains its residents on the weekends.

  1. The Atlanta History Center dives deep into the city’s rich history with essential roles in the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. Recently, the Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama relocated from Grant Park to the museum.
  2. While it has changed names more times than locals can count, the Buckhead Theatre is a great spot to see the latest bands in rock, pop and hip hop genres. The venue can hold less than 2,000 attendees, so it’s more intimate than most.
  3. The historic Swan House functions as a gallery, venue and small museum. It’s known for its Italian and English styles incorporated into the architecture and was prominently featured in the Hunger Games movies.
  4. The Punchline Comedy Club is one of the longest-running comedy clubs in Atlanta. Comedy legends like Jerry Seinfeld and Eddie Murphy have graced the stage of this intimate club. These days, you can see emerging and established talent take the stage and make you laugh so hard you cry.
  5. The Buckhead Village District draws you in with luxury brands like Hermes and Spanx, but you stay for excellent food like Shake Shack and The Southern Gentleman.
  6. Chef Ford Fry’s King + Duke should top your list of dining options in Buckhead. This restaurant uses locally-sourced food to cook over wood in homage to the old school characters it’s named after.
  7. Charlie Loudermilk Park sits in the very spot where Henry Irby’s General Store sat at the beginning of the 20th century. Irby is known as the founding father of Buckhead.
  8. Legoland in Phipps Plaza features a 4D movie theatre, hundreds of toy displays and two rides. Kids love it, and there’s plenty for adults to do during the monthly adult-only night.
  9. The Atlanta Tech Village is the country’s fourth-largest tech hub. The building is full of startups at different growth stages, so the building functions as office space and a learning hub due to its dynamic programming and accelerator.
  10. Chastain Memorial Park, with over 260 acres of paths and green spaces, offers a great spot to get away from Buckhead’s concrete jungle. You’ll find a community pool, a horse park, tennis courts and a famed concert amphitheater.

Finding an apartment in Buckhead

It’s no surprise that most new Atlanta residents select Buckhead as their first neighborhood to live in. It’s close to everything and most high-rise apartment buildings come with live, work and play amenities.

Ready to embark on your new apartment hunt in Buckhead? Find your next apartment here.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. We pulled our data in February 2021, and it goes back for one year. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.


Time to Wake Up To The New Mortgage Rate Reality

There’s no precedent for the winning streak enjoyed by mortgage rates in the 2nd half of 2020. We’ve never seen so many new record lows in the same year, and we never spent as much time at those lows (not even close). All of the above makes it easy to get lulled into a false sense of low-rate security, but it’s time to wake up.

Actually, the alarm has been going off for a while now.  Previous posts pointed out the disconnect between the bond market and mortgage rates on multiple occasions in 2020.  Near the end of the year, we warned against complacency in no unspecific terms.

Following the Georgia senate election, we’ve been tracking a surge in bond market volatility based on the expectation that it would increasingly spill over to the mortgage rate world. 

(Read More: 1/8/21: Have We Seen The End of Record Low Rates?)  

As of this week, that spillover arrived in grand fashion with many lenders quoting rates that are as much as three eighths of a point higher than they were last week.  That means if you were looking at something in the 2.75% neighborhood on Friday, it could be 3.125% today.  What gives?

Again, the upward pressure is nothing new.  Treasury yields have been telling the story since August and mortgage rates have finally used up enough of their cushion that they’ve been forced to follow the broader trends. 

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Why have things been so abrupt?  Using up “the cushion” is one thing, but that alone doesn’t force rates to go higher.  For that, we need “broader bond market volatility.”  In other words, Treasury yields need to be spiking. 

As it turns out, that’s been one of their favorite things to do in 2021.  If it seems abrupt, that has a lot to do with bonds coiling in a conservative pattern heading into the Georgia senate election, and unleashing chaos thereafter.

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The election is old news now though.  It simply got the ball of volatility rolling.  Most recently, plummeting covid case counts, improved vaccine distribution, stronger economic reports, and progress on fiscal stimulus reinvigorated the volatility.  This week, 10yr yields broke up and out of their prevailing “trend channel” (the parallel lines seen below). 

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There’s no magic rule that says Treasuries have to stay inside those red lines, but this sort of breakout can be a cue for traders to intensify selling pressure.  In other words, that upper line was a trigger for yields to move even higher.

“But wait… I thought the Fed said it was keeping rates low for YEARS.  What happened to that?”

The Fed sets the Fed Funds Rates… NOT mortgage rates.  The Fed Funds Rate is a super short-term rate (“overnight,” in fact).  10yr Treasuries, on the other hand, last 10 years.  The average 30yr fixed mortgage lasts between 5 and 10 years depending on the market conditions.  Investors place different premiums on rates with different terms.  Simply put, the Fed Funds Rate is indeed still at rock bottom, but longer-term rates are not.

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This isn’t anything new or different, for what it’s worth.  The Fed Funds Rate has always ebbed and flowed in relation to longer term rates.

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“But wait… I heard that mortgage rates are still really low and that they only went up a tiny amount this week!”

Well, that depends on your perspective.  Is 3.125% still really low for the average 30yr fixed mortgage rate?  Yes!  That was the all-time low before covid.  But is it much higher relative to the past few weeks and months?  Here too, it depends on your perspective, so let’s leave it at this: rates rose more this week than on any other week in the past 11 months.

If you’ve heard that rates only rose slightly, it may have to do with headlines quoting Freddie Mac’s weekly survey.  While that survey is accurate over time, it doesn’t capture short-term volatility.  It also tends to stop measuring most of any given week’s volatility on Monday, and Monday was a holiday!  As such, it’s lagging the reality on the street.  

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On the economic data front, Retail Sales (this week’s biggest report) rose at the 4th fastest pace since records began in the early 90s.  In general, stronger economic data puts upward pressure on rates.

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In terms of housing-specific data, this week brought an update on residential construction numbers.  They’re still stellar.  

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Whereas Housing Starts are subject to weather-related delays and other potential roadblocks, building permits are a bit more free-flowing, and they just set another long-term high.

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