Home & Leisure

Realty kickbacks prompt penalties by consumer agency

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If your real estate agent requires you to get a mortgage pre-approval from one specific lender as a condition of submitting an offer to buy a house -- even if another lender already pre-approved you -- would you think something is fishy?

If an agent offered discounts off the price of the house you want to buy -- but only if you ...Read more

Credit, debt dings don’t always doom mortgage applications

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- How tough is it to get approved for a mortgage? How low can your FICO credit score go before your lender shows you the door? And how much monthly debt can you be shouldering -- credit cards, student loans, auto payments -- but still walk away with the mortgage you’re seeking?

You might be surprised. New data from technology ...Read more

Tax reform could knock your investment plans off track

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The small-scale owners of millions of rental homes, parcels of investment land and income-producing commercial and business real estate might not know it, but one of their key financial planning and tax tools is in danger of disappearing on Capitol Hill.

House Republicans are working on a major tax reform proposal that, as part of...Read more

Premium reduction is good news -- but might be fleeting

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Here’s some potentially good news for anyone seeking a low down payment mortgage without high credit scores: The Federal Housing Administration is cutting its mortgage insurance premium charges, making its loans a little more affordable.

But if this sounds attractive, be aware that it could be temporary. Although the Obama ...Read more

Average real estate commissions dropping to low 5 percent range

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The average commission rate paid on American home sale transactions continues to decline and could dip below 5 percent within the next few years.

That’s the conclusion of Real Trends Consulting Inc., a research and advisory company that monitors hundreds of realty brokerage firms and compiles data on sales and commission rates ...Read more

A big holiday gift for homeowners

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The biggest holiday gift this year for millions of Americans doesn’t fit under a tree and can be a little hard to grasp, but it may be of exceptional value: If you own a home, the odds are good that your equity holdings increased by thousands of dollars over the past 12 months.

New quarterly data released by the Federal Reserve ...Read more

Don’t flunk these three mortgage tests

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- They are the three biggest snares for home buyers seeking mortgages, and if you focus on them in advance you’re much less likely to have your application denied. This is especially true if you’re buying -- or planning to buy -- your first home.

So what are they? A recently completed Federal Reserve study covering millions of ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Escrow-free home loans open new options to buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If you’ve got a home mortgage, you probably also have an escrow or impound -- a savings account incorporated into your monthly payment and managed by your loan servicer so that your annual property tax and hazard insurance bills get paid on time. Most lenders require them and will only allow a waiver if you pay a higher interest ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: When will Fannie and Freddie switch to a new credit-scoring model?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- You probably know that your credit score is a crucial factor in your ability to qualify for a mortgage. You might also know that your score can vary depending on the type of scoring model your lender uses. If it’s an old, outdated version you might get a lower score. If it’s a newer, more advanced model, you’ve got a ...Read more

Congress Could Play Grinch This Christmas for Homeowners

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Could it be a grim and grinchy December for thousands of home owners facing ongoing challenges with their mortgage payments and property values? Could popular deductions for mortgage insurance premiums and energy-efficient home improvements abruptly vanish?

That’s the way things are shaping up in the closing weeks of the ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Freddie Mac planning appraisal-free mortgages

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Can computers, big data and advanced analytics replace real live humans when it comes to accurately valuing the home you want to buy? One of the two largest financial players in U.S. real estate thinks so and is preparing to introduce changes that could prove momentous -- and highly controversial.

Giant mortgage investor Freddie ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: FHA pulls housing head fake on condo communities

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Call it a housing policy head fake -- one with potentially painful consequences for moderate-income buyers, sellers and seniors in hundreds of condominium projects around the country. If you were thinking about purchasing a condo unit with a low down payment FHA mortgage in the coming year, this could affect you.

Last week, ...Read more


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