Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Top Schools for Real Estate Sales, Appraisals, and Finance Programs

Real estate professionals provide services and advice meant to make the home buying process easier for many customers. Within this field, there are several positions such as real estate agents, appraisers and real estate finance professionals. Real estate sales agents help potential buyers find available housing that suits their specific needs and desires. Along with advertising and providing tours of properties, real estate agents may assist in the paperwork involved in buying a home.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, those interested in being a real estate agent should consider enrolling in a real estate licensing program. The material covered in these programs depending on state regulations. After completing the program, the license may need to be renewed annually or every two years. Students interested in the Real Estate Sales, Appraisals and Finance fields may want to seek a higher education in real estate, business or finance.

List of Colleges for Real Estate Sales, Appraisals and Finance

(Source: U.S. News, www.usnews.com):

  • 1. Syracuse University-

This private university was founded in 1870.

-Undergraduate Student Body: 12,268; Faculty to Student Ratio: 1:12; Tuition Costs: $28,285; Average High School Student GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 3.6; Test Scores of Incoming Freshmen: ACT: Not Listed, SAT: More than 40% had scores 1200-1299.

  • 2. New York University-

This institution is divided into 14 schools and colleges at six major locations in Manhattan.

-Undergraduate Student Body: 20,212; Faculty to Student Ratio: 1:12; Tuition Costs: $31,690; Average High School Student GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 3.6; Test Scores of Incoming Freshmen: ACT: More than 50% had scores 30-36, SAT: More than 50% had scores 1200-1299.

  • 3. University of Florida-

This university had the fourth largest student enrollment in the nation in 2002.

-Undergraduate Student Body: 33,694; Faculty to Student Ratio: 1:23; Tuition Costs: In-State: $2,955, Out-of-State: $15,214; Average High School Student GPA of Incoming Freshmen: 3.9; Test Scores of Incoming Freshmen: ACT: More than 50% had scores 24-29, SAT: More than 40% had scores 1200-1299.

Wiping Out Credit Card Debt

To listen to our politicians and press, you’d think we’ve returned to the Great Depression, with 25% unemployment and soup lines, when it’s just about 1% of our people getting overextended in debt. Still, if you’re one of those people, it is the Great Depression for your family. Well, how do you get over this personal debt crisis, get out from under all the credit card debt and make the changes necessary to wipe out your debt for good? This article will show you how to eliminate debt without filing bankruptcy, ruining your credit or being harassed by creditors over late payments. As an added benefit, you’ll learn how to keep this from happening to you, again.

The Debt Crisis In Personal Credit: It concerns me to hear all the talk about a credit crisis as though the lenders were villains, forcing their money on poor, defenseless debtors. If you think of yourself as a victim of the creditors, this article is probably not for you and you will probably be bankrupt or homeless in a short amount of time. If, on the other hand, you’re willing to accept responsibility for your debt crisis, you probably have a good chance to get it fixed…permanently. The root of the problem is the credit customer, always wanting to live beyond his income. We see all that stuff other people have and want it for ourselves, whether we can afford it, or not. The motivation is probably a combination of low self-esteem, greed and pride, but the result is a personal debt crisis.

We buy a bigger house than we can afford because someone will give us the money…100% of it’s current value. We refinance as the value goes up, to get other things we want, not wanting to admit home values go up and down. We buy cars, boats and other big “toys” on fairly high interest loans because we’re unwilling to wait until we’ve saved for them and because we don’t want to be seen in that old “beater” of ours. After we’ve bought the home, we discover how many thousands of dollars credit card companies are willing to loan us, and that’s usually when the problem goes from barely manageable, to impossible.

credit card debt: A credit card is a great tool for people who manage their money but don’t want to carry it around. You can use someone else’s money interest-free for a month, enough time to get the bill and pay it off. If you don’t pay it off, you’ve already agreed to pay ridiculous interest rates each month until you do. If you make the minimum payment, it will take over 20 years to pay for whatever you buy, and cost you more than 3 times as much…not very smart. Average credit card debt per household in the US is $ 8,400, but since over 60% of families have no cards or pay them off each month, the average household debt of the rest is $ 21,000. This doesn’t count the car loans and mortgages. In fact, a very scary practice has been to refinance the house to pay for the credit cards and then use the credit cards to make the house payments. People who do this are mere months from losing all their assets due to foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy And Debt Negotiation: People who use debt negotiation and bankruptcy to clear personal debt without fully paying what they owe, are often robbing themselves of good credit and of a genuine solution to their spending problem. People go to court, get a good bit of their debt excused and, as soon as they get credit cards, start the cycle over again. The pain continues because the price of being financially irresponsible is not high enough…someone keeps swooping in and bailing us out. We never lose anything, and begin to think we’re entitled to get other people’s property without paying for it. This is a very painful existence, never being free of debt, because we’re never willing to say “no” to ourselves. Most people are capable of paying their debt off and freeing themselves if they hadn’t gotten bailed out. Had the people come and taken our TV, we’d have incentive to learn how to end our debt cycle, and free ourselves.

Wiping Out Debt And The Debt Cycle: For over 99% of us, it’s possible to eliminate credit card debt in less than 2 years, and total debt in less than 5. All we need to do is make a Total Debt Elimination-Reduction Plan and discipline ourselves to follow it. Uh-oh! Did I use the “D” word…Discipline? Well, that’s the price of debt-freedom. If we aren’t willing to pay that price, it explains why we’re where we are, financially. For the precious few who read this article and actually decide to discipline yourselves and wipe out the debt cycle, I want to applaud you and tell you there’s no question you can do it. For the rest, I’m not going to coddle or sympathize.

Here in the US, we have more wealth and economic choice than anyone in the history of the world. Our welfare recipients live in better economic conditions than 96% of the world. Having visited third world countries and seen people living in cardboard boxes, it’s embarrassing for me to hear financial hardship described as having only one plasma TV. I said that to say this.

Anyone in the US who is willing to work hard and discipline themselves can wipe out their credit card debt, auto loans and mortgages. You can free yourself from the debt cycle and soar above the common temptations of wasteful spending. The only thing holding you back is willingness. If we’re not willing to work hard and discipline ourselves, no amount of assistance will free us. On the other hand, if you’re willing to do what it takes to be debt-free, you’ll have all the help you need.

Understanding Mortgage Fees

In basic terms, mortgage fees are defined as charges by lenders for processing a mortgage loan, but these fees can be confusing to people since there are so many of them.

So, it’s important for both real estate investors and their customers to understand these charges so you know the real cost of loans and to make sure all charges are legitimate. Armed with this knowledge, you can get the best mortgage deal for yourself and for your customers and ensure that you’re not being overcharged.

As I explain mortgage fees, keep in mind that lenders have varying requirements so you may not have to incur the cost of every one of these charges.

Application Fee

This is the simply the cost of processing the loan. It’s normally paid to the lender when you apply. It’s usually non-refundable if you decide not to take the loan.

Appraisal Fees

This is an estimate of the market value of the property. The lender has the appraisal done to make sure the mortgage has a level of risk that’s acceptable to them. It’s usually done by a professional appraiser, who provides a written appraisal to the lender.

Attorney Fees

Sometimes, an attorney is required to prepare and review loan documents, so an additional fee is paid for document preparation.

credit report Fee

This is a charge for having a credit report pulled by the lender. Naturally, the lender wants to know the borrower’s creditworthiness so that lender will get the information from one of the “Big Three” credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.

Document Preparation Fees

These are fees charged for the preparation of legal documents such as deeds of trust, the mortgage contract, etc. The fees may charged by the lender, broker, or the title company.

Earnest Money

This is money the buyer pays into an escrow account to show good faith to the seller; in other words, it demonstrates that they’re serious about buying the property and are putting their money where their mouth is. It’s usually a small amount of money and is paid by the buyer when an offer is made on the property.

Escrow Account Funds

The lender holds money in the escrow account for the purpose of paying of specific items. These items can include up to two months worth of private mortgage insurance, homeowner’s insurance, hazard insurance, property tax payments, etc.

Loan Discount Points

These are fees that lenders charge in order to provide a lower interest rate. As a borrower, you can choose to get a lower interest rate (”buy down”) by paying “points” in addition to the loan origination fee. Each point is equal to one percent of the value of the loan, and one point typically represents about one eighth of a percentage point.

Loan Origination Fee

This is a fee charged by the lender to cover administration costs; i.e., preparation, evaluation and submission of the loan. The fee is usually equal to 1% of the value of the loan. Origination fees may be as high as 2% if the loan is especially complicated. As a general rule, expect to pay no more than approximately 1%. Mortgage Broker Fee In some situations, you may prefer to work with a mortgage broker rather than directly with a lender. In that case, you’ll pay the broker a fee for his or her services in addition to the lender’s fee.

Mortgage Underwriting Fee

Lenders charge this fee for verifying the information on the loan application and making a final decision on loan approval. It also covers closing and funding costs for the lender. Typically, this is where the lender makes their immediate profit from lending (as opposed to profit over time from interest). Note: Brokers shouldn’t charge an underwriting fee; they’re not the ones underwriting a loan.

Prepaid Interest

This is the amount of interest that accrues between closing time and the date of the first mortgage payment. This fee is paid to the lender at closing time. Recommendation: To reduce the amount of prepaid interest, try to close at the end of the month. This will also reduce the amount of cash you need to come up with at closing time. Property Inspection Fee This is a fee charged by a licensed property inspector for determining the general physical condition of the property as well as pest inspection. Property inspections protect both the buyer and the lender.

Survey Fee

This is a fee charged by a licensed surveyor for measurement of a property’s boundaries. The lender or title search company may require a survey in order to ensure that the boundaries have been upheld.

Title Insurance

This is vital protection for the buyer in case there are any unpaid mortgages or tax liens on the property that were overlooked during the title search. If title issues crop up, then title insurance pays for legal costs and reimburses the buyer for any other losses incurred.

Title Search Fee

A title search is vital because, as a buyer, you want to make sure the person selling the property is the legal owner. The title company analyzes all public records concerning the property in order to determine if any title defects could interfere with clear transfer of property ownership.


In this article, I covered the topic of mortgage fees. As I said earlier, it pays to understand these fees to make sure both investors and their customers get the best deal on a mortgage and to ensure that they’re not being overcharged.

A good online source for getting a handle on mortgage fees charged across the nation is http://www.bankrate.com. This site will give you the highest, lowest, and average fees charged by lenders and brokers. I recommend you consult it on a regular basis to stay on top of the mortgage game.

Proposed Credit Card and Banking Regulations

It looks like the government will be getting serious about credit card regulations. The Federal Reserve Board proposed rules to prohibit unfair practices regarding credit cards and overdraft services that would among other provisions, protect consumers from unexpected increases in the rate charged on pre-existing credit card balances.

Regulation AA (Unfair Acts or Practices) The proposal would amend Regulation AA to prohibit unfair or deceptive acts or practices by banks in connection with credit card accounts and overdraft services for deposit accounts.

Credit Cards

- More Time To make Payments The proposal would stop banks from treating a payment as late unless the consumer has been provided with reasonable amount of time to make that payment. There would be a new safe net for banks that send periodic statements at least 21 days prior to the payment due date.

- Allocation of Payments When you have a credit card with different balances (for example, purchases, and cash advances), typically the annual percentage rate (APR) is higher on the cash advance. When you make a payment on a scenario like this the bank will apply your payment to the lower of the two. With the new regulation the payment will be split equally amongst the two balances. In addition, to enable consumers to receive the full benefit of discounted promotional rates (for example, on balance transfers), during the promotional period payments in excess of the minimum would have to be applied first to the balances on which the rate is not discounted.

- Two-Cycle Billing The proposal would stop banks from imposing finance charges based on balances on days in billing cycles preceding the most recent billing cycle. Credit card issuers will not be allowed to use previous billing cycles to calculate interest on your current bill. Current double cycle billing uses the average balance from the previous two months to calculate interest charges, even if you paid part of the previous balance.

- Rate increases to existing balances Credit Card companies will not be able to increase you APR on existing balances, unless you had a promotional offer and/or was late on a payment

- Less bait and switch credit card offers The proposal would require banks making firm offers of credit advertising multiple APRs or credit limits to disclose exactly what the qualifications would be for those terms.

- Finance of Security Deposits and Fees The proposal would address concerns regarding subprime credit cards by prohibiting banks from financing security deposits and fees for credit availability (such as account-opening fees or membership fees) if charges assessed during the first twelve months would exceed 50 percent of the initial credit limit. The proposal would also require financed security deposits and fees exceeding 25 percent of the initial credit limit to be spread over the first year.

- Credit Card Holds The proposal would prohibit banks from imposing a fee when the credit limit is exceeded solely because a hold was placed on available credit. This can occur where the final dollar amount of a transaction was not known in advance (for example, when a consumer checks into a hotel, a hold is placed for the expected cost of the stay).

Overdraft Services

- Debit Holds This proposal would stop banks from charging a fee when an overdraft takes place to due to a hold placed on available funds in an account.

- Right to opt out The proposal would stop banks from imposing a fee for paying overdraft unless the bank gave the consumer an opportunity to opt out of the payment of overdrafts and the consumer has not done so. This would apply to all transaction types. This would also be applied to overdrafts resulting from ATM and point of sale transactions.