Mortgage rates are moving fast in one direction this summer - sideways.

It may still be hard to find the home of your dreams with the limited inventory for sale. But at least when it comes to getting a mortgage, you might have more options as lenders loosen some of their standards.

Many home purchasers are seniors. Some become homeowners for the first time, but most have been and want to remain homeowners. They just don't want to remain in their current house. They may want a house that has no stairs, or one that is closer to family or friends, or in a warmer climate. In many cases, they want to downsize, both the physical house and the financial burdens that come with it.

The percentage of people that owned their own home, rather than rented one, dropped in June to a level not seen since the second quarter of 1995.

Across the nation's 20 largest cities, home prices rose 9.3 percent in May - the smallest gain since February 2013, according to the closely watched Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index of home prices, which was released Tuesday.

The nation's two biggest real estate listing websites announced Monday that they're joining forces.

Homeowners who have equity might be tempted to extract some of that wealth and use it for other immediate needs or wants.

QUESTION: I recently sold my home and was basically forced to use the buyer's title company. The closing process was quite a comedy of errors, and it seemed like nobody knew what they were doing. To top it off, I got my proceeds wired to me four days late, and I was overpaid by $7,000. Now the title company is demanding that I wire the money back, telling me I could be in trouble if I don't. Also, I'm worried that my mortgage pay-off may have been messed up. What do I need to do?

Consumers looking to purchase a home within the near future face many decisions, including how large a down payment to make. The down payment is the sale price (confirmed by an appraisal) less the loan amount. In most cases, home purchasers must have financial assets at least as large as the down payment they make.

In the battle for online real estate listings, two services have emerged in recent years as the dominant residential websites, surpassing even the National Association of Realtors' affiliated website and mobile service.



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