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Trend Alert: Homeowners Opt for 15-year Fixed-Rate Loans

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Consumer money resource Bills.com recently released its 2011 Third Quarter Mortgage Report. Driven by an increased demand for refinance loans, consumer traffic to the company’s mortgage tools and calculators more than doubled from the second quarter.

The majority of homeowners preferred 15-year fixed-rate loans as a way to combine lower interest rates with the stability of a fixed-rate product. Consumers in this quarter were also more accurate in estimating both their credit score and the value of their homes.

“Homeowners are actively seeking out the sweet spot between long-term stability and the lowest possible interest rate,” says Ethan Ewing, president of Bills.com. “Fortunately, current market conditions make it possible to lock-in that stability and secure very low rates and payments.”

The Bills.com Quarterly Mortgage Report aggregates user data and choices from its mortgage recommendation engine and various mortgage calculators and tools. Requests for refinance information made up nearly 90% of the traffic to the Bills.com Mortgage Help Center tools in the third quarter of 2011.

Findings include:
• 39% of borrowers in Q3 said the lowest possible interest rate was the most important factor in choosing a loan, versus 41% in Q2
• 23% of borrowers in Q3 said the lowest possible monthly payment was the most important factor in choosing a loan, versus 21% in Q2
• 76% of consumers in Q3 preferred a higher, fixed rate to a lower, variable one
• 72% of borrowers in Q3 plan to remain in their homes for more than 7 years

Most requested loan products for Q3, in order:
• 34% preferred 15-year fixed loans, down from 38% in Q2
• 32% preferred 30-year fixed loans, up from 26% in Q2
• The percentage of borrowers who preferred 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages remained consistent at roughly 14% between Q2 and Q3

The report also gauged the accuracy of homeowners or new borrowers in rating their own credit score and assessing the value of their own home.
• In Q3, homeowners underestimated the value of their home by an average of $11,145, compared to an average difference of $19,645 in the previous quarter
• While the large majority of visitors in Q3 had an excellent credit score (740+), roughly 32% of them incorrectly stated their score as only “very good.”

For more information, visit www.Bills.com.

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