Archive for 'Real Estate and Housing' Category

Is it safe to invest in real estate again?

Published 10/30/13

Is it safe to invest in real estate again? By Peter Andrew

My dad worked in real estate his whole life. By the time I was 10 years old, I'd learned more through breakfast- and dinner-table conversations about the jargon and mechanics of buying, selling and renting homes than most adults ever know. Later, I spent the first five years of my working life in the business.

And yet I still get sleepless nights whenever I'm buying property. Sometimes I worry I'm paying too much. Other times I wonder why the home's so cheap. What's wrong with it? The neighboring homes look fine, but suppose one's a crack den. Is the house structurally sound, or will I discover some defect when I move in that's impossibly expensive to fix? Does the seller have good title, and are there plans to build an airport nearby or run a highway past it?

I can while away hours (usually the later ones) pondering such things when I'm buying a home to live in myself. Some people buy multiple homes they plan to flip or offer as rentals, and I admire their nerves of steel. Now, a new generation of entrepreneurs is seeing real estate as an investment opportunity, and starting to get into the market. Are they being wise or foolish?

Read the full article »

The home you rent is in foreclosure. What happens now?

Published 10/4/13

The home you rent is in foreclosure. What happens now? By Georgie Miller

A couple of years ago, a letter came to the condo that my husband and I rent. I read it and said, "Honey, I think our house is being foreclosed on."

He hopped online and went to the website where foreclosure notices for our county are posted, which confirmed the bad news. The home we were living in was, indeed, going into foreclosure.

We were shocked -- though we knew our landlord was underwater on the home -- but maybe we shouldn't have been. Since the economy crashed in 2008, millions of properties have been foreclosed on. While the economy seems to be recovering at the moment, there's still a long way to go. And even in the best economy, a property owner can get into financial troubles and lose their rental property.

If you are facing this situation, you may be wondering: What are your rights? Fortunately, in 2009 President Obama signed into law the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) that specifically addresses this issue. This act was initially set to expire at the end of 2012, but it's been extended to the end of 2014. Here are some things you should know if the home you rent goes into foreclosure.

1. Your rights

PTFA gives a renter the right to finish out their lease if the home is foreclosed upon. There are some exceptions, such as if the new owner intends to reside in the property or if your lease is month-to-month.

Read the full article »

How far underwater are you?

Published 3/16/12  (Modified 3/19/12)

By Marc Pearlman

Back in 1986, President Ronald Reagan referred to the line "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you", as the ten most terrifying words in the English language. Well, as the housing crisis continues, the government is knocking on the door again as they roll out HARP 2.0.

The original Home Affordable Refinance Program, HARP, was created in 2009 to assist struggling "underwater" homeowners who owed more money on their homes than the home was worth. Homeowners could refinance their mortgages and take advantage of the historic low rates if they met certain eligibility requirements. However, the plan has been criticized by some pundits for falling short of expectations.

"HARP has been around for a couple of years but hasn't been that helpful to that many people," says Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans, according to Fox Business, adding that many people who needed the help were unable to qualify for it.

What's new with HARP 2.0

HARP 2.0 extends the original program until the end of 2013 and loosens some of the eligibility restrictions of the original HARP program.

In order to qualify for the original HARP program rolled out in 2009, a homeowner's loan-to-value ratio needed to be less than 125 percent. This cap left many homeowners out in the cold as their home prices dropped sharply in price causing their LTV to rise above 125 percent.

Under HARP 2.0, the 125-percent LTV cap has been removed for homeowners looking to refinance Read the full article »

ARMs present serial refinancers with another chance to save

Published 6/15/11

By Tim Manni

Financially speaking, life's all about making money then learning how to properly save it. Saving money is more important than ever these days with our country still trying to claw its way out of a recession and into a recovery.

Perhaps the number one way a homeowner can save some more of their hard-earned dollars these days is by refinancing their mortgage.

Even if your home isn't a "money pit," there are both routine and non-routine costs that you must put...

Read the full article »

December 2009: Net Worth Report and Financial Plans For Year 2010

Published 12/31/09  (Modified 3/8/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Well, it looks like January 2010 has finally arrived. Goodbye 2009, and hello 2010!

According to most public sentiment surveys I've seen thus far, the overwhelming consensus is that 2009 was a particularly terrible year. The economy tanked, retirement savings were largely wiped out, and home equity values were pretty much eviscerated. However, where there's misery, there always seems to be a smidgen lining of hope. Despite most people's vastly negative opinion of 2009, the great majority of surveys indicate a very optimistic outlook for 2010. Maybe it's because this time around, we are no longer staring at the barrel of an imminent financial sector meltdown and hearing the ghastly doomsday warnings of a possible decade-long economic depression, but things certainly feel less dire than the same time 12 months ago.

Most certainly, while we are still languishing under the worst economic recession in decades with depressive unemployment rates continuing to climb, the pace at which the economy continues to worsen has drastically decreased. In other words, while the economy is still deteriorating, it's worsening at a significantly slower pace than before. This is very good news for the aspiring optimists and opportunists in all of us. Most significantly, there also does appear to be tangible economic metrics emerging to back up the growing optimistic fervor for 2010. While I personally think we are still many months away from a real and sustainable recovery, I think we are decidedly heading in the right direction as punctuated by the fact that I've been jumping back into the stock

Read the full article »

November 2009: Net Worth, Real Estate, and Blogging Income

Published 11/30/09  (Modified 3/8/11)

By MoneyBlueBook

Time for another one of my networth updates and progress reports to check up on how well or bad I've done for myself during the preceding month. Based on my current online bank and investment account numbers, things are starting to look up since the previous month when my stock portfolio took a slight tumble due to lingering market price volatility and recessionary jitters. In terms of the American economy finally emerging from this punishing recession, we are still not quite there yet as overall consumer spending remains pervasively sluggish and unemployment rates continue to rise (albeit at slower rates of worsening than before). But based on the trickle of positive signs I've been seeing coming out of the housing industry in the way of increased new home sales spurred on by governmental tax credit incentives and historically low home mortgage rates - it would seem that we are at the very least, heading towards the right direction.

However, this is not yet the time to start high fiving or fist bumping each other, or be reveling in premature optimism. Rather, this is the time to start placing your financial bets in a strong, but calculated way in anticipation of an eventual economic recovery. There are still a large number of unforeseen factors and worldwide catastrophes that could easily derail the economic momentum train off its tracks. Because we now live in a global economy where all established and developing markets are interlinked and highly inter-dependent with one another, it's crucial to recognize that there

Read the full article »