How to do Away with Your #Mortgage: #House Sitting

Posted on February 13, 2017 in Housing | Add Your Voice


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February 13, 2017

How to do Away with Your #Mortgage: #House Sitting

David and Kathy Cutts traded their $2,800-a-month Lake Tahoe rental for serial house-sitting gigs when they retired a year ago, preferring instead to live rent-free around the world in exchange for caring for people’s pets.

The British couple had also lost a lot of their spending power in the U.S. since the Brexit vote sent the pound tumbling, further fueling their decision to cut the pricey home-base cord.

Full-time house sitting is gaining steam with retired and self-employed wanderlusts, offering them an opportunity to cut or eliminate monthly housing expenses and possibly even being paid to look after plants, dogs and homes while owners are away.

About 56 percent of’s house sitters are over age 60 and its number of monthly matches has doubled over the last year to 35. House sitters registered on tend to be over 35, and many are retired, said spokesperson Miki Haines-Sanger.

The draw can be irresistible for those willing to live a nomadic lifestyle and put in the work and communication to build relationships with homeowners.

“Homeowners tend to have some incredible properties, from chocolate box cottages in the British countryside to chic apartments in Paris with resident pugs who love to show you the city,” Haines-Sanger said. “There are eco-lodges in New Zealand where you can take care of lamas and alpacas and villas with swimming pools on the west coast of Barbados.”

Some retirees keep the homes they own, and earn income from renting them out while they house sit elsewhere.

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How High Can Home Prices Go

 For years, falling interest rates have been a boon to the U.S. housing market, keeping monthly mortgage payments low for first-time buyers and move-up buyers alike, even as home values rose. But in 2017, rising mortgage interest rates will have the opposite effect and are set to have a larger impact than any other housing trend this year, according to the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations survey.

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The potential impact of rising mortgage interest rates this year will be doubly important in the face of continuing – and accelerating – home value appreciation nationwide. Panelists were also asked to predict the path of home value growth through 2021. Experts said they expected U.S. home values to grow 4.4 percent in 2017, up from expectations of 3.6 percent the last time this survey was conducted, an acceleration in line with Zillow’s own recently observed trends in home value appreciation.

In the survey, panelists were asked to name up to three market forces they think will have the most significant impact on U.S. housing in 2017. Among the responses, “rising mortgage interest rates, and their impact on mortgage affordability” was named by 56 percent of panelists answering the question, the largest single response rate for any individual response.

U-Turn on Reverse Mortgages

Rising interest rates could make reverse-mortgage lines of credit more appealing to younger retirees.

A reverse mortgage is a type of loan taken against equity in a home, available to borrowers who are at least 62. It requires no monthly payments, with interest charges instead added to the loan balance and paid only after the homeowner sells or dies. The loan can be taken as a lump sum or as monthly income, or as a line of credit, with no interest charges on unused amounts.

Many homeowners wait until well beyond 62 to take a reverse mortgage, because generally the older the borrower is the more he or she will be qualified to borrow.

In recent years, though, more financial advisers have warmed up to the idea of homeowners taking a reverse-mortgage line of credit when they are as young as 62, as a way to boost their nest egg. The key to this strategy is that the credit line grows over time, by amounts tied to the course of interest rates, and the unused portion can be converted to a substantial monthly income years later. And today, with inflation and interest rates widely expected to rise, these credit lines could be particularly valuable.

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Top Regulator of Wall Street Banks Steps Down

Daniel Tarullo, the Federal Reserve official who spearheaded the U.S. government’s aggressive push to make banks safer after the 2008 financial crisis, plans to step down in early April.

As the Fed governor who oversaw the regulation of Wall Street, Tarullo often took the lead in implementing new rules and in defending the government’s response to the crisis before Congress. He earned a reputation as one of the toughest supervisors of banking. The industry may welcome the arrival of whomever President Donald Trump puts in charge of banking supervision.

“Dan led the Fed’s work to craft a new framework for ensuring the safety and soundness of our financial system following the financial crisis and made invaluable contributions across the entire range of the Fed’s responsibilities,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a Friday statement.

Tarullo, 64, is leaving well short of the 2022 end of his term. His time on the Fed board was marked by one of the busiest periods in the central bank’s history, with massive demands from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act to overhaul the U.S. financial system in an effort to prevent a repeat of the 2008 meltdown. The Fed and other agencies put sweeping capital, liquidity and risk-dampening rules in place that have profoundly changed how banks do business.

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Fannie Mae Exec is Candidates for Consumer Protection Boss

The White House is considering a top official at Fannie Mae to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to two people familiar with the discussion, if President Trump fires CFBP Chief Richard Cordray.

Brian Brooks is currently the mortgage financing giant’s general counsel and has close ties to Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin. Brooks represented several of the investors in Mnuchin’s purchase of failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac for $1.6 billion in 2009. The bank was renamed OneWest, and Brooks joined the company as vice chairman.

He left the bank for Fannie Mae in 2014, shortly before OneWest was acquired by CIT Group.

Brooks is among several names being considered for the top job at the agency, which was founded to protect consumers from abuse by financial institutions.

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Hank Greenberg Admits to AIG Sham and Settles Fraud Suit

In a shocking end to a nearly 12-year legal battle, insurance industry legend Maurice “Hank” Greenberg on Friday admitted he “initiated, participated in and approved” two sham transactions in 2000 to prop up AIG’s bottom line.

Greenberg’s admission is part of a settlement of the high-profile fraud suit brought in 2005 by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Greenberg, the 91-year-old ex-CEO of AIG, will disgorge $9 million in bonuses he received as a result of the fraud.

“After over a decade of delays, deflections, and denials by Mr. Greenberg, we are pleased that Mr. Greenberg has finally admitted to his role in these fraudulent transactions and will personally pay $9 million to the State of New York,” current Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

Co-defendant Howard Smith, AIG’s former chief financial officer, also settled the case. He will pay back $900,000 in bonuses.
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New Quicken CEO
Quicken Loans is promoting longtime CEO Bill Emerson, naming Jay Farner  as the new CEO.  
Emerson is being promoted to vice chairman of Rock Holdings, Quicken Loans’ parent company. In his 24 years with the company, Emerson has not only overseen the growth of the Quicken Loans, but he has also been a major spokesperson for the mortgage industry, such as serving as the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 2016 chairman.  Farner has been with Quicken Loans for 21 years, most recently serving as president and chief marketing officer.

Luxury-Condo Perks

The free breakfast buffet served daily to owners of the Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. Live includes scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, fresh fruit and expansive 28th-floor views.

The complimentary meal is an unprecedented perk in the competitive landscape of luxury L.A. condominiums, where such benefits as valet parking, fitness centers, spas, screening rooms, a 24-hour concierge and tight security have become commonplace.

It’s also the kind of enhancement that’s making buyers think twice about purchasing a single-family home. After all, the longstanding philosophy decreed that single-family homes are better investments than condominiums. With condo perks proliferating, now buyers, and prices, are looking up.

Kerry Moy, a Los Angeles portfolio manager and restaurant investor, bought a Ritz-Carlton at L.A. Live condo in 2012 as a second home, but he spent so much time there that he ending up selling his house on the Westside.

“Once you stay in this environment a little while, it gets addicting. You have a five-star hotel treating you red-carpet style on a daily basis,” he said, adding that the staff handles everything from his laundry to changing lightbulbs.

Agents who sell luxury condos such as the Residences at W Hollywood and the Ritz-Carlton at L.A. Live say prices have rebounded greatly from post-recession lows, often outpacing single-family homes. 

At the Ritz-Carlton, the average price per square foot is $1,100, said Property Lab real estate agent Yvonne Arias, who sells and leases high-end condos from her office at the Ritz Residences. In comparison, the average price per square foot for a single-family home in L.A. is $562, according to Trulia.

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>Week Ahead


Valentine’s Day — forget it at your peril!


National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, 10 a.m. ET


Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, 9:45 a.m. ET


Fannie Mae’s Q4 Earnings Report

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Have a prosperous day and a great week.

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