Approaching real estate and mortgage lending with optimism.

Approaching real estate and mortgage lending with optimism.If you are trying to make sense of the condition in the real estate and mortgage industries these days, don’t bother referring back to your old Economics 101 textbook where you first read about the laws of supply and demand. You’ll remember the side of the equation that says when the price of a product goes down, the demand for that product goes up.

Now, let’s apply our economics refresher course to the current housing and lending markets. According to The Wall Street Journal, the median U.S. home price was $201,000 in January of this year, down 4.6 percent from January 2007. The S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index for the fourth quarter was down 8.9 percent from a year earlier, the biggest drop in 20 years. Furthermore, there was a 10-month supply of existing homes for sale in January, up from just under five months during boom times. The supply is up so prices are down.

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Are you buried in your own paperwork? Long distance moves, downsizing and spring cleaning can cause us to ask, “Will I ever need all this stuff? And if I do, how will I ever find it?” Alongside the box of old holiday lights and outgrown children’s clothes are boxes upon boxes of cancelled checks, receipts, bank statements and income tax forms going back to your first job and that first tax filing you did by hand. After all, it’s easier to keep everything than sort, make a decision and discard or re-file.

But when you reach that point when you can no longer store it all, it’s time to decide – what can stay and where; what must go and how to safely dispose of private information.

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With some pundits throwing around the ‘R’ word, how can we turn it around?The dark miasma of pessimism that sent stock prices tumbling is obscuring powerful and far-reaching trends that could propel the market higher, much higher, in 2008 and beyond, even though the markets are likely to continue to test us with increased volatility and declines in the near term. There are compelling reasons to believe we are moving out of trouble, and not further in, hence our optimism and enthusiasm for U.S. stocks and our view that this turbulence, in retrospect, will prove an extraordinary opportunity for long term investors.

First, this is a real slump no matter how you work the numbers. Two-thirds of us believe we are already in a recession. The abuses in sub-prime lending have resulted in nearly $100 billion of financial write-downs and losses so far, and for all intents and purposes choked off the credit markets. The housing market is moribund, with foreclosures reaching crisis levels in many U.S. cities.

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For Love or MONEY... but preferably, both.Valentine’s day is upon us – bringing hope to every romantic while sparking gift anxiety into everyone else. Once again, the challenge of finding the perfect gift to capture the essence of each particular relationship. To some that may mean a Hallmark card; to others, the sky’s the limit. Gold, diamonds, jewelry of all sorts, candy and fragrances all express that romantic “Be My Valentine” feeling. What about a gift of stock? Not very romantic, but for the practical, diet conscious or investment-oriented loved one, this might be the perfect solution.

Two Februaries past, this column reviewed several Valentine stock choices. Let’s see how the lucky recipients fared and whether the investments have lasted longer than the candy and flowers.

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Carolina FirstYou wouldn’t start a long road trip without consulting a map would you? Well, the same holds true for creating a strategy for managing your investments. Developing this strategy is a process, an organized and disciplined approach to making the right choices to ensure that you and your loved ones will be financially secure and that you will have peace of mind knowing you have crafted a well thought-out plan. Carolina First Securities has the people, resources, and know-how to help guide you through this process.

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There’s money out there to borrow. The sky is not falling. However, you need to be prepared.

Mortgages... Be PREPAREDToday you can’t read a newspaper or watch television without hearing about the sluggish real estate markets, subprime loans and fewer lenders actually lending money. Thankfully, I was a Boy Scout growing up back in Ohio, and I well remember the scout motto: “Be Prepared.” This applies to the residential lending industry now more than ever.

Here’s the great news. There’s money out there  to  borrow. The sky is not falling. However, you need to be prepared. What does this mean?

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Michelle Myhre, CFP® Oak AdvisorsIf the recent volatility in the stock, bond and real estate markets due to the credit crunch has made you lose sleep, it may be time to revisit your overall asset allocation strategy. Determining an appropriate allocation for your assets centers on assessing your risk tolerance, time horizon, and need for income.

Most investors know that a portfolio comprised of 100% stocks carries a great degree of risk, but may not be aware that a portfolio of 100% bonds is exposed to interest rate risk, credit risk, principal risk and purchasing power risk. Additionally, a portfolio of all real estate can also carry an enormous amount of risk due to its potential illiquidity, varying cash flows, dependency on borrowing costs, and fluctuation in value. You will need to assess how much risk you can tolerate.
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Traditional lending products such as home mortgages and home equity credit lines can be important to a financial plan...

Beach First National BankWith the arrival of the New Year, it’s a great time to give your finances an annual physical. Just as you get an annual check up for yourself, it is a great idea to make sure your finances are in good health as well.

Technology is making it even easier for you to keep an eye on your financial planning. While an unlimited transaction checking account is essential for handling day-to-day expenditures, products such as debit cards, telephone banking and Internet banking have taken convenience to new levels. With internet banking products, consumers can transfer funds between accounts, check their balances, pay their bills, and view their account history, all at the click of a mouse, safely and securely. In fact, Internet banking is fast becoming a “must have” service for consumers everywhere due to its ease of use and accessibility.

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Are you interested in learning more about managing your money? The new year is a good time to take on this challenge. Hilton Head-based Certified Public Accountant, Christine E. Cassidy, is hosting a series of free workshops with you in mind, titled Wealth Strategies Seminars. Covering a range of financial and tax topics, each seminar features a regional expert discussing their specialty.

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When most homebuyers begin the process of shopping for financing, they begin their search by comparing interest rates. While this is probably as good a place to start as any, there are several other factors that need to be considered.

Whenever there is a closing on a real estate transaction there will be closing expenses. Lenders, Appraisers and Closing Attorneys will all charge fees for there services. It is critical that the homeowner understands what the fees are and what they cover. These fees can be paid by the homeowner or the lender may absorb many of them.

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In the banking industry, financial institutions offer a full array of investment products and services to meet your wealth management needs. Take a moment to read about the tools available to help you increase your wealth.

Money Market Accounts: A Money Market Account is an interest bearing savings account for investors who want to earn interest and have instant access to their money. There is no monthly fee when the minimum balance is maintained.

Certificate of Deposit (CD): A CD is a certificate issued by a financial institution which indicates that the investor has deposited a sum of money for a specified period of time and at a specified rate of interest. When the time period is up, the CD matures and the investor gets the full amount back, plus interest.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA): An IRA allows an investor to save money for use in retirement while deferring taxes on the account’s earnings. Deposits for traditional IRAs are tax deductible and the investment earnings in the account are not taxable until withdrawn.

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Christopher Corken, a premier agent with The Prudential Insurance Company of America’s Citadel Agency located in Bluffton, SC. Corkern can provide you with costs and complete details. He can be reached at christopher corken@prudential.com and (843) 706-2100.

Have you entertained the idea of leaving a sizeable gift to charity after you pass away? Consider using your life insurance policy to support your favorite cause. Here’s how:

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Small business is big business in the Lowcountry. You’re facing important financial issues every day. Your bank wants quarterly financial statements in order to maintain your line of credit; tax returns are due; you do not have time to pay bills.

Managing your money has become a chore and is precluding your ability to run your business If the daily financial demands of running your business are becoming a burden, then team up with a financial service company. Let an expert manage the financial details of your business so that you can concentrate on the success of your business.

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A financial alternative for investors.

If you have a portfolio that may be used as collateral for a loan, you may be able to access liquidity without immediately liquidating securities and still maintain your portfolio’s current exposure to the market. This is known as securities-based lending.

WHAT IS SECURITIES-BASED LENDING?
Securities-based lending is generally a revolving line of credit that uses your eligible investment portfolio as collateral. This strategy allows you to access funds without immediately liquidating your portfolio.

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