Tax liens can be a lucrative real estate investment, but they can also hurt homeowners if not regulated effectively, resulting in unnecessary foreclosures

For good or for ill, county and municipal governments rely on property taxes to provide services to their residents. Police and fire protection and school districts all rely on homeowners’ timely payment of property taxes in order to fund their payroll and operations. And that’s where tax lien investing comes in. When a homeowner is delinquent in filing taxes, an investor sometimes comes to the county tax office and pays the tax on the homeowner’s behalf. . . .

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The IRS has introduced a safe harbor that makes things easier for landlords when it comes to claiming deductions

Here’s a bit of good news for small landlords: The Internal Revenue Service has introduced a “safe harbor” for deducting repairs to investment properties from ordinary income. Normally, the IRS does not allow you to take a full current-year deduction for anything they consider a renovation or improvement. They only allow you to take a first-year deduction on repairs, which the IRS defines as projects that do not materially add to the value of a property . . .

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President Obama indicated last Friday that he will sign the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013, which eases the earlier Biggert-Waters reforms and grants property owners a reprieve from a planned sharp increase in flood insurance premiums.

President Obama indicated last Friday that he will sign the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013, which eases the earlier Biggert-Waters reforms and grants property owners a reprieve from a planned sharp increase in flood insurance premiums. The problem is that politicians have overruled the actuaries for years, setting National Flood Insurance Program premiums far too low. As a result, the NFIP is, well, actuarially insolvent. . . .

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The Tax Reform Act of 2014, a new bill recently introduced by Rep. Camp, would slash some tax benefits to homeownership through a series of rollbacks.

Last July, I warned that policymakers in Washington, increasingly desperate for revenue, were beginning to look hungrily at the home mortgage interest deduction. Indeed, I specifically pointed out to readers that Representative Dave Camp, (R-Michigan), and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was holding hearings collecting testimony designed to undermine the case for the home mortgage interest deduction. Camp is making his move. . . .

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a data aggregation website with easily accessible mortgage information

Don’t look now, but the federal government seems to have developed a website that actually works! The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – the federal watchdog agency created under the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010, has created a site that aggregates mortgage data nationwide and collects it in a series of well-executed infographics. . . .

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Homeowners facing a short sale or foreclosure in 2014 could get a higher tax bill now that the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act has expired

Hard as it seems to believe, struggling homeowners have had it easy for the last seven years in at least one way: The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act gave anyone who got foreclosed on or short-sold their home a substantial tax break. Prior to 2007, the IRS considered forgiven debt as ordinary income to the debtor. The benefit of tax forgiveness was considered to be substantially the same as a cash benefit, and therefore the debtor was charged income tax . . .

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A series of new rules became effective on Jan. 10 that require lenders to take greater care that their borrowers can actually afford to pay back their qualified mortgages.

It may be a little bit tougher now for more marginal borrowers to qualify for home mortgages than it was just a few weeks ago. That’s because a series of new rules became effective on Jan. 10 that require lenders to take greater care that their borrowers can actually afford to pay back their qualified mortgages. In a nutshell, the new 800-page regulation defines the following requirements for qualified mortgages . . .

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Lenders are now required to disclose appraisal documents to homebuyers

A new rule, effective Jan. 18, makes the appraisal and loan underwriting process substantially more transparent for the average borrower. Specifically, an amendment to Regulation B, one of the regulatory provisions pursuant to the implementation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, forces lenders to disclose to borrowers, in writing, that they are entitled to a copy of “any and all appraisals and other written valuations developed in . . .

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As requirements for private mortgage insurance become more flexible, some homebuyers may find it easier to secure a home loan

It was tough for a while. In the four years following the 2008 near-collapse of the banking system under the strain of the mortgage crisis, bankers were so wary of getting stung again that it was tough to get a loan at all. Why would lenders lend? They could buy equities dirt cheap in 2009, for example, while returns available on long-term real estate loans were headed to the cellar. . . .

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The Federal Reserve is tapering it

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee met on December 17 and 18, and after long last is doing what central banks are supposed to do: take away the punchbowl just as the party gets going. After months of creating $85 billion every month out of thin air for more than a year, and using the cash to prop up the staggering mortgage market by buying GSE bonds in the biggest and . . .

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