Home & Leisure

Condo financing program could be making a comeback

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Could condos financed with low down payment government-backed mortgages stage a surprise comeback under the Trump administration, which generally seeks to reduce federal involvement in housing? Would this be promising news for millennials and buyers with moderate incomes looking to purchase their first homes?

You bet -- provided ...Read more

Future unclear for capital gains exclusion

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's often the biggest pot of gold available to any homeowner, yet its fate remains unclear under the main tax code overhaul plans proposed so far on Capitol Hill.

The capital gains "exclusion" allows eligible owners to pocket up to $250,000 (taxpayers filing singly) or up to $500,000 (joint filers) from the net gains on their ...Read more

Zillow under fire for "Zestimate" system

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON-- It was bound to happen: A home owner has filed suit against online realty giant Zillow, claiming the company's controversial "Zestimate" tool repeatedly undervalued her home, creating a "tremendous road block" to its sale.

The suit, which may be the first of its kind, was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by a Glenview, Illinois, ...Read more

Fannie Mae eases burden of student loans

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Here’s some good news for home buyers and owners burdened with costly student loan debts: Mortgage investor Fannie Mae has just made sweeping rule changes that should make it easier for you to purchase a first home or do a “cash-out” refinancing to pay off your student debt.

Fannie’s new policies could be game changers for...Read more

Make sure home inspectors play by the rules

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Most home buyers and sellers don’t think much about what might derail their purchase or sale. But here’s a sobering fact: One of every 20 sales contracts blows up along the road to closing. And roughly one of every four runs into an issue that delays the scheduled settlement.

These statistics come from new survey research ...Read more

Condo values catching up to single-family homes

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It’s a real estate question that historically has had an easy answer: Do single-family detached homes appreciate in value faster than condominiums?

The standard answer has been: Of course single-family homes appreciate faster. They are what most Americans prefer to live in, so there’s stronger demand. They come with their own ...Read more

Cash-out refinancings on the rise, just like in 2008

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- They’re either a valuable financial tool for homeowners or a harbinger of trouble on the horizon: Cash-out refinancings, which were wildly popular during the housing boom years and contributed to the severity of the crash, are on the rise again.

National mortgage investor Freddie Mac reports that 45 percent of all home loan ...Read more

Tax reform could cost home buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- With the health care bill back-burnered on Capitol Hill, the focus has shifted to tax reform. Among the key financial matters in play: Homeowners’ prized mortgage interest and property tax deductions.

Though no major version of a reform bill would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, the House Republicans’ tax ...Read more

Credit bureau settlement shines light on scores

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- When is your “credit score” irrelevant in buying a house or refinancing a mortgage? A new federal legal settlement with a major credit bureau has the answer: The only score that matters is the one your lender uses to evaluate you, not some random score you got on a website.

All the others you might buy or see -- there are ...Read more

Are you paying unseen add-on fees for your appraisal?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Are you getting fleeced on appraisal charges when you buy a house or refinance? Could you be paying as much as double what the appraiser is receiving for actually doing the work, with the excess going to an undisclosed third party?

Many appraisers say yes. And they’re eager to let consumers know that when the appraisal charge is...Read more

Why millennials are flocking to FHA mortgages

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration may not be fond of FHA-insured mortgages -- the president canceled a cut in fees for new loan applicants as one of his first official actions -- but millennial home buyers apparently are big fans.

A new analysis of loans closed during January found that 35 percent of millennials -- those born between 1980 ...Read more

Mountain of mortgage paperwork wears down borrowers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Could getting a home mortgage under today’s post-housing bust regulations and procedures be even remotely comparable to going to the dentist to get drilled? Or anything like having your annual physical, where every body part potentially is subject to inspection and prodding?

Has the process of applying and qualifying at a time ...Read more

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


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