5 Best Real Estate Markets


While the stock market’s 2016 performance has many guessing, real estate is a good bet. As employment has grown every month over the last 70 months, Americans are back on the hunt for homes in top markets. These cities have performed well over the last year, and have strong growth prospects in sight.


Denver may be the hottest real estate market in America right now, and the Mile High City is not slowing down. With massive new developments including Union Station, bringing thousands of new housing units to Downtown Denver, and continued growth in the Capital Hill and Highland neighborhoods, developers and investors are rushing to take advantage of new opportunities. (For additional reading, see: Tips for Buying Luxury Real Estate.)

Also around the Denver metro area are new light rail and highway projects connecting Broomfield, Boulder, Aurora, Golden, Arvada and Wheat Ridge. Easier transportation options will promote housing and business growth along the new transportation corridors, and plenty of opportunities for housing growth well beyond Central Denver.


While the TV show Portlandia may have brought the city into America’s focus, the least

The 5 Best Real Estate Lawyers in Los Angeles


Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States and the center of one of the world’s largest urban agglomerations. Los Angeles County, which encompasses Los Angeles and several of its suburbs, is home to nearly 55,000 lawyers as of 2015, thousands of whom practice real estate law. These professionals handle all kinds of legal matters arising from ownership of real property. They handle real estate transactions, negotiate leases, litigate property disputes and consult on land use laws, among other activities.

The lawyers detailed on this list rate among the city’s best options in a variety of specialty practice areas. They each bring a record of experience and performance, boasting high ratings from former clients. However, there are many other competent, high-performing real estate lawyers operating across Los Angeles. Keep in mind that this list should serve only as an initial step in your search. To identify the right lawyer to handle your specific legal issue, it is important to speak to at least several promising candidates to get a real sense of who has the right experience, expertise

10 Tips for Getting a Fair Price on a Home


All homebuyers have one thing in common: they don’t want to get ripped off. In today’s increasingly frothy housing market – existing-home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted 5.46 million in December 2015, 7.7% above the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors – it’s especially important to make sure you get the right price.

It will be tougher than ever right now. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says that December capped off the best year of existing sales (5.26 million) since 2006 (6.48 million). Another sign of the growing housing surge: The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the volume of mortgage loan applications rose 8.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis in late January 2016, as mortgage interest rates fell (see Mortgage Rates: How the Interest Rate Rise Affects Mortgages).

But how do you know if you’re getting a fair deal – even in a tight market – before you make an offer? Here’s how to evaluate the price of any home so you can make a sound investment decision.

Learn These Tips

  • Research Recently Sold, Comparable Properties
    A comparable property is one that is similar

Recommendations To Be Able To Help You To Get Ready To Move

Anytime an individual is preparing to sell their property and move, there is a lot they should carry out to prepare. They’ll wish to make certain they’ll begin preparing for the move as quickly as possible before the move date to make sure they’re able to get every little thing done promptly and also so they don’t have to rush. To start packing as well as clearing the property for the move, an individual must see here in order to have a look at quite a few suggestions which will help.

Beginning early provides the person an opportunity to pack step by step while not having to scramble through the complete process. Somebody can begin a month or two in advance simply by packing things that are usually seasonal and won’t be utilized prior to the move or perhaps items they never use for example knick knacks. As it will get closer to the move, they can pack much more items that they are fully aware they’re not going to need to have ahead of the move. When a box is packed, an individual may take it to a storage space to get it away from home. This leaves significantly less

The 5 Best Real Estate Lawyers in Boston

Real estate lawyers specialize in legal matters related to the ownership and use of real property, which includes land and the immovable structures attached to it. Hundreds of lawyers in and around Boston practice real estate law, serving residential homeowners, tenants, business owners, investors, developers, homeowners associations and others with legal issues related to real estate.

Whatever the nature of your particular real estate issue, it is important to seek out a lawyer with relevant experience and expertise. The lawyers detailed on this list cover virtually all important subcategories of real estate law, including real estate transactions, landlord-tenant disputes, boundary disputes, foreclosures, land use laws and much else. Most lawyers specialize in a subset of real estate-related services, so make sure to identify potential lawyers who are equipped to handle your issue. While each of the lawyers listed has a long record of accomplishment in the Boston area, it is important to conduct further research on your own to ensure you pick the right lawyer for the job.

Lazan Glover & Puciloski

The law offices of David M. Lazan, Peter L. Puciloski and Alexandra H. Glover handle virtually all transactional aspects of commercial and residential real estate purchases, sales and leases, in addition

The Basics of Reinvesting REIT Dividends

An increasing number of yield-starved investors are finding refuge in one of the last bastions of high-yield and relatively safe investments – real estate investment trusts (REITs). With dividend yields averaging twice those found in common stocks, some as high as 10% or more, you might question the safety and reliability of REITs, especially for conservative income-seeking investors. REITs should play a role in any diversified growth and income-oriented portfolio. REITs are really all about the high dividends, and they can offer some capital appreciation potential.

How Do REITs Work?

A REIT is a security, similar to a mutual fund, that makes direct investments in real estate and/or mortgages. Equity REITs invest primarily in commercial properties, such as shopping malls, hotel properties and office buildings, while mortgage REITS invest in portfolios of mortgages or mortgage-backed securities (MBSs). A hybrid REIT invests in both. REIT shares trade on the open market, so they are easy to buy and sell. The common denominator among all REITs is that they pay dividends consisting of rental income and capital gains. To qualify as securities, REITs must pay out at least 90% of their net earnings to shareholders as dividends. For that, REITs receive special tax

Mansion Prices Are Hitting New Highs

Following a four-year boom in the U.S. luxury real estate market, prices have dampened in all but a few markets amid global economic fears. “There’s volatility in China and Russia, and there’s the oil issue in the Middle East,” Dan Conn, CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate, the luxury-property brand of the renowned auction house, told Bloomberg Business. “I have no doubt there’s an impact overall on the market.”

Ritzy Enclaves the Exception

While most of the luxury markets have softened, prices have remained strong in ritzy enclaves such as Aspen, Colo.; Beverly Hills, Calif.; and the various Hamptons of New York’s Long Island. According to market trend data from real estate aggregator Trulia.com, the median sales price in Beverly Hills (zip code 90210), for example, was $3.07 million during the Oct. 15, 2015, to Jan. 16, 2016, period. That represents a 41.1% increase over the previous quarter and an increase of 52.5% from the prior year. The average price per square foot has increased 32.4% year over year (to $1,086) and 66% over five years ago (when it was $656).

In East Hampton the real estate market has experienced a similar trend: The median sales price – about $1.3 million – is

Best Mortgage Companies Friendly to Retirees

Conventional wisdom tells us that we should try to eliminate all debt – including mortgages – before retirement. The reason is simple: Once retirement hits, the paychecks stop coming in; if you have no debt, your retirement savings will last longer. In the past, it was the norm for people to enter retirement without a mortgage: You bought a house in your 20s or 30s, paid it off over the next 30 years and by the time you hit your 50s or 60s, you were mortgage-free.

That’s not necessarily the norm today; many people now wait until later in life – even during retirement – to buy a home. Indeed, some 25 million people age 50-plus still have a mortgage, according to AARP.

The Law Protects You

Here’s something to keep in mind: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits lenders from denying mortgages to retirees if all standard criteria are met – things like your credit score, the size of your down payment, your liquid assets and your debt-to-income ratio. (The Act prohibits credit discrimination not just based on age, but also on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status or because you get public assistance.) It’s also illegal for lenders to

4 Real Estate Plays for Income Seekers

From 2009 to 2015, real estate investment trusts (REITs) have greatly benefited from low interest rates, an improving U.S. economy and higher occupancies. Many REITs used the low interest rate environment to their advantage by refinancing debt obligations with low interest rates. However, interest rates begin to rise gradually with the first rate hike that took place in December 2015. As interest rates are normalizing from their exceptionally low levels, certain REITs with high debt burdens may start experiencing lower earnings as a result of higher interest expenses. Focusing on REITs that have moderate debt levels and strong tenants may prove advantageous for income-seeking investors in 2016.

Crown Castle International

Crown Castle International Corporation (NYSE: CCI) owns, operates and leases wireless infrastructure, including towers, rooftops and distributed antenna systems. The company’s operations are focused on the U.S. market. The company exposes investors to a growing wireless tower industry, which has been a strong free cash flow generator for a long time. As wireless data demand continues to surge, so does the demand for wireless infrastructure, leading to better returns for companies like Crown Castle International.

Like other tower-leasing companies, Crown Castle International leases its towers with rent contracts at about 10 years;

Mortgages Why It May Be Easier to Get One Now

Good news came out of Washington recently. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-chartered agencies that purchase mortgages from private lenders, agreed to rules that would potentially open mortgage markets to borrowers with less than perfect credit. (For more, see What You Need to Know About Fannie Mae Mortgages.)

The Problem

To understand why this news is so important, you first have to understand the problem. Fannie and Freddie, as they are known, don’t lend money. A consumer would never call them to get a good-faith estimate on an upcoming home purchase. Instead, Fannie and Freddie are publicly traded companies created by Congress that help provide stability and liquidity to the mortgage market.

When a lender makes a loan to finance a housing purchase, often that lender’s ultimate goal is to sell it to Fannie or Freddie in what is called the secondary market. By selling the loan, the lender clears it from his or her books, freeing up money and making an immediate profit on the loan. Fannie and Freddie are charged by Congress to help low-, moderate- and middle-income families achieve their dream of purchasing a home. That makes the agencies eager to buy these loans from the original (primary) lender

The Complete Guide to Financing an Investment Property

Real estate can be a hedge against market volatility when stocks take a tumble, and there are many perks associated with owning an investment property. Becoming a landlord is a smart way to generate a steady passive income stream, but it does take a certain amount of cash to get started. When you don’t have a huge bankroll, taking out a loan may be the only way to seal the deal. (For more, see the tutorial: Exploring Real Estate Investments.)

Investment property financing can take several forms, and there are specific criteria that borrowers need to be able to meet. Choosing the wrong kind of loan can impact the success of your investment, so it’s vital to understand how the various alternatives work before approaching a lender.

Option #1: Conventional Bank Loans

If you already own a home that’s your primary residence, you’re probably familiar with conventional financing. A conventional mortgage conforms to guidelines set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and unlike an FHA, VA or USDA loan, it’s not backed by the federal government. With conventional financing, the typical expectation for a down payment is 20% of the home’s purchase price but with an investment property, the lender may require a

Alt-A Mortgages How They Work

A house is probably the single largest investment you will ever make, and if you’re like most, you’ll need a mortgage to finance it. Mortgages are loans that are secured by specified real estate – namely, the house that the loan is being used to purchase. Depending on factors like your credit score, employment history and the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, you may be offered a prime mortgage, subprime mortgage or something in between: an Alt-A mortgage. Here, we take a quick look at the Alt-A mortgage, and why Wall Street wants to bring them back.

Alt-A Basics

Most mortgages are either prime or subprime. Prime mortgages are offered to borrowers who have higher credit scores (and, therefore, lower risk), and come with lower interest rates. Subprime mortgages go to borrowers with lower credit scores and – to make up for the added risk – lenders charge higher interest rates on them. Alt-A mortgages are loans that fall somewhere in between the prime and subprime category in terms of risk and interest rates. (For more, see How Interest Rates Work on a Mortgage.)


One of the defining characteristics of Alt-As is that they are typically low-documentation or no-documentation loans, meaning the borrower doesn’t have

3 Companies that Graduated from Micro Cap to Small Cap in 2015

Investors willing to assume the risks of investing in micro-cap stocks need to develop the self-discipline to research those companies and avoid impulse buying. Conducting adequate due diligence, giving serious consideration to the advice provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for micro-cap investing and restricting investments to stocks listed on major exchanges can provide opportunities for success in an area where most people fail.

Investors holding shares of stocks that graduate from micro-cap status to the small-cap level have good reason to celebrate. Fund managers generally avoid micro-cap stocks because the relatively large position a fund would take in such a small company can trigger burdensome SEC reporting requirements. Funds provide additional liquidity for their stocks and often boost investor demand for the stocks they report as new holdings. Many of the micro-cap stocks from 2014 benefited from the broad-market bullishness of 2015, finding their way into the small-cap universe.

NeoGenomics, Inc. (NASDAQ: NEO) operates cancer testing laboratories, providing genetic and molecular testing services for doctors, clinics, hospitals and other laboratories. Despite this stock’s 16% price decline to $6.78 from Dec. 31, 2015 through Jan. 27, 2016, NeoGenomics remains well within the small-cap range with a market capitalization of

Take the Pain Out of Selling Your House – Online

If you’ve ever sold a house, you know what a major headache it can be. First, there’s the hassle of pinpointing the right real estate agent. Once you hire an agent and list your home, then comes the really hard work.

You’ll need to stage your home and keep every room meticulously clean so that total strangers can tramp through them on a daily basis. Not to mention you’ll probably have to get lost for all of these showings. (Most real estate agents recommend that you leave the house when a potential buyer comes to take a gander at your property.) That means you’ll have to pack up the entire family, including Fluffy and Fido, and find something to do outside of the home for an hour or so – for every single showing. (For more, see 7 Absolute No-Nos When Selling a Home.)

When you finally get an offer, you’ll have to haggle with the buyers, set a closing date, cough up real estate fees and deal with an avalanche of paperwork. To make matters worse, the average property sits on the market for more than three months, and many home sales end up falling through in the end. No wonder

Additional Streams of Income for Seniors

Try and picture a scenario in which a mortgage company sends you a check every month rather than you sending them a check. This is exactly what you get when you take out a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages are gaining in popularity because of increased life expectancies, higher medical costs and the downturn of the stock market over the past few years.

Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a special type of loan that lets a homeowner, 62 years of age or older, convert the equity in their home into cash without having to sell their home or give up the title. The home can be one of the largest assets a senior owns, and a reverse mortgage allows individuals to access that capital as an income stream without having to vacate the property. “A lot of people are in more of a financial bind than they thought they would be in, at this age, because they’re not getting as high a return on their investments, and their expenses are higher than they anticipated. These are the type of conditions that create demand for reverse mortgages,” says Mike Broderick, a reverse mortgage specialist at Seattle Mortgage Company.

Reverse mortgages are for house

Commercial Real Estate Agent Job Description & Average Salary

A commercial real estate agent’s job is much different from that of a residential real estate agent. Generally, selling or leasing commercial property takes a significantly longer time, and commercial real estate agents must provide substantial analytical data and financial information. Agents can work on their own, for a real estate services firm or for a commercial broker. Most commercial real estate agents are paid on a commission basis.

Qualifications and Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists a high school diploma or equivalent as a basic requirement for commercial real estate agents, but most are college graduates. Community and four-year colleges offer real estate degree programs, with the lease or sale of commercial property being a focus or specialty.

While some agents learn as they go, an educational background in real estate is almost essential. Firms and other commercial property services require a college degree. Courses that benefit potential agents the most include finance, statistics, economics and business administration. In many cases, brokerage firms will offer educational courses, mentorship and on-the-job training. The National Association of Realtors also provides a list of beneficial courses specific to commercial real estate sales.

Real estate agents and brokers must be licensed everywhere in the

When Are You Too Old for a Mortgage?

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act is clear: It is illegal to discriminate against someone who wants to borrow money based on age. You cannot be denied a mortgage or mortgage refinance loan because you are too old.

You can, however, be denied if you do not financially qualify to take out the loan. For more see: Mortgage Basics.


If the bank or mortgage company determines your income is insufficient, you can be denied the loan. The same applies to your credit score: If it’s too low, you may be out of luck.

If your FICO score is 740 or higher, you should be fine. If it is under 640, you may qualify for a mortgage, but at a higher rate.

Some lenders view pensions, Social Security benefits and other forms of fixed income as a problem. Others see fixed income as “certain income” and are happy to grant the loan.

Your debt should be no more than 43% of gross monthly income, but even if that’s the case for you, your budget and personal finances are what really determine whether you can afford the mortgage.

From this point on, it’s not a matter of not being allowed to obtain a mortgage, but rather whether it’s

5 Reasons the HELOC Market is Expected to Heat up

Following on the heels of the Great Recession home equity line of credits (HELOCs) were hard to come by. Banks were less than willing to extend credit in an environment characterized by record foreclosures that left them stuck with houses nobody wanted to buy. Homeowners who needed cash had to turn to credit cards and personal loans, often paying a higher interest rate than they would have gotten by using the equity in their home. But that’s all changed. Thanks to an improving economy and real estate market, lenders are much more willing to lend, setting the stage for the HELOC market to heat up this year. (For more, see: Home-Equity Loans: What You Need to Know.)

Consider this: according to data from Black Night Financial Services’ data and analytics division, HELOC originations continue to rise, with line of credit amounts originated increasing 35% in January over 2014 levels. HELOC line amounts are the highest Black Knight has seen since it began tracking it in 2005. The reasons for the increased demand vary but one thing is for sure, interest rates are playing a starring role.

Rising Interest Playing a Role

Interest rates have a direct impact on lots of aspects of the

Investing in Manhattan Real Estate with Just $20,000

You booked an apartment in Barcelona on Airbnb for your last vacation. You prefer Uber to taxis. You just chipped in $50 to a friend’s Kickstarter music project – and you’re looking forward to getting a copy of the CD when it’s released. You may not call yourself a crowdfunding fanatic, but you’ve fully embraced the spirit of the sharing economy.

So why not take the next step and make crowdfunding work for your finances? Until now, investing in New York City real estate was probably something best left to those blessed with an inheritance or at least some seriously great stock options. Now that crowdfunding – scratch that, call this venture crowd investing – has entered the real estate scene, some of America’s most coveted properties just became a little more accessible to the masses.

But just how accessible? (For related reading on the Big Apple’s real estate scene, see: New York City Real Estate: A Safe Haven?)

An Ambitious Goal

Prodigy Network calls itself “the leader in real estate crowdfunding,” and it certainly is the vanguard. The company’s philosophy, according to its website, seems practically altruistic: to provide unprecedented access to “prime real estate assets in Manhattan, which were previously accessible to

Be Sure You Get the Best Deal

As a house is likely the largest single investment you’ll ever make, there’s a good chance you’ll get a mortgage to finance it. Mortgages are loans that are secured by specified real estate – namely, the house the loan is used to purchase. Depending on factors such as your credit score, employment history and debt-to-income ratio, a lender may offer you a prime or subprime mortgage or something in between, called an “Alt-A” mortgage. Let’s take a quick look at the different mortgage categories and how you can be sure you’re getting the best deal you can. (For more, see Finding the Best Mortgage Rates in 2016.)

Prime Mortgages

Prime mortgages meet the quality standards set forth by Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), the two government-sponsored enterprises that provide a secondary market in home mortgages by purchasing mortgages from originating lenders. According to the Federal Reserve, a prime residential mortgage is “a mortgage for a borrower whose credit scores are 740 or higher, whose debt-to-income ratios are lower than average and whose mortgage features the standard amortization schedule common to a fixed-rate or an adjustable-rate mortgage.”

Borrowers also have to make a