Bias continues even with online mortgage lenders

It would seem that online mortgage lending would reduce discrimination against minorities, but a new study from University of California, Berkeley, found otherwise. The study showed that both in-person and online lenders charge black and Latino buyers higher interest rates. People of color and other minorities end up with up to half a billion dollars more in interest than white home buyers, the study found. The surprising thing is that it’s the technology itself that’s causing the bias. The authors of the study said that one of the main reasons for the discrimination is “algorithmic strategic pricing.” That is what…..

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Rise in home prices slowing down

The most recent data on home prices in 20 U.S. cities showed the slowest rise in four years, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of property values. The data for the 20 cities covers eight months in row as of November 2018. The index increased 4.7 percent year over year. In the prior month, the rise in prices over the prior 12-month period was 5 percent. Despite the slowdown in the rise, all 20 cities in the index had increases year-over-year. The highest increases were 12 percent in Las Vegas and 8.1 percent in Phoenix. The weakest gains were…..

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Where one-third of millennials get the money for a down payment

It’s no secret that the housing market is competitive, especially in big metropolitan areas. Winning a bidding war for the home you want can mean making a bid above the asking price, too. Where do young, millennial homeowners find the money for a down payment? According to a recent Bank of the West survey of more than 600 adults ages 21-34, one-third of homeowners either withdrew from or took a loan against their retirement savings. The study also found that one in five millennials plan to do the same when they buy their first home. Borrowing or withdrawing money from…..

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Avoid problems with your mortgage application: Tips for applicants

There are all sorts of stories out there about predatory lenders being sued for fraud against homebuyers. On the other side of the coin, however, a study by CoreLogic found that fraud by mortgage applicants is also rising. According to the study, approximately 0.92 percent of all mortgage applications during the second quarter of 2018 included fraudulent elements, more than in the second quarter of 2017, when an estimated 0.82 percent of applications did. Even a small statement on your application that simply isn’t true could land you in big legal trouble. The federal crime of mortgage fraud brings with…..

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Protect assets, retain access with a Spousal Lifetime Access Trust

A Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT) is an estate planning tool that can be used to lock in the current estate tax exemption while still allowing a certain degree of access to trust assets. SLAT basics A SLAT is an irrevocable trust created by one spouse for the benefit of the other. The gift removes assets from your estate but allows your spouse to access the trust. It provides you with indirect access to the funds while protecting assets from both creditors and estate taxes. Here are the key benefits of creating a SLAT: Avoiding probate: Assets in a SLAT…..

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Preventing a will contest

When you write a will, you have control over how your assets will be distributed after your death. However, if someone in your family disputes your will, an anonymous probate court judge could end up with the final say over who gets your property. Emotions run high when someone dies. If family members aren’t content with what they’ve received, or don’t believe your wishes are being interpreted properly, they may contest your will. Will contests can drag out for years, preventing your heirs from getting the assets you wanted them to receive. As part of creating an estate plan, look…..

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Estate planning critical for non-traditional couples

Generally speaking, estate planning laws were designed for the traditional nuclear family, a married couple with kids. But according to the 2010 U.S. Census, such families are less than 50 percent of the total. Non-traditional families, including single parents, blended families and unwed partners, need to pay particular attention to their estate plans to avoid unwanted consequences. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to your state’s default laws. If you’re not married, these laws indicate that your assets are passed on to your next of kin, such as children, parents or siblings. Consider wills,…..

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Opportunity Zones offer tax breaks

For a limited time, investors can help reinvigorate distressed communities while deferring capital gains on profits earned elsewhere. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created the Qualified Opportunity Zone program in order to offer tax incentives for investment in economically blighted communities. When you invest in an Opportunity Zone, you can defer and possibly reduce taxes on recognized capital gains. If you will be subject to a large tax bill as a result of capital gains in the near future, an Opportunity Zone investment may be worth exploring. An investment that defers capital gains Opportunity Funds are investment vehicles that…..

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Finding the best retirement calculators

Figuring out how much to save for retirement and when you can safely stop working can be difficult. A growing number of online retirement calculators, many of them free, are available to help. Although these calculators can yield vastly different results, they can be useful tools. Based on information about you and your finances, calculators try to predict how much you need to save to achieve your retirement goals. Some calculators are web-based, and others require you to download a program or an app. Retirement calculators can be useful, but you need to keep in mind that results can diverge significantly and they are not always accurate. It may be a…..

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When can you delay taking Medicare?

Although you’re eligible for Medicare at 65, there are circumstances in which you might not want to apply, particularly if you’re working for a larger employer or contributing to a health savings account (HSA). However, you may face penalties if you don’t sign up at the right time, so it’s important to know when you can delay signing up without a penalty. You can first sign up for Medicare during your Initial Enrollment Period, which is the seven-month period that includes the three months before the month you become eligible (usually age 65), the month you are eligible and the following three months. If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part…..

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