Home & Leisure

House tax bill contains early holiday gifts for homeowners

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- December is mega-tax-bill time on Capitol Hill, when legislation loaded with gifts and goodies for special-interest constituents moves ahead for action before the end of the year. House Republicans have unveiled their 2018 version -- nearly 300 pages worth -- and it has goodies galore: Write-offs and tax-credit deals for racehorse ...Read more

Push to cut back on home appraisals sparks controversy

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration wants to eliminate professional appraisals on a large number of home-sale transactions -- a move that critics say could push the country back toward the see-no-evil days of mortgage lending that preceded the housing crash.

Just before Thanksgiving, the administration's top financial regulators -- the ...Read more

Caribbean real-estate dream turns into $100 million nightmare for retirees

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Ever fantasize about fleeing the winter cold and getting in on the ground floor of a beachfront real-estate deal in which you double your money in a few years? If you've dreamed that dream, here's how it could turn nightmarish.

When Frank Balluff and his wife, Rebecca, purchased a lot in what seemed to be an exciting new Caribbean...Read more

Cooling trend could bode well for home buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Don't call it a "buyer's market." Don't call it a "correction." But the fact is that a sobering change is taking shape in the housing market -- an unmistakable cooling trend that defies an economy that is showing impressive growth, has the lowest unemployment rate in years and the highest home-equity levels on record.

Anyone ...Read more

Why FSBOs are fizzling

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- What's been happening to that good old-fashioned American way to sell your home -- doing it yourself, with minimal or no commission costs?

If you believe new data from the National Association of Realtors' Buyer/Seller survey, for-sale-by-owner transactions -- popularly known as FSBOs ("Fizzbos") -- appear to be on the same ...Read more

Fannie and Freddie programs offer options to retirees seeking home loans

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's a common problem for retirees seeking to refinance or get a new mortgage: After their regular employment earnings stop flowing, their monthly incomes drop. They might have hundreds of thousands of dollars stored away in IRAs or 401(k) plans and other investments, but for mortgage purposes, they don't have enough monthly income...Read more

Which is better at valuing your home - you or a computer program?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Do you have a pretty good idea of what your house is worth? Could you estimate within, say, 5 percent of what it's likely to sell for? If so, would that make you more accurate about your home value than an estimate from a computer program loaded with recent sales data and algorithms?

Maybe. Maybe not. Economists at the Federal ...Read more

Does going green net you more green when selling your home?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If you make extensive energy-conservation and other green improvements to your home, will they earn you a premium price for the entire house when you go to sell?

For years, the easy answer has been, oh yeah, absolutely: Green is good, everybody knows that saving energy is a no-brainer, and buyers will pay more to get it. There's ...Read more

New options open for homeowners seeking a reverse mortgage

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- You've probably seen actor Tom Selleck suavely pitching federally insured reverse mortgages on TV and thought, hmm, that sounds interesting. He says you can turn your home equity into cash and not pay back anything -- no principal, no interest, no fees -- for years after your retirement.

And it's true: Some form of a reverse ...Read more

Tariffs could cost you more to remodel your home

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Thinking about remodeling your home -- redoing a bathroom or the kitchen? Or maybe purchasing a new home from a builder? Or simply buying new appliances?

Then get ready to dig deeper into your wallet as the Trump administration's new $200 billion in tariffs begin to flow through to hundreds of the products that go into your ...Read more

Americans' credit scores hit record high

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- 704! That's the new, record-high average FICO credit score among millions of Americans, and it's positive news for home buyers, sellers, lenders and the economy overall.

What it signifies, according to Ethan Dornhelm, FICO's vice president of scores and analytics, is that 10 years out from the housing bust and the global financial...Read more

More borrowers faking their incomes, employment to buy homes

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Prices are up, interest rates are rising, and it's tough for a lot of people to qualify to buy a home. So what do some of them do? A growing number of them fake it.

According to mortgage-fraud researchers, income misrepresentations on home-loan applications were up 22.1 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with the ...Read more

Should Realtors' ethics violations be available to the public?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- In an era when you can find almost anything you want to know online about real estate -- the estimated market value of a house, the rankings of neighborhood schools, crime rates, walkability and much more -- there's one important subject that's difficult for consumers to check out: Ethics infractions by local Realtors, including ...Read more

Hope is on the horizon for home buyers in gig economy

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Here's some promising news for self-employed entrepreneurs, "gig" economy workers and small business owners: There's a bipartisan push underway on Capitol Hill to make the home-mortgage process a lot easier for you.

For years, federal lending rules have favored applicants with easily documentable incomes -- people who can show ...Read more

Lower credit scores, higher debt ratios opening opportunities for new home buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Is it easier today for home buyers with a high debt ratio and sub-par credit scores to qualify for a mortgage than it's been in years? And if so, what might that mean for first-time and repeat buyers who are struggling with credit and debt issues but still hope to buy a home?

When the Federal Reserve polled senior bank executives ...Read more

Sellers' price-cutting trend could be good news for buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- You might be relaxing at the beach or in the mountains, but if you're considering purchasing a home in the coming months, you should be aware of an important shift emerging in the market: List prices on growing numbers of houses are being cut, even in places where previous appreciation has been strong and sales at record levels. ...Read more

Frozen credit files can slow mortgage process

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Nearly a year after the catastrophic Equifax hack exposed 147 million Americans' personal and financial data to cybercriminals, consumers are about to get a break -- something especially useful for home buyers and owners.

Starting Sept. 21, credit-file "security" freezes will no longer cost you money. For years, you had to pay ...Read more


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