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Consumer News and Advice Archive


Regional Spotlight: Tax Rebates Await N.Y. Homeowners

By Jay Romano ...


When is the best time to refinance?

Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are two percentage points below their existing home loans. ...


Will I be able to buy again after losing a home to foreclosure?

It can happen. But a lot will depend on your circumstances and the mortgage interest rate you are willing to pay. Generally, most lenders will consider your request for a home loan two to four years after your foreclosure. Predatory lenders will issue a home mortgage in less time. But ...


When do foreclosure proceedings begin?

Usually after the borrower has missed three consecutive mortgage payments. The lender will record a notice of default against the property. And unless the debt is satisfied, the lender will foreclose on the mortgage and proceed to set up a trustee sale, where the property is sold to the highest ...


If faced with foreclosure, what are my options?

Talk with your lender immediately. The lender may be able to arrange a repayment plan or the temporary reduction or suspension of your payment, particularly if your income has dropped substantially or expenses have shot up beyond your control. ...


What about state and local governments?

Just about every state now offers loans for renovation and rehabilitation at below-market interest rates through its Housing Finance Agency or a similar agency. Call your governor's office to get the name and phone number of the agency in your area. ...


Does the federal government offer home improvement programs?

Yes. Among the most popular: ...


How does an unsecured loan work?

The interest rates on these loans are often higher than on secured loans and you generally will not be able to get a tax deduction for the interest paid. However, the costs to obtain an unsecured loan are usually lower. And the relative ease of getting this type of loan ...


Is a home equity line of credit similar to a second mortgage?

A home equity loan, like a second mortgage, lets you tap up to about 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus your current mortgage balance. But because it is set up as a line of credit, you will not be charged interest until you actually make a ...


What about a second mortgage?

It is a loan against the equity in your home. Financial institutions will generally let you borrow up to 80 percent of the appraised value of your home, minus the balance on your original mortgage. ...


How does refinancing work?

With a refinancing, you pay off an old loan on your home and take out a new one, usually at a lower mortgage interest rate. To refinance, you will generally need to have equity in your home, a good credit rating, and steady income. You can borrow a percentage of ...


How can I finance work needed on a fixer-upper?

According to the Millennial Housing Commission, few lenders are willing to administer home improvement loans. Most prefer to make home equity loans or unsecured consumer loans because they are easier to manage. Home improvement loans usually require inspections and irregular draws on the loan amount as work is completed, which ...


Are there ways to save money when using a contractor?

Chances are you will have to pay the going rate for contractors in your area. Architects or designers will typically cost 12 to 20 percent more. ...


What if the job is botched?

If you are displeased with the results for obvious reasons, keep after the contractor to make the needed repairs. When that fails, contact your local consumer protection agency. Make sure you have a copy of the contract, receipts showing payments, and photographs of the work. ...


How do I avoid being ripped off by a less than reputable contractor?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are several ways to spot less than reputable contractors because these hucksters tend to do the following: ...