From MSN Money:
More than three years into a painful housing crash, the real-estate market has sent recent -- albeit tentative -- signs of stabilization. Home sales have increased, inventory levels are down, and price declines have become less precipitous.
Along with more-affordable home prices and a tax perk from Uncle Sam, attractive mortgage rates -- which remained near 5% as of late December -- have been a driving force behind this development. The availability of low mortgage rates will play a decisive role in the performance of the 2010 housing market as well.
To help consumers better understand the requirements and costs they will face as they shop for a home loan next year, U.S. News spoke with a handful of housing market experts and compiled a list of 10 things to know about getting a mortgage in 2010.
1. Lending standards
The steep run-up in home prices during the first half of the decade was fueled in large part by breezy lending standards. Some bankers handed out loans without down payments or documentation requirements.
But when the housing bubble popped and those loans became massive losses, banks began raising lending standards for borrowers of all stripes. And with the labor market continuing to erode -- the unemployment rate topped 10% in October -- and mortgage delinquency rates setting records, there is no reason to expect credit requirements to loosen in 2010.