Home & Leisure

Average real estate commissions dropping to low 5 percent range

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The average commission rate paid on American home sale transactions continues to decline and could dip below 5 percent within the next few years.

That’s the conclusion of Real Trends Consulting Inc., a research and advisory company that monitors hundreds of realty brokerage firms and compiles data on sales and commission rates ...Read more

A big holiday gift for homeowners

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- The biggest holiday gift this year for millions of Americans doesn’t fit under a tree and can be a little hard to grasp, but it may be of exceptional value: If you own a home, the odds are good that your equity holdings increased by thousands of dollars over the past 12 months.

New quarterly data released by the Federal Reserve ...Read more

Don’t flunk these three mortgage tests

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- They are the three biggest snares for home buyers seeking mortgages, and if you focus on them in advance you’re much less likely to have your application denied. This is especially true if you’re buying -- or planning to buy -- your first home.

So what are they? A recently completed Federal Reserve study covering millions of ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Escrow-free home loans open new options to buyers

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- If you’ve got a home mortgage, you probably also have an escrow or impound -- a savings account incorporated into your monthly payment and managed by your loan servicer so that your annual property tax and hazard insurance bills get paid on time. Most lenders require them and will only allow a waiver if you pay a higher interest ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: When will Fannie and Freddie switch to a new credit-scoring model?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- You probably know that your credit score is a crucial factor in your ability to qualify for a mortgage. You might also know that your score can vary depending on the type of scoring model your lender uses. If it’s an old, outdated version you might get a lower score. If it’s a newer, more advanced model, you’ve got a ...Read more

Congress Could Play Grinch This Christmas for Homeowners

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Could it be a grim and grinchy December for thousands of home owners facing ongoing challenges with their mortgage payments and property values? Could popular deductions for mortgage insurance premiums and energy-efficient home improvements abruptly vanish?

That’s the way things are shaping up in the closing weeks of the ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Freddie Mac planning appraisal-free mortgages

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Can computers, big data and advanced analytics replace real live humans when it comes to accurately valuing the home you want to buy? One of the two largest financial players in U.S. real estate thinks so and is preparing to introduce changes that could prove momentous -- and highly controversial.

Giant mortgage investor Freddie ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: FHA pulls housing head fake on condo communities

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Call it a housing policy head fake -- one with potentially painful consequences for moderate-income buyers, sellers and seniors in hundreds of condominium projects around the country. If you were thinking about purchasing a condo unit with a low down payment FHA mortgage in the coming year, this could affect you.

Last week, ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Court ruling could encourage realty payoff scheme revival

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- A decision by a federal appellate court last week is casting new light on practices in the real estate field that buyers and sellers often know little about: Creative, under-the-table payoff schemes among realty brokers, mortgage lenders and title companies that can stifle market competition and raise settlement costs to consumers ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: New programs ease homebuyers' path to mortgages

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- So you still think it's impossible to get a mortgage because lenders' standards continue to be super-strict and your profile doesn't quite fit the standard underwriting molds? You're right -- it can be tough. But it's no longer impossible, thanks to new programs that are becoming available from national and regional lenders for ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Low down payment FHA condo mortgages coming back?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- For many condominium buyers and sellers across the country, the Obama administration delivered what seemed like encouraging news last week: The Federal Housing Administration, once the primary source of mortgage financing for moderate-income and first-time condo buyers, is coming back, big time.

But the real story was more complex...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Does the value of your home affect how you vote?

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- Do home values have any significance when it comes to presidential elections? Not directly. But indirectly they are manifestations of economic growth, unemployment rates, incomes, household formations, population inflows and outflows, along with historical patterns of land use and restrictions on building.

Almost certainly home ...Read more

The Nation's Housing: Tech investors offer cash for future home equity

Consumer / The Nation's Housing /

WASHINGTON -- With homeowners' equity soaring to near-record levels, financial technology entrepreneurs -- backed by deep-pocket venture capital -- are dreaming up sophisticated ways to help consumers access that equity without traditional interest payments.

The core concept in most of these plans: We'll give you cash, say $30,000 to $200,000 ...Read more

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