How to finance a new construction condo

By Marcie Geffner -

Condominiums can be an excellent housing choice for people who want to buy an affordable home with less individual responsibility for maintenance, repairs and landscaping.

Buyers who have their heart set on a newly built condo need to be aware of a few necessary to get a mortgage to buy it.

The mortgage qualifications for the borrower — down payment, credit score and so on — are “almost identical between a condominium and single-family house,” says Jason Will, vice president, national condominium manager for Wells Fargo Mortgage.

What’s different is that not only the borrower, but also the condominium project itself must receive certain approvals before the lender can approve the borrower’s loan.

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Is Obamacare affordable?

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate

The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has made health insurance accessible for millions of formerly uninsured people. But are Obamacare health plans as affordable as the law's name implies?

For some people, no. My experience could be a case study.

My pre-ACA individual health insurance policy had a $317 monthly premium and $5,200 annual deductible. It provided me with protection against catastrophic medical bills, reasonable negotiated rates for services and access to a wide selection of doctors.

In 2014, my policy was canceled because it didn't comply with the health care law, and my insurer moved me into a new "bronze" plan. Obamacare plans come in four metallic tiers; bronze is the lowest tier and pays just 60 percent of covered medical expenses.

The Affordable Care Act offers subsidies to help with the costs, but my income level makes me ineligible for those.

My new plan came with a $344 premium, $4,500 deductible and $6,300 out-of-pocket maximum. In January 2015, my premium jumped to $382, for a two-year increase of $65 per month, or $780 per year.

I had to wonder: In what way is a more-than-20-percent spike in premiums "affordable"?

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7 Hot Things We Found at the 2015 International Builders’ Show

By Marcie Geffner -

LAS VEGAS--With more than 1,300 exhibitors, the annual International Builders’ Show (IBS), held jointly here with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, is not just a place, but rather the place to find out what’s new in home decor and design trends. Here’s a rundown of some of this year’s hottest things at this year’s show.

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Homeownership: An American Tradition

By Marcie Geffner - LendingTree

Mother's Day. Apple pie. Baseball. Homeownership.

All good, right?

Indeed. Because those things are both traditional and much-beloved in the United States—and elsewhere in the world as well.

Among them, homeownership best speaks to the American ideals of pride, freedom, family and community. It's even an important part of what many people consider to be the American Dream.

Owning a home is valued so highly in part because homeowners can get a lot of benefits.

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Financial slackers missed mortgage opportunities in 2014

By Marcie Geffner -

Are you a financial slacker? If so, you're not alone.

A recent survey of 1,906 U.S. adults found that 40 percent of respondents hadn't refinanced or prepaid a mortgage, saved more for retirement, paid off credit-card debt or tried to boost a credit score in 2014, and 30 percent had no intention of taking those actions in 2015.

What's more, only about 39 percent of the survey respondents said they'd taken even one action, even with so many on the list from which to choose.

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