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A couple of weeks ago we wrote a column about real estate taxes and real estate tax escrows. Most homeowners pay their property tax bill via an escrow with their lender, but that doesn’t always work out as it should. We wanted to share a few of the comments we received.

Q: Three years ago, my son purchased a house. I am the lender for his mortgage. Last year, unable to resist a low interest rate, I took out a bank mortgage on my own home. Both my son and I pay about $6,000 in interest annually. So, effectively, $6,000 passes into and out of my hands.

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Q: I have a question about what happens to your real estate taxes when you pay off your mortgage. When you have a mortgage, the payment to the lender includes real estate taxes and insurance. Once you pay off your loan, how do taxes get paid? Is it better to pay off your loan or keep a loan so that the taxes keep getting paid? Do property taxes rise when you pay off your loan?

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Here’s a guess: There aren’t many of us who’d care to redo 2020. COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, changed everything, killing more than 365,000 Americans (as of this writing in early January) and taking the economy on an even wilder ride than the Great Recession, just a decade ago.

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Buying a home is a very complicated transaction, making it easy to fall for some of the most common and costly home buying myths. PennyGem’s J…

The Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Dec. 2 it will extend its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through Jan. 2021—the moratorium was originally slated to expire at the end of December. This means that if you have a federally backed mortgage, you can’t be foreclosed on […]

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Q: We borrowed $355,900 in 2007 for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 6.25% and still owe $230,000. My wife is retired, and I plan on retiring in May 2023. Normally, we wouldn't even bother with refinancing this close to selling the house; but the rates now are so low that we’re thinking refinancing might make sense. Any thoughts on whether it would be OK to refinance, or just leave it alone this close to retirement and selling the house?

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MoneyTips

Home sellers and their agents may be limiting their potential base of buyers by ignoring a growing pool of them. Mortgage industry software company Ellie Mae reports that loans acquired through the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department account for 10% of all primary insured home loans.

It is easy to see why VA backing is preferable from a buyer's point of view. If you qualify, you can purchase a house with no money down (up to a particular loan limit that varies by market) and no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) requirement. Yet, sellers shy away from buyers with VA loans, and seller's agents may serve as a screen to exclude VA-backed offers from ever reaching the seller.

Why is this so? It makes little sense, since the risk of default is borne by the lending institution and not the buyer. In addition, foreclosures ...

Video: How the Military Shaped my Approach to Personal Finance

VA Loans 101

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MoneyTips

Veterans Affairs (VA) loans are invaluable for homebuyers. Their advantages include little or no money down, qualifying with a lower credit score, competitive interest rates, potentially lower closing and auxiliary costs, and no private mortgage insurance requirements.

VA loans are administered through approved lending institutions and backed through an entitlement of up to $36,000. This entitlement can guarantee a home loan of up to 484,350 without a down payment and possibly higher in some high-cost counties.

You may qualify for a VA loan if you're an active duty service member, a veteran in good standing, a current or discharged National Guard or Selected Reserve member, a spouse of a service member who died on active duty, or a spouse of a veteran who died as a result of military service. Your lender will require a Certificate of Eligibility, which requires different evi...

4 Top Myths Surrounding VA Loans

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Top 5 Myths about Mortgages

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Q: We have lived in our house for 15 years. About four years ago our mortgage was sold to a different loan servicing company. We called the new company several times over the course of a year and they said they have no record of our loan. We had no way to make our loan payments and now the real estate taxes have not been paid. We recently got notice that our real estate taxes were sold. If I pay the taxes, who owns the home?

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