The Rise and Rise of Down Payments

A down payment is the portion of a home’s purchase price the mortgage borrower pays upfront. You knew that. But did you know the median down payment for U.S. homebuyers is now more than $55K+? That’s remarkable. It was less than $45K just last year.

Buyers often try to put 20% of the purchase price down. That’s not always feasible, and Redfin’s latest analysis shows today’s typical homebuyer putting about 15% down. Again, big rise from last year, when the typical down payment was 10%.  In some areas, a normal down payment is now well over the 20% mark.

What’s the impact of all this on deed transactions?

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I Inherited a Home. Should I Sell It, or Rent It Out?

Many heirs receive real estate because it’s a valuable asset — not necessarily because they need the homes to live in. So, for the heir who doesn’t want to live in the inherited home, what’s the best decision to make? Rent or sell the home?

The answer is clear: It all depends! It’ll turn on the precise blend of the heir’s circumstances and the real estate market.

While we have no blanket best answer for all readers and all markets, we can certainly go over the factors an heir would want to consider.

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Reporting a Home Sale? What to Know About Capital Gains Tax (Even If You’re Exempt)

Hopeful buyers have struggled on and on with real estate price surges. Those who have managed to break into this market have watched their home values surge, too.

When these homeowners decide to sell, the profits they accumulated in their homes are known to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as capital gains.

People who sold their homes in 2023 have received Form 1099-S from their brokers. They’re ready to file it, to declare proceeds from the sale of a home. Most of these sellers will be glad to know they’ll get to keep their gains.

Here, we take a look at what home sellers should know — even if their profits won’t be taxed.

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Can’t Wait to Move. (If Only We Could Pack Up Our Low Mortgage Rate and Take It With Us!)

Some people wish they could move, but hesitate to sell their current homes. They might be thinking:

“I’d gladly sell my home right now, if only I could shift the remaining 25 years of my 4%-interest mortgage to the next house I buy! (Oh, well.)”

“Giving up our 3% rate and getting a new mortgage at 6.9% is bumming us out. Why can’t U.S. homeowners have portable mortgage options?”

Who can blame them for wishing? Indeed, Canada, Britain, Australia and some EU countries offer portable mortgages as an option. These loans can be peeled off a borrower’s current home, and applied to the purchase of a different property.

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It’s Election Year. How Will This Affect Sellers and Buyers?

As we enter an election year the current administration points to how strong the economy is. But there’s a disconnect between these regular public assurances and people’s life experiences. So many are either locked into their current mortgages or just completely sidelined from the market.

This is no joke: High mortgage rates. Wages lagging while housing prices soar. The whole environment where homeownership is treated as a privilege rather than a norm. Recently, Fortune highlighted a daunting challenge for prospective U.S. real estate buyers: to afford a home in today’s market, they need an annual income increase of almost $50,000 compared to their pre-pandemic earnings.

So, will the runup to the election bring any opportunities to current owners and hopeful buyers?

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Real Property Basics: What Is a Clear Title?

A clear title. The term is commonly used to mean the deed holder can prove ownership, unquestionably. To verify that, a title company can conduct a title search.

Other parties’ claims on the title are called title defects, or clouds on title.

What do these claims look like? They might be mortgage liens, court judgments, contracts with renters, solar contracts, or any agreements to allow access to part of the property. There could be unpaid taxes in the past, claims by relatives involving their rights in foreclosures or inheritances, even liens for fees and fines imposed by homeowners’ associations.

Having a clear title matters to a homeowner. Selling isn’t an option while there are liens or claims against the title. Straightforward enough… But there are some finer points worth knowing.

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State of the Home Buyer: White House Promotes New Set of Tax Credits

Housing affordability remains out of reach for many in the U.S. population today. What’s the matter?

  • Mortgage interest rates haven’t eased in any kind of significant way so far this year. Maybe in June…
  • More than half of U.S. renters report struggling to pay for housing every month.
  • Some would like to buy their own homes, but at this point call that a dream.

Joe Biden’s March 2024 State of the Union address laid out the latest plan to help. Here’s an update on the issue, and how the administration intends to deal with it.

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Bitcoin Creating New Home Buyers? Why We’re Watching the Crypto Effect on Real Estate Markets

Bitcoin is now available from mainstream financial managers. Suddenly, it’s a significant part of U.S. investment and retirement portfolios. So, bitcoin is joining real estate as an asset class.

At this point, the leading cryptocurrency can influence the costs of housing in some markets. Its rise even allows some people to buy their first homes.

Let’s take a closer look.

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Anti-Money Laundering: Federal Rule Coming to Track Real Estate Cash

The federal government wants all-cash home buyers to be easy to find.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is part of the U.S. Treasury Department. FinCEN has proposed a new reporting rule. It wants real estate professionals to submit forms with details about cash sales when homes are sold to legal entities — like LLCs and trusts.

The goal? Making it hard for criminals to hide behind legal entities when they launder money from their crimes. The rule would make it much easier for investigators to track down people involved in the transfers of homes for cash.

The rule would not require the reporting of sales to individuals. It would affect some residential real estate investors who plan to make cash offers. But it actually matters to everyone. Take a Look.

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Can We Record Deeds on the Blockchain?

Blockchain, the underlying technology of cryptocurrency, is a digital recording system, leading innovators to wonder if it could solve challenges in deed recording.

The U.S. deed recording system is tried and true. At the same time, title defects and tangled titles are much too common. Additionally, deed fraud harms vulnerable homeowners..

What if our title system moved to the blockchain? A “blocktitle” system, as Dawson Sanders at the University of Southern California calls it, would transform real estate transactions.

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