Stock Market Today: Stocks Regress After Monday’s Romp

Perhaps Monday got a little too out of hand.

One of the best market sessions in months was followed by a much more sluggish round of trading Tuesday, though the selling followed the “rotation to value” theme we’ve discussed in recent weeks.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (-1.7% to 13,358) and Russell 2000 (-1.9% to 2,231) suffered the steepest drops, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to slip away with a mere 0.5% decline to 31,391.

Those losses came on a slow news day, though there was another positive development in the global fight against COVID. Days after Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ, -0.2%) single-shot coronavirus vaccine received emergency-use clearance in the U.S., the Washington Post reported that President Joe Biden would soon announce a rare deal that would see competitor Merck (MRK, +0.7%) boost supply by manufacturing more of JNJ’s vaccine.

The 10-year Treasury yield also pulled back to 1.41% – another seemingly bullish driver amid a market that had balked at rising rates – but nothing appeared to draw the bulls’ interest Tuesday.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The S&P 500 declined 0.8% to 3,870.
  • Target (TGT, -6.8%) sharply dropped despite better-than-expected quarterly sales and profits; the company announced that it would reinvest $4 billion annually for years to upgrade technology, refurnish its stores and make other improvements.
  • Twitter (TWTR, -5.1%) retreated in response to a $1.25 billion convertible-debt offering.
  • U.S. crude oil futures improved by 0.4% to $60.92 per barrel.
  • Gold futures gained 0.6%, settling at $1,733.60 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin prices dropped 1.5% to $47,563. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

stock chart for 030221stock chart for 030221

Yes, Growth Is on the Outs, But …

While there’s a steady drumbeat of news pointing to boom times for value, don’t give up on growth entirely.

Regardless of what broad investment trends are currently in favor, certain technological, societal and other developments simply can’t be ignored — and buying into the companies addressing them could be a potent long-term recipe for success, especially when those firms are a bit out of favor.

These 11 growth stocks, for instance, are worth monitoring for dips, as are these 13 growth ETFs, which have the added benefit of diluting risk across dozens of stocks.

Picks ripe for this kind of short-term pain, long-term gain include stocks tethered to the expansion of 5G communications technology. This trend is hardly any secret, and many stocks in the space are actually cooling off after months, even years, of anticipatory gains. But that’s good news for new buyers, as many of the benefits from a nationwide 5G rollout will take years to fully realize.

One way to put yourself ahead of the curve is to identify stocks that not only can soar on 5G’s updraft, but have other bullish arguments to be made at the moment … such as these seven picks.

Kyle Woodley was long Bitcoin as of this writing.


Why Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Haven’t Paid Off Their Mortgages

Posted on November 11th, 2020

You’d think presumably wealthy politicians like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would own their homes free and clear. But that’s not the case, per their 2019 tax returns.

Both individuals disclosed their returns on the website, and each paid tens of thousands of dollars in mortgage interest last year.

But why would they pay interest if they had the means to simply pay off the loans, a luxury most other Americans can’t afford to do? The reason is simple.

Mortgage Debt Is the Cheapest Debt Out There

  • Joe and Jill Biden paid $15,796 in home mortgage interest in 2019
  • Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff paid $32,041 in home mortgage interest in 2019
  • There’s a good chance both parties could have paid off their mortgages in full
  • But why bother if you can earn a higher rate of return for your money elsewhere?

Why Biden and Harris and so many other rich homeowners choose to carry mortgages as opposed to paying them off has to do with how cheap they are relative to virtually everything else.

Ultimately, it doesn’t get much better than home loan debt, especially with mortgage rates in the 1-2% range at the moment. What other type of loan offers such cheap financing?

This is why I refer to mortgages as good debt, especially since you have the opportunity to write off the interest in many cases.

On top of that, the low rate of interest makes it easy for savvy homeowners to beat the rate of return on their mortgage by investing elsewhere.

Simply put, your mortgage rate is your rate of return if you choose to prepay your home loan ahead of schedule.

Any extra dollars put toward your loan essentially earn whatever your mortgage rate is, so if it’s 2.75%, you’re earning 2.75% if you choose to pay any extra each month or year.

Unfortunately, the lower mortgage rates go, the less it makes sense to prepay the mortgage because you’re earning a lower and lower rate of return.

Interestingly, we often hear feel-good stories in the news about everyday Joes paying off their mortgages in just 5-10 years. Or even less time. But why? What’s the rush exactly?

Getting Rid of the Mortgage Is a Psychological Victory

  • The obsession with paying off the mortgage is a psychological one
  • Often times there are better uses for your money than prepaying your home loan
  • An alternative might be to pay off other high-interest rate debt like credit cards
  • Or to invest any extra funds in the stock market, mutual funds, or a general retirement account

Sure, it’s great not to have to make a monthly mortgage payment, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best move financially to prepay your home loan.

Often, the desire to pay off the mortgage has more to do with human psychology than it does math.

It probably feels good to pay off any debt, especially a large sum of money such as a mortgage.

But as noted, it’s cheap debt and you might be better served putting extra dollars elsewhere.

Apparently, this is what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do, and Obama did the same based on his old tax returns.

In the past, I reported that Joe Biden had been a refinancing machine, constantly taking advantage of cheaper financing by way of rate and term refinance to save money on his home loans.

One of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffett, has also been a proponent of carrying a mortgage for the same reasons.

You get to lock in an ultra-low mortgage rate for three decades and watch the payment become effectively cheaper over time as inflation erodes the value of the dollar.

It doesn’t get much better than that, especially when you might be able to write off the interest too.

This explains why Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Warren Buffett, and even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg choose to hold mortgages when they can easily pay them off.

Read more: Should I pay off my mortgage early?

(photo: Elvert Barnes)

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for nearly 15 years.


Should You Stop Paying Your Student Loans in Forbearance?

The possibility of student loan forgiveness is on the horizon, so should you stop making payments on your own loans?

That depends, but let’s take a look at where we stand so far:

  • On the campaign trail, then-candidate Joe Biden promised to wipe out at least $10,000 for student loan borrowers.
  • Now that he’s president, Biden is getting pressure from some to increase that amount to $50,000 or more. But he’s also getting pushback from other groups who aren’t in favor of wiping out any student loan debt. (More on that later.)
  • An administrative forbearance that freezes interest rates and payments for federally held student loans has been extended until Sept. 30, 2021.

So what does all this mean for you, the student loan borrower?

Depending on your loans and financial situation, you might actually be better off making larger payments right now… or none at all.

Don’t worry, we’ll explain.

Is Student Loan Forgiveness Likely to Happen?

During his campaign, Biden announced that part of his Emergency Action Plan for the economic recovery would include forgiveness of at least $10,000 in student loans for borrowers, plus additional relief for those who attended public colleges or historically Black colleges and universities.

Bur remember, not all campaign promises come true.

Some groups have been pressuring the Biden administration to up the limit to $50,000 in student loan debt or wipe out all $1.7 trillion outstanding student loan debt. And there are plenty of other factions who aren’t in favor of forgiving student loans at all and instead want to focus on relief efforts for other parts of the economy.

With all these plans on the table, there’s no guarantee of anything, according to Betsy Mayotte, president of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, a non-profit organization that offers free student loan advice and dispute resolution assistance to borrowers.

“I’ve been working in the student loan industry for over 20 years, and we’re closer to some sort of broad student loan forgiveness than we’ve ever been before,” she said. “With that said, I think the chances of broad student loan forgiveness are very, very slim still.”

And even if some sort of forgiveness does come to pass, it’s highly unlikely the federal government will simply wipe out all debt in one broad stroke.

It’s important to be realistic about which groups of people and types of loans will be forgiven, said Steve Muszynski, the founder and CEO of Splash Financial, a student loan refinancing marketplace.

“What President Biden campaigned on was a $10,000 forgiveness amount for select groups,” he said. “Select groups tend to be people that didn’t get an advanced degree, maybe make less than $125,000 a year, as an example.”

We’re closer to some sort of broad student loan forgiveness than we’ve ever been before. With that said, I think the chances of broad student loan forgiveness are very, very slim still.

However, one thing that is certain right now is that federally held student loans are in forbearance — interest rates are automatically set to 0% and all payments are suspended.

Forbearance was originally part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — aka the CARES Act — passed in March 2020 and extended a few times to its current deadline of Sept. 30, 2021.

So with forbearance a sure thing and forgiveness a possibility, should you be making payments on your student loans? Let’s look at the factors that can help you decide.

6 Questions to Ask Before You Stop Paying Student Loans in Forbearance

Before you start celebrating that your student loans are going to disappear, let’s do a reality check and figure out how forgiveness might affect you.

1. What Type of Student Loans Do You Have?

Not all student loans are eligible for forbearance — and it’s highly unlikely they will all be eligible for forgiveness.

The forbearance covers all loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education, which includes Direct Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, Parent and Graduate Plus loans and consolidation loans.

If you have private student loans, these loans are not covered by the administrative forbearance period and there’s almost zero chance they’ll be wiped out by a mass forgiveness.

Not sure who owns your student loans or how much you owe? You can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243 and check out this guide to help you get organized.

If you have a mix of private and federally held student loans, your best strategy may be to use the money you’d normally pay toward federal student loans to pay off more of the private loans still actively accruing interest.

If you qualify, refinancing private student loans could help you lower your interest rate and monthly payments.

“If you have anything over, say, 5 or 6% on your private loans, it doesn’t hurt to look,” Mayotte said.

2. How Much Do You Owe?

The amount you owe may help you decide if you should use the forbearance period to make a dent — or wait.

Even if $10,000 in forgiveness is on the horizon, you’d still be responsible for any remaining debt over that limit.

“If you can afford to make the payments and you owe more than $10,000, you should absolutely be taking advantage of the 0% interest period to chip away at your debt,” Mayotte said. “But there’s no harm in taking that extra amount that you would be making in payments and socking it away somewhere you could earn some interest.”

As the forbearance deadline approaches, you can then use those saved payment amounts to make a lump-sum payment.

If you have less than $10,000 in student loans? Then it might pay to wait out the forbearance period, since forgiveness could potentially be approved in this time period.

However, you should continue to set aside the extra amount you would’ve paid and make the lump sum payment at the end of forbearance — if forgiveness doesn’t end up panning out.

3. Are You on the PSLF Track?

If you’re pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness — you have a direct loan, you’re on an eligible repayment plan and you work for a qualifying employer — then you can and should take advantage of the relief period by making no payments.

Those zero-dollar payments still count toward your total to earn forgiveness, and if your loans happen to be forgiven during this period, all the better.

Despite their eligibility, Mayotte said she knows of numerous cases where PSFL participants have continued to make payments — which might be understandable given the numerous issues that have beleaguered PSLF over the years (like borrowers discovering years’ worth of payments didn’t count because they were on the wrong repayment plan).

If you have been making payments since March, you can reach out to your servicer to request a refund for those payments.

But if you’ve lost your job or have had your hours cut to less than the 30-hour minimum, your non-payments will not count toward forgiveness (but you still don’t have to pay while in the forbearance period).

PSLF does not require consecutive payments, so you can still pause on payments if you think you’ll return to your non-profit or public sector job.

However, if you think it’s unlikely you’ll get eligible employment again, you may want to take advantage of the forbearance period to start paying on the loan. At the very least, you should update your income (if you’ve lost your job) on your income-driven repayment plan.

4. What Kind of Degree Do You Have?

If you have loans that you took out to get an advanced degree, don’t bank on forgiveness.

“People with advanced degrees are unlikely to get mass forgiveness, if any forgiveness, from the government because you’re seen as part of a society that has greater upward mobility,” Muszynski said.

Although undergrad loan debt may still be eligible for forgiveness, your graduate Plus loans are less likely to be included in a forgiveness plan. They’re also likely to have higher interest rates, which means the forbearance period is a good time to be putting a dent in that debt.

However, as with all federally held loans, Mayotte said she’d advise against refinancing into a private loan.

“I’m running into a lot of people right now who are kicking themselves because in the last couple years they did refinance their federal loan into private,” she said. “Now they can’t get the 0% and if [the government] does forgiveness, it’s not going to happen for them.

“They’re begging for a way to take it back, and you can’t.”

5. How Close Are You to Retirement?

If you’re nearing retirement and paying on student loans — whether it’s your own loans or those you took out to pay for your kids’ education — forgiveness may potentially help you wipe out some of your loans. Focusing on saving as much as you can for retirement may be the better bet during this forbearance period.

“Retirement should always come first as far as deciding where your money goes,” Mayotte said.

If you default on student loans after forbearance ends, the loans can be sent to collections, and your wages, tax returns and Social Security benefits may be garnished up to 15% for repayment.

But solely relying on forgiveness is probably not the best strategy, especially if you have more than $10,000 in loans or took out loans to get an advanced degree. In that case, you should start preparing for a future with a fixed income by aggressively paying off the student loan debt and looking into an income-driven repayment plan.

“Understand that you might be 80 years old when the loan is finally gone but at least the payments are going to be affordable and [they’re] not going to change,” Mayotte said.

6. What Does the Rest of Your Financial Situation Look Like?

All of these strategies for getting the most bang for your buck may not mean much if you’re struggling to pay the bills. If you are in a situation where you need the money to pay for your basic needs, take advantage of the forbearance period to get yourself back on your feet and to start building an emergency fund.

Also take into account how using this time to pay off student loans might help your stress levels vs. betting on forgiveness.

“Student loan debt can feel suffocating, and getting out of it can be a mental health benefit,” Muszynski said. “It’s important for people to recognize how they think about their debt, and whether they would prefer to be rid of it so they could be healthier from a mental perspective.”

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.


What a $15 Minimum Wage Means for Social Security

Workers demand $15 minimum wage
Photo by a katz /

An increase of the minimum wage to $15 could help today’s young workers when they finally claim Social Security benefits decades from now, while also increasing revenue for the Social Security program today.

Such workers could see a benefit that is up to about $5,000 higher each year in retirement than they would receive based on today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, according to the organization Social Security Works.

That is because each additional dollar a worker earns potentially increases the monthly Social Security benefit amount he or she receives in retirement.

According to Social Security Works:

“If a single worker were to earn the current minimum wage her whole life, and claimed Social Security benefits in 2021 at her full retirement age, she would receive a monthly benefit of just $979.80. In contrast, if she had earned $15 an hour, her monthly benefit would be $1,409.60. That is a Social Security benefit increase of over $5,000 – $5,157.60, to be exact – each and every year for the rest of her life!”

Higher wages also mean more payroll tax revenue for the Social Security system’s coffers, which are facing a shortfall.

Payroll taxes, also known as FICA taxes, are a source of revenue for the system. Employees pay 6.2% of their wages in Social Security payroll taxes, which is matched by their employers. Self-employed workers pay the full 12.4% of their wages in Social Security payroll taxes.

So, when a worker’s wages increase, so does the amount he or she pays in Social Security payroll taxes.

As Social Security Works puts it:

“Contributions from workers’ wages, matched dollar for dollar by their employers, are Social Security’s primary source of revenue. When the minimum wage increases, Social Security’s revenue also increases. … Furthermore, updating the minimum wage increases the average level of wages nationwide, which results in more income for Social Security.”

The notion of raising the federally mandated minimum wage has been a hot topic in recent years. Many cities and states have already taken steps to raise the minimum wage in their own communities, including increases that just took effect in January, as we detail in “The Minimum Wage in Every State in 2021.” But a change at the federal level would apply to many more employers across the country.

President Joe Biden and many Democrats say they are in favor of raising the wage to $15. Republicans generally are against such a change.

A minimum wage hike currently is part of Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, but opposition — both from Republicans and at least a couple of key Democrats — could doom the wage increase, at least for now.

Recently, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office looked at the implications of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 as introduced in the Senate in late January, which also is included in the Democrats’ relief package. This legislation would increase the federal minimum wage in increments, until it reached $15 per hour by June 2025 if passed in March. From there, the minimum wage would continue to increase at the same rate as median hourly wages.

The CBO concluded that such a measure would lift 900,000 people out of poverty by 2025, but would cost the nation 1.4 million jobs over the same time period.

The CBO also says that the Raise the Wage Act would increase the cumulative budget deficit over the 2021-2031 period by $54 billion.

Would you like to earn a higher wage? Take matters into your own hands by negotiating an increase with your employer. For tips on doing so, check out “10 Tips to Remember When Asking for a Raise.“

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


Biden Administration Extends Mortgage Forbearance Again

President Joe Biden has moved to prolong mortgage forbearance for another six months and extend the foreclosure moratorium until June 30. So reports CNBC.

The steps by the Federal Housing Agency will affect 70% of existing single-family home mortgages, according to the White House.

“The steps we are taking today will provide both immediate relief to those in desperate need of assistance and help more homeowners keep their homes and resume their payments when the pandemic subsides,” Matthew Ammon, acting secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in a press release.

Read the full article from CNBC. 


No domestic testing mandate for travel now, according to report

No domestic testing mandate for travel now, according to report

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Mortgage and refinance rates today, Feb. 20, and rate forecast for next week

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates nudged higher on Friday. It was a bad week for these rates. And they’re now hovering around the 3% mark even for the best borrowers wanting 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs).

There’s always a possibility of sudden and sharp falls. But, right now, that seems a small one. And it’s looking more likely that we’ll see mortgage rates remain roughly where they are or edging higher this week. More below.

Apologies if you tried to access this page at its usual publication time of Saturday afternoon. A technical glitch delayed its posting.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 21st, 2021)

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.949% 2.952% +0.02%
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.519% 2.528% +0.04%
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.887% 2.894% +0.02%
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.569% 2.593% +0.12%
30 year fixed FHA 2.69% 3.366% +0.01%
15 year fixed FHA 2.485% 3.067% +0.03%
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.213% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.128% 2.448% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.392% Unchanged
Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 21st, 2021)

COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

If you’re still floating your rate, you’re probably worried that you’ll miss out on any falls that might turn up. And you’re right. Those could yet happen.

But the odds on those occurring to a worthwhile extent are currently looking slim. Meanwhile, the possibility of further rises seems to me larger. So I’d lock now, if I were you.

But I don’t have a crystal ball. And the decision must be wholly yours.

Still, I changed my recommendations during the week. And they’re now:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK if closing in 60 days

However, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

Compare top lenders

What’s moving current mortgage rates

Things have certainly moved on since last weekend’s edition. And not in a good way. But why? Well …

Rosy outlook = higher mortgage rates

In a CNN Town Hall in Milwaukee on Feb. 17, President Joe Biden said he expected that COVID-19 vaccines would be available to every American “by the end of July.” And that, along with the following, pushed mortgage rates appreciably higher:

  1. The president’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan remains on track to become law
  2. COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death rates continue to fall
  3. Concerns grew about the possibility of future inflation

It was a perfect storm for mortgage rates. And positive economic data on retail sales didn’t help.

As is usually the case when they’re in a bullish mood, investors’ focus is on positive news. But, if they shifted their perspective, they’d see plenty of reasons for concern. And if any of those materialized, mortgage rates could fall back.

Perhaps the most obvious threat to the current optimism is the possible emergence of a mutated strain of SARS-CoV-2 that is resistant to current vaccines. So far, three known variants (from the UK, South Africa and Brazil) are circulating within the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And there seems little reason to think vaccines are ineffective against these. But we’re very likely to see more.

Another possible trigger for future falls in mortgage rates is a stock market collapse. We reported on Friday that there’s more chatter about such a possibility in the financial press. And the Federal Reserve announced on Feb. 12 that it wanted US banks to include a scenario in which stock prices fell 55% in their 2021 stress tests.

These are real possibilities. But nothing more than that. And you have to ask yourself how likely it is that either or both (or some completely different savior) will ride to your rescue before your closing date.

Economic reports next week

Watch out for Friday’s personal income and spending data this week. The other reports are likely to cause waves only if they’re significantly adrift from forecasts.

Here are next week’s main economic reports:

  • Monday — January leading indicators
  • Wednesday — January new home sales
  • Thursday — Weekly new claims for unemployment insurance. Plus the second reading of America’s gross domestic product (GDP) during the last quarter of 2020. Also, January advance durable goods orders
  • Friday — January personal income and personal spending

Note, too, that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is due to appear before the Senate Finance Committee and House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fed chairs’ remarks always have the potential to move markets.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 21st, 2021)

Mortgage interest rates forecast for next week

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong last week when I said, “I’m not expecting mortgage rates to move far next week.” But, if you’re still interested in my predictions, I think it most likely that those rates will remain within spitting distance of the 3% mark for now for top-tier borrowers wanting 30-year FRMs.

Mortgage and refinance rates usually move in tandem. But note that refinance rates are currently a little higher than those for purchase mortgages. That gap’s likely to remain constant as they change.

How your mortgage interest rate is determined

Mortgage and refinance rates are generally determined by prices in a secondary market (similar to the stock or bond markets) where mortgage-backed securities are traded.

And that’s highly dependent on the economy. So mortgage rates tend to be high when things are going well and low when the economy’s in trouble.

Your part

But you play a big part in determining your own mortgage rate in five ways. You can affect it significantly by:

  1. Shopping around for your best mortgage rate — They vary widely from lender to lender
  2. Boosting your credit score — Even a small bump can make a big difference to your rate and payments
  3. Saving the biggest down payment you can — Lenders like you to have real skin in this game
  4. Keeping your other borrowing modest — The lower your other monthly commitments, the bigger the mortgage you can afford
  5. Choosing your mortgage carefully — Are you better off with a conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, jumbo or another loan?

Time spent getting these ducks in a row can see you winning lower rates.

Remember, it’s not just a mortgage rate

Be sure to count all your forthcoming homeownership costs when you’re working out how big a mortgage you can afford. So focus on your “PITI” That’s your Principal (pays down the amount you borrowed), Interest (the price of borrowing), (property) Taxes, and (homeowners) Insurance. Our mortgage calculator can help with these.

Depending on your type of mortgage and the size of your down payment, you may have to pay mortgage insurance, too. And that can easily run into three figures every month.

But there are other potential costs. So you’ll have to pay homeowners association dues if you choose to live somewhere with an HOA. And, wherever you live, you should expect repairs and maintenance costs. There’s no landlord to call when things go wrong!

Finally, you’ll find it hard to forget closing costs. You can see those reflected in the annual percentage rate (APR) you’ll be quoted. Because that effectively spreads them out over your loan’s term, making that higher than your straight mortgage rate.

But you may be able to get help with those closing costs and your down payment, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Read:

Down payment assistance programs in every state for 2020

Compare top lenders

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.


No-fly lists, security crackdown: Chaos in DC leads to big changes in travel ahead of inauguration

No-fly lists, security crackdown: Chaos in DC leads to big changes in travel ahead of inauguration

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Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Vice President Kamala Harris Sells Her San Francisco Condo for a Big Profit

The nation’s newest vice president is unloading her San Francisco condo—and she’s getting a very good price.

Vice President Kamala Harris signed a deal to sell her 1,069-square-foot loft for $799,000, about 63% more than what she paid for it in 2004, according to the Wall Street Journal. The one-bedroom,1.5-bath property is located in a boutique building in San Francisco’s hot South of Market neighborhood. It was on the market for less than two weeks before it went under contract.

Harris bought the two-floor condo nearly 17 years ago for $489,000. That was when Harris became the state of California’s first Black district attorney.

Kamala Harris is in contract to sell her San Francisco condo.
Kamala Harris is in contract to sell her San Francisco condo.

The home is located on the top floor of the building. It boasts a high ceiling accentuating the floor-to-ceiling windows, an alcove that could be used as a home office, and a walk-in closet. Other details from the listing include a chef’s kitchen with a gas stove, fireplace, and full-size washer and dryer. It also has what appears to be a private patio.

Other perks include garage parking with additional storage space.

The building is just a block and a half from a Whole Foods location.

The one-bedroom, San Francisco condo that Harris is selling is set up as a loft.
The one-bedroom, San Francisco condo that Harris is selling is set up as a loft.

Harris now lives across the street from the White House in Blair House, the president’s official guesthouse. The brick-and-stucco home has 14 bedrooms,  35 bathrooms, three formal dining rooms, a gym, and even a beauty salon.

She is expected to move into the vice president’s typical residence, on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, when repairs are completed.

The vice president also owns a two-bedroom condo in Washington, DC, and a 3,500-square-foot house with a pool in the upscale Brentwood neighborhood in Los Angeles.

She reportedly paid $1,775,000 for the 1,700-square-foot condo in DC’s West End neighborhood in 2017, according to the Journal. The complex offers a 24-hour concierge at the front desk, a dog washing station, and a heated rooftop pool with a sundeck.

The four-bedroom, five-bathroom house in Los Angeles was purchased by her husband, entertainment lawyer Doug Emhoff, for $2.7 million in 2012. The couple were married in 2014.

This is the exterior of the San Francisco building where Harris’ condo is now under contract


Update: Biden Administration Extends Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium, Again

Update: The Biden Administration has extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for homeowners with federally backed mortgages until the end of June 2021. These same homeowners have until the end of June to request mortgage payment forbearance if they haven’t already done so. The new order also allows up to an additional six months of mortgage forbearance for those who entered mortgage forbearance on or before June 30, 2020. The new order did not address extension of relief for renters.

Renters and homeowners with a federally backed mortgage who are struggling to make monthly payments can breathe easier. President Biden signed an executive order asking federal agencies to extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Originally set to expire on January 31, the relief now lasts at least another month and in some cases two months, with the possibility of more extensions. 

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Relief for renters. On September 4, 2020, the Center for Disease Control announced a nationwide halt on evictions for qualified tenants. This was originally set to expire at the of December but was then extended until January 31, 2021. Now Biden has extended it again.

To qualify, tenants must complete a CDC Eviction Declaration Form and give it to their landlord. The form certifies that you have been specifically affected by the pandemic and have exhausted all other avenues for help. There is also an income requirement. Single renters must have earned less than $99,000 ($198,000 for couples) in 2020 or received a stimulus payment. Renters also qualify if they were not required to report income in 2019 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Biden has also requested that Congress provide $30 billion in additional rental assistance. The proposal sets $25 billion aside for direct rental relief to landlords, with the other $5 billion slated to help cover energy and water costs through programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Your state may also provide rental assistance. For example, Maryland has suspended evictions for tenants that can demonstrate the pandemic has caused a severe drop in income. In Michigan, utility companies are not allowed to cut off water service until at least March 31, 2021.

Help for homeowners. Holders of  mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are covered by the Biden administration’s extension of the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. The foreclosure moratorium for FHA-insured single family mortgages was extended to March 31, 2021. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae extended its moratorium on foreclosures to February 28, 2021.

The deadline to request forbearance has also been extended. Borrowers with an FHA-insured single family mortgage have until February 28, 2021, to request a forbearance in response to COVID-19.

If your mortgage is owned by a private company, check with your loan provider to see if it provides assistance. For example, Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo have their own payment deferral and forbearance programs. If you’re unsure of whether your loan is federally backed or not, call your mortgage servicer and ask. You can also see if Freddie Mac backs your loan at, or Fannie Mae at

Keep in mind that these relief measures could be extended again as the pandemic continues. When the CARES Act was signed into law in March 2020, the eviction and foreclosure moratoria were slated to last only 60 days.

For more information about stimulus relief that could affect your finances, see 12 Ways the Biden Stimulus Package Could Put (or Keep) Money in Your Pocket.