Home Buying and Selling

Housing, Energy and Investing

A roof over your head and gas in your tank cost more than ever. But prices for these essentials color your view of investing.

What do your nest egg, retirement planning and personal finances share with the overall American economy? Plenty, especially when it comes to the bite from energy and home prices.

In recent years rising gasoline and heating or cooling costs gobbled up family income, even as a depressed housing market erased personal wealth and left Americans feeling uncertain about their economic prospects.

Homeowning for the Young

Your time has come to grow beyond renting a home. What now?

Gen Y, those born in the 1980s and early 1990s, look today to build equity and save on rent by researching the benefits of owning versus renting. Whether married or single, when it comes to renting and owning, you must consider these questions:

Do Your Homebuying Math

The biggest purchase you likely ever make comes with many potential pitfalls. Here’s how to dodge some.

Home sales do remain sluggish. The number of contracts Americans signed to buy previously owned homes unexpectedly fell in October for the fifth consecutive month. The gauge of pending home sales decreased 0.6% after a 4.6% drop in September, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Buy Commercial Real Estate?

Want a good way to build wealth? Own commercial real estate. But only if you are willing to undertake due diligence that may not be readily available online, make a big hands-on commitment to mind the investment and exercise enormous patience.

Real estate is one of the largest asset classes in the world. The family home is the largest asset many middle-class Americans own. And real estate makes up a significant portion of the net worth of many wealth accumulators.

Mortgage Rate Outlook: Up

The Federal Reserve’s efforts to ease interest rates also pump up housing, because more people can afford mortgages, are a great plan – but what happens when the Fed stops? Mortgage rates head up.

Reverse Mortgages: Trickier

Would-be homeowners long turned to the Federal Housing Administration for affordable mortgages. That’s also true for older folks and reverse mortgages, which they use to supplement their income by tapping the equity value of their homes. But the agency is tightening the terms on these loans.

Expanded loan volume paired with what some suggest is a decrease in loan quality have led to increased defaults and depleted FHA reserve funds.

Empty Nesters: Downsize?

The day has finally come. Your children graduated from college and started their first jobs. But more importantly, they no longer live with you or depend on you financially. So how do you downsize your home, now that you need less of it?

Downsizing your current home lets you cut down on house maintenance and property taxes. However, while part of it seems quite liberating, it can also be a bit scary leaving the house you lived in for the last few decades.

Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate this next chapter of your life:

Know Mortgages’ Numbers

Buying a home is life’s biggest financial investment for most people. Because of the size of the commitment, most buyers need a home loan and must choose a mortgage with unusual care. Here’s what to look for.

Mortgage Backing: Tougher

Since the depths of the Great Depression, the Federal Housing Administration has helped cash-strapped Americans buy homes. This government agency recently toughened some rules, and here’s what you must know now before applying for an FHA mortgage.

Why Mortgage Rates Will Climb

Mortgage rates are up now and are driving higher in the future for two reasons, both emanating from Washington, including one that many are overlooking.

The first reason is well known: The Federal Reserve is planning to withdraw its bond-buying program. The second reason, whose impact is down the road, is the likely revamping or outright extinction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-supported mortgage giants.

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