Senior Personal Finance Correspondent
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Jul 25, 2012

Stern Advice-Prepping for the summer wave of short sales

WASHINGTON, July 25 (Reuters) – Coming soon to a
neighborhood near you: A late-summer wave of short sales, as
homeowners, mortgage bankers and potential buyers all race to
settlement on bargain-priced homes that are worth less than the
mortgages written on them.

“We’re seeing a rush already,” said Daren Blomquist of
Realtytrac, a firm that monitors real estate foreclosures and
distressed sales. “There was a big increase in the first quarter
and we’re expecting that to continue.”

Jul 18, 2012

Stern Advice: Designing your own mortgage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Here’s an appealing idea: What if you could design your home loan so the house is paid off exactly when your kids go off to college, or when you retire? Or if you could refinance for 10, 12 or 17 years, instead of the standard 15- or 30-year terms on most fixed-rate mortgages?

Of course, most borrowers are free to prepay their mortgages, but now, some lenders are letting people borrow money for as many – or as few – years as they like.

Jul 13, 2012

Will the Wells Fargo settlement affect your mortgage?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co agreed to pay $175 million to resolve allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that it discriminated against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending.

At the same time, the bank said it would stop making loans through mortgage brokers, who the government said submitted loans to Wells Fargo that had varied interest rates, fees and costs based only on race and not correlated to the borrowers’ creditworthiness.

Jul 12, 2012

Stern Advice – Will the Wells Fargo settlement affect your mortgage?

WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co
agreed to pay $175 million to resolve allegations by the U.S.
Justice Department that it discriminated against qualified
African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending.

At the same time, the bank said it would stop making loans
through mortgage brokers, who the government said submitted
loans to Wells Fargo that had varied interest rates, fees and
costs based only on race and not correlated to the borrowers’
creditworthiness.

Jul 11, 2012

Stern Advice-Finding income in a low-interest environment

WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) – Not everybody gets happy
every time Federal Reserve policymakers promise to hold interest
rates low for years to come.

Savers suffer, and retirees worry about where they will get
any income in an era when 10-year U.S. Treasury yields, at 1.5
percent, are near record lows and one-year certificates of
deposit are averaging 0.32 percent interest, according to
Bankrate.com.

Jun 27, 2012

Stern Advice-A mid-year look at the coming tax mess

WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters) – A senior Internal Revenue
Service official says she’s already concerned about what next
year’s tax filing season will look like, because of the mass of
expiring provisions and possible tax changes that could occur
near the end of this year and into next year.

Piling on an additional tax reform bill next year could lead
to “meltdown” that could delay taxpayer refunds, Nina Olson, the
IRS’s national taxpayer advocate, told Reuters reporters and
editors during a wide ranging interview this week. She also sent
a semi-annual report to Congress cataloging the same concerns.

Jun 20, 2012

Stern Advice: The Supreme Court, healthcare and you

WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) – Within a week, the U.S.
Supreme Court is likely to rule on the landmark 2010 health care
law that President Obama – for better or worse – made the
centerpiece of his initial time in office.

Conventional wisdom holds that the court will ‘vote’ mostly
along party lines w ith a 50-50 chance of invalidating at least
th e p art of the program that requires Americans to buy health
insurance. But that means the high court is equally likely to
uphold the law, much of which has not gone into effect yet.

Jun 13, 2012

Stern Advice-Are old variable annuities the best?

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) – The variable annuity market
has been sending some very mixed signals lately. Sales are down,
several key players have exited the market, yet assets in the
insurance products reached an all-time high of $1.61 trillion in
the first quarter of the year.

What does that mean? One simple answer is that investors are
holding a lot of money in older variable annuities that grew
along with the stock market in the beginning of the year.
Perhaps the policies are so old the holders may be free of the
surrender charges faced by investors who dump annuities within
the first few years of holding them.

Jun 6, 2012

Stern Advice: The cheap new trend in investing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – How cheap can investing get? We’re about to find out.

A new brokerage site will allow individual investors to build big research-driven stock portfolios for pennies. And a new investment advice site is providing tailored portfolio guidance for free.

Jun 5, 2012

Stern Advice: Are GM-like pension offers a good deal?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Over the next few weeks some 42,000 white-collar General Motors retirees will take a crash course in actuarial math.

The company is ending their pension plan, forcing a decision on whether to take a lump sum or accept a private group annuity from Prudential that would replace GM’s monthly pension benefits dollar for dollar.

    • About Linda

      "Linda Stern is an award-winning personal finance journalist who loves to write about how the big picture affects your pocketbook. A former contributing editor at Newsweek magazine and a long-time Reuters columnist, Stern covers everything from credit cards to retirement planning to investing. As a Washington-based correspondent, she sneaks in as much tax and economic policy as her editors will allow. She tweets at www.twitter.com/LindaStern. And when she expresses opinions, they are her own and not those of her employer."
      Joined Reuters:
      October 2010
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