The Best Way To Keep Track of Mortgage Rate Trends

If you’re thinking about buying a home, chances are you’ve got mortgage rates on your mind. You’ve heard about how they impact how much you can afford in your monthly mortgage payment, and you want to make sure you’re factoring that in as you plan your move.

The problem is, with all the headlines in the news about rates lately, it can be a bit overwhelming to sort through. Here’s a quick rundown of what you really need to know.

The Latest on Mortgage Rates

Rates have been volatile – that means they’re bouncing around a bit. And, you may be wondering, why? The answer is complicated because rates are affected by so many factors.

Things like what’s happening in the broader economy and the job market, the current inflation rate, decisions made by the Federal Reserve, and a whole lot more have an impact. Lately, all of those factors have come into play, and it’s caused the volatility we’ve seen. As Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“Ongoing inflation deceleration, a slowing economy and even geopolitical uncertainty can contribute to lower mortgage rates. On the other hand, data that signals upside risk to inflation may result in higher rates.”

Professionals Can Help Make Sense of it All

While you could drill down into each of those things to really understand how they impact mortgage rates, that would be a lot of work. And when you’re already busy planning a move, taking on that much reading and research may feel a little overwhelming. Instead of spending your time on that, lean on the pros.

They coach people through market conditions all the time. They’ll focus on giving you a quick summary of any broader trends up or down, what experts say lies ahead, and how all of that impacts you.

Take this chart as an example. It gives you an idea of how mortgage rates impact your monthly payment when you buy a home. Imagine being able to make a payment between $2,500 and $2,600 work for your budget (principal and interest only). The green part in the chart shows payments in that range or lower based on varying mortgage rates (see chart below):

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As you can see, even a small shift in rates can impact the loan amount you can afford if you want to stay within that target budget.

It’s tools and visuals like these that take everything that’s happening and show what it actually means for you. And only a pro has the knowledge and expertise needed to guide you through them.

You don’t need to be an expert on real estate or mortgage rates, you just need to have someone who is, by your side.

Bottom Line

Have questions about what’s going on in the housing market? Connect with a real estate professional to take what’s happening right now and figure out what it really means for you.



10 Energy saving tips during spring

Here are just a few simple things you can do to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home as warmer temperatures arrive:

1. Service your air conditioner. Easy maintenance such as routinely replacing or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. Also, the first day of spring could serve as a reminder to check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels.

2. Open windows. Opening windows creates a cross-wise breeze, allowing you to naturally cool your home without switching on air conditioners. This is an ideal tactic in spring when temperatures are mild.

3. Use ceiling fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.

4. Cook outside. On warmer spring days, keep the heat out of your home by using an outdoor grill instead of indoor ovens.

5. Install window treatments. Energy efficient window treatments or coverings such as blinds, shades and films can slash heat gain when temperatures rise. These devices not only improve the look of your home but also reduce energy costs.

6. Caulk air leaks. Using low-cost caulk to seal cracks and openings in your home keeps warm air out — and cash in your wallet.

7.  Bring in sunlight. During daylight hours, switch off artificial lights and use windows and skylights to brighten your home.

8. Set the thermostat. On warm days, setting a programmable thermostat to a higher setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent.

9. Seal ducts. Air loss through ducts can lead to high electricity costs, accounting for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption. Sealing and insulating ducts can go a long way toward lowering your electricity bills.

10.  Switch on bathroom fans. Bathroom fans suck out heat and humidity from your home, improving comfort.

Check out our home cooling and landscaping infographics for more ways to cut energy costs this spring. And visit Energy Saver for additional tips on improving your home’s energy efficiency.


Your Guide to Spring Gardening

Spring is an uplifting time of year for many of us as we watch the natural world burst into life. Learn some handy gardening tips on creating blossom displays, pruning and mowing, and the types of flowers and vegetables to plant this season.


What to plant in spring

Once the soil is warm enough, you can start planting potatoes and onions and sowing hardy vegetables, including broad beans, cabbages, carrots, radishes, lettuce, rocket and spinach.

March and April are good months to plant perennials, sow hardy annuals such as marigolds, and plant summer-flowering bulbs, including lilies and gladioli. Prepare your beds in late May by removing weeds and digging and raking the soil to a fine tilth.

Want to create more plants for free? As daffodils and other spring bulbs die back, start dividing crowded clumps to spread them out for next year.

Things to do in the garden during spring

Weed and mulch

Rising temperatures accelerate growth in borders and vegetable beds, so it’s important to keep on top of weeds with regular hoeing.

You can also mulch your borders in early spring, provided the soil is moist, to help prevent weeds.

Prune hydrangeas

Prune hydrangeas in March. Look for a set of healthy strong buds and cut the old flower heads back to just above them.

For mature or congested plants, take out some of the older growth to encourage them to reshoot from the base.

Look out for wildlife

Take care not to disturb nesting birds and always check carefully before pruning hedges or shrubs.

When you tidy and cut back winter growth in spring, remember it may be home to insects and amphibians, or even a hibernating hedgehog.

Leave the lawn for pollinators

Join the growing trend of leaving all or parts of your lawn uncut for a few weeks at a time. This will allow clover, daisies and other lawn species to flower, providing nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects.

Volunteers re-potting geranium seedlings into plug trays in the nursery at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
Volunteers in the nursery at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire | © National Trust Images/Mike Hodgson

Container growing

If you have a small garden, patio or terrace, then container growing could be for you. Here are some useful tips to help you make the most of container growing.

Choosing plants for containers

Bulbs and annuals are great for growing in containers because you can replant each year to create new schemes. Herbs such as parsley, basil and thyme will also grow well in pots – place them near your kitchen door for easy access.

Many perennials and even small shrubs and trees will grow in containers, but species choice is important so make sure you do your research before you buy.

Compost and care

Use good-quality peat-free potting compost for temporary displays. For shrubs and perennials, which will stay in the same compost for a while, choose one with soil in it or add your own.

Plants in containers need regular watering, so ask a helpful neighbour to take care of them when you’re away.

Planting small trees for blossom

Even if you have a small garden, you can create an eye-catching blossom display. The key to success is choosing the right size trees or shrubs for the space you’ve got.

You can buy bare-root trees and shrubs between November and March or in containers all year round. It’s best to plant them in autumn or early spring.

Apple blossom in April, in the fruit orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall
Apple blossom in the fruit orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Choosing the best blossom tree for your garden

Personal taste, colour and smell are obvious criteria for selecting a blossom tree, but remember to check the plant’s soil preferences and potential height once it’s fully matured. A container shrub will fit into the smallest of spaces, but remember this will need regular feeding and watering.

If you’ve got space for more than one tree, think about how they will complement each other – flowering in sequence or contrasting colours. You may want a tree with multi-season interest or one that produces fruit. Fruit tree blossom is great for pollinating insects.


Fire Safety Tips for Your Home

Follow these fire safety tips for your home to keep your family safe, and learn how to stay safe in the event of a house fire.

In the event of a house fire, every second counts. A fire can become life-threatening within two minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a home can become completely engulfed in flames and filled with thick black smoke in five minutes.

“There are nearly 500,000 house fires every year in the United States,” says Mallory Micetich, home care expert at home services company Angi. “House fires are dangerous and destructive, but many of them can be prevented by following home safety recommendations and keeping up with home maintenance.”

Fires are devastating, but most house fires are preventable. Here are common causes of fires and fire safety tips for your home:

There are a number of ways a fire can start in the home. Some of the most common ways may be very familiar, but others may be a little more difficult to spot. Being aware and identifying potential risks can help lower the chances of a house fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, these are the most common causes of fires in the home:

  • Cooking accidents. According to the NFPA, cooking accidents account for nearly 50% of all house fires. Frequently, cooking fires are caused by grease that becomes overheated or when cooking food is left unsupervised. Make sure to thoroughly clean your cookware to prevent the buildup of grease and other debris and never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking with oil.“If you see a grease fire in your kitchen, do not use water or attempt to transfer the fiery pot or pan anywhere else,” Micetich says. “As soon as you see smoke, turn off the flame and cover the pan with a heavy metal lid. If the pan starts to produce flames, pour a generous amount of baking soda over it.”
  • Portable heaters and space heaters. Portable space heaters are particularly dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters cause 1,700 fires per year, resulting in about 80 deaths and 160 injuries.Before you use your space heater for the first time, Micetich advises users to read the instructions and follow them closely. Don’t use a space heater that may be too large for the room or area you want to put it in and make sure there are no combustible materials near the unit. “When possible, try to buy an electric space heater from a reputable brand with added safety features like auto-off and tip safety to prevent house fires,” Micetich adds.
  • Electrical faults. Most electrical fires are caused by short circuits or loose connections. Micetich says to bring in a pro once a year to inspect your electrical system and to not overburden your system by running multiple appliances at once.
  • Appliance malfunctions. The most common cause of house fires from an appliance is a dryer malfunction. Regularly empty the lint trap in your dryer and have an appliance repair expert routinely inspect your units, Micetich says.
  • Chimney issues. Chimney fires can quickly spread to other areas of the home. Micetich advises homeowners to never start a fire using gasoline or kerosene, and only fuel your fires with dry wood or dedicated chimney fire starters. “Bring in a chimney pro once a year to inspect and sweep your chimney to get rid of creosote buildup that causes fires,” Micetich adds. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimney sweeping and inspection cost between $150 and $450, which could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
  • Smoking and candles. Keep open flames away from flammable materials and never leave them unattended.

The NFPA estimates that one home fire-related death occurs every 3 hours and 8 minutes, and the Insurance Information Institute reports the average home insurance house fire claim between 2016 and 2020 was more than $77,000.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your homes safe.

  • Install smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are your first step toward early home fire detection. Install a smoke detector on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test alarms every month and replace batteries once per year.
  • Install fire extinguishers. Install a fire extinguisher that’s easily visible and accessible on every level of your home. Regularly examine the extinguishers for signs of corrosion, leakage or clogged nozzles.
  • Have a fire escape plan. Sit down with your family members and create a fire escape plan. Have at least two unobstructed exits in every room, like a window or door. Make sure to practice your escape plan at least once per year.

Winter is the peak time for fire-related deaths and injuries, and the holidays come with their own set of fire risks. Christmas trees, decorations, cooking and candles are the leading causes of house fires during the holiday season.

“With more cooking and home heating compared to the rest of the year, it leads to increased risk,” Micetich says. “Christmas trees, whether real or artificial, can catch fire when they get too hot. Opt for LED bulbs to decrease the risk of your tree catching on fire. If you have a real tree, water it regularly to keep the needles from drying out.”

The safety of you and your family is your top priority during a house fire. Put your escape plan into action. If you can’t get out right away, cover vents and protect your lungs as much as possible to reduce smoke inhalation.

“Extinguish the fire, if possible, by using a fire extinguisher or smothering a grease fire with a metal lid,” Micetich says. “If you can’t extinguish the fire, shout ‘Fire!’, immediately vacate your home and call 911 once you’re safely out.”



Here are some useful video tips.