Home buying

With mortgage rates on the slow and steady incline, there might be no better time for a home purchase than now.

Are you considering buying a home? With mortgage rates on the slow and steady incline, there might be no better time for a home purchase than now. Mortgage interest rates likely will continue to go up for the foreseeable future, according to recent data from the housing finance company Freddie Mac. Many housing experts and industry observers agree.

What does this mean? If you are thinking about buying a home, it means don't wait any longer. The overall cost of buying a home in the future only will increase compared to buying a home of the same value today. Furthermore, rising interest rates affect housing inventory, as sellers might not be as interested in moving if it means paying a higher rate on a new mortgage. As a result, the dream home you see today might not be available next year.

The 20 percent down myth. If you've put off buying your next home to save for the full 20 percent, there is good news: You don't need it. If you were unaware of this, you're not alone. A recent survey found that among first-time homebuyers who obtained a mortgage, 80 percent made a down payment of less than 20 percent.

While there are several low down payment mortgage options available, only one has a 60-year history of being a steadfast, smart way to get into a home: a conventional loan with private mortgage insurance.

What is a conventional loan with MI? A conventional loan is a mortgage from a lender that is not completely backed by the federal government. For qualified borrowers with a low down payment, private MI is required and typically paid monthly along with the mortgage payment. You can obtain this type of loan with as little as 3 percent down, though buying with a 5 percent down payment will result in a lower monthly payment.

THE LIST

According to TheBestColleges.org, the top 10 biggest public university bargains for 2017 are:

1. South Texas College (McAllen, Texas)

2. California State University (Los Angeles)

3. Elizabeth City State University (Elizabeth City, N.C.)

4. Palm Beach State College (Lake Worth, Fla.)

5. CUNY Lehman College (Bronx, N.Y.)

6. Louisiana State University (Shreveport, La.)

7. Chipola College (Marianna, Fla.)

8. Texas A&M International University (Laredo, Texas)

9. Middle Georgia College (Cochran, Ga.)

10. University of Hawaii-West Oahu (Pearl City, Hawaii)

NUMBER TO KNOW

2.25 million: According to the PIRA Energy Group, it is estimated that American crude oil exports will grow to 2.25 million barrels per day by 2020.

TECH TALK

End of the Windows phone is near: Microsoft officially ended support of its Windows Phone 8.1 on July 11, which ends the company's venture into the cellphone market. Microsoft first introduced the update more than 3 years ago. It is estimated that about 80 percent of all Windows-powered phones still are running Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 or Windows Phone 8.1. All Windows phones now are unsupported, and only 20 percent were running the latest Windows 10 Mobil OS.

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