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Real Estate and Home

The 2011 Economic Stimulus: Mortgage Refinancing

by Luke Landes
Mortgage Refinance

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, the 2009 economic stimulus bill, provided an opportunity for homeowners in trouble to qualify for mortgage modifications. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the “Making Home Affordable” provided support for lenders who worked with homeowners. Part of the requirement for qualifying for the modification program is ... Continue reading this article…

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Appeal Your House’s Assessment to Lower Your Property Tax Bill

by Luke Landes

The comparison of owning a home in New Jersey or Long Island with owning a home in New York City shows that the city has one financial advantage: property taxes. In New Jersey, it’s hard to discuss the cost of owning a home without talking about property taxes. With high property tax rates, it’s worthwhile ... Continue reading this article…

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Quicken Loans Review

by Luke Landes

For the time being, S&P’s downgrade on United States debt has yet to produce an increase in mortgage interest rates as some predicted. Borrowers can still find mortgage loans for such a low cost that if they qualify, low interest rates combined with lower house prices would make owning a house more affordable than ever. ... Continue reading this article…

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6% Real Estate Commission

by Luke Landes
House for sale

When selling a house with the help of a real estate agent, that 6 percent real estate commission can eat into any profit the seller might receive from the sale. In today’s depressed real estate market, that fee could even result in an overall loss. Even with the funny accounting used when people sell their ... Continue reading this article…

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The Benefits of Owning a Condo

by Luke Landes
Condo

A few years ago, I declared I would (probably) never buy a condominium. I still believe this to be true. All my adult life, I’ve lived in rented apartments. Some have been nice, some have been not so nice. My least favorite living arrangement was a railroad apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was ... Continue reading this article…

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Wells Fargo Fined For Misleading Customers and Falsifying Documents

by Luke Landes

It always pays to shop around. If more mortgage customers didn’t choose to borrow from the trusted institution that held their savings and checking accounts without question, it seems that these customers could have found lower interest rates, particularly if these borrowers were customers of Wells Fargo. The Federal Reserve is alleging that between 2004 ... Continue reading this article…

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Why Sellers Overestimate the Value of Their Houses

by Luke Landes

When calculating my net worth, I tend to take a conservative approach. Where certain balances are not exact, like the value of my car, I tend to assume the value is lower than what it might be. This way, there are no dangerous surprises if I needed to convert an asset like that into cash ... Continue reading this article…

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Excellent Credit, Denied Mortgage

by Luke Landes

Even with a credit score above 800, it’s still possible to be denied for a mortgage. Looking at the mortgage industry as a whole, for a period of time, lenders were too lax, offering mortgages practically regardless of qualifications. The pendulum has swung the other way, and even qualified individuals and families are having a ... Continue reading this article…

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Reverse Mortgages

by Luke Landes
Old house

Homeowners over the age of 62 have a unique option available for accessing cash. Reverse mortgages can help seniors access home equity without having to make monthly payments to repay a loan. When a qualifying homeowner has paid off a mortgage in full, or is very close to paying off a mortgage, a reverse mortgage ... Continue reading this article…

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Move Where Cost of Living Is Low

by Luke Landes

When living on a budget, there are circumstances where it might make sense to move to a location that makes living more affordable. Living in Manhattan, for example, can be a struggle for anyone earning under six figures of income each year. It’s possible, of course, but other areas of the country offer better housing ... Continue reading this article…

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Family Earning $225k Annually, No Emergency Fund

by Luke Landes

Money Magazine featured a story about Rick and Amy Mendez, a couple in their early forties with two children, earning an income of $225,000. They have a healthy retirement plan balance, and they needed to borrow from their 401(k) to pay for an emergency. Here is a family of four earning $225,000 a year, with ... Continue reading this article…

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Three Big Financial Mistakes That Could Be Devastating

by Luke Landes

A few years ago, a friend of mine quit his job at a bank to focus on his own company. That can be a risky life change by itself, but in addition to his change in income, he and his wife were expanding their family. While I’m sure they would have been fine remaining in ... Continue reading this article…

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Are You Still Waiting for the Homebuyer Tax Credit?

by Luke Landes
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The first-time homebuyer tax credit was a major incentive that the government, in collaboration with the real estate industry, initiated to stimulate the economy. It’s understood that the tax incentive worked in the short-term, encouraging more home purchases for a period of time that continued to be expanded by Congress. Nevertheless, the housing market continues ... Continue reading this article…

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Reverse Foreclosure: Man Seizes Bank of America’s Assets

by Luke Landes

Imagine this: You, accompanied by the sheriff’s deputies, walk into your local Bank of America branch. You tell the sheriff to remove cash from the tellers’ drawers and seize the branch’s furniture and computers. It’s like a dream come true, especially for someone who has been on the receiving end of a bank’s foreclosure. Now ... Continue reading this article…

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A Housing Market Recovery in the Distant Future?

by Luke Landes

Several times over the past few years, I’ve asked myself whether I should take advantage of the lower prices for real estate, put my renting history to rest, and buy a house. I’ve brought up the topic several times on Consumerism Commentary, as well. Every time the news media comes out with another wave of ... Continue reading this article…

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Federal Government Sues Deutsche Bank for Mortgages

by Luke Landes

As the real estate market was starting to crumble, more banks were using the Federal Housing Authority’s guarantees to continue offering mortgage loans, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were tightening the reins on their guarantees. This was common practice among banks. With loans fully backed by the FHA and therefore the United States government, ... Continue reading this article…

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Florida’s Beach Property Boom: A Real Estate Lesson

by Dr. Dean Burke

This is a guest article by Dr. Dean Burke, author of The Millionaire Nurse Blog. Many years ago, someone I knew was fascinated with the real estate market in Florida, and he set up an investment company to allow others to invest through him. He promised his investors 20 percent returns. Needless to say, I didn’t ... Continue reading this article…

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Five Reasons I’m Happy I Rent

by AmberBalanced
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This is a guest article by Amber, the writer behind Blonde and Balanced, a blog about striking a balance in life, health, and money. Blonde and Balanced was included in my list of personal finance blogs you can trust. Old-school financial gurus sometimes claim that renting is wasted money or that renting doesn’t provide a ... Continue reading this article…

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The Psychology of Selling a House for a Loss

by Luke Landes

There are two reasons a potential home seller might balk at selling his house in a down market. First, if the value of the house has decreased past the amount he owes on the mortgage, he’s underwater, and would owe money to the bank after he sells. But even if he has paid off the ... Continue reading this article…

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Advantages of Buying a House With Cash

by Luke Landes
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The decision of whether to buy a house with cash or take out a mortgage may be one that most people never have to face. For the most part, American society is comfortable with the idea of going in debt to buy a house for two reasons. First, the value of a house is expected ... Continue reading this article…

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