How the Japanese Art of Kakeibo Can Help You Buy a House

Kakeibo is a Japanese practice that claims to help people save more than one-third of their income—which is ideal for buying a house. Margaret Heidenry, provided by Published 5:30 am, Friday, February 23, 2018 Photo: Wutwhanfoto/iStock; Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: Wutwhanfoto/iStock; How the Japanese Art of Kakeibo Can Help You Buy a House 1 / 1 Back to Gallery There's a Japanese art to everything, including how to save up for a house! It's called kakeibo, and it's catching on for good reason: It claims to help people save more than one-third of their income—which could add up to a down payment on a house pretty quick. Pronounced kah-keh-boh (which means "household financial ledger"), the term and practice was invented in 1904 by Hani Motoko, purportedly Japan’s first female journalist, to help manage household budgets. While the practice is common in Japan, the newly published English translation of the book "Kakeibo: The Japanese Art of Saving Money," by Fumiko Chiba, is currently selling like hotcakes here in the States. Kakeibo promises to help those who follow it save about 35% of their income every month. If you're interested in amassing this sizable chunk of change to buy a house (or, say, overhaul your kitchen), read on to find out how kakeibo works, as well as how you can adopt these same habits in your own life. What is kakeibo? Kakeibo is a method of keeping a journal that helps you meet long-term saving goals by closely monitoring your spending. The main rule is to be mindful of what you pay for so you can trade in frivolous indulgences for a meaningful purchase such as a house. Home & Continue Reading

10 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Before the Pro Helps You Buy a Home

Ready to buy a house? Then you'll want to learn a few questions to ask a real estate agent to find the best one for you. Daniel Bortz, provided by Published 5:30 am, Friday, February 16, 2018 Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock 10 Questions to Ask a Real Estate Agent Before the Pro Helps You Buy a Home 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Ready to buy a house? Then you'll want to learn a few questions to ask a real estate agent—the go-to pro whose sole goal (at least as far as you're concerned) is to help make your home-buying dream come true. But not all real estate agents are created equal, which is why Peggy Yee, a supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, VA, recommends interviewing at least three agents before deciding who you want by your side for this most important of all purchases. To help you figure that out, here are 10 questions to ask a real estate agent to suss out which one is right for you. 1. How long have you been a real estate agent? You want a professional who knows the ins and outs of the business, and that level of knowledge comes only with experience. Look for someone with at least a few years in the business. If the agent is a rookie, ask him if he will receive hands-on guidance from a real estate broker in his office (a broker is someone who has taken real estate education courses beyond the agent level and often manages a team of agents). Recommended Video: Now Playing: Buying the right house at the right price with the right loan isn't easy. But it's a lot easier if you've got the right team. Media: Brandpoint 2. What neighborhoods do you specialize in? Your agent should be well-acquainted with the areas Continue Reading

Tips To Help You Buy A Home Despite Student Debt

(NAPSI)—There's good news for young people hoping to buy their first home. A recent National Association of Realtors® (NAR) survey found that buying a house while carrying student debt is not impossible. In fact, 41 percent of recent first-time buyers had student debt, with a typical balance of $29,000. What You Need to Do Here are three tips to help you on your journey to homeownership while paying off your loans: 1. Start saving for a down payment now. After paying rent, student loan bills and other monthly expenses, setting aside enough money for a sizable down payment of 20 percent may seem like a daunting task. Thankfully, most successful buyers come to the closing table with a lot less cash. NAR's survey found that recent first-timers typically made a down payment of 5 percent. At the current national median existing-home sales price of $247,000, that's a much more manageable amount of $12,350. The more money you can put down, the better. Assess your current financial situation, including total expenses, and start saving as much as you can. 2. Meet with a lender to find out your options. A lender will check your credit history, current debt obligations and other expenses to determine the amount of money you are qualified to borrow for a mortgage. There are a number of mortgage loan programs available for homebuyers with student debt, and many lenders have made favorable changes to how this debt is calculated as part of a borrower's overall debt-to-income ratio. Furthermore, many lenders are now offering conventional loans for those with good credit with a down payment as low as 3 percent. 3. Be honest about what you can afford and rely on a real estate professional. When determining how much of a mortgage payment you can handle, be sure to factor in both the amount and total time you have left to pay off your student loans. Don't get stuck in a situation where your housing costs and student loans are stretching you thin. That's Continue Reading

Tax reform in NJ: Should you buy a house and other pocketbook questions

Dennis Fugedy talked to his accountant, drove to the Wall Township Municipal Building, and wrote a check on Wednesday to pay two quarters worth of his 2018 property taxes before the end of the year.The rest of his financial plan? It sounds like it's staying the same."They're going to change the tax law, but whatever happens, happens," Fugedy, 66, said.The new federal tax law set to go into effect in 2018 made a splash in the headlines, but it has prompted financial experts to urge their clients to take a deep breath, remember the basics and stick with their long-term plan.Sure, there are fears the new tax law could slow down the housing market, add to the federal debt, and shift the incentives from working for a business to owning a business, engineering and architect firms to be precise.  But some things in life — like saving $20 a week to build up an emergency fund — you can control. Other things — like single-handedly paying off the nation's $20 trillion of debt — you can't. See the video above about whether you should pay your property taxes early.The trick is filtering out the political noise, experts said. MORE: Christie orders towns to accept pre-payment of property taxes MORE: Tax law: It pays to have kids  "A lot of people are really getting caught up in the politics of what this is," said Frankie Corrado, a financial adviser with Blue Blaze Financial Advisors in Holmdel. "I see it as an opportunity...once you strip away the noise."Where does that leave you heading into 2018?Here are five questions: 1. What should I do with my tax cut?Why we ask: President Donald Trump signed a sweeping bill that cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The law reduces income tax rates for individuals and businesses, but it also limits what homeowners can deduct in state and local property taxes.New Jerseyans, by most accounts, got the short end of the Continue Reading

Taylor Swift Helped a Homeless Pregnant Fan Buy a House

Tay loves her Swifties!A Taylor Swift superfan got the surprise of her life after a concert in England. The fan, named Stephanie, just gushed about it on the singer's new app The Swift Life, revealing to the world the touching gift that the "Look What You Made Me Do" singer once gave her. It turns out that the Grammy-winning singer didn't merely gift the down-on-her-luck pregnant mom-to-be a backstage pass or a cool tour t-shirt, it appears as though the 28-year-old actually helped the concert-goer buy a house. E! News has learned Taylor donated money and helped Stephanie buy a house. Stephanie met Taylor at her show in Manchester, England and the pop star told her she wanted to help. The fan wrote a lengthy post telling the story of how the superstar singer, who is known for going above and beyond for her loyal fans, helped her during a very rough time.Stephanie began, "I've been contemplating posting this story for a while. I've finally decided to tell you all what Taylor did for me. What many of you don't know is that for 8 months of my pregnancy I was homeless."The story continued, "Long story short our first flat was condemned for health and safety reasons and we lost everything. To add to the stress, during this time Matthew [boyfriend] lost his job. 'My mum told Taylor and just asked her to make me feel special at her show I was attending in Manchester. After the show Taylor took us back to her dressing room where she told me, 'Stephanie, You've been in my life for a long time and you've never asked me for anything. You could have reached out and I would have helped you. But you didn't. Your mum told me...'" Continue Reading

8 questions to ask yourself when deciding to rent or buy a house

If you’re at the age when your peers are making major life moves — getting married, having kids and buying homes – you might be feeling it’s time to join them. Or you may simply just be at that stage all on your own.Either way, plenty of young adults are starting to get the home-buying itch. While there are a lot of appealing benefits to homeownership, taking on that kind of debt is not without risk. The decision to rent vs. buy is one you should make carefully.If you’re trying to figure out your next move, consider asking yourself these eight questions. The answers should steer you in the right direction. 1. What Is my top financial priority?Buying a home will slow down your ability to make progress on other financial goals. You’ll need to focus on lowering expenses or increasing your income so you can afford a down payment and monthly mortgage payments. (This guide can help you understand more about how to determine your down payment on a home.)That extra cash will be funneled toward your mortgage rather than paying off credit cards or student loans if you have them. Other financial goals, such as saving for retirement and building an emergency fund, may also have to take a back seat.Assess your competing financial goals and decide which ones take priority. Buying a house might come first in your book, or perhaps you’ll decide to work toward other money goals before committing to a mortgage. 2. Do I have savings for a down payment & closing costs?Renting requires some savings – you’ll need enough cash to cover the first month’s rent and the deposit.To buy a home, however, the minimum you’ll need to have saved is usually 6% or more of the home’s value. Even FHA loans require a minimum down payment of 3.5%, and closing costs add another 2-3% to the costs.But that’s the minimum; a 20% down payment is better to give you a decent amount of equity and avoid private mortgage Continue Reading

To buy a house, millennials digging deep into family’s pockets

DETROIT — As home prices rise and competition for a limited supply of homes increases, young buyers are increasingly using a special financing to win in bidding wars: The Bank of Mom and Dad."It’s definitely becoming much more common, not that parents didn’t help their children in the past," said Jeanette Schneider, vice president of RE/MAX of Southeastern Michigan in Troy. "But, it really has become a trend."Several factors, she said, are driving it: Millennials — the generation of young homebuyers ages 18-35 — are facing more competition and costs for homes, they are saddled with more student debt than previous generations, and simply put, their parents seem to be more willing to lend them money. Based on anecdotal reports from agents, Schneider estimated that nearly 10% of home sales use some kind of family financing or gifts and that could grow if the housing market stays hot. That percentage, she said, is far more prevalent than what she would have estimated when she started in the industry nearly 30 years ago.An analysis of mortgages serviced by Shore United Bank in Troy, suggests the percentage of home sales using gifts might be even higher. It found that 42% of young homeowners used money that was given to them toward down payments and closing costs.The trend, however, requires that families be clear on whether the money being given is a loan or a gift. Not only are there relationship concerns to consider, there are legal and tax considerations. Taking out a family loan, even if it is a relatively small one, adds to a homebuyer's debt, can jeopardize eligibility for mortgage programs and could reduce the attractiveness of an offer to the seller.A gift means that the homebuyer has no obligation to pay it back — but can if he or she wishes.Take 24-year-old Amber Hauer, who just bought her first home in July.For about $145,000, she purchased a Continue Reading

How Uncle Sam is working to help you buy a home, car

Uncle Sam wants to help you buy a home and a car. If you're thinking of buying a home, there could be a big bonus for you in the economic stimulus bill that's now before Congress.  If you're thinking about buynig a car, there are a variety of tax deductions and credits on the table. Among the ecomomic stimulus bill provisions is a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. The House passed the $819 billion stimulus plan, including this taxcredit, in a vote late Wednesday. The Senate may vote on its version of the bill some time next week. Technically, the stimulus bill is actually changing the terms of the$7,500 tax credit that was issued as a part of the Housing Recovery Act, whichCongress passed last summer. That legislation required that the tax credit be repaid over 15 years, making it more of a no-interest loan. Not surprisingly, the measure had little impact on the market. The stimulus bill now underconsideration would make that tax credit a true credit that doesn't need to be repaid. Many in the housing industry believe this credit could do a lot to jump start the moribund housing market. ''Our economists have studied the effect [of the credit] and they say therecould be a 10% increase in home sales if it's implemented,'' said Mary Trupo, aspokeswoman for the National Association of Realtors. ''It gives people who aresitting on the fence or who have inadequate funds for closing costs an incentive to act now.'' A 10% increase would yield an extra half million sales this year. To be eligible, buyers cannot have owned a home for the past three years, and the new home has to be used as a primary residence. The credit phases out as income rises above $75,000 for singles and $150,000 limit for couples anddisappears entirely at $95,000 and $170,000, respectively. Applying for it is easy, or at least as easy as doing your income taxes. Just claim it on your return. That's it. No other forms or papers have to be filed. Both the Senate and Continue Reading

5 considerations before you buy a home

The national real estate bust has ejected families from their homes, jammed credit markets, and shackled the broader economy. But for potential buyers, the housing pain has come with a key upside: increased affordability. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed that home prices in 20 major metro areas were nearly 16 percent lower in May than a year ago. But while real estate bargains are certainly out there, anyone looking to buy a home in today's market should proceed with great caution. After all, despite the sharp annual declines in prices, the market is far from bottoming out. "I don't think there is a housing analyst around who doesn't think that there is at least 15 percent of downside still [to come]," says Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial. Add the sluggish economy and weakening labor market on top of that, and it remains a risky time to make one of the most significant financial investments of your life. With that in mind, U.S. News spoke recently with a handful of economists and real estate professionals to create a list of five "Don't Buy a Home Today Ifs." The checklist is designed to help buyers decide whether now is the right time for them to purchase real estate. Don't buy a home today if... You don't have a compelling reason. With real estate values declining at the national level, those buying a home today--in many markets--are likely to see their properties decline in value at least in the near term. As such, you need a compelling reason to buy a home in today's market. "People make decisions to buy homes for a variety of reasons," says Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics. "Some of those reasons may transcend the fact that you are going to lose some value." So what's a compelling reason? A consumer who finds a property being sold by a distressed seller at a deep discount has a compelling reason to buy, Thornberg says. A family that wants to get into a better school district in a different neighborhood Continue Reading

5 things every service member needs to consider before buying a house

Buying a house is a serious commitment of not only your time and energy but also your money.For each person considering buying a home, there are different pros and cons. When you’re in the military, there is an extra degree of difficulty: you don’t always have a lot of time to make that choice. Oftentimes, service members decide to buy a house in a rush and forget to consider some important factors that should go into such a large purchase.Here are five things to think over before you commit to buy a house at your next duty station. 1. Time on stationConsider how long you could potentially be at your duty station. Is it going to be less than two years? Buying a home is a long-term commitment, and you’ll want to be able to keep the house for at least as long as it will take you to recoup your investment before you try to sell it again. If you know you’ll be at your duty station for only a year, this may not be the time to buy a house unless you know you’ll be back. 2. PCS ordersIt’s probably just a matter of time before you get orders again. Before you buy a home, you should have a plan for what happens to the house when you receive new orders. Will you sell it or rent it out? Know what your goals are for buying and selling the house before you make the commitment to purchase one. More: Buying a home? Ask your partner these 4 questions first More: These are the best cities for women to buy a home More: U.S. homebuilder sentiment falls in September 3. LocationSome people like to live close to base so they can go home after physical training or to avoid traffic. Others want to live far away from base to get away from work.Visit the house you’re interested in purchasing when your family and neighbors would be at home and at the times you’ll be commuting to work. During those times, you’ll have a more realistic picture of what day-to-day living will be like if you get the Continue Reading