Real estate scams and predatory lenders can cause enormous harm to your financial health, so it’s important to learn about the laws that protect consumers as well as the strategies you can use to prevent becoming a victim of fraud.
Avoiding real estate scams
Criminals are increasingly creative in how they target consumers, so it’s important to be mindful of the numerous real estate scams out there. From predatory lenders to bait-and-switch movers, many bad actors take advantage of vulnerable consumers in particular. The good news is that there are strategies you can use to protect yourself.
Bankrate’s state-by-state Housing Heat Index
As the pandemic wears on, more and more Americans are trading pricey urban centers for more affordable alternatives. Those who work remotely are driving this affordability migration, since they can take their high-wage jobs to areas with lower costs of living and more space. Mid-sized metros in the mountain areas of the West have become more popular — but even the coolest markets are still experiencing double-digit appreciation.
Understanding the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act
The Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) promotes greater fairness and transparency in the mortgage market. This 1994 amendment to the Truth in Lending Act requires lenders to provide extensive disclosures to borrowers of high-cost mortgages, mandates that those borrowers undergo pre-loan counseling, and restricts the penalties and fees that lenders can impose. It’s important to know your rights under HOEPA in order to avoid harm to your financial health.
Refinancing into a 15-year mortgage
It can often pay off to pursue a refinance with a 15-year term. You can pay down your loan sooner, thereby saving thousands on interest, and free yourself from mortgage debt years earlier than planned. That said, your monthly payment will likely rise, and you should take into account the impact that will have on your finances. Depending on your situation, you may be better off using the funds towards investments with a greater rate of return.
Modifying your home to age in place
Staying in your own residence as you age has many benefits, but you may need to make modifications so that your home remains safe and easy to navigate. Some modifications can be done with minimal labor and expense, such as rearranging furniture or removing trip hazards. Conversely, you’ll need a professional contractor for more advanced upgrades like installing handrails. Modifications may even be tax deductible or increase your home’s value.