Forget the Double Dip: 3 Good Reasons to Buy a House Anyway

Last Updated May 31, 2011 10:48 AM EDT The stream of depressing housing numbers continues to roll in. The closely watched Case Schiller index of housing prices dropped below its April 2009 low, indicating that housing is now officially in a double dip nationwide, and 31% below its peak in the spring of 2006. That's discouraging news for the economy, since homeowners aren't likely to feel like splurging if their biggest asset is crashing and they're under water on their mortgage. And the farther under water you get, the greater the the temptation to walk away from your mortgage, dumping more inventory on an already glutted market. It's hard to find a lot of good news in all this. Still, it's an ill wind that blows no one any good, and there is one group that stands to benefit from the housing market's travails: Buyers. Only problem: They don't seem to care. A New York Times story this morning suggests that not only are many potential buyers frozen out of the market-stuck in underwater mortgages, unemployed, or unable to qualify for mortgages-but even those who could buy don't want to go into hock to acquire a depreciating asset. The Times quotes one such "renter by choice:"Susan Lindsey, a San Diego software programmer, was once eagerly waiting for the housing market to crash. She said she would have no guilt about swooping in on some foreclosed owner who had bought a place he could not afford. With prices now down by a third, however, she is content to stay in her $2,500-a-month rented house. She prefers to invest in gold, which she has been buying since 2003. You can judge for yourself the wisdom of an investor turning up her nose at an asset that is now 31% cheaper than it was in 2006 so that she can buy one that is 150% more expensive. But it's not hard to imagine her feeling very comfortable making the opposite trade five years ago. Human nature is predictable, if not always optimized for investment success. If, unlike Susan Lindsey, you are considering Continue Reading

Real Estate: The New Rules for Buying a House

Last Updated Apr 29, 2010 1:11 PM EDT Many prognosticators believe the next few years will see tepid returns in the stock and bond markets — but what's in store for the post-crash real estate market? For anyone shopping for a house, the news could be good. Indeed, if there's a ray of sunshine anywhere in the "new normal" economic outlook — slow economic growth, unemployment hovering above 8 percent, more regulation, less borrowing — it is shining on homebuyers. Given record inventories and continued high foreclosure levels, home prices will bounce along the bottom for a while, at least according to the crystal ball wielded by David Berson, chief economist with mortgage insurers PMI Group. And Berson sees little indication that you’ll have to pay more than 5.5 percent for a mortgage this year, maybe 6 percent in 2011. All of which means real estate is a solid buyer’s market. You can get the house you want at a good price, and you can take your time finding it. Just keep these five rules in mind: 1. Don’t Expect Big Profits You should not buy a house because you think it’s a terrific investment. “Maybe we should be calling this the ‘old normal,’” says John Burns, CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting: a return to a time when you viewed home ownership as a way to lock in your housing costs with a fixed-rate mortgage, pay it off after 30 years, and retire with no housing costs beyond property taxes and insurance. “For the last six or seven years, the notion has been of your house as a cash machine,” he says. “Those days are gone.” 2. Make a Real Down Payment To qualify for a home loan, you’ll have to meet those quaint, old-fashioned standards of actually documenting your income and debt. If you want to take advantage of the best mortgage rate, you’ll have to put 20 percent down. “FHA will still do loans up to 97 percent. Mortgage insurers are still there Continue Reading

3 Ways to Save $5,000 or More When Buying a House

The home-buying process was the second-most stressful time of my life to date (proposing to my now-wife still definitely ranks first). For me, it was a powerful combination of known stressors: Spending lots of money (20% downpayment, anyone?), quick timeline (we closed about six weeks after starting to look for a house), and lots of decisions (this house or that? This insurance company or that? The list goes on).I couldn't do much about two of those three stressors -- the timeline was the timeline once we found a house, and the decisions needed to be made. So, I focused my energy on finding ways to save money and lessen the financial strain of purchasing. Here are three things I did, each of which saved us at least $5,000.Our new furniture budget. Image source: Getty Images.Use a discount realtorTypical buyer-side agents are paid a 2.5% or 3% fee (payable by the seller in Virginia -- ain't the real estate market weird?) for their work. Most cheerfully pocket that cash and pass along some of it to you in the form of fruit baskets and annual calendars. Some, known as discount realtors, give some or most of it to you in the form of cash or credits you can apply toward closing costs. Now, not all discount real estate agents are created equal, but the value proposition is clear if you find a discount agent you like. The extra cash (usually between half and two-thirds of the fee they're paid by the seller) can make a big difference.Ours kept one percentage point of whatever fee he was paid by the seller and cut us a check for the remainder. That worked out to a little over $8,000 that we saved in closing costs -- money we were able to spend instead on furniture and repairs.Shop around for the home loanBefore you can make an offer on a house, you should get pre-approved by a lender -- which is basically the lender saying they're willing to issue you a loan for the price you're going to offer on the house. Pre-approval requires a bunch of paperwork (paystubs, account Continue Reading

How to Buy a House That Hasn’t Been Built Yet

Hal M. Bundrick, CFP, NerdWallet Published 7:00 am, Tuesday, February 27, 2018 This article was first published on Trisha and Dennis Rawlings, a couple in their early 30s, are moving to suburban Chicago and leaving their over-60-year-old first home in the St. Louis area behind. “We were looking at potentially buying a house,” Trisha says. But in the area where they want to live, the options within their budget were limited to purchasing an older home or building a new one. The couple loved the features of a modern, new-construction neighborhood with a pool, a clubhouse and excellent walkability. And taking out a construction loan and building a house means they’ll avoid the ongoing maintenance that comes with an older home. Recommended Video: Now Playing: It was a best seller on day one - with some buying in bulk! Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" flew off the shelves on Friday in the United States. Its release has been brought forward after published excerpts this week set off a political firestorm, and following threats by President Donald Trump's lawyers of legal action to halt publication. Book Culture , an independent book seller in New York's Upper West Side neighbourhood, made sure that there were plenty of copies for its customers to peruse and purchase. "Luckily, the president tweets a lot so he has kind of stirred up his own publicity for a book that's not positive in his liking," said shop manager Nick Buzanski. "But yeah, we did realise quickly in the last couple of days that we needed to get as many copies as possible." As for the motives of some of those parting with their cash, customer Beth Dubon was frank as she headed off with her copy of the book. "I didn't generally intend to buy it, but I heard that it pissed the president off, so I decided to buy it," she said. Across the Atlantic, just 20 copies were on bookshop shelves across the whole of the UK on Friday. Continue Reading

Ho-Ho-Homes! We Unwrap 7 Houses for Sale in North Pole, AK

We found seven homes in North Pole, Alaska, worth stuffing in your holiday stocking. They have no chimneys for Santa to shimmy down, but they do have charm. Erik Gunther, provided by Published 5:00 am, Monday, December 25, 2017 Photo: Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: Ho-Ho-Homes! We Unwrap 7 Houses for Sale in North Pole, AK 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Tucked away in the vast expanse of Alaska, the small city of North Pole is about 1,700 miles south of the North Pole itself. But when it comes to true Christmas spirit, the finer points of geography are balled up and tossed aside like cheap wrapping paper. In spite of its spot on the map, North Pole, AK, has embraced its place as a city “where the spirit of Christmas lives year round." If you're one of those folks who bring out your Christmas decorations before the leaves change and have the remote locked on the Hallmark Channel all December long, a move to North Pole may be worth adding to your wish list. It's a given that you'll be freezing six months a year, but if you're up to the chilly challenge, the city has some cute and charming homes. And they're relatively cheap—North Pole is a place where the median list price hovers around $60,000. (The median price does reflect the fact that of North Pole's 301 properties for sale, only 101 are single-family homes, and 190 are vacant lots that are mainly available for $60k and below.) At any rate, we found seven homes in the city worth stuffing in your holiday stocking. Sadly, none of them have chimneys for Santa to shimmy down, but their other charms are abundant. Pour a tall glass of spiked eggnog, and consider leaving the lower 48 behind for any of these seven homes at the North Pole... 3256 Kris Kringle Dr Home & Real Estate Continue Reading

Hope to Buy a House Together Someday? Pop These 5 Questions Now

If you and your partner are dreaming of buying a home together one day, you'd better ask these five questions now to see where you stand. Audrey Ference, provided by Published 5:30 am, Wednesday, February 7, 2018 Photo: Stockbyte/Getty Images Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: Stockbyte/Getty Images Hope to Buy a House Together Someday? Pop These 5 Questions Now 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Love may be blind, but if you and your significant other hope to buy a home together someday, it's important to go in with your eyes open. That can mean you'll need to pop some questions about money—right now. "Couples often go house shopping first before they even think about the mortgage," said Chris Lewis of Angel Oak Home Loans. "But that's like getting married before your first date!" Talking about finances with your partner can be uncomfortable, but let's face it, while you may love her quirky sense of humor or his sunny smile, a lender is looking only at the cold, hard numbers. And even if your finances are in order, if your partner's aren't, it could jeopardize your home-buying dreams. "When a couple purchases a home together, lenders will assess the couple’s ability to purchase jointly," explains Lewis. "One person’s credit or income could affect the couple's ability to qualify for a mortgage at all." So before you start hitting open houses, make sure to ask these questions to help you size up the person you love like a lender would. Home & Real Estate Channel Now Playing: Now Playing Real estate broker Julio Ruiz Los Angeles Times This Bamboo Treehouse Is the Most Wished-for Airbnb in Hawaii Time Is A-Rod Planning To Marry J. Lo? Wochit International buyers Orlando Sentinel You Can Continue Reading

You can now buy a house in Italy for less than a cup of coffee

By Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli Published 7:09 pm, Thursday, February 1, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-40', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 40', target_type: 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

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 Wal-Mart plans to transform the way we buy groceries

On a sweaty September morning in the Nashville suburbs, Anna Brummel pulls her white SUV into a Wal-Mart parking lot to stock up on groceries.But she never sets foot in the store.The mother of three had tapped out her order on her smartphone earlier while lying in bed. And now, she parks in a designated spot during a time slot she selected, and Wal-Mart workers load up her car with the goods they picked and packed for her.Wal-Mart is America's largest grocer, and its aggressive expansion of pickup services has turned its parking lots into a laboratory for the future of online grocery shopping — one of the trickiest puzzles in all of retail.Plenty of companies have tried to carve out a market for this. Instacart, along with tech titans Google and, have put their muscle behind doorstep grocery-delivery models that are similar to what Peapod has offered for decades.And yet, despite an e-commerce stampede that has upended sales of items such as books, electronics and clothes, researchers estimate that online shopping accounts for 2 percent or less of total U.S. grocery sales.With the pickup model, Wal-Mart is testing whether its best weapon in this digital fight is its most old-school - and hardest to replicate - asset: a network of more than 4,600 stores.It is counting on a different idea of convenience, one that caters to time-starved suburbanites who spend hours each day in their cars. Maybe for them swinging into a parking lot for a few minutes makes more sense than waiting around the house for a delivery.Kroger and Giant are also touting pickup services, and even Amazon is reportedly considering opening bricks-and-mortar locations with grocery pickup capabilities. Pickup programs, not delivery, were the main driver of growth in habitual online grocery shopping in the past year, according to Tabs Analytics, a firm that studies the consumer-products industry.While Wal-Mart does not disclose sales figures for online grocery pickup, it has taken Continue Reading