The most popular type of home loan in the U.S. — a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage — jumped above 7 percent this week, reaching its highest point in 21 years. Less than two years ago, mortgage rates were under 3 percent.
The increasing borrowing cost has made it harder for buyers to afford homes in an already difficult market. Making matters worse, the supply of houses is low — because many homeowners are unwilling to put their homes on the market and give up their existing low mortgage rates.
Homeowners are also getting less bang for their buck.
According to a new study, the size of new single-family homes sold over the past decade has shrunk only slightly — they are a mere 1 percent smaller than in 2012. But despite the slight shrinkage, the price per square foot nearly doubled during that period, far outpacing inflation, to about $168 per square foot.
Maui officials defended their response to the fire
Emergency officials in Maui are coming under increasing scrutiny for their decision to not use outdoor alert sirens to warn locals of the fire as it headed toward the town of Lahaina last week. Some people said they were unaware their lives were in danger until they saw the flames bearing down on them.
The authorities defended their decision, saying that the sirens are intended for tsunamis and would have sent residents to the hills and toward the flames.
So far, 111 people have been confirmed dead, but only five have been publicly identified. Here’s what we know about the victims.
Travel: Would a trip to Maui help or hurt?
Officials are investigating threats against Trump jurors
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said today that it was investigating online threats against the grand jurors who voted this week to indict Donald Trump and 18 others over an alleged conspiracy to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.
Several jurors, who had their names listed in the indictment, as required by state law, have had their faces, social media profiles and possible addresses and phone numbers shared on internet sites. In some cases, online users indicated that they should be harassed; one Truth Social user urged others to make the jurors “infamous” and to “make sure they can’t walk down the street.”
In related news, recent polls showed that most Americans believed that the prosecutions of the former president were warranted — but also suggested that Trump’s grip on Republicans was further tightening.
As a fire nears, a Canadian city is evacuated
As a wildfire barreled toward Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, the city’s entire population of about 20,000 people was ordered to evacuate by tomorrow afternoon. Long lines of traffic were seen today heading down the only highway south from the city. The fire is ravaging a largely uninhabited forest but was expected to reach the city by the weekend.
More top news
We may be entering a new weight loss era
Every so often a drug comes along that has the potential to change the world. That distinction, medical experts say, may apply to a new selection of drugs that treat obesity, including Ozempic and Wegovy.
“The era of ‘just go out and diet and exercise’ is now gone,” one medical researcher said.
Scientists discovered the drugs’ effect on weight loss by accident, and no one knows exactly how they work or why they are so effective. But they have become increasingly popular — the companies that make the drugs are unable to make enough to keep up with demand.
Can’t hear TV dialogue? You’re not alone.
About 50 percent of Americans stream shows and movies with subtitles on most of the time, according to surveys, in large part because they are struggling to decipher what actors are saying.
The issue can be blamed, in part, on modern TVs and other streaming devices, whose increasing thinness often sacrifices a good quality, directionally oriented speaker. My colleague Brian Chen tried to fix the problem with external speakers and speech-boosting software. Here’s what he found.
What’s the song of the summer?
In the perennial debate over which song defines our summer months, one track seems to be this year’s front-runner: Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night,” which has remained atop the Billboard charts every week since May — the longest-ever streak by a solo artist.
But my colleagues Jon Caramanica and Joe Coscarelli, our in-house pop music experts, argued that Wallen’s hit shouldn’t receive the crown just yet. As a country song, it may not have universal appeal. But more important, they argue, the idea of the “song of the summer” doesn’t exist anymore, as streaming has taken off and so-called monoculture has vanished.
Have a melodic evening.
Thanks for reading. James Gregg was our photo editor today. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Matthew
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