Three things consumers need to know in the days ahead

ConsumerAffairs

Home mortgages continue to get a little more affordable

We know you’re busy so we’ve been on the lookout for stories that might affect your pocketbook, schedule or plans. Here are three things consumers need to know in the next few days.

Mortgage rates are going down again

Since October, mortgage rates have been on a downward trend, except for a slight uptick in early January. In good news for prospective homebuyers, Freddie Mac reports that rates are headed lower again, reaching their lowest level since May.

“This is an encouraging development for the housing market and in particular first-time homebuyers who are sensitive to changes in housing affordability,”  said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, as purchase demand continues to thaw, it will put more pressure on already depleted inventory for sale.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.60% as of January 18, 2024, down from the previous week when it averaged 6.66%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year mortgage averaged 6.15%.

Apple is doubling down on its App Store policy

App developers are outraged after Apple announced its new App Store payment policy, which isn’t a lot different from the old policy. The policy gives developers the option to accept payment from consumers through third parties – but at a cost.

Apple’s new rules allow developers to provide consumers with links to third-party payment options but only by paying Apple a fee of as much as 27%, a fee that could be passed on, at least in part, to consumers. The move brought a strong rebuke from Spotify.

“Once again, Apple has demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to protect the profits they exact on the backs of developers and consumers under their app store monopoly,” Spotify said in a statement.

Spirit Airlines’s future said to be in doubt

If you’re a fan of Spirit Airlines, and many people are because of its low fares, here’s some bad news. Industry analysts say that because the courts blocked Spirit’s merger with JetBlue, its future could be in doubt. 

A judge ruled that allowing the merger would remove the low-cost option for price-sensitive travelers. Ironically, analysts say the airline might not be able to continue providing that low-cost service.

“[If] JetBlue were permitted to gobble up Spirit — at least as proposed — it would eliminate one of the airline industry’s few primary competitors that provides unique innovation and price discipline,” the judge’s ruling said. “It would further consolidate an oligopoly by immediately doubling JetBlue’s stakeholder size in the industry. Worse yet, the merger would likely incentivize JetBlue further to abandon its roots as a maverick, low-cost carrier.”

CNBC cites Wall Street analysts who argue that, because of the blocked merger, Spirit could have to restructure, if not liquidate.

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