Manufacturing a new real estate market

Posted by at 9:44 am

Like tiny homes, manufactured homes are emerging as a possible solution to the current housing shortage. For those with low-to-moderate incomes, who don’t want to sleep in a tiny home bed that folds out of a closet just above the kitchen sink, the manufactured home might make a more palatable choice. Previously referred to as mobile homes, manufactured houses are built in a factory, and transported to a site on a flatbed truck – not to be confused with pre-fab homes, which are transported in pieces and mostly built on-site. New manufactured homes cost a median of $73,800, or about a quarter the cost of new homes nationally, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau. That might be just the remedy for first-time home shoppers who are having trouble saving up a down payment. But regulatory restrictions on zoning and...
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Tax Helpers for Last-Minute Filers

Posted by at 11:22 am

With tax time just a week away, there’s about a one-in-five chance you are one of the 40 million American taxpayers who haven’t yet filed. Never fear! Just like last 2017, 2018 contains some calendar quirks that give you a little extra time. Tax Day is April 17 in 2018 instead of April 15. Why? April 15 falls on a Sunday, and the Washington, D.C. holiday Emancipation Day is celebrated Monday, April 16, so the Internal Revenue Service’s main offices get that day off, too. That means everyone gets two extra days. If more time isn’t enough, The IRS has tax help, publications and information at www.irs.gov to help last-minute filers, including instructions on how to request an automatic six-month filing extension. Here’s another helper: You may not be aware, but the IRS website also provides free copies of your past returns. That’s great...
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Concentrate on the Positives

Posted by at 8:51 am

As America heads into the big spring selling season, all signs point to a robust housing market in 2018. Demand is high and homebuilders are upbeat. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) confidence gauge is at its highest level in 18 years. Record numbers of home shoppers are packing sales centers and open houses. The pace of annual construction spending soared to a record $1.257 trillion in November, and starts of single-family homes and building applications are the strongest in a decade. But will vigorous construction be enough to offset exceptionally weak inventory? With new and existing home sales skyrocketing, the national inventory is pegged at just 3.4 months, the shortest timeframe since 1999, and far short of the 6-month supply considered necessary for a healthy housing balance. Home builders say they’ll concentrate more on affordable housing in 2018, but...
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Taxing times for homeowners

Posted by at 11:43 am

  It’s that time of year again. Thick in the heart of the Holidays with the property taxes already paid, most of us are thoroughly spent…both physically and financially. Of course, it also means January, and the New Year, are right around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about paying federal taxes. With big changes for homeowners looming, why not consider hiring a professional to prepare your return? For some, the thought of spending money to do something they COULD do themselves is particularly painful. That’s why so many struggle to keep up on housework instead of hiring a maid, or try to maintain a sprawling yard and garden instead of hiring a landscaper. Many may manage to keep spotless houses and beautiful lawns. But taxes are not sweeping and mowing. Home ownership significantly changes most people’s deductions and other tax situations. Hiring an accountant to help...
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Homeownership’s value overrides divisiveness

Posted by at 1:06 pm

With some pretty big issues on the table for Congress in 2018, America may seem more politically divided than ever these days. But one shared value stretches across the nation—homeownership. There may be difference of opinion on things like healthcare, immigration and tax reform, but a strong majority of Americans agree home ownership is a financially sound decision –  an instrument for gaining long-term wealth while raising a family and making ties within the community. According to real estate website Zillow, 68.7 percent of Republicans and 65.1 percent of Democrats see homeownership as a crucial part of living the American Dream. Homeownership builds equity over time, providing financial security for families and individuals. With stable monthly payments, it’s easier for cash-conscious consumers to plan and budget. Potential tax savings can also offset homeownership costs. But the real “value” comes in...
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Seniors no longer a niche market

Posted by at 1:17 pm

Fueled by the baby-boomer generation, the population of Americans 65 and older is growing exponentially, and will become a major part of the housing and mortgage industries over the next several decades. According to the latest report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, one out of three U.S. households in 2035 will be headed by someone over 65. That’s an estimated 79 million people! Real estate agents and mortgage lenders who plan sales strategies with an eye on the aging will doubtlessly see more success. One unexpected backlash of the exodus to the suburbs over the last 40 years is the growing number of retirees realizing their neighborhoods no longer fit their needs. In a recent survey from Freddie Mac, seniors said they need major renovations in order to stay in their current homes as they age –...
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October 17th, 2017

Hit the savings ceiling

Posted by at 1:25 pm

There’s a looming retirement savings crisis affecting the country! Or is there? The perception is certainly real. According to a survey by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), only 22 percent of 2017 Baby Boomers feel adequately prepared for retirement, Mathematically speaking, saving the highest possible amount from the earliest point in your life increases your savings potential through the value of compound interest. But no matter what your age, a holistic financial plan – putting money aside consistently and automatically – can restore confidence and build savings for those post-working years. It’s no time to panic. It’s time to change your thinking about savings. Start with the simplest things: One of the hardest things about saving money is getting started. Record your expenses to help break down where you might be able to bank extra money. Focus on using your...
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A flood of insurance

Posted by at 10:28 am

Following the record damages from hurricanes Irma and Harvey, insurers are sounding the alarm bells – development across the country has turned many areas into potential flood zones.   It’s not entirely surprising. While areas like Coastal Florida require all homeowners to have flood insurance because of the high risk, most U.S. homeowners don’t live in areas prone to heavy flooding – or so they thought. Residential development eats up absorbent grasslands in and around cities, and also leads to the addition of more non-porous structures like roads and foundations, which can block the natural flow of stormwater runoff. Unless you live on a hilltop, insurers recommend at least some flood insurance. Administered by the federal National Flood Insurance Program and available through many insurances agencies, a flood policy costs about $500 a year for $250,000 of coverage. For a lot of families, an extra $500...
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September 15th, 2017

Equifax breach affects millions

Posted by at 10:05 am

Vigilance is the watchword after 143 million consumers had personal data hacked from the computers of Equifax, one of the three large firms that handle credit reporting in North America. The FBI, Federal Trade Commission and Congress are investigating. But the incident drives home the point that today’s consumer must become his or her own chief privacy security officer. Identity theft experts say the best thing to do is be more on guard than ever about personal and financial information. Check your credit score – it can be done for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com. Watch bank and credit card statements for unusual charges, and don’t open suspicious emails. Consumers can go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com for updates on the company’s internal investigation, as well as check to see if their information was potentially exposed (almost everyone’s was). The company is...
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September 14th, 2017

Plan to maintain financial control

Posted by at 10:38 am

Sometimes the pressure of monthly bills can make you feel like you’re losing control of your personal financial situation. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released a comprehensive list of strategies and advice to help prevent catastrophic financial breakdown. Start with a plan. Make a list of all bills and due dates to help assess financial obligations. To help get a total picture of monthly bills, set up a calendar to identify the weeks you have the most money due. The CFPB has a template you can use. Use the calendar to weigh the risks of falling behind on each different bill. While not ideal, this may prevent you from losing your car or house, having utilities shut off, or getting into serious default on a loan. Try calling your creditors if you think you’re going to miss a payment...
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