Kenneth R. Harney

Kenneth R. Harney

Washington Post Columnist

Kenneth R. Harney can be reached at kharney@thewarrengroup.com

‘Tax Transcript’ Program Doesn’t Shield Borrowers’ Data

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.

KENNETH HARNEY

Taxpayers Get Good News on HELOCs

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.

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New Budget Holds Hidden Tax Benefits

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.

KENNETH HARNEY

New Real Estate Survey Offers Helpful Insight for Buyers and Sellers Alike

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?

KENNETH HARNEY

Virtual Staging Can Make Houses Look too Good to be True

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.

KENNETH HARNEY

Tax Proposal Could Carry High Costs For Many Homeowners

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?

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Less-Stringent Standards Open Options For Homebuyers

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?

KENNETH HARNEY

Equifax Breach Already Taking A Toll On Consumers

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.