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Congress initially created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968 under the National Flood Insurance Act to provide property owners with affordable insurance coverage for losses or damages due to catastrophic flooding.

Today, this program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The program's goal is to lower the impact of flooding through insurance coverage as well as encourage communities to create and enforce regulations for floodplain management.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 reauthorized the NFIP for five years. It has since been funded by a series of short-term measures approved by Congress. NFIP was to expire agai...

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The increase in robocalls in the U.S. has been so extreme that lawmakers are taking drastic measures with new legislation. According to the latest figures, the Federal Trade Commission received over 3.7 million robocall complaints in 2018, and the FCC received another 232,000 complaints.

While there remains a Do Not Call Registry that citizens can join to prevent certain calls, many robocalls are coming from fraudulent sources that don't care about the law. If the new legislation does pass, it won't have much of an impact on the businesses, such as mortgage service providers, that continue to act within legal guidelines.

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The first tax season after the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has come and gone, and many homeowners have felt an unexpected pinch. In high-tax states, some have been particularly hard hit this year thanks to changes in the tax laws.

There are new federal deductions limits on SALT, or state and local taxes, which are now capped at $10,000 per year. People who once used these deductions to help offset high income and property taxes in some states may soon rethink where they live.

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2019 seems like a confusing year for real estate. There's have been whispers of a looming recession, interest rates are volatile, and home sales are falling. It seems as if you'd need to be a psychic to get to the bottom of the latest housing trends, but that isn't necessarily the case.

Just as with any market, some things and places are hotter than others, which creates opportunities depending on your stake in this space. Here are some trends to watch in the 2019 real estate market, including which markets are hot and which ones are cooling.

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Buying a home is often the largest purchase anyone ever makes, and it is becoming more difficult for many Americans. According to a recent survey released by Realtor.com, nearly 60 percent of people hoping to buy a home this spring are willing to get a fixer-upper. The increase in these types of home purchases is also having an impact on the housing market.

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Few homebuyers anymore put a full 20 percent down on their purchase, since there other alternatives. The Federal Housing Administration offers one of the most popular low-down-payment mortgages with the FHA loan. While these loans once had strict guidelines for qualification, which impacted their accessibility, the FHA has recently streamlined its procedures.

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When homeowners build up enough equity, many have historically tapped into that value for a variety of purposes. According to recent figures, this has begun to change. Even though the amount of equity available is reaching new highs, cash-outs or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are falling.

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As the second half of 2018 emerged, there was evidence that mortgage lenders had begun loosening underwriting standards. Even government lending standards for some loans became less restrictive, and consumers were able to access credit easier. This activity could present greater challenges to lenders in the future.

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It might seem that fix and flip lending won't be as profitable as in the past now that the market is more saturated and other conditions are less favorable. This isn't necessarily the case. Since any type of real estate is a numbers game, fix and flip investors can still create a successful business under the right conditions.

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Fix and Flip Lending by the Numbers

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Currently, the state of affordable housing in the U.S. is grim, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. The rule of thumb for affordable housing has long been the percent of income spent, with around 30 percent considered a good average, leaving a robust amount of disposable income for other necessities. But almost 50 percent of renters spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs, meaning they are considered cost burdened.

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