Sunday, May 31, 2009

Forbes Names 10 Best Retirement Spots

With the economy in turmoil and lifestyle preferences changing, traditional retirement counties aren’t looking as attractive as they used to. With this in mind, Forbes magazine set out to identify the Best Places to Grow Old.

The magazine mined data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine where people older than 65 live now. It examined housing costs, employment opportunities, and the availability of hospitals and eldercare facilities, among other things.

Of counties with populations greater than 500,000, here are Forbes' top picks of places in which to grow old gracefully:
  1. Montgomery County, Pa.

  2. Nassau County, N.Y.

  3. Pima County, Ariz.

  4. Palm Beach County, Fla.

  5. Honolulu County, Hawaii

  6. Brevard County, Fla.

  7. Montgomery County, Md.

  8. Ocean County, N.J.

  9. Westchester County, N.Y.

  10. Lancaster County, Pa.

Source: Forbes, Lauren Sherman (05/18/2009)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cities Where Home Prices Could Fall More

With incomes falling and loans remaining hard to get, the best bargains are probably yet to come in some of the nation’s largest housing markets, predicts Forbes magazine.

To figure out which housing markets still haven’t hit bottom, Forbes calculated the spending power, unemployment, credit availability and housing stock over the last 27 years in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas.

The projections determined how much each area’s home prices would have to change to bring that housing market into historical balance. Analysts said the employment rate is the great unknown. The more employment falls, the more likely home prices will follow.

Here are the 10 cities where Forbes believes prices are likely to continue to fall the most:
  1. Orlando
  2. Miami
  3. Jacksonville, Fla.
  4. Tampa
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Phoenix
  7. Las Vegas
  8. Oakland, Calif.
  9. San Diego
  10. New York

Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey (04/17/2009)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

With low rates should you refinance?

Borrowers with hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages – loans that carry a fixed-interest rate for a certain number of years and then reset annually to rates tied to market benchmarks – are questioning if they should refinance to lock in a low rate for the long term, or if they should keep their adjustable-rate mortgages, currently at interest rates lower than their initial fixed rates.

Some mortgage experts say it’s best to refinance out of adjustable-rate mortgages if the borrower plans to live in the home for more than two years. Adjustable-rate mortgages are tied to myriad indices, and today’s low rate could jump as the economy recovers and inflation kicks in. The increase would result in borrowers paying more in the long term for an adjustable-rate mortgage than they would if they refinanced into a fixed-rate mortgage.

2nd Largest Mall Owner Bankrupt

General Growth Properties Inc., the second-largest mall owner in the United States, declared bankruptcy Thursday. It was the largest real estate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

General Growth and 158 of its more than 200 malls will operate under Chapter 11 protection as it seeks to refinance $27 billion in debt and restructure the business.

General Growth said its properties would be open for business and operating as usual.

"Our core business remains sound and is performing well with stable cash flows," General Growth Chief Executive Adam Metz said in a statement. "While we have worked tirelessly in the past several months to address our maturing debts, the collapse of the credit markets has made it impossible for us to refinance maturing debt outside of Chapter 11."

The bankruptcy is seen as a warning sign of trouble ahead for other large commercial properties that are heavily leveraged.

Source: Reuters News (04/16/2009)

I need Foreclosure Help!

With all the dubious assistance programs and out-right scams preying on home owners facing foreclosure, it can be difficult to find legitimate help.

Here’s a list of programs that are either operated by the U.S. government or have its seal of approval:

Source: Controller of the Currency (04/21/2009)

Some Cities Feel More Pain Than Others

Some cities have it rougher than others.

Forbes magazines examined the overall economic conditions in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas to identify places where the cost of living and unemployment are highest and median income is lowest. It concludes that these cities are the places whose residents are feeling the worst effects of the recession.

Observers say that in the most down-at-the-heels cities, residents have the feeling that there isn’t much good about anything. But Dean Baker, an economist and co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research based in Washington, D.C., says one result of the declining economy that’s good news in the long run for residents is lower home prices.

“You’re going to see these prices stay down,” Baker says.

Here are the 10 cities where the overall conditions look the worst:

  1. Providence, R.I.
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Riverside, Calif.
  4. Tampa
  5. Buffalo, NY
  6. Portland, Ore.
  7. Orlando
  8. Detroit
  9. Miami
  10. Louisville

Source: Forbes, Lauren Sherman (04/14/2009)