November 10, 2013 |
You'd think that applying for a mortgage would be the same whether you are buying a newly built house or an existing one. But it's not, so buyers of brand-new homes need to understand the differences. For one thing, the timeline can be far longer - as much as six months, or sometimes even more. And the lender usually likes to see a little more earnest money on the table. Typically with an existing home, the period from the application to closing is well-defined: usually 30 to 60 days.
November 6, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- Planned layoffs by U.S. employers jumped 13.5% last month, led by cutbacks at pharmaceutical and financial services firms, according to a report Wednesday. Employers announced plans to cut 45,730 jobs in October, up from 40,289 the previous month, said outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Despite the increase, the October figure was down 4.2% from the same month a year ago. It was the first time in five months that year-over-year layoffs were lower.
October 13, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The government shutdown and the debt limit have dominated the headlines, but a behind-the-scenes fight over federal mortgage policy has been brewing and it could affect your choices the next time you apply for a home loan. The issue concerns differing rules for different types of mortgage sources. Some mortgage brokerage firms have begun advertising that they offer substantial credits to their customers - often in the $2,000 to $5,000 range per loan but sometimes more than $10,000 - that can be used to defray borrowers' closing costs.
October 3, 2013 |
Much is in flux in Washington this week. But two important realities have remained constant, whether certain elements in the GOP accept them or not: We must not default on the federal debt, and we shouldn't wait until we're on the brink of default to raise the debt ceiling. Here's why. As measured by economists Scott R. Baker, Nicholas Bloom and Steven J. Davis, policy uncertainty was more severe during the previous debt ceiling fight in the summer of 2011 than at any time since the terrorist attacks of Sept.
September 26, 2013 |
Home buyers fearing a rapid rise in interest rates got a reprieve this week as rates dipped sharply, hitting their lowest level in two months. The decline owes primarily to last week's announcement that the Federal Reserve would continue its massive economic stimulus program. Although economists still believe rates will climb over the next year, buyers may now enjoy some breathing room in the wake of sharp home price increases. The weekly rate report from home finance giant Freddie Mac comes on the heels of recent data showing housing markets in Southern California and nationally have cooled some after months of sharp increases.
September 18, 2013 |
First came the movie “Silver Linings Playbook.” Now comes the sort-of sequel: “Silver Linings Divorce.” Just check out this headline from Wednesday's L.A. Times website: “Divorces Increase as Improving Economy Makes Split-ups Affordable.” (And you thought there weren't any good-news stories anymore.) Apparently, what's at work here is a corollary of the old “staying together for the sake of the children.” Call this one “staying together for the sake of the nice house and the BMW and the box at the Hollywood Bowl.” Let my colleague Stuart Pfeifer explain: It's not that money necessarily leads to unhappiness.
September 15, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers has withdrawn his name from consideration to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve chairman, President Obama said Sunday. Summers had been a leading contender to replace current Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, whose term expires in January, and in recent weeks had appeared to be the front-runner. His withdrawal opens the door for the other leading contender, Janet L. Yellen, the Fed's current vice chair. If nominated and confirmed, she who would be the first woman to head the central bank.
September 6, 2013 |
Everybody wants to see the perpetrators of the financial crisis punished, but you have to feel a little sorry for Standard & Poor's, the credit rating firm being sued by the federal government for its role in the disaster. S&P clearly has its back to the wall in this case. We can conclude this from the desperate defense it raised in court last week: that federal prosecutors have their knives out for S&P in "retaliation" for its downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating in August 2011.
September 5, 2013 |
With mortgage rates rising to levels not seen for two years, it's hard work finding a great deal on a home loan - unless you're rich enough to need a jumbo mortgage. These loans on steroids certainly aren't for everyone: Jumbos are defined as mortgages over $625,500 in much of California and more than $417,000 even in places where homes are cheap. But if you can qualify, America's banks stand ready to reward you with a rate nearly as good as or even better than what you can get for a normal loan.
August 23, 2013 |
WASHINGTON -- As the Federal Reserve weighs an imminent cut in its extraordinary economic stimulus, many outside the United States are pleading with the Fed, “Would you consider the impact on us too?” That essentially was the message Friday from the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde. Speaking at an opening luncheon of the Fed's summer conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Lagarde turned the spotlight on what has emerged as the main global economic issue of the day: the bold actions of central banks and, as she put it, how these policies “in one corner of the world can reach all corners.” While the IMF's managing director spoke generally about central banks, it was clear that she was focused on the Fed and the widespread expectation - some would say fears - that next month it will start scaling back a massive bond-buying program that has helped hold down long-term interest rates and, until recently, kept emerging markets flush with cheap money.