Home & Leisure

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

Lawsuit dismissed against Zillow's Zestimates

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- A Federal district court has dismissed a closely followed class-action lawsuit that charged Zillow -- creator of the controversial Zestimate online home-valuation tool -- with deceptive business practices designed to mislead consumers.

The suit, filed last year by Chicago-area home sellers, alleged that Zillow systematically ...Read more

The growing gender gap that gets little notice: home buying

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's the gender gap you don't hear so much about: Single women are buying homes and condos at what may be more than twice the rate of single males, and the trend appears to be accelerating.


-- Single women accounted for 18 percent of all home purchases last year compared with just 7 percent by single males, according to...Read more

Appraisal-free loans save millions for buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- For homeowners and buyers, it's been an unexpected windfall: relief from having to pay for a traditional mortgage appraisal that usually costs between $400 and $600. The savings nationwide to consumers in just the past year alone may total tens of millions of dollars.

Sounds great. But to some key players in the home financing ...Read more

Tired of the hassle of selling your home? Try this all-cash alternative

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's the oldest fix-and-flip pitch in American real estate: "We'll buy your home, guaranteed, no matter what its condition, and we'll pay you quick cash with no commissions, and close in seven days or less."

You've probably encountered versions of this on TV or elsewhere. The only way such offers make sense is if the buyers are ...Read more

Are lower tax rates linked to higher home appreciation?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Nobody likes getting tax bills, especially homeowners who are burdened with ever-escalating local property taxes. Last year, property taxes collected by local and state governments rose by an average 6 percent -- $293.4 billion in total -- almost three times the annual rate of inflation.

But the tax rates you pay are probably very...Read more

Equity-affluent Americans have options for tapping into funds

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Americans are awash in record amounts of equity in their homes, posing the question for millions: So what do we do with it?

Leave it for a rainy day or retirement? Tap into it to remodel the house? Make a down payment on a vacation condo?

These are crucial financial decisions, but the abundance of equity is giving large numbers ...Read more

'Tax transcript' program doesn't shield borrowers' data

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- In an era of unceasing horror stories about breaches of sensitive consumer information, here's some disquieting news for homebuyers: Federal auditors say the popular "tax transcript" program run by the IRS and used by millions of mortgage applicants a year lacks adequate security protections against disclosures of tax-return ...Read more

Why wannabe sellers are looking but not listing their homes

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Call them the frustrated wannabe sellers -- eager to list their homes for sale this spring, but feeling locked out of their markets by severe inventory shortages and rising prices that are occurring in many parts of the country. They want to move. They believe they could sell relatively quickly. But they can't find affordable, ...Read more

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


Social Connections


Ask Shagg Hi and Lois Mike Luckovich Loose Parts Daddy's Home Steve Benson