Home & Leisure

Don't be afraid to shop around for a better mortgage deal

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's one of the weirder documented facts about home buying in America: Surprising numbers of consumers don't bother to shop for mortgage money, even though they could save tens of thousands of dollars through lower interest payments by doing so.

People search incessantly online to find the best deals on hotel rooms, kitchen ...Read more

Cutbacks in high debt ratio loans could hurt buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- A key policy change by mortgage giant Fannie Mae that offered homeownership to thousands of new buyers -- many of them minorities -- could face significant cutbacks. The reason: Private mortgage insurers are re-thinking their decisions to participate.

The change, which took effect last July, allowed borrowers with debt-to-income (...Read more

Taxpayers get good news on HELOCS

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's official: Despite widespread fears to the contrary, the IRS has clarified that last year's big tax bill did not kill all interest deductions on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and equity loans.

In a policy statement, the IRS said that it has received "many questions received from taxpayers and tax professionals" about ...Read more

Congress asked to crack down on mortgage 'trigger leads'

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- You've probably never heard of a "mortgage trigger lead." But as a consumer, you might be shocked to learn that in an era of massive data breaches and hacks -- witness the Equifax debacle -- they even exist.

So what's a trigger lead? When you apply for a home mortgage or a preapproval, the loan officer pulls your credit from the ...Read more

New budget holds hidden tax benefits

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Call it buried tax treasure for homeowners: Deep inside the behemoth 654-page bipartisan budget bill recently signed into law by President Trump are little-noticed extensions of key tax-code benefits that expired in 2016, but now can be used for upcoming 2017 tax filings.

Potentially the most popular is aimed at millions of buyers...Read more

Lenders who prey on veterans hurt other home buyers as well

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Could predatory lending practices affecting veterans also be inflating interest rates paid by thousands of unsuspecting home buyers using FHA loans?

The answer appears to be yes -- and the underlying abuses in home loans to veterans are prompting action by federal authorities and legislation on Capitol Hill.

Here's what's ...Read more

Real estate market unfazed by changes to tax law

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Were fears overblown that changes to the federal tax law would trigger plunging home values?

You might recall the scary predictions from the realty industry and some independent economists that began last fall: Cutting tax benefits for homeowners would inevitably lead to declines of 4 to 10 percent in home prices, and maybe even ...Read more

New real-estate survey offers helpful insight for buyers and sellers alike

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- They are gnawing questions that many homebuyers inevitably ponder: What are my chances of getting the house I've fallen in love with at a price I can afford, which happens to be well below what the seller is asking? What are the odds that pesky contract contingencies, such as mortgage financing or the appraisal, could jeopardize my...Read more

'Rapid rescoring' can provide quick credit fix

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Many mortgage applicants have never heard of "rapid rescoring" or CreditXpert score simulations -- in part because some lenders choose not to educate them.

That's unfortunate, because anyone who's looking for the most favorable interest rates and terms in 2018's rising interest rate environment ought to know at least the basics ...Read more

Don't worry: HELOCs will survive despite new tax law

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's a big and confusing question for many homeowners in the wake of the December tax law changes: Are new interest-deductible home equity credit lines (HELOCs) and second mortgages now totally out of reach going forward?

The new law eliminated a long-standing section of the tax code that allowed homeowners to borrow against their...Read more

Home buyers must beware of 'greenwashing'

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The practice is called "greenwashing" and home shoppers need to be on guard: It means a house is being marketed as environmentally friendly and energy-saving when it doesn't really deserve that description.

Greenwashing is a growing issue in real estate as multiple studies demonstrate that consumers are attracted to -- and will ...Read more

Virtual staging can make houses look too good to be true

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Try to picture this real estate scenario -- virtually. Like 90 percent of shoppers searching for a home, you start on the web, checking out listings and locations. You find a house that appears to be what you're after, and you tap into the photos section of the listing to see the interior shots.

Wow! The house is outstanding for ...Read more

Tax proposal could carry high costs for many homeowners

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Whether you already own a home or are thinking of purchasing, the new tax legislation pending before Congress poses serious questions: Am I going to get smacked with punitive new taxes? Will the value of my home decrease because previous real estate tax benefits have been stripped away? Or am I one of the lucky ones, well insulated...Read more

Less-stringent standards open options for home buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Here's an important question for anyone hoping to buy a home next year but who isn't quite confident about qualifying for a mortgage: Is it true that lenders have eased up on certain key requirements, making it simpler for first-time buyers and others who can't pass all the strict tests to get approved?

The good news answer is yes...Read more

Equifax breach already taking a toll on consumers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The scenario that personal finance and credit experts feared most about the heist of consumer data from Equifax may already be underway: Criminals are using the stolen information to apply for mortgages, credit cards, student loans, tapping into bank debit accounts, filing insurance claims and racking up substantial debts, ...Read more


Social Connections


Rubes Fort Knox Mike Lester Barney & Clyde The Barn Fowl Language