Top 10 Real Estate Markets to Buy a Home With Cash

Last Updated Sep 13, 2011 12:42 PM EDT According to Jonathan Smoke, executive director of research for Hanley Wood's Housing Intelligence the paradigm for the traditional financing of a home purchase may be obsolete. In a post-housing bubble economy, Smoke observes the "model of securing financing is starting to shift." At a time when a top-drawer FICO credit score and 30 percent down might still leave without you a bank loan, more and more home buyers and real estate investors are forgoing the mortgage altogether and turning to the payment everyone accepts: cash. Smoke and his group have been compiling data which documents a huge increase in the number of cash transactions between the 12 months ending in June 2007, and the same time frame concluding in June 2011. While a number of these cash-flush buyers are overseas investors looking to maximize low prices and a weakened dollar, Smoke also points to the "the big story of the aging Baby Boomers" who are leveraging investment and retirement accounts to make second or vacation home acquisitions. "A number of these transactions are coded as buyers who are not living in the homes as their primary residence," says Smoke. Smoke is quick to point out the up and downsides to this emerging pattern: "This trend is both a reflection of opportunity, the chance to purchase a desirable property at a much lower cost, as well as necessity," in the lack of available credit that forces buyers to deplete cash reserves. We may not know how sustainable the cash trend is, given there are only so many buyers with the means to purchase in this manner. And with a consistently high unemployment rate dogging the nation, coupled with alarming levels of consumer distress, this fad could go the way of the Edsel in short order. But until we see how the pattern plays out, click through the following slideshow to uncover the Top 10 Markets to Buy a Home with Cash. Continue Reading

Buying a house — with a 3 percent down payment

WASHINGTON - Some Americans will soon be able to buy a home with a down payment as low as 3 percent, compared with the current minimum of 5 percent, the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac say. The companies announced new lending guidelines on Monday designed to help more low-income and first-time buyers afford homes. Millions of Americans lost their savings or no longer had the income needed to set aside money for a home in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession. That has held down the sales of houses and condominiums and slowed the economic recovery. The guidelines are designed to prevent the kind of reckless lending that fueled a housing bubble and eventually triggered the recession. Borrowers must have enough income to repay loans on a monthly basis for homes that would be their main residence. This guideline intends to limit financial speculation. "These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices," Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said in a statement. The FHFA oversees Fannie and Freddie, which have been under government control since 2008 because of the housing bust. Watt had announced in October that Fannie and Freddie had reached an agreement with major banks to expand lending. The FHFA declined Monday to say how many borrowers might benefit from having a 3 percent down payment. The standard down payment for mortgages insured through Fannie and Freddie has been 20 percent. That would mean that a first-time buyer would need $41,600 in cash to purchase a median-priced home of $208,300, according to the National Association of Realtors. Just 29 percent of home purchases in October went to first-time buyers, compared with a historic average of 40 percent, the Realtors reported. The new loans would be fixed-rate mortgages of up to 30 years for primary residences, though some policies vary between the Continue Reading

Making the Mental Switch From Employee to Owner Is Crucial to Succeeding With a Franchise

Change this one habit, and change everything in your life. Tom Scarda Published 8:00 am, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 Photo: PeopleImages | Getty Images Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: PeopleImages | Getty Images Making the Mental Switch From Employee to Owner Is Crucial to Succeeding With a Franchise 1 / 1 Back to Gallery When someone invests in a tried and true franchised business that has a track record, they essentially bought themselves a winning lottery ticket. However, have you ever read about lottery winners? Stats show that the overwhelming majority of lottery winners are broke or back to where they started financially within two years of winning the bonanza. When investing in anything, scrutiny and due diligence is paramount, of course. Investing in a franchise is one of the most informationally-comprehensive investments you can make, as far as I can tell. Because of the Federal Trade Commission’s rules on selling franchises in the United States and their requirement that every franchise have a Franchise Disclosure Document, which makes a franchise corporate entity totally transparent for the investor, a buyer has an unprecedented amount of information to help make a well-informed and educated decision on any franchise opportunity. Related: The 3 Biggest Lessons in Franchasing, According to the Industry's Top Podcasters In addition, buyers are encouraged by the franchise company to take time and call as many franchise owners in their system as they’d like. Investors have the opportunity to hear from people in the trenches about how their business is going and whether the franchise company is helping them to succeed in their market. Potential franchisees may even talk to people who have closed their business in the preceding two years. (If Continue Reading

This company wants to totally change the way you sell your house in Charlotte

Sean Black thinks selling your house and buying a new one should be as easy as trading in a used car at the dealership. Black, one of the founders of real estate information giant Trulia, is the CEO of, an online sales platform that’s launching in Charlotte this week. The company, which got its start in Atlanta, is offering a different spin on real estate sales, one that the company hopes will slash costs and cut out some of the real estate agents people are used to using. “It seems odd now, or maybe hard to imagine, but I think in five years it will be hard to imagine the way it is now,” said Black, in an interview Tuesday at the company’s uptown Charlotte offices. In Atlanta, has facilitated more than 2,000 transactions since starting in 2016. Charlotte is the company’s second market as part of a planned national expansion. The company is geared towards buyers who need to sell their house to afford the next one, a majority of the market. Here’s what does: ▪ When a homeowner wants to sell, they plug in their information and get an estimate of its worth online, using the same sort of data that Trulia and Zillow have compiled. An inspector comes out and confirms the price with an in-person visit. ▪ Then, helps the seller find their next house. The company buys it, with cash, and relocates the seller. then fixes up the old house as needed, markets it, sells the house and settles up with the original owner. ▪ Because makes all-cash bids on the houses it purchases for home-sellers, Black said the company is often able to win bidding wars – a critical selling point in a tight market like Charlotte where there’s not enough inventory to meet demand. “We’re not contingent on a mortgage or your house selling,” said Black. “We’re a sure thing.” The company has started hiring real estate agents in Continue Reading

He knows when to hold ’em — and cashes in

Hubbard, 23, of Winona, Minn., is a professional online poker player — one of the few people who actually make a living at it. Poker’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with the growth of online poker rooms and TV coverage of poker tournaments. The consulting firm Christiansen Capital Advisors, which specializes in analysis of professional gambling, projects that Internet gambling revenue may total $18 billion in 2007. While the National League of Poker estimates that thousands of people nationwide are profiting from online play, the average player is more likely to become a gambling addict than he is to suddenly roll in the dough. A spokesperson for Gamblers Anonymous said that 3 to 5 percent of gamblers are known to eventually become addicts, and the actual number may be three times as high. Among the few online poker players who stay in the black comes an occasional wild success story like Hubbard’s. Ranked as the world’s No. 1 player in the six-man single table tournament (“sit-n-go”), he belongs to the top poker site’s Supernova Elite club, a ranking so difficult to achieve that it currently has only four members. Hubbard’s success is no surprise to friend and fellow poker player Brandon Misfud, who has followed his pal’s career closely. “He is one of the two best sit-n-go players, and without question the best six-man sit-and-go player in the world,” Misfud said, citing Hubbard’s top ranking on, a site that ranks online players based on total profit.  “It takes dedication, commitment and a lot of practice to be as good as he is.” Having the nerve to lose The dark-haired Hubbard’s medium-size build and quiet, serious demeanor belie the sarcastic wit and determined mentality that those close to him are familiar with. He also possesses a deep knowledge of his career, gained through intense study. Hubbard credits his Continue Reading

Bitcoin is booming in Miami. But can you buy a house with it?

They gathered in downtown Miami — an estimated 4,350 Bitcoin believers — to trade pitches for apps and start-ups. They discussed and debated trends in cryptocurrency. They speculated about the volatility of Bitcoin, which shot up in value from $900 to $19,000 over the course of 2017 and is currently hovering around the $10,000 mark. But despite the national stir created last fall when a $544,500 Edgewater condo was listed for sale in “Bitcoin only,” none of the panels or presentations at Miami’s sixth annual North American Bitcoin Conference focused on real estate. Although Bitcoin is the oldest and best-known of the nearly 1,500 kinds of cryptocurrencies currently available, real estate developers, brokers and analysts are cool on its use in an industry that is literally defined by physical assets. In other words, if you’re hunting for a home, don’t worry that you’ll get outbid by a buyer offering cryptocurrency. At least not yet. “I think it’s fine to buy Bitcoin, because high risks lead to high returns, and I believe in capitalism,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. “But when you come to buy my house, I’m going to need a currency that I can use to buy milk at the grocery store. I wouldn’t accept junk bonds or a lottery ticket as a payment. Any currency that drops 45 percent in value within three months, like Bitcoin has done, is not a currency that is stable enough for large transactions.” According to Redfin, only 134 out of the site’s total 568,000 listings in December 2017 — a miniscule .03 percent — included a Bitcoin mention. Created in 2009, Bitcoin is digital currency tracked on decentralized ledgers — called blockchains — that keep a real-time, immutable record of every transaction made around the world. Buyer and seller interact directly. Bitcoins can be purchased through a digital Continue Reading

Formerly homeless Kansas City man buys house, car after online fund-raiser

Kansas City's honest beggar is moving on up after returning the engagement ring a woman accidentally left in his cup. Billy Ray Harris was able to buy house and car after donors rewarded his act with more than $190,000 in online gifts. "When I think of the past, I think, 'Thank God it's over,'" he told the "Today" show. "I mean, I feel human now." Harris was living on the streets of Kansas City, Mo., in February when Sarah Darling dropped a few coins and her diamond and platinum ring in his cup. Neither noticed until later. Harris said a jeweler offered him $4,000 for the ring, but he decided he couldn't sell it. He instead returned the jewelry the next day. "I'm no saint, but I'm no devil either," Harris said. Darling gave Harris all the cash she had on her, and she and her husband, Bill Krejci, set up a donation drive online. When the campaign ended in April, more than 8,300 people had donated a total of $191,745. A lawyer helped Harris set up a trust to manage the money. The former beggar bought a Volkswagen Beetle and put a down payment on a fixer-upper of a house. He's doing the repairs himself. Harris has also reunited with long-lost family members who saw his story on television. They had lost contact in the 1990s and thought he might be dead. Darling and Krejci have kept in touch with Harris, checking in and taking him to see Kansas City Royals baseball games. The couple now has a baby girl and Darling said Harris has given her a lesson to pass on to her daughter. "I've talked to other mothers about this," Darling said. "It gives (other moms) a real tangible story of really teaching the kind of the difference between what's wrong and what's right." Harris said he's thankful for all the changes. "This is what they call the American Dream," he said. "I want to thank all the people that helped me out. I want them to see where all their efforts, blessings and Continue Reading

Bristol Palin buys house in Arizona, rumors abound she may attend ASU

It appears Bristol Palin has moved to the lower 48 – and may even be going to college there. The former Alaskan governor's daughter dropped $172,000 in cash for a 5-bedroom house in Maricopa, Arizona, TMZ first reported. "I'm not sure why she wanted to buy that home, but we are real happy for her," Michael Smith, who owned the house with his wife, told The Arizona Republic. "She seems like a nice girl. We're excited for her." The 20-year-old single mom was also telling friends she was thinking about enrolling in college in Arizona, reported. The website speculated that she’s thinking about enrolling at Arizona State – the same school that denied President Obama an honorary degree when he spoke there. The 3,900 sq.-foot estate was built in 2006 and originally sold for $329,560, the AP reported. But after the housing market crashed, the two-bedroom house went into foreclosure and was sold to the Smiths for about a third of that price. Arizona is also notably the home state of John McCain, her mother's running mate in the 2008 election. Palin recently finished competing on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and spends her time traveling around the country encouraging teens to practice abstinence. No one from the Palin camp has publicly commented on the recent real estate buy. On her Facebook page, where both she and her mother usually communicate with fans, she only posted a Christmas wish for her followers. "I hope everyone has an opportunity to reflect on what is truly important and to create a Christmas memory that will last a lifetime," she wrote. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Independence Party in hot water over aide’s use of $1.2M Mayor Bloomberg donation to buy house

The state Independence Party came under withering attack Tuesday from a judge who said it betrayed its members by poorly monitoring a $1.2 million donation from Mayor Bloomberg. The party, the third-largest in the state, got the money to run Bloomberg's Election Day operation in his 2009 campaign, but most of the cash went to mayoral campaign aide John Haggerty - who used it to buy his family home in Queens. "It doesn't smell right," Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Martin Shulman said at a hearing on prosecutors' attempt to reclaim what they say is stolen money. "How does one allow these funds to be used for the interests of the party without anything to show for it?" Haggerty is charged with masterminding a fraud by running a phony Election Day poll-watching campaign that he promised the mayor would cost up to $1.1 million. The Independence Party, a noncriminal defendant in the same case, was promised an extra $100,000 from the mayor as what Shulman called "icing on the cake." Shulman told party lawyer William Wexler his clients should have noticed the cash was spent without any evidence of a vigorous street operation on Election Day. "I'm more interested in knowing why you believe you get a pass in the context of your chairman and your vice chairman not having a clue where the $1.1 million went," the judge said. "Shouldn't someone have been out there saying, 'Where was the operation that day?'" The judge continued to bar the Independence Party from spending any money left in its bank accounts, which the Manhattan district attorney's office claims is Bloomberg's stolen property. The judge originally barred the party from spending the money, but officials blew $50,000 of it, prosecutors said. "We are not at all satisfied that the money is in a safe and secure place," said Assistant District Attorney Tara Miner. "They want to take directly stolen property and apply it to their personal use." Not true, Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said Continue Reading

COPS HUNT FOR LECHER LAWYER. Wild tale of fiend showering mom with cash & gifts to have sex with her teenage girls

A MANHUNT WAS ON last night for a lecherous lawyer from a top-flight firm who allegedly paid a Manhattan mom so he could bed her teen daughters - one just 13. Fugitive attorney James Colliton should have been in custody in New York - but he was sprung because of a paperwork snafu after Canadian officials nabbed him in Toronto and turned him over to U.S. Border Patrol agents, officials said. "I want nothing more than for him to get caught and rot in jail," one of the victims told the Daily News last night. "I'm afraid he'll just buy his way out." She was 15 when she started having sex for money with the man she called "Big Jim" in 2000. The victim, now 21, sold herself to Colliton and her mother took a cut, prosecutors said. A neighbor of the family's on the West Side said she tried to care for the girls because their "evil mother" failed to properly clothe and feed them. She said "Big Jim" would come by and pick up the girls in his Jaguar, and tell them his wife was dying of cancer - and promise they would get "all kinds of money" once she died. "Their mother . . . said, 'I never worked a day in my life. My kids work for me,' " the neighbor said. Investigators fear Colliton, a married 41-year-old father of five from Poughkeepsie, had a stable of other girls he bedded in his secret E. 56th St. lair. Colliton - a tax attorney for the white-shoe firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore - paid the 38-year-old mother's rent and showered her and her daughters with gifts and cash in return for sex, prosecutors said. "We've had a lot of wild cases, but this is one of the wildest," said veteran Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The suspect, an NYU Law School grad, allegedly offered the sisters bribes to keep quiet when authorities began asking questions last month, officials said. When cops went to Colliton's midtown pied- -terre to arrest him Feb. 13, all they found was a note telling them to contact his attorney, Alan Abramson. Abramson did Continue Reading