Check on That Empty House.

Vacant real estate attracting title crooks.

Left Unoccupied?

Clever crooks in Ohio, Maine, and many other regions are swindling people out of their homes by recording fraudulent quitclaim deeds. They’re doing it now, and they’ve been doing it for years. But now, property values have exploded. The stakes in real estate are higher than ever before. That makes the abuse of quitclaim deeds extremely appealing to house thieves.

Quitclaim deeds are documents that don’t require a seller’s warranty of title. Often, quitclaims are used to a house title between co-owners or people who trust each other and know the history of the title.

But there are shady characters out there who seize upon the quitclaim deed to sign vacant property over to themselves. And we all need to be aware of how they work.

Continue reading “Check on That Empty House.”

Property Tax Assessments Rising Again in 2022-2023

Image of hundred dollar bills in US currency arranged on a table made to represent property tax increases.

You Might Be Eligible for Tax Breaks

If you’re a homeowner, or you’re in the market to buy a home, the last thing you want to hear about is rising property taxes. But check those bills.

Even though we expect a slowdown throughout the rest of the year and beyond, the 2022 real estate market is still going strong. And the sky-high real estate values mean taxes are up — again.

Nationwide, many people have recently received their appraisal notices in the mail. What they see will vary by location. Many local tax officials discount their property assessments, so the homeowner may not be taxed on the full market value. Yet tax bills can be in the thousands yearly in some areas.

Continue reading “Property Tax Assessments Rising Again in 2022-2023”

What’s a Hardship Affidavit?

Person talking on the phone about their hardship affidavit

Finding Mortgage Relief Options

A homeowner’s hardship affidavit or hardship letter is a formal request to modify a home loan, to assist the mortgage borrower through financial problems.

Some lenders don’t require the document. Their websites guide the borrower through the loan change request without asking for a form or letter. But many lenders, including those backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, publish an official form.

Continue reading “What’s a Hardship Affidavit?”

How Emerging Technology Could Change Our Future Home Lives

Emerging technology in real estate

Floating Towns and Flying Cars?

We’ve witnessed astounding high-tech changes in our lifetimes so far. The internet, and then the phones and apps people have invented for it, all jump to mind. Indeed, technology is considered the main growth sector powering today’s financial systems.

What’s next? Here are some fantastic — and reportedly possible — elements of our future lives at home.

Continue reading “How Emerging Technology Could Change Our Future Home Lives”

Tap Into Your Property’s Value Without Selling Your Home

Options at Retirement Age and Earlier

Retirement and your real estate's value

The closer we get to retirement age, the more we start thinking about how to avoid pulling from our retirement accounts too early or too much. For many homeowners, home equity is starting to look like a key retirement planning resource. 

What’s the best way to tap into it? Selling for a profit and downsizing is one way. But when home prices are high, it’s not easy to buy another home.

In a reverse mortgage, the lender releases monthly payments to the homeowner. This can keep owners in their homes, free up spending money, and preserve retirement accounts. The homeowner is borrowing the money with the property value as collateral. This means receiving a sum of money or a fixed monthly payment. The full payoff is due at the time of the borrower’s death or at the time the house is sold. As the homeowner doesn’t pay it back monthly, what happens is the home’s value is coming out to the owner in cash that the owner’s estate will address after death. At that time, the beneficiaries will refinance or sell the home to pay off the reverse mortgage.

Continue reading “Tap Into Your Property’s Value Without Selling Your Home”

Can Buying a Home Offset Inflation?

As the Economy Gets More Complicated…

person holding money

We’re not going to hide the ball — the short answer is yes. Buying a home is a very good way to build a store of potentially lifetime value and stay a step ahead of inflation.

Inflation refers to the way a dollar buys less as time goes on. Home prices outpace the purchasing power of dollars. Rental prices, too, suck up more and more money. And now, we’re seeing inflation in the interest charges on mortgage loans.

But a home’s property value can offset those higher costs. Here’s how the offset works. With interest rates still relatively low (around 5% is still low!), a buyer can get a mortgage and cancel out the interest paid as the home value rises. In that sense, home buyers put inflation on their side.

And that’s why buying a piece of property is called a hedge against inflation. As inflation keeps rising, and mortgage rates follow that upward climb, buyers who get a set mortgage rate today can both (a) avoid paying higher rates tomorrow, plus (b) avoid rent payments, which (in most cases) are regularly adjusted upward for inflation. And that’s not all. The owner gets to claim mortgage interest deductions on federal taxes, too.

Continue reading “Can Buying a Home Offset Inflation?”

Now They’re Talking About a Recession

How does a recession affect the housing market

What Home Sellers and Buyers Should Know

If you’re getting whiplash from the headlines about the economy, no wonder. Why are we now hearing about a looming recession?

First, the keyword is looming — not immediate. This is not expected to happen for another year and a half or so. Second, it’s not expected to be severe.

Here’s more on what we know so far.

Continue reading “Now They’re Talking About a Recession”

I Think My Mortgage Is Falling Through

Frustrated person realizing their mortgage application is not going well.

What Should I Do Now?

When the mortgage company rep says your credit check went well and your loan application is pre-approved, it’s a great day. You can go out into the world knowing just how much house you can buy. You can make offers a seller will take seriously.

As hopeful buyers are sometimes startled to learn, though, a final approval isn’t a sure thing yet. In the process of underwriting your loan, a number of things can come up to derail the closing.

Final approval doesn’t occur until you’ve found a specific home to buy. When a seller accepts your offer, you apply for a specific loan, and the underwriter gets to work.

Continue reading “I Think My Mortgage Is Falling Through”

Thinking About an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage in 2022?

Stacks of coins representing what an adjustable rate mortgage can cost you in 2022

Consider the Risk

Even though mortgage interest rates are still (historically speaking) quite low, they’re headed back up.

On April 14, 2022, Freddie Mac rang the alarm on its Mortgage Rates page:

This week, mortgage rates averaged five percent for the first time in over a decade. As Americans contend with historically high inflation, the combination of rising mortgage rates, elevated home prices and tight inventory are making the pursuit of homeownership the most expensive in a generation.

With prices so high, buyers may be tempted to consider adjustable-rate loans with bargain rates.

Wondering whether an alternative to a fixed-rate mortgage could be worth it? Read on.

Continue reading “Thinking About an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage in 2022?”