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Bloomberg: Reverse mortgages are staging a comeback

Reverse mortgages might be “America’s most hated home loan,” according to a recent article in Bloomberg, but the news outlet also says they are staging a comeback thanks to the support of leading academics. Bloomberg talks to Columbia Business School professor Chris Mayer, who is also the CEO of reverse mortgage lender Longbridge Financial. Mayer was an economist at the Federal Reserve of Boston and holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bloomberg says Mayer and others, including with Alicia Munnell of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, are trying to “rehabilitate one of the U.S.’s most-reviled financial products” and the move is part of an industry-wide push to spread awareness through academics rather than celebrities. In the past, reverse mortgages were touted as an option for cash-strapped seniors by celebrities like Fred Thompson, Henry Winkler and Richard Wagner. While American Advisors Group, which currently holds nearly a quarter of the market’s share, does employ Tom Selleck to star in ads about the loan, the rest of the industry has left celebs behind as it embraces a new message about reverse mortgages. In recent years, a number of financial experts and researchers have explored the ways in which a reverse mortgage can be used as a smart financial planning tool in retirement. The idea is to take a reverse early in retirement and draw upon the funds when needed if other assets are down, building a line of credit in the process that can be used in emergencies. The hope, it seems, is to get people to see reverse mortgages in a new light. “Academics represent a new face for an industry that’s long relied on aging celebrity pitchmen,” Bloomberg wrote.

Here are two new ways to boost retirement income

But are these newfangled alternatives to reverse mortgage loans safe—and sensible? In a shared equity agreement, the company gives you cash in exchange for a portion of the upside in the home’s value. Under the agreement, the company gives you cash in exchange for a portion of the upside in the home’s value at some point in the future. In essence, they become co-owners of your home (though you will still continue to pay the mortgage and property taxes). Shared equity agreements have a fixed term, often as little as 10 years but sometimes as long as 30. At the end of the term, you have to pay back the equity you received, plus the company’s share of appreciation, which most people do by selling the home. Converting to a rental Another option is called a sale-leaseback, offered by New York City-based start-ups Irene and EasyKnock. Then they rent your property back to you for as long as you want. Sale-leaseback companies also charge fees, of course. To repurchase your home, you’ll pay the funding amount you initially received, plus a premium of 5% in the first year or 2.5% in subsequent years.

Detroit’s mortgages return to pre-recession levels, still face obstacles

(Photo: Max Ortiz, The Detroit News) Detroit — Nearly 1,300 home buyers took out mortgages in the city in 2018, a number not seen here since before the Great Recession. More than six years later, most home sales still are all-cash, and many Detroiters cannot obtain a loan. “Undoubtedly, Chemical’s presence will help residents access these tools.” (Photo: Max Ortiz, The Detroit News) Bertha Alexander relied on one of those tools after she lost her home insurance on the Morningside bungalow she purchased through a land contract in 2013. Since then, the bank has joined other efforts to increase financial literacy and lending. Maurice Cox, city of Detroit planning and development director, said Chemical Bank's move to Detroit is an endorsement that the city's recovery can be sustained. In 2018, residential properties gained more than $400 million in value and 90 percent of Detroit’s 194 neighborhoods saw increases in residential home values. While it is down from 97 percent in 2014, according to the Urban Institute, the national average is 36 percent. It offers low-interest mortgages and second loans up to $75,000 above the property’s appraisal for repairs. “We want people to know you can get a mortgage in the city of Detroit,” Pate said. Quicken Loans, Detroit's largest home lender in 2018 with 439 mortgages, provided $5 million to partner with Home Depot to renovate 70 homes in the city since 2015.

The cost of homeownership vs. renting over 3, 5 and 10 years

Buy or rent? Find mortgage rates for first-time buyers (Jan 26th, 2019) Ongoing costs Once you’ve moved in, you’ll need to be able to comfortably pay all those expenses that renters don’t have to worry about. So what are those costs? Should you buy now? Mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20 percent, most mortgage lenders require you to purchase mortgage insurance. Government-backed mortgages also have mortgage insurance costs. Every month, an amount to cover your annual insurance and property taxes is added to your principal and interest payment. And, by the time your place is 25 years old, you should each year be setting aside 4 percent of the purchase price. Presumably, you’d have had to rent a home. Landlords typically charge each month between 0.8 percent and 1.1 percent of a home’s value.

Affordable Housing Bond Measures Pass in Three States

While most of the national attention in last night’s election coverage focused on prominent personalities in key states, a number of local referendums addressed issues related to housing affordability. Portland voters approved a $652.8 million bond measure to build more affordable housing. Two North Carolina cities also passed bond measures to finance affordable housing. The measure will finance the creation of new low-income housing and the rehabilitation of foreclosed, blighted or dilapidated single-family houses and apartments. Separately, voters in Chapel Hill approved a $10 million bond to build and preserve more than 700 affordable homes and apartments. Paying off the bond could add a penny to the town’s tax rate of 52.80 cents per $100 in property value. In Texas, Austin voters approved a $250 million proposal for affordable housing. “We’re excited for this historic bond to have passed with such an overwhelming margin,” said John Lawler, the Head of the Keep Austin Affordable coalition organized in support of the bond, in an interview with the Austin Statesman. “We see it as a mandate for the city of Austin to invest heavily in affordable housing.” However, one proposition that went down in defeat. Sponsored

No Pay Stub? No Problem. Unconventional Mortgages Make a Comeback

Ms. Hering’s case highlights how a flavor of mortgage once panned for its role in the housing meltdown a decade ago is making a comeback. Lenders issued $34 billion worth of these unconventional mortgages in the first three quarters of 2018, a 24% increase from the same period a year earlier, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry research group. Even so, some regulators, consumer advocates and others worry that the growth in this type of mortgage and rising competition to make such loans could lead to renewed risks for the housing market. But traditional lenders, which are doing less conventional business as interest rates rise, are turning to borrowers with harder-to-document creditworthiness as a new source of revenue and are helping to drive the growth. Tom Jessop, the loan consultant at New American Funding who handled Ms. Hering’s loan, said he has seen demand for unconventional loans double over the past 18 months and they currently makes up more than one-third of his business. “As more companies enter the space you’re going to see more competition, and with more competition, you’re going to see loosening of underwriting” standards. Photo: Jessica Pons for The Wall Street Journal In many unconventional loans for which it is difficult to document income, borrowers use bank statements like Ms. Hering did to show they are making money. Newsletter Sign-up Ms. Hering, who is 30 years old, received a loan at a rate of just over 6% for the first five years; it adjusts after that. She used the money to fully buy out her grandfather’s house in San Clemente, Calif. She jointly inherited it with other relatives and said she needed a loan to pay them for their shares of the property. “It was scary because if it didn’t work out then I would have had to give up the house, but I was determined to keep it,” said Ms. Hering, who is renting out rooms in the house to help pay the mortgage.

Mortgage originations slow in Las Vegas

Rising interest rates and price appreciation are slowing mortgage originations in Las Vegas, but a growing percentage of homeowners here are bucking the national trend by refinancing their homes and getting home equity lines of credit, according to a research firm. The interest rates surpassed 5 percent for the first time since the downturn of the market in October 2008, when rates were 6.5 percent, she said. Someone with a credit score in the mid-600s can get a rate of 5.375 percent with a 5 percent down payment. “People trying to buy homes are running into problems because it’s cutting into their affordability,” Gatling said. It is normal during this time of year for the market to slow down, but with rising rates and uncertainty in the political environment, you are going to see a lot of people on the sideline to watch what happens.” What will help Las Vegas originations is people relocating here for jobs who won’t be deterred from buying in a market that has lower home prices than where they currently live, Hulsey said. The total number of originations in Las Vegas during the second quarter was 20,802, a gain of 7 percent over the second quarter of 2017. That was driven by a gain in refinance, up 14 percent to 7,290, and home equity lines of credit, up 28 percent over the past year to 1,817. Both of those large gains in Las Vegas go against the national trend, Blomquist said. Blomquist attributes price appreciation in Las Vegas for the gains in refinancing and home equity lines of credit. Hulsey said they’re seeing more Nevada customers turn to home equity products for “home improvements, make large purchases or consolidate other debts.” All of the second-quarter totals in Las Vegas are well below the peak of the market, according to ATTOM.

Do you need good credit to buy a home?

Luckily, you don’t need impeccable credit to buy a home. For instance, official FHA guidelines say you can get a 3.5% down loan with a 580 score. Apply with many lenders, especially if you have a lower credit score. Check your eligibility for a low-credit home loan here. (Oct 31st, 2018) Credit score minimums The following minimums apply to the major loan types available in today’s market Conventional/conforming: 620 minimum credit score FHA loans: 580 minimum score (3.5% down); 500 score (10% down) VA loans: No minimum score per guidelines, but lenders set minimums around 620 USDA loans: 640 minimum, although some lenders will approve lower scores Keep in mind that if you have banged-up credit, an FHA, VA, or USDA loan might suit you best. Conventional loans come with high rates for applicants with credit scores below 680. If you’re in the market to buy a home, it’s best to know your credit issues so you can start addressing them. Other times, you have to make timely payments for 6-12 months before your credit score starts rising again. How do I check my eligibility for a home loan? The first step to buying a home is to get pre-approved via an application with a lender.

Millennials would rather buy real estate from an influencer than an agent

If you’re trying to help a millennial with real estate, you might be better off being an influencer than an agent. A recent Engel & Völkers study found that 80 percent of millennials would consider hiring an influencer as a real estate agent, according to Inman. The study surveyed more than 1,000 people born between 1982 and 1999 with annual incomes of more than $100,000. The top three factors for the participants when choosing a real estate agent were referrals, local reputation and neighborhood expertise. But, agents “have to have a niche or distinguishing factor that blends this knowledge with entertainment or aspirational value that will make you a center of influence — building your following and referral base as a result,” explained Engel & Völkers Americas President and CEO Anthony Hitt, speaking to Inman. The study also found that 98 percent of respondents refer to social media or online reviews when contemplating a purchase and 84 percent said influencers “impacted their decision.” [Inman] – Eddie Small

Stuck in the rent vs buy dilemma? Consider the local price-to-rent ratio

Price-to-rent answers affordability questions If you’re debating whether to rent or buy, look to your local price-to-rent ratio for guidance. Verify your new rate (Oct 29th, 2018) Where buying a home’s more affordable According to a new analysis from Rentberry, Trenton, New Jersey, boasts the nation’s lowest price-to-rent ratio, making it a slam-dunk for potential home buyers. The median property price in Trenton sits at $149,700, while the average monthly rent is $1,500 per month, making Trenton’s rent-to-price ratio 8. Daniela Andreevska, content director at real estate analytics firm Mash Visor, says anything in the 15 and under range means buying a home is more affordable than renting. “For renters and homebuyers, this means that it is relatively cheaper to buy a property in a certain market rather than to rent there,” Andreevska said. “So, if you have the necessary cash for a down payment and have figured out the rest of your financing in such a market, go ahead and buy a home.” Other cities with low price-to-rent ratios include Toledo, Dayton and Akron, Ohio; Syracuse, New York; Davenport, Iowa; Hartford, Connecticut, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Lansing, Michigan. “In most of these locations, the median property price does not exceed $250,000, which is below the level in many other top markets at the moment,” Andreevska said. Home prices in the area average $1.4 million, while the average monthly rent is $2,780. “Some of these cities are infamous for the high real estate prices there, such as San Francisco, New York, El Paso, and Irvine,” Andreevska said. In such expensive markets, it makes sense that renting is the better option or even the only affordable one.” Show Me Today's Rates (Oct 29th, 2018) Get today’s mortgage rates Looking to buy a home in one of the nations low price-to-rent markets?

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Home buyers beware: Most expensive housing markets in some states average...

The U.S. economic recovery and continued growth have had many positive effects on the nation and the population. For at least one group, however, the improving economy has had a negative impact — for potential homebuyers. Along with incomes and low unemployment, the housing market continues to grow. Of course, housing markets are different from one another. To determine the county with the most expensive housing market in every state, 24/7 Wall Street reviewed median home values of 3,119 counties and county equivalents as of the second quarter of 2017 from the National Association of Realtors. In California, the most expensive market has a median value in excess of $1 million. In other states, the most expensive market barely tops $200,000. homes valued $1,000,000+: 6.4% More: American cities with the most property crime in every state Most expensive housing market: Carver County Median home price: $329,383 Median mortgage payment: $1,331 Median household income: $88,638 (State: $65,599) Pct. homes valued $1,000,000+: 3.9% More: Cities where crime is soaring in every state Most expensive housing market: New York County Median home price: $932,366 Median mortgage payment: $3,768 Median household income: $75,513 (State: $62,909) Pct. 24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary.