Thursday, 31 December 2020

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that American households should expect to receive

Mnuchin said the government would begin sending out paper checks on Wednesday, which means people should begin receiving those within the next two weeks.

Individuals with direct deposit information on file with the IRS will receive their money even quicker – beginning on Tuesday night for some and continuing into next week.

"Treasury and the IRS are working with unprecedented speed to issue a second round of Economic Impact Payments to eligible Americans and their families," Mnuchin said in a statement. "These payments are an integral part of our commitment to providing vital additional economic relief to the American people during this unprecedented time."

Recipients can use the IRS’ track my payment tool to check the status of their funds. The vast majority of eligible households will not need to take any action in order to receive their payments.

As it currently stands, the checks will be for $600 – although lawmakers are in the midst of considering legislation that would more than double that amount.

The House of Representatives on Monday passed standalone legislation that would increase the economic impact payments to $2,000, from $600 – a policy that President Trump has very publicly supported.

Other Republicans – with an eye on the ballooning federal deficit – are hesitant to increase spending, rendering the measure’s chances of passing the GOP-controlled Senate uncertain.

Under the CARES Act, which passed earlier this year, eligible Americans received $1,200 checks – or $2,400 for married couples.

Individuals earning up to $75,000, or $150,000 for married couples, are eligible for the second round of direct payments. Households are eligible for an additional $600 per qualifying child.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Beyond those income thresholds, the payments would begin to phase out at a rate of $5 per $100 of additional income.

Individuals earning more than $87,000 and married couples earning more than $174,000 are ineligible for payments.

Today's mortgage refinance rates keep at historic lows | December 30, 2020

 Based on data compiled by Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, current mortgage refinance rates stuck around at unprecedented lows with 30-year, 20-year, and 15-year refinance rates seeing no change from yesterday.

Rates last updated on December 30, 2020. These rates are based on the assumptions shown here. Actual rates may vary.

If you’re thinking of refinancing your home mortgage, consider using Credible. Whether you're interested in saving money on your monthly mortgage payments, or considering a cash-out refinance, Credible's free online tool will let you compare rates from multiple mortgage lenders. You can see prequalified rates in as little as three minutes.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

TECH Report finds $50 billion of cryptocurrency moved out of China hinting at capital flight against Beijing rules

  • Over $50 billion of cryptocurrency moved from China-based digital wallets to other parts of the world in the last year, according to a report by Chainalysis.
  • Chinese citizens are only allowed to buy up to $50,000 of foreign currency a year at a financial institution.
  • The report said this could point towards the possibility of Chinese citizens using cryptocurrency to move their money out of the country. 
  • Over $50 billion of cryptocurrency moved from China-based digital wallets to other parts of the world in the last year, pointing to possibilities that Chinese investors are transferring more money than allowed out of the country, a new report claims.
    Chinese citizens are only allowed to buy up to $50,000 of foreign currency a year at a financial institution. In the past, wealthy citizens have circumvented the limit through foreign investments in real estate and other assets. But the government has cracked down on these methods, according to a report by Chainalysis, a blockchain forensics firm.
    “Cryptocurrency could be picking up some of the slack though,” the report said. 
    “Over the last twelve months, with China’s economy suffering due to trade wars and devaluation of the yuan at different points, we’ve seen over $50 billion worth of cryptocurrency move from China-based addresses to overseas addresses,” Chainalysis said.
  • Chainalysis sells compliance and investigation software to businesses and governments. 
    “Obviously, not all of this is capital flight, but we can think of $50 billion as the absolute ceiling for capital flight via cryptocurrency from East Asia to other regions,” the report added.
  • Cryptocurrency holders are using controversial stablecoin Tether to move their money. A stablecoin is a digital currency that is usually backed by another asset or group of assets in efforts to stabilize its value and limit volatility. Tether claims to be pegged to the U.S. dollar. 
    Stablecoins are useful for transferring large amounts of cryptocurrency because, in theory, the value of the cryptocurrency a person is moving should not see wild swings.
    “In total, over $18 billion worth of Tether has moved from East Asia addresses to those based in other regions over the last 12 months. Again, it’s highly unlikely that all of this is capital flight,” Chainalysis said in its report. 
  • Part of this activity can be explained by China-based miners converting their newly-minted coins into Tether and sending them to exchanges abroad, Chainalysis said. Miners are people with specialized computers solving complex math problems to mint new cryptocurrency. When they solve this complex problem, miners are rewarded in cryptocurrency. 
    But the report also found significant spikes in Tether movement on certain news events. Firstly, in October, Chinese President Xi Jinping threw his backing behind blockchain, the technology that underpins many digital coins. 
    Secondly, after a massive sell-off in mid-March, the price of bitcoin began to recover. 
    “Equities in both the U.S. and China were still losing value at this time, as was the yuan itself. It’s possible that the economic tumult may have prompted some capital flight from China, though much of the Tether movement could have been East Asia-based cryptocurrency traders moving their holdings to international exchanges in order to trade at a time when cryptocurrency price volatility was high,” Chainalysis said.
  • Tether itself has been mired in controversy. In April 2019, the New York attorney general accused bitcoin exchange operator Bitfinex and tether issuer Tether Limited of hiding an $850 million loss. Both companies have denied wrongdoing.
    China has previously taken a hard stance on cryptocurrencies. In 2017, Beijing banned fundraising via cryptocurrencies known as initial coin offerings or ICOs and local exchanges. 
    However, Xi has backed the underlying technology known as blockchain. Meanwhile, China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, is developing its own digital currency. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Business Owners: Is it Time to Ditch Your Bank?

‘My name’s Mark, and I’m a small business owner. I’d like to tell you about some of the challenges I’ve faced as a self-employed person. My local bank was siphoning more out of my revenue stream than I cared for. So, I went in search of cost-effective alternatives, and this is what I’ve found.’
I run a CMS enterprise where I produce aggregated content for a wide range of industries, including gaming, fashion, and technical operations. My clients are based all over the world, and I subcontract to freelancers and industry experts whenever required. As you can imagine, international transactions factor into my daily business operations. I’ve been engaged in this line of work for the past 15 years, and for the most part I am happy. My client base is steadily growing, and the efficiency of my business has improved.
There was one worrying aspect of my small business that troubled me: fees, commissions, and bank charges. As a sole proprietor or small business, you know that the buck stops with you. You are the first and last line of defense for your own well-being, and you have to take responsibility for all decision-making. Once my business was operating at maximum capacity, I was clearing $150,000 per annum, but I was a veritable workaholic. I never saw a day of rest, even on my wedding day which was interrupted with a morning session of work. Nonetheless, I accepted the challenges because I enjoyed the independence of being able to work from a virtual office.

Boom or Bust – Banks Are Not on Your Side

Being a home-based business has its merits. You don’t have to answer to a boss, other than your clients, and you don’t have to deal with the employees, since you’re dealing with freelancers. The flipside of the coin is that all complaints are yours to deal with and you cannot shift responsibility to anyone else.
Marketing, invoicing, collections, social media, content management, quality control and all other aspects of the business are my responsibility. When it came time to invoice my clients at the end of the month I realized that my cost structure was being hampered by the extortionary fees, charges, and commissions I was paying to banks, PayPal, and other payments processing companies.
As a small business, you often get clients with small work orders. When these clients are based overseas, the only way you can get the money transferred to you is via a payment system that your client is willing to use, and one which you are willing to use. Unfortunately, many of my clients used banks and PayPal. These are two of the most expensive ways to transfer money. Consider one client that owed me £100 for a work order that I’d completed.
This client had a bank in Cyprus which then had to convert euros into pounds sterling. There were fees associated from the originating bank to my bank, and additional fees were tacked on by the receiving bank. Add currency cross exchange rates into the mix and you can imagine my displeasure when I received the final payment. Many similar examples occurred over the years. At the time, I simply accepted this as part of the process.

Originating banks and receiving banks

I invoiced my clients, accepted that banks were going to fleece me along the way and came out with a lot less than I’d charged them. My overinflated gross income always looked much more attractive than my net income. It didn’t much matter whether I used banks or PayPal – they were equally bad. The problem is that anytime money is transferred across international borders, you have originating banks and receiving banks, fees, margins and all sorts of unfriendly exchange rates to contend with.
It can cost as much as £25 for a UK bank to receive an international wire, and as much is $50 for a US bank. These fees simply don’t make sense. PayPal may not charge the high upfront fee, but their commissions are about as user unfriendly as you can imagine. I guess I had gotten stuck in a rut, accepting that those fees were never going to change and that I should simply charge clients more to come out a little bit ahead.
However, I didn’t want to price myself out of the market.
Then I started searching for options other than banks and PayPal for money transfers. I realize that enemy #1 are the actual currency transfers between my business and my suppliers, or between my clients and myself. The unfavorable rates offered by banks are the problem. Banks will always buy for less than what they sell at. They also tack on many extra charges to make any international currency transfer as unfavourable to the client as possible. I have heard horror stories of two-way money transfers eating up as much is 13% of the value of the currency transfer.
Imagine selling your home in the UK for £100,000, transferring that money to the US and then transferring it back to the UK again and paying £13,000? Some banks will do that to you. That’s why I quickly ran a search on best international money transfer options and I came up with multiple alternatives to High Street banks. The wire fees are significantly lower, if at all, and transfers are far easier and quicker than with banks. I initially had qualms about credibility of non-bank money transfer services, but those are quickly allayed when I realized that the top money transfer companies are reliable, and the latest FinTech disruptors.
Banks are now playing catch-up with these companies because they’re losing sole traders and small business owners like myself by the truckload. I highly recommended cutting costs by switching to non-bank money transfer companies. There are many benefits in this, and you can use those cost savings towards your 401(k) retirement plan.

The Great Battle: Gold Standard vs. Fiat Money

Comparison begets real knowledge, but of course, solely from a proper one. Discussing about these topics in exquisite detail would require several pages, but this article has been written with the purpose of bringing a good overview in a laconic way.
Therefore, I hope this article helps you to learn more about each system, and based on that, arrive to your own conclusions on which one is the best.

About Inflation And Deflation:

Those who support a fiat money system argument that the principal and most dangerous risk of gold standard is that a positive demand shock for gold can bring risky levels of deflation. Nonetheless, most cannot bring solid arguments on how it would happen and if it would be really that dangerous. However, on the other hand, we can consult history and see that the gold standard of the 19th century suffered periods of deflation and inflation, but they were fairly moderate.
In addition, even the ‘wildest’ periods didn’t show a sign of uncontrollable deflation. Therefore, according to history, a gold-standard system doesn’t necessarily mean that gold demand shocks will result in extreme deflation.

History Supports It

Unlike the current fiat system that has never been properly run, so to speak, gold-standard has a brief yet successful mark in history. If we stick to the most exact definition, then we can say that the real international gold standard system simply lasted from 1870 to 1914.
And what did happen during those decades? Here is some of the evidence that shows the great potential of this system than in such a short time in history proved more than our current fiat system:
  1. A period of very little inflation that was easier to manage
  2. Increased living standards
  3. Drop in employment rates
  4. More competitive and productive industries
  5. Government interventions were reduce to a minimal expression
Moreover, some countries like England and the Netherlands had already adopted the gold-standard system before 1870, but it was only since the international adoption of it that it could finally show its true potential.
Unlike the current times we live in, none was coerced to subject to it. Every nation was free to join or simply look from the outside.
In addition, we can also point the following benefits this system brought to the nations that adopted it:
  1. International trade experienced one of the highest growth rates in history
  2. Capital mobility experienced its best days
  3. The exchange rates were surprisingly stable
  4. Speculation maintained within ‘acceptable’ boundaries
  5. Income and industrial production experienced an impressive growth
  6. Nations, public and private institutions trusted the international monetary system
  7. Liquidity was bountiful
  8. Excellent levels of price stability along with low levels of inflation
All in all, nations experienced several advantages that made them live some of the best years in their history.
If we compare this against the fiat system, then we will find many displeasing surprises…

Arguments Against The Gold Standard

The supporters of the fiat system have many arguments against the gold standards, however, the majority of them are baseless. But for the purpose of showing why it is the case, here you have the three most popular arguments used against this system:

Argument #1

“Gold is a synonymous of panics, therefore, central banks must be left to their own devices and gold must be avoided at all cost so our economies can be more stable”.
Affirming that panics emerge from gold is wrong in several senses, and that’s why we need to understand how they are created. First off, the causes of panics are several but amongst the most important we have:
  1. Overconfidence
  2. Overexpansion of credit
  3. A big scramble for liquidity
  4. A significant and abrupt loss in confidence
From this it is very easy to understand that the direct relationship between panics and gold is nonexistent, and hence, makes our example argument very weak and easy to refute. Moreover, gold is an excellent investment and should be a mandatory part of your portfolio. If you want to learn more about that specific point, then you should visit

Argument #2

“There’s simply not enough gold, therefore, it makes it unsuitable for a global economic system”
This is one of the most popular and weakest arguments out there. The key to refuting it is that our focus should shift from the quantity to the price. Then, there is a vast amount of gold in the world that is valued at the right price.
Now that we have these elements into account we can proceed to do the following conditional comparison: if the ounce of gold was worth $17K USD, then it would be comparable to the combined M1 money supply of the following countries:
  1. China
  2. Japan
  3. USA
  4. UE
Therefore, based on this, we can see that the problem of the quantity of gold in the world is a real issue at all.

Conclusion And Final Words

As we can see, after checking history and real facts, the gold-standard system has several advantages that the current FIAT system cannot offer. However, the supports claim that a well-run FIAT system would beat a well-run gold standard any day of week, but the question is: have we ever seen such a thing like a well-run fiat system? Debt creates increasing, inflation is skyrocketing, people are suffering the consequences and yet those very same supporters cannot see the problem.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Facebook gives employees $1,000 as it extends remote work to July 2021

Facebook this week announced it will allow its employees to work from home until next July, following in the footsteps of Google, which has also told workers to stay home until summer 2021.
The social networking giant will also give employees $1,000 to expense things like office supplies and furniture.
“Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
The company added that it will reopen offices where it is able to, but said it does not expect to see a significant return to the office in the US or Latin America in 2020.
Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in May said he thinks half of Facebook’s employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. The company is already allowing certain employees to work from home on a full-time basis.
Facebook workers who relocate permanently may have their pay adjusted accordingly, however, given that Silicon Valley’s sky-high rental prices are a factor in the company’s generous compensation packages.
“We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point,” Zuckerberg said, adding that the tweak would be necessary for taxes and accounting. “There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.”
Twitter also announced in May that employees would eventually be allowed to work from home indefinitely.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Hedge-funder gambles on coronavirus to build casino empire

Soo Kim, co-founder of hedge-fund giant Standard General, has already scooped up three casinos on the cheap since the pandemic struck in March, including Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino — which he bought for $25 million, the price of some New York City metro-area homes.
But Kim, a 45-year-old Queens native, sees more such opportunities opening up as the pandemic drags on, squeezing gambling houses loaded down with debt.
“A lot of casino companies, due to their balance sheets going up too high, are in tough shape now and are not prepared to take advantage of this regional opportunity,” the Stuyvesant HS graduate told The Post.
“We are one of the few that have scale and a good balance sheet,” he said of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, an operator of no-frills gambling houses that is 38 percent owned by Standard General.
Twin River, based in Lincoln, RI, now owns 10 gambling properties across six states, as well as a horse racetrack with 13 authorized off-track betting licenses in Colorado.
It acquired three of those properties in April as casino giants Caesars Entertainment and Eldorado Resorts scrambled to sell assets to close on a planned $17 billion merger.
In addition to buying Bally’s — a 1,251-room hotel and casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk — from Caesars, Twin River also scooped up Eldorado’s namesake property in Shreveport, La., and its Montbleu in Lake Tahoe, Nev., for $155 million.
Twin River paid just 3.6 times earnings for the three venues, or roughly the cost of the real estate, Kim says.
“The price we offered was really low,” he said. “Even if these casinos are closed for two years, it’s a good deal.”
While Caesars and Eldorado sold to win regulatory approval for their merger, the coronavirus also played a role, experts said, noting that the Shreveport property was on track to fetch as much as $230 million in January before the deal fell through.

Kim made headlines in 2014 for partnering with American Apparel’s controversial founder and CEO, Charney, after Charney had been ousted for alleged sexual harassment. Efforts to revive the retailer failed, however, and it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015.
Among Standard General’s more successful turnaround efforts is Turning Point Brands, licensor of Zig-Zag tobacco wrapping paper. Standard General bought it in 2010, when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. The stock closed on Friday at $29.67 a share.
Kim is hoping for a similar success story with Twin River, known for its focus on regional, no-frills casinos — a sector that has been doing well of late because they attract heavy gamblers instead of families and conferencegoers, analysts said.
When Standard General first got involved with its Twin River stake in 2016, it was generating $50 million in annual earnings. That’s now projected to grow to $200 million. As Twin River’s chairman, Kim is aiming for earnings of $500 million a year, he said.
With the exception of Bally’s, all of Twin River’s casinos are in the green since reopening in May, Kim said.
“It’s amazing how behavior bounces back,” Kim said. “I think spending has been a little better [at the casinos] than for discretionary purchases. People enjoy gambling.”

Thursday, 23 July 2020

How to get incredibly cheap student loan refinancing rates

Managing student loan debt can be a financial juggling act, especially if you have private student loans with high-interest rates. Refinancing your student debt could save you money on interest charges, help to lower your monthly payments, and potentially help you repay your loans faster. If you're considering private student loan refinancing, here are some important things to know. 

How to refinance your student loans

Student loan refinancing means taking out a new loan to pay off existing loans. You'd then repay the new loan going forward. 
Refinancing private student loans isn't a complicated process. It starts with finding a lender, then applying for a loan. Credible can help you compare multiple lenders at once to ensure you find the best rates and offers currently available.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Chicago bar shut down, fined for breaking coronavirus rules

But now, a co-owner of the bar is speaking with FOX 32 about what happened. He says it was not their fault.
The Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse was issued immediate closure orders by the City of Chicago both Saturday and Sunday evenings and now one of the co-owners says the fines they face could put them out of business.
The city says Wise Owl on S“I think that’s taken out of context,” said co-owner Andy Gowin, who disagrees with the shutdown. “I believe that both nights the task force was coming in, we were already closing up for the night. We can’t control what the customers do after we call last call.”
The city says the Wise Owl was operating over capacity and failed to maintain social distancing, have patrons wear masks and stay seated.
Gowin says those are difficult to monitor.
“If people are going to get up and walk to another table, it’s really hard to talk to these customers, to tell them they need to put on a mask every time,” he said.
The orders required the Wise Owl to immediately close both nights. It also received four citations, each with a fine up to $10,000.
“If we have to indeed pay those fines, it’s gonna possibly put us out of business,” Gowin said.
The city also denied the Wise Owl's expanded outdoor dining permit, which is why tables in their parking lot are now vacant and off limits.
Gowin says after Sunday’s incident, additional staff has been brought on to monitor that customers follow social distancing guidelines from here on out.
“We just, we’re a small business in Chicago that is trying to stay open,” he said.
The city says while the closure orders were issued for Saturday and Sunday evenings of this past weekend only, it is also pursuing additional disciplinary actions.outh Racine Avenue egregiously and blatantly disregarded reopening requirements.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

One million Brits to pay £38k extra a year for care after Covid crunch

More than a million people may be forced to pay almost £40,000 extra a year to be cared for at home, or have to move in with their children, because they would no longer consider living in a care home after Covid-19, new research seen by Telegraph Money shows.
Coronavirus has caused a crisis of confidence in care homes. A fifth of over-60s are rethinking how they will manage in their later years as they have now ruled out living in one, exclusive data from Canada Life, a wealth manager, found.
More than a million people who are over 60 and not already receiving some form of care will now be looking at alternatives such as at-home support. Costs for this depend on the person’s needs, but can be far higher than care home fees....

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Mengandeng Google Cloud, BRI Makin Canggih Berdayakan UMKM

Bank BRI terus melakukan terobosan baru dalam memperkuat peran digitalisasi bagi pelaku Usaha Mikro, Kecil dan Menengah (UMKM) di Indonesia. Salah satunya melalui kerja sama dengan Google Cloud dalam rangka memperluas jangkauan dan kapasitas layanan teknologi digital.
“Ini sebuah langkah maju dari transformasi digital Bank BRI. Kami memiliki kepedulian dan tanggung jawab dalam meningkatkan layanan kepada pelaku UMKM untuk go digital,“ ungkap Direktur Digital dan Teknologi Informasi (TI) Bank BRI Indra Utoyo dalam sesi virtual meeting bersama CEO Google Cloud, Thomas Kurian (01/07)
Terdapat tiga tujuan utama dalam kerja sama ini yakni pertama, mendorong ekonomi kerakyatan melalui pemberdayaan UMKM di Indonesia dengan high tech dan low touch. Dalam poin ini, Bank BRI akan mempertajam merchant assessment melalui pemberdayaan data UMKM yang dimiliki Google yang mencakup seluruh Indonesia.
Kerja sama dengan Google Cloud juga akan meningkatkan kompetensi UMKM melalui pelatihan digital bersama Google Academy (Youtube, dan Google MyBusiness).
Kedua, melalui kerja sama ini Bank BRI berupaya menciptakan micropreneur baru melalui penyaluran KUR Digital. Bank BRI juga akan meningkatkan eksposur dari KUR Digital ke seluruh pelosok dengan pemanfaatan Google Ads dan mempertajam penerapan KUR digital dengan teknologi Cloud dan Artificial Intelligence.
Poin ketiga, kerja sama ini akan menciptakan keunggulan bagi BRI dalam menciptakan Artificial Intelligence based Risk Management milik Bank BRI. Dengan kerja sama ini, Bank BRI akan mempertajam akurasi Artificial Intelligence BANK BRI yaitu “BRIBRAIN” dengan best practice dan kerjasama teknologi yang dimiliki Google.
“Untuk masuk ke micro dan ultramicro, Kami perlu melakukan terobosan dalam penerapan Artificial Intelligence untuk Merchant Assessment, Credit Scoring, Product Recommendation dan Fraud Detection. Kami harus dinamis, cepat, dan akurat,” tegas Indra.
Indra menambahkan sebagai Bank terbesar yang menyalurkan pendanaan bagi pelaku UMKM, kerjasama dengan Google Cloud akan membantu BRI untuk memperluas jangkauan layanan keuangan untuk UMKM, meningkatkan kompetensi UMKM, dan penyaluran produk keuangan sesuai dengan profil dari UMKM.
Kerja sama ini pada akhirnya juga membantu Bank BRI dalam meningkatkan leading financial indicator berupa Loan, Savings, Current Account Saving Account (CASA) dan Fee Based Income (FBI).

Friday, 3 July 2020

Impact of Coronavirus - have Air France discuss thousands of layoffs

Activists from the far-left CGT union protested at Air France headquarters at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport as the talks began.
They’re particularly angry that the French government didn’t require Air France to protect jobs when it won 7 billion euros ($8 billion) in state bailout funds in May. Unions warn that job cuts will ripple across the French economy.
French media reports have said the airline is looking to cut 7,500 jobs, primarily through voluntary departures.
Airlines around the world are forecast to lose $84 billion this year, with revenue halved. Some have filed for bankruptcy or sought bailouts to survive the near-shutdown in their activity, and officials predict the industry will take years to recover.
The 7 billion euros in state aid for Air France is in the form of loans and loan guarantees and part of a broader 15 billion euro rescue plan from the government for the aviation sector.
The Air France meetings come days after European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, based in France, said that it must eliminate 15,000 jobs to safeguard its future.

The impact of mortgage applications increases dramatically - this is the reason

And the housing market? That felt the burn, too.
Forbearances surged. Popular iBuyers like Opendoor and Offerpad halted operations. At one point, mortgage applications decreased nearly 30 percent in just one week.
That was spring, though. It’s now summer — not that far removed from the first COVID-19 case hit — and it seems housing may be on its way back up. In fact, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications to purchase a home jumped 26 percent in just May alone. For the first week of June, refinance applications were up another 11 percent.

Why are people buying and refinancing homes right now?

Still, mortgage applications are rising despite it all. Buyer demand is up, too. According to real estate brokerage Redfin, overall demand from homebuyers is now up 25 percent over pre-pandemic levels.
What’s causing this jump in activity with all that’s going on? There are a few factors:

1. Low mortgage rates

Rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages hit record lows in May, at one point reaching 3.15 percent. For buyers, those low rates can mean a more affordable mortgage payment or more homebuying power.
Credible can help you to compare rates, loan terms and assess your likely mortgage payment. Visit today to see what a mortgage loan might mean for you.
“Homebuyers can now afford more home than previously budgeted thanks to mortgage rates floating at or near historic lows,” said Bill Banfield, EVP of capital markets at Quicken Loans. “Their housing options are increasing significantly – all while maintaining the monthly payment they can comfortably afford. This sudden surge in buying power offers a great opportunity for Americans searching for a new home after months of being confined during the period of quarantine.”
Low rates are also good for existing homeowners. Just a small dip in rates can mean big savings — both on the monthly payment and in long-term interest costs. In fact, according to the latest Mortgage Monitor report from data firm Black Knight, about 14 million homeowners could shave at least 0.75 percent off their mortgage rate through refinancing.
Keep in mind, getting those low rates requires shopping around. Rates vary widely by lender, so use a tool like Credible to compare your options and get the best deal.

2. Reopenings and lifting of stay-at-home orders

Many parts of the country have started lifting shelter-in-place orders, and businesses and workplaces are beginning to reopen. As this happens, homebuyers who may have been putting off their purchases are getting back into the market. 
Homeowners are starting to feel more comfortable going out, too — including to the various lenders and title companies required to refinance their loans.

3. Demand for more space

After months in lockdown, often with kids, spouses, and extended family members, many Americans are feeling stifled. They’ve been homeschooling, working from home, and confined to small spaces for weeks on end — and it has many yearning for a more spacious property.
Many are looking for houses with home offices, more outdoor amenities, or just extra rooms to allow for more privacy. There’s also been an interest in moving to the suburbs and more rural parts of the country, particularly from those living in urban regions. This is likely a result of social distancing recommendations, as Americans look to create more space between them and their neighbors.

Should you make your move?

With mortgage rates so low, it could be a good time to buy a house, but keep in mind: housing inventory is low right now. That means fewer options and more competition as you hit the market.
To stand out from other buyers, make sure you get preapproved for your mortgage loan before shopping for your home (Credible can help here) and increase your earnest money deposit if you’re up against a bidding war.
You can also write a letter to the seller making a personal appeal for the property or include an escalation clause, which increases your offer — up to a certain point — if you get outbid.