Photo: Jeff Turner

To all the talented journalists and Dallas Morning News employees that were handed pink slips recently: I know how overwhelming this feels. When I was suddenly laid off from the same publication in 2009, I felt unmoored and somewhat lost. You will find a way to move on, though, so hang in there.

The advice offered by human resources that morning was very basic: I was instructed to file for unemployment as soon as possible and given information on COBRA benefits. While the information I received was far from comprehensive, one thing that was missing was information on how this sudden loss of income would affect my repayment of student loans, credit accounts, and most important of all, my mortgage. 

What do you do if you’re a federal employee that has been furloughed due to the government shutdown, or you’re a worker who was just laid off, and you have a mortgage? 

“If you see that you’re not going to be able to make your payments, call your lender and see what options are available to you,” said Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans. “The bottom line is this: don’t put it off.”

Not every lender is the same, nor is every mortgage or change in employment, so it’s crucial to contact your lender immediately if you think your employment situation might cause you to get behind on your mortgage. Sometimes a lender may be able to offer a loan modification or a forbearance to ensure that you pay as much as you can on your loan until you get back on your feet. 

Important note: When your lender reaches out after a missed mortgage payment, you cannot stop the process of foreclosure by ignoring the mail notices. 


equityOne of the pieces of good news about rising home values in Dallas is that homeowners could cash out as much as $132 billion (yes, with a “B”) in equity, analysis from lending marketplace revealed.

The company’s analysts found that Dallas ranks first in Texas and 10th in the nation for total tappable equity — more than real estate hot spots like Miami, Denver, or Phoenix, thanks to median home values that are up 67 percent from their lowest point in 2012.

For comparison’s sake, Houston clocked in at $96 billion, Austin at $48 billion, and San Antonio was $24 billion.

What is “tappable equity?” Basically, it’s the amount of cash you can pull out of your home while keeping at least a 20 percent ownership stake in the home. Equity, in its simplest terms, is the difference of what your home is valued at compared to what you owe. (more…)

Streets of Detroit, Gratiot Avenue.

Gratiot Avenue, Detroit. Housing is a bargain here…

We know the toughest part about BUYING a home is scraping together enough cash for a down payment. Gone are the good old days of no money down mortgages, and you cannot borrow (or are not supposed to borrow) money for a down payment.

How does a millennial with college debt and an entry level job save up $45,000 for a down payment on a $330,000 home, which is now considered average in Dallas, at least according to I think the average of the North Texas area is around $200,000. Which would require a $25,000. down payment. But inside the loop, averages are definitely closer to $330,000.

In other words, serious cash.

The folks at, who really like it when you buy homes, number crunched the price tags for homes in America’s 15 largest urban areas. The goal was to figure out how much buyers need to save per day to purchase a home of their own in each area. The differences are interesting. If you already own a home, it’s interesting to see what it would take to buy a second home or investment property.

Dallas fared pretty well. Detroit is the cheapest place to get a home now, with average pricing at $200,000, like our hinterlands. San Francisco is ridiculous with the average home now priced at — are you ready? — $875,000.

Highway robbery! (more…)