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House of the Day: Luxury by Lake Tahoe

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This $6.785 million residence, located in the luxurious Martis Camp community of North Lake Tahoe, Calif., boasts four bedrooms, 5½ baths, and an incredible array of cutting-edge amenities — including a home iPad interface system and hydronic heating throughout the flooring.

The master suite, which offers commanding views of majestic arboreal wilderness, includes a fireplace and spa-inspired bath. The lower level features a recreation-media room, complete with a surround-sound system and a bar, as well as a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and an exercise den. Moveable glass walls divide the living room from an outdoor patio and walk-out terrace, which offer extensive outdoor entertaining space including a spa, fire pit, dining area and landscaped lawn. Furnishings throughout are a combination of the rustic and the ultramodern.

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As if this all weren’t enough, Martis Camp residency offers several extra layers of luxury, including an 18-hole golf course, and a family recreation center with swimming, bowling, basketball, cinema and art. Finally, the community includes 26 miles of private trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Brian Hull of Martis Camp has the listing.

Click on the images below to see more homes for sale near Lake Tahoe, Calif.

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Got a tip for House of the Day? Know of an exceptional or unusual property currently listed for sale? Please email krisanne.alcantara@huffingtonpost.com with your suggestions and be sure to include links to listing details and photos. (Due to the volume of response, we unfortunately are unable to reply to each submission.)

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Visit the Ski Resorts of Lake Tahoe, California

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/04/03/house-of-the-day-luxury-by-lake-tahoe/

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Contractor Mortgages: Tips

When it comes to finding a contractor mortgage, there are some tips that will help you be successful. There is no need to have three years on your books or to be earning thousands a month to gain that home loan you are looking for, but you do need to have patience. The first tip […]

Source: http://www.brothernwla.org/contractor-mortgages-tips/

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Do Interns Get Paid? When to Ask for Compensation

Over the last couple of months, there have been three class-action lawsuits filed against companies that were allegedly violating labor laws by employing unpaid interns. This is a sign of our new culture in the wake of the recession; people have become increasingly uncertain about when interns should be paid, and are beginning to ask the question: do interns get paid at all anymore?

Read more…

The post Do Interns Get Paid? When to Ask for Compensation appeared first on DailyPerk.

Source: http://dailyperk.perkstreet.com/do-interns-get-paid/

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Hey, Foreign Investors: Buy a House, Get a Visa!

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home soldIt’s no secret that one of the few bright spots in the housing market today comes from all-cash buyers, many of whom are foreign investors. But a new bipartisan bill in the Senate aims to take this trend to its most logical (and controversial) end — buy a house and you’ll qualify for a resident visa in the U.S.

The bill, proposed by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), seeks to lure foreign buyers by offering a resident visa in exchange for a cash purchase of at least $500,000 on a single-family home, condo or townhouse, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The proposal takes its cue from the “EB-5″ program (formally known as the Immigrant Investor Program), in which foreigners who invest in job-creating projects that are worth at least $500,000 in high-unemployment areas are granted green cards.

The bill is not, however, without its detractors. Richard Smith, CEO of Realogy, the parent company of realty heavies like ERA, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker, told The Wall Street Journal that it’s an unnecessary measure — even without the incentive, foreigners are already snapping up American property.

And he may be right. Of the $1.07 trillion spent on existing home sales between March 2010 and March 2011, about $41 billion changed hands thanks to foreign investors, according to the National Association of Realtors. Additionally, all-cash sales accounted for 30 percent of all purchases — much of which is generated by foreign investors facing favorable exchange rates.

On the other hand, Sen. Schumer told the Journal, the proposal is a quick way to shore up demand for the country’s housing overstock without costing the federal government anything. Until first-time homebuyers overcome the hurdles at the banks, and repeat buyers find ways to unload their current homes, increased sales to foreign investors may be the best way to absorb some of the nation’s enormous inventory of homes.

The investor visas would not leapfrog current waiting lists, which should prevent wealthier foreigners from jumping ahead of other immigrants. The bill also requires investors to apply for a separate visa to work in the U.S, says the Journal.

Readers, what do you think? Would such a bill help or hurt the U.S. economy?

Also see:
Viva Las Vegas! Sin City Now Bargain City

When It Comes to Square Footage, the U.S. Is Cheap

Require 20% Down on a House? Hong Kong Tried That

Pity the Homeowner Who Tries to Sell in These 10 Cities

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/10/20/hey-foreign-investors-buy-a-house-get-a-visa/

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Town of Parrottsville, Tenn., Finds 27 Basketballs, Other Sports Gear Clogging Drain

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After a constantly backed-up drain in Parrottsville, Tenn., caused $1,200 in flood damage to the nearby Parrottsville Inn during rainstorms (pictured below), the hotel’s owner was fed up. He called on the town to correct the problem, and what officials found as the culprit of the blockage shocked everyone.

Twenty-seven basketballs, seven to 10 footballs and several baseballs and helmets were pulled from the drain over a three-day period (pictured above), Knoxville TV station WBIR reported. Some of the items could date back to the 1940s, officials said.

“We just couldn’t believe it,” Parrottsville Mayor Mary Keller told WBIR. “We thought [the backup] was from all the dirt.”

Officials said the sports gear probably got there because there was no grate on the drain.

The fix was a relief for Parrottsville Inn owner Raymond Robinson, who told WBIR that the back-up was “completely wiping out our mulch when it would flood.”

Town officials decided to give the recovered basketballs and footballs to kids in the community. And that’s perfect timing because in November, the town opened up a new basketball court.

Robinson said he is glad that the problem was resolved in a way that benefits everyone.

“We love the kids around here,” he said.

See also:
Athens Olympics Stadium in Decay (PHOTOS)
Astrodome, World’s ‘8th Wonder,’ Lies Abandoned (PHOTOS)
Blueprints of Ebbets Field, Home of Brooklyn Dodgers, on Display

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Should Underwater Homeowners Just Walk Away?

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underwater home mortgages Almost a third (31.4 percent) of homeowners with mortgages are underwater, according to the 2012 first-quarter Zillow Negative Equity Report, yet 90 percent of them are current on their mortgages and continue to make payments.
Deciding whether to “stay and pay” on a home that’s worth less than you owe is a tough financial decision, but ultimately, it is one that only homeowners themselves can make.

And while it’s fraught with emotion for most, there are a number of financial factors that you can and should consider. In fact, looking at the numbers may help you face the facts and make a better financial decision in the long run.

Own vs. Rent

When you were thinking about buying your home, you may have tried a “rent versus buy” calculator. (Of course, those were likely created before the housing meltdown and may have overstated some of the value of owning.) Now, however, you must flip the equation: Look at the cost of continuing to own versus the cost of renting.

To do this, spend a weekend hunting for apartments or houses. Go and take a look at rental homes. Find out what’s available, what they cost and what kinds of requirements landlords are looking for in terms of deposits and credit.

Get your free credit score and report card from Credit.com.

The goal? To get a realistic idea of how much you’d pay to rent so that you can compare the cost of renting with what you are paying for your mortgage. When you look at the “own” side of the equation, don’t forget to factor in periodic expenses such as maintenance (including repairs that will have to be done in the next few years) and property taxes (if they aren’t included in your mortgage payment).

One more twist: If your mortgage (or second mortgage, if you have one) is a variable-rate loan, then you should also consider the cost of your mortgage when interest rates rise. Try an online mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payment at higher interest rates.

Getting Back to Square One

One of the arguments in favor of owning versus renting is that as you pay down your mortgage, you are building equity. But with so many homes underwater, the real question is “when?” When will your home be back in the black and start building equity? Until it does, you are effectively renting. And how much will that cost in the meantime?

Of course, trying to guesstimate future home-price appreciation is like trying to predict where the stock market is headed. Just take a look at the March 2012 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. It compiles predictions from a diverse group of 104 experts — economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists — to measure expectations about the projected path of the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index over the next five years.

Read more of this story at Credit.com.

See more at Credit.com:
10 Mistakes Homebuyers Make
What’s Really in Your Credit Report?
The Upside of the Foreclosure Crisis: Affordable Homes

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To Own or to Rent a House

 

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Low Mortgage Rates Are Great — But Most Can’t Qualify

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WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates have reached their lowest levels in six decades, making this the best time in most Americans’ lives to buy or refinance a home. For people who qualify, today’s rates could save thousands of dollars a year.

Yet most people can’t take advantage. Half of would-be buyers say they’ll never save enough for the 20 percent down payment now usually required. And shrunken home values have erased much of the equity that people need to refinance.

“Low rates are great, but the real issue is that the pool of people who can get a loan or refinance is small,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst.

This week, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.12 percent. It’s the lowest for a 30-year fixed loan since mortgage buyer Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971. The last time rates were cheaper was in 1951, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years.

The average on the 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinancing option, dropped to 3.33 percent this week. That’s also an all-time low, according to most economists.

Record-low rates have done little to energize depressed home sales. The average rate on the 30-year fixed loan has been below 5 percent for all but two weeks this year. Yet sales of previously occupied homes are on pace for their weakest year since 1997.

Too many would-be buyers can’t come up with a down payment, don’t have a job, lack enough income or are burdened by large debt loads.

Mortgage rates are low largely because investors are worried about the U.S. economy. As a result, they’re moving their money out of stocks and into U.S. Treasurys. Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which touched an all-time low this week.

A drop in mortgage rates could provide some help to the economy if more people could refinance. When people refinance at lower rates, they pay less interest on their loans and have more money to spend.

Consider a homeowner who owes $250,000 and is paying 5.09 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage. That was the average rate on a 30-year fixed loan being offered in January 2010. Refinancing the loan at 4.12 percent could save him or her roughly $2,000 a year.

But many homeowners with good jobs and stable finances have already refinanced in the past year. The average rate on the 30-year fixed loan fell to 4.17 percent last November, and to 4.15 percent last month. Both were previous lows.

Homeowners typically pay a few thousand dollars in closing costs when they refinance. To refinance again, most experts say, rates would need to fall an additional 1 percentage point to make it worthwhile.

Still, plenty of people could benefit from the low rates. More than 75 percent of homeowners with a government-backed mortgage are paying rates above 5 percent.

But most can’t qualify. Mike Anderson, a mortgage broker in Baton Rouge, La., said he’s turning away roughly 40 percent of customers seeking home loans and refinancing.

“I’ve never had to turn down so many loans upfront,” Anderson said.

Banks are insisting that applicants have higher credit scores and make 20 percent down payments if they are a first-time buyer.

Roughly 40 percent of U.S. households have the necessary credit scores above 700 to get a prime mortgage rate, according to an Associated Press analysis of Fair Isaac Corp., or FICO, data.

But just half of potential buyers say they can save enough for a down payment, particularly one as high as 20 percent, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Another problem is that nearly a third of homeowners either have less than 5 percent equity in their home or are “underwater” – that is, they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth — according to the real estate research firm CoreLogic.

As a result, they can’t afford a down payment on a bigger home and can’t refinance because of lender-imposed limits and the cost of extra fees. The low rates now being offered don’t include such fees, which many borrowers must pay to get the rates. Those fees, known as points, make a mortgage rate, in effect, higher than it’s advertised.

One point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount. The average such fee for the 30-year loan held steady this week at 0.7 point. For the 15-year fixed loan and for five- and one-year adjustable-rate loans, the average fee was 0.6 point.

Lack of equity is what’s keeping Don Meadows from refinancing. He owes $247,000 on a house in Orlando, Fla., and is paying 7 percent on a 30-year fixed loan. His monthly payment is $1,840.

If Meadows, 40, a sales manager, could refinance at today’s rates, he could save more than $400 a month.

But he has no equity in his home. He bought it two years ago for $274,000. It’s now worth $170,000.

“I couldn’t (refinance) even if I wanted to,” Meadows said. “Now, we just have to ride it out.”

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

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Boost Your Home’s Value on Your Day Off

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Have some time on your hands this Memorial Day? Consider tackling a few home improvements. Your goal may simply be to freshen your home’s appearance, but you also want your hard work to increase your home’s value. Kiplinger offers these eight easy home improvements that will pay you back. Each costs less than $500 and should require less than a day’s work. Take a look.

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Your Facebook Status: Foreclosed

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facebook foreclosedForeclosure via Facebook? With roughly 4 million foreclosures in the pipeline in this country, some legal experts say it’s just a matter of time until lenders win the right to serve foreclosure documents through the giant social network.

That day has already come for one couple in Australia. When they defaulted on a six-figure loan and couldn’t be found via a physical address or email, the lender’s enterprising lawyers located them on Facebook. The lawyers were able to verify the couple’s identities by matching up their names and birthdates — and, of course, the fact that they had “friended” each other.

Australian courts upheld the lender’s right to send foreclose notices via Facebook, citing the fact that the couple didn’t enable privacy protections on their Facebook accounts and were frequent enough visitors to the site that they would “reasonably receive notice as a result.”

While Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, says he is unaware of Facebook being used in the U.S. to deliver legal notifications, but “it’s bound to happen,” he said. “The real concern the courts have is whether it’s a fair notice that the person actually receives.” According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, courts in New Zealand, Canada and the U.K. already have adopted the Australian example to avoid having cases stall when people can’t be located and served in person.

“There are people who exist only online,” Joseph DeMarco, co-chair of the American Bar Association’s criminal justice cyber crime committee, told the publication. The ability to serve documents by social-media networks would be useful, he said.

Facebook has taken heat before about its policies protecting the personal data of its 694 million users worldwide. Following the case in Australia, which happened in 2008, company spokesman Barry Schnitt said the company was pleased to see the Australian court validate Facebook as a reliable, secure and private communication medium. (Facebook did not respond to messages left by AOL.)

Is it appropriate to use social networks to find people and deliver legal papers to them via the network?

“No one likes to receive a legal service,” said Rotenberg. Legal service, after all, usually isn’t good news: Someone wants you for something. And yes, he adds, “There are going to be privacy concerns, but in some respects they’re almost inescapable.”

Email, by contrast, is generally not considered by courts to be a safe or reliable way to deliver legal notices. We get too much email, much of it winds up in spam and we don’t always open everything in our in-boxes. Legal notices delivered this way can easily be discounted with a simple “I didn’t see the email.”

But Facebook, said Rotenberg, is different. If you don’t have thousands of friends and you regularly post status updates indicating that you are active on the site, you lose the excuse that you likely overlooked the notice. Of course not everyone with a Facebook page visits the site regularly, but save it for the judge whether you’re one of them.

Bottom line: It’s probably going to be determined to be legal, just not likely to be popular. And should use of Facebook as an electronic process-server escalate as a norm, you can expect it would have some adverse impact on the site’s participation levels. In the meantime, if you don’t want the banks to find you, the best defense is enabling your privacy settings on Facebook and be mindful of the personal data you post.

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Mortgage Points: When It’s Smart to Pay More Upfront

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Mortgage points
Pay more now for a chance to save much more later? That’s the idea behind paying “points” on a mortgage loan. But it doesn’t necessarily make sense for every homeowner.

Mortgage points provide an opportunity for borrowers to lower their monthly mortgage payments by paying a lump sum at a loan’s closing in exchange for a lower mortgage interest rate over the course of a loan.

Mortgage points are a smart option for borrowers who plan to stay in the same mortgage and not refinance for a relatively long period of time. But points are not recommended for borrowers who are likely to relocate or refinance in the not-so-distant future.

Borrowers pay points in order to lower their mortgage interest rates by a certain amount. The cost of one point is equal to one percent of the mortgage amount. In the case of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, paying one point will typically lower your interest rate by somewhere around one eighth of a percent, according to Tim Dwyer, chief executive officer of Entitle Direct, a title insurance company.

So if borrower A paid one point on a $200,000 mortgage with what would have been a 4 percent interest rate, she would lower her interest rate to 3.875 percent (4 percent — 1/8th percent) for the cost of $2,000.

A good way of looking at points is to view them as an investment that “yields a return for the longer you stay in your house,” mortgage expert Jack Guttentag writes.

If Borrower A stays in the same mortgage for only a few years before selling her home or refinancing, she may end up not saving enough in monthly payments to justify paying the $2,000 upfront. But if she stays in the mortgage for a longer period of time, she eventually breaks even on her investment and enjoys saving money every month from there on out.

“If the points are reasonable, I want to pay that upfront and enjoy the interest rate savings over 10 years because I know I’m not going to refinance,” Dwyer says. But if “you’re a young couple” and “you know you’re going to have more babies, you know you’re going to be moving out,” then you should avoid paying points.

Banks may offer 10 or more point combinations on any given loan, Guttentag writes, and borrowers often don’t end up selecting the option that aligns most with their interests, simply out of ignorance. You can use a point calculator to find out how long it would take to break even using different point combinations.

In a perfect world, borrowers would pay points only if it benefited them in the long run. But, in fact, many borrowers pay points out of necessity. Why?

Lenders will only allow borrowers’ monthly mortgage payments to equal up to a certain percentage of their monthly income. Often they will only approve loans for borrowers whose monthly mortgage payments would not exceed 28 percent of a borrower’s monthly income.

Paying points allows a borrower who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for a loan because of income limitations to lower his or her monthly payment to the extent that the bank is willing to make the loan.

Some banks offer “negative points,” a rebate paid by lenders toward a borrower’s closing costs. “Negative points” lower closing costs for a mortgage, but raise its monthly interest rate. They can be a good option for borrowers who are hard-pressed to cover closing costs with zero points or who intend on moving or refinancing in a few years.

Follow Teke Wiggin on Twitter (@tkwiggin), follow @AOLRealEstate, or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

What Are Mortgage Points

See also:
Mortgage Jargon in Simple Terms
Real Estate Terms and What They Mean
Don’t Be Surprised by Expenses of Homeownship

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Loan Thaw? Average Mortgage Up by $20,000, Study Says

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By Kerri Panchuk

The average loan size that lenders issued to borrowers in the past three months grew by $20,000, suggesting a thawing in mortgage lending, Capital Economics said Wednesday.

While the report, which was released by Capital Economics analysts Paul Dales, Paul Diggle and Amna Asaf, stopped short of calling the good news a full lending recovery, Dales said, “it may be an early sign that buyer confidence is improving.”

In 2012, the average amount of a mortgage went from around $215,000 to $235,000. The higher loan amounts are not the only positive economic indicator highlighted by the research firm.

Capital Economics reported a 20 percent drop in visible home inventory over the past 18 months, resulting in a situation where a months’ supply of unsold homes is now at a level where existing home sales can support current prices. At the same time, Capital Economics believes there are currently 3.9 million homes in the nation’s shadow inventory.

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Even though employment numbers fell below the average analyst’s expectation of 200,000 new jobs in March, Capital Economics is more optimistic with the current three-month new jobs average sitting at 212,000 positions.

“We are not too alarmed by the 120,000 rise in payroll employment in March, which was exactly half the 240,000 gain in February,” Dales wrote. “Just as the unusually mild weather meant that employment grew at a faster rate than the underlying trend in the previous few months, it may now be growing at a slower rate than the underlying trend.”

Even though mortgage rates grew slightly in March, Capital Economics said the uptick will have little effect on housing activity since prices still remain affordable and undervalued.

The researchers believes there are signs in the market of a price bottom, but said significant home price gains are not expected in the near term since tighter lending restrictions are prohibiting a boom in real estate activity.

Read more on HousingWire:
Fannie, Freddie and the FHA Lead Surge in Multifamily Lending
Mortgage Applications Fall 2.4% as Purchases, Refinances Decline
RealtyTrac: Foreclosure Filings Fall to 4Q 2007 Level

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How to Shop for a Home Loan

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/04/12/home-loan-thaw-average-mortgage-up-by-20-000-study-says/

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Baby Boomers Launch Remodeling Boom

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baby boomersThe first wave of Baby Boomers turned 65 last year, which will have a significant impact on real estate and the nation’s housing market. Not only should home sales increase, but hammers and nails will be flying as homes change hands from older to younger owners, while the home remodeling industry strikes it rich.

In fact, home remodels could be in for their best years ever. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, home owners over age 55 comprised a third of all home sellers between 1997 and 2007. That is a trend that experts say will only increase over the next 20 years as more Boomers retire.

And home remodelers have it made in the shade because if the Boomers sell their homes and move, younger buyers are extremely likely to remodel. If Boomers decide prices are too soft to sell and stay put, they are likely to adapt their home for old age, adding in more lighting, elevators, and principles of universal design. So the home remodelers win either way.

Looking at recent housing turnover data between the years 1997 and 2007, buyers of existing homes tend to be younger, the sellers, older. Of the 24.5 million owner-occupied sellers between 1997 and 2007, about 7.6 million, or almost one-third, were over age 55 when they sold their

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home.

And who buys these homes? People under age 45, who purchased 57 percent of the homes the old folks sold off. In fact, the median age buyer was about 33. With the median age seller almost 68 years old, we see that buyers tend to be about 35 years younger than the owners of the homes they purchase. And old people tend not to buy other old people’s homes: Fewer than 25 percent of homes sold between 1997 and 2007 by sellers who were age 55 or older were swooped up by contemporaries.

Which means, of course, that the housing stock these Boomers are shedding is at least as old as they are.

In fact, the age of owner-occupied housing stock has been trending upwards over the last ten years. In 1997, the median age of the average American home was 29 years, but crept to 32 by 2007.

You know what we Boomers used to say: Never trust anyone over age 30.

With housing stock that old, the likelihood for a buyer coming in and remodeling is huge. The age and condition of these units makes them more affordable to younger buyers, and they tend to be located in the suburbs. On average, 80 to 90 percent of homes sold by older sellers to spring chicken buyers are single family detached units.

“The new owners of baby boomer suburban housing,” the report said, “will likely be concentrated in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups and higher income categories that have historically spent the most on remodeling.”

But here’s a new headache for buyers: Thanks to the financial crisis, many seniors who planned to downsize and free up some home inventory are staying put, because the financial melt down took a toll on both the equity in their homes and their retirement accounts. Mobility rates among older homeowners posted sharp drops between 2005 and 2009. But fewer “senior” seniors have had home equity wiped out, because most of these folks have owned their home for years and paid down mortgages. Still, many Boomers may postpone moving out of their homes because they simply cannot afford to move.

Which means that when they do finally vacate those homes, the places are going to need a lot of work. The study also showed something we real estate reporters have always known: recent home buyers spend buckets of money when they first buy a home. There’s a reason why Lowe’s caters to the 45 to 54 year old age group: home buyer expenditures peak in the 45-54 age group because these are the wonder years when families, home equity and incomes grow and flourish. And goodbye Formica: what rooms do buyers who buy from older sellers focus on? Kitchens and baths. Which is why Lowe’s very best customer is the new homeowner. Home buyers age 35 to 44 spend more on average for home improvements than any other age group.

But then, the Boomers are the generation who did things “their way.” Don’t expect them to follow their parents’ retirement patterns. As this study notes, they have made different housing decisions the whole way. Boomers are more likely to live in newer, suburban homes, and continue to spend a lot on home improvements once the housing market stabilizes and mortgage lending loosens. Remodeling, says Dallas architect Gary Gene Olp, is in their DNA.

“I see more Boomers moving back into the city from the suburbs, to older homes they are remodeling because they love urban social fabric and cultural amenities,” says Olp, who specializes in LEED certified green architecture and building. “They are re-populating the inner city, ditching cars and walking, even in Dallas and Houston.”

San Antonio developer Leobardo Trevino of Ricchi Dallas Investments, LLC, who is undergoing three ambitious Dallas commercial projects, has begun building what he calls “Smart Mansions” outside of San Antonio, TX. His buyer: downsizing baby boomers who want it all but in 2500 square feet or less.

“These people want all the bells and whistles, ” he says, ” but not necessarily all the space.”

Trevino’s Smart Mansions have a main living room, dining room and Euro-kitchens, decked out marbled masters and secondary bedrooms. They have high ceilings and top energy efficiency but less lawn to tend, and zero wasted space.

“Boomers no longer want to overspend or overbuild,” says Trevino, “Been there, done that. But at the same time, there is absolutely no lowering of their standards.”

Candy is an award-winning, Dallas-based real estate reporter, blogger, and consultant. She’s the gal who brought House Porn to the Bible Belt! Read more at SecondShelters.com. and send story ideas and tips to CandyEvans@secondshelters.com.

Thinking about adding value with home improvements? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help you, whether you’re selling or staying.

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/04/18/baby-boomers-begin-remodeling-boom/

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Hasson Company Branch to Join Central Oregon Builders Association

The Central Oregon branch of premiere Northwest brokerage Hasson Company Realtors has become a member of the Central Oregon Builders Association (COBA). As an organization, COBA advocates politically and locally for the housing industry, and provides opportunities for the public to become educated on issues affecting contemporary homebuilding. COBA will provide the Hasson Company with […]

Source: http://www.hassonblog.com/2012/01/hasson-company-branch-to-join-central-oregon-builders-association/

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Home Equity Loan Equals Affordable Education

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After 18 years, Kate Hoy of Phoenix was sick of her career as sales representative for company that sold electrical and mechanical components. She was ready for change. But the single mother didn’t have a spouse’s second income to help her through a transition period. So to help explore the options, Hoy, 48, took out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) for $50,000 while she still had a steady income. Unlike a traditional home

After 18 years, Kate Hoy of Phoenix was sick of her career as sales representative for company that sold electrical and mechanical components. She was ready for change.

But the single mother didn’t have a spouse’s second income to help her through a transition period. So to help explore the options, Hoy, 48, took out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) for $50,000 while she still had a steady income. Unlike a traditional home equity loan, which is a one-time lump sum loan usually at a fixed rate, a HELOC is tapped only when bills are paid, like the line of credit on a credit card. With a HELOC, the interest rate fluctuates month to month.

What also made a HELOC attractive to Hoy was she was able to finance her life change without knowing exactly where she was headed. Most school loans were not an option due to Hoy’s income at the time she opened her HELOC.

She soon began attending night classes at Scottsdale Community College. The film program caught her interest, and she became a full-time student in fall 2005, graduating with a motion picture and television associate’s degree in 2008.

“I opted to go to school full-time, and the loan made it possible,” says Hoy. “I couldn’t have made a better decision.”

Now Hoy is a multimedia video producer for Arizona Department of Health Services E-Learning Team and building her own production business on the side.

Despite the housing slump, home equity loans remain a popular option for paying education costs, since the interest is tax deductible and “the rates are unbelievably low,” says Hoy, whose rate adjusts monthly between 3 percent and 4 percent. Still, some families are not comfortable putting their home at risk to foot the bill for college or grad school.

Another concern is that the interest rates on most home equity loans and lines of credit are higher than the rates on federal loan programs such as a Stafford or PLUS loan. However, home equity rates are generally lower than those on most private education loans.

Lastly, using a home equity loan to pay for college will lower a student’s eligibility for financial aid, since proceeds from a home equity loan that aren’t used for tuition will be factored into the need-analysis formula. Opening a home equity line of credit eliminates this concern because the line of credit is tapped only when paying bills.

As with any other loan for education, it is important to reconsider all costs. Hoy has 10 years to repay her HELOC, which she says is currently tapped out. Though her current income hasn’t yet caught up to what it was in her previous career, she is confident she will be able to pay off the loan with her new vocation. But the educational experience her home equity loan provided is priceless.

“I had never gone to school full-time before, I had always worked,” says Hoy, clearly pleased by her accomplishment. “It was awesome.”

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2010/12/09/home-equity-loan-equals-affordable-education/

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Joe Paterno’s Real Estate Transfer: Suspicious or Not?

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Why would former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno transfer ownership of his house, worth $594,484, to his wife for $1 in July, unless he knew that he was about to be drawn into the college’s sex-abuse scandal, with potential civil lawsuits and damages heading upfield toward him?

While his lawyer told The New York Times that the ownership transfer was nothing more than a step in a long-term financial estate plan, the move raised some eyebrows. Was the sale an attempt by Paterno to shield assets, fearing that some jury down the road might take him to the cleaners? And by transferring his home to his wife, Sue Paterno, did the coach who once walked on water just sink deeper into the dark hole of public scorn?

AOL Real Estate spoke to several estate lawyers and heard pretty much the same thing: Joe Pa probably didn’t do anything fishy, at least when it came to giving his wife the house for $1 plus “love and affection.” The couple (pictured at left) had previously held joint ownership of the property, for which they paid $58,000 in 1969.

David Shulman, an attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., whose practice focuses on trusts and estates, says there’s no obvious reason to link the home transfer with an attempt to protect assets or do an end-run around prospective creditors. In Pennsylvania, Shulman noted, as long as the property is held jointly — as Paterno’s was — it can’t be subject to the creditors of just one of the spouses. And since Sue Paterno hasn’t been linked at all to the sex-abuse scandal, she has no liability or exposure.

“I haven’t seen the documents,” Shulman said, “but from what’s been made public, it just doesn’t make any sense that this was an attempt to protect assets.”

Then what was Paterno up to? Shulman said the 84-year-old Paterno’s decision to transfer the house more likely had something to do with age-related issues, such as Medicaid and tax planning. To qualify for Medicaid-covered nursing home care, for example, a recipient must “spend down” to a certain level. And people are constantly looking to protect their assets from taxes to ensure that their heirs inherit as much as possible.

Since Paterno has good insurance and a degree of wealth, he probably didn’t do it for Medicaid purposes. Far more likely it was done as an estate planning move to avoid probate, said Shulman. “It is a fairly typical thing for people of means to want to protect their assets for their children or whoever will inherit them,” he said.

Paterno, who was fired as the football coach at Penn State, has been harshly criticized by many for not taking more aggressive steps after a suspected sexual assault of a child by one of his former top assistants was reported to him. And if the reaction to the house transfer is any indication, it’s a safe bet that the burgeoning scandal will cast suspicion on everything else the coach does.

[Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Paterno as Joe Pop; his nickname is Joe Pa.]

Also see:
Taking a Tax Loss When Property Value Declines
Happy End of the Road for RVers: Assisted Living on Wheels

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/11/16/joe-paternos-real-estate-transfer-suspicious-or-not/

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Arthur Livingston, Thought Dead by Bank, Very Alive and Frustrated

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Rumors of Arthur Livingston’s demise have been greatly exaggerated — and they’re taking a toll on the South Carolina man’s credit rating.

Bank of America, Livingston’s bank of choice for the past 14 years, mistakenly declared him dead to the three major credit bureaus in May 2009, TV station WIS in Columbia, S.C., reports. As a result, Livingston has been stonewalled by lenders — who refuse to loan money to the deceased — and his dream of building a new home stymied by a 2½-year-old error.

Livingston said Bank of America promised to resolve the issue within 30 days of his complaint. It’s been more than three months now and the problem has yet to be resolved, he told WIS.

“I spend every free minute I have either sending a message, calling, faxing or just, you know, wondering if it is going to be resolved today,” he told the station.

While Livingston’s case is an extreme example, credit report errors are a very common — and costly — problem for Americans looking for a line of credit.

According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, one in four reports can have an error serious enough to hurt one’s chances of getting new credit. This is especially troublesome for prospective homebuyers today as mortgage lenders have, since the housing bubble burst, drastically raised the bar on qualifying for a loan.

Tips to Avoid a Costly Credit Report Error

The most basic step to protecting your credit score is regularly checking in with the three major credit bureaus. And contrary to a slew of popular commercials claiming to provide free credit reports, the only federally endorsed credit reporting site out there is annualcreditreport.com.

Once an error is identified, be prepared to maneuver through an entirely different bureaucracy. “Thousands of [dispute] letters get thrown out,” Glamis Haro, a lending manager at a New York credit union, told AOL Real Estate.

To ensure that your complaint isn’t lost to the void, Haro suggests sending any correspondence with the credit bureaus by certified mail with a return receipt request.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the bureaus are required to respond to your complaint within 30 days of receipt.

In Livingston’s case, however, because Bank of America has yet to correct the error on their end, his options remain limited. Bank of America told WIS that the issue is under investigation, but resolution has yet to be reached.

See also:
How to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Bank of America Plaza to Sell at Foreclosure Auction

80 Cent ‘Typo’ Almost Cost Man Home

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College Town Real Estate Investments Score High Marks

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The closest thing to a sure bet in real estate may be going to college.

Investments in college towns — places where the community is shaped by a university’s presence — have done well while other niches in the housing market have, for the most part, fallen off the Dean’s List. It comes down to the basic law of supply and demand. College enrollments have increased while the supply of on-campus housing hasn’t. More often, students are turning to off-campus options. And that’s where you should be standing with your wallet ready to fill with rent checks.

How secure an investment is college housing stock? The default rate for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s student housing portfolio has been less than one-half of 1 percent — outstanding given what’s been going on in the rest of the housing market.

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Michael Zaransky, co-CEO of Prime Property Investors and author of “Profit by Investing in Student Housing: Cash In on the Campus Housing Shortage,” says the formula to finding the best deals is simple. Take the number of students in a university and divide it by the number of on-campus beds. Start with the big universities that get a lot of applicants, the schools everyone wants to get into, Zaransky said.

Yes, you have to be willing to become a landlord, and some of your tenants may be frat boys majoring in Partying 101. But if you can get beyond that, there is money to be made.

A Steady Stream of Available Tenants

Zac Bissonnette, 22, a 2011 graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, agrees. He bought his first rental condo near campus at the end of his freshman year. While he intended to move into it, he realized that he could rent it out — even hiring a management company to handle any problems — and still be cash-flow positive. A year after he bought the first unit, he bought a second, larger condo that he shared with a friend whose rent helped cover the carrying costs.

“It’s a smart investment,” said Bissonnette, the author of “Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents.” He added, “When was the last time you heard of a college or university spending money to build a new dorm?”

Zaransky says the key to the success of the student housing niche is that the tenants’ ability to pay rent isn’t tied to their having jobs. In most rental situations, renters leave when they lose or change jobs. A vacant apartment is a siphon hose to an owner’s bank account. But when it comes to students, there is a steady stream of them; those who graduate in June are replaced with new faces in September. College enrollment has been up, no one is building new on-campus alternatives and, even in communities with rent control, the turnover is so rapid that the laws don’t seem to curb rental income growth.

Where the Growth Is

Zaransky likes the sun states with high population growth: Florida, Texas, California. He says to stick with the top-tier marquee schools — “the places where everybody wants to go.” At some state universities, like the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, fewer than 10 percent of students live on campus.

His company is the largest off-campus landlord for Purdue, Notre Dame, the University of Tennessee and Florida State in Tallahassee.

According to a national study by Move, Inc., investors are expected to outnumber traditional homebuyers in their local markets by 3 to 1, and 56.5 percent plan to put their investments to work as rental properties.

“Local markets with universities or colleges can be an attractive option for many local real estate investors,” said Move, Inc., Chief Executive Officer Steve Berkowitz. “Housing demand in college towns is generally high and vacancy rates are usually low. Combine the supply and demand ratio with rising admissions and the 5 percent rise in rental rates expected by the end of the year, and rental property in college towns can be a smart option for the right investor.”

Also see:
How to Make Renting Off-Campus Pay

Off-Campus Rentals: Staying Safe in a College Town
Why Are So Many Real Estate Deals Falling Apart?

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The Benefits of New Homes for Sale

There are a few things just as frustrating as looking for a new home: dating, car shopping and job searching. When it comes time to look for a new place to live, the options seem endless and nothing seems to fit your budget, needs and wants. It would be wonderful to go home hunting if […]

Source: http://www.brothernwla.org/the-benefits-of-new-homes-for-sale/

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Should Underwater Homeowners Just Walk Away?

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underwater home mortgages Almost a third (31.4 percent) of homeowners with mortgages are underwater, according to the 2012 first-quarter Zillow Negative Equity Report, yet 90 percent of them are current on their mortgages and continue to make payments.
Deciding whether to “stay and pay” on a home that’s worth less than you owe is a tough financial decision, but ultimately, it is one that only homeowners themselves can make.

And while it’s fraught with emotion for most, there are a number of financial factors that you can and should consider. In fact, looking at the numbers may help you face the facts and make a better financial decision in the long run.

Own vs. Rent

When you were thinking about buying your home, you may have tried a “rent versus buy” calculator. (Of course, those were likely created before the housing meltdown and may have overstated some of the value of owning.) Now, however, you must flip the equation: Look at the cost of continuing to own versus the cost of renting.

To do this, spend a weekend hunting for apartments or houses. Go and take a look at rental homes. Find out what’s available, what they cost and what kinds of requirements landlords are looking for in terms of deposits and credit.

Get your free credit score and report card from Credit.com.

The goal? To get a realistic idea of how much you’d pay to rent so that you can compare the cost of renting with what you are paying for your mortgage. When you look at the “own” side of the equation, don’t forget to factor in periodic expenses such as maintenance (including repairs that will have to be done in the next few years) and property taxes (if they aren’t included in your mortgage payment).

One more twist: If your mortgage (or second mortgage, if you have one) is a variable-rate loan, then you should also consider the cost of your mortgage when interest rates rise. Try an online mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payment at higher interest rates.

Getting Back to Square One

One of the arguments in favor of owning versus renting is that as you pay down your mortgage, you are building equity. But with so many homes underwater, the real question is “when?” When will your home be back in the black and start building equity? Until it does, you are effectively renting. And how much will that cost in the meantime?

Of course, trying to guesstimate future home-price appreciation is like trying to predict where the stock market is headed. Just take a look at the March 2012 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. It compiles predictions from a diverse group of 104 experts — economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists — to measure expectations about the projected path of the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index over the next five years.

Read more of this story at Credit.com.

See more at Credit.com:
10 Mistakes Homebuyers Make
What’s Really in Your Credit Report?
The Upside of the Foreclosure Crisis: Affordable Homes

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To Own or to Rent a House

 

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Make Your House Sporty

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By Katya Popova

Being an avid climber, I always had a hard time reconciling my love for sports and my love for interior design. Can they coexist peacefully in the home? Take one look at Houzz users’ photos, and you’ll find out that it can be done gracefully and with a sense of humor. If you are a fan of biking, climbing, surfing, bowling, tennis, snowshoeing, baseball, skateboarding, football or golf, get inspired by the photos in the gallery below and display your sport with pride.

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See more sporty decoration ideas on Houzz.
Photos: Browse 7k kids rooms ideas
Photos: Browse creative home gym ideas
Help: Find an interior designer near you

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The Many Houses of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
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REO-to-Rental Program Takes Next Step: FHFA

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/07/06/decorate-your-home-with-sports/

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Romney’s and Obama’s Housing Policies: Why the Candidates Seem Reluctant to Go There

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Obama Romney

It may seem hard to believe, but this year’s presidential candidates have mostly avoided discussing an industry that’s largely responsible for the last five years of economic pain.

That may be because, for President Barack Obama and GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney, the subject of housing remains an extremely sensitive one. Obama might like the real estate market, whose imbalances sparked the financial crisis, to remain a ghost issue because of a lackluster record at combating the foreclosure epidemic. Romney, meanwhile, might like to steer clear of the topic because a hard stance on housing could alienate voters whom he needs to win.

The Dismal State of the Housing Market

During Obama’s tenure, around 4 million people have lost their homes to foreclosure and 9 million have been served foreclosure notices. There are alternatives that can save homeowners from foreclosure, but federal relief programs that were designed to foster them haven’t fixed the problem.

“Obama’s major housing initiatives have fallen short of expectations, and so Obama doesn’t have big victories to point to,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist for listing service Trulia. “The housing market is still struggling in many parts of the country, so this is not a problem that’s been solved.”

The administration’s flagship relief program, the Home Affordable Modification Program, has helped 1 million homeowners obtain lower interest rates, principal reductions, more time to pay their mortgages or any combination of the three. But that pales in comparison to the 3 to 4 million homeowners whom the program was supposed to help.

Meanwhile, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, designed to help 5 million homeowners refinance their mortgages into lower interest rates, has only benefited about 1.5 million homeowners.

Recent allegations made by Neil Barofsky, the former inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, give Obama even more reason to avoid calling attention to these assistance programs. Barofsky claimed in his recent book, “Bailout,” that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner engineered HAMP to help banks not homeowners. He wrote that Geithner said HAMP was a way to “help foam the runway” for financial institutions.

Obama also can’t say that he’s removed systemic risk from the housing system. His administration hasn’t reformed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored organizations that some say are directly responsible for the housing bust.

In fact, the two mortgage giants, along with the Federal Housing Administration, wield a much greater influence over the housing market now than before the bubble burst. Though they are now highly regulated, the organizations guarantee about 90 percent of the mortgages originating today.

“Some of the most pressing housing policy issues that need to be resolved have to do with the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” Kolko said. “And that doesn’t work easily in sound bites.”

A Third Rail for Romney

Indeed, partly for this reason, the fate of Fannie and Freddie is a subject that Romney isn’t too keen on bringing up either, said Mark Calabria, director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute. The Republican nominee has said that he believes in reeling in government involvement in the housing market. He even commented at a private fundraiser that he might abolish the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But broadcasting an ambition to dismantle government support of the mortgage market could turn off a wide swath of voters whose businesses depend on the liquidity provided by government muscle.

“To stake out what you think Fannie and Freddie’s future is, is to alienate somebody,” Calabria said. “Realtors and homebuilders tend to be politically active — and Republicans.”

Indeed, Romney’s free-market stance on housing, if articulated bluntly, could unsettle many distressed homeowners as well. He has said that he believes that the housing market should naturally “hit bottom,” and has harshly criticized Obama’s relief programs.

That outlook jibes with Republican views toward government intervention in the housing market. Only 42 percent of Republicans said that they thought helping homeowners avoid foreclosure should be a housing priority, according to a survey administered by Trulia in December 2011. By contrast, 63 percent of Democratic respondents said it was a priority.

Toeing a middle ground, Romney said in a seven-page housing policy white paper that his administration would encourage foreclosure alternatives but didn’t say how.

Why? “It’s hard to come up with housing policies that don’t cost money,” Kolko said, adding that such programs also raise the specter of moral hazard. In terms of housing relief, the moral hazard refers to the temptation to default in order to receive assistance, and that’s anathema to many Republicans.

Expect a Debate Stalemate

Housing experts say that voters can probably expect both candidates to avoid painting a full picture of their housing policy platforms and instead launch into partisan attacks on each other over the issue.

Romney will probably rail against Obama’s disappointing relief programs, while Obama may blame Republican obstructionism for the market’s dismal performance during his stay in office.

“The most he [Obama] can do is say, ‘I had a bunch of plans and … the Republicans wouldn’t pass them,” Calabria said.

See also:
Election 2012: Will It Affect Your Decision to Buy a Home?

Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s Homes
Romney’s Housing Fix: Let Foreclosures ‘Hit Bottom’

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/10/01/romney-and-obama-housing-policies-why-housing-isnt-in-debate/

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Case-Shiller: Why the Sky Isn’t Falling

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case shillerCount me among the unpanicked over the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller monthly housing index that shows housing values have dipped past a low set during the Great Recession. I’m not even getting goosebumps over the chilling words “housing double-dip.”

Nope. For the 70 million home-owning Americans who don’t have a need to sell their homes at the moment, this is not the end of the world. Yes, they can thank their lucky stars that they still have jobs and didn’t get ensnared in a toxic mortgage. And yes, they can feel for their friends and family who weren’t so fortunate — or, if they are feeling less charitable, weren’t as smart as they. But for the bulk of Americans, this is a problem that, well, doesn’t hit that close to home.

Want perspective? Of the 75 million owner-occupied homes in the U.S., about 5 million were sold in the past year, which means that there were tens of millions of home owners who were content to stay put, paying their bills and living obliviously to the drops in home prices. Of those five million sales last year, about one third were distressed sales.

Currently, there are 3.87 million homes on the market. In April, distressed homes were 37 percent of sales (24 percent foreclosures and 13 percent short sales). And 7 percent of new listings were foreclosures, but they’ve been entering the pipeline at a steady pace and selling quickly at bargain prices, says the National Association of Realtors.

Of course, scary Case-Shiller numbers are nothing new. Since last June, when a yearlong rebound in prices began to sputter out, the index has recorded losses every month. If there’s a bright spot, it’s that in the last quarterly report, all 20 cities tracked showed declines; in the most recent index, two of the 20 actually showed month-over-month improvement.

And for the record, the experts back in December offered the same explanations as did the experts commenting on this week’s report: The large number of foreclosures on the market and the expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credit are pushing prices down.

I’d throw in an even larger reason that the experts gloss over: Lenders aren’t lending money to even qualified buyers. They have imposed unrealistic standards for those applying for mortgages and then wonder where all the buyers are. Maybe they should look for them under the mountains of paperwork that they keep demanding and misplacing. Seriously, has anyone tried to get so much as a refinance lately?

NAR says, albeit more politely than I do, that “the recovery is uneven, held back by unnecessarily tight credit.” The association projects that “if the lending community simply returned to the safe, sound standards that were in place a decade ago (before the lax standards that led to the unprecedented boom-and-bust cycle), home sales would rise 15 to 20 percent over current projections.” Now wouldn’t that be nice?


Home Prices Drop to Record Low

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New Homes Sell at Fastest Pace in 2 Years

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By Martin Crutsinger

WASHINGTON — Americans bought new homes in May at the fastest pace in more than two years. The increase suggests a modest recovery in the housing market is continuing, despite weaker job growth.

The Commerce Department said Monday that sales of new homes increased 7.6 percent in May from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 369,000 homes. That’s the best pace since April 2010, the last month that buyers could qualify for a federal homebuying tax credit.

Even with the gains, the annual sales pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists consider to be healthy.

Yet the increase follows other signs that show the housing market is improving nearly five years after the bubble burst.

Builders are slowly gaining confidence in the market and starting to build more homes. Mortgage rates have plunged to the lowest levels on record, making homebuying more affordable. Prices remain low and have started to stabilize. And sales of previously occupied homes are much higher than the same time last year.

Though new homes represent less than 20 percent of the housing market, they have an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

One reason prices could rise is that the supply of new homes for sale remains extremely low.


Pros and Cons of Buying a New Construction Home


Just 145,000 new homes were for sale in May. That’s not much higher than the 144,000 available in April, which was the lowest on records dating back to 1963. At the current sales pace, it would take 4.7 months to exhaust the supply, well below the six-month supply that is generally considered healthy by economists.

“With no excess inventory of unsold new homes, any sustained rebound in new home sales should quickly translate into firmer prices,” said Steven Wood, chief economist at Insight Economics.

The median price of a new home sold in May edged down 0.6 percent from the April to $234,500. But the price was 5.6 percent higher than the same month one year ago.

Builders are responding to the low supply. In May, they requested the most permits to start construction on homes and apartments in 3½ years.

The gains in new homes sold were concentrated in two regions of the country last month. Sales surged 36.7 percent in the Northeast and 12.7 percent in the South. Sales fell 10.6 percent in the Midwest and were down 3.5 percent in the West.

Sales of new homes are increasing despite a sluggish job market, which has slowed retail spending and business investment in computers and machinery. Some economists warned that the weaker job market has also started to affect some home sales.

Sales of previously occupied homes fell in May to a seasonally adjusted sales rate of 4.55 million after nearly touching a two-year high in April.

Still, re-sales have risen 9.6 percent from the same month last year.

Hiring slowed sharply in April and May, raising concerns about the strength of the recovery. Employers have added an average of only 73,000 jobs a month in April and May. That’s much lower than the average of 226,000 added in the first three months of this year.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

See also:
Those Mortgages Blamed for Housing Crisis? They’re Back

5 Things That Can Derail Your Home Sale

%Gallery-158849%
More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.
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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/06/25/new-homes-sell-at-fastest-pace-in-2-years/

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Home Prices May Withstand Foreclosure Wave

Filed under: ,

At best, an increase in foreclosures takes a double-edged sword to the housing market. On the one hand, it means we may be inching toward stabilization, as shadow inventory begins to move through the pipeline. On the other, it spells more stress for beleaguered homeowners and puts downward pressure on home prices.

Housing economists predict that the next wave of foreclosures is about to hit, following the recent settlement between government and lenders in the “robo-signing” scandal. No doubt it will still cause pain to hard-pressed borrowers. But in a break from the past, it may avoid depressing home prices.

“There are countervailing strengths,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, an analytics firm. “We could very well see increasing prices in some markets this year, even though they have significant shadow inventories.” The “shadow inventory” is the overhang of homes expected to move through foreclosure that are not yet listed on the market.

A report from CoreLogic released today said that completed foreclosures edged down from 71,000 in January to 65,000 in February, and that the number of homes in a state of foreclosure has shrunk by 115,000 homes from February 2011 to 1.4 million homes in February 2012.

Despite the slight month-over-month drop, foreclosure activity has remained relatively steady recently, but economists predict that it will rise in the coming months because of the resolution of an investigation into illegal foreclosures between the government and major mortgage servicers.

Fleming told AOL Real Estate that the housing market may feel the impact of the robo-signing settlement during the summer, after the five banks involved in the settlement implement government-approved foreclosure practices.

“All of this will result in more foreclosure pain in the short term as some of the foreclosures that should have happened last year instead happen this year,” Daren Blomquist, vice president of online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac, said in February. The economist predicts that completed foreclosures will jump by 25 percent in 2012, totaling 1 million.

But since the market must eventually absorb the excess supply of foreclosed homes, breaking the foreclosure logjam isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “I would like to see the pace increase, because that means we’ll be able to work off the inventory faster,” Fleming said. And the downward pressure on prices that’s caused by an increase in foreclosures may be mitigated by improvements observed lately in other sectors of the market, as well as the economy as a whole, he says.

Home sales have risen by 13 percent in the previous six months, according to Capital Economics, while the delinquency rate saw a year-over-year 14 percent drop as of February, according to Lender Processing Services. Homebuilder optimism is measured at a five-year high, and real estate agents’ optimism reportedly more than doubled in the first quarter of 2012, against the backdrop of positive market indicators.

If the positive trends continue, Fleming said, the market could begin to stabilize as early as this year.

%Gallery-150807%
A recent report provided one of the most hopeful signs of recovery for the housing market yet. John Burns Real Estate Consulting found that home prices actually have risen marginally since January. The company says that its gauge of the market, the Burns Home Value Index, eliminates a three-month lag time that distorts other indices by recording contract signings of home purchases, not closings.

Its finding conflicts with most other indices, though, such as the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index, which showed a drop in home prices in January.

Follow Teke Wiggin on Twitter (@tkwiggin), follow @AOLRealEstate, or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

See also:
HARP 2.0: Do You Now Qualify for Mortgage Relief?
Netizens Deride Foreclosure Settlement


Foreclosures Rise Only Slightly, More Expected

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/03/30/home-prices-may-withstand-foreclosure-wave/

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5 Foreclosure Flip Tips From the ‘Flip Men’

Filed under: , , , ,

AOL Real Estate asked Utah-based real estate investors Doug Clark and Mike Bard, whose show “Flip Men” premieres this week on Spike TV, for tips on how to flip a foreclosed home. Here’s what they had to say to novice investors:

1. Pick a property that is well within your means.

Don’t allow yourself to get too overextended on the property. Way too often, we have seen people show up at a foreclosure auction and then after one bad deal, their own house is in foreclosure. Everything will take more time and money then you anticipate, so don’t bite off more then you can chew.

2. Prepare to break in.

Foreclosed homes don’t come with keys or contracts. It is up to you to find a way in. Our favorite methods are: Slip the lock with a credit card, lift a window, lift the garage, put your hand through a doggy door and unlock the door from within, climb on the roof and look for an open window.

Get creative and have fun with this step! If you want a set of keys to your new property you need to make your own or call a locksmith and pay $150 to get the job done. Make sure you research the local laws regarding abandoned property. You may have to store any items you find in the house for a period of time before they are yours. Former owners almost never come back for their items, so it’s not out of the question to find cash, furniture, collectibles, firearms and even vehicles.

3. Check everything.

Most foreclosures were abandoned. These homes have many issues, so check all the systems thoroughly. The last thing you want is to find out that the roof is bad or the furnace needs to be replaced the day before closing.

A great tip: Speak to the neighbors. You would not believe how much they know about the houses around them. Don’t avoid disclosing bad news with the house, because the people you sell to will notice everything. Budget for contingency items because they are always there, especially in foreclosures.

4. Tour other houses for sale.

Take an afternoon and tour two or three homes similar to the one you hope to flip. This is your direct competition, so view it that way. How is the curb appeal, paint colors, smell, clutter, layout, backyard, etc. This is especially important if you are new to the business and don’t have the same reference points that a professional flipper does.

5. Price aggressively.

It’s easy to overprice a listing, it’s difficult to under-price one. If you under-price the property, you will get a lot of attention and showings fast, and people will compete for the house. Set the price to move. If you are not getting showings and no one is calling to see the house, then it is priced too high. If you are getting a lot of attention and people are walking through but no offers are being made, then the price is right, but there is something wrong with the house. Call the agent for details and don’t be afraid to ask why the buyers are passing on your house.

SPIKE
Sneak Peek – Meth House
www.spike.com
Spike Full Episodes Spike Video Clips Spike on Facebook

Also see:
Mansion or Meth House? Flip Men Want to Know

Viewpoint: Feeling Guilty About Buying a Foreclosure?
‘Mortgage Prof': 5 Reasons Banks Would Rather Foreclose
Tempted to Invest in Real Estate? Read This First

%Gallery-131160%
More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/10/25/5-foreclosure-flip-tips-from-the-flip-men/

sweat equity estate survey debt loan officer appreciation assumption

10 Home Improvements That Are a Waste of Money

Filed under:

By Jason Notte

Want a summer home improvement project? Dig a big hole on your property, throw a bunch of money in it, throw a match in and bury it once the flames subside.

This is basically what a select, wrongheaded number of Americans do every year when they see the sun peek out in June and head to Home Depot, Lowe’s or Sears without much of a plan. That yard may seem like it’s begging for a pool and your front porch may look inferior to a sunroom, but that doesn’t necessarily make them good ideas.

In some cases, it’s never a good year to make those ideas happen. We asked those in the know which projects homeowners should stay away from this summer. The following is a list of home “improvements” in which the return on the investment is at best subjective and, at worst, a money- and time-draining waste of warm weather:

A pool

An in-ground pool is a $25,000 to $50,000 gamble before a homeowner even considers tucking into their first cannonball.

That same pool costs about $2,000 more a year to maintain, hundreds more to heat and insure and hundreds more in filter and pump repairs within less than a decade. When cracks inevitably appear, resurfacing can cost upward of $10,000 shortly after that first decade.

Sure, the National Association of Realtors’ National Center for Real Estate Research says an in-ground pool can add about 8 percent to a home’s resale price, but that value swings from 6 percent in the frosty Midwest to 11 percent in the most toasty Sun Belt. An above-ground pool with have cheaper upfront costs, but the Center for Real Estate Research says it adds no value to a house and can actually subtract 1.9 percent of a house’s value if the buyer decides the eyesore needs to come down.

An outdoor kitchen

Installing steel grills and gourmet pizza ovens outside in a fenced-in area in Arizona or California adds to your square footage and optimizes great year-round weather. In Traverse City, Mich., it does neither. If your outdoor kitchen is considered an actual kitchen, the return on a major remodel — in this case, 65.7 percent — would be roughly the same. While such things as range hoods and portable heaters make outdoor kitchens year-round propositions in markets as seasonally chilly as Nantucket and Northern Michigan, it’s never quite as comfortable and can cut your returns in half if residents start to shiver during a February pig roast.

Read more of this story at TheStreet.com.

Also see these AOL Real Estate guides:
o. Xeriscaping: 6 steps to Natural, Low Maintenance Lawn
o. Best Landscape Design Options
o. Home Staging for Every Season

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.
See celebrity real estate.

Planning Unique Outdoor Spaces

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/06/29/10-home-improvements-that-are-a-waste-of-money/

liability insurance equity notice of default eviction fee simple estate Certificate of Reasonable Value (CRV) homeowners insurance

HARP Now Expected to Reach Twice as Many Homeowners

Filed under: ,

By Jon Prior

The expanded Home Affordable Refinance Program will likely reach more underwater borrowers than its architects originally thought.

“We said we would double the number from what we’ve already done under HARP, which would mean we’d do another 900,000 under the expanded program. I think we’re actually trending above that now,” said Andrew Bon Salle, head of the Fannie Mae underwriting and pricing group, in an interview.

%Gallery-158524%

The Federal Housing Finance Agency eased HARP eligibility requirements last year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. It reduced upfront fees, eased buyback risk and eliminated the 125 percent loan-to-value ratio ceiling. Most banks implemented the changes in March.

Read more on this story at HousingWire.

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.
Find homes for rent in your area.

Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/06/25/harp-architects-expect-to-reach-1-million-more-homeowners/

lender bill of sale Truth-in-Lending line of credit assessed value note rate loan

5 Foreclosure Flip Tips From the ‘Flip Men’

Filed under: , , , ,

AOL Real Estate asked Utah-based real estate investors Doug Clark and Mike Bard, whose show “Flip Men” premieres this week on Spike TV, for tips on how to flip a foreclosed home. Here’s what they had to say to novice investors:

1. Pick a property that is well within your means.

Don’t allow yourself to get too overextended on the property. Way too often, we have seen people show up at a foreclosure auction and then after one bad deal, their own house is in foreclosure. Everything will take more time and money then you anticipate, so don’t bite off more then you can chew.

2. Prepare to break in.

Foreclosed homes don’t come with keys or contracts. It is up to you to find a way in. Our favorite methods are: Slip the lock with a credit card, lift a window, lift the garage, put your hand through a doggy door and unlock the door from within, climb on the roof and look for an open window.

Get creative and have fun with this step! If you want a set of keys to your new property you need to make your own or call a locksmith and pay $150 to get the job done. Make sure you research the local laws regarding abandoned property. You may have to store any items you find in the house for a period of time before they are yours. Former owners almost never come back for their items, so it’s not out of the question to find cash, furniture, collectibles, firearms and even vehicles.

3. Check everything.

Most foreclosures were abandoned. These homes have many issues, so check all the systems thoroughly. The last thing you want is to find out that the roof is bad or the furnace needs to be replaced the day before closing.

A great tip: Speak to the neighbors. You would not believe how much they know about the houses around them. Don’t avoid disclosing bad news with the house, because the people you sell to will notice everything. Budget for contingency items because they are always there, especially in foreclosures.

4. Tour other houses for sale.

Take an afternoon and tour two or three homes similar to the one you hope to flip. This is your direct competition, so view it that way. How is the curb appeal, paint colors, smell, clutter, layout, backyard, etc. This is especially important if you are new to the business and don’t have the same reference points that a professional flipper does.

5. Price aggressively.

It’s easy to overprice a listing, it’s difficult to under-price one. If you under-price the property, you will get a lot of attention and showings fast, and people will compete for the house. Set the price to move. If you are not getting showings and no one is calling to see the house, then it is priced too high. If you are getting a lot of attention and people are walking through but no offers are being made, then the price is right, but there is something wrong with the house. Call the agent for details and don’t be afraid to ask why the buyers are passing on your house.

SPIKE
Sneak Peek – Meth House
www.spike.com
Spike Full Episodes Spike Video Clips Spike on Facebook

Also see:
Mansion or Meth House? Flip Men Want to Know

Viewpoint: Feeling Guilty About Buying a Foreclosure?
‘Mortgage Prof': 5 Reasons Banks Would Rather Foreclose
Tempted to Invest in Real Estate? Read This First

%Gallery-131160%
More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/10/25/5-foreclosure-flip-tips-from-the-flip-men/

401(k)/403(b) fixed-rate mortgage partial payment homeowners warranty comparable sales conventional mortgage joint tenancy

Homebuilder Sentiment Rises to 5-year High

Filed under: ,

By Leah Shnurr

NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) – U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose in August to its highest level in more than five years, a fresh sign that the battered housing market is turning the corner, data from the National Association of Home Builders showed on Wednesday.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index gained to 37 this month from 35 in July, the group said in a statement, topping economists’ expectations for it to hold steady with last month.

It was the highest level since February 2007 and the fourth month in a row sentiment has improved. The index has surged by more than 20 points since last summer, though it is still far from the 50 mark that shows more builders view market conditions as favorable than poor.

The index has not been above 50 since April 2006.

“While there is still much room for improvement, we have come a long way from the depths of the recession and the outlook appears to be brightening,” NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg said in the statement.

The single-family home sales component climbed to 39 from 36. The gauge of single-family sales expectations for the next six months edged up to 44 from 43, while prospective buyer traffic rose to 31 from 28. (Reporting By Leah Schnurr; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

See also:
Principal Reduction: Is Debt Forgiveness Fair?
High-End Homeowners Racing to Sell Before Tax Cuts End
Michigan Man Buys County’s Entire Foreclosure Stock

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.
See celebrity real estate.

Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate, or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/08/16/homebuilder-sentiment-rose-to-5-year-high/

appreciation assumption HUD median income homeowners association escrow analysis encumbrance vested

Pigeon Forge Cabin Rentals: A Warm and Homely Experience

Our staff had a vacation break two months ago. We went to this beautiful place with the most spectacular view of mountains and natural surroundings. We stayed in a special cabin that was very nice and I personally felt a warm and homely feeling. We rented four cabins at Pigeon Forge Cabin Rentals from Bear Camp […]

Source: http://www.brothernwla.org/pigeon-forge-cabin-rentals-a-warm-and-homely-experience/

bill of sale Truth-in-Lending line of credit assessed value note rate loan executor

Balloon Mortgage Video

Here’s a new video we just did explaining Balloon mortgages. Give it a quick view, it’s very short and informative! If you prefer to read a more detailed version, you can find that at Balloon Mortgage Explained.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthfulLendingDotCom/~3/hFIcEaZhCm4/

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Home Prices Up Quarterly and Yearly, Report Says

Filed under: , ,

By Kerri Panchuk

Home prices grew from the previous rolling quarter and year-over-year in May, making it the first time in two years that both indicators have risen in the same period, asset valuation firm Clear Capital said.

The firm published its home data index market report, showing that the West, South and Northeast saw both quarterly and yearly price gains.

Truckee, Calif.-based Clear Capital uses rolling quarters to study home prices. It compares the most recent four months to the previous three months to give users a more timely look at market prices.

Read more on this story at HousingWire.

See more on HousingWire:

Zillow: Nearly One-Third of Mortgaged Homes Underwater

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/06/05/home-prices-up-quarterly-and-yearly-clear-capital/

fair market value common law cap right of first refusal loan-to-value (LTV) appraised value escrow account

Online Wedding RSVP: How to Set One Up and Save on Postage

Setting up an online wedding RSVP will help you save a bunch on postage and stay organized.

There are so many great traditions associated with marriage. The vows. The best man and maid of honor speeches. The cutting of the cake. Do you really need to open 150 tiny envelopes to find out which of your friends are attending for the sake of tradition? Do you really need to stamp all those envelopes and enclose them in mailed invitations? Most importantly, do you need to buy those cards and stamps and add a little more cost to your wedding? No way!

Read more…

The post Online Wedding RSVP: How to Set One Up and Save on Postage appeared first on DailyPerk.

Source: http://dailyperk.perkstreet.com/online-wedding-rsvp/

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Court Blasts BofA for Reneging on Homeowner’s Mortgage Makeover

Filed under: ,

bank of america; wrongful foreclosureBy Samantha Henry

A New Jersey appeals court blasted Bank of America this week, chastising the company for the way it handled the case of a woman the court found to be making a good faith effort to hang on to her foreclosed home.

In upholding a lower court decision, the New Jersey Superior Court’s appellate division questioned why the lender had approached Sylvia Ficco in October 2009 with a written offer to modify the mortgage payments on her Morris County home. The lender accepted her checks, and then tried to foreclose on the property, sending her a warning that the mortgage modification offer had been sent in error.

“We confess some puzzlement at why a mortgage company would continue foreclosure proceedings against a debtor who, unlike many, is actually paying her mortgage,” the appellate judges wrote in a copy of the decision issued Thursday.

A message left Friday for the plaintiff’s attorney, Jeanette J. O’Donnell, was not returned.

Court papers show that Bank of America division BAC Home Loan Servicing L.P., formerly Countrywide Home Loans Inc., had sent Ficco a letter in October 2009, offering her a three- month “loan modification” trial after she defaulted on a nearly $600,000 home loan. The letter said she would be able to join the modification program permanently if she met the requirements and paid on time, according to court papers. She was qualified for the program in March 2010, according to court papers, and started making payments on her $591,913 mortgage.

However, the bank later claimed that the trial offer had been sent in error, and that Ficco wasn’t meant to be permanently accepted into the program.

The appeals court chided the company for its practices, questioning why it had sent the offer, accepted Ficco’s payments, and then reneged on the deal.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

See also:
Why Millions May Be Leaving Mortgage Assistance on the Table
Those Mortgages Blamed for Housing Crisis? They’re Back

%Gallery-158931%
More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
Find
homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.
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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/06/25/court-blasts-bofa-for-reneging-on-homeowners-mortgage-mod/

PUD (Planned Unit Development) recording prepayment penalty multidwelling units Treasury index Realtor® late charge

House of the Day: Luxury by Lake Tahoe

Filed under: ,

This $6.785 million residence, located in the luxurious Martis Camp community of North Lake Tahoe, Calif., boasts four bedrooms, 5½ baths, and an incredible array of cutting-edge amenities — including a home iPad interface system and hydronic heating throughout the flooring.

The master suite, which offers commanding views of majestic arboreal wilderness, includes a fireplace and spa-inspired bath. The lower level features a recreation-media room, complete with a surround-sound system and a bar, as well as a 1,000-bottle wine cellar and an exercise den. Moveable glass walls divide the living room from an outdoor patio and walk-out terrace, which offer extensive outdoor entertaining space including a spa, fire pit, dining area and landscaped lawn. Furnishings throughout are a combination of the rustic and the ultramodern.

%Gallery-152060%
As if this all weren’t enough, Martis Camp residency offers several extra layers of luxury, including an 18-hole golf course, and a family recreation center with swimming, bowling, basketball, cinema and art. Finally, the community includes 26 miles of private trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Brian Hull of Martis Camp has the listing.

Click on the images below to see more homes for sale near Lake Tahoe, Calif.

See more Houses of the Day on AOL Real Estate.

Got a tip for House of the Day? Know of an exceptional or unusual property currently listed for sale? Please email krisanne.alcantara@huffingtonpost.com with your suggestions and be sure to include links to listing details and photos. (Due to the volume of response, we unfortunately are unable to reply to each submission.)

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
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homes for sale in your area.
Find
foreclosures in your area.
See celebrity real estate.


Visit the Ski Resorts of Lake Tahoe, California

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/04/03/house-of-the-day-luxury-by-lake-tahoe/

two- to four-family property adjustment date security sweat equity estate survey debt

Obama’s Refinance Plan Explained

Filed under: , ,

By Nick Timiraos

The Obama administration is revamping a program that’s designed to let more homeowners refinance their mortgages even if they don’t have any equity. This isn’t a new program, but instead attempts to turbo-charge an existing federal initiative called the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

Here’s a look at some frequently asked questions:

What is HARP? The Obama administration in 2009 rolled out HARP to refinance borrowers whose loans were backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and who were current on their payments. The idea was simple: If you were making your payments on time but didn’t have enough equity to refinance, you would be able to lower your rate without having to pay down your mortgage balance or take out mortgage insurance.

Initially, the program was limited to borrowers who owed between 80% and 105% the value of their homes. In mid 2009, the program was opened to borrowers who owed up to 125% the value of their homes.

But a series of unforeseen “frictions” have led fewer borrowers to take up on the offer of lower rates. Fewer than 900,000 homeowners have refinanced under HARP over the past 2½ years, and just 72,000 of those borrowers have loan-to-value ratios between 105% and 125%.

Click here for the rest of the Q&A.

See also:
Obama to Announce Refi Help for Underwater Homeowners

More from the Wall Street Journal:
Ginormous Dallas Hotel Set to Open
Is the Housing Crisis Making People Sick?
At Zucotti Park, Love Under the Tarps

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
Find homes for sale in your area.
Find foreclosures in your area.

 

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/10/24/obamas-refinance-plan-explained/

subordinate financing fee simple payment change date title insurance mortgagor secured loan convertible ARM

‘I’m Trapped in a High-Rate Mortgage’

Filed under: ,

By Les Christie

Record-low mortgage rates of 3 percent to 4 percent have been out of reach for these homeowners. Despite having good credit and making their payments on time, they’re stuck paying 6 percent or more on their loans. See the whole story on CNNMoney.


It Would Kill My Father to Walk Away

high rate mortgageName: Kristy Robinette and Ronald Schiller
Hometown: Livonia, Mich.
Interest rate: 7 percent

Shortly after her mother passed away five years ago, Kristy Robinette bought a home with her father, Ronald Schiller, for $189,000.

They love the place, but its value has plummeted to $120,000 — and they still owe $178,000. Even worse: the mortgage is carrying a sky-high 7 percent rate.

For three years now, they’ve been trying to refinance, but they owe too much to meet Freddie Mac’s guidelines. And since they haven’t fallen behind on payments, they don’t qualify for a modification under the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program.

Read more of this story at CNNMoney.


Denied Twice and Feeling Hopeless

high rate mortgageName: Arturo and Leigh Candelas
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Interest rate: 5.88 percent

The Candelas have tried several times to reduce the almost 6 percent rate they’re paying on their mortgage.

Twice they attempted to refinance, in 2009 and 2010, but their home’s value had fallen by so much — from $650,000 to $423,000 — that the bank denied their requests.

“To say that we’re frustrated would be an understatement,” said Leigh Candelas, who is a stay-at-home mom. “We’ve never been late on our mortgage payments and naively went through the refi process twice only to pay the appraisal fees for no reason.”

Read more of this story at CNNMoney.


‘I Give Up’

high rate mortgageName: Kelly Reeves
Hometown: Newport Beach, Calif.
Interest rate: 6.75 percent

Living in hard-hit Orange County, Calif., Kelly Reeves has seen her home’s value plummet so severely that she now owes $180,000 more on her home than it’s worth.

Her adjustable-rate mortgage, which carries a 6.75 percent rate, is due to reset in January, leaving her guessing as to what she’ll pay next year.

Reeves, who is a media consultant, has made several attempts to refinance to a fixed-rate loan but always hits a dead end.

Read more of this story at CNNMoney.


Could Save Close to $1,000 a Month

high rate mortgageName: Thomas Coe
Hometown: Los Angeles
Interest rate: 6.38 percent and 7.88 percent

Thomas Coe bought a cozy house in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles for $559,000 in 2007. He didn’t put much money down and financed the balance with a $417,000 interest-only mortgage (a loan you pay only interest on for a fixed period, then pay off the balance) that carries a 6.38 percent rate and a $100,000 home equity loan charging a pricey 7.88 percent.

Coe, who is an assistant director on feature films including “Twilight,” could save nearly $1,000 a month if he refinanced both loans to today’s low rates. “I know my interest rates are so high right now compared to what’s current,” he said.

Coe was earlier denied a refinance through his lender, Bank of America, because he’s underwater. But he thinks he may qualify for some relief under the $25 billion mortgage settlement, an agreement reached between the attorneys general of 49 states and the nation’s five largest banks — including Bank of America — over foreclosure processing abuses.

Read more of this story at CNNMoney.


4 Banks, $1,450 in Fees Later

high rate mortgageName: Brent and Christina Knittel
Hometown: Stateline, Nev.
Interest rate: 5.5 percent and 6 percent

Brent and Christina Knittel look great on paper. According to the couple, they have steady jobs (Brent is a real estate investor and Christina is a corporate communications director), ample income, strong credit scores and make their mortgage payments on time.

Nevertheless, the couple hit one roadblock after another when trying to refinance the two fixed-rate loans they took out on their Lake Tahoe condo.

Their lender, Bank of America, offered to refinance their loan to 4.7 percent, a point higher than the average rates that were available. But since the closing costs would come to several thousand dollars, the savings from the new rate weren’t big enough to make the refi worthwhile.

Read more of this story at CNNMoney.

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Hey, Foreign Investors: Buy a House, Get a Visa!

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home soldIt’s no secret that one of the few bright spots in the housing market today comes from all-cash buyers, many of whom are foreign investors. But a new bipartisan bill in the Senate aims to take this trend to its most logical (and controversial) end — buy a house and you’ll qualify for a resident visa in the U.S.

The bill, proposed by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), seeks to lure foreign buyers by offering a resident visa in exchange for a cash purchase of at least $500,000 on a single-family home, condo or townhouse, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The proposal takes its cue from the “EB-5″ program (formally known as the Immigrant Investor Program), in which foreigners who invest in job-creating projects that are worth at least $500,000 in high-unemployment areas are granted green cards.

The bill is not, however, without its detractors. Richard Smith, CEO of Realogy, the parent company of realty heavies like ERA, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker, told The Wall Street Journal that it’s an unnecessary measure — even without the incentive, foreigners are already snapping up American property.

And he may be right. Of the $1.07 trillion spent on existing home sales between March 2010 and March 2011, about $41 billion changed hands thanks to foreign investors, according to the National Association of Realtors. Additionally, all-cash sales accounted for 30 percent of all purchases — much of which is generated by foreign investors facing favorable exchange rates.

On the other hand, Sen. Schumer told the Journal, the proposal is a quick way to shore up demand for the country’s housing overstock without costing the federal government anything. Until first-time homebuyers overcome the hurdles at the banks, and repeat buyers find ways to unload their current homes, increased sales to foreign investors may be the best way to absorb some of the nation’s enormous inventory of homes.

The investor visas would not leapfrog current waiting lists, which should prevent wealthier foreigners from jumping ahead of other immigrants. The bill also requires investors to apply for a separate visa to work in the U.S, says the Journal.

Readers, what do you think? Would such a bill help or hurt the U.S. economy?

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/10/20/hey-foreign-investors-buy-a-house-get-a-visa/

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Xeriscaping: 6 Steps to a Natural, Low Maintenance Lawn

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Xeriscaping, or waterless landscaping (or smart-scaping or native-plant landscaping — whew!), is a great way to save time and money on maintenance for your lawn. By using native plant species and paying close attention to sun exposure, you will rarely have to water your lawn yourself. A well-made xeriscape does the work for you.

Creating a habitat using native plants can be livable and enjoyable. Grasses, trees and bushes alien to your natural climate tend to be your landscape’s biggest water-suckers. By planting a native habitat in your yard, you will conserve water, create an eco-friendly space and perhaps find yourself living side-by-side with the beauty inherent to the land on which you live.

Here are six steps to get you started on creating a native, easy-to-maintain and beautiful lawn with xeriscaping.

1. Seek out plant species native to the area. Local nurseries and landscape architects are great resources when deciding what to plant in your yard.

2. Look for natural drainage patterns. This will help you to avoid erosion as well as help you highlight visually interesting valleys, crests and plateaus in your landscape.

3. Pay attention to sun patterns. Take note of which areas get the most sun and will subsequently require more water or more drought-resistant species of plants.

4. Use well-aerated soil. It’s high in organic materials through added compost and conserves water. Many plant species (other than most cacti) will appreciate a wet, dense soil.

5. Consider alternatives to grass and turf. Use stones, brick, mulch, sand or native grasses in place of turf. You will find that it needs far less water and maintenance.

6. Learn how to properly irrigate. By replacing crude hoses and sprinkler systems with modern irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation (which limits waste by dripping small amounts of water directly to each plant), a yard can thrive with limited or zero water-waste.

See also:
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Apple Unveils ‘Mothership’ Campus That Braces for Disaster

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Satisfying Services from Verizon

People who want to make sure that they are working with best mobile phone providers are now welcome to seek help using the internet. You can find lots of comments and feedbacks about different mobile phone providers in your country which are reliable and perfect for your needs. When you are located at United States […]

Source: http://www.brothernwla.org/satisfying-services-from-verizon/

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Tips for Choosing Home Builders

If you have decided to build your next home, congratulations! You will have plenty of crucial decisions to make within the upcoming months from where to build your home to what colour to paint the master bedroom walls.  The first decision to make, of course, is what builder to hire. There are dozens of different home builders […]

Source: http://www.brothernwla.org/tips-for-choosing-home-builders/

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New Orleans No Longer Most Blighted U.S. City: Detroit and Flint, Mich., Come Out on Top

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blighted U.S. cities

Ever since Hurricane Katrina ravaged most of its homes seven years ago, New Orleans has been considered the most blighted city in America — until now.

Detroit and Flint, Mich., also long known as troubled towns filled with abandoned properties, have overtaken the Big Easy as the most blighted in the U.S., according to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Meanwhile, government aid and a surge in citizens reclaiming their homes have brought down New Orleans’ supply of dilapidated or demolished homes.

Detroit and Flint have had higher levels of blight than New Orleans since March 2011, the GNOCDC study showed. And as of March 2012, 24 percent of Detroit homes and 27 percent of Flint homes were considered blighted, compared to a rate of 21 percent in New Orleans. (The study used data on “inactive” postal addresses to determine those numbers.) Rounding out the top six in the study’s list of blighted cities were Youngstown, Ohio — which tied with New Orleans — Cleveland (with a 19 percent rating) and Baltimore (with 14 percent).

The housing bust was a major factor in boosting blight in Detroit and Flint. Data from online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac showed that both cities tracked above the national foreclosure rate over the last six years.

The study underscores the positive impact of anti-blight policies. Bolstered by billions in government relief, New Orleans “made blight a major focus,” ramping up code enforcement and increasing its auctions of vacant homes, said Allison Plyer, chief demographer at the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. The city also benefited from the “Road Home” program, which paid 42,000 homeowners to restore and reoccupy their damaged homes.

These efforts’ impacts are clear: In March 2008, 34 percent of New Orleans’ housing supply was either vacant or uninhabitable, way above its current rate of 21 percent and nearly double that of the next most-blighted city at the time, the GNOCDC study said.

Also, the Louisiana city hasn’t been as hard hit by the real estate slump.

In 2011, only 1.39 percent of New Orleans homes were foreclosures, RealtyTrac said. By contrast, 2.94 percent of homes in the Detroit area and 2.74 percent in Flint, Mich., were foreclosures. The national rate was 1.45 percent in 2011, according to RealtyTrac.

So what’s weighing down Detroit and Flint? Partly it’s because the cities have not had the resources that New Orleans has to combat blight. A dramatic population decrease plaguing the two cities ever since the auto industry relocated has tied their hands, said Amy Hovey of the Center for Community Progress, an organization that promotes the reuse of vacant properties.

In some neighborhoods, “it’s so vacant that it’s kind of like a ghost town,” said Hovey, who is based in Flint. “There’s no people in those neighborhoods. It’s kind of eerie.”

Hovey said that to reverse the residential decay, local governments or land banks — entities that are often used to buy up distressed properties — must seize the homes and either demolish or rehab them.

Baltimore, another city plagued with blight, announced in the spring that it intends to use its allotment of the $25 billion “robo-signing” settlement to demolish about 700 homes. The GNOCDC study found that 14 percent of Baltimore homes were blighted as of March 2012.

Plyer said that selling abandoned properties in bulk, another approach to combating blight, is less helpful. Investors are not always civic-minded, she said, and often are quick to discard their acquisitions. She disapproved of a recent deal in which the Treasury of Macomb County in Michigan sold 627 homes at a foreclosure auction to a yacht dealer named Bill McMachen.

“Studies show that properties that sell through an auction like that — they come back through the process, like, two years later,” she said.

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Where Trailer Homes Rent for $2,000 a Month

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trailer homes rent kansas

By Blake Ellis

In the oil boomtowns of southern Kansas, enterprising residents are turning into real estate moguls, renting out everything from double-wide trailers to rooms in an old bank for as much as $2,000 a month.

Workers flocking to the area seeking high-paying jobs in nearby oil fields and windfarms have created a housing shortage in these small farming towns, causing the rents to skyrocket.

Bobbi Olivier, a native of Harper, Kan., a town nestled right in the heart of the oil activity, left the oilfields of Oklahoma last year in order to buy used double-wide trailers, fix them up and rent them out, among other ventures.

She’s been buying trailers in Wichita and driving them an hour south to a lot near the main drag in Danville, a town next to Harper. She then takes the wheels off and tears them apart, adds plumbing, power, carpeting, mirrors to make the rooms look bigger and extra fixtures to make them feel less like a trailer.

“I tend to be an outside-the-box person,” said Olivier, who also operates oil wells on her property and holds local rodeos on her family farm. “My goal was to get housing available as quickly and efficiently as possible. I’ve lived in a modular and a double-wide trailer for a lot of years myself, and they’re very nice.”

The four trailers are already booked by oil workers for when they will become available at the beginning of July. Meanwhile, Olivier has been receiving five to 10 calls a week from people who she just can’t accommodate yet.

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The trailers, which Olivier typically buys for around $25,000, run from 900 square feet to 2,000 square feet and will rent for anywhere between $1,250-to-$2,100 a month.

That may not sound that pricey for a place like New York, but for Harper and the surrounding towns, where two-bedroom homes have rented for only $400 a month for years, it’s a small fortune.

Yet, as more workers move to the area, $2,000-a-month rents are far more common — and prospective landlords are getting far more creative.

Along with her trailer-home project, Olivier recently converted a former bank into six “executive suites” — each complete with one bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom — and she has rented all of them to an oil company. The units rent for between $1,750 and $2,100 a month and currently house 14 workers.

Olivier has also bought and renovated four rundown houses and five commercial buildings — including another bank, a dental office and even a laundromat — and fixed them up in order to create housing and office space for oil and wind workers. In all, she said she is currently housing about 35 workers in the ten properties she owns.

But Olivier’s not the only person cashing in on the housing shortage.

After trying to get in on the housing boom in North Dakota, only to find that property values were already too high to make them worthwhile investments, Rocky Hufman, 45, decided to get a fresh start in the new oil play of Kansas.

Hufman has been flipping abandoned homes in Harper County and renting them out for $700 to $1,100 a month since March. He said he’s sure he could get more money for them if he tried, but he doesn’t want to rip anyone off.

A couple of months ago, he bought an unoccupied house for $32,000, touched up the paint, fixed the porch, trimmed the bushes and trees and cleaned the yard — and now he’s renting it to an oil worker for $1,000 a month.

“All the properties were already highly overvalued when I got to North Dakota — it felt like I was two-and-a-half years behind and could never get ahead of it,” said Hufman. “I came here to get out in front of this boom. But it’s still a big risk. If this boom goes bust, I go bust.”

While it’s been a lucrative business so far, Hufman said he’s determined not to make money at the expense of local residents. After seeing landlords kick people out of their homes in North Dakota because they knew they could get more money from oil workers, Hufman said he refuses to buy an occupied property. He wants to create enough alternative housing for workers that locals won’t get kicked out of their homes this time, he said.

To do this, Hufman is working for builder Vap Property Solutionsto build a 60-unit apartment complex from the ground up in Anthony. Each unit is slated to rent for more than $2,000, and the company is in talks with a major oil company about renting the entire complex to its workers.

Meanwhile, the town of Anthony’s decade-old horse and dog racing track is being turned into an apartment complex. In addition, the owners of the constantly-booked Anthony Motel are building a new 45-room hotel to fit the overflow of guests. And the economic development director of Harper County is transforming the 101-year-old Carnegie library into an office for an oil company’s workers.Anyone with a little spare space is able to make an extra buck. Ray and Dana Young, ages 69 and 59, respectively, are supplementing their retirement income by renting out four beds in their basement for $500 a month each.

The Youngs put up flyers in local stores advertising the spaces earlier this month, and a group of wind farm workers called to reserve the beds within a week. The $500 monthly rate is a lot better than the $350 a week they were paying to stay at a motel, said Dana.

But even as all of this extra housing is being created for incoming workers, some locals are still losing out. One couple, Eileen and Eddie Morris, said they were even kicked out of the home they had rented for 11 years when the owner decided to take advantage of rising property values and sell it to someone who would pay more money.

“It’s all about the money, it’s all about the greed,” said Eileen. “These people that own homes, they want money … now that people have come to town that have money, that’s what they want.”

More from CNNMoney:
America’s Biggest Boomtowns
Farmers Hit the Jackpot in Kansas Oil Boom
Most Affordable Cities to Buy a Home

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Beware the Latest Mortgage-Relief Scam!

Like debt consolidation scams, homeowners who are struggling to stave off foreclosure have been prime targets for scams in the recent years. Now, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of yet another new twist on mortgage relief scams. The BBB reported that homeowners have been receiving official-looking letters from out-of-state law firms that invites […]

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TruthfulLendingDotCom/~3/ckeC0RpGU6s/

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Joe Paterno’s Real Estate Transfer: Suspicious or Not?

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Why would former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno transfer ownership of his house, worth $594,484, to his wife for $1 in July, unless he knew that he was about to be drawn into the college’s sex-abuse scandal, with potential civil lawsuits and damages heading upfield toward him?

While his lawyer told The New York Times that the ownership transfer was nothing more than a step in a long-term financial estate plan, the move raised some eyebrows. Was the sale an attempt by Paterno to shield assets, fearing that some jury down the road might take him to the cleaners? And by transferring his home to his wife, Sue Paterno, did the coach who once walked on water just sink deeper into the dark hole of public scorn?

AOL Real Estate spoke to several estate lawyers and heard pretty much the same thing: Joe Pa probably didn’t do anything fishy, at least when it came to giving his wife the house for $1 plus “love and affection.” The couple (pictured at left) had previously held joint ownership of the property, for which they paid $58,000 in 1969.

David Shulman, an attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., whose practice focuses on trusts and estates, says there’s no obvious reason to link the home transfer with an attempt to protect assets or do an end-run around prospective creditors. In Pennsylvania, Shulman noted, as long as the property is held jointly — as Paterno’s was — it can’t be subject to the creditors of just one of the spouses. And since Sue Paterno hasn’t been linked at all to the sex-abuse scandal, she has no liability or exposure.

“I haven’t seen the documents,” Shulman said, “but from what’s been made public, it just doesn’t make any sense that this was an attempt to protect assets.”

Then what was Paterno up to? Shulman said the 84-year-old Paterno’s decision to transfer the house more likely had something to do with age-related issues, such as Medicaid and tax planning. To qualify for Medicaid-covered nursing home care, for example, a recipient must “spend down” to a certain level. And people are constantly looking to protect their assets from taxes to ensure that their heirs inherit as much as possible.

Since Paterno has good insurance and a degree of wealth, he probably didn’t do it for Medicaid purposes. Far more likely it was done as an estate planning move to avoid probate, said Shulman. “It is a fairly typical thing for people of means to want to protect their assets for their children or whoever will inherit them,” he said.

Paterno, who was fired as the football coach at Penn State, has been harshly criticized by many for not taking more aggressive steps after a suspected sexual assault of a child by one of his former top assistants was reported to him. And if the reaction to the house transfer is any indication, it’s a safe bet that the burgeoning scandal will cast suspicion on everything else the coach does.

[Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Paterno as Joe Pop; his nickname is Joe Pa.]

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Selling Your House? Get Out the Paint Roller

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If you’re trying to sell your house, the first thing a Realtor will tell you is to break out the paint roller. A fresh coat of paint is the quickest and least expensive way to lighten, brighten and perk up a home’s interior. It’s also a job you can tackle yourself–if you do it right. In today’s “DIY Diagnosis,” our friend Brie Dyas at DIYLife tells you how to paint a room for great results.

The arrival of a new season always triggers a need to change up the wall colors in my home. And when I want a change, I want one now. But when it comes to painting a room, it’s easy to get swept up in getting the job done instead of getting the job done right. Here’s a handy list of common problems that can come up, why they did and how you can stop ’em.

– A dark hue looks faded. This happens when you paint over a light color with darker one. To prevent this from happening, apply a gray-tinted primer coat in between. This will stop the lighter hue from bleeding through the bolder one, and will create a neutral base that’ll let bold hues look their best.

– A random shiny spot appears a week after painting. When a flat paint is applied to a high-traffic area, a glossy spot can appear where hands (or a sponge) frequently comes in contact with the painted surface, rubbing off the matte finish. So, when it comes to high-traffic areas where you know you’ll have to do some cleaning, go for a semi-gloss.

For the rest of the tips, read the full story at DIYLife.

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/06/07/selling-your-house-get-out-the-paint-roller/

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Home Improvement: Finding the Best Contractor

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home improvementHome improvement contractors play a key role in many home sales. Sellers may need to do some significant repairs to ready their home for market; buyers oftentimes want to customize or renovate their new purchase as soon as they close. Jorgen Wouters of our sister site, WalletPop, offers some valuable advice when hiring the contractor you plan to trust with your home improvement wishes and dreams.

As Spring finally approaches and homeowners around the nation begin to contemplate home improvement projects, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to choose contractors with care to avoid getting scammed.

According to the BBB, the home improvement industry regularly ranks among the top five sources of complaints year after year. Construction and home improvement scams also placed third among the top 10 consumer complaints reported to the Illinois Consumer Protection Division in 2010.

To avoid hiring a sub-standard contractor, the BBB advises consumers to be suspicious of handymen who show up at your door, advertise in local newspapers, or put fliers in your mailbox offering a variety of services at bargain-basement prices.

Read more at WalletPop.com.

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Source: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/03/07/home-improvement-finding-the-best-contractor/

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