News

Dodd-Frank Reform Could Make It Easier to Get a Mortgage

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 06/02/2018 - 00:00

(TNS)—It should be easier for you to get a mortgage now that President Donald Trump has signed legislation that will lift lending restrictions on community banks.

Congress on Tuesday voted in favor of rolling back Dodd-Frank banking rules, and Trump signed it Thursday. The reforms will ease some of the mortgage laws from the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, a massive financial law enacted in response to the financial crisis.

Thanks to the new law, more homebuyers are likely to get approval for a mortgage from their local community bank or credit union.

“Any changes to soften the lending aspects will make it easier for borrowers to get loans,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president of Ten-X, an online real estate marketplace.

Here’s the Problem
Many lenders say the mortgage laws have become too restrictive for them to make mortgages outside of the so-called Qualified Mortgage rule. The rule is based on your ability to repay the mortgage by requiring that your debt does not exceed 43 percent of your income, but there are very specific requirements when proving your income. The task gets trickier if you’re a business owner, for example, and don’t have consistent income flows.

“Lenders, particularly retail banks, have just stopped taking on any risk at all,” Sharga says. “Getting those smaller lenders back into the game could have a material impact on the housing market.”

What the Bill Fixes
The new changes will allow community banks and credit unions to offer mortgages outside the typical Qualified Mortgage rule so long as they don’t sell that mortgage but keep it in-house. By holding that mortgage on the books, it would be deemed a Qualified Mortgage. The carve-out would apply to institutions with less than $10 billion in assets.

Many lenders think this change will allow more community lenders to offer mortgages. It will also be helpful for homebuyers, when mortgage rates are rising but still low.

It’s unclear how much of an impact the change to the mortgage laws will have on the housing market. A large portion of homebuyers already meet the requirements within the Qualified Mortgage rule. The Urban Institute says the Qualified Mortgage rule has had “little impact” on credit availability, though there are fewer mortgages being offered for under $100,000.

Congress’ move received praise from David Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“I want to commend the House of Representatives for joining the Senate and passing this bill, which will protect consumers and provide greater access to mortgage credit,” Stevens said in a statement.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

$1 Million: What It Buys in the U.S. Housing Market

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 16:17

One-million dollars is a lot of money to most of the world’s population, but it’s a drop in the bucket to a billionaire. The housing market in the U.S. seems to have a similar relationship with homes valued between $900,000 and $1.1 million: Some of them are sprawling estates, while others are considered middle-of-the-road homes.

HouseCanary examined homes valued around $1 million in different metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across the country to determine what an “average” million-dollar home looks like, from San Francisco to Tuscaloosa, Ala. We found that what a million dollars will buy can vary widely from place to place—so if you’ve got $1 million to spend on a home, here’s what you can expect to get in return.

Where $1 Million Is Big Money
In most markets, $1 million will get you a lot of house, but they might not be considered mansion material. We found that in the preponderance of markets (110 out of 375 metro areas), a million-dollar home is somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet. But there are also some markets where you can buy a true mansion or estate if you’re willing to spend between $900,000 and $1.1 million.

Those markets tend to be at least somewhat off the beaten path, so you may be sacrificing some shopping convenience, access to airports, or proximity to cultural, sports, or other local assets. And those markets may not also have relatively high household income, meaning you’ve got to save for a lot longer to make that million-dollar down payment. But the amount of room you’ll get to spread out and do your thing might make that kind of sacrifice well worth it!

Ohio is one state with several big cities, but it’s in unassuming Lima, about 90 minutes northwest of Columbus, where you’ll find the best deals for $1 million. The average million-dollar home in Lima, Ohio, is 9,435 square feet and sits on a four-acre lot. It has five-plus bedrooms, four bathrooms, and 4-5 parking spots. For that million-dollar home, buyers pay about $105.99 per square foot.

In Lima, most homes are very affordable. To pay a mortgage on a median-priced home in Lima, the median-income household would spend 17.30 percent of its income. The median household income in Lima is $45,575, and you can still buy a home there for much less than $100,000. So it’s not surprising that the two million-dollar homes in Lima are much larger than average!

You’ll find similar bang for your million-dollar buck in Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, Ala., about an hour and 20 minutes northeast of Birmingham, where the average million-dollar home is 8,354 square feet and sits on a five-acre lot. It has three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and 4-5 parking spaces. The price-per-square foot in this corner of Alabama for a million-dollar home is about $119.70.

Homes are also very affordable in Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, with the median household spending just shy of 17 percent of total household income ($41,954 annually) on a median-priced house.

Texas is another state with several big cities—Houston and Dallas are two of the biggest cities in the country. In Wichita Falls, Texas, about two hours and change northeast of Dallas, your average million-dollar home comes on a whopping 60-acre lot and is 7,852 square feet. The price-per-square foot is about $127.36—still very reasonable. It has five bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and four parking spots, and the median household in Wichita Falls spends just 13.94 percent of its annual $46,043 income on a median-priced home.

$1 Million in the Middle
Even though there are more homes between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet than between 4,000 and 5,000, the average square footage for a million-dollar home across all metros studied is 4,305 square feet—which is quite a bit of room to stretch out, but still only about half the size of the biggest million-dollar homes in the country.

In the Nashville MSA (which also includes Davidson, Murfreesboro and Franklin, all in Tennessee), an average million-dollar home is 4,302 square feet, with 3-4 bedrooms, four bathrooms, and three parking spots nestled on a 0.96-acre lot. The price-per-square foot is $232.45—more than double the price per square foot in Lima, Ohio.

Affordability in Nashville is also middle-of-the-road: Most economists suggest that households spend no more than 30 percent of their total income on housing, and in Nashville, a median-priced house costs 30.5 percent of the median household income, which is $56,152 annually.

Richmond, Va., and St. Louis (spanning both Missouri and Illinois) are also relatively average markets. In Richmond, an average million-dollar house is 4,312 square feet on an 0.85-acre lot, with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and two parking spots. The price-per-square foot is $231.91, slightly lower than in Nashville. A median home for a median household in Richmond uses 29.17 percent of its $61,124 annual household income.

And in St. Louis, the average million-dollar home is 4,330 square feet on a 0.93-acre lot. It also has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and two parking spots. The price-per-square foot is very close to both Richmond and Nashville at $230.95. In St. Louis, the median household (which makes $56,726 per year) spends 21.83 percent of its income on a median-priced home.

Million-Dollar Babies
It makes sense that in areas where housing is more affordable, million-dollar homes are larger. But what happens when affordability starts to creep up (and up…and up)?

As you might guess, when affording a home captures more and more of a median household’s income, the million-dollar homes get smaller. The smallest average million-dollar home in the country is in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., at 1,576 square feet, on a 0.13-acre lot. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two parking spots, and in this MSA, the median household spends 76.33 percent of its income ($100,469 annually) on a median-priced home. The price-per-square foot is an eye-popping $634.52, almost six times what you’d pay in Lima, Ohio, for a home.

In San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., you’ll find a slightly bigger average million-dollar home at 1,600 square feet, on a 0.13-acre lot, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two parking spots. The price-per-square foot is $625, just $9.52 lower than in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara. A median household in the Bay Area makes $85,947 per year and typically spends 80.20 percent of its total income on a median-priced home.

Honolulu is another market with small average million-dollar properties. In Honolulu, the average million-dollar home is 1,846 square feet on a 0.15-acre lot, with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two parking spots. The price-per-square foot for a Honolulu million-dollar home is $541.71—definitely more reasonable than its San Francisco counterparts, but still almost double what you’d pay in Nashville, Richmond or St. Louis. The median household in Honolulu (which makes $77,161 per year) spends 61.62 percent of its income on a median home—still more than double the recommended amount, but much more reasonable than San Jose or San Francisco.

In Boulder, Colo., you can get slightly more square footage for a million dollars than in San Francisco. The average Boulder million-dollar home is 2,270 square feet on a 0.24-acre lot, costing $440.53 per square foot. It has four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, with two parking spots, and the median household spends just over half (51.39 percent) of its $72,282 annual income on a median home.

If I Had a Million Dollars…
Would you rather have a vast estate in Lima, Ohio, or Wichita Falls, Texas, or a cozy family home in San Francisco or Honolulu? Maybe opting for something middle-of-the-road in St. Louis or Nashville makes more sense…and it’s less square footage to clean!

This was originally published on HouseCanary. For more information, please visit www.housecanary.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Listing This Summer? The Best Investments to Make Outdoors

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 05/28/2018 - 16:01

Are you listing this summer? Get your outdoors in shape—it can pay off.

According to National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) research, certain exterior improvements are likely to recoup at resale. Based on feedback from REALTORS®—who, through their experience, know what house hunters are ready to spend on—the best enhancements are lawn care, landscape maintenance and tree care, and installing an irrigation system. Landscape/lawn care pays for itself—generally 100 percent of the expense or more is recovered, according to the research—while irrigation has a promising ROI of 86 percent.

For homeowners not selling yet, exterior improvements can be satisfying in and of themselves. Assigning a “Joy Score” from one to 10, with 10 anteing up the most enjoyment, both a fire feature and an irrigation system earned 10s, followed by a new wood deck or water feature (both 9.8s), “statement landscaping” (9.7) and an “overall landscape upgrade” (9.6), the research shows.

“REALTORS® understand that a home’s first impression is its curb appeal, so when it comes time to sell, a well-manicured yard can be just as important as any indoor remodel,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Even homeowners with no immediate plans to sell can gain more enjoyment and satisfaction from their home by taking on a project to revive their outdoor spaces.”

MORE: A Front Door, Flooring and Other ‘Happy’ Home Upgrades

Additionally, appearances matter beyond the residential space. Forty-three percent of REALTORS® have advised a commercial owner to improve the outside of the property, including lawn care, landscape management and an “overall landscape upgrade,” the research shows.

“It is not just homeowners that need to think about curb appeal when it comes time to sell; a beautiful exterior is just as important for commercial property owners,” Mendenhall said. “In fact, 81 percent of REALTORS® said they believe curb appeal is important in attracting a buyer.”

“This report validates that landscaping is an investment worth making, offering the immediate benefits of increased enjoyment of your property, as well as desirable long-term value that holds if or when it comes time to sell,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president, Public Affairs, at the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), which collaborated with NAR on the report. “From lawn and tree care to installing a new fire or water feature or landscape lighting, there’s no shortage of opportunities to enhance your landscape and to reap the benefits these upgrades provide.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Zillow: $40 Billion to Flood Into Housing Market, Even as Homeowner Incentives Limited

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 15:51

Americans’ earnings, generally, have gotten a lift on payday as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. With cuts come more discretionary spending—and, although there are changes to homeowner incentives, almost $40 billion of it is going into the housing market, according to a new report by Zillow.

“Despite new limits to two longstanding tax benefits for homeowners, the typical American taxpayer saw their tax burden fall in 2018 as a result of tax reform,” says Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “Some of these tax savings will still find their way into the American housing market, even though they were not explicitly targeted there, as renters and homeowners decide to use their tax savings to rent or buy a bigger home, or renovate their existing home.”

Approximately $13.2 billion is estimated to flood into market as owners and renters trade up, while $24.7 billion is expected to be invested in remodeling projects, the report reveals. With an average $1,610 saved per taxpayer (according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center), homeowners are projected to spend 15 cents on the dollar to renovate; renters, 11 cents to trade up.

The disparity between dollars for remodeling and trading up is in line with a growing trend: homeowners are forgoing moving up and investing in projects instead of purchasing. While the existing housing stock is in need of updates, when homeowners stay put, inventory shrinks—and currently, inventory is at its lowest on record.

According to the report, compared to higher-income households, Americans in the bottom income tier—who average $60 in savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—are allocating more of those savings to trade up.

“Lower-income households will spend more of their tax cut on buying or renting a bigger home, adding demand to an already rapidly appreciating housing market,” Terrazas says.

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Appreciation Linked to Population Rise

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 15:52

Appreciation and demand go hand in hand, and for investors, both are key to profit, according to a new report.

Assessing the association between growing interest and mounting prices, analysts at HouseCanary found that appreciation is higher where inbound migration numbers are swelling. Boise, Idaho, for example, has had a high influx of new residents, and a corresponding increase in prices across all property types—from 2010 to 2017, Boise greeted more than 57,600 new residents, while apartments appreciated 7.7 percent year-over-year, condo prices rose 7 percent year-over-year, and prices on single-family steepened 5.7 percent year-over-year.

In addition to Boise, HouseCanary found the migration pattern-price relationship in the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach and Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla., metros (a combined 404,000-plus new residents); the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev., metro (approximately 181,900 new residents); the Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif., metro (approx. 99,200 new residents); the Salt Lake City, Utah, metro (approx. 71,200 new residents); and the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., metro (310,560 new residents).

Beyond the correlation between demand and prices, apartments and condos, generally, have faster-growing prices than in the single-family segment, according to the report.

For more information, please visit www.housecanary.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Hawaii Volcano Victims Can Get Relief on Mortgage Payments

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 05/21/2018 - 15:37

(TNS)—If you live in an area of Hawaii that’s been impacted by the Kilauea volcano eruption, your mortgage lender may offer you relief. The eruption has destroyed 26 homes (at press time), and more homes are still at risk.

Wells Fargo and Bank of Hawaii have implemented disaster relief policies for those affected by Kilauea. If your home was destroyed or damaged by the eruption, call your mortgage lender to see if it’s offering assistance.

Wells Fargo will postpone payments for up to 90 days when the customer contacts them to discuss their situation.

“During this time, all negative credit bureau reporting, late fees, collection calls, and foreclosure referrals and sales are also suspended,” says Paul Gomez, vice president of Corporate Communications at Wells Fargo.

Bank of Hawaii offers a grace period for borrowers who either can’t make their mortgage payments or are facing foreclosure.

“We are definitely suspending foreclosures and evictions during this time of hardship, says Stafford Kiguchi, media representative for Bank of Hawaii. “The initial period of time is for the length of the emergency loan program, which is six months for forbearance; however, we will work with each borrower to suspend foreclosure for as long as it takes to recover their repayment capacity. If the hardship turns out to be more than a temporary situation, we have other, long-term relief programs, such as our loan modification program, which permanently lowers a borrower’s monthly payment.”

Bank of Hawaii is also making cash accessible for people in need through special loan programs. Some features include low interest rates; deferred payments for the first three months; fast approval; reduced payments, with loan terms up to 60 months; and loan amounts up to $25,000.

Qualified borrowers can use funds for:

  • Emergency supplies and living essentials
  • Home or vehicle repairs or replacement
  • Bridging working capital needs

Bank of Hawaii customers may also be eligible to receiving forbearance and extensions on loans.

When homes are damaged or destroyed by fire, even if lava flow causes it, standard homeowners insurance policies should cover the damage, says Kirk Christman, principal at the ACW Group, headquartered in Hawaii.

Standard homeowners insurance policies are usually “all risk” policies, which cover any risk except for specifically excluded perils. Excluded risks typically include events such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and floods.

“Because most of the damage is caused by fire due to the heat from the lava, homeowners should be able to file a fire claim, which is normally covered in most policies,” Christman says.

Be sure to turn in your claim to your insurance company and let them determine coverage.

If your lender is not proactively offering forbearance or other help, you can go directly to the websites of the Federal Housing Finance Agency or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to see what type of relief you might be eligible for, and then bring it up to your lender. You also can use these sites to find the name of the lender that owns your mortgage and where to go if the company doesn’t cooperate.

Just because a lender provides “relief” does not mean it’s forgiving you for any of the mortgage debt you owe. Even with the forbearance programs backed by the government, the amount that is deferred will be owed down the road.

Be cautious of calls from people claiming to offer mortgage relief on behalf of a government agency or asking for fees upfront for a loan or service.

When talking with the lender, ask for written confirmation and contact information in case you have any follow-up questions or concerns.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

Amazon Experience Centers Look to Transform Smart-Home Shopping

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 05/19/2018 - 00:01

Amazon is making moves yet again. As a way to market its smart-home business segment without having to invest in conventional store locations, the online marketplace giant has partnered with Lennar Corporation to provide connectivity demos of Alexa-enabled products—everything from video doorbells and smart shades to lighting and scheduled deliveries—within the homebuilder’s model homes, calling these showrooms Amazon Experience Centers.

“Amazon’s ability to bring a home to life with Alexa smart-home experiences, entertainment and services—coupled with their obsession with customer experience—is a natural extension of our Everything’s Included approach to home-building,” said David Kaiserman, president of Lennar Ventures, in statement. “We picked Amazon because of our shared commitment to customers, their Amazon experts across the country, and their ability to connect customers with thousands of service providers through Amazon Home Services.”

These Centers are already open to the public in certain Lennar communities, including in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Within these model homes, prospective buyers can test-control thermostats, lights, shades, locks, televisions and more using Amazon’s trademark smart speaker, Echo, and Alexa AI.

“We wanted customers to experience a real home environment that showcases the convenience of the Alexa smart-home experience, great entertainment available with Prime and Home Services,” said Nish Lathia, general manager of Amazon Services, in a statement. “We are excited to extend our relationship with Lennar with the launch of Amazon Experience Centers. As one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, Lennar offers the potential to enable this experience within easy driving distance of millions of customers.”

Along with its smart speaker offerings, Amazon is also promoting Prime and Home Services, creating an intelligent home environment that is being touted as a money- and time-saver. For example, with Amazon’s Dash series, homeowners would be able to simply press a button to reorder any essentials, such as household items, favorite snack foods, pet supplies and more.

No doubt Lennar will see increased traffic to its model homes because of the partnership, but is this just Amazon’s next step in a larger campaign to fully entrench itself in the real estate industry? Its recent progressions pointing to—yes—talks of a robot give a glimpse into Amazon’s planned future for AI-run households.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Voice Activated: Do You Talk to Your Tech?

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:58

How many of us are talking to our tech on a regular basis?

Ken Olmstead at the Pew Research Center recently highlighted the fact that nearly half of U.S. adults (46 percent) say they use voice-controlled assistants and applications to interact with smartphones and other devices.

Just over half (55 percent) say “a major reason” they use voice assistants is to permit hands-free interaction with devices.

The Pew study affirmed that voice assistant technology is being widely used to remotely control connected systems, including “smart home” lighting and heating devices. In fact, more than a quarter (26 percent) surveyed use voice assistants to connect remotely to those apps and devices.

So where are the newest voice control technologies being integrated in 2018?

Kohler, the global designer of kitchen and bath products, has introduced Konnect. This new platform allows consumers to conveniently personalize their experience with a growing number of the company’s products through voice control.

Claiming to have delivered the first voice-activated product line for the kitchen and bath, Konnect offers support through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.

Say the word and adjust the company’s lighted mirror, order up a soak with their voice-activated bathtub faucet, pick your spritz with their voice-command shower systems—and, yes, even apply a number of controls to the toilet!

Kristen Hicks at SeniorAdvisor.com says voice-activation improvements like these are helping countless homeowners age in place, by turning lights on and off, keeping grocery and to-do lists, reminding folks to take meds, changing interior temperature settings, using voice-activated technology to be sure doors are locked, and, most importantly, calling for help in an emergency. Hicks says while many home alert systems require reaching a phone or a button, a voice command can be issued without having to move.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

20 Desirable Neighborhoods: Popular, but Not Sought-After

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 05/03/2018 - 16:07

Homebuyers often idealize their wants on their wish list—and, for many, location is at the top.

The aspiration for a certain location, however, may be just that: an aspiration, according to a new report by Zillow that identifies what areas buyers are interested in the most:

20 Desirable Neighborhoods, Ranked

Led by L.A.’s The Oaks, Atlanta’s Tuxedo Park and San Francisco’s Presidio Heights, the majority of neighborhoods ranked by Zillow are enclaves with high price tags, suggesting that although buyers have a demonstrated interest in them, it is more out of curiosity or desire than an intent to purchase. Zillow based its list on the neighborhood’s number of pageviews during the first three months of 2018.

“Real estate shoppers are usually very aspirational, so it’s no surprise we have a lot of shoppers looking outside of where they can likely afford and instead, looking at beautiful homes in desirable areas,” says Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “We see these more posh neighborhoods drawing shoppers in, but ultimately, these probably aren’t the neighborhoods most will end up in—the typical price of entry in the majority of neighborhoods on this list is generally much higher than their city as a whole.”

Homes in Malibu’s Point Dume—No. 7 in pageviews—are the steepest: a median $5,995,000, according to the report. Bel Air (No. 4) follows at a median $5,385,000. Homes in Crestwood, in Yonkers, N.Y. (No. 17), are at a median $559,735—the most affordable, relatively, of the top 20. Six of the top 20 are in the San Francisco metro, five are in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro, and three are in the Atlanta metro—the majority, markedly, are on the West Coast.

“It’s hard to blame these buyers, because, really, who hasn’t dreamed big when home shopping?” Terrazas says. “Oohing and ahhing over beautiful homes has become one of America’s favorite pastimes.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Taxes Filed—Time to Chill? Not So Fast, Says IRS

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 05/01/2018 - 16:15

(TNS)—The April 18 federal tax-filing deadline has come and gone. Your taxes are paid, and maybe you already have your refund in hand. Nothing to do now but sit back and chill for eight months or so, right?

The Internal Revenue Service respectfully disagrees.

Given recent changes in tax tables created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, IRS officials are urging taxpayers to do a “paycheck checkup” and other double-checks, the better to avoid a possibly unpleasant surprise in early spring next year.

“The IRS is taking special steps to help taxpayers understand these tax law changes,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “We encourage people to do a paycheck checkup to help make sure they’re having the right amount of tax withheld for their unique personal situation. To help with this, the IRS has added and updated a variety of tools and information to help taxpayers.”

The IRS says taxpayers should start by determining how much money they want employers to withhold from their paychecks.

That can be done on the “Withholding Calculator” link on www.IRS.gov. Having too little tax withheld can mean a surprisingly high tax bill next year, and with the average refund topping $2,800, the IRS said some taxpayers might prefer to have less tax withheld up front and receive more in their paychecks.

Taxpayers can use the calculator to estimate their 2018 income tax. It compares that estimate to the taxpayer’s current tax withholding options. Some may wish to change their withholding with their employer. The IRS notes that it’s helpful to have a completed 2017 tax return with you when you visit the website.

Taxpayers who need to adjust their withholding will need to submit a new Form W-4, also known as an Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to their employer. If an employee needs to adjust withholding, doing so as quickly as possible means there’s more time for tax withholding to take place evenly over the rest of the year. Waiting until later in the year means there are fewer pay periods to make the tax changes, which could have a bigger impact on each paycheck.

The IRS said the paycheck checkup is highly recommended for two-income families, people working two or more jobs, parents who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit, people who itemized deductions in 2017 and those who received either large tax refunds or large tax bills in 2017.

The IRS also has launched a series of “tax reform tax tips” at www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-reform. The periodic notices offer tax changes and other information in plain language.

For some, tax season goes on even now. That includes citizens who filed for an extension, others who did not file or pay what is owed, or those awaiting refunds. The IRS said it has help available for them, too.

There’s no penalty for filing a late return after the tax deadline if a refund is due. Penalties and interest only accrue on unfiled returns if taxes were not paid by April 18. IRS “Free File” is available through October 15 for incomes less than $66,000. To get more information to file electronically, visit www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free.

If a federal return is filed more than 60 days after the April due date, the minimum penalty is either $210 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. This means that if the tax due is $210 or less, the penalty is equal to the tax amount due. If the tax due is more than $210, the penalty is at least $210.

In some cases, taxpayers filing after the deadline may qualify for penalty relief. If there is a good reason for filing late, the IRS said taxpayers should attach an explanation to their returns. The IRS also noted that taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify for penalty relief. The agency said a taxpayer will usually qualify for such relief if they haven’t been assessed penalties for the past three years and meet other requirements. For more information, do a “first-time penalty abatement” search on www.IRS.gov.

Still looking for your refund? Go to www.irs.gov/refunds, where multiple options are explained to check on your refund status.

Those who owe taxes can get information on payments or applying online for a payment plan at www.irs.gov/payments/view-your-tax-account.

The IRS said it routinely corrects math errors on returns and subsequently notifies taxpayers by mail. If a taxpayer discovers a major error or omission, however, the federal tax agency suggests consulting this site to determine if an amended return is necessary: www.irs.gov/help/ita/should-i-file-an-amended-return.

Finally, the IRS stressed that it never makes initial, unsolicited contact via email, text or social media on filing, payment or refund issues. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail. Any email that appears to be from the IRS about a refund or tax problem is likely a scam attempt. Don’t give out any key personal information in an email. The IRS wants those suspicious emails forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.

©2018 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

5 Challenging Markets for Millennials

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 04/30/2018 - 16:27

Across the country, buyers are competing in what has been called the “harshest market yet“—but for millennials, the competition is fiercest in higher-income metros, according to an analysis by realtor.com®:

  1. San Jose, Calif.
    List Price (Median): $1,244,000
    Millennial Income: $109,800
    Millennial Population: 14.3 percent
  1. Seattle, Wash.
    List Price (Median): $553,000
    Millennial Income: $78,300
    Millennial Population: 15.4 percent
  1. Salt Lake City, Utah
    List Price (Median): $394,000
    Millennial Income: $67,800
    Millennial Population: 15.5 percent
  1. Minneapolis, Minn.
    List Price (Median): $283,000
    Millennial Income: $73,600
    Millennial Population: 13.8 percent
  1. Omaha, Neb.
    List Price (Median): $283,000
    Millennial Income: $63,500
    Millennial Population: 13.8 percent

Across the five markets, the economies are flourishing, and Gen Y is raking in more than the average millennial, who earns $59,800 yearly.

The issue?

“Millennials want to buy, but record-low inventory is making it extremely difficult,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com. “Our analysis shows millennials are facing challenges in both established markets such as San Jose and Seattle, as well as more recently popular areas like Omaha and Salt Lake City.”

The dearth of inventory is a nationwide problem, but intensified in the markets ranked. According to the analysis, there are 8 percent fewer listings nationally year-over-year, but across the five markets, there are 9 percent less—and though the age of inventory nationally is down 7 percent, in the five markets, age of inventory is down by double, roughly: 13 percent.

The paradox is pronounced in San Jose and Seattle, in that there are blinding-bright employment prospects, but severely short supply. In both cities, the demand from the influx of residents, including younger workers, is exceeding what the market has to offer. Both have above-average pay, but earnings are failing to keep pace with prices—and the challenges in the top two are manifesting in Minneapolis, Omaha and Salt Lake City, where burgeoning demand is impacting inventory.

According to Hale, however, millennials are undeterred.

“Despite the difficulties, first-timers are optimistic and more than willing to weather the challenges this spring has to offer,” Hale says.

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Is ‘Green’ at a Premium? Depends Where You Purchase

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 04/21/2018 - 00:01

Who says you need “green” to get a green home?

According to an analysis by realtor.com®, eco-friendliness is becoming the norm—and being a green homeowner may not be as pricey as thought. While California’s costlier markets have high concentrations of green homes, there are also affordable pockets outside the Golden State—and, in many markets, eco-features are no longer at a premium.

The greenest:

  1. Fort Collins, Colo.
    Green Home Listings Share: 36 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $170.4
    Green Local Median PPSF: $171
  1. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
    Green Home Listings Share: 35 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $139.1
    Green Local Median PPSF: $144
  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
    Green Home Listings Share: 35 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $738.9
    Green Local Median PPSF: $701
  1. San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas
    Green Home Listings Share: 34 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $128.8
    Green Local Median PPSF: $130
  1. Tulsa, Okla.
    Green Home Listings Share: 33 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $96.7
    Green Local Median PPSF: $115
  1. Boulder, Colo.
    Green Home Listings Share: 25 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $257.7
    Green Local Median PPSF: $267
  1. Salinas, Calif.
    Green Home Listings Share: 21 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $498.5
    Green Local Median PPSF: $429
  1. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.
    Green Home Listings Share: 20 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $121.5
    Green Local Median PPSF: $132
  1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
    Green Home Listings Share: 19 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $93.2
    Green Local Median PPSF: $107
  1. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif.
    Green Home Listings Share: 17 percent
    Local Median Price-Per-Square Foot (PPSF): $565.7
    Green Local Median PPSF: $544

“Although Southern and Western states still lead the way in green technology adoption, eco-friendly features have grown in popularity across many regions of the United States,” says Javier Vivas, director of Economic Research at realtor.com. “Many buyers have come to expect standard features, and homes integrating specialty green features are becoming more mainstream.

“However, in today’s inventory-starved market, location still reigns supreme and the price of land can easily override the allure of special eco-friendly features,” Vivas says.

Analysts defined a “green” home as one with bamboo flooring, dual-pane windows, ENERGY STAR appliances and/or rating, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ventilation and/or solar panels.

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

New Data Finds Homeowners Struggle When Selling, Despite Hot Market

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 16:01

Twelve days before Thanksgiving, Mark and Sue Meaney decided to put their 109-year-old house on the market. They looked at comps of similar-sized homes near their St. Paul neighborhood, agreed on a price with their agent and waited anxiously for their first offer to roll in.

Mark and Sue knew their timing wasn’t ideal. The holidays loomed, and the market was slowing; worse, St. Paul was entering its notorious subzero season.

The couple felt torn. After one year of searching for a new home, they had found the perfect place a few miles away. It was spacious enough to raise their kids and had a first-floor bedroom and bathroom for Sue’s aging parents.

As first-time sellers—Mark and Sue had lived in the house for 20 years—the couple took a leap of faith. They bought the new home, moved in Sue’s parents and dropped nearly $20,000 to spruce up their old house to help it sell quickly.

Several weeks later, their vacant home remains for sale, its exterior weathering the forces of yet another Minnesota winter.

Selling a Home: Truth in Data
Skim any number of news articles on the U.S. housing market and chances are you’ll run across the phrases “low inventory,” “sellers’ market” and “strong demand.” This rings especially true in larger metropolitan areas, where stories of bidding wars abound, leaving the impression that sellers in these markets simply list their homes, sit back and receive offers above the asking price.

For much of the U.S., however, the data reveals a starker reality.

According to new findings from Zillow Group—which used data from the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017—selling a home in the U.S. is not only fraught with anxiety, but often culminates in unmet expectations.

In fact, close to one-third of sellers said they felt unsatisfied with the selling process. Of first-time sellers, nearly 30 percent were unprepared for how long it took to sell their homes and said they wished they would have started the process sooner, according to the analysis.

Furthermore, 76 percent of sellers across the U.S. ended up making at least one concession, with lowering the price the most-cited compromise. Thirty-six percent said they either struggled to sell their homes within their desired price range or time frame.

“This data shows there is a huge opportunity to create a better end-to-end experience for sellers and help them turn over their homes faster,” said Jeremy Wacksman, chief marketing officer at Zillow Group.

More Information, More Stress
Much of the stress sellers feel stems from that nail-biting wait to get the right offer. Fueling this collective anxiety is, of course, more access to information.

While the internet has greatly democratized the buying and selling process, it has also created a state of seller vigilance. Sellers are more involved than ever in the sale of their homes—and more stressed out.

Take Mark, for instance. He’s constantly monitoring how many views his house gets on Zillow and how it ranks compared to other homes coming on the market. Despite working with an agent, Mark is immersed—and stressed.

While Zillow’s findings show that 82 percent of sellers valued having an agent guide them through the process, America has entered a new era of how deeply involved homeowners are in selling their most expensive investment, Wacksman said.

Sonia Krishnan is a senior writer at Zillow Group. This article was originally published on the Premier Agent Resource Center on Feb. 16, 2018. See the full story here.

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Categories: Realty News

Weighing Risk and Reward: Crypto-Investing in Home Equity

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:50

For homeowners that are looking to access home equity funds, but don’t want to take out a second loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a reverse mortgage, there are not many options; however, blockchain technology is looking to change that by offering investment opportunities that are tied to a home’s equity and rising values.

Quantm Real Estate (quantmRE) is a membership-based real estate investment network built on blockchain technology. It allows the primary issuance and secondary trading of investment tokens backed by fractional equity interest in single-family homes. This means that quantmRE invests in a fraction of the home by paying the homeowner a pre-determined amount of money (USD) to later benefit from rising home values when the homeowner decides to sell.

Any funds gained are used by quantmRE to continue investing in single family homes—of which the portion purchased goes into a pool of other equity from other homeowners. The company also invests in non-homeowner occupied single-family homes that are held as investment properties.

“Having to borrow from a bank simply to access the wealth that you have built up in your home is deeply unsatisfactory,” said Matthew Sullivan, CEO and founder of quantmRE, in a statement. “Our ability to digitize the value of a homeowner’s equity and realize the locked-up value will solve a huge problem for homeowners worldwide. It’s time for people to be able to access more affordable homeownership options, flexibility and less financial risk.”

Although the company makes a consistent effort to stay away from the term loan—because the process lacks monthly payments and interest charges—it is, in fact, a type of loan that needs to be paid back. The company does not charge interest, but homeowners are required to pay more than the original sum provided as quantmRE becomes a partner with the owner of the property and is entitled to a fraction of home value gains—a lien is placed on the property to make sure of that.

So, what’s in it for homeowners? At the moment, fast cash without having to worry about monthly payments and a small chance to profit should the property values dramatically increase from the time of investment. Of course, quantmRE funds are on the line if the property doesn’t appreciate; but if it does, homeowners will typically receive less for the sale of their property than if they had not engaged in a shared equity contract in the first place.

The question is, do these blockchain investment properties make out better than the homeowners? That may be the case. QuantmRE will always make its initial investment amount back, and has the chance to profit from home value appreciation. Homeowners, on the other hand, are automatically in debt—a term quantmRE chooses to refuse—and are then on the line for an even larger balance should their home’s value rise.

The pros? Risk of volatility is reduced, as the tokens deal with only real estate assets instead of other less reliable crypto-investments. When it comes to home improvements, quantmRE is not entitled to a fraction of the property value gains earned from these updates. Homeowners can also pay quantmRE before the sale of their home; however, the company may add provisions to ensure they don’t take a loss in the case of unfavorable market conditions. Although quantmRE’s website states that tax consequences are not known until a future date, homeowners should speak to their tax advisors to confirm before participating.

As with most investments, profitability is determined on a case-by-case basis. While this is a chance for homeowners to participate in a blockchain-based investment, they should consult a financial advisor to determine if this is the right choice for them or if traditional equity-funded loans make more financial sense.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Prepaid Property Tax Debate Undecided

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:02

Just a few days shy from the 2018 tax deadline on April 17, and controversy surrounding the new tax law—the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—is leaving multitudes of homeowners uncertain about whether they should claim their prepaid property tax deductions. The new law imposes a $10,000 cap on state and local tax write-offs (previously unlimited) for both single filers and married couples, leaving tax consultants and taxpayers searching for ways to make the most of the decreased cap before it takes effect in next year’s filing.

Interpretation of the new law has been varied. The ruling clearly states that state and local income taxes are not eligible for prepayment. With no mention of property taxes, many homeowners rushed to prepay in December; however, on December 27, the IRS released a statement, clarifying that prepaid taxes are only deductible under certain circumstances—homeowners cannot deduct the prepayment for property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018.

The IRS provided the following examples:

“Assume County A assesses property tax on July 1, 2017 for the period July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018. On July 31, 2017, County A sends notices to residents notifying them of the assessment and billing the property tax in two installments with the first installment due Sept. 30, 2017 and the second installment due Jan. 31, 2018. Assuming taxpayer has paid the first installment in 2017, the taxpayer may choose to pay the second installment on Dec. 31, 2017 and may claim a deduction for this prepayment on the taxpayer’s 2017 return.”

“County B also assesses and bills its residents for property taxes on July 1, 2017, for the period July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018. County B intends to make the usual assessment in July 2018 for the period July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019; however, because county residents wish to prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017, County B has revised its computer systems to accept prepayment of property taxes for the 2018-2019 property tax year. Taxpayers who prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017 will not be allowed to deduct the prepayment on their federal tax returns because the county will not assess the property tax for the 2018-2019 tax year until July 1, 2018.”

Not all tax experts agree, and several members of the Ways & Means Committee are petitioning the IRS for higher deductions of reasonable estimates, according to the Wall Street Journal. The issue has not been resolved across the board, but with a low audit risk due to limitations on IRS resources, some taxpayers are urging their tax preparers to claim the deduction without disclosing the write-off on the required IRS form (8275).

“There is no reason to believe that Congress made a mistake in omitting property tax prepayments, and there was certainly no basis for the IRS to substitute its own policy judgements that departs from the act of Congress, especially when the consequence of the IRS’s determination may have cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” states the Ways & Means Committee letter.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

With Fast-Growing Prices, Gains in Equity Are Exceeding Minimum Wage

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:16

For many Americans, homeownership is a vehicle for wealth—an appreciating asset that, more often than not, earns a profit at resale.

In the market today, homeowners are all but promised to reap the rewards. According to an analysis recently released by Zillow, appreciation is so healthy that homes in many markets are producing more than a job for minimum wage would. Although the average homeowner is earning $7.09 in equity for every hour spent at work—16 cents less than the federal minimum wage—homeowners in half of the 50 largest markets are earning more in equity than their local minimum wage. The analysis assumed eight-hour days, or 2,087 hours of work per year.

“As home values continue to rise at a rapid clip, many homeowners have earned more in home equity over the past year than they would have by working a minimum wage job—and in some areas, more than they’d have earned even if they had a job paying a six-figure annual salary,” says Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow.

The areas earning the most are on the West Coast: San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. In San Francisco, appreciation has been $60.13 per hour worked; in San Jose, $99.81; and in Seattle, $54.24.

In the 25 largest markets:

“Equity ‘earnings’ are a lot different than the salary typically taken home on the first and fifteenth of each month; it is not money that accumulates directly into a checking account or that can be spent on daily needs,” Terrazas says. “Equity is only available once a homeowner chooses to sell a home, and even then is often subject to various taxes and other expenses. Still, particularly for homeowners that have already or are very close to paying off a mortgage, this supplemental ‘income’—especially if allowed to accumulate over several years—can essentially serve as a kind of second job that pays directly to a homeowner’s bottom line, without nearly as much actual work involved in collecting it.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Consumer Confidence Retracts

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 04/07/2018 - 00:00

Consumer confidence retracted in March, posting a 127.7 reading in the latest Consumer Confidence Index® from The Conference Board. February’s reading was 130.

The Expectations reading of the Index, which gauges how consumers feel about their business, employment and income prospects six months out, fell to 106.2; in addition, the Present Situation reading, which gauges how consumers feel about conditions currently, fell to 159.9.

“Consumer confidence declined moderately in March after reaching an 18-year high in February,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, in a statement. “Consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined slightly, with business conditions the primary reason for the moderation. Consumers’ short-term expectations also declined, including their outlook for the stock market, but overall expectations remain quite favorable. Despite the modest retreat in confidence, Index levels remain historically high and suggest further strong growth in the months ahead.”

Source: The Conference Board

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Categories: Realty News

5 Things a Federal Reserve Interest Rate Hike Means for Your Wallet

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 04/05/2018 - 15:37

(TNS)—Consumers tend to pay far more attention to the swings in their March Madness brackets than the latest moves by the Federal Reserve. The reality is the Fed’s action will have a more lasting impact on your wallet.

The Fed moved to raise rates by 25 basis points, as expected. The Fed’s benchmark interest rate increases to 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent.

“Job gains have been strong in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low,” the Fed said in its statement. “Recent data suggest that growth rates of household spending and business fixed investment have moderated from their strong fourth-quarter readings.”

Going forward, consumers will continue to see an uptick in the cost of borrowing on everything from credit cards to car loans to mortgages.

This is the first rate hike of 2018 but it’s not the last, according to economists. Another two or three rate hikes are anticipated for this year, according to Robert Dye, chief economist for Comerica Bank.

“Higher interest rates are negatives for most households,” Dye says.

The U.S. economy has much going for it on the upside—strong job growth, rising home values, some wage growth and higher consumer confidence, and a federal tax cut that is putting more money in many wallets.

“I think the positives will outweigh the negatives this year and we will see a strong year for non-auto consumer spending,” Dye says.

Here are some things to pay attention to now in a rising-rate world:

  1. Budgets, unlike college basketball brackets, aren’t likely to be busted.
    The theory is that the Fed has room to raise rates because the job market is so strong. As wages rise, consumers may not be under so much pressure to borrow or they’d be able to afford slightly higher rates.

Rates are expected to climb gradually, so consumers still have time to refinance or borrow earlier in the year to avoid higher rates later on down the road.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, says his expectation is that mortgage rates and car loan rates will be up by at least a half a percentage point a year from now. For savers, new CD rates are expected to be about a quarter percentage point higher a year from now.

“The economy is set to boom,” Zandi wrote in a report this week. “Growth is already strong—well above the economy’s potential—and will soon accelerate. A massive dose of fiscal stimulus measures, including both deficit-financed tax cuts and federal government spending increases, has just begun to hit the economy.”

  1. Consumers aren’t stressing out.
    Policy wonks and bankers keep a close eye on all things Fed, but a recent NerdWallet survey indicated that 62 percent of respondents claimed that they didn’t know the Fed raised rates last year. The Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

As of the last hike, the Federal Reserve will have raised rates six times since December 2015. The Fed raised rates three times in 2017, once in 2016 and once in 2015.

  1. Borrowing costs aren’t sky-high.
    Mortgage rates rose for a good part of 2018 on strong jobs reports. The average 30-year fixed rate has gone up to 4.54 percent from 4.15 percent in early January, according to Bankrate.com.

“Borrowing costs are still relatively low, but moving higher and that’s why consumers need to get out of variable-rate debt and lock in fixed rates to insulate themselves from further increases,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

McBride says he’s expecting mortgage rates to remain around 4.54 percent by year-end, but he’s expecting plenty of volatility. At some point, mortgage rates could drop significantly if geopolitical issues arise or the U.S. economy slows down.

As for other rates, McBride says he’d expect the average five-year car loan rate to be 4.85 percent by year-end, up from 4.46 percent now.

Consumers aren’t seeing anything close to the average 8 percent for a car loan consumers faced in January 2006, according to Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com.

Savers are likely to see higher rates, too. McBride expects the average rate on a one-year CD to be 0.7 percent by year-end, up from 0.49 percent now. The average rate on a five-year CD is expected to be 1.5 percent by year-end, up from 1.10 percent now.

  1. Ignoring the trend toward higher rates won’t help.
    As rates edge higher, savvy consumers will want to take extra care to shop around for loans and CDs.

Making sure to pay bills on time—and not get overburdened with debt—will help keep credit scores higher and borrowing rates lower for individuals.

The average rate for credit cards is the highest ever, at 16.84 percent—and those rates would edge even higher once the prime rate goes up, according to McBride.

“But consumers with good credit can still get 0 percent offers for purchases and balance transfers that last as long as 15 months,” McBride says.

The key, of course, involves maintaining a strong credit score.

Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive, notes that rates on car loans are near five-year highs, but rates remain relatively affordable, particularly for those with good credit.

“Higher lending costs impact car buyers in different ways,” Chesbrough says. “For customers with good credit, the monthly payment on a $35,000 five-year car loan will rise about $15 a month from a 1 percent interest rate increase.”

Consumers with lower credit scores are seeing much bigger rate hikes on the car loans they’re taking out.

“Assuming a continuation of credit tightening, subprime borrowers will see much larger cost differences,” Chesbrough says.

  1. Consumers can control some borrowing costs.
    Most credit cards have variable rates and the interest rate goes up every time the Fed raises rates. Most home equity lines of credit have a variable interest rate that’s tied to the prime rate. The prime rate goes up when the Fed raises short-term rates.

“Variable-rate debt, such as credit cards and home equity lines of credit, will only cost more as interest rates rise,” McBride says. “Transfer balances to low-rate cards, refinance into a fixed-rate home equity loan, or just pay down the debt aggressively—but do it now.”

©2018 Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at
www.freep.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

Home-Selling Can Come With $18,000-Plus Price Tag

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 15:37

Are you a homeowner listing your property for sale? Consider the expenses that are often overlooked by sellers: cleaning costs, moving costs, painting, staging…

“Even in the hottest housing markets in the country, selling a home takes time and costs money,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow, which assessed the costs that come with listing in the recently released “2018 Hidden Costs of Selling” report.

“From decluttering and staging to pre-inspections, agents and homeowners often spend months behind the scenes prepping a home—well before it’s listed on the market,” Wacksman says. “If you’re planning to sell this year, try to take some time to research what costs you may be responsible for and how they could affect your profit, or even budget for your next house.”

According to the analysis by Zillow, the average homeowner is on the hook for $18,342 when selling, with $4,985 allocated to prep projects and $13,357 going to the agent’s commission and sales taxes. The data was drawn from Thumbtack, which offers quotes for professional services.

Costs differ by market, the analysis found. In San Jose, Calif., where the median price is one million-plus, the average cost to sell is $81,507; in Cleveland, Ohio, where the median price is $137,600, the average cost to sell is $12,986. (Get the complete data for the largest markets.)

Carrying out improvements, though pricey, is worth it, says Lucas Puente, economist at Thumbtack.

“While there could be some initial sticker shock associated with the costs of selling a home, investing in home improvement projects like painting and home staging often proves to be very valuable in the long run,” Puente says. “Homeowners starting to think about selling should take time to research and budget for the projects that can ultimately help sell their home faster and at a higher value.”

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Buyers Have High Hopes for Spring

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sun, 03/25/2018 - 13:04

Getting Equipped to Win

Buyers are flocking to the market this spring, with high hopes even as they face a frenzy of multiple-offer situations, according to new realtor.com® research.

Currently, inventory is down 8.5 percent year-over-year. In addition to the buyers out in droves for the first time, many have been on the hunt for a while. In fact, 40 percent of buyers have been looking for more than seven months; another 34 percent have been searching for four to six months. Moreover, 35 percent are anticipating “a lot” of competition this season.

“We’re only a few weeks into March and already seeing the market heat up,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com. “Holdover buyers hoping for greener pastures this spring are likely to find sparse options that require them to pay top-dollar or make other concessions.”

To combat competition, buyers are employing strategic tactics, like checking in daily on listing portals and getting notifications about prices, as well as above-asking offers and having a down payment higher than 20 percent.

“The majority of buyers are aware of the tough competition they’re up against this spring,” Hale says. “Having been in the market awhile, they’ve likely lost a few homes to better offers, which has given them more time to save and up their bidding strategies.”

Even against hurdles, buyers are optimistic—an impressive 60 percent believe they will close in the next six months, and 34 percent believe they will close in four to six months.

The data comes from more than 1,000 responses to a survey by Toluna.

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Categories: Realty News

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