‘Convergence’ Is Shaping Urban America

A swing toward urbanism is shaping “Big City, North America.”

It’s those darn demographics again. Only this time it’s not just a baby boomer thing; it’s what some experts are calling a “convergence” between boomers and millennials, also called “Generation Y” and born between 1981 and 2000.

In their home searches, empty-nester boomers are looking for smaller houses in centrally located neighborhoods within walking distance of everything.

Meanwhile, Gen Yers simply prefer the urban lifestyle. The result is an influx of buyers to downtowns and away from suburbia.

The heightened demand for these urban neighborhoods is exceeding supply. In some cities, a rental boomlet is under way, as Gen Yers are finding the urban lifestyle they want in rental apartments and condos.

Size matters, too. Both boomers and Gen Yers are finding that small is beautiful, purchasing smaller urban properties with postage stamp-sized yards or tiny downtown condos with expansive views.

The urban lifestyle also has some new fans: Single women now represent 21% of U.S. first-time buyers compared to 12% for single men, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.

The full impact of the new urbanism has yet to be felt.

But it’s a good bet it will change the shape of cities – and suburbs – for some time to come.

There Are Scary Consequences to Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud has been making headlines in the past few years, with some suggesting it played a key role in the financial crisis of 2008.

Truth is: If there’s money to be made dishonestly through mortgages, there’s no shortage of criminals to figure out ways of doing so. And some of those criminals are us.

While there are many ways to commit mortgage fraud, one of the most common is to sign a mortgage on behalf of someone else, often for the promise of a quick payback. Never sign a real estate loan application unless you yourself are purchasing the property; you could be on the hook for a whopping sum of money.

Don’t get tempted. Ensure that you deal only with licensed real estate professionals and consult a lawyer for help with such things as land title searches and title insurance.

You don’t have to look far for the culprits in “Liar Loans” – a widespread type of mortgage fraud. This occurs when an applicant exaggerates income or years on the job to get a larger loan than he or she would otherwise qualify for.

If it’s discovered that an applicant misrepresented information when buying or refinancing a home, not only can the lender demand immediate repayment of the loan in full, but the applicant may have to do some explaining to the police.

Lenders, too, can be guilty of mortgage fraud. Employees of a New York City bank falsified documents so unqualified borrowers could receive mortgages. The loans were sold to an unwary Fannie Mae, which secures mortgages by repackaging them as securities for investors and lost when the unqualified buyers defaulted.

As in so much of life, ensuring that you’re not unwittingly part of a mortgage fraud involves common sense. Trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.