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Showing posts from November, 2012

The elusive nature of shadow inventory

By Marcie Geffner - California Real Estate magazine

The term "shadow inventory" evokes scary images, armies of darkened houses hidden in the foothills ready to march across the land, bringing destruction and misery to everyone in their path.

The notion is fanciful, but does a shadow inventory really exist, and if so, what are its implications for Realtors?

One useful definition comes from CoreLogic. Sam Khater, a senior economist at the property data and analytics firm in Santa Ana, says shadow inventory is "the pending supply of distressed property that will hit the market."

Read on:

Rapid rescoring: 'black art' or legitimate service?

By Marcie Geffner -

Credit bureaus typically take up to 30 days or longer to correct an error or resolve a dispute in a consumer's credit report or file. But suppose there was a way for you to speed up that process and get your credit history -- and credit score -- updated in just a few days. Well, there is.
Such services, known as rapid rescoring, do exist, and they're legit, according to Anthony Sprauve, a spokesperson for, a consumer information website operated by FICO, which invented the FICO credit score used by most mortgage lenders.
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When prepaid cards make sense

By Marcie Geffner -

Prepaid debit cards have gotten a bad rap and with good reason. No doubt the cards are convenient, but high fees make them a controversial choice for anyone who has access to a checking account and the self-discipline to avoid overdrafts.

Yet the use of prepaid cards is on the rise, increasing 21.5 percent from 2006 to 2009, according to a Federal Reserve study of noncash payment methods.

That suggests that at least some consumers prefer to use prepaid cards rather than checks, credit cards or bank debit cards. And indeed, there are a few situations in which the benefits of a prepaid card may outweigh the disadvantages.

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How we saved a lot of money

By Marcie Geffner -

Many people struggle to save money. But others find saving allows them to finance their biggest goals without the added interest expense of debt.

Here, three big savers tell how they socked away money for a goal: $15,000 for a new car, $85,000 for a condominium and $5,000 for five rooms of new carpeting.

Elle Green, 35, a recipe-testing and development consultant in Memphis, Tenn., makes a mean sweet potato cake, and that's "mean" in a good way. In fact, Green's cakes are so popular that her hobby of baking them for family and friends enabled her to save $15,000, which she used to buy a new car.

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Refinancing? Use this document checklist

By Marcie Geffner - If anything about refinancing your mortgage might be described as "fun," it would have to be locking in your new lower interest rate. But once that's done, you'll have to deal with the decidedly not-fun part: gathering the documentation you'll need to support your loan application. To get started and stay organized, it's helpful to have a checklist of which documents you'll need. While each loan officer or mortgage broker might have their own specific checklist, here's a look at generally what you can expect: Read on:

Expiring short sale tax relief could cost home sellers

By Marcie Geffner -

A federal income tax break that benefits people who sell their home in a so-called short sale is set to expire Dec. 31, potentially exposing these sellers to higher tax bills. Sellers have little control over the matter, though being financially insolvent might help, if Congress doesn't come to the rescue. The tax break at issue is the ability to exclude certain mortgage debt forgiven by a lender from ordinary income. For example, if your mortgage balance was $150,000, you sold your home for $120,000 and the lender wrote off $30,000, you might owe income tax on that amount.
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