The Challenge of Qualifying for a Mortgage

Despite improvement in the housing market, mortgage lenders are still wary.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stayed below 4% all through 2012, hitting a record low of 3.36% in October, while the 15-year rate sank to 2.7%, according to Freddie Mac. That’s probably as low as rates will go, says Michael Fratantoni, of the Mortgage Bankers Association. He predicts that the 30-year rate will stay below 4% until the end of 2013, when a stronger economy will likely boost demand for credit.

SEE OUR SPECIAL REPORT: Buying and Selling a Home in 2013

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Patricia Mertz Esswein
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Esswein joined Kiplinger in May 1984 as director of special publications and managing editor of Kiplinger Books. In 2004, she began covering real estate for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, writing about the housing market, buying and selling a home, getting a mortgage, and home improvement. Prior to joining Kiplinger, Esswein wrote and edited for Empire Sports, a monthly magazine covering sports and recreation in upstate New York. She holds a BA degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minn., and an MA in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University.