August 6, 2009

Reduced Planning Opportunities for Vacation Homes

In the past, it was possible to turn a vacation home or rental home into your principal residence so that you could later sell it and exclude gains on the sale from income. If you were planning on such a strategy, be aware that the tax rules recently changed.

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April 27, 2009

Using Buy-to-Let for Investment Purposes Requires Effort

With the number of available buy-to-let properties on the rise, landlords need to step up their game a pace. Letting an apartment or home is becoming more competitive as the number of buy-to-let investors has risen over the last few years. As it is, the number of properties awaiting tenants still outpaces the number of people looking to rent one. That being said, the credit crunch has ensured that a steady flow of would-be tenants will continue for quite some time.

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February 18, 2009

Housing Stability and the Consumer Bailout

It was the collapse of the housing industry that kicked off the recession that has cascaded through the American economy. Home values have been on the decline, sales are in a severe slump and new housing starts have all but dried up. Economists are consistent in their opinion that the broader economic woes won't be reversed until there is stability in the housing market. Where does it stand now?

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December 26, 2008

The Great American Ponzi Scheme: Part II

(Continued from The Great American Ponzi Scheme: Part I)

The government didn't step in to regulate these credit default swaps because a boom in all these industries makes people happy. Happy enough to re-elect those in office, happy enough to pay more taxes. By the way, because the economy was doing so well in the early stages of this Ponzi scheme, the tax base grew and taxes could be cut on things like capital gains without the effects really being felt even while the government itself was spending just as recklessly as many consumers.

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December 24, 2008

The Great American Ponzi Scheme: Part I

Mortgage banking for the last ten years or so has been the biggest Ponzi scheme ever conceived and it has all been legal. Builders, developers, and bankers have been perpetrating what amounts to outright fraud on the American consumer. Don't get me wrong, it is the greed of those consumers that got them into trouble in the first place. If people hadn't looked at buying property as a get rich scheme, and bank-rolled that "investment" with money they didn't have and credit they couldn't afford, none of this would have happened either.

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November 10, 2008

How to Buy a Home in a Weak Market

The purchase of a home is a major financial commitment. While it is a decision that should always be made with care, the weak real estate market means you should exercise even more caution. Don't let the excitement of looking for your dream home prevent you from following these eight tips:

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November 3, 2008

What is a Real Estate Short Sale?

Many homeowners are faced with the fact that their home's market value is less than the outstanding debt. Rather than going through a foreclosure or turning the home over to the lender, some homeowners are attempting a short sale, which is a home sale for less than the outstanding debt. According to the National Association of Realtors, short sales account for approximately 18% of home sales now.

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July 30, 2008

Mobile Homes: Buying a Dream Home for Less

If you think you'll never own the home of your dreams because of the costs involved, then perhaps you should reconsider. Most people who would like to become homeowners never consider purchasing a mobile home for whatever reason. What these people don't realize is that they're missing out on possibly living in a beautiful home for substantially less than a regular house. Most people associate mobile homes with run-down trailers in parks with many low-income individuals. Now while these types of homes that are in serious need of repair and updating do exist, these are not the only types of mobile homes are available. Believe it or not, there are some mobile homes that are as large as 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and come with central air, Jacuzzi tubs, game rooms, and many other luxury amenities.

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July 28, 2008

How To Greatly Increase Your Chances of Keeping Your Rental Units Occupied

If you have properties to rent out and are having trouble finding tenants, there are several things that you can do to increase the odds of keeping all of your units occupied, which will in turn equal more income for you. Many property owners have a difficult time keeping their units occupied and generating income, but you don't have to be one of them. By practicing a few simple tactics, you can drive more attention to your available units than you ever have in the past.

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July 21, 2008

Simple Tips to Staging Bedrooms

One of the most critical aspects of selling a home is getting people to imagine themselves living in your bedroom. The idea itself sounds unattractive and uninviting, yet this is exactly what homeowners must overcome in order to sell their house. If people do not find the master bedroom appealing, they will likely turn to another house to satisfy their desires. Since the bedroom is a place of intimacy and retreat, sellers often experience difficulties in winning over prospective buyers, who become very uninterested very quickly. So here are a few tips to properly stage a bedroom and make it into a place that is inviting for everyone who visits it.

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July 18, 2008

Questions to Ask When Refinancing Your Mortgage

Borrowers seek to refinance their home mortgages for two main reasons. Refinancing helps borrowers to reduce debt servicing costs through negotiation of better mortgage terms. This is especially true when interest rates trend downwards as they are doing now. Some borrowers also refinance to cash out their home equity. These refinancing plans are embarked upon with the intention of getting some financial relief. However, careless planning or bad advice can lead to the reverse. Consider your answers to the following questions when evaluating your refinancing options.

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June 27, 2008

Moving For Less

If you are looking to move to a new house or apartment yet you don't have a huge budget to work with, there is no reason to think that you must forget the idea of moving. You just have to be resourceful and willing to do some work yourself, as well as advance planning. There are many expenses involved in moving, some that may occur unexpectedly. In order to avoid unexpected expenses, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the area that you plan to move to so you can plan accordingly. You don't want to be surprised with unexpected expenses, and planning ahead will help you to determine all the costs necessary to make your move as stress-free as possible.

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June 23, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages

There is a new type of mortgage that has many benefits for those over 62 years of age. This type of mortgage will grant you a lump sum of money to be used for whatever purpose you choose, as well as allow you to live in your home worry and mortgage-free. If you're considering getting a reverse mortgage for whatever reason, there are several things that you need to consider before making a commitment. There are positive and negative aspects of reverse mortgages, and you need to make sure that the advantages of getting this type of mortgage outweigh the disadvantages. You also need to be sure that you choose a reputable mortgage company. There unfortunately are many unscrupulous lenders who are seeking individuals to take advantage of, especially seniors, because of their increased vulnerability.

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June 16, 2008

The Disadvantages of 40-year Mortgages

Not long ago, a new option was created for perspective homeowners: 40-year mortgages. Many people are quite excited about this new way of buying a home, as it allows the payments to be spread out over a longer period of time. Since the payments are spread over a longer period of time, of course each monthly payment is lower. This is why this type of mortgage is attractive for some homeowners, especially those with lower incomes or those trying to save money. Even though some people interested in purchasing a home may be initially attracted to a 40-year mortgage, in the long run it may not be such a wise choice.

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June 9, 2008

Making Money in Real Estate: Flipping Houses

Just about everyone has heard the term "flipping" when it comes to real estate, but not everyone realizes just how lucrative this type of real estate tactic can be. Even with the current decline in the economy, you have the potential to make a great deal of money by flipping houses. Depending on the particular circumstances in which you purchase the homes that you wish to rehab, you could have the homes rehabbed and resold in less than a year, and even a lot sooner if you work steadily to get the homes in the condition that you desire.

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June 2, 2008

The Benefits of Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

Whether you already have a mortgage or you plan on getting one sometime in the near future, it would be greatly beneficial to you if you were to pay it off sooner than what the terms require. First of all, by the time you actually pay off your mortgage the conventional way, you will have paid an astronomical amount of money, especially if your credit is less than perfect and your interest rate is high. Even if your interest rate is low, if you pay close attention the projected amount that you will pay with the added interest over the years, you will quickly realize how much wiser it would be to reduce the amount of interest that you have to pay as much as possible.

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May 30, 2008

Beautiful Landscaping for Less

Whether your home is in dire need of landscaping because it resembles a forest rather than a yard, or it only requires a few minor touch-ups in order to make it look great, you can complete the work yourself and save a great deal of money. Depending on the size of your yard, landscaping your own yard could prove to be an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. By landscaping your own yard, you will not only feel proud of the huge accomplishment that you will have made, but in the end, your bank account will be a lot larger, because skilled landscapers aren't cheap, especially if you have a large project that needs to be completed.

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May 23, 2008

Kitchen Updates: Quickly Increase the Value of your Home

If you'd like to increase the value of your home, whether you plan to sell it or simply increase its equity, you can achieve this goal quicker and less costly than you may think. There are some improvements that you can make that are almost guaranteed to boost your home's value. As long as you focus on these areas first, you will rapidly increase the value of your home, which will increase your equity as well. One portion of the house that you should choose to focus on if you're trying to improve what your house is worth is the kitchen. In most households, the kitchen is the main area of the house where families spend a great deal of their time eating, preparing meals, baking, making snacks, etc. As much as 3-4 hours a day are spent in the kitchen performing these tasks, which is why most people want their kitchen to be attractive, convenient and functional. Even if you ignore every other part of the house, updating the kitchen is a surefire way to increase your home's value.

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May 21, 2008

Rent-to-own: An Alternative Way to Purchase a Home

If you have had some credit problems in the past and have had some trouble getting approved for a traditional mortgage, you can still purchase a home with the increasingly popular rent-to-own or lease-to-own option. Buying a house on these kinds of terms doesn't work like a mortgage, but the great thing is that you still get to own a home without any bank qualifications. You more or less get the chance to "test drive" your perspective home before you decide to buy it. With a rent-to-own option you will have to eventually get the house mortgaged, usually after approximately two years. The terms may vary anywhere from one year to eighteen months, though, depending on what the seller prefers.

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May 19, 2008

Renting Out Real Estate Properties: Is it Worth The Hassle?

If you're considering becoming a landlord and renting out houses or apartments that you own as a means of making money then there are some things that you need to consider before you begin. Being a property owner isn't always as easy as it appears, even if you feel you're up for the challenge. You have to screen any and all perspective tenants, maintain all of your properties, collect rent from those with payment problems, etc. Although being a landlord can supplement your regular income, or even provide a sole income, you need to decide if you're willing to deal with everything that's involved. Obviously there are pros and cons of being a landlord, so you just need to consider both sides before making a final decision.

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May 16, 2008

Sub-Prime Home Loans: Should You Get One?

Just about everyone has a difficult time financially on occasion, but unfortunately some people experience financial problems severe enough to adversely affect their credit. Problems that cause you to be late making payments, filing bankruptcy, etc. can lower your credit score significantly, making it difficult to qualify for almost any type of loan, especially a mortgage. Fortunately, many companies have made it easier for nearly anyone to own a home, regardless of their credit situation.

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March 19, 2008

Can I Avoid Private Mortgage Insurance

Many first-time homebuyers do not even know what private mortgage insurance is or why they are being told that they have to acquire it. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil for many potential homeowners if they want to obtain a mortgage.

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March 17, 2008

Should You Sell Your Home? Alternatives to Common Reasons for Selling a Home

Homeownership can give you a feeling of pride and accomplishment. You live in a home that is yours, and you can do absolutely whatever you choose to it. You can paint your bedroom hot pink, plant mulberry bushes in the back yard, or even create your very own luxury oasis, complete with an indoor or outdoor spa. It doesn't matter what you choose to do when you're a homeowner, because the sky is the limit when you have no one besides your spouse to answer to. There are also other advantages of owning your own home. You are often eligible for certain loans, and you can get a substantial amount of tax breaks on your income taxes. Despite the positive aspects of homeownership, there are circumstances when owning a home can become downright stressful and can make you wonder why you ever bought a house in the first place.

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February 22, 2008

How Do I Find a Foreclosure, Pre-foreclosure, or REO Property to Buy?

It is easy to find pre-foreclosures, foreclosures, and REO properties that are up for sale. Each state has guidelines that must be followed regarding the sale of this type of property, including an advertisement or notice of the sale. Several different aspects of potential ways to locate pre-foreclosures, foreclosures, and REO properties are included below.

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February 20, 2008

Home Reversion Plans

For the 60+ crowd, a home reversion plan is the perfect way to secure the money they need to do the things that they want. Just exactly what is a home reversion plan?

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January 14, 2008

Advantages and Disadvantages of Paying Off Your Mortgage

Here are advantages and disadvantages to paying off your mortgage. On the positive side, any extra money sent with your mortgage payment is applied to the outstanding principal, which can significantly reduce your total interest cost. This reduces your interest expense deduction on your tax return, but you are paying most of the cost anyway. For instance, if you're in the 25% tax bracket, you save 25 cents in taxes for every dollar of interest, but you're still paying the remaining 75 cents.

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November 12, 2007

Life After Foreclosure

If you're reading this article, chances are you've lost a home due to foreclosure, or either you know someone who has. If you have lost your home and think that you will never be a homeowner again, you are greatly mistaken. If you have the desire to buy a home following a foreclosure, then there are ways for you to achieve this goal. Many mortgage companies now have "creative" ways to get people with derogatory credit, short time on the job, and other special situations approved for mortgages. You would be surprised how easy it can be to qualify for a mortgage, even following a foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce, etc. By following the subsequent tips, you are guaranteed to become a homeowner for a second time.

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October 22, 2007

Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI

Private mortgage insurance is often referred to as PMI. Since many homeowners are required to purchase PMI, it's an important term to understand. Essentially, PMI is intended to provide financial security to the lender in regard to his share of the financial investment. When the down payment on the home is below a certain percentage (20%), PMI is required in order to provide the security or collateral required for the mortgage.

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October 19, 2007

Home Selling Tips - On the Cheap

Let us say that you decide to sell your home. Maybe you need a larger or smaller home, or you are transferring to a new location due to employment. Or like so many people today, you are retiring. No matter what the reason, you choose a real estate agent, sign all the paperwork, and sit back to wait for a buyer. Wrong!

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September 21, 2007

Three Tips for Avoiding Foreclosure

This article addresses a common concern faced by people during an economic slump: fear of foreclosure. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides free advice for mortgage holders who are trying to avoid foreclosure. Three of HUD’s tips are developed here.

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September 19, 2007

Why Choose the Open House Method?

If you consider that for the majority of us the most expensive asset we own is our house, then when we decide to put it on the market we obviously want to get the best price that we can. If you fall into both categories then it makes total sense when you decide to sell, to put a lot of effort into getting your home exposed to the maximum amount of potential buyers.

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September 14, 2007

Selling Your Home at a Loss

With the real estate market slowing, more taxpayers may find themselves in a situation where the sale of their home results in a tax loss or their net sale’s price is less than the amount of their outstanding mortgage.

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September 3, 2007

Moving Tax Deduction: How Do I Qualify?

Tax laws and regulations are as easy to decipher and understand as a foreign language. When trying to evaluate whether your moving expenses are deductible on your income tax return there are a few tests you will need to pass.

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August 31, 2007

Great Kitchens and Bathrooms Sell Homes

A tried and true concept in the realms of real estate and home staging is “great kitchens and bathrooms sell homes.” If you watch home-staging shows, you will hear this phrase often.

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August 29, 2007

Are Down Payments Still Necessary?

For many years, down payments (or lack thereof) proved to be one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of many people’s dream of owning their own home. The standard down payment (20% of the purchase price) was often way more than many people could afford, and by the time they saved up the money, prices or interest rates would go up, making their funds obsolete. Fortunately, there are now more options and programs for people who want to buy a home but are not able to put a lot of money down. The federal government, community-based organizations and even many lenders have put together hundreds of programs geared towards helping Americans buy homes with little or no money down.

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August 24, 2007

How to Maximize your Advertising Dollars in Today’s Real Estate Market

In today’s real estate market, getting your house at the forefront of the sea of listings can be a daunting task. Where do I list my house? Who do I trust to list my house? How much will it cost me to advertise my house? All valid questions. This article will help to shed some light on this task, and give some advice as to where to go for answers.

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July 25, 2007

When a Sign on the Lawn and the Smell of Baking Bread Aren’t Enough

When a Sign on the Lawn and the Smell of Baking Bread Aren’t Enough: Targeting a Specific Buyer and Attracting Visitors to Your Open House

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July 20, 2007

Are You Throwing Away Money by Renting? Maybe Not

It’s something we’ve all been told for so long we don’t even question it: if you’re paying a mortgage, you’re making an investment; if you’re paying rent, you’re making a mistake. But is it true? Are you making your landlord rich at the expense of your own wealth? The answer’s not as simple as you might think – for a lot of people, and in a lot of situations, paying rent is the smartest thing you can do.

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July 26, 2006

1031 Exchanges, A Tax-Deferred Real Estate Strategy

When the time comes to sell your real estate, some owners of highly appreciated real estate could be staring at a substantial capital-gains tax bill. A section of the Tax Code may help you convert your appreciated property into an income stream—while deferring up to 100% of the capital-gains tax that would otherwise be due on the sale.

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March 29, 2006

Spring is in the Air - Time to Buy a New Home

Whether you think the Real Estate Market is softening or not, if you need a new home you need a new home. And Spring is when most people get serious about their shopping so they can get settled in before the kids start at the new school. Les Christie, with, has come up with a five point checklist every potential buyer should go through before they actually start shopping. In addition, CNNMoney list some new websites, like, that give potential buyers new tools that help expedite the process. For additional tools such as Homeplans, Real Estate Software, or to locate a Realtor®, visit the Real Estate Center.

December 14, 2005

Tips for This Real Estate Housing Market

Who isn’t worried about the value of their home in this market? Numerous articles have been written about whether we’re in the midst of a housing bubble and when the housing boom will end. The tone is reminiscent of discussions that occurred right before technology stocks tumbled in 2000. How concerned should you be about your home’s value?

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November 14, 2005

How Affordable Is Housing?

The National Association of Realtors publishes a monthly statistic called the Housing Affordability Index (HAI), which compares median household income to income needed to purchase a median priced home. The index provides a measure of how affordable housing is in the United States, and tracked over time, shows whether housing is becoming more or less affordable.

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October 11, 2005

The Basics of 1031 Real Estate Property Exchanges

If you have business or investment property you’d like to sell, take a look at the 1031 exchange rules before doing so. These rules allow you to sell one property and purchase another of “like kind”, deferring any gains. “Like kind” means the property must be used for business or investment purposes, which could include apartment buildings, office buildings, industrial buildings, commercial buildings, rental housing units, raw land, farms, and ranches. You do not have to sell and buy the exact same type of property. Thus, you could sell undeveloped land and purchase a commercial building, deferring the gain. Or you could sell the building used in your business and purchase an apartment complex, again deferring the gain.

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September 12, 2005

Selling Your Home

When selling your principal residence, the basic tax rule is that you can exclude gains of up to $250,000 if you are a single taxpayer and $500,000 if you are a married taxpayer filing jointly, provided the home was your primary residence in at least two of the preceding five years. This exclusion can be used once every two years. While this rule seems fairly straightforward, there are a number of special situations to keep in mind:

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November 13, 2004

What Will Happen to Real Estate Home Prices?

The one bright spot in the economy the past few years has been the housing market. Despite stock market declines and slowdowns in other areas of the economy, housing sales have been brisk and housing prices have continued to advance. But have housing prices increased too much in the recent past?

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August 10, 2004

Is an ARM, Adjustable Rate Mortgage, Appropriate Now?

With mortgage rates at such low levels, the general consensus is that rates are more likely to go up rather than down. Based on that fact, does it make sense to even consider an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now?

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June 1, 2004

Should You Rent or Own Your Home?

It seems like everyone either owns a home or is saving to purchase a home. Certainly, there are significant financial and tax reasons for owning a home. While you typically only make a down payment of 10% or 20% of the home's cost, you retain all price appreciation on the home. Part of each mortgage payment builds equity in your home. In the beginning, that may only be a small portion of each payment, but significant equity can be accumulated over a period of years. Historically, homes have provided a good hedge against the impact of inflation.

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May 1, 2004

Weighing Your Real Estate Mortgage Options

There are a wide variety of mortgage options available for financing your home. Which is best for you depends on how long you plan to live in the home and your expectations regarding future mortgage rates. Consider these questions before deciding on a particular mortgage option:

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December 1, 2003

Managing Your Home Investment

Housing prices have been the one bright spot in the economy over the past couple of years. While stock prices have headed down and interest rates have been on the decrease, home prices have steadily moved up. No one knows where home prices will head in the future. But for many individuals, their homes will continue to be their largest asset and a major contributor to building net worth. Your home is an investment, so you should develop strategies to manage that investment well. Some points to consider include:

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April 1, 2003

The Pros and Cons of Prepaying Your Mortgage

When you use funds to prepay your mortgage, you are basically investing at your mortgage interest rate. The question is whether it is a better financial decision to pay off your mortgage or to invest in other alternatives. Consider these factors before deciding:

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