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Protect the Investment in Your Home

Allstate offers cold weather tips to protect your home

A few simple tips to help protect your home from the frigid temperatures

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Feb. 8, 2013, Arctic air is bringing blizzard conditions and hard freezes across parts of the Northeast and Northwest this weekend. But there are things you can do to protect your home and property during cold weather.

Freezing and bursting pipes can cause significant damage to homes and Allstate Insurance Company recommends homeowners prepare their homes for cold weather using a few tips.

Allstate and the Insurance Information Institute encourage residents to take a few simple steps to help prevent frozen pipes:

  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to safely thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage. Save receipts for temporary repairs and take photos of any items that were unsafe to retain to share with your insurance company if you make a claim.

Most homeowners’ policies cover damage resulting from a freeze, but by protecting your home with these cold weather tips, you can avoid a lot of potential damage.

If homeowners encounter damage resulting from cold weather, Allstate encourages you to contact your agent and contact your insurance company.

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, serving approximately 16 million households through its Allstate, Encompass, Esurance and Answer Financial brand names and Allstate Financial business segment. Allstate branded insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services are offered through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives, as well as via www.allstate.com, www.allstate.com/financial and 1-800 Allstate®, and are widely known through the slogan “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®.” As part of Allstate’s commitment to strengthen local communities, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate employees, agency owners and the corporation provided $29 million in 2012 to thousands of nonprofit organizations and important causes across the United States.

SOURCE:

Allstate

http://www.allstate.com

 

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Economics Market Personal Finance Real Estate Surveys

Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey: Home Ownership Is Increasingly Important to Younger Americans

Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey: Home Ownership Is Increasingly Important to Younger Americans

IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 1, 2013, Prudential Real Estate, an HSF Affiliates LLC company, today released its end-of-year Outlook Survey, which shows that Millennials and Generation X place a higher importance on and hold more favorable views toward homeownership than older generations. According to the national survey, confidence increased marginally among respondents with 73% at least somewhat confident in the recovering real estate market and property values as opposed to 72% in Q2.

Additionally, “Contemplators”, survey participants who considered but did not buy/sell a property during the past year, displayed a 10% increase in confidence over Q2 figures for both the U.S. real estate market and home prices indicating they will likely keep their eye on the market.

“Millennials and Generation X – about 85 million people strong – face a unique opportunity in U.S. housing,” said Earl Lee, chief executive officer at HSF Affiliates LLC and president of Prudential Real Estate. “They are generally optimistic about homeownership and, by nature, share a strong sense of community. As important, many were not impacted by the real estate downturn and are looking at today’s buying opportunities with keen interest.”

Key observations include:

  • Home ownership remains important to 96% of Americans with 77% of respondents ages 25-34 and 78% ages 35-44 indicating home ownership is “very important.” More so, 74% of respondents agree that with interest rates at historically low levels now is a great time to buy a home.
  • Space, safety and investment drive the reasons to own a home, with 97% respondents stating that home ownership allows for more control over living space. Tax benefits finished a distant sixth on the survey’s reasons for buying a home.
  • 63% of Americans have a favorable or somewhat favorable perception of the U.S. residential real estate market and, again, younger generations are more likely to possess a favorable opinion when compared to their older counterparts.

“We feel there are many contemplating real estate now,” said Lee. “With interest rates near historic lows and prices in many markets still well off their highs, a home remains one of the best long-term investments people will make.”

However, the survey also shows consumers remain cautious about real estate process, with 62% of respondents stating that obtaining financing is more challenging than it was pre-financial crisis. Given the dynamics and challenges of the market, 72% feel that having a trusted partner for the process is important, with younger generations being most concerned about finding reliable sources of information.

“The housing market has finally turned the corner,” said Stephen Phillips, chief operating officer for HSF Affiliates LLC. “It’s been a tough road but the momentum we are seeing across the economy and real estate market appears sustainable. Real estate agents have a real opportunity to develop new relations with a younger generation ready to invest in a home, and with others who are returning to the market thanks to improving conditions.”

The full survey details are available upon request and infographic illustrating those points is available here.

Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey Methodology

Interviews with 5,000 Americans who are “in the market” to buy or sell a home were conducted online by EdelmanBerland, between December 5-14, 2012. Respondents are aged 25-64 with a household income of at least $50,000, and either recently bought/sold a home or are considering buying/selling a home. The margin of error is +/- 1.4% for all respondents.

About Prudential Real Estate and HSF Affiliates LLC

Prudential Real Estate is a part of the HSF Affiliates LLC real estate brokerage family, which includes Real Living Real Estate and the new Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices(SM) brand available later in 2013. Prudential Real Estate franchisees are independently owned and operated. Companies are selected based upon outstanding performance records and high levels of customer service.

HSF Affiliates LLC, based in Irvine, Calif., is a joint venture of HomeServices of America and Brookfield Residential Property Services.

Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities and are used under license, with no other affiliation with Prudential.

Contact:
Kevin Ostler
(949) 794-7980
kevinostler@hsfranchise.com

Alyssa Camacho
(212) 642-7732
alyssa.camacho@edelman.com

SOURCE: HSF Affiliates LLC

RELATED LINKS: http://www.prudentialrealestate.com

 

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Credit Finance Financial News Information Market Real Estate Wealth

Forecasted 2013 American Housing Recovery

PCA: All 50 States Expected to Experience Housing Recovery in 2013

2013 Housing Starts Approach the One Million Mark

SKOKIE, Ill., Jan. 18, 2013, Since 2005, tepid economic growth and high foreclosure rates have depressed home prices, bloating inventories and preventing start activity. In 2013, economists are revising nearly a decade of pessimism and forecasting growth throughout the residential construction industry.

A new report from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) projects total housing starts to reach 954,000 units in 2013, reflecting further improvement on 2012’s nearly 30 percent growth.

“The possibility of one million starts in 2013 should not be dismissed,” PCA Chief Economist Ed Sullivan said. “Although the first half 2013 will be mired in a fiscal cliff hangover, we are decidedly optimistic about second half economic growth, job creation and consumer sentiment – all of which translate into a stronger home sales and starts activity.”

Even stronger growth in homebuilding is predicted to materialize in 2014 with starts surpassing 1.1 million.

In another optimistic turn from previous residential forecasts, PCA expects the recovery to be broad-based and is projecting all 50 states will see increases in single family housing this year. Already underway in the interior U.S., the emergence of accelerating construction growth has begun to appear in some of the hardest hit states during the housing bubble burst. These regions are now likely to lead growth in coming years as the long depressed markets begin to return to housing construction rates consistent with their demographics.

“As the recovery unfolds, regions that once lagged recovery now begin to emerge as growth leaders. The Southwest and Southeast, for example, still have the weakest housing fundamentals on a relative basis to the Interior U.S, but on a construction activity basis, given the extremely depressed bases from which these regions are recovering from, they will likely be the housing growth leaders in coming years,” Sullivan said.

PCA expects multifamily construction to continue to grow at a strong pace as favorable fundamentals fuel the sector. Multifamily starts recorded a 55 percent gain in 2011 and 36 percent growth in 2012. PCA expects an additional growth of 15 percent in 2013 to 277,000 units. Damaged credit due to foreclosure activity and tight mortgage lending standards have combined to create robust apartment demand.

About PCA
The Portland Cement Association represents cement companies in the United States and Canada. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. More information on PCA programs is available at www.cement.org.

To obtain a copy of PCA’s analysis of the housing sector, contact Patti Flesher at pflesher@cement.org.

SOURCE: Portland Cement Association

 

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Banking Mortgages Personal Finance Products and Services Real Estate

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Retreat

Bankrate: Mortgage Rates Retreat

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2013, Mortgage rates moved lower after reaching a 4-month high last week, with the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate retreating to 3.60 percent this week, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.36 discount and origination points.

To see mortgage rates in your area, go to http://www.bankrate.com/funnel/mortgages/.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage rate pulled back to 2.89 percent and the larger jumbo 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.04 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were lower across the board, with the popular 5-year ARM sliding to 2.74 percent and the 7-year ARM sinking to 2.88 percent.

The glow of the fiscal cliff deal is beginning to wear off, with mortgage rates now sliding back after a run-up to start the year. Although recent economic data has been pretty positive, the pace of the decline in bond yields and mortgage rates will likely pick up as nervousness about the debt ceiling debate increases. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

The last time mortgage rates were above 5 percent was Apr. 2011. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 5.07 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,082.22. With the average rate now 3.60 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $909.29, a difference of $173 per month for anyone refinancing now.

SURVEY RESULTS

30-year fixed: 3.60% — down from 3.67% last week (avg. points: 0.36)

15-year fixed: 2.89% — down from 2.92% last week (avg. points: 0.27)

5/1 ARM: 2.74% — down from 2.77% last week (avg. points: 0.31)

Bankrate’s national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of this week’s move in mortgage rates, go to http://www.bankrate.com/mortgagerates.

The survey is complemented by Bankrate’s weekly Rate Trend Index, in which a panel of mortgage experts predicts which way the rates are headed over the next seven days. A little over half of respondents, 54 percent, expect mortgage rates to
remain more or less unchanged over the coming week. Slightly more than one-quarter – 27 percent – predict mortgage rates will decline and just 19 percent see mortgage rates rising over the next seven days.

For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, go to http://www.bankrate.com/RTI.

About Bankrate, Inc. (NYSE: RATE)

The Bankrate network of companies includes Bankrate.com, Interest.com, Mortgage-calc.com, Nationwide Card Services, InsureMe, CreditCardGuide.com, Bankaholic, CreditCards.com and NetQuote. Each of these businesses helps consumers to make informed decisions about their personal finance matters. The company’s flagship brand, Bankrate.com is a destination site of personal finance channels, including banking, investing, taxes, debt management and college finance. Bankrate.com is the leading aggregator of rates and other information on more than 300 financial products, including mortgages, credit cards, new and used auto loans, money market accounts and CDs, checking and ATM fees, home equity loans and online banking fees. Bankrate.com reviews more than 4,800 financial institutions in 575 markets in 50 states. Bankrate.com provides financial applications and information to a network of more than 75 partners, including Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), America Online (NYSE: AOL), The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times (NYSE: NYT). Bankrate.com’s information is also distributed through more than 500 newspapers.

For more information contact:

Kayleen Yates
Senior Director, Corporate Communications
kyates@bankrate.com

(917) 368-8677

SOURCE: Bankrate, Inc.

RELATED LINKS: http://www.bankrate.com

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Banking Consumers Financial News Government Legal Loans Mortgages Personal Finance Real Estate

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issues rules to strengthen protections for high-cost mortgages

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issues rules to strengthen protections for high-cost mortgages

Bureau Also Expands Time Frame for Required Escrow Accounts

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 10, 2013, Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued final rules to strengthen consumer protections for high-cost mortgages and to provide consumers with information about homeownership counseling. The Bureau also finalized a rule that requires escrow accounts be established for a minimum of five years for certain higher-priced mortgage loans.

“Addressing problems in the mortgage market is critical to helping our economy recover,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today’s changes will better help consumers to understand the real costs of owning a home while protecting them from harmful practices that can trap them into high-cost mortgages.”

The Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) was enacted in 1994 to address abuses in home-equity lending and refinances. Since then, HOEPA has deterred high-rate and high-fee lending in those markets. In recent years, high-cost mortgages have made up only about 0.2 percent of those types of loans.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) expanded HOEPA to cover home purchase loans and home equity lines of credit (“HELOCs”); revised HOEPA’s rate- and fee-thresholds for coverage; added a new coverage test based on a transaction’s prepayment penalties; and provided new limitations on risky loan features, as well as other new protections for high-cost mortgages. The CFPB has finalized rules to implement the Dodd-Frank Act’s amendments to HOEPA.

For loans that are high-cost mortgages, today’s final rule:

  • Bans potentially risky features: For mortgages that qualify as high-cost, the rule      generally bans balloon payments (a large, lump sum payment usually due at      the end of the loan) with some exceptions, such as for certain types of      loans made by creditors serving rural or underserved areas, and bans      penalties for paying the loan early.
  • Bans and limits certain fees and practices: The CFPB’s rule bans fees for modifying loans, caps      late fees at four percent of the payment that is past due, generally      prohibits closing costs from being rolled into the loan amount, and      restricts the charging of fees when consumers ask for a payoff statement      (a document that tells borrowers how much they need to pay off the loan).      The rule also prohibits certain bad practices, such as encouraging a      consumer to default on an existing loan to be refinanced by a high-cost      mortgage.
  • Requires housing counseling: The rule requires consumers to receive housing      counseling before taking out a high-cost mortgage.

In addition to strengthening the protections for high-cost mortgages, the Bureau today is implementing a requirement of the Dodd-Frank Act that lenders provide a list of homeownership counseling organizations to consumers shortly after they apply for a mortgage so consumers know where to get help when deciding what loan is best for them.

The Bureau is also implementing other changes made by the Dodd-Frank Act concerning escrow accounts. An escrow account is an account that a lender may set up to pay certain recurring property-related expenses on a consumer’s behalf, such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Escrow accounts help to ensure that consumers have enough money to pay those bills when they come because the lender breaks the expenses down into monthly installments and adds them to the monthly mortgage payment. Through an escrow account, consumers can better see the true cost of owning a home with insurance and tax costs laid out with each mortgage payment and are better assured that those costs are paid in a timely manner.

Under current regulations, creditors are required to establish escrow accounts for certain higher-priced mortgage loans for a minimum of one year. Today’s final rule implements changes from the Dodd-Frank Act that generally extend the required duration of an escrow account on such mortgage loans from a minimum of one year to a minimum of five years. To preserve access to credit, the rule exempts loans made by certain creditors that operate predominantly in rural or underserved areas, as long as certain other criteria are met.

The rules will be available later today at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/regulations

 

A consumer guide to the final HOEPA rule can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201301_cfpb_high-cost-mortgage-rule_what-it-means-for-consumers.pdf

 

A consumer guide to the final Escrows rule can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201301_cfpb_escrow-requirements-rule_what-it-means-for-consumers.pdf