Reverse mortgages -- a way for seniors to tap into their home equity without having to make monthly payments -- have become a mainstream retirement-planning option in recent years. Despite some drawbacks, for many retirees, a wisely chosen reverse mortgage has helped fund a comfortable, active retirement when savings and pensions alone weren't sufficient.
For the first few months of 2008, it appeared that homebuilding stocks would generally trudge toward higher ground. During the past month or so, however, the group has retrenched. While Pulte (NYSE: PHM) and Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL) still linger around their end-of-2007 prices, rivals like Centex (NYSE: CTX), Beazer (NYSE: BZH), Lennar (NYSE: LEN), and Ryland (NYSE: RYL) are all in negative territory for the year to date.
When my husband and I bought our home in April 2005, the Washington, D.C.-area housing market was in a frenzy. We'd paraded through homes, all priced at far more than half a million dollars, with cracked foundations, slanting floors, and "slight" flooding problems. We'd been told that it was likely we'd lose bidding wars to folks willing to waive the home inspection contingency. In fact, we had lost bids on two other homes, even with escalation clauses that sometimes went thousands over asking price. The market around the area had been red-hot for several years, long enough that many of us forgot it could be any other way.
A nutritional movement has been around for years that operates under the adage, "You are what you eat." I hope, however, that it doesn't become accepted lore that, "You know what you read." If it does, those who glace at headlines like this one will be in a world of hurt.
Washington -- Many Americans who have lost their homes to foreclosure are seeing their belongings auctioned as well because they can't pay the storage costs, analysts say.
With foreclosures on the rise, people put their belongings into storage units while they sought new housing. But with the mortgage crisis turning into a general economic crisis, storage companies are auctioning off people's possessions when they can't pay the bills, The New York Times said Sunday.
On the flip side, the storage unit business is booming, The Times noted. Stock for U-Store-It is up 33 percent and rivals Extra Space and Public Storage saw 18 percent gains this year.
U-Store-It chief Dean Jernigan said consumers usually turn to storage units in good times when they relocate for new work or remodel their homes.
A cartoon in the latest issue of The New Yorker magazine started me thinking about the current state of housing and homebuilding. It depicts a small cottage with three windows, each with a frightened-looking little pig staring out. At the front door stands a wolf in slacks, a tie, and suspenders. He's intoning, "I'm not huffing and puffing. I'm foreclosing."
Some things we know in our heads, and other things we know in our bones. Great investors understand, deep in their bones, the importance of seeking value, while people like me often pay it lip service.
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