Nobody likes getting tax bills, especially homeowners who are burdened with ever-escalating local property taxes.
Americans are awash in record amounts of equity in their homes, posing the question for millions: So what do we do with it?
In an era of unceasing horror stories about breaches of sensitive consumer information, here’s some disquieting news for homebuyers: Federal auditors say the popular “tax transcript” program run by the IRS and used by millions of mortgage applicants a year lacks adequate security protections against disclosures of tax-return details to people who shouldn’t be allowed to obtain them.
Call them the frustrated wannabe sellers – eager to list their homes for sale this spring, but feeling locked out of their markets by severe inventory shortages and rising prices that are occurring in many parts of the country.
It’s one of the weirder documented facts about homebuying in America: Surprising numbers of consumers don’t bother to shop for mortgage money, even though they could save tens of thousands of dollars through lower interest payments by doing so.
A key policy change by mortgage giant Fannie Mae that offered homeownership to thousands of new buyers – many of them minorities – could face significant cutbacks. The reason: Private mortgage insurers are re-thinking their decisions to participate.
It’s official: Despite widespread fears to the contrary, the IRS has clarified that last year’s big tax bill did not kill all interest deductions on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) and equity loans.
You’ve probably never heard of a “mortgage trigger lead.” But as a consumer, you might be shocked to learn that in an era of massive data breaches and hacks – witness the Equifax debacle – they even exist.
Call it buried tax treasure for homeowners: Deep inside the behemoth 654-page bipartisan budget bill recently signed into law by President Donald Trump are little-noticed extensions of key tax-code benefits that expired in 2016, but now can be used for upcoming 2017 tax filings.
Could predatory lending practices affecting veterans also be inflating interest rates paid by thousands of unsuspecting homebuyers using FHA loans?
Were fears overblown that changes to the federal tax law would trigger plunging home values?
They are gnawing questions that many homebuyers inevitably ponder: What are my chances of getting the house I’ve fallen in love with at a price I can afford, which happens to be well below what the seller is asking? What are the odds that pesky contract contingencies, such as mortgage financing or the appraisal, could jeopardize my good deal?
Many mortgage applicants have never heard of “rapid rescoring” or CreditXpert score simulations – in part because some lenders choose not to educate them.
It’s a big and confusing question for many homeowners in the wake of the December tax law changes: Are new interest-deductible home equity credit lines (HELOCs) and second mortgages now totally out of reach going forward?
The practice is called “greenwashing” and home shoppers need to be on guard: It means a house is being marketed as environmentally friendly and energy-saving when it doesn’t really deserve that description.
Try to picture this real estate scenario – virtually. Like 90 percent of shoppers searching for a home, you start on the web, checking out listings and locations. You find a house that appears to be what you’re after, and you tap into the photos section of the listing to see the interior shots.
Whether you already own a home or are thinking of purchasing, the new tax legislation pending before Congress poses serious questions: Am I going to get smacked with punitive new taxes? Will the value of my home decrease because previous real estate tax benefits have been stripped away? Or am I one of the lucky ones, well insulated against big losses?
Here’s an important question for anyone hoping to buy a home next year but who isn’t quite confident about qualifying for a mortgage: Is it true that lenders have eased up on certain key requirements, making it simpler for first-time buyers and others who can’t pass all the strict tests to get approved?
The scenario that personal finance and credit experts feared most about the heist of consumer data from Equifax may already be underway: Criminals are using the stolen information to apply for mortgages, credit cards, student loans, tapping into bank debit accounts, filing insurance claims and racking up substantial debts, according to a major new class-action suit.
If you hoped that Senate Republicans would treat homeowners and buyers more kindly in their tax overhaul plans than their colleagues did in the House, you were an optimist. It didn’t happen.