Reverse Mortgages: Weighing the Risks

Filed under: Advice, Buying, Financing, Home Equity ShutterstockThe reverse mortgage is a seductively simple value proposition. By Mitchell D. Weiss You’ve seen them on TV and heard them on the radio. They may be yesterday’s screen stars, but they’re today’s pitchmen for one of the hottest financial products that baby boomers of a certain age and financial circumstance want: the reverse mortgage. According to studies performed by Fidelity Investments and the Charles Schwab Corporation, 48 percent of the 10,000 boomers who are turning 65 every day of the week are woefully unprepared for retirement. In fact, 60 percent have less than $100,000 in the bank. What many of them do have, however, is a big, fat and typically underleveraged asset:...

5 Kinds of People Who Shouldn’t Be Landlords

Filed under: Advice, Buying, Investing, Renting ShutterstockIf your weekends are reserved solely for “me” time, you should skip the idea of investing in real estate. By Leonard Baron Owning rental property can be a great long-term wealth-building tool that is available even to individuals of very modest means. Plus, it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to get started on the road to landlordship. But even though most people have the ability to do it, it doesn’t mean they should do it. Being a property investor is hard work. It’s time consuming, stressful and it can be financially ruinous. Here are some traits and reasons that individuals should not invest in real estate and become a landlord. Those Who Are Lazy and Don’t...

U.S. Housing Market Seeing Signs of a Spring Thaw

Filed under: News, Buying, Economy, Selling The Associated PressApplications for home loans are at their highest point in two months. By Lewis Krauskopf and Michelle Conlin In Indianapolis, an open house event tends to draw 10 people on a good day. But after the snowiest winter on record for the U.S. Midwestern city, prospective homebuyers were champing at the bit: 45 people came to an open house late last month, according to mortgage executive Greg Block. “The Realtor was dumbfounded,” said Block, vice president of lending at Austin, Texas-based Open Mortgages, which has branches near Indianapolis. “The winters were so brutal across the country that people just hunkered down and didn’t do anything.” As much of the United States...

Apartment Vacancy Rate Falls to 4% in U.S.

Filed under: News, Investing, Renting Shutterstock“Demand for apartments is seemingly insatiable.” By Michelle Conlin The U.S. apartment vacancy rate fell to 4 percent in the first quarter of 2014 as the market’s recovery stretched into its fourth year, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc. The vacancy rate now stands 400 basis points below its peak of 8 percent at the end of 2009. Rents remain at record-high nominal levels, although labor market weakness is limiting the ability of landlords to jack up rents at an even faster pace. “To be sure, landlords are not raising rents at this relatively slow pace out of the kindness of their hearts,” said Reis senior economist and associate director of research Ryan Severino....

Zillow Mortgage Marketplace: 30-Year Fixed Rates Fall Back

Filed under: News, Buying, Financing, Refinancing Zillow By Alexa Fiander Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell last week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgage Marketplace at 4.25 percent, down from 4.27 percent at this same time last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate peaked on Wednesday at 4.29 percent before falling to 4.20 percent, where rates hovered for the remainder of the week. (See the complete chart below.) “Rates dropped last week, erasing most of the run-up triggered previously by the Fed’s surprisingly aggressive guidance on plans to increase the Federal Funds Rate,” said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. “We expect rates to remain fairly steady this week, not making any...

For Rent: Houses Under 500 Square Feet

Filed under: News, Renting ZillowThis cozy cabin at 4304 Brush Hill Road in Nashville has a rustic feel with a water mill and simple furnishings. By Catherine Sherman With high rents in several parts of the country, it’s not uncommon to find apartments measuring under 500 square feet. According to tiny housing expert Ryan Mitchell, there’s also demand for small, single-family rentals. Most are what he calls “accessory dwelling units” built to the side of a larger property; others are secluded retreats offering a simpler way of life, or vacation cottages in coveted, high-priced areas. “People are evolving in terms of their housing needs,” Mitchell said. “They are looking for smaller options.” Here’s a look at...

What It Means to Have a Tax Lien

Filed under: Advice, Credit ShutterstockPeople have lost homes for owing just a few hundred dollars in back county and city taxes. By Geoff Williams It’s one of the scarier terms in the Internal Revenue Service’s lexicon: tax lien. If you owe taxes and haven’t been able to pay them, you may have one — or live in fear of one. So what does it mean to have a tax lien attached to your property? Here’s what you need to know: What is a tax lien? Simply put, it’s a document filed with the county government alerting the general public that you have an unpaid debt. If the property is sold, the government debt you owe will be paid and you’ll get the rest of the money. The types of tax liens vary. You could have a federal tax lien...