by phil - February 13th, 2010 8:29 am
Last week we talked about Predatory Lending.
This graphic (click to enlarge) gives a good diagram outline of the basics to avoid. Most of them make their money by charging fees that seem reasonable but turn out to be insane: Payday Loans that can hit you with 360% interest, Rent-To-Own arrangements that have you paying two to three times more than the item costs and, of course, the second greatest scam of them all – Credit Cards – particularly the ones that are supposed to help people "re-establish" their credit. What is a greater scam on the American consumer than credit cards, you may ask? Why your home mortgage of course!"
Now I know you, my sophisticated readers, find it obvious that ARMs and Balloon Payments are bad ideas but, in my previous life in the real eastate title business, I found that even the most savvy investor often fails to consider the long-term costs of even a conventional mortgage. Many people make poor home investing decisions because they don’t fully understand the debt they are taking on or the alternatives available to them.
This did not matter when homes went up and up and up because even a bad investment made a little but "this time it IS different" and we may be in for an entire decade in which we may not see ANY rise in the value of homes – this is what has happened to Japan for the last TWO decades. I’m going to go over some of the numbers, give you a few tools and see if we can’t find some ways save you $100,000 on a $200,000 loan and show you how to set your kids up for life - does that sound interesting?
Currently homes are, at least, reasonably priced in many parts of the country and the government is offering a first-time home buyer tax credit of $8,000, provided that you stay in the home for 36 months. This isn’t a tax deduction like your mortgage interest, which reduces your taxable income – a tax credit actually reduces your total income taxes owed. In addition, some states, such as California, are offering tax credits for home buyers that will further reduce your tax liability. Keep in mind that the federal program ends on April 30th of this year, and while it could end up being extended, it isn’t a given.