Beyond the Headlines

Aug. 9, 2012

The Wall Street Journal

Finally, it is time to buy a house

Buying real estate is a good long-term investment for many reasons, some of which have only

become apparent in recent weeks.

Making sense of the story

Housing prices rose sharply in May compared with April. The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a

closely watched real estate index, rose 2.2 percent in 20 of the nation’s big cities. Prices

rose more than 3 percent in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Minneapolis.

Nationally, the increase was the first in seven months. More importantly, the increase

matched other data and evidence this spring that foreclosures slowed and inventories

were shrinking. Economics suggests that as the supply of distressed property slows,

buyers will be forced into higher-price properties.

In addition, interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgage have tumbled below 3.5 percent.

For those who can get credit, these aren’t just historically low rates; they are one-sided

deals tilted toward borrowers.

Housing starts also rose in June, and for those who can afford to invest in property, rents

continue to rise. Prices are at a 10-year high. Real estate website Trulia found that it is

cheaper to buy than rent in each of the nation’s 100 biggest metropolitan areas.

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Aug. 9, 2012

In other news …


Mortgage closing costs fell 7 percent for home buyers

The average cost of closing on a mortgage has fallen by 7.4 percent over the past year,

according to a recent survey by

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The New York Times

Simplifying loan documents

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says mortgage documents should be written in

simple, straightforward language, and so it is proposing that lenders provide borrowers with two

new forms. One will come at the start of the lending process, the other just before closing.

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The Washington Post

Mortgage lenders may be easing their standards, but not for everyone

With home prices rising in many markets around the country, might mortgage lenders start

loosening up on their hyper-strict underwriting rules and extend loans to buyers who now find

themselves on the sidelines?

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Aug. 9, 2012


Harder-luck foreclosures grow as funding for help wanes

With millions of homes still in the foreclosure pipeline, foreclosure mortgage counselors say they

are handling increasingly complex cases for homeowners who are unemployed, underwater, or


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Los Angeles Times

Citigroup tries converting troubled homeowners to renters

Citigroup Inc. is testing a program that would allow distressed homeowners to sign over title to

their property and stay on as renters paying less than they did on their mortgages.

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Mortgage applications up, mortgages not so much

This summer, Americans’ interest in taking out a mortgage has skyrocketed, rising to its highest

level in at least three years, according to a quarterly survey of lenders released by the Federal

Reserve this week.

Read the full story

Aug. 9, 2012

What you should know …

The recent spate of earthquakes throughout Southern California is a good reminder

of the importance to be prepared and create a plan.

For parents, knowing the policies of the school or daycare center where the children

attend is essential. Parents should make plans to have someone pick up the

children if they are unable to get to them.

If there is a family member who does not speak English, it is important that he or she

carry an emergency card written in English indicating the person’s identification,

address, and any special needs such as medication or allergies.