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Real Estate Tech Startups Get Both Good and Bad News


At an event hosted by Rubicon Venture, technology startups got some good and bad news.

According to data from CB Insights, more than $1.4 billion is expected to be invested in real estate tech startups this year.

But Dave Eisenberg, chief executive of Floored, offered a warning for entrepreneurs: it may be challenging to convince customers that they need new technology.

Image via Flickr/UnknownNet Photography

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What to Know About Online Real Estate Listings


The home buying process has been made much more convenient with the onset of the Internet, but these sites still have their flaws.

The information you find online may not always be correct. Make sure you ask the important questions when you’re house hunting. Don’t rely on the information you find.

Also, while photo slideshows can help you immensely when looking at houses, there’s really nothing better than looking at a home in person. Photos can be misleading, so make sure you make your final decision after seeing a home in person.

Image via Flickr/Mark Moz

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New Auto Group to Help Prevent Cyberattacks


A new group has been formed by The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers to help prevent cyberattacks on cars and trucks.

Alliance President CEO Mitch Bainwol said, “Network security must be incorporated from design to roadway, and our auto companies are exploring the best ways to enhance cyber resiliency while continuing to be nimble and responsive to new developments.”

The new group is currently in the early stages and may not complete its findings until next year.

Image via Flickr/Sam Chan

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Interest in Charter Schools Growing Among Real Estate Investors

Inside My Classroom

As state and local governments in crease spending on charter schools, more and more real estate investors are becoming interested.

Charter schools, while often operated by nonprofit organizations, often rent and buy buildings from private real estate companies.

Many real estate firms are now investing in charter schools because of the growth of the charter school movement. According to the National Alliance for Charter Schools, 500 new public charter schools opened in the 2014-2015 school year.

Image via Flickr/Marie

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Are Chip-Enabled Credit Cards Really Safe?


EMV technology is just being introduced in the U.S., but the FBI wants to stress that consumers could still be susceptible to criminals.

Chip-enabled cards do offer an edge over older cards, but there are still ways that criminals can access your information and make fraudulent charges.

Last week, the National Retail Federation the new cards to create roadblocks for criminals, but they can’t prevent numbers from being stolen.

Image via Flickr/frankieleon

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Real Estate Company Building Luxury Private Islands


Luxury real estate developer OQYANA Real Estate and Amillarah Private Islands are collaborating to create 33 floating islands in Dubai.

Paul Van de Camp, the CEO of Dutch Docklands says the project is one of a kind and that they are the only company offering floating private islands in the world.

“Our ‘Amillarah Private Islands’ are completely self-supporting, scarless and all contain the latest state-of-the-art technology,” said Van de Camp. “Each one will be a piece of art that you can live in.”

Image via Facebook/Dutch Docklands International

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Real Estate Agents Are Jumping Ship and Becoming Free Agents


More and more real estate agents are switching brokerage firms to pursue better deals and commissions.

“There’s not a lot of brand loyalty,” said Billy Rose, an agent and co-founder of the Agency in Beverly Hills, CA. “A lot of times they become mercenaries.”

The Agency is a firm that attracts many real estate agents because of its marketing support. While most firms have one or two marketing people, the Agency has 20 for tasks like posting listing photos. This kind of support gives agents more time to close more deals.

Image via Flickr/Mark Moz

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Realtor.com Reveals Top 5 Factors in 2015 Real Estate Sales


On Thursday, Realtor.com released a new report detailing the top five reasons individuals and families purchased homes in 2015.

According to the site, many homeowners simply grew tired of their current digs and craved a change of scenery. For others, it was a combination of low interest rates, steady asking prices, increased savings and – in some cases – a growing family.

“A change in family circumstance or composition was cited by 18% of this year’s active home shoppers,” noted reporter Jonathan Smoke. “Births increased last year and appear to be poised for another year of growth this year.”

Image via flickr/Daniel Oines

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Manhattan Real Estate Hits New Price Record


The square-foot price of real estate in Manhattan hit a record high in the third quarter of 2015, rising to $1,497.

According to a report released by Douglas Elliman on Thursday, in addition to rising prices, New York City is also experiencing a tightening inventory as apartments continue to sell faster and with more frequent bidding wars – and there are no signs of letting up.

“Everything is selling fast, I don’t see how there could be a bubble,” said Howard Lorber, chairman of Douglas Elliman. “I think to some degree real estate follows the stock market, but people buy real estate to live in also, not just to invest in.”

Image via flickr/Carlos Adampol Galindo

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Prepayment Penalties Demystified

Perhaps you received an inheritance and want to pay off your mortgage. Or maybe you cleaned up your credit and want to refinance a not-so-favorable loan. These sound like easy adjustments, right? Well, that depends. Prepaying your loan could cost a good deal of money if you have a prepayment penalty in your contract.

Though it seems unfair, mortgage lenders have a reason for imposing prepayment penalties on some loans. Before you sign on the dotted line, find out what you need to know about these clauses and what to do if you have a prepayment penalty on your mortgage.


What is a Prepayment Penalty?

In a mortgage contract, a prepayment penalty clause says that a financial penalty can be imposed if a mortgage gets paid off within a certain time period. This prepayment could result from a refinance, large principal payment or even the sale of the home (which would pay off the mortgage). The penalty is usually based on a percentage of the balance that remained on the loan or a particular number of interest payments.

Mortgage lenders often talk about “soft” prepayment and “hard” prepayments. A “soft” prepayment penalty refers to a loan that gets paid off through a refinance. A “hard” prepayment penalty involves both a sale and a refinance. Both types of prepayments are subject to penalties According to the mortgage contract, both types of prepayments can incur penalties.

Why Impose Prepayment Penalties?

Mortgage lenders impose prepayment penalties because they stand to lose a good deal of interest rate money if a borrower pays the loan off before the agreed-upon time. They may have taken a risk on a borrower with less-than-stellar credit and impose prepayment penalties because sub-prime loans are regularly refinanced within a short time of the loan origination.

While a prepayment penalty is always an option for both parties, lenders have the option to refuse to write the loan without one if they feel they should be compensated for the financial risk.

Working with Prepayment Penalties

Many borrowers actually look for loans with prepayment penalties because they often result in a lower interest rate. A loan with a prepayment penalty could work well for a homeowner looking to lower monthly payments and stay in the home for several years without refinancing.

Prepayment penalties usually get smaller as time goes by and often disappear altogether after the loan has been held in good standing for five years. Most of the time, you can prepay up to 20% of the principal in one year without incurring a penalty, but this amount will vary from contract to contract.

Check your loan documents carefully for any prepayment penalties before you sign the agreement. If you find yourself with an unexpected prepayment penalty, grab your calculator and figure out if the payoff or refinance is worth the extra money you will have to pay. In some instances, it may be wise to wait.

Good luck! Refinancing could save you hundreds each month. Start Now!