First-timers often focus fears on wrong questions

The only thing buyers need fear is fear itself. (Flickr photo by juanpg)

It is a fear that I have a felt myself: Buying real estate is scary.

However much anxiety that the process plagues first-timers, the fear seems to all but disappear with subsequent purchases.

Although it is incumbent on any buyer to assess the risk, it also is true that Continue reading

15-year mortgage may not be best fit for you

A robust rainy-day fund is essential and may be one reason to avoid a second mortgage. (Flickr photo by Only Fabrizio)

The allure of a 15-year mortgage is inescapable: As everyone knows, the cost is lower than it is for a 30-year loan over the life of the loan.

How many folks do you know have held a mortgage for 30 years or even 15 years?  Even 15 years is twice as long as most Americans waited before selling and buying a new place — until the housing bust descended and caused a drag on the market.

The Wall Street Journal has done the math:

Say you have a mortgage of $300,000, and your financing options are a 30-year mortgage at 3.75 percent or a 15-year at 3 percent.  The 15-year would cost you $683 more a month. . . but in five years, you’d save $14,735 in interest and have $55,679 more in equity.  By year 15, you’d have saved more than $68,000 in interest.

That’s all well in good, but Continue reading

Weekly Roundup: Manhattan iffy, U.S. supply low

Making the case for buyers’ brokers, the Times calls it a ‘buddy system’

Empty for 19 years, Park Avenue apartment that Yugoslavia owned leaves much to be desired

You won’t find more households with roommates than in Williamsburg

Manhattan market slackens, but weakness may be only seasonal

In a co-op or condo that leaks, who pays?

Newly scheduled foreclosure auctions post 7 percent decline in August from a year earlier

Influential rabbi accused in $220,000 rent subsidy scheme of unprecedented size in city

Manhattan condo prices in June continue their gradual improvement, especially on the Upper West Side (pdf)

Buff designer finally moves from $15,000 monthly rental to townhouse that’s superior

Sculptor expands his horizons in Tribeca

Disgraced as congressman, he ditches his old Queens district for a rental in Greenwich Village

Actress gives up Canadian perch after break-up (2nd item)

Housing inventory hits this year’s low

10 cities are the worst Continue reading

Securities industry revenue dropped 36% in 2008

It will come as no surprise to learn that revenues for securities, commodity contracts and other financial investment activities decreased 36.1 percent in 2008, from $464 billion in 2007 to $297 billion in 2008, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  (I know the chart is hard to read, but it looks cool and you’ll find the specifics below.) Continue reading