April 11, 2016
- Two foreign investors brought suit against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services claiming that its rule requiring EB-5 applicants to secure their loans by certain assets is arbitrary and capricious.
- A New York judge held that U.S. Bank’s (as trustee) suit against Credit Suisse was brought within the statute of limitations. The suit sought to make Credit Suisse buy back more than $1 billion in toxic mortgage loans used to back securities by the trust.
- A New York federal judge signed off on $1.2 billion settlement from Wells Fargo for defrauding the Federal Housing Administration by submitting insurance claims for defaulted loans that didn’t meet the FHA’s standards.
April 8, 2016
TheStreet.com quoted me in Investing Your Tax Refund Instead of Spending It Boosts Retirement Savings. It opens,
Ramping up your emergency cash fund or IRA with your tax refund is a better option than spending it on a new smartphone or vacation.
Three out of four taxpayers received a refund of $3,000 in 2015. Although many consumers look forward to this windfall each year, it is not a “cause for celebration,” said Joe Jennings, a wealth director for PNC, a Pittsburgh-based financial institution.
“If you are receiving a large refund check, it actually means that you have loaned money to the government throughout the year and the next year the government is paying you back without interest,” he said.
Adjusting your withholdings is a good strategy if your refund exceeds $1,000. Changing the number of exemptions on your W-4 means you will net more income from each paycheck.
Bankrate.com, a North Palm Beach, Fla.-based financial content company, found that 31% of Americans who receive a tax refund this year plan to save or invest it. The survey revealed that 28% will use the funds to pay down debt, 27% will spend it on necessities like food/utility bills and 6% will splurge with a shopping spree or vacation.
Some consumers view the refund as a method of forcing them to save money each year or a way to pay down existing debt such as credit card balances with high interest.
Pay Off Existing Debt
Use your refund check to pay off as much as your credit card or student loan debt as possible since the amount of interest you are paying each month adds up quickly, said Jonathan Bochese, director of resolution services for Tax Defense Network, LLC, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based tax resolution company.
“The best use for any tax refund is to use it to pay off high interest revolving debts,” he said.
With the current low interest rate environment in money market funds and CDs, paying down debt is a no-brainer.
“If you can only make 3% on your investment and your debt is at a higher rate, pay off the debt,” said Carl Sera, a portfolio manager with Covestor, the online investing marketplace and managing principal of Sera Capital Management, a registered investment advisor in Annapolis, Md. “Don’t make it a habit to receive a tax refund, because it is money you have lent the taxing authority at a zero interest rate.”
Homeowners who do not have any other debt should pay down their mortgage by making an extra payment or two instead of stashing the refund in a savings account that is only receiving minimal interest, said David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School.
“By doing so, you are making the equivalent of a pre-tax return of the interest rate on your mortgage,” he said. “If your mortgage has a 5% interest rate and your savings account has a 0.1% interest rate that is like getting a 4.9% higher rate of interest without taking any risk at all.”
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an updated report looking at 13 housing, health and social services block grant programs finding that the median funding from each program’s inception has decreased by a quarter.
- The Labor Department’s most recent labor report found that 215,000 jobs were created in March.
- The Brookings Institution released a report finding that concentrated poverty has increased since the Great Recession across the United States, from 5.2 million to 14 million living in extremely poor neighborhoods.
- The National Housing Conference and Children’s HealthWatch released a report finding that homelessness and unstable housing can harm infants and young children.
April 6, 2016
Realtor.com quote me in More Single Women Hunt for Homes, Not Husbands. It reads, in part,
Alayna Tagariello Francis had always assumed she’d marry first, then buy a home. But when she found herself footloose, free, and definably single in her early 30s, she decided to make a clean break from tradition: She started home shopping for one.
“After dating for a long time in New York City, I really didn’t know if I was going to meet anyone,” she says. “I didn’t want to keep throwing away money on rent or fail to have an investment because I was waiting to get married.”
So in 2006, Francis bought a one-bedroom in Manhattan for $400,000—and was surprised by how good it felt to accomplish this milestone without help.
“To buy a home without a husband or boyfriend wasn’t my plan,” she says, “but it gave me an immense sense of pride.”
It’s no secret that both men and women are tying the knot later in life. A generation ago, statistics from the Census Bureau showed that men and women rushed to the altar in their early 20s; now, the median age for a first-time marriage has crept into the late 20s—and that’s if they marry at all.
The surprise is that even though today’s women still make 21% less than men, more single women than men are now choosing to charge ahead and invest in a home of their own. It’s changing the face of homeownership in America.
And while that decision to buy can help build wealth and ensure financial stability, plenty of women are finding the road from renter to owner is filled with unforeseen obstacles—and plenty of soul-searching.
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Why women shouldn’t wait
But then again, few of us have fully operational Ouija boards we can pull out of storage to pinpoint exactly when our ideal significant other will arrive on the scene. So putting house hunting on pause is something fewer women are willing to do.
“Women today don’t sit around and wait for Prince Charming,” says Wendy Flynn, a Realtor® in College Station, TX, who has helped numerous single women buy homes. After all, Flynn points out, “The time frame for meeting your dream man, getting married, and having kids—well, that’s a pretty long timeline.” So even if you do meet The One a day after closing on your home, “you could sell your home in a few years and still make a profit—or at the worst, probably break even.” If you buy right, that is.
That said, women who do want to marry and have kids as soon as possible will want to eye their potential home purchase with that in mind. Is the new place big enough for a family? Or, if you think you’ll sell and move into a larger place once you’re hitched, how easy will it be to sell your original home—or are you allowed to rent it out?
And if you marry or a partner moves in, make sure to consult a lawyer if you want your partner to share homeownership along with you.
“You definitely should not assume that your spouse’s home is transferred automatically to you once you get married,” says David Reiss, an urban law professor at Brooklyn Law School.
- Social Networks and Housing Markets, Michael Bailey, Ruiqing Cao, Theresa Kuchler & Johannes Stroebel.
- Externalities of Public Housing: The Effect of Public Housing Demolitions on Local Crime, Danielle H. Sandler, US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP-16-16.
- Housing Market Effects of Appraising Below Contract, Hamilton B. Fout & Vincent W. Yao.
- Distributional Implications of Government Guarantees in Mortgage Markets, Pedro Gete & Franco Zecchetto.
- Is California More Energy Efficient than the Rest of the Nation? Evidence from Commercial Real Estate, Matthew E. Kahn, Nils Kok & Peng Liu, USC-INET Research Paper No. 16-08.
- Housing, Housing Policy, and Housing Finance: Time for a Re-Assessment, Lawrence J. White, Milken Institute Review, Forthcoming.
- Green Marketing: A Study of Consumer Purchase Behaviour for Green Homes, Chitral Patel & Pawan K. Chugan, New Age Ecosystem for Empowering Trade, Industry and Society, Eds., Pawan K. Chugan, Deepak Srivastava, Nikunj Patel and Nirmal C. Soni, Excel India Publishers, New Delhi, for Institute of Management, Nirma University, Ahmedabad India. Jan. 2016, ISBN: 978-93-85777-08-0, pp. 254-268.