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Letters: Michael Ian Black and record-low mortgage rates

So Marketplace Money tried something new last week. Michael Ian Black read an excerpt from his new memoir, a passage about his irresponsible purchase of a BMW. Paddy and Tess thought to shake things up and hear about how someone -- preferably funny -- spends their money. Some of you loved it; some of you called it pointless.

Paddy and Tess' stance? They know Marketplace Money is about personal finance, but that doesn't mean every story needs to be about retirement or college debt. Personal finance is about a lot more than that: It's about how we spend our resources, whether that means our money, our intellectual, physical or emotional resources, or even our time. It all translates to a financial gain or loss eventually.

So back onto something more personal finance-y: mortgage. Paddy delved into the mystery of the 3.84 percent 30-year mortgage rate. How is that the average? Who is getting that incredible rate? Well, Paddy learned that you have "pay points," essentially prepaying a certain amount of their mortgage interest. He also learned when it's worth paying points and what it's not.

Click play on the audio player above for more.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.
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I Was surprised to Hear Michael Ian Black say it was almost impossible to get a fixed loan at 3.8% without points. That's not true if your credit is good. You can even do better.

I just checked the one of the biggest on-line providers of comparison pricing among mortgage providers (which I have used twice for loans) and it has conforming 30 year fixed refi loans for as little as 3.625% with no points.

It would be great if you did a story about how people can shop for loans on line. If your credit is good there is no good reason to pay points on a conforming loan at 3.8%.

I agree with turtleshell 100%! Marketplace Money is doing listeners a disservice to trivialize their chances of getting low rates, with or without points.

I'll just come right out and say that I have frequently used bankrate.com to shop for mortgage refinance options, and on 3 separate occasions have been able to refi my mortgage at well below the average rate quoted in the NY Times. Just last month, I closed on a refinance with an APR of exactly 2.93%!!! Yes, that is not a typo, 2.93%, and yes, I have good credit and over 20% equity, and yes, I paid a few thousand dollars in fees, but amortized over 15 years this is nothing, this loan will save me around $50,000 in interest vs the 30 year 4.1% APR loan it replaced.

I checked today, and rates like that are available with multiple lenders on the bankrate.com site, and at about 3.5% with no points for a 30 year. YES, Money should devote a significant segment to education on how to shop for mortgages online, and how to spiff up your finances and credit score to improve your eligibility.

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