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February 2010

Top 10 Highest-Paid Cities in the World

Top 10 Highest-Paid Cities in the World

Swiss bank UBS recently released its tri-annual Prices and Earnings report revealing which of the 73 surveyed cities in the world had the most purchasing power (in terms of the local costs of goods) after taxes were deducted from the average hourly pay. Forbes Magazine further analyzed the data and listed the top 100 highest-Paid cities in the world. While this data isn't all that useful in practical terms, it's always interesting to see the facts and figures and how we fit into the global picture. Here are the top ten cities according to this data.

1. Zurich, Switzerland: Net pay per hour: $22.60 (Gross pay per hour: $30.30).
2. Geneva, Switzerland: Net pay per hour: $20.40 (Gross pay per hour: $29.20).
3. New York City: Net pay per hour: $19 (Gross pay per hour: $26.10).
4. Dublin, Ireland: Net pay per hour: $18.70 (Gross pay per hour: $22).
5. Luxembourg City: Net pay per hour: $18.20 (Gross pay per hour: $22.40).
6. Copenhagen, Denmark: Net pay per hour: $17.70 (Gross pay per hour: $32.80).
7. Los Angeles: Net pay per hour: $17.40 (Gross pay per hour: $23.90).
8. Oslo, Norway: Net pay per hour: $15.80 (Gross pay per hour: $24.40).
9. Helsinki, Finland: Net pay per hour: $15.70 (Gross pay per hour: $21.30).
10. Miami: Net pay per hour: $15.70 (Gross pay per hour: $21.10).

Changes to FHA Loans and how it affects the buyer...

HUD announced several major changes for FHA loans.

1. Up-front MIP Mortgage Insurance Premium will increase to 2.25%, this will go into effect April 5 2010

How this affects you: Currently up-front MIP is at 1.75% of the base loan amount.
Example: on a $100,000 base loan amount, the amount that is currently added to that amount is $1750.00. This makes the total loan amount that is financed as $101,750.00.  The monthly payment (assuming a 5.50% rate) would be $577.73.
Under the new change the new loan amount would be $102,250.00 ($500.00 more added to the loan balance) and the new monthly payment would increase to $580.56 ($2.83 per month more).
The benefit is significant to HUD as it allows them to re-capitalize their insurance fund (which is low due to loan losses over the past several years) and continue to insure home loans will minimal down payments which are a good thing.

2. Borrowers with credit scores less than 580 will be required to put down at least 10%; effective early summer.  Current down payment is 3.5% and will stay for credit scores above 580.

How this affects you: Although HUD/FHA has never required a minimum credit score before, most investors have required minimum credit scores for quite some time.  Most have a minimum of 620 with a few down to 600 and even 580.
This change might cause some investors/lenders to look at this market segment more seriously because of the significant down payment of 10% possibly
opening more opportunities for more borrowers with lower scores and a down payment.

3. Seller contributions to be lowered from 6% to 3%.

How this affects you: This is VERY significant especially lower priced homes.   Currently on a $100,000 the seller is allowed to pay up to $6,000.00 (6.0%) in closing costs and pre-paid items (taxes/insurance).

This change will reduce this amount to only $3000.00 (3.0%)
in this example. 
If your closing costs and pre-paid items happen to be $4,000.00, then you the borrower would have to pay that difference yourself out of pocket ($1,000.00) due to maximum being now 3.0 percent.
This means that your “funds to close” would be $1,000.00 higher than under the prior guidelines. Not a good thing on a cash strapped buyer.

4. The waiver on anti-flipping requirements is effective February 1, 2010.

How this affects you: This is very good news and means that there will be a better inventory of renovated property properties to chose from for buyers.  Let’s face it, there are allot of properties out there for sale but many of them are in very rough condition or in short sale situations where it is difficult for a first time buyer to either have to deal with renovations or wait for banks to approve the short sale.
This new rule removes the “90 Day hold requirement” by sellers so that properties can be resold more quickly after a purchase.  This will help “fix and flip” investors by reducing their hold times on properties and provide more inventory to prospective buyers.
One word of caution to buyers; “Beware of properties that were purchased and marked up with little or no renovation being done.” There are specific rules that must be followed in order for these properties to be financed through FHA/HUD. 

As always, feel free to call me as a resource for your real estate needs.

Appeal Your Property Tax Bill | HouseLogic

Owning a home is an expensive proposition. There’s maintenance, landscaping, utilities, renovations, and, of course, taxes. It’s your civic duty to pay the latter, but it’s also your right not to yield a penny more than your fair share.

It’s possible to trim your property tax bill by appealing the assessed value of your home. But making a case against your real estate assessment, the basis for your property tax bill, requires doing a bit of homework. Initial research can be done online or by phone over two or three days, but the process can stretch out for months if you’re forced


Netted. Sign up at this site, which launched in February 2010, to get free daily e-mails that highlight Web sites, smartphone applications and services that make life better. Many of the recommended online tools will help you save money, but be forewarned that Netted isn't dedicated solely to discovering personal-finance related sites. But that's okay -- saving money isn't the only thing that makes life better.



The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.
 Dear Dogs and Cats:  The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food.  The other dishes are mine and contain my food.  Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
 The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack.  Racing me to the bottom is not the object.  Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
 I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed.  I am very sorry about this.  Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however.  Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep.  It Is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible.  I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
 For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door.  I must exit through the same door I entered.  Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.
 The proper order for kissing is:  Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt.  I cannot stress this enough.
 Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

 (1)  They live here.  You don't.  

(2)  If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.  That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.  
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.  
(4)  To you, they are animals.  To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.
 Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't hang out with drug-using people;
(7) don't smoke or drink,
(8) don't want to wear your clothes,
(9) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and

(11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ...

Lead Safe Remodeling

starting April 22 The US Environmental Protection Agency EPA rules take effect. They require any remodeling work on homes built prior to 1978 to be undertaken by contractors certified by the agency in lead safe practices.

The National Association of Remodeling Industry recommends  that home owners assume lead paint is present if the home was built prior to 1978 unless they had it tested and found it to be lead free. Certified remodelers are required to display their EPA-certified training certificate to home owners.