Top 10 Real Estate Search Terms in May

Internet analytic site Hitwise identified these top 10 search terms in May:

· apartments for rent
· zillow
· real estate
· remax
· century 21
· unclaimed money
· houses for rent
· houses for sale accounted for 1.8 percent of search terms that led to a real estate category site. Each of the rest of the terms accounted for fewer than 1 percent of visits.

Source: Inman News (06/11/2010)

Putting Mortgages into ‘Plain Language’

Bank of America has debuted, a new Web site for borrowers that includes a calculator that determines not just what size loan people can qualify for, but how much they can spend without being stretched too thin.

“We wanted to change the conversation to ‘How much house can I comfortably afford?’ rather than ‘What’s the maximum I can buy?’ ” said Aditya Bhasin, the product, pricing and strategy executive for Bank of America Home Loans.

The site was designed to be easy to read, spelling out a variety of contingencies, including the maximum payment that an adjustable rate mortgage could potentially cost.

The new site also offers what BofA calls Flat Fee Mortgage Plus, which has no application fee and a single closing fee that includes processing costs and fees for third-party services like appraisals.

It doesn’t include other standard costs like property taxes, homeowners’ insurance and prepaid interest.

Craig Focardi, a senior research director at the Tower Group, a financial consulting firm, said the idea for the plan is nothing new – it’s been tried by others. But the prominence of the programs could persuade competitors to adopt the features.

Source: The New York Times, Bob Tedeschi (05/08/2009)