A 1/2 Billion Dollar House?

At 55,000 square feet, the White House isn’t just any old McMansion. But recent reports on a project that broke ground last year indicate that it’s originally ambitious goals were actually understated. The home is currently planned to have a 74,000 square foot main residence, with total square footage for all buildings in the compound coming in at 100,000 sq. ft.  And of course, what would a house like that be without a 30-car garage, and your own, private casino. The master bedroom is bigger than most homes at 5,000 sq. ft.  The developer plans to list it for $500 million.

5 Things You Should Know about The FHA

Conventional mortgages are those not insured by a government agency — and to get one, you usually need to put 20% down, and they’re usually only 30-year, fixed rate. If those terms don’t fit your needs, then you can consider an FHA guaranteed loan, and if you do, you need to know a few things. Philly.com wrote a nice introductory article covering five points about FHA backed mortgages. It covers everything from current down-payment requirements to some more surprising items, like FHA mortgages may be easier to re-finance.

FHFA Looking to Enable More Low-Cost Housing

Apparently, there’s confusion. The Federal Home Loan Banks (a collection of 12 regional banks that help finance mortgages made by their member banks) have been holding back on purchasing mortgages from their members, because they’re unsure how they would have to meet Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) targets for affordable housing. The FHFA has declared this an undesirable outcome. As a result, they’re looking into new ways that they might encourage home loans for people in the very-low to moderate income ranges.

Are You Moving from DIY to DIFM?

Did you finish some much needed work on the house this Memorial Day weekend? Or maybe kick-off a new project? For 30 years now, do-it-yourself has been a big part of American life, and has led to the success of companies like Home Depot). But it looks like the UK has started moving in the other direction. Apparently, DIY projects reached their peak in England all the way back in 2004 — they’re giving up on do-it-yourself, and moving to do-it-for-me. What about you? Have you started to see this trend in the U.S.? Or have our British cousins just gotten a little bit too lazy?


WSJ Critiques Financial Regulatory Improvement Act

Last week Wednesday, this blog reported on Sen. Shelby’s discussion draft of The Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015. For those of you who are inclined to delve a little deeper into these things, and who haven’t already done so, you may be interested in the Wall Street Journal’s critique of the draft. The upshot is, the particular way the bill proposes to loosen the requirements around qualified mortgages may, in fact, put banks in a worse position than they were before the 2008 collapse — and no one wants to see that again. Well worth the read if you have an opinion on banks’ ability to self-assess their risks.

Stop! Think! Before You Prepay Your Mortgage…

Conventional wisdom is that you should pre-pay your mortgage — at the very least, you should break your monthly payment in half and pay it twice per month. Doing so can dramatically shorten the period of your loan and save you a bunch of money in the long haul. But as with all things, conventional wisdom isn’t necessarily the right answer. Liz Weston writes for CBS MoneyWatch, and addresses four reasons you very well may be better off doing something with that money other than pre-paying your mortgage. Plus, she uncovers some pre-payment scams you should avoid.

Student Loans Not Stopping Millennials from Buying Homes

There has been a lot of talk around the differences in buying patterns for Millennials — everything from not owning televisions, to living (much) longer with their parents, to not buying homes even when they do move out of the basement. Particularly over the last decade, the rabid increase in student-loan debt has been used as a partial explanation for these differences. However, it looks like that isn’t true. CNBC reports on a study by TransUnion which seems to show that, while Millennial buying patterns may differ from those of previous generations, it does not appear that student-loan debt has any impact on home buying.

Don’t Let Finals Frazzle Your Family

Just as you’ve finished spring-cleaning and are preparing to enter prime BBQ season, one last thing is here to stress you and your family before you can relax for the summer: your children’s school exam season. Thankfully, we’re not just reaching exam time here in the U.S., but the U.K. is as well, and our friends across the pond have assembled this list of 10 tips to keep your family sane and sensible at this time of stress for your teenagers. Actually, these 10 tips are good advice year ‘round, but they’re particularly apropos at this time when a case of spring fever can result in more-last-minute-than-usual paper-writing and cram sessions.

Baby Steps in Mortgage Reform

A few months ago, this blog covered plans by U.S. lawmakers to try and push through some mortgage reform — clearly an uphill battle. According to MarketWatch, any such legislative overhauls may take a while — Congress appears to be in no hurry. However, just because congress isn’t acting doesn’t mean the government isn’t. Last year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency requested feedback on some proposals, and after having received “mostly positive feedback,” is planning to move forward some transformations that may allow borrowers to pay less.