Home & Leisure

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

'Score Planner' tool offers customized path to better credit

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If you're seriously thinking about buying a home in the months ahead, you almost certainly know how important your FICO credit score will be in getting a mortgage.

And you probably know the score range you'll need for the type of loan you want -- somewhere in the low- to mid-700s for a conventional mortgage eligible for sale to ...Read more

Escrow-free loans raise credit-risk questions

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Do you really need an escrow account attached to your mortgage? Aren't you capable of remembering when it's time to pay tax and insurance bills? These questions suddenly are more controversial than you might guess.

A new program offered by one of the country's highest-volume lenders allows a wide swath of borrowers to say no-...Read more

Closing costs can bust a homebuyer's budget

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- In the emotional rush that precedes buying a home -- negotiating contract details and price, beating away rival bidders, searching for the best mortgage deal -- closing costs often aren't a pressing concern. Yet what you pay at settlement can be surprisingly expensive, even a budget buster.

Would you believe that the average buyer...Read more

Could baby boomers spur a housing bust?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Will baby boomers turn into party poopers when they unload their homes in large numbers starting in the next decade? Could they create an indigestible oversupply in the market that lowers home prices and frustrates sales?

That's a sobering scenario outlined by two new, provocative studies. One, from Fannie Mae's Economic and ...Read more

CFPB shifts gears on policing Zillow's co-marketing schemes

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- In a move with potentially significant implications for consumers, realty agents and lenders, the Trump administration has decided not to take legal action against online realty giant Zillow for alleged violations of federal anti-kickback and deceptive-practices rules.

The decision represents a departure from the direction the ...Read more

Booming home equity: Financial opportunity or warning sign?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If you've got it, don't piggybank it -- borrow against it.

That seems to be the prevailing sentiment among tens of thousands of American homeowners who've seen their property values surge and then decided: Hey, we've got a ton of equity sitting here, let's do something with it.

According to the latest estimates from real estate ...Read more

Paying the right commission is ultimately up to you

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- So you think things don't get rough in real estate and feathers don't fly when agents' commission money is at stake? Ha. Listen to what Joshua Hunt, founder and CEO of discount-fee realty brokerage Trelora recently said here at a meeting of the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department.

Trelora, which is based in Denver, ...Read more

Doomsday predictions over tax cuts have not come true -- yet

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- What if Congress passed a massive tax bill with scary cutbacks in deductions for homeowners -- prompting dire predictions of mass property-value declines -- but nothing much happened?

What if home prices in the market segments expected to be hurt the most by the tax changes actually rose significantly and showed no hints of ...Read more

Homebuyers can reap bargains thanks to growing lender competition

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

Washington -- Could lenders' pain be your gain if you're shopping for a home mortgage? Maybe.

Though it hasn't been in the headlines, mortgage companies are having a challenging year. Not only have total originations of new loans declined as the refinance market shrinks because of rising interest rates, but many lenders could be staring at red ...Read more

Fannie, Freddie want to make mortgages easier for gig-economy workers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The two biggest sources of home-mortgage money in the country -- investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are quietly working on ways to make qualifying for a home purchase easier for participants in the booming "gig" economy.

The gig economy refers to hundreds of income-earning activities that allow workers to set their own hours,...Read more

Racial disparities significant in mortgage rejections

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- For millions of Americans hoping to buy or refinance a home, it's a crucial make-or-break question: Will the lender say yes to our mortgage application, turn it down or charge us a higher interest rate than we need?

Surprisingly, large numbers of loan applications don't make it. Roughly one of every nine loan applications (10.8 ...Read more


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