Fewer Elderly Paying Off Mortgages

Welcome to a new era in home borrowing, where long-term mortgages and home equity loans are taking their place alongside AARP cards and pension checks as never before. About 25% of all Americans over age 65 have yet to pay off their home loans, up from 11% in 1983, according to a Boston College analysis of Federal Reserve Board data.

For many older homeowners, the decision to carry housing debt deeper into their twilight years is by choice. They see their homes — rather than savings accounts — as piggy banks that can be tapped through home equity loans or refinancings to provide ready cash. But the trend also reflects sober realities, including lifestyle changes from an earlier, more debt-averse era. People who marry or remarry in middle age often find themselves making down payments on a home at a stage in life when their own parents had already paid off the mortgage. Others are able to pay off their mortgages, but opt to refinance to help make ends meet in retirement — pushing their debt deep into old age. Continue reading “Fewer Elderly Paying Off Mortgages”

Contractors Are From Mars, Owners Are From Venus

Few [tag]remodeler[/tag]s have warm and fuzzy relationships with their [tag]contractor[/tag]s. Indeed, most have horror stories about workers who show up late or not at all, jack up their prices after they start and don’t clean up after themselves. But contractors have gripes, too. According to a survey of 400 contractors undertaken by the Opinion Research Corp. this spring, they positively hate customers who continually ask them to do more than the contract calls fo Natural Swimming Pools: Inspiration For Harmony With Nature (Schiffer Design Book)

The relationship between contractor and home owner is often fraught with conflict, but the survey of contractors and corresponding one of owners who have had work done in their homes, both on behalf of Kimberly-Clark Professional, reveal some rather striking similarities, similarities that indicate the two sides may not see things differently at all. Continue reading “Contractors Are From Mars, Owners Are From Venus”

Builders, real estate firms feel market’s decline

Three dozen [tag]South Florida home builders[/tag] and real estate agents mingled last week at Buster’s Bar & Grill in downtown Delray Beach. Standing only feet apart, they shouted pleasantries over the deafening din of Elton John’s Rocket Man and Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle. The music might have been more appropriate during the past few years when the housing market was soaring. Now it’s falling, leaving industry observers to count the casualties.

With mortgage applications declining this year, Washington Mutual and Countrywide Home Loans closed offices in Lake Worth and Sunrise, respectively. Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest [tag]savings and loan[/tag], laid off 1,400 people in Florida and Washington. Real estate industries nationwide once were adding 35,000 to 40,000 jobs a month, but growth in those sectors has flattened, Economy.com’s Zandi said. He expects job declines during the next six months, especially because surveys indicate builders are showing less confidence than they did a year ago. Continue reading “Builders, real estate firms feel market’s decline”

Looking for a place to rent? Good luck

Rent rates are high, price limit of about $500 a month and a desire to live alone won’t make the search easy. So what can you find in terms of [tag]South Tampa area rentals[/tag]? From [tag]studios and efficiencies to apartments and duplexes[/tag], “it” spots such as Hyde Park, Davis Islands and the Bayshore and Palma Ceia areas have plenty to offer. But units often don’t last long. Renting Your First Apartment (Consumer Books for College Students)

South Tampa is especially known for its high occupancy rates, but drive around neighborhoods such as [tag]Hyde Park[/tag] and [tag]Davis Islands[/tag], and you’ll see plenty of “For Rent” signs and info tubes in front of houses, apartment buildings, duplexes and other multiunit buildings. But if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, said Smith, who runs Apartmax, a condominium locator and referral service in Tampa. For the best deals, look for an owner who doesn’t know the market or is in a hurry to find a tenant. Continue reading “Looking for a place to rent? Good luck”

The best method to get a bargain fixer-upper

Basic Home Remodeling: Home Improvement DVD Many well-to-do spend more than $4,000 a year on home repair and maintenance, according to research by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. With a bit of forethought, however, you can ratchet down that number in a big way. Just follow this plan.

Start your roster with a general handyman, that’s- someone who has basic knowledge on a broad range of repairs. Besides local operators, there are a few national firms that can find one for you. You’ll also need an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter, a painter and possibly people who specialize in repairing heating and cooling systems, appliances, sewer or septic systems, masonry and driveways. Continue reading “The best method to get a bargain fixer-upper”

Undeveloped Plots Draw Buyers

As the nation’s housing market cools, there’s a rush to snap up [tag]undeveloped property[/tag] as buyers stake their claim on everything from New England creek-front parcels, to mountainous woodlands in Tennessee, to big-sky vistas in Montana. Some people are buying dream lots now, while the land is available and prices affordable, with plans to one day build a [tag]vacation or retirement home[/tag]. Be Expert with Map and Compass

In some ways, buying land and buying a second home are similar. Both are capable of generating income — a house through rental income; land through leases for farming, hunting, fishing, ranching or mineral rights. And in both cases, the first three rules of a successful purchase are location, location and location. Continue reading “Undeveloped Plots Draw Buyers”

Attack Of The Real Estate Rip-Offs

Punch! Professional Home Design Platinum 8.0 Every boom has a dark side. The merger mania of the 1980s produced insider trading scandals. The ’90s stock bubble was busted for biased investment research. And so it is with real estate, the hottest market of the past eight years. The urge to cash in on rising home values has spawned a growing share of hucksters, schemers and rip-off artists.

So far, it is tough to know exactly how widespread the problem is. Just as conflicts with stock analysts and bankers didn’t come to light until after the Internet bubble popped in 2001 and investors started to get hurt, only now, as the market starts to turn, are complaints over shady [tag]real estate[/tag] practices pouring in. [tag]Internal Revenue Service[/tag] figures show that the agency initiated 235 real estate fraud cases against individuals in 2005, more than double the number it brought in 2001. The IRS expects that figure to remain steady this year. The Feds are taking it seriously–they’ve stepped up penalties to fight mortgage fraud, doubling average jail terms to four years for those convicted, says Andre Martin, a director in the [tag]Criminal Investigations Division[/tag] of the IRS. Continue reading “Attack Of The Real Estate Rip-Offs”

Save money when building, renovating real estate

If you are thinking about [tag]building[/tag] a house or [tag]renovating[/tag] your current home, first read “Be Your Own House Contractor, Fifth Edition” by longtime home builder Carl Heldmann. This very valuable new book explains, according to the author, how to shave at least 25 percent off [tag]construction costs[/tag] of a new house. More important, it goes into great detail of what is involved with being your own home contractor. Having been involved with renovating many houses and always hiring a [tag]remodeling contractor[/tag], I closely related to Heldmann’s explanations of how to build a new house to save money or renovate an existing house without hiring a general contractor. Basic Home Remodeling: Home Improvement DVD

A unique aspect of this new book is Heldmann refers readers to his Web site for additional resources to make the home construction process almost simple. He compares today’s procedures with those available 35 years ago when he built his first house and then built many more. “You won’t believe how easy it is to save money and get the house you want,” Heldmann says. An especially enjoyable advantage of this book is the author simplifies the home construction process into bite-size pieces that any reader can understand. He doesn’t go into great detail, but just enough for the reader to know if becoming a do-it-yourself contractor is right. Continue reading “Save money when building, renovating real estate”

Profiting from staging

Staging a house helps it sell, but who should pay for it?

From a non-existent profession a generation or so ago, [tag]home stagers[/tag] have become a force to be reckoned with in the [tag]real estate[/tag] industry. Stagers claim they turn sow’s ears into silk purses every day, and make pots of money for their clients. Just what is home staging and what does it involve? And shouldn’t the cost of staging come out of the agent’s commission rather than the seller’s profits?

Before [tag]home staging[/tag] began, in the early 1970s, most real estate agents thought showing houses vacant was best. But Schwarz thought empty rooms looked small and cold; she started to put a few pieces of furniture in to make them more welcoming. “Every room should have two things,” says Schwarz, “grounded furniture and leggy furniture. If it’s all grounded, like sofas with upholstery that extends to the floor, it sinks the room. If it’s all leggy, like tables, the room floats.” Another technique she exploits is what she calls the “magic of three,” assembling furnishings and decorations in “vignettes” containing three objects, one tall, one medium and one short. Continue reading “Profiting from staging”

Do-It-Yourself Options for Saving on Your Next Move

[tag]Moving your home[/tag], especially long distance, can cost you a mint if you want [tag]full-service packing and shipping[/tag]. That might be your only option if you have one of the larger McMansions or your apartment is full of antique furnishings that need to be protected. For those who can rough it a little, there are more and more do-it-yourself options out there. Rental trucks allow you to do it all yourself — pack, drive and unpack. Expert Expatriate: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad-Moving, Living, Thriving

If you’re up for [tag]packing[/tag] but not driving, a few services will drop off containers at your home for you to load at your leisure. Then they will drive or ship your [tag]furniture[/tag] to your new home. It costs more than renting but you pay nothing for gas and travel expenses and you get plenty of time to load and unload. The downside: these services aren’t available everywhere and you’ll have to arrange street parking yourself. Continue reading “Do-It-Yourself Options for Saving on Your Next Move”