All posts by Steve Cook
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December 4, 2017

End of the Year Tax Tips for Homeowners

As 2017 draws to a close, Congress is considering important changes in federal income taxes. Several of these have significant implications for homeowners, especially changes in the deductibility of mortgage interest and property taxes. However, most of the changes under consideration in Congress will impact 2018 taxes, not 2017 taxes. So for 2017 taxes, homeowners should plan to comply with the tax code in effect before the reform.

It’s a good idea to review where you stand on your 2017 taxes before the year ends, especially provisions that impact homeowners. Take some time to make sure your documentation is in order. There are issues in the existing tax code that are [...]

 
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November 29, 2017

Will Home Prices Continue to Rise in 2018?

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in 2018, you should know what to expect the housing markets will look like next spring.

Not long ago, before the housing boom and bust, forecasting housing markets was a relatively easy matter for most economists. Real estate prices were a matter of supply and demand. As supplies increase, prices decline. As demand increases, prices rise. Mortgage interest rates, income levels and demographic factors all impact housing demand, and economists can forecast it. Lately, that formula hasn’t worked very well. The healthier economy is providing better incomes, and millennials are ready to buy their first homes. Mortgage [...]

 
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November 20, 2017

Six Tips on Selling Your House During the Holidays

Not so long ago, selling a house during the holidays was to be avoided at all costs. Who wants to look at houses when everyone is busy with parties and family? Buyers and sellers were advised to wait until spring. With the advent of online listings, home sales have become less seasonal; buyers can narrow their choices quickly. In December 2016, sales fell only 1.8 percent from November, and sales would have been better if more homes were on the market. However, many of the homes that sold that month had been lingering on the market longer than homes sold in November. Sellers whose listings were aging were eager to close before the end of the year.

December is a reality check [...]

 
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November 10, 2017

Seven Markets Where Home Prices Are Surprisingly Reasonable

Home prices have soared in many communities over the past three years. The national median home price has risen more than 17 percent since September 2014, but prices still vary greatly by location.

For retirees, families in the market for a second home and real estate investors who can choose where they want to buy a home, affordability is a critical factor today. The days when bargains could be found in thousands of depressed housing markets are over. As prices rise above the peaks set during the housing boom ten years ago, good deals in communities where prices are still reasonable are harder to find. Here are six housing markets that are surprisingly affordable [...]

 
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October 27, 2017

Pros and Cons of Super Low-Down Payment Mortgages

Programs that help first-time buyers put down less than 10 percent of the purchase price have been around for many years. FHA, VA, and state and local housing programs are three of the best-known sources of loans ranging from 3.5 to 5 percent down. In recent years, some commercial lenders have offered mortgages as low as 3 percent down, and in 2017, a number of banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies introduced mortgages requiring as little as 1 percent−or even zero percent−down.

These super low-down payment programs raised fears that would generate riskier loans and possibly return the real estate economy to the days of “pulse loans” that were a big factor in [...]

 
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October 20, 2017

When Should Sellers Consider Reducing Price?

A slow-selling home is a sign that you have a problem that shouldn’t be ignored. There can be many reasons that you are not receiving an offer. You need to find out what it is and take steps to solve the problem.

Nationally, the average time on market for homes today is about a month—much faster than normal due to the inventory shortage. Time on market is the number of days between the time a home is listed on the multiple listing services (MLS), and the time that owner signs a contract from a buyer. This number varies greatly from market to market. For example, this summer, homes in Seattle were selling in less than ten days while in Chicago there were selling in 46 [...]

 
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October 4, 2017

5 Ways to Benefit From New Mortgage Technology

No longer the “stuff of science fiction,” artificial intelligence (AI) is at the heart of a new wave of technology – transforming mortgage lending. Today, lenders are applying powerful new tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning to make the process of underwriting and approving mortgages faster and more accurate. Access to massive sources of consumer behavior and transactional data on properties, plus the ability to process that, is helping lenders validate employment income, assets, and home values.

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that provides computers with the ability to learn for themselves without being [...]

 
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September 28, 2017

Is This the Season to Buy a Premium Home?

America is in the throes of a record three-year-long drought of homes for sale. Through July, the national inventory of homes for sale had fallen 18 percent since 2014. As summer ends, homes sell in 30 days or less, 37 percent faster than they did three years ago. Shortages have contributed to inflationary price increases, bidding wars among buyers and declining home sales are falling as buyers withdraw from real estate markets until conditions improve.

However, these averages tell just part of the story. Shortages are much worse for lower-priced, more affordable homes. In many markets, supplies of higher priced, or “premium priced” homes are adequate or even [...]

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