Obama says he’d save money by refinancing mortgage

LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he’d save money if he refinanced the mortgage on his Chicago home, but he hasn’t jumped on current low interest rates because “when you’re president you have to be a little careful about these transactions.”

Obama didn’t say how much money he thought he and first lady Michelle Obama could save on their South Side Chicago home. In speeches about the housing market, he has said federal programs have helped millions of homeowners save an average of $3,000 by refinancing at lower rates.

Financial disclosure forms Obama released this year show an interest rate of 5.625 percent on the 30-year mortgage on his South Side Chicago home, which was valued at between $500,000 and $1 million. Bankrate.com says the current rate on a 30-year mortgage is 4.5 percent.

“I would probably benefit from refinancing now. I would save some money,” Obama said while answering questions submitted by users of Zillow, an online real estate database. “When you’re president you have to be a little careful about these transactions so we haven’t refinanced.”

The half-hour session conducted during the president’s visit to California focused exclusively on housing and, at times, had the feel of an advice show as Obama sympathized with questioners concerned about maintaining their home values or being stuck living in their parents’ homes because they can’t afford to rent an apartment.

The Zillow appearance followed Obama’s speech Tuesday in Phoenix, in which he proposed a broad overhaul of the nation’s mortgage finance system, including phasing out government-backed mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The president’s focus on housing is part of his summertime tour aimed at building public support for his economic proposals before fiscal fights with congressional Republicans in the fall.

Obama pledged in the Zillow interview to push Congress to pass his plan before the end of the year.

Before returning to Washington after two days on the West Coast to promote his housing proposals, Obama planned to meet with troops and their families at Camp Pendleton. Obama wanted to visit the sprawling Marine Corps base to thank them for serving the country, the White House said.

Separately Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney disclosed that Obama dined Tuesday night at his Los Angeles hotel with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks.


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