Freaked by the housing market , more would-be home buyers are opting for rentals driving rents up along the way.
But it’s not just rising rents that new renters have to worry about. A handful of new costs could make renting less than the bargain it appears.
The average national vacancy rate for rentals fell 17% last year to 6.6%, according to Reis, Inc., which tracks rental performance data. And as renting has gotten more popular, prices have jumped.
The average monthly rent, including studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments is now $986, based on Reis data. Before the recession, the average was just $930.
And in some markets, it’s far worse: In New York, rents are up 9% on average in the last five years; in San Jose, they’re up 8%.
The market is only likely to get tighter.
For the first time in memory, the federal government is actively encouraging people to rent, rather than buy.
The Obama administration’s recent housing proposal calls for Click Here for Full Video/Article (Members Only)
STARTING April 1, under a new compensation rule from the Federal Reserve, borrowers who get their mortgages through brokers will most likely pay less for their services and must be offered the lowest possible interest rate and fees for which they qualify.
The new rule also affects those dealing with small banks and credit unions, which typically do not fund loans from their own resources. But most banks and other direct lenders, including the few mortgage companies that function like banks, are exempt.
The new rule is known as the Loan Originator Compensation amendment to Regulation Z, part of a strengthened Truth in Lending Act passed by Congress in 2008.
Designed to prevent consumers from being steered into high-cost, risky loans, it covers how a loan originator — or any person or company that arranges, obtains and/or negotiates a mortgage for a client — is paid.
Under the new rule, a lender can no longer pay a loan originator a lucrative rebate known as a yield-spread premium, which is tied to the rate or terms of the mortgage. Banks and other lenders can continue to pay commissions to brokers, but these payments must now be based solely on the loan amount.
In the past, the higher the interest rate and points, the more money a broker stood to earn.

Brokerage firms typically earn a yield-spread premium of 1.5 to 2.5 percent of the loan amount, with higher-rate loans paying closer to 2.5 percent. The brokerage and its broker, or loan officer, typically split the rebate.
On a $400,000 loan at 5.25 percent, that might total $8,000, based on two points paid, with a point being 1 percent of the loan amount.
In the new system, the brokerage can earn a fixed commission from the lender, but the amount is not tied to the loan terms.
Also, the brokerage cannot pass on a part of the commission to the broker, who must now be paid an hourly wage or salary.
The exception is for loans where the lender pays the borrower’s points to the brokerage, typically for higher-rate loans. (The commission range is expected to be 1.5 to 2.5 points.)
It is also forbidden for a loan originator to collect payments from both the consumer and the lender in a single transaction.
If a broker is paid a commission by a lender (based on the loan amount), he or she cannot also charge the consumer points, or fees for application or processing.
The consumer will still, however, need to pay the broker for third-party services like appraisals.
An exception to the new rule involves lenders who finance mortgages in their own names from their own resources, a practice known as warehouse-lending, and then sell the loans to investors like Fannie Mae. The exception also applies to other companies that fund mortgages from their own resources.
Some mortgage companies originate and close mortgages in their own names through funds from third parties, typically other banks — a practice known in the industry as table funding. The new rule applies to them as well.
Thomas Martin, the president of America’s Watchdog, called the rebates “a rip-off” and said the Fed rule was “very welcome.”
Brokers who match consumers with lenders argue the rule undercuts the value they offer consumers. “It unfairly makes these brokers less competitive” against the big banks, said Mark Yecies, an owner of SunQuest Funding, a mortgage broker and lender in Cranford, N.J. “I will now get paid the same amount to process a plain-vanilla loan as I will a complex loan of equal size that requires more work.”
He added that “bigger banks will capture a bigger percentage of the origination market, and they will raise rates.”
Mike Anderson, a director at the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, said that the rule would “likely put a lot of independent brokers out of business.”

But the Mortgage Bankers Association says brokers would still be competitive with banks because many consumers like to work with brokers, and banks cannot handle all of the business.
by Lynnley Browning
For more: http://nyti.ms/gS6OHz

New Fed Rule for Mortgage Brokers
STARTING April 1, under a new compensation rule from the Federal Reserve, borrowers who get their mortgages through brokers will most likely pay less for their services and must be offered the lowest possible interest rate and fees for which they qualify.
The new rule also affects those dealing with small banks and credit unions, which typically do not fund loans from their own resources. But most banks and other direct lenders, including the few mortgage companies that function like banks, are exempt.
The new rule is known as the Loan Originator Compensation amendment to Regulation Z, part of a strengthened Truth in Lending Act passed by Congress in 2008. Designed to prevent consumers from being steered into high-cost, risky loans, it covers how a loan originator — or any person or company that arranges, obtains and/or negotiates a mortgage for a client — is paid.
Under the new rule, a lender can no longer pay a loan originator a lucrative rebate known as a yield-spread premium, which is tied to the rate or terms of the mortgage. Banks and other lenders can continue to pay commissions to brokers, but these payments must now be based solely on the loan amount.
In the past, the higher the interest rate and points, the more money a broker stood to earn.
Brokerage firms typically earn a yield-spread premium of 1.5 to 2.5 percent of the loan amount, with higher-rate loans paying closer to 2.5 percent. The brokerage and its broker, or loan officer, typically split the rebate. On a $400,000 loan at 5.25 percent, that might total $8,000, based on two points paid, with a point being 1 percent of the loan amount.
In the new system, the brokerage can earn a fixed commission from the lender, but the amount is not tied to the loan terms. Also, the brokerage cannot pass on a part of the commission to the broker, who must now be paid an hourly wage or salary. The exception is for loans where the lender pays the borrower’s points to the brokerage, typically for higher-rate loans. (The commission range is expected to be 1.5 to 2.5 points.)
It is also forbidden for a loan originator to collect payments from both the consumer and the lender in a single transaction. If a broker is paid a commission by a lender (based on the loan amount), he or she cannot also charge the consumer points, or fees for application or processing. The consumer will still, however, need to pay the broker for third-party services like appraisals.
An exception to the new rule involves lenders who finance mortgages in their own names from their own resources, a practice known as warehouse-lending, and then sell the loans to investors like Fannie Mae. The exception also applies to other companies that fund mortgages from their own resources.
Some mortgage companies originate and close mortgages in their own names through funds from third parties, typically other banks — a practice known in the industry as table funding. The new rule applies to them as well.
Thomas Martin, the president of America’s Watchdog, called the rebates “a rip-off” and said the Fed rule was “very welcome.”
Brokers who match consumers with lenders argue the rule undercuts the value they offer consumers. “It unfairly makes these brokers less competitive” against the big banks, said Mark Yecies, an owner of SunQuest Funding, a mortgage broker and lender in Cranford, N.J. “I will now get paid the same amount to process a plain-vanilla loan as I will a complex loan of equal size that requires more work.”
He added that “bigger banks will capture a bigger percentage of the origination market, and they will raise rates.”
Mike Anderson, a director at the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, said that the rule would “likely put a lot of independent brokers out of business.”
But the Mortgage Bankers Association says brokers would still be competitive with banks because many consumers like to work with brokers, and banks cannot handle all of the business.

by Lynnley BrowningFor more: http://nyti.ms/gS6OHz

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The Do’s and Don’ts When Handing Out Rental Application to a prospect and the fatal mistakes many investors, landlords, and property managers make when the applicant submits their application to you.

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How to Buy Real Estate without Banks, Money, or Credit… nor Hard Money or Private Lenders either.

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Now You can take debit cards and credit cards using this new free gadget for your cell phone. It’s called “SquareUp.” There’s no hidden gimmick or charges to get the gadget and use it on your phone; however, they do charge 2.75% of your transaction (just like a merchant account) and 15 cents for the transaction when you physically swipe the card on your gadget. If you manually punch in the info (taking the info over the phone) and the card is not physically swiped in your gadget, they will charge you 3.5% + 15cents. Still a great and awesome tool for free!

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Extreme Cold Weather Tips and Tenant Emergencies

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How You Can Hide Your Equity in Real Estate including Your Home

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Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s biggest banks and the largest consumer lender, said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 21 percent, helped by an improving loan portfolio and withdrawals from its capital reserves.

The bank, which is based in San Francisco, earned $3.4 billion, or 61 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, up from $2.8 billion, or 8 cents a share, in the year-earlier period, matching analysts’ forecasts. For the year, Wells Fargo reported net income of $12.36 billion in 2010, compared with $12.28 billion in 2009.
The bank’s full-year revenue fell to $85 billion, however, from $88.7 billion in 2009, as new federal regulations limited the overdraft fees that banks can charge on checking accounts.
Still, compared with the third quarter, the bank generated revenue growth in roughly two-thirds of its businesses.
“As the U.S. economy showed continued signs of improvement, our diversified model continued to perform for our stakeholders, as demonstrated by growth in loans and deposits, solid capital levels and improving credit quality,” John G. Stumpf, the bank’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Despite its heavy hand in the lending industry, which has been hit by losses for three years,

Wells Fargo has quietly emerged from the financial crisis as one of the nation’s strongest banks.
The report from Wells is an important step for the bank as it looks to increase its dividend, which has been stuck at 5 cents for nearly two years.
Wells Fargo Press Release
When the financial crisis struck, Wells, JPMorgan Chase and other industry giants cut dividends as they moved to bolster their capital. Now, two years later, banks are eager to give money back to shareholders — if the government will let them. The Federal Reserve must first complete a second round of bank stress tests, whose results are expected in March.
JPMorgan, which last week reported a $17 billion profit for 2010, has said it hopes to raise its dividend as much as a dollar in the coming months.
Wells Fargo has been more coy about its plans. Mr. Stumpf, in a conference call with investors, said he was eager to raise the dividend.
But Brian Foran, a senior bank analyst with Nomura Securities International, noted, “They historically have been cagey about saying anything before they know it.”
The bank’s dividend outlook has improved on the back of its lending operation.
Wells Fargo picked up new borrowers in the fourth quarter, particularly businesses, and it released $850 million from its reserves, thanks to the improving loan portfolio.
The bank’s provision for credit losses was cut nearly in half, to $2.99 billion in the fourth quarter from $5.91 billion a year earlier.
Shares of Wells Fargo fell 68 cents, or 2.1 percent, on Wednesday, closing at $31.81.
Although the bank’s mortgage shop reported a 19 percent drop in income from 2009, it originated $128 billion in home mortgages in the fourth quarter, up from $94 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009.
“You can see the momentum building as economic activity is returning,” said Marty Mosby, a managing director at Guggenheim Partners.
Yet Wells Fargo still faces problems surrounding its mortgage portfolio.
On Jan. 7, the highest state court in Massachusetts ruled that Wells Fargo and US Bancorp had wrongly foreclosed on two homes, because they could not prove they owned the mortgages.
Regulators in all 50 states have begun investigations into whether hundreds of thousands of foreclosures made in recent years were invalid.
Some banks temporarily suspended foreclosures last year during the controversy.
Wells Fargo officials say they have largely avoided the documentation problems and have decided not to halt foreclosures.
“At the end of the day, the litigation will be less of an impact on Wells Fargo than people fear,” said Lawrence Remmel, a partner at the law firm Pryor Cashman, where he leads the firm’s banking and financial institutions group.
Wells Fargo has also moved to distance itself from litigation over soured loans that banks securitized and sold to investors.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage finance companies, are demanding that Wells Fargo and other big banks buy back loans sold at the height of the mortgage bubble.
In the fourth quarter, the bank recorded a $464 million provision for future mortgage repurchases, up from $370 million in third quarter.
But the bank’s chief financial officer, Howard I. Atkins, said Wednesday that Wells Fargo did not plan to settle its dispute with Fannie and Freddie. Mr. Atkins said the bank’s mortgage securities were of higher quality than those generated by its competitors.
“This is a diminishing issue, not an increasing issue,” Mr. Atkins said in an interview.
Eric Dash contributed reporting.
By Ben Protess
For more: http://nyti.ms/eP7Rd8
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