The average homeowner pays $2,800 in property taxes annually. In some states, residents pay five times as much.

By MSN Real Estate partner Mon 11:06 AM

Westchester County, N.Y., is home to the state's most expensive suburb, Scarsdale, N.Y. (© Alan Schein/Corbis)By Camille Salama, Zillow

 

The second biggest cost of homeownership — following the mortgage — is usually property taxes. In 2012, U.S. homeowners paid an average of about $2,800 in property taxes, according to a recent Zillow study. And if you live in New York, New Jersey or Colorado, your taxes were in some cases five times more than the national average. The numbers are based on an average of real estate taxes paid on single family housing in 2012.

 

The residents of Westchester County in New York pay more in property taxes than the typical resident of any other major American county. The average property-tax bill for a single-family home in Westchester County comes to $14,829 a year.

 

Chinese buyers are laying the groundwork for their kids, some still in diapers, to study abroad by snapping up high-end real estate in college towns.

By MSN Real Estate partner Mon 10:29 AM

© Radius Images, Radius Images, Getty ImagesBy Alyssa Abkowitz, The Wall Street Journal

 

Chinese businessman Li Sheng is looking for a $900,000, four-bedroom home in Australia, where he hopes his two children will someday attend college. At this point, neither child has finished grade school — one is still in diapers — but Li hopes to buy a family home in Melbourne in the next year.

 

Li, who lives in Harbin, an industrial city in northern China, sees the purchase as a good investment in both his real estate portfolio and his children's future. While China has plenty of universities, he and other affluent parents say they want their children to experience life abroad, where the educational system is less rigid.

 
Tags: buying

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, which is why sprucing up your home is crucial.

By MSN Real Estate partner Mon 8:20 AM

Patio furniture on modern deck © Martin Barraud, OJO Images, Getty ImagesBy Teresa Mears, U.S. News & World Report

 

U.S. News & World ReportYou’ve decided to sell your home, and you want to get top dollar for it. And you’ve seen TV shows where homeowners spend thousands of dollars staging their homes for sale, but there’s an important detail to consider: You don’t have thousands and thousands to spend.

 

The good news is there are many things you can do to spruce up the look of your home without shelling out a lot of money.

 

Here's a look at assistance programs available to homebuyers and where to find them.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 9:10 AM

© Getty ImagesBy Polyana da Costa, Bankrate.com

 

The days of easy credit are gone, but homebuyers can still get mortgages with little to no money down if they know where to look.

 

From down-payment assistance grants to interest-free second mortgages and other special mortgage programs, there is a growing number of options for people who want to buy a home without a down payment. But these are not the no-questions-asked type of loans that buyers found during the housing boom, says Rob Chrane, president of Down Payment Resource, which provides information about down payment programs across the country.

 

If you're putting your house up for sale, try some of these trendy colors on the walls.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:50 AM

HomeAdvisorBy Andrea Davis, HomeAdvisor

 

Is it time to add some fresh splash of paint to the house interior? Do you plan to sell the house this year or in the near future?

 

If you want to be up on the popular trends in house-painting, then be sure to consider painting rooms according to this year's trends in colors.

 

Some of the top trends in interior painting include these five tones.

 

Facts about fancy features and a touch of drama can help. Some 'puffing' is good, but don't go overboard.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:23 AM

© Stockbroker/SuperStockBy Sanette Tanaka, The Wall Street Journal

 

It's not what real estate agents say, it's the way they say it.

 

Home listings that tout property characteristics, such as granite countertops and wood-burning fireplaces, in the description sell for a premium, says Bennie Waller, professor of finance and real estate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., who studied the makeup of listings.

 

"The more verifiable information, the better," he says. Each property characteristic mentioned in a listing increases the sale price by just under 1 percent and its probability of selling by 9.2 percent, on average. That means a listing with 15 additional property characteristics sells for roughly a 13.5 percent price premium. Waller excluded standard features, such as bedrooms, from the analysis.

 

 
Tags: selling

If you're veering from the traditional home loan, here are some of your options.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 8:21 AM

Image: Miniature home on sheet of percent signs © Comstock, Getty ImagesBy Geoff Williams, U.S. News & World Report

 

U.S. News & World ReportIf you're buying a house, chances are you'll take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. It's the most popular home financing option, according to Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entity that works to help homeowners get mortgages. In the last couple of years, those who took out home loans overwhelmingly chose the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage: It accounted for 85 percent of the home-purchase loan market in 2012, according to Freddie Mac, and 90 percent in the first half of 2013.

 

Even if you're planning to go this traditional route, it's nice to know what you could do instead. Here are some alternatives to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

 

The FHA Back to Work Program allows a buyer to purchase a home 12 months after a foreclosure, short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Can you qualify?

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 12:19 PM

Image: Home with foreclosure sign in front yard © Ariel Skelley/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesBy Scott Sheldon, Credit.com

 

Credit.comA consumer who sold his or her home in a short sale or lost it in a foreclosure would normally have to wait 36 months to purchase a primary residence again with an FHA fixed-rate mortgage. However, the FHA Back to Work Program allows a buyer to purchase a primary home just 12 months after a foreclosure, short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

 

The program -- which was announced in 2013, and extended through Sept. 30, 2016 -- aims to fulfill a lofty goal: offering families a second chance at homeownership. The sticking point, however, is that you’ll need to specifically document the financial problems that caused you to forfeit your prior home in order to qualify.

 
 

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