Are you hitting that stage in life where you’re thinking of becoming a homeowner? Morningstar has published two home buying articles that together offer some good, concise advice to the prospective buyer, especially if you’re a first-timer.
Here’s an interesting discovery about mortgage defaults from the LA Times:
A city in Florida has just warned its residents of a weird scam: someone’s been hanging pink notices on doors around town that say, “Due to the water quality in this area, we will be installing whole-house water treatment systems.” You’re supposed to fill out the back of the notice and leave it out for further contact. Remember, don’t let anyone remodel your home on behalf of the city. It probably goes without saying, but still.
The New York Times says a white roof on your house “can cost as little as 15 percent more than its dark counterpart” yet “reduce air-conditioning costs by 20 percent or more in hot, sunny weather.” This is because, scientifically speaking, the color white hates the stupid sun and won’t have anything to do with it.
Brett Arends at The Wall Street Journal has compared Case-Shiller house price data to annual inflation rates, and speculates that owning a home may not be a very good investment. “You can often do better on long-term inflation protected government bonds,” he writes.
Thomas says his wife was approached by a belligerent salesman the other day regarding the windows on their home. He tried to get her to agree to an instant estimate and promised a huge discount for being a “model home” for the window upgrades, but when she refused to make an instant decision, Thomas says he “snatched the card out of her hand” and “yelled at her.”
Great news for renters facing eviction due to foreclosure: any mortgage owner seeking assistance under Congress’ mammoth bailout bill is required to let paying renters stay in their homes.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he understood he was flouting the law in refusing to have deputies carry out the rising number of eviction requests, but mortgage holders must be accountable.
If you have an open home equity line of credit you were counting on for renovations or other projects, you might want to read CNN Money’s article about how lenders are freezing them around the country. The main triggers for HELOC freezing are credit score changes and a rapid drop in home value in your area. The freeze may also be a computer-determined action, so if your HELOC suddenly goes away and you don’t think it was justified, it may be worth checking your FICO score and then contacting the lender to reopen the line or renegotiate it.
The New York Times has an article about a growing problem, a scam called “equity stripping.” Here’s how it works: You answer an advertisement targeting people who are facing foreclosure, but want to stay in their homes. You think you’re refinancing your loan at a lower rate, but in reality you’re transferring the deed to someone else. That person then takes out as much as they can against the value of your home. From the NYT:
Jessica Attie, co-director of the foreclosure prevention project at South Brooklyn Legal Services and the lawyer for the Johnsons, said her office was overwhelmed with homeowners who had handed over their deeds to people pretending to help “save” their homes.
We know times are tough and a lot of homeowners are facing difficult financial decisions, but make sure you know what you’re signing. If someone offers to “temporarily” buy your home, warning bells should go off.
Christy is having the best time getting DirecTV installed in her home. Highlights of her hilariously tragic email include:
"All-Parties" Release Absolves Home Depot, Manufacturer, and Contractor From Shoddy Door Installation
Another painful reminder that you should read what you sign before you sign it, and don’t let yourself be rushed.
The lawn wasn’t the only thing this grounds service was doctoring. Reader Al claims Chemlawn billed him for services he never received, even after he canceled his contract and they agreed not to charge him.
How can you make sure you’re not paying too much real estate tax?
“The rules these brokers made drove up costs and reduced the choice for consumers, and they violated federal law,” Jeffrey Schmidt, director of the F.T.C.’s competition bureau, said in a statement.”