Home & Leisure

More Americans are choosing not to tap into their home equity

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- American homeowners are doing something surprising: Despite record amounts of home equity available to them -- an estimated $1.5 trillion worth -- they are tapping into it less via home-equity credit lines (HELOCs) and cash-out refinancings.

The big question is why. Are people simply getting more frugal? Or are other forces at ...Read more

Strong spring real estate season shaping up -- but who's got the advantage?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Have we arrived at one of those rare Goldilocks moments in real estate, where the market works well for sellers and buyers, strongly favoring neither?

Maybe. Based on the latest national consumer-sentiment survey by mortgage investor Fannie Mae, American consumers appear to think so. They're more positive about the overall ...Read more

New financial tools offer a boost to credit ratings

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Here's some good news for anyone whose credit scores aren't quite as high as they'd like them to be: Three new financial tools have come to market -- or soon will be available -- that could give your scores a shot of adrenalin when you need it most.

These aren't "credit repair" rip-offs, where you shell out hundreds or thousands ...Read more

Homebuyers with heavy debt might find it tougher to get a mortgage

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- First-time and move-up homebuyers with heavy debt loads, low credit scores and small down payments face a daunting new mortgage hurdle: The Federal Housing Administration is toughening its underwriting standards. Large numbers of applications could be turned down in the coming months as a result.

Industry estimates vary about the ...Read more

Class action suit could change real-estate commissions

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- In what could be the most far-reaching antitrust lawsuit for the real estate market in decades, the National Association of Realtors and four of the largest realty companies have been accused of a conspiracy to systematically overcharge home sellers by forcing them to pay commissions to the agents who represent the buyers of their ...Read more

Buying a home just got easier for many in the gig economy

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If you're one of the millions of Americans who are self-employed or earn money on the side through freelance, contract or "gig" work, you may know the drill firsthand: Applying for a mortgage can be an intrusive ordeal.

Compared with people who have W-2 forms or pay stubs to verify their income, you encounter a much more time-...Read more

Zillow sued over hacked listing of California mansion

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- What may be the first-ever hijacking of an active real-estate listing online -- a palatial mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Bel Air, California -- has led to a lawsuit seeking $60 million in damages against home-sale marketing company Zillow.

One or more hackers seized control of the mansion's listing page on Zillow's ...Read more

More Americans are paying mortgages on time

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- It's a real estate and social barometer that doesn't get a lot of publicity, but it's important: More Americans are paying their mortgages on time today than they have in nearly two decades -- maybe even longer.

That's a big deal, because when large numbers of owners do the opposite -- stop paying on their home loans for months at...Read more

Who provides the more accurate home valuation: Zillow or Redfin?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- When you type in a home's street address to obtain an online valuation from the two biggest players in the field -- Zillow's Zestimate or Redfin's Estimate tools -- how good is what you get?

Both are used by millions of home shoppers, owners, realty agents, anyone curious about what a house in their neighborhood might be worth. ...Read more

Should seniors take the rap for the gap in homeownership by millennials?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Are senior homeowners preventing millennials from buying houses? Could the decisions of millions of older owners to "age in place" rather than sell their homes explain why millennials are lagging behind in homeownership?

A provocative new study (link: from federally chartered mortgage investor Freddie...Read more

Latest credit breach exposes mortgage data for thousands of borrowers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- A large breach of mortgage data that has exposed the personal financial information of tens of thousands of borrowers raises key consumer questions: What happens to all those disclosures we make after we apply for and obtain a home loan -- our tax returns, Social Security numbers, credit card accounts, bank-account numbers and ...Read more

Your FICO score is not your mortgage destiny

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate quote you'll get on your mortgage, right?

As a general proposition, sure. But how much of a rate benefit are you really likely to get with your super-high 800-plus FICO score compared with someone with a much lower score?

You might be surprised. A new statistical review, ...Read more

Housing market shows signs of hope

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If you've been distracted by the federal shutdown, political dysfunction, stock-market volatility and reports of rising mortgage rates, it wouldn't be surprising if you concluded: No way is this a good time to even think about buying a house or putting one on the market. Things are too crazy. Nobody's paying attention to real ...Read more

Your DIY project didn't turn out quite right? You've got company.

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Do-it-yourself projects by homeowners are a multi-billion-dollar growth area within the U.S. economy and the bread and butter of corporate giants like Lowe's and Home Depot.

And for good reason: When done right, DIYs are great, saving you money and time. They can even be fun and give you a sense of pride in what you've ...Read more

Federal shutdown creating mortgage victims

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- When the government shuts its doors because of a funding brouhaha that pits the White House against Capitol Hill, who gets hit hardest among people needing a home mortgage? The latest version of federal breakdown made one fact painfully clear: It all depends on the type of loan you seek and where you're located.

Worst hit, of ...Read more


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