Information, Insight, Advice.

Would You Buy A Haunted House?

Not everyone believes in ghosts, but even if you didn't, wouldn't you want to be told of the homes past regarding them? Stigmatized property laws vary state by state. Some states say psychological stigmas are simply not material to a home transaction and allow sellers to omit their disclosure without liability.

Stigmatized property is a term used in the real estate business which describes possible detrimental features of a property or a home, all the fault of unfortunate occurences. These can include murder, suicide, or even AIDS, in addition to the belief that a house may be haunted.

It's not easy to sell a house inhabited by a ghost. Or the property that has been the scene of a ghastly crime. There are properties which are in flawless physical condition but may present unusual marketing issues. For instance, homes which have been the site of murders, suicides or reportedly inhabited by ghosts or voodoo spells are known as stigmatized properties. This is a home with a condition which is psychological in nature rather than a matter of bricks and mortar.

Do You Have to Disclose that a House is Haunted?  Unless your state has a particular law that requires you to do so, you probably don't have to do it. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.

If you don't tell them and they later find out, you could wind up getting sued anyway. Keep in mind that they probably will find out, often the first time they meet the neighbors. So even if you keep the haunted real estate a secret, is it worth it to do so?




8 Signs Housing Is On The Mend

Some Americans are still jittery over the housing market, but here are eight positive signs that should quell some of their fears. 

  1. Housing prices are on the rise across the country.
  2. Foreclosures have slowed. Analysts suggest that as the supply of distressed homes slows, buyers will be forced into higher-price properties too.
  3. Inventories of for-sale homes on the market are decreasing. In fact, inventories of for-sale homes have dropped 24 percent from a year ago.
  4. Mortgage rates are at ultra record level lows, for those who can qualify
  5. Housing starts rose 6.9 percent in June. Also, existing-home sales were up 4.5 percent higher in June compared to one year ago. 
  6. Home building stocks are on the rise.
  7. For investors who are buying homes, rents are soaring, allowing them to cash in on their investments. Rental prices are at a 10-year high as medium units rent for $710 a month.
  8. Home affordability is at record highs for the median income family, due to falling home values and super low mortgage rates. In fact, a recent study found that it is cheaper to buy a home than rent in basically ever major city in the U.S. For those who buy, you can save the cost of renting by owning the home for five years or less.

But while the signs point to a housing market on the mend, some Americans still remain hesitant. Many Americans are still underwater on their mortgage, owing more on their home than it is currently worth. Also, the economy continues to weigh on the recovery, particularly a dampening employment outlook, which analysts see as tied to housing. 

Still, The Wall Street Journal concludes in a recent article that if you take into account all the positive signs lately in the housing market, “housing presents an attractive long-term investment that should hold steady or even have upside surprise in the short term.”

Source: “Finally, It Is Time to Buy a House,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 1, 2012)


New Threat To Home Owners On The Horizon

While the housing market is showing signs of picking up across the country, housing experts warn of a new concern for home owners: resetting home equity lines of credit. 

Home equity lines of credit often require low payments in the initial years as home owners only pay the interest on these loans at the onset. But later on, these loans reset with higher payments when home owners have to start paying down the principal. 

About 44 percent of home owners with home equity lines of credit through Wells Fargo have paid only the minimum amount due on these loans, reports The New York Times.

Many borrowers may soon see their home equity lines of credit reset with higher payments and those higher payments may be too much for some borrowers. 

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently warned of the danger these resetting payments could pose for many home owners across the country. The OCC warned that nearly 60 percent of all home equity line balances would require payments of both principal and interest between 2014 and 2017. 

The report highlights three main threats home equity borrowers face: Rising payments as they begin to pay back the principal and not just the interest on these loans; the risk of rising interest rates (many of these loans have adjustable rates); and refinancing challenges “because collateral values have declined significantly since these loans originated.” 

Many of the home owners have seen their property values decrease since they first took out the home equity loans.

“These are among the riskiest loans in any bank’s portfolio,” The New York Times reports. “As borrowers are pressed to pay principal and interest, write-offs are almost certain to rise.”


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