State of the Housing Market in 2018

State of the Housing Market in 2018: Location, location, retirement As we look toward 2018, the housing market continues to show few signs of slowing down, although there are hints of developing headwinds. While it’s true that housing prices are very much geographically based, across the entire U.S., experts are predicting home prices to rise about 4.5 – 5.5% this year. Let’s examine a few facts and predictions: Current State of Housing  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, home ownership stands at about 64%. As the end of 2017, the median home value in the United States was $203,400. From 2012-2017, the median sales price of existing homes has increased by the following amounts: 6.6%; 11.4%; 5.8%; 6.5%; 5.1% and 5.8%. The low inventory has driven up the median home value by 48% since 2011. Existing home sales are projected to be unchanged at about 5.6 million after rising 6.3%, 3.8% …

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What is the VIX and What Does it Mean?

Often referred to as the “investor fear index,” the VIX is technically the ticker symbol for the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, which shows the market’s expected volatility. First introduced in 1993, the VIX has evolved over the years and today it is a widely referenced measure of market risk – on a forward basis. That “forward basis” qualifier is important as it calculates future volatility and does not look backwards. A Calculated Index The VIX is calculated daily, similar to the S&P 500 Index. But whereas the S&P 500 Index is calculated based on the stock prices of 500 companies (technically there are 505 companies, but that’s another story altogether), the VIX uses the price of options on the S&P 500 and estimates how volatile those options will be between the current date and the option’s expiration date. Much like the individual stock prices of the 500 companies …

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Variations in ‘Named Storm’ Deductibles Make Collecting Evidence Confusing

Last year was a tough one for storms, as the U.S. saw more than $200 billion worth of damage from 17 named storms. This record blew past the previous one, $159 billion in 2005, in part because people have continued to move to coastal areas and property values have increased. Over the years insurance companies have introduced “named storm” deductibles to help balance the risk between policyholders and insurers, but they bring their own issues, such as collecting evidence for coverage and other details. “Catastrophe management can make or break a carrier’s reputation, and having dedicated and knowledgeable staff is key,” says Stacey Giulianti, co-founder and chief legal officer of Florida Peninsula Insurance and Edison Insurance. Here’s what you need to know about “named storm” deductibles. A Variety of Deductible Options The biggest challenge carriers face, especially when explaining named-storm coverage to customers, revolves around the deductible, Giulianti says. “Hurricane” …

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401k Loans: Pros and Cons

You might be considering taking out a loan from your 401k. But before you do, you should know the rules and weigh the risks against the benefits. Because not knowing the rules and understanding the risks might hurt you and your retirement in the long-term. Consider this for a Second Most of us simply do not have enough in our 401k where we can afford to borrow. According to Fidelity Investments, the average 401k balance was approximately $91,000. And while that is a lot of money, it won’t cover the average retiree’s health-care costs. Fidelity projects that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2014 will incur an average of $220,000 in retirement healthcare costs alone. Before you take out that 401k loan, know this: According to the IRS: the maximum amount that the plan can permit as a loan is (1) the greater of $10,000 or 50% of your vested account …

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