Important things to look out for with today’s reverse mortgages

The New Reverse Mortgage Formula: How to Convert Home Equity into Tax-Free Income For empty-nesters who may be getting anxious about [tag]retirement[/tag] or for those who are already in their 60s or older, [tag]reverse mortgages[/tag] can be a means of ready cash. They also pose a certain financial risk, making it critical for [tag]homeowners[/tag] to understand what it is they’re embarking on. Reverse mortgages convert your home equity into cash that can be used for any purpose.

To qualify, you must be 62 or older. The home you wish to draw equity from must also be your principal residence, not income property. Your home must be owned free and clear or have only a small outstanding mortgage that can be paid off with the reverse mortgage. There are no income, employment or credit-worthiness requirements. Continue reading “Important things to look out for with today’s reverse mortgages”

New-home buyers in driver’s seat

After a half-dozen years of record growth and torrid levels of [tag]construction[/tag], [tag]builders[/tag] are finding their orders dropping sharply. And as the business plummets, buyers, aware that they are in the driver’s seat, are demanding–and getting–price breaks or special financing. Many local and regional builders have joined the major players to offer incentives right through the industry’s key spring sales months, into the beginning of summer. The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner : A Powerful Plan to Finish Rich in Real Estate

“This is probably the first time we’ve seen them through the peak selling season. It’s unusual that the incentives have continued all year,” said housing consultant Tracy Cross, president of Schaumburg-based Tracy Cross & Associates. In Washington, D.C., Dallas-based Centex Corp. offered $100,000 off the sales price to those who bought a house within a 12-hour period. And [tag]Miami[/tag]-based [tag]Lennar Corp[/tag]. is giving [tag]Tampa[/tag] buyers a lowest-price guarantee. Continue reading “New-home buyers in driver’s seat”

The other insurance crisis

[tag]Florida homeowners[/tag] have railed for months about the skyrocketing cost of residential property insurance and the suffering it is causing. They’re about to have a lot of company. [tag]Business owners[/tag] looking for [tag]commercial property insurance[/tag] are increasingly finding themselves in the same rickety boat as homeowners. And should the crisis get out of hand, the effects could reach throughout Florida’s economy. Basic Home Remodeling: Home Improvement DVD

Insurance companies that write [tag]commercial policies[/tag] for everything from strip malls to restaurants are raising premiums as much as 400 percent, dropping policies as they come up for renewal, or both. One insurer simply decided to cancel policies. [tag]North Pointe Holdings[/tag] of Southfield, Mich., said recently that it plans to cancel nearly half of its 28,000 commercial policies in Florida. Continue reading “The other insurance crisis”

A midyear financial checkup is vital to retirement planning.

Real Estate Investing for Dummies

[tag]Interest rate[/tag], [tag]inflation[/tag], [tag]financial market and pension[/tag] worries make a midyear [tag]financial checkup[/tag] more important than usual this year. Even if you made New Year’s resolutions for your money, the scenario has since changed and your family situation may have too. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t know where their money goes each month, which is a hazardous situation now that we’re entering a period in which inflation could rise even further.

Debt can land your finances in trouble. U.S. consumer credit is at a record high $2.17 trillion and growing at its fastest clip in a year, according to the Federal Reserve. Credit card debt, in particular, is destructive because it can easily balloon out of control. Examine all that you owe and pay off highest-rate debt first. Develop a plan to pay down credit card bills, loans and car payments as quickly as possible so that in the long run you have more to invest. Next select your financial goals. Choose short- and long-term targets so it doesn’t seem like an endless treadmill. Write everything down and reassess progress every six months. Continue reading “A midyear financial checkup is vital to retirement planning.”

Mm, Mm Good Open House

Recipe ideas and etiquette tips for serving food at your next open house.

Free appetizers won’t sell a listing on their own, but offering tasty treats at your open house encourages buyers to linger longer and creates a positive atmosphere. However, food can also be a huge hassle — creating a mess and distracting potential buyers from falling in love with the home.

That’s why I’ve prepared this list of 10 rules you should follow when serving food at an open house. It includes tips that will impress potential buyers while cutting down on cleanup. I’ve also shared my four favorite open-house recipes. They’re hassle free and perfect for visitors who want to nibble as they explore the house. Bon appetite! Continue reading “Mm, Mm Good Open House”

Love of water draws them to MiraBay

I Love Tampa, Florida T-shirt Kevin and Bethany Terry made a really big move. The couple looked for homes in [tag]South Tampa[/tag] and [tag]St. Petersburg[/tag] before deciding to buy a house in [tag]MiraBay[/tag], a 750-acre waterfront development in southern [tag]Hillsborough County[/tag], near the old Florida town of [tag]Ruskin[/tag].

When it’s completed in five years, the community – perhaps best known for hosting the Coastal Living magazine Idea House in 2004 – will feature 1,900 homes priced from the high $300,000s to more than $5-million. It’s particularly appealing to boaters because of its 3.5-mile canal system and direct, deep-water access to Tampa Bay. That grabbed the Terrys’ attention as they are regular kayakers who enjoy getting out after work and paddling for relaxation. Continue reading “Love of water draws them to MiraBay”

Housing market in transition

The housing standoff between buyers and sellers in [tag]South Florida[/tag] will continue for another six months, and then prices in some areas will fall, a real estate trade group economist predicted Tuesday. In some cases prices may fall by 10 percent to 15 percent, said David Lereah, the National Association of Realtors’ chief economist, who spoke Tuesday in Coral Gables. But in many areas prices will still rise modestly this year, by 4 percent to 5 percent, he said. And when sellers finally bring asking prices down, pent-up demand will likely result in hordes of new buyers in South Florida. The long-expected shakeout of the [tag]real estate market[/tag] now underway is healthy for a region both overbuilt with new condominiums and overrun by speculators, Lereah said. Unlike in previous real estate downturns, the economic and demographic fundamentals underpinning South Florida real estate remain strong, he added. The Pre-Foreclosure Property Investor\'s Kit : How to Make Money Buying Distressed Real Estate -- Before the Public Auction

But in the long term, he is optimistic. [tag]Baby boomers[/tag] continue to move here, international demand remains strong, unemployment in South Florida is low, and [tag]mortgage rates[/tag] — despite inching higher in recent months — are still at historically low levels. Just as important, Lereah said, the speculators are fleeing the market. He contends that speculators are most to blame for huge price hikes. ”Florida will be better for it with them gone,” he said. Lereah cited the increased threat of hurricanes and the availability of property insurance as South Florida’s two biggest worries. Such worries, he said, are prompting some baby boomer and retirees to look away from Florida. He noted a trend of baby boomers moving to places such as the [tag]Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina[/tag]. Continue reading “Housing market in transition”

Choosing A Real Estate Agent – Top Producer or Hungry Rookie?

Rich Dad\'s Advisors®: The ABC\'s of Real Estate Investing : The Secrets of Finding Hidden Profits Most Investors Miss (Rich Dad\'s Advisors) Does it matter who you pick as your [tag]real estate agent[/tag]? Must he or she have a long and lucrative track record? Should you insist on a dragon lady or a scarily aggressive Alpha Male? Is it really necessary that your agent be available and willing to show a house at your whim, even on Christmas Eve? What should you consider when selecting an agent? It depends.

Forget those alphabetic designations (GRI, CRI, each is more reflective of the ability to tolerate a hard chair than any real expertise) or the total sales achieved last year. Who you are as a person and a consumer, and what you know or don’t know about real estate are the keys to picking the right agent. Therefore, the most important interview is one you should conduct with yourself before you start questioning prospective agents. Continue reading “Choosing A Real Estate Agent – Top Producer or Hungry Rookie?”

How to survive soaring rents

For years, [tag]rents[/tag] have been flat or falling in cities nationwide — a result of the booming [tag]home-sales market[/tag], which transformed scores of renters into owners. But as the housing market cools, rentals are once again in demand, liberating landlords in many markets to raise rents at the fastest pace in years. They’re also cutting back on the goodies that previously helped lure tenants, such as a free month’s rent or a free DVD player. Basic Home Remodeling: Home Improvement DVD

The pace of change varies greatly from market to market. In its survey of 69 metro areas, Reis found 60 markets with rising rents, with [tag]Florida[/tag]’s [tag]Fort Lauderdale[/tag], [tag]Palm Beach[/tag], [tag]Miami[/tag] and [tag]Tampa-St. Petersburg[/tag] and California’s San Jose topping the list. It also found nine markets in which rents are flat or falling, including Buffalo, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; Denver, and Omaha, Neb. Continue reading “How to survive soaring rents”

Inflation fears prompt slight rise in mortgage rates.

Reverse Mortgages For Dummies After slipping last week, [tag]mortgage rates[/tag] moved up this week better reflecting the trend borrowers can expect in the coming months. That means iron-clad mortgage rate locks and speedy loan closings should be the strategy of choice for [tag]home buyers[/tag] as well as [tag]refinancing and equity-tapping home owner[/tag]s. Inflation was brisk in May spurred by higher housing, gasoline and energy costs. The seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in May, representing a 5.2 percent annual rate. For all of 2005 the rate was only 3.4 percent.

When the fed increases the cost of money to curb inflation, short term consumer borrowing costs for credit cards, home equity loans and adjustable rate mortgages likewise take a hike. Mortgage interest rates have fallen eight times this year, but during the first 24 weeks in 2006 they’ve risen twice as often, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Last week, Freddie reported the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.62 percent, down from the previous week s average of 6.67 percent. Continue reading “Inflation fears prompt slight rise in mortgage rates.”