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House Foreclosures for Renters

Posted on: March 10, 2010 I Written By

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We just got the call from the management company that rents us our house. Turns out that the owner of the house has stopped making payments. It’s actually really nice of him to do this since most people don’t find out about it until the notice is on the door that the house is in foreclosure. Needless to say we have a lot to think about now as we decide how to deal with this news.

The news was pretty unfortunate since we had kind of settled into the idea of just staying there for a while. We thought that rent was a little high, but we didn’t want the cost of moving either. Well, I guess now we don’t have that choice it seems.

Of course, if you look at people’s comments on Twitter and Facebook they feel so bad for us. I don’t feel bad for us. Sure, it’s a bit of an annoyance, but we’ve already lived in 3 houses in Las Vegas, might as well live in a fourth.

Plus, there’s always a silver lining to everything. Maybe we’ll get cash for keys and make some money out of this change. Maybe we can get them to lower our rent since he’s not paying the mortgage now anyway. Maybe the new house we move to will be even better than the one we live in now and with lower rent. Renting is still 100 times better than if we’d bought 3-4 years ago and would now be $100k+ upside down on a mortgage.

Certainly, there’s plenty to complain about, but that’s not me. I prefer to see the good parts of whatever happens. Sometimes it’s hard, but for me it just comes naturally.

New Favorite Real Estate Site

Posted on: June 10, 2008 I Written By

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I’ve just found my new favorite real estate site. I’ve always loved Zillow, but the last time I used it I had problems scrolling the page properly and the load times were too poor. I still like some of the data that Zillow has, but I think I’ll use it once I’ve found a place that I’m interested in analyzing its value.

Today I started playing with HotPads and I’m really impressed with their interface. Maybe I’m just more interested because I’ve started the job search and associated housing search that goes along with a new job in a new city. Regardless, I found HotPads really nice to use. I can still see a few parts of it that could be improved, but I love how quickly I can go through the map and see how much house I’ll be able to get for the price. I also really love the deep integration with what that size of mortgage will really cost me. There are so many variables involved and I think HotPads does a great job allowing you to change all of the various mortgage costs associated with purchasing a home.

A relatively new part of the site is a Rent vs. Buy heat map. I’m pretty sure this is just a really nice marketing item to get people to use the other parts of their site. Well, it worked for me. However, you can tell that the principle of rent vs. buy is more than just a marketing ploy for the company. This type of analysis is shown throughout the site to allow people to make more informed decisions.

I think that I especially love this part of the site, because when I moved to Las Vegas 3 years ago my in-laws nearly ridiculed my wife and I because we chose to rent and not buy. They said we were just throwing money away. Well, 3 years later that same in-law ended up selling their house at loss after paying much larger mortgage payments than our rent payments. Plus, if we had bought a house in Las Vegas, I wouldn’t be able to switch jobs, because I’d never be able to sell my house.

At the time I had no way of explaining these rather complicated rent vs. buy economic models to my in-laws. Now, I could just show them the nifty chart on HotPads. Sure, it’s based on certain assumptions about the market and inflation, but at least you can navigate best and worst case scenarios and make an informed decision.

I’ll let you know how it all goes once I finally land a new job (yes, I’m searching so if you know of any let me know) and try to find a house on HotPads. Right now it’s great visually. It will be fun to see how accurate and updated it is.

Free Web 2.0 Austrailian Real Estate Website

Posted on: April 19, 2007 I Written By

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One of my biggest addictions lately has been checking out all the Web 2.0 websites that have been popping up all over the place. I guess I’ve been even more focused on the subject since the Web 2.0 conference has been going on in San Francisco this week. I sure wish that I could have been there, but I digress.

Today I came across the most Google like real estate website I’ve ever seen. Most real estate websites are chock full of crap. They have every piece of information displayed on every page. Most the time you’re just overwhelmed and don’t know where to start clicking and all you want is to be able to browse through the housing listings. Well, this Austrailian website has free share house, rental property and real estate in a real Google style. If you don’t know Google style it’s basically a Very fast loading page, it’s Super easy to use and is so simple it looks great. That’s what this website has gotten right.

The key for this website is going to be what they do next. Google has been able to really add to their content without compromising their principles of simplicity and user experience. I’d really like to see some more loan and mortgage information available on the site. However, they’ll have to avoid cluttering the page, slowing it down and making it look like crap. That will be a definite challenge, but will be important for the site to maintain its cool Web 2.0 feel amidst growth of the website.

My Recent Education in Mortgages

Posted on: April 11, 2007 I Written By

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My wife and I have been looking all over for a house to buy. We even made an offer on a house that we thought would work out just great for us. Unfortunately, I think we got the order wrong, because after making the offer I went to the lender and learned all about what it would take to get a mortgage. Let’s just say that housing prices in Vegas just make me cringe.

Here’s a little look at what I learned about mortgages. First, I would not want to deal with bad credit mortgages. I have a clean credit report and a great score and even with all of that, there are challenges. I can’t imagine what someone with bad credit must have to work out to get a mortgage. I also learned some really interesting things about a short sell. Turns out that the house we were looking at is a short sell. I guess it’s essentially when a home owner needs to sell the house for less than his mortgage. Well, this guy had didn’t just have one mortgage on the house, but had either done a remortgage or a second mortgage or something like that. That was good news for us, because we thought that we could get a good deal.

Well, there’s a lot more to be said, but it turns out that we just couldn’t afford the down payment, closing costs and everything else associated with getting a mortgage. We could handle the payment, but the rest was just killing us. The good part is that I’ve learned a ton about mortgages and the process of getting a mortgage. I also know about my good credit score and my wife’s bad credit score. We’ll have to work on that one. However, the best thing is..

When we move from Las Vegas and we purchase a bigger home for half the price, we are going to be in heaven.
This post sponsored by Personal Loan Store.

The Las Vegas Real Estate Search

Posted on: March 31, 2007 I Written By

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Everyone has been saying that the Las Vegas Real estate market is a buyers market. I didn’t really believe them. Now that we’re searching for a home, I’m becoming a believer. About a year ago, the cheapest home we could find was $270,000 and that was not negotiable. You just had to take the price they gave you. Our realtor has now done a search for Las Vegas homes and she got like 171 to choose from. That’s a decent number of homes to choose from. Plus, it looks like we can bargain with the price too. My guess is we should be able to negotiate somewhere between $10-15k off the listing price for the home. I guess we’ll see how it goes. Some people probably won’t budge.

We’ve already gone to see 4 homes in Las Vegas and Henderson. There was one home that was on the higher end of our price range and also had $150+ a month in home owners association fees. I knew that it wouldn’t be a place we’d want to live. Turns out I was right. The bad part was that the home had one of the most incredible views. Not to mention the hot tub in the back yard. I could just see Kristine and I sitting in our new hot tub in our backyard enjoying the beautiful view. Oh well, there were a ton of other things wrong with the house. It’s too bad that such a wonderful view has to be wasted on such a crappy house.

I must admit I’m still very nervous about buying a home. There are so many factors that you have to consider when buying a house. Price being number 1. I expect with the Las Vegas Real Estate market, we are almost guaranteed an increase in equity in 3-5 years. I guess we just have to have faith. I am a little concerned about the Las Vegas high rise condos that are popping up like rabbits. I would never want to live their personally. I want a home, but that doesn’t mean that a flood of high rise condos won’t affect the price of my future home.

Taking the Plunge Into Las Vegas Real Estate

Posted on: March 26, 2007 I Written By

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I have to apologize beforehand, because I’m pretty sure this blog is going to be pretty inundated with posts about Las Vegas Real estate. It’s not my fault. It’s my wife’s fault. She is just itching and scratching and dieing to have a house. Ok, she really just wants a backyard and maybe a little more room for the family. I think it’s a simple enough claim. Here’s the way I look at it. My wife is a stay at home mom and so our home is basically her office. She’s basically asking me for a larger office. Makes sense doesn’t it?

So, our search has begun. Too bad there are like a million Las Vegas homes to choose from. Las Vegas has grown like crazy. People tell us that we are in a dip and that it’s a buyers market, but I’m a little concerned. The real question is, what if it is not a good time to buy and the market continues to go down? Well, it is Las Vegas and so you think I’d know about gambling, but I don’t. I guess I really shouldn’t be too worried considering the way they build casinos here. The housing prices are bound to go back up eventually. It’s just a reality with growth. Not to mention if we buy a house in the Henderson/Green Valley area.

A lot of people say that the Summerlin real estate market is where it’s at, but I just don’t personally see it. Well, maybe I do see why it’s exploding. It’s a beautiful area. However, I don’t see how anyone can handle living in Summerlin and commuting on the 95 to downtown Las Vegas. Maybe some people love driving. I don’t! I’d honestly rather find myself one of the plenty of Las Vegas Condos before I submit myself to the travel time required if I lived in Summerlin.

Either way, I’m up for an adventure. I don’t think the problem is really finding a house. It’s really about finding a house that is a good deal. Maybe I just need to stop worrying and just enjoy the American experience of owning a home.

More on talks with the mortgage lenders later.

Managing Your Personal Finances – Don’t Be An Idiot

Posted on: December 19, 2006 I Written By

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Some people act like complete idiots when it comes to their personal finances. Take for example credit cards. They get their credit card statement and see that they only have to pay the minimum payment. Just because that is all you have to pay doesn’t mean that you have to listen. People don’t realize how much they are paying in interest when they only pay the minimum payments.

Next, let’s take a look at secured loans and mortgages. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes these are necessary. In fact, sometimes they are absolutely essential. However, make sure that you can afford the loan. Just because someone is giving you a loan doesn’t mean that you are going to be able to afford the payments. Even more important is that just because you can afford the payments doesn’t mean that you should get that large of a loan. Take some time and think about what you’re doing before you do it.

What smart people do is get a good savings accounts. There are some pretty impressive internet money markets from regular banks that pay really well. It’s so much better to earn interest instead of paying it. Plus, it makes you feel so good.

One last thought is getting home insurance. I know that sometimes it feels like wasting money. I feel the same way. However, our neighbors recently had their house go up in flames because of a faulty burner in their kitchen. They’re glad that they have some good fire insurance.

All it takes is for you to stop and think about what you’re doing. If you’re not going to stop and think then don’t come complaining to me.

This Post Sponsored by ThrifyScot

Points and Fees like Closing Costs in Mortgages

Posted on: September 13, 2006 I Written By

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I’ve been doing some more research on mortgages. There is so much to learn about mortgages. I think the real key is to find one of the many mortgage brokers there are out there. There are also a lot of good websites out there that share a lot of good information.

For example, I was looking at points and fees (like closing costs) to see how that affects your mortgage payment. In order to understand what it means to purchase points there is a good mortgage caluclator that shows you the impact that purchasing points will have. Here’s an example output:
Without Points With Points
Amount Financed $200,000.00 $198,000.00
Monthly Payment $1,248.39 $1,167.15

Monthly Payment Savings $81.25
Points Value $2,000.00
Monthly Investment Savings $8.33
True Monthly Savings $72.91
Break Even 2 Yrs 4 Mts

Basically with just one point purchased you are able to save $81.25 a month. Now, realize that this one point is going to cost you $2000. So, it even tells you the break even point is 2 years and 4 months. If you plan to sell before that time frame then you definitely don’t want to buy points. However, if you are staying there longer then you should probably look into purchasing points if you have the money.

Closing costs have almost become a null issue these days. They are the bargaining chip that most people offer. Also, in the end almost any mortgage will just roll the closing costs into your loan. Think about this. If you are trying to reach the holy grail of 20% down on your mortgage (so you don’t have to pay insurance), then you better take 20% and add in the closing costs to the amount of money you’ll need to purchase a home. Otherwise, you might be up a creak without a home.

My Family’s Moving In With My Grandma

Posted on: August 24, 2006 I Written By

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My Grandma’s health hasn’t been doing to well lately and so she needs some help around the house. How sad it must be to reach the point that you can’t even take care of yourself. I hope God just takes me at that point. It’s nice to give people the opportunity to serve, but to be in pain so much is just not enjoyable.

In order to help my Grandma out, my parents and little sister are moving in with my Grandma. That means a household’s worth of stuff from about 30 years of marriage and 7 children has to go somewhere. There’s no way it’s going to my grandparents. My father suggested that a lot of it was going to be stored in the landfill, but they’re still going to need a storage unit.

In true computer nerd form, I found a nice onlince resource for my parents called Self Storage Directory – The site was easy enough for my parents to navigate and had a pile of storage facilities listed. It’s kind of like Progressive, but for self storage facilities. You get competitive quotes from up to 4 storage places. I was amazed they even had a number of storage sites in the little town I live in.

The site has a bunch of other features which aren’t useful for my parents, but I found quite interesting. Some of those things include: moving, packing supplies, mortgages and Real Estate related services. I personally tried out the mortgage section and liked how easy it was to navigate getting mortgage information.

Buying a House and Getting a Mortgage in Las Vegas

Posted on: August 17, 2006 I Written By

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When my wife and I moved to Las Vegas we had a dream that one day we would buy a home. After getting settled in and knowing the area, we realized that housing prices were going through the roof. We did find a couple places within our budget, but they were in the ghetto. The portable office that was selling the houses had bars on it. That’s when I knew I didn’t want to live there.

A friend of ours decided to sell her home and offered us the house at a very good price. We looked it over and probably should have taken it. Unfortunately, the house sold so quickly that we didn’t really have a chance to make the deal happen. The scary part is that it probably means she was offering us a killer deal since it was $15,000 below what she ended up selling it for.

What can I say, buying a house is a huge purchase. Here in Las Vegas we really shouldn’t be concerned at all. Every time a casino gets built there are thousands of more jobs and that means that they need tons more houses for those people. Some people say that the Las Vegas bubble in the housing market is going to pop. I don’t think so. Housing prices have leveled off, but if they popped they’d have to go down. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I guess that means I just need to get out there and check out all the different home loans. If I get this promotion at my company, then I’m pretty sure my wife is going to want a house. I can’t really blame her for that.