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There are plenty of things to worry about when it comes to trends in the U.S. economy, and state of the yield curve is one of them. People fear a changing yield curve because an inverted one is a fairly sure sign of an impending recession. A flatter or reversed curve not only hurts lenders but also sends many investors into a panic.

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Homeownership rates have steadily increased since the 2008 financial crisis and following recession waned. However, higher home prices and rising interest rates have caused these rates to stall over the past year. Even so, the overall housing market is considered much healthier than it was a decade ago, and the mortgage climate is different as well.

Where once consumers generally approached their banks or credit unions for mortgage loans, a growing number are now using nonbank mortgage companies. There are advantages to certain borrowers to this arrangement, and new regulations are keeping the risk from these players in check.

Growing Market Share

Non-bank lenders or independent mortgage banks (IMBs) are nothing new. Early IMBs helped fund ...

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The Federal government created the Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) program with the 2017 "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act." The program is meant to promote economic growth in struggling communities through tax incentives to investors.

U.S. states and territories, including Washington D.C., were able to nominate areas to be included in the QOZ program by census track last year. The U.S. Treasury and IRS recently finalized these selections. This program presents unique opportunities for real estate development and investment in the coming years.

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How Does the QOZ Program Work?

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Housing affordability and availability continue to be prevailing issues across the U.S. The latest figures released by different agencies provide some mixed messages about the state of new home construction in this country. Homes continue to be built with continued shortages in some areas. The outlook on the mortgage front is encouraging.

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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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