Mortgage rates are now breaking to new lower territory, and they could stay there for months

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is falling again today, as investors rush into the bond market. Mortgage rates loosely follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury.

The average lender is offering a rate between 4.125 and 4.25 percent, with more aggressive lenders going to 3.875 percent for borrowers with pristine applications, according to Mortgage News Daily. The average rate was at 4.40 percent before the Federal Reserve's announcement Wednesday that it would not raise interest rates this year and that it would start buying bonds again.

"This is happening due to big picture reassessments of global economic growth, or lack thereof," said Matthew Graham, chief operating officer at Mortgage News Daily. "If the fears are validated, today's rates will be near the top of the range for quite a while--months at least, but possibly years."

The average rate jumped over 5 percent last November, but then fell off in December. That caused a nearly 12 percent monthly spike in sales of existing homes in February, deals that were likely signed in December and January.

Mortgage rates were lower in 2016 and 2017, which may have caused the huge surge in home values during those years. Buyers could afford to pay more with interest rates in the 3.5 percent range. The supply of homes for sale was also incredibly low, prompting more bidding wars.

With economic growth here in the U.S. in question and global growth clearly shrinking, interest rates could move even lower than they are now. Or not.

"Although our forecast still calls for mortgage rates to tick up higher later in the year to an average of 4.6 percent, the recent drop is great for prospective buyers on the search for a home this spring," said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association. "The combination of lower rates – especially compared to last spring – and moderating home-price growth improves buyers' purchasing power and will hopefully translate to a somewhat faster pace of home sales than previously expected."

Banks are working to woo new doctors into home mortgages

When Dr. William Ngo was shopping for his first home two years ago, he ran into a problem: He got rejected for a mortgage because he had about $250,000 in student debt and little savings.

So the surgeon applied for a loan specifically designed for doctors that came with a higher interest rate but no money down, and just a future work contract as proof of income.

Mortgages tailored to doctors have grown more popular in the last few years, according to the lenders who offer them. Bank of America said it has seen the dollar volume of physician mortgages it issued between 2008 and 2017 increase ninefold because of greater awareness from consumers.

Smaller banks also report increases. Stillwater, Oklahoma-based Bank SNB, owned by Simmons First National, issued $50 million in physician home loans last year and is on track to double that amount this year, said Drew Daniels, a mortgage sales manager who launched the loan program.

Meanwhile, SunTrust Banks' largest subsidiary, based in Atlanta, has doubled its staff dedicated to serving physicians and medical practices over the last four years as it sees more demand for the mortgages, according to a company spokesman. And LeverageRx, a website that compares physician mortgage lenders, has seen a 51 percent increase in doctors searching for the loans year-to-date, compared with the same period last year.

High salaries and a stable job market relative to other professions make doctors lucrative and low-risk customers for banks that hope to sell them other products down the road. The average physician salary this year is $299,999, according to Medscape's annual survey of 20,329 doctors across roughly 30 specialities.

"You're a student, emerging physician, hit with all this debt. You have a lot of future upside," said John Cross, divisional sales executive at Bank of America. "If you provide a mortgage solution at the beginning of their career, … from there it turns into all kinds of other conversations."

Bank of America stopped offering the loans in 2009 during the housing crisis but brought them back in 2010 with stricter borrowing guidelines, Cross said. For instance, doctors have to put at least 5 percent down instead of zero.

For new physicians, the loans can offer a fast path to home ownership for those who wouldn't be approved otherwise. Last year, the median student debt for new medical student graduates was $190,694, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The loans are also designed for dentists, while some also cover veterinarians, optometrists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

William Ngo’s home in Knoxville, Tennessee
Source: William Ngo
William Ngo’s home in Knoxville, Tennessee
The catch: Higher interest rates
On top of little to no down payment and a more forgiving debt-to-income ratio calculation, physician mortgages don't require private mortgage insurance, which can amount to a few hundred dollars a month.

Such perks are appealing for physicians who are ready to settle down after grueling years in medical school and in residency, companies marketing their services to doctors say.

"When you're in training for so long, there's a delayed gratification," said Dr. Peter Kim, an anesthesiologist in Los Angeles and founder of Curbside Real Estate, a broker that connects physicians with real estate agents and lenders. "Getting a home is something you dream of — the American dream."

But physician mortgages also come with interest rates that are 0.25 to 1 point higher than mortgages for nonphysician homebuyers, said financial planner Daniel Wrenne, founder of Lexington, Kentucky-based Wrenne Financial Planning, which specializes in serving doctors.

And just because you can take out a $400,000 loan as a medical resident making $50,000 a year doesn't mean you should, Wrenne said, especially when that means delaying paying student loans.

"You'll be house poor," he said. "You'll probably be able to feed yourself and live in your house and that's it."

Ngo, who had trouble getting a mortgage in 2016, acknowledges that those who can afford higher down payments are better off going with a conventional loan.

He says he wanted to buy a home because the area near the hospital where he works didn't offer many rental options, and the available properties were older. Ngo now owns a three-bedroom house in Knoxville, Tennessee.

"I think ultimately a physician loan is definitely a good tool for people in certain situations," he said, adding that the loan "was able to get me where I wanted to go."

The 5 Best Free Credit Score Apps

by Sarah Silbert
Everyone has a credit score, and staying up to date on yours is important. Here, we showcase five free apps for your phone (Android or iOS) that will help you monitor your score, correct items when necessary, and get alerts when something changes on your report — even while you're on the go.

Credit Score Basics
Plenty of resources out there can help you learn more about what goes into calculating your credit score and what the different numbers mean, but here's a quick overview:

A credit score indicates your creditworthiness to potential lenders such as banks and mortgage lenders. It indicates how responsible you're likely to be with paying off your balances.
Credit is scored on a scale that ranges from 300 to 850. A higher number is better than a low one.
The most commonly used credit score is the FICO score, but there are other models, such as VantageScore.
Does Checking Your Credit Score Hurt It?
Many people fear that checking their credit scores through services such as Credit Karma (or any of the other apps mentioned below) negatively affects those scores. The truth is that checking your own credit score is usually considered a "soft inquiry," meaning it doesn't require a "hard pull" of your credit report.

"Hard pulls" (or "hard inquiries") typically happen when you apply for a new credit card, a loan, or a mortgage. "Soft pulls" typically occur when you check your own score, when a potential employer does a background check, or when you're pre-approved for a credit card or loan.

Credit Karma does a good job of explaining the difference between types of credit inquiries. In any case, you should rest assured that using any of the apps below won't negatively affect your credit score.
credit karma
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Credit Karma
What We Like
Good summary information.

Tracks major credit bureaus.

What We Don't Like
Moble-app-first design.

Upsells of financial products within the app.

Credit Karma is perhaps the best-known service for getting free credit score reports from the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus (Experian is the other major bureau). Its apps for Android and iOS provide alerts for any important changes to your credit report, and if you see any errors, you can file a dispute directly from the Credit Karma app. You also can view a well-organized summary of how your credit score breaks down and look at all the accounts that are being reported and factored into your score.

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creditwise app
Capital One

What We Like
Regular updates.

Simulation tools.

What We Don't Like
TransUnion only.

This app from Capital One is available to everyone, not just the company's banking customers. It provides a weekly update of your TransUnion VantageScore 3.0 (as opposed to FICO) credit score, and it includes some interesting extras such as a credit simulator that demonstrates how actions such as paying off debt could affect your score. You'll also get personalized suggestions for improving your score, along with the industry-standard alerts for any important changes.

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myfico app
What We Like
Seamless myFICO integration.

Push notifications on major credit events.

What We Don't Like
Requires pricey myFICO subscription.

Doesn't include VantageScore.

The most commonly used score to determine your creditworthiness is FICO, so having an idea of where you stand is valuable. If you have a myFICO subscription for monitoring your score and getting reports (starting at $29.95 per month), this free companion app is a must-have. It shows you your current FICO score across all three credit bureaus and even shows how they've fluctuated over time. The app delivers push notifications when important changes occur in your report, such as a new inquiry or ​an increase/decrease in your score.

04of 05

As one of the three major credit bureaus providing credit reports, Experian quite sensibly has a credit score app of its ..READ MORE..

The Easiest Ways to Make Free Conference Calls On Your Mobile

You can now host your own conference calls more easily than ever before. Whether you’re working from home, own a small business, or just want to stay in touch with friends and family, there are dozens of free services available to you.

Between audio-teleconferencing, screen sharing, video calls, and text chat, we’ll cover some of the best options for you to get started with free conference calling. Most of the applications we’ll cover below provide support for mobile phones, landlines, and VoIP, which essentially means you can call using the internet.

Google Hangouts

We’re all familiar with Google, the 800lb gorilla, so it’s no wonder the tech giant provides a conference call solution. That being said, Hangouts is more than just conference calling. You can text, video, or audio conference from any device with a microphone and camera.

Getting started with Google Hangouts is as easy as signing up for a Gmail account. Once your account is setup, just sign in to begin using your new, free, powerful conferencing tool. You can have up to 25 people on a video or audio conference call and 150 people in a text chat.

Be advised, in order to text or video call using Google Hangouts, the party you’re trying to reach must also have a Gmail account. However, if you’re looking for audio-teleconferencing, simply register a phone number and you’re good to go. As long as you have a microphone you can call any landline or mobile phone from the device you’re using for free.


Skype is one of the most well-known conference calling solutions. Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 and has since overhauled the user interface, features, and how the program runs on the back-end. There have been some security concerns in the past, but Skype is a powerful, easy to use tool.

Even if you’ve used Skype sometime in the past, you might be surprised by recent changes. You can use the web browser version or download the app on your computer or mobile device. Skype provides you with text, audio, and video conferencing solutions for free.

You can host a group video chat or conference call for up to 25 people, if they all have Skype already. If they don’t, you may call them using Skype Credit or sign up for a subscription. Alternatively, ask the user(s) you’re trying to reach to sign up for Skype for free, and then add them to your contacts.


If you’re looking for something a little more formal than Hangouts, yet still easy to use, UberConference delivers. Offering free phone and VoIP audio for up to 10 participants, UberConference provides unlimited conferences, screen and document sharing, and call recording. They boast about not using conference PINs. If you’ve ever tried connecting to a conference call and not known the PIN, you can understand why this is an attractive feature. When you sign up, you’re given a conference phone number that remains static.

Unfortunately, there is no video conferencing feature, but their easy-to-use interface makes this free tool a great option for small businesses. UberConference has apps available for desktop, iOS, and Android, as well as a Chrome extension. They claim all their features work in any browser, but recommend using Google Chrome.

You can pay for a business subscription that boosts your maximum participants to 100 for $10 a month billed annually, or $15 billed monthly. The business solution adds more tools such as a team management portal, custom hold music, international access, and no audio ads when joining a call.


There is a lot in a name. FreeConferenceCalling describes exactly what they do, and they do it well. What they lack in video and text capabilities they make up for in pure audio-teleconferencing ability. You can host up to 1,000 concurrent users on-demand, for free.

FreeConferenceCalling offers a web portal where you can manage your calls and users, view attendance, and listen to recordings of past calls. If you’re on the go, you can control the entire conference on your mobile device using the web portal or just the telephone keypad.


Not to be confused with the aforementioned product, FreeConferenceCall offers a similar set of strong features. It offers robust tools like calendar integration, meeting recording, and web controls.

FreeConferenceCall also offers screen sharing, video conferencing, remote desktop support, and boasts up to 1,000 concurrent users during any conference. You can personalize your meeting space, schedule one-time or repeat conferences, and upload documents for easy file sharing. Check out a full list of features, including premium membership, here.


If you need a conference calling solution with great calendar integration, Join.Me is one of your best options. You can take advantage of their 14-day free trial of their Pro Version. During the 14-day trial, you’ll enjoy free audio and video conferencing with screen sharing, quick and easy meeting scheduling with Outlook and Google calendar integration, and other powerful features.

After your 14-day trial, you’ll be limited to 3 users (1 organizer and 2 viewers). However, you can screen share, chat, and transfer files during any meeting. If you want more than 3 users at any given time, you’ll need to pay at least $10 a month per meeting organizer. The cost goes up as you add more organizers.


GoToMeeting Free offers unlimited online meetings, free VoIP calls, and screen sharing for up to 3 users (1 organizer and 2 viewers). Create an account and begin hosting unlimited conference calls online, for free, anytime. Although limited by the number of users, this product provides you with a quick solution for your conference calling needs with an easy to use Chrome extension.

If you sign up for their free 14-day trial, you get access to their Pro Version. The trial  adds features like meeting recording, mouse and key sharing, drawing tools, and mobile apps. The drawing and key sharing can be extremely useful if your conference calls are more interactive. If you decide you like their product, you can check out their plans and subscriptions here.

iPhone and Android Conference Calls

If you need conference calling for just a few people and don’t care about apps or extra features, you can just use your iPhone or Android phone as an easy solution. Simply call your first participant, select “Add Call” on your mobile phone’s screen, call the next participant, select “Merge Call” on your mobile phone’s screen, and then add other calls as needed. The iPhone supports up to five callers (including you) and Android up to six, though your carrier might have a lower limit on the number of merged calls you can have.
Keep in mind that this solution does not offer any other features. You can’t control participation, use a management portal, schedule meetings, share your screen, and so on.

RELATED: How to Hold a Conference Call With Your iPhone

Image Credit: dotshock/Shutterstock

Car Insurance Comparison Quote For Car Owners

Car insurance is absolutely required if you wish to drive a car without running the risk of a large fine or even worse. Insurance coverage is issued by an insurer in the event of an accident, theft, or any unforeseen or unwanted occurrences

Car insurance is absolutely required if you wish to drive a car or run the risk of a large fine or even worse.

Car insurance guide and questions
Our car insurance guide explains the car insurance market and the legal aspects of insuring your vehicle, while also explaining the different types of cover you can get.

Get a car insurance quote
See a range of car insurance quotes in just a few minutes when you compare with uSwitch

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Why do I need car insurance?
At its most basic, car insurance protects you, your car, and other people from the consequences of any road accident you might be involved in. It provides financial compensation to cover any damage to property, or injuries to other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.

In the UK, the Road Traffic Act 1988 says all motorists must be insured against their liability to other people, so whether you drive a car, van, or motorbike, the law says you must have insurance.

What’s the penalty for driving without car insurance?
Driving without car insurance is an offence for which you could be fined or disqualified from driving. The maximum fine is £5,000 with an added six to eight penalty points on your licence, while the Road Safety Act of 2006 allows for harsher sentences for drivers who kill or are involved in accidents while driving uninsured.

The police also have the power to seize, and in some cases, destroy any vehicle found to be driven uninsured. Vehicles seized can only be released by showing a valid insurance certificate and on payment of a fixed penalty.

Do I need car insurance for a car that never goes on the road?
No. If you own a car that is kept off-road, it needs to have a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) in force. All other UK registered vehicles must be taxed if used or kept on public roads.

It costs nothing to make a SORN but if you later decide to drive the car on public roads again, you’ll need to contact the DVLA and get it re-taxed.

What different types of car insurance are there?
There are three main types of car insurance available, which will cover you and your car to varying degrees:

Third party car insurance
Third party car insurance is typically the lowest type of cover required by law. It insures you if you’re involved in an accident and injure someone and also covers the cost of repairing or replacing the other person’s car – it doesn’t cover damage to your own car.

If you can handle paying for the damage to your own car yourself, then third party car insurance could work out, but it’s never possible to predict how badly your car will be damaged after an accident.

Third party, fire and theft car insurance
Third party, fire and theft car insurance is the same as third party but provides additional cover if your car is damaged in a fire or stolen.

Insurers will weigh up how much risk your car is exposed to in terms of fire damage and theft, so anything that proves you can mitigate that will work in your favour.

Comprehensive car insurance
Comprehensive car insurance, or ‘fully-comprehensive’ insurance, is the highest level of cover and insures against the cost of repairing or replacing your car if it’s involved in an accident, regardless of blame.

Car insurance - What does my cover include?

Comprehensive cover can sometimes include additional extras such as medical expenses, legal cover, and cover for personal items in your car.

The cost of each type of cover does not necessarily depend on how comprehensive they are. While it may seem logical for third party car insurance to cost less, that’s not always the case. Fully comprehensive cover may actually be cheaper for some drivers, so it’s important to compare all levels of cover when shopping around.

What factors affect how much I pay for car insurance?
A whole range of factors are taken into account when insurers calculate car insurance premiums. Some of the biggest include:

the type of car you drive
where the car is kept
the age and experience of the driver
details of any additional drivers
where you live
what you use your car for
your claims history
Having a driving offence, such as skipping a red traffic light, might also affect how much you pay for your car insurance. Prices vary depending on the seriousness of the offence – for example, a driver with a drink driving conviction would certainly face higher premiums.

What is a no-claims bonus or discount?
For each year you have car insurance and don’t make a claim, you’ll get a discount on the following year’s premium – this is known as a no-claims bonus.

Some insurers will have special discounts even for those who only have their no-claims bonus streak broken by an accident that wasn’t their fault, but generally even that will break your no-claims discount.

See our guide for more information and to see how much you could save with a no-claims bonus.

What is an excess?
An excess is the amount you will have to pay towards the cost of any insurance claim. There are two types of excess: voluntary, which means you can decide whether to include one and its amount, and compulsory, which is set by the insurer.

Increasing the voluntary excess will often give you a cheaper premium, but it can also have little or no effect on quotes.

When comparing car insurance, it’s important to vary excess levels to see how much your quote changes. If you’re looking for car insurance for a young driver, then it’s likely that increasing your voluntary excess may have no effect on your quote.

Getting started with our car insurance comparison
What details do you need to get car insurance quotes?
To get car insurance quotes and start comparing, you'll need to be able to tell us:

Your car registration number – if you don’t have it to hand, simply click 'Find car by make and model'
Your expected annual mileage figures
Where your car’s parked during the day and night
What you use your car for, e.g. commuting, business use
Your main driving licence details
Compare car insurance deals with uSwitch
uSwitch is a free, impartial comparison and switching service – we’re not affiliated to any one insurer and we’ll only ask you for information that will help us get you the most accurate possible quotes.

How to get cheap car insurance
While there are many factors you can’t control when it comes to the cost of cover, there are some simple measures you can take to keep the cost down in your search for very cheap car insurance, including:

Paying a higher voluntary excess (the extra amount you’d pay in the event of a claim)
Limiting who drives your car to just yourself, or you plus a named driver
Parking your car in a garage or driveway away from the street
Keeping your mileage low (doing less than the average of 8,000 miles per year according to the National Travel Survey)
Fitting a security device such as an alarm, tracker, or immobiliser
For more ideas on how to reduce your insurance costs, read our car insurance guides.

Whatsapp is Working on Image Search to Fight Fake News

WhatsApp is a large forum with over 1.5 billion users and they share a lot of content on the messaging social network. Some of the content shared on the platform is usually false and it is difficult t verify some of it.

One of the ways to fight fake news, especially if it is in picture form is by searching the image on Google. This is easily done on Chrome where you can identify where the photo came from.

It seems now WhatsApp wants to implement such an idea on the platform thanks to a report by WABetaInfo.

According to the site, WhatsApp is developing a new feature that will allow you to search an image on the web that you sent or received in your chats. This is currently being tested and it is not available yet for the beta users or the general public.

In this system, when you select on an image, tap on the options tab and you’ll see search image. When you tap search image, WhatsApp will alert you that the photo will be uploaded to Google. When it is done uploading, WhatsApp will open the browser to show you the results.

This is particularly useful since it will allow people to verify photos that they receive on WhatsApp. The current system of downloading the suspicious photo, then uploading it to is tedious. This will be a godsend to those people that want to verify information like photos that have been sent to their chats by other people.

Infinix Releases Budget Hot 7 Series with the Famous Notch and Dual Camera

Several smartphone makers have, for the better part of the decade, been trying to make a name for themselves in the Nigerian market, but only a handful of them have managed to crack the insanely competitive field by selling many devices to a demographic that is adopting pocket computers device rapidly. Transsion Holding’s Infinix is one of them, having popularized the brand alongside Tecno with dirty cheap devices for anybody who wanted, and still is out for a low-cost and functional mobile handheld.

Infinix intends to continue the journey with another addition to its device portfolio. While the manufacturer is yet to make an official announcement, listings on its ecommerce site indicate that the successor of the un-marketed Infinix Hot 6, the Hot 7 is a done deal. Similar to previous iterations, the Hot 7 is expected to launch with two models; a basic or Lite option with Android Go, a gig or RAM and 16 GB internal storage, as well as a Po version with 3 GB and 32 GB of internal memory.

Although we are yet to see press images for the Pro model, we expect it will be equipped with a screen cutout aka the notch as is the case with the Lite model. This will effectively improve the device’s aesthetics in a market that is quickly associating the notch with modernism. Also, the Pro model packs dual rear cams (13 MP + 2MP for portrait shots) that are a norm in current times. The basic Hot 7, on the other hand, is said to have a single 13 MP; both models have 8 MP selfie snappers.

In my opinion, these design changes are necessary because while the Hot series is a budget segment, the overall allure of the phones was getting a little stale. Remember the Hot 5 with airport-esque bezels thicker than Hot 4’s?

The chipset appears to have been replaced (the Hot series has been notorious in recycling the SoC, having used the MT6737 quadcore 1.3 Ghz silicon repeatedly) with a MT65080P 32nm Quad-Core 1.3GHz. Its clock speed is the same to the former, but the MT65080P is much newer, which theoretically translates to a honed experience. We will determine if that is the case when we get hold of the device.

Priced at NGN30,000 and NGN33,000 for the Lite and Pro models, respectively, the Hot 7 series will face stiff competition from recent devices from the likes of Huawei that has decided to use Transsion’s playbook that has a clause that says our markets should be flooded with smart devices at all budget price segments. A couple of HMD Global’s Nokia phones also feature in the same price segment (the new Nokia 1 Plus will launch in the Nigerianmarket in coming days, and packs newer (Android 9 Pie) and light software) against Hot 7’s Android 8.1 Oreo. While most people do not care about software versions, especially groups that buy low-end devices, we would have been happier to see Infinix make an effort in that segment (currently, only the Note 5 has Pie, which is a little sad).

Lastly, it should be noted that the new Hot devices have grown in size, measuring 6.27” in screen size powered by 4000 mAh juicers.

 Kenn Abuya