Archive for the 'Mortgage Debt' Category

Have We Reached the Final Stretch of the Real Estate Downturn?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Last week I received two real estate reports I subscribe to. Both pointed to slight decreases in unsold inventory in several markets such as California, Nevada, New Jersey, and the national average. This trend could be the beginning of the real estate recovery we’ve all been praying for. Consumer confidence rose slightly in July too, so that’s another good sign. If the recession is short-lived we could see the market coming back by next spring.

On one of my walks around town this weekend, I passed a block where three homes in a row had been for sale. One sold late this spring, and the other two now have signs saying they’re under contract. I think things are getting better in the real estate market. Houses are selling. Every realtor I speak to confirms this. It’s just going to take a while for the public at large to catch on and change their perception.

If you’re in the market to buy - start looking and buy this year. If things turn around we could see appreciating prices by the next spring market. And, by the way the spring market actually begins in February.

Repay! Repay! How to Find Hidden Money in Your Budget

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

The Sunday edition of The New York Times had an excellent article titled, Given a Shovel, Digging Deeper into Debt, about the dangers of using credit cards and cash-out refinances to live beyond your means. The story focuses on a woman, who like millions of homeowners in recent years, refinanced her home several times to pay off credit card debt, until she ended up $271,000.00 in debt; $129,000.00 more than the original loan amount she’d taken to buy her house. Her financial house of cards came crashing down when she had a serious medical emergency, and then later lost both her jobs. Her home is now in foreclosure.

The article also placed some of the blame on lenders’ policies of easy access to money for both mortgages and credit cards, and their strategic marketing campaigns designed to ease the guilt associated with spending money and increasing debt. The woman in the article says what she regrets most is all her needless shopping. She said if she had it to do all over again she would learn to deal with her emotions instead of using shopping as therapy.

I’ve written several similar posts on this such as; Is Advertising Making up Poor?; Creating Kindergarten Consumers; Will We Ever Learn When it Comes to Mortgage Lending?; and How to Reduce Credit Card Debt all dealing with the issue of living beyond your means, and our addiction to consumerism. The road to financial solvency and real wealth begins with reducing, and then eliminating credit card debt.

To find the extra cash needed to pay off credit cards take a hard look at where your money goes each month:

1. Bottled water. Buy a water filter instead and “make” your own.

2. Don’t use paper towels for everything from cleaning to spills. Buy some good dishtowels and micro-fiber cleaning cloths that can be washed and used over and over.

3. Do not waste another cent on disposable ANYTHING from paper plates, plastic cups and utensils, coffee filters, toilet scrubbers, to mop cloths. Buy permanent and reusable items instead.

4. Go through your pantry once a month and pull everything out. You’ll probably find you already have 2 or 3 of everything you keep buying each time you go grocery shopping.

5. Cut back, or cancel your cable television entirely. You’ll be surprised how much time opens up to do other things in your life.

6. Stop shopping for clothes for every occasion. Go through your closet and find all the clothes with tags on them, or that you rarely wear – and start wearing them. Everyone will think you bought new clothes anyway.

7. Use up all the shampoos and conditioners you have lining the shelves of your medicine chest before you go out to buy more.

8. Don’t pay to have others do the things you can do yourself such as house cleaning, manicures, or hair coloring. Cancel the fancy landscaping and fertilizer service. Scale back to just a mowing service, or better yet cut the grass and trim the bushes yourself.

9. Wait a day and think before making a purchase on credit. Many times the impulse to buy fades within a day or two and we realize we really don’t need the thing as much as we thought we did anyway.

You’ll be surprised how much more money you’ll have to pay down credit card debt when you cut back on just a few of these things. Look around there are probably more things you can cut. Commit to buying with cash from now on and you’ll be on your way to attaining real wealth.

To read the NYT article paste this link into your browser:

Home Sharing can Help Ease Mortgage Burdens

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Opening your home to someone who cannot afford the high cost of renting an apartment is one viable solution for struggling homeowners. There’s a great article in the New York Times today about the rise in homeowners taking in boarders to help make ends meet.

Many agencies offer home share matching for free. Check online or contact local women’s shelters or houses of worship to find home sharing programs in your area. Potential boarders must go through background checks before being matched up with a homeowner. If you’re considering taking in a boarder home-share agencies offer a safe way to bring a potential stranger into your home.

To read this article paste this link into your browser:


The Sky is Not Falling

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Yesterday, I heard from someone looking to buy a new home closer to his work. He shared some exciting news; his current home had sold in only a few weeks and would be closing by Labor Day.

This is great news. Why don’t we hear this from media? The fact is homes are selling, and some still sell very quickly. There is good news out there - even if we have to dig it up ourselves.

Our economy reflects our collective beliefs. It will change when we change. Look around you and find some good news of your own to celebrate. Do it now, and don’t be surprised if you soon begin to notice more, and more things that are going right, rather than wrong.

Who Creates Your Economy?

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Do consumers create the economy, or does the news create the economy we experience? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Why is it that when the economy is sizzling we feel positive and go out and buy what we need even if nothing has changed for us, and when the economy slows we step back and allow fear to grip us?

A few years ago when the housing market was roaring and seemingly unstoppable there were some lone voices touting that it was only a matter of time before the “housing bubble” would burst. But, these voices were few in comparison to the din of positive ones, so buyers continued to buy and sellers continued to sell with ease.

The negative voices started drowning out the positive ones when banks began showing losses in the subprime market (loans to buyers with sub-par credit), which caused buyers to hesitate and stand on the sidelines. As buyers withdrew from the market prices dropped based on oversupply and decreasing demand. As values sank banks began reigning in many of the programs that had enabled a majority of home purchasers to buy, cutting another segment of buyers from the market and compounding the problem.

While this is an over-simplification of what happened, I believe the repetition of the message that the real estate market was in a melt-down reached a saturation point in the consciousness of consumers causing the market to come to a halt. When a vast number of buyers stopped buying – home prices tumbled – affirming the ‘bubble’ theory. So, if we consumers contributed to creating this stalled real estate market can we UN-create it?

In order to release the brakes on the economy, we have to realize that our buying habits affect the economy tremendously. The only way to begin to reverse this economic contraction is by first recognizing what’s working in our lives, no matter how small it may be. This doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge the difficulties and challenges we or our fellow citizens may be facing, what it does mean is that we take whatever action is necessary, do what we need to do, and then we move on. We don’t allow ourselves to wallow in the negativity. Only when we begin to feel confident about the course of our own lives will the economy begin to perk-up.

Do you have business-clients to work with? Be grateful. Even if it’s being able to pay your bills this month – commend yourself. If you have the money to buy something you’ve been wanting – do it. Don’t allow the fear-based headlines to hypnotize you. Stop replaying the messages of lack and limitation and acknowledge what’s going right in your life instead. Do something you enjoy, even for an hour a day that distracts you from constantly dwelling on all this depressing news, and you’ll feel better and possibly even come up with a great new idea that will improve your life. Endless worrying will not solve any problems.

I’ve decided that I do create my own economy. My economy originates from within me. If I allow myself to be consumed by fear I’ll surely make wrong choices based on panic and probably end up creating the fearful circumstances I’m trying to avoid. I know for sure I’ll overlook opportunities. I believe that if I’m calm I’m more apt to come up with solutions. So, I’m choosing to focus on what’s working in my life rather than on what the headlines say. What’s the worst thing that can happen? I deal with my problems while remaining calm? You have to deal with them anyway.

I’d like to hear from readers who’ve overcome difficulties when they chose to focus on what was working rather than what wasn’t. We all need to be inspired. Share you story.