Are you watching the value of your home over time, and
seeing your equity rise? Are you planning to have your home appraised so you
can set an asking price for it, or borrow against its value?
A few simple fixes, upgrades and flourishes can help you
sustain your home equity over time, or help your home ace its next appraisal.
Here, we’ve put together a checklist of things you can do to get the most value
for your effort and investment.
Continue reading “Maintaining Your Home’s Value: Upgrades, Upkeep… And a Few Flourishes”
A credit score is part of each home buyer’s whole debt and
income picture. Lenders consider it a key factor when deciding to approve a
loan application. To put the score in context, a lender’s top questions are:
- Whether the borrower can repay the loan,
- Whether past credit history suggests that the
borrower will repay the loan.
The FICO® Score, which is the best known of several credit
scoring tools, comes from the Fair Isaac Corp. As we’ll see, mortgage
lenders can take other scores into account, too, and even tweak the factors in
the scores to come up with unique tests for loan approvals. The good news?
While mortgage lenders use their secret sauces to determine creditworthiness,
we, the applicants, give them the ingredients.
Here, we take a look at how credit scoring actually works,
and how to optimize your score.
Continue reading “Applying for a Mortgage? Get the Facts on Credit Scores—and How to Improve Yours”
Thinking of buying a foreclosed home? The lower prices for
foreclosures among the listings are certainly tempting! Even better, a lower
price translates to lower property taxes. But given the potential pitfalls, will
the deal be worthwhile?
Buyers’ experiences vary widely. States vary, too, in laws
and policies related to the way foreclosures are handled. That noted, here is a
general planning guide to buying a home in foreclosure.
Continue reading “What to Know Before You Buy a Foreclosed Home”
It’s not the easiest topic we cover, but we know foreclosure
sales will be on the uptrend as the U.S. works for financial recovery from a
global public health crisis. Many readers are currently stretched thin by their
mortgage obligations combined with other debts. For some, the financial stress
will be overwhelming. If any helpful arrangements offered by the government or
the lender cannot be sustained, homes can ultimately be taken back by the lending
Under your mortgage agreement, your home is collateral in
case you stop repaying the loan. So, in a default situation, a lender will follow
the process agreed upon in the contract, in order to sell the house and use the
sale proceeds to pay the loan debt and the administrative costs of foreclosure.
Many people are anticipating that possibility, depending on how feasible it is
for them to adjust to our abruptly changed economy.
For the owner motivated to keep the house, can filing for
bankruptcy help? It can, if the homeowner has a regular source of income. Let’s
look at how this works.
Continue reading “Can Filing for Bankruptcy Save a Home From Foreclosure?”
If your house is titled in your spouse’s name, what are your
rights in the home? The answer depends on several factors, starting with the
law and customs of your home state. Let’s take a look.
Continue reading “You’re Married. You’re Not on the House Title. What Are Your Rights?”
Homeowners pay taxes on their real estate to fund local
services. Renters, too, pay property taxes, as they’re rolled into monthly rent
charges. The property taxes we all pay go to sustain libraries and schools, emergency
services, environmental projects, sewer work and road maintenance.
How much is one property’s share? To determine this amount, an
assessor multiplies the local tax rate by a property’s value. Many assessors’
offices use discounted values of properties when coming up with their tax
assessments, not the full market price; still, property taxes often amount to
thousands of dollars each year. With local governments determining them, rates
vary from county to county, and big cities generally collect higher
property taxes than suburban developments or country towns do.
Home shoppers need to check the property tax when perusing a
listing, and include that tax in the cost of owning a particular home. Plus, they
should expect a possibly higher tax after buying the home, as there could be a
new assessment when the deed changes hands.
A homeowner’s mortgage account may hold money aside in
escrow. Of course, the owner pays into the escrow account — but this way, the
owner’s taxes will be continually kept up to date without the owner having to
remember to submit a payment each time local taxes are due.
Continue reading “How Not to Overpay Your Property Taxes”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, tech-savvy
folks aged 40 and under are far from immune to scams and frauds. And most scams
that hook them begin in an email. And the coronavirus
economy is creating even more opportunities for fraud risk.
A bogus email can appear to be a message from an ecommerce or
business site, or even from the government. Millennials are twice as likely as
people age 40 and older to report falling for a scam while browsing messages or
social media posts and clicking on one of the advertisements. There are phony giveaways,
the sale of tickets to fake events, and undelivered or counterfeit items. Young
adults are also the targets of education, employment, and investment scams.
Some of these tricks can be life-changing. While online
shopping fraud might involve just a few hundred dollars or less, millennials
also face real estate scams, such as organized wire fraud and mortgage relief
Continue reading “Fraud Watch: Real Estate Scams and the Millennial Home Shopper”
Bought a fixer-upper? Sprucing up your house to sell? Yes, a
building permit (and the fee that comes with it) might be mandatory for that
new fence, deck, or electrical work.
Small faucet or disposal fixes, interior painting and minor
stucco repair, as well as ordinary air conditioning maintenance, will probably need
no permit. Once you get beyond basic upkeep, though, you’ll want to call the
local building and licensing department first.
If you’re told a permit is necessary, consider calling a pro
to pull the permit and do the job. Why? A permit represents a legal
responsibility to precisely meet the code. Skipping a permit today could come
back to bite an owner tomorrow — if someone or something gets damaged, or when
the time comes to sell the home. A seller with home improvements on a survey or
title search, but without the right records, can face major problems. And sometimes
a permit makes the difference between getting homeowner’s insurance to cover a repair
Simply stated, it’s a violation of your local and state laws
to carry out work without a necessary permit. So, check with your local
building department when you’re making renovation plans. Get familiar with the
way the relevant inspection process works. Permit inspections at key phases of
the work prevent errors and solidify the value in your home improvements.
Without further ado, here are some of the most common
do-it-yourself projects that could need a permit. There are many more projects
that could, so consider this a brief intro to the topic. We hope it raises
awareness and helps guide our readers’ next major home improvement plan.
Continue reading “DIY Renovations? Everything You Wanted to Know (or Not) About Permits”
A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods,
Rachel Carson said. But it’s not the best time to live at the base of a
downward slope. And while homes built near water are popular and picturesque, buyers
longing for a river view are wise to look
closely and ask questions about potential water damage.
Floods are increasingly common. And flooding is the
costliest of natural disasters in the U.S., according to the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. FEMA’s system is being put to the test now, as rising
numbers of us live with storms and floods. Can flood insurance keep us protected?
Here’s what you need to know.
Continue reading “Inundated: The National Flood Insurance System”
Home shopping and investment property buying are rapidly
joining the digital arena. Can technology offer new models to alleviate bias in
The expanding property tech trend offers convenience in
mortgage and property shopping. It offers effective ways to market properties
for property owners and managers, now that marketing messages can be placed
online to show loan options for interested applicants to use instantly. But for
some home seekers, a big concern is how real estate tech profiles apartment and
mortgage loan applicants. Are apps, at least in some situations, having
racially skewed effects? Can the slant be changed to better fit fair housing
law and policy? These questions are now ripe.
Continue reading “Black Homeownership and Housing: Amid Persistent Discrimination, New Potential for Change”