Principal Payback On Long-Term Loans

July 31, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Did you know:

  • After 30 years, a 30-year term mortgage is paid in full.
  • After 30 years, a 40-year term mortgage has 57% of the original borrowed amount remaining.
  • After 30 years, a 50-year term mortgage has 81% of the original borrowed amount remaining.

Of course, longer-term mortgage holders don’t have it all bad — the mortgage interest they pay on their primary residence mortgage is tax-deductible.

Longer term loans = more tax deductions over time.

To check how much tax deductibility your home loan is giving to you, speak with your personal accountant.


If This Is A Housing Downturn, Why Are There So Many Cranes On The Skyline?

July 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Builoding cranes dot the skylines of many towns because housing projects take several years to complete

So you’ve read about the current housing glut and you’ve see stories on TV about it. And yet, you wonder, why are so many new buildings still being built?

The answers lies in timing. Building homes is not an overnight project,

It takes 3-5 years for most projects to move from Plans to Completion and, several years ago, developers were enthusiastic about the housing market’s promise.

Even 12 months ago, with hints that the market might turn, many developers were making the decision to press on.

The new buildings you see being constructed now are projects that started in 2003, 2004 and 2005. And the over-building should continue for the next 2-3 years.

The over-building is no more apparent than in Miami where 20,000 new units are underway despite a 30-year record high unit supply, says Bloomberg.

As more housing supply coming online, newly-constructed homes could present a bargain-hunting opportunity for a home buyer. It’s all a matter of timing.


The Charts Show That Yesterday’s Stock Market Plunge Was Really Just A “Blip”

July 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 311.50 points yesterday. On the rankings of Top 10 Daily Losses of All-Time, 311.50 doesn’t even come close, according to (and the charts above)

So, as we always do, let’s put yesterday’s action in perspective for the average person.

#7 on the “total points” list happened five months ago today — February 27, 2007. On that day, the Dow lost 416.02.

Was it a crisis? Probably not. We know that because if you pulled your money out of the market February 27, you would have missed the 10.3% in market gains since that day.

Yesterday’s loss doesn’t register in the Top 10 on a points basis, and on a percentage basis, it’s even farther off the chart. At 2.3%, the loss is just a blip.

The point is this: If you are invested in stocks, don’t react too swiftly to the headlines. Many passive investors lose money when trying to time the market’s ups-and-downs. If you’re nervous about your exposure to stock market fluctuations, you speak with your wealth planning professional for advice.

The Dow’s worst day ever remains Black Monday on which the market lost 22.61%. Since that date, however, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has added more than 12,000 points. Investors that stayed the course endured temporary pain, but emerged as winners.

Don’t let yesterday’s losses get your down.


Using Flip-Charts To Understand How Sub-Prime Mortgages Work

July 26, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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This video from CNBC does a terrific job of illustrating how sub-prime mortgage defaults are impacting mortgage rates overall.

There’s some jargon in there, but overall, it’s very easy to follow.


Why You Should Approach Tomorrow’s Existing Home Sales Headlines With Some Skepticism

July 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Existing Home Sales reports on a national level and that is irrelevant to hyper-local real estate markets

June’s Existing Home Sales reported weaker than expected and dropped from prior levels, according to the National Association of REALTORS.

Because our country (A) loves to discuss real estate, and (B) loves statistical headlines, expect tomorrow’s newspapers to emblazon one (or both) of these data points on the front page:

  • Home sales are down 3.8% from May 2007
  • Home sales plummet 11.4% from one year ago

Those are two of the negative points from the NAR report.

There were positives in the report as well, but they’ll likely get buried deep in the newspaper coverage.

For example, homes are more affordable today than they were a year ago. Mortgage rates for “A” paper home buyers (i.e. strong income, assets and/or credit rating) are slightly lower today in June 2006.

Additionally. the number of homes on the market dropped in June which led to, in part, an increase in the median home sale price.

We bring the up today because it’s important to remember that real estate is not a national news story — it’s hyper-local. That’s why newspaper headlines need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Your home is a part of your neighborhood and that has its own “real estate market”. Just like on any street in America, your street has good buys and outright lemons listed for sale. What’s happening on the national scene has absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening in your backyard.

Unfortunately, this is a truth that remains largely untold.

Prospective pool of buyers can be frightened by negative headlines like the ones we’ll likely see tomorrow morning. Fewer buyers means less demand for homes, placing additional downward pressure on the housing market.


The Biggest Banks Are Eliminating The Most Prevalent Sub-Prime Loan

July 24, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Mixed news from the sub-prime sector, depending on how you look at it. Many lenders discontinuing their short-term ARM products.

Washington Mutual, Countrywide and Wells Fargo are among the sub-prime lenders no longer offering the 2/28 mortgage product.

The “2/28” is a adjustable rate mortgage in which the interest rate remains fixed for two years, and then adjusts for the loan’s remaining 28 years.

The 2/28 mortgage was the basis of all sub-prime lending in recent years.

First Franklin has gone a step further, eliminating the 2/28 and the 3/27. As you’d expect, the 3/27 is a mortgage in which the interest rate remains fixed for three years, and then adjusts for the loan’s remaining 27 years.

Lenders are continuing to offer 5/25 mortgages and 30-year fixed mortgages.

The mortgage lenders hope that longer “fixed rate periods” on their mortgage products will help keep their loans from defaulting so soon.

Today, 2/28s originated in 2003 and 2004 are in their adjustment phase and are contributing to rising foreclosure rates across the country.

For homeowners, the downside to loan portfolio paring is that longer fixed-rate periods creates more “time risk” for the lending bank and, therefore, leads to higher interest rates for home loans.

The potential upside, though, is that better sub-prime loan performance overall will reduce the risk levels in sub-prime, thereby lowering mortgage rates. Either way, borrowing money classified as “sub-prime” continues to get more difficult.

If you believe you are a sub-prime borrower, speak with your mortgage lender and/or financial planner and craft a plan to improve your credit rating and lending risk profile.


Why Builders May Be The Best Source For A Bargain Right Now

July 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Sales of homes categorized as “new construction” are slower than in recent years. For May 2007, the Census reported that builders are carrying a 7-month inventory.

This is up from 6.2 months in May 2006 and down from 8.3 months in February 2007. The June 2007 report is due Thursday.

For people considering a move to newly constructed homes (i.e. buying from a builder), the inventory buildup means that homes may be available on the cheap if you’re willing to buy “off the rack”.

The home’s finishes and style may not be exactly what you want, but the price may be right.

This is similar to buying a suit at Brooks Brothers as opposed to having a tailor custom-tailor you one.

As the real estate market continues to favor buyers over sellers, there are two approaches a buyer can take — get exactly what you want and insist on a reasonable price, or go bargain hunting.

Surprisingly, new developments may be a terrific place to find a latter so long as inventory remains high.


Why Medical Bills Are More Dangerous To Homeowners Than ARMs

July 20, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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If you own a home and somebody else depends on your income, consider that the leading cause of home foreclosures is not “adjustable rate mortgages”.

As cited many times over (including by a Harvard law professor), the answer is medical bills.

Even for the insured, medical expenses can dramatically impact a family’s finances and push it into bankruptcy.

Over one million families discovered that sad fact in 2004 and medical bills have not gotten any cheaper, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Death is another major cause of foreclosure.

When a family’s primary wage-earner dies, the secondary wage-earner is now obligated to pay the family’s monthly obligations and that may include a mortgage payment. Sadly, that income may not be enough to cover the bills.

A strong life insurance policy can offset bills, ease transition periods, and even pay off the home’s remaining mortgage obligation.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned investor, consider protecting yourself and your family with adequate medical and life insurance coverage, as well as taking preventative health care steps.

There are resources online to help you determine what coverage is necessary, but the best place to start for this highly personal discussion is with your personal financial planner.

Life is a series of surprises and it’s never too soon to be prepared.


You Can’t Learn To Build A Beautiful Garden From A Book

July 19, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Starting your own garden is easy if you have the help of a hobbyist

Creating a garden is part art, part science.

There are plenty of resources that can teach you how to garden, but just like books can’t teach you how to make beautiful art, creating beautiful gardens requires a teacher and a willing canvas.

Fortunately for the aspiring horticulturist, many artful gardeners are passionate about their work and are willing to share their knowledge.

If you live in the same neighborhood as one, talking with an experienced gardener can help you to learn about plants that thrive in the local climate and soil as well as those that don’t.

They may even share plants that they are dividing, if you’re lucky!

In the end, gardening is like any other hobby and the best advocates are the people that are “into it”. It’s easy to spot them — they live in the homes with artful landscaping.


How The Recasting of Interest Only Loans Can Help With Financial Planning

July 18, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Interest only loans can be a terrific financial planning tool if used properly

Interest only loans get a lot of bad press — mostly because many people used them as a way to live beyond their means.

However, for a family that actively manages their finances, interest only loans can add an extra dimension to financial planning.

Interest only home loans carry monthly payments that re-calculate based on how much money you are borrowing at that time. The industry term for the re-calculation is “recasting” and all interest only loans feature it.

When an extra principal payment is made on an interest only loan, the loan payment due in the months following is calculated as:

(Outstanding Loan Size) * (Annual Interest Rate) / (12 months)

Therefore, an additional $500 principal payment against a $200,000 interest only loan at 6.000% will reduce next month’s mortgage by $2.50, or $30 annually.

$30 is six percent of $500.

This is in contrast to an amortizing loan in which your mortgage payment never changes until the loan is satisfied. Any additional payments to principal on these types of loans shave months off the end of a loan.

Recasting is not exclusive to interest only loans, though. Many lenders will allow you to recast an amortizing loan for a small fee ($100-500) but may limit the total number of times you can recast over the life of your loan.

Interest only loans recast once monthly.

Interest only loans require discipline and are not proper for every homeowner (the same way that a 30-year fixed is not appropriate for every homeowner, either). Within a balanced financial portfolio, though, they can be a terrific financial planning tool.


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