“For most people, tax records other than those pertaining to assets, such as real estate and securities, could be discarded after three years,” says Stern. “Even so, a longer period — seven or more years — is prudent.”
source: Texas Real Estate Center
Here are the college towns that topped RealtyTrac's 2014 list:
"Builders in volatile housing markets, such as Phoenix, Sacramento, Las Vegas, and Orlando, are sweetening offers as sales slow," Bloomberg Business reports.
The large increases in home prices last year have discouraged some buyers. The number of new-home communities in Phoenix rose by a third in the past year to 457, but sales per community dropped 45 percent last month from a year prior, according to Jim Belfiore, president of Belfiore Real Estate Consulting.
Builders in Nevada also saw a big drop in sales this year. In Las Vegas, new-home sales surged 32 percent in 2013 — but in the first eight months of this year, they have fallen 26 percent from the previous year, says Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research, a Las Vegas-based consulting company. A similar trend is taking hold in Sacramento, Calif., where new-home sales plunged 16 percent last month year-over-year.
Builders are beginning to discount homes and look for ways to boost sales. Orlando builders, for example, reportedly are advertising discounts and appliance packages, as well as offering to cover closing costs, after new-home sales dropped 19 percent year-over-year in June.
Buyers are enjoying being the drivers at the moment in some of these markets. Bob Berg, a retiree from Chicago, was looking for homes in the Phoenix area. "A couple of builders said to me, 'What will it take for you to buy this home?'" Berg says. "That's kind of drastic when they say something like that. It tells me they want to move that home."
source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Some housing deals come with sweet incentives for the real estate agents who can bring in a buyer, everything from big bonuses to fancy cars. But if you’re not careful, you might get in trouble for 'steering', some real estate professionals warn.
One home seller in Virginia offered a C-Class Mercedes, priced at $37,900 — or a $30,000 bonus— plus commission to a buyer’s agent who is able to bring a buyer to his $1.9 million home. Other incentives sellers have used to push a sale, include offers to buyer’s agents of fancy trips, higher commissions, or gifts.
"Bonuses and high commissions could motivate an agent to encourage a client to buy the house that offers the best reward to the agent, rather than the home that's best for the client," Bobbie Noreen, managing broker with Village Real Estate Services in Nashville, told Inman News. "That's the problem with any incentive, whether it's a fur coat, a trip, or a $2,000 bonus. Our code of ethics says we are not allowed to participate in self-dealing. To steer them (the client) is against the Code of Ethics. It's borderline illegal."
But some agents say the incentives don’t break any rules and can help sellers attract extra attention to their listings. Plus, if any agent is uncomfortable taking a pricey bonus for selling a home, they could always negotiate a lower sales price on behalf of their buyer for the amount being offered instead, says Frances Flynn Thorsen, a real estate educator and consultant in Tucson, AZ.
"If a property is priced right, it's going to sell,” says Doreen Roberts, president of the Bay East Association of REALTORS® in Northern California. “I know sometimes sellers do offer higher bonuses to entice agents to show the property. But my personal experience is if the price on the property is right, you will get multiple buyers and that will generate competition and that will make the property sell for the correct price,"
For real estate professionals who are offered an incentive, Susan Wachter, professor of real estate at University of Pennsylvania, says it’s important for the real estate professional to disclose the incentive to their buyer client.
source: Inman News
The value of landscaping differed greatly from state to state. For example, the change in value from a home with no landscape to well-landscaped ranged from 5.5 percent in Louisiana to 11.4 percent in South Carolina. Michigan homes saw the biggest difference in landscaping appeal, with a home's value being increased by 12.7 percent.
"The most preferred landscape included a sophisticated design with large deciduous, evergreen, and annual color plants and colored hardscape," according to Niemiera. Adding different plant sizes to a front yard, for example, can boost curb appeal, as well as mixing fruit trees and flowers for added color.
The following landscape elements were found to be most important to survey respondents:
"Survey results showed that relatively large landscape expenditures significantly increase perceived home value and will result in a higher selling price than homes with a minimal landscape," Niemiera writes in the paper. "Design sophistication and plant size were the landscape factors that most affected value. The resulting increase in 'curb appeal' of the property may also help differentiate a home in a subdivision where house styles are similar and thereby attract potential buyers into a home. This advantage is especially important in a competitive housing market."
source: Realty Times
"Using a legal tool known as a 'deficiency judgment,' lenders can ensure that borrowers are haunted by these zombie-like debts for years, and sometimes decades, to come," Reuters reports. "Before the housing bubble, banks often refrained from seeking deficiency judgments, which were seen as costly and an invitation for bad publicity. Some of the biggest banks still feel that way. But the housing crisis saddled lenders with more than $1 trillion of foreclosed loans, leading to unprecedented losses. Now, at least some large lenders want their money back, and they figure it's the perfect time to pursue borrowers: many of those who went through foreclosure have gotten new jobs, paid off old debts, and, in some cases, bought new homes."
Mortgage giant Fannie Mae is one of the most aggressive in pursuing deficiency judgments. Of the 595,128 foreclosures the government-sponsored enterprise was involved in through owning or guaranteeing the loan, it has referred 293,134 to debt collectors for possible deficiency judgment, according to a report by the Inspector General, reflecting the time period from January 2010 through January 2012.
Some of the largest mortgage lenders — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co., and Citigroup — say they don't usually pursue deficiency judgment, but they do reserve the right to do so.
"We may pursue them on a case-by-case basis, looking at a variety of factors, including investor and mortgage insurer requirements, the financial status of the borrower, and the type of hardship," says Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda.
Many borrowers may be surprised to later learn that their foreclosure from years ago is not really behind them. For example, former home owner Danell Huthsing thought she was in the clear after a foreclosure in 2008 on a home she shared with her boyfriend. But this summer, she was served with a lawsuit demanding $91,000 for the amount of mortgage still unpaid after the home was foreclosed and sold. She plans to appeal, but if she loses, the debt collector who filed the lawsuit will be able to freeze her bank account, garnish up to 25 percent of her wages, and seize her paid-off car, Reuters reports.
"For seven years, you think you're good to go, that you've put this behind you," said Huthsing. "Then wham, you get slapped to the floor again."
Many retirees have been struggling to qualify for a mortgage, finding their post-retirement monthly incomes aren’t sufficient enough to get a loan under today’s tough underwriting standards. The problem was particularly pronounced for retirees who were still making payments on car loans, credit cards, or home equity lines of credit and who found they were unable to qualify under today’s low “debt-to-income” standards.
But mortgage giant Freddie Mac is now allowing retirees—and others—to use income from their 401(k), IRA, and other retirement assets to qualify for a loan.
“That, in turn, might open the door to a money-saving refinancing to a lower-rate loan or a downsizing purchase of a new house or condo,” The Washington Post reports.
The retirement account balances can be used to supplement their incomes for underwriting purposes, but the borrower does not actually have to draw from those balances in order to get the mortgage.
source: Washington Post
The population is getting older, and those who are 65 and up now make up the biggest part of the nation’s population in size and percentage, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Older residents comprise over 40.3 million people.
The older adult population has increased by 15.1 percent since 2000, while the combined remaining age groups saw 9.7 percent growth.
The states with the highest number of senior residents are:
The state with the lowest number of seniors is Alaska (7.7 percent compared to Florida’s 17.6 percent). However, Alaska also has the largest growth rate for older populations, according to Census data.
source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch