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What is the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA)?

HERA was passed in 2008 in response to the subprime mortgage crisis that rocked the entire economy and left many Americans underwater on their mortgages. People would need to refinance their mortgages and this bill approved the funding to help that happen. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act did several things, all aiming to help American consumers and lending institutions get out of the recession left by the subprime mortgage bubble in 2008. Continue reading...

What are Housing Bonds?

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 took several steps to patch up the housing market after the subprime meltdown, one of which was the authorization of states and municipalities to issue mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs) which they could then use to help local lending institutions fund mortgages for lower-income Americans. Housing bonds are issued by state and local governments as a way to raise revenue that can help local banks and lending institutions fund mortgage loans to the community. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Subsidy Bond?

Mortgage subsidy bond is another word for a mortgage revenue bond, which are municipal bonds which are used to fund mortgage relief programs and refinancing arrangements through the state or municipal government. In 1980, the Mortgage Subsidy Bond Tax Act established some rules and definitions surrounding mortgage subsidies and their bonds, and, more specifically, removing their exemption from federal taxation. Continue reading...

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is basically an annuity paid for with home equity. In a reverse mortgage, instead of paying to for your home, you’re getting paid for your home. It is considered a loan, but it does not have to be repaid, except by the proceeds from selling the home. Older Americans who need the income and aren’t concerned about their heirs getting their house might apply for a reverse mortgage. It is also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Continue reading...

What are Mortgage-Backed Securities?

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are products that bundle mortgages together and are traded like securities for sale on the markets. Typically investment banks build these products by bundling mortgages with different interest rates and risk premiums, with the hope of the investor gaining a higher yield than can be found from traditional risk-free products, like U.S. Treasuries. Mortgage-backed securities got an infamous name during the 2008 financial crisis, as many of the packaged loans were subprime in nature. Many MBS products lost incredible value during the crisis, particularly following ruling FAS 157, which required banks to mark their value to market. Continue reading...

What is Revenue?

Revenue is a word describing any cash flowing into a business as a result of goods and services rendered. It is sometimes call gross income, and is a representation of income before all expenses. It is notable, though, that revenue only includes receivables in the current period. The Accounts Receivable on the company’ s books may include the entire cost of the goods or services rendered during that period, but the Revenue should generally only reflect the amount that is paid to the company in the current year. Continue reading...

What is Accrued Revenue?

Revenue that has not yet been received for goods or services already rendered may be documented as Accrued Revenue. Accrual accounting allows a business to put the payments due to it for good and services already rendered into the Assets column of its books. If no invoice or payment plan is established, it sits in the Accrued Revenue line; if so, the item goes into Accounts Receivable. Accrual accounting is different than cash accounting in this regard: cash accounting will only make an entry on the books when cash or goods are exchanged. Accrual accounting is actually mandatory for publicly traded companies with revenues over $5 million who are based in the US, per SEC regulations. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Equity Withdrawal?

Mortgage Equity Withdrawals (MEWs) may effectively be a withdrawal when viewed in a balance sheet, but they are actually loans that use the equity in a home as the collateral. These are also known as home equity loans. A full liquidation of equity through such a loan is a reverse mortgage. When a homeowner has paid off their home, they have a lot of equity and collateral to work with if they would like to get some liquidity (money) out of a hard asset. Continue reading...

What is an Asset-Backed Security?

Asset-backed securities are bonds or notes that come in several forms, but they typically use the cash flows from debt repayment as the asset that backs them. The assets that back the bonds called asset-backed securities (ABS) can be basically anything with a fairly predictable cash flow, but debt repayment cash flows tend to be used the most. These include credit card debt, home equity loans, auto loans, student loans, and so forth. Continue reading...

What is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage?

The main type of reverse mortgage that people get today is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, backed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These reverse mortgages are available to people age 62 or older who are interested in leveraging their home equity to gain liquidity, either in the form of a lump sum, monthly payments, or other arrangement. A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is a reverse mortgage available to homeowners age 62 or older, insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage?

When a mortgage loan is made to a consumer, the bank or loan institution is the mortgagee, while the consumer is the mortgagor. Mortgages are long term loans secured by the real property of the individual borrowing the money, and they are generally used for homes, called home mortgages. The lending institution, which might be a bank or a mortgage company, is the mortgagee, lending money to the homebuyer, who is the mortgagor. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgagor?

The mortgagor is the borrower in a mortgagor/mortgagee relationship, where the mortgagee is the lending institution that makes the mortgage loan. Mortgages are used to purchase real property, usually single family homes. The purchase of a home with a mortgage and the payments on the mortgage are one of the largest financial decisions or obligations that a mortgagor will ever make. If a mortgagor is delinquent on payments, he or she might be categorized as a home debtor, and the loan would be subject to foreclosure. If there is a foreclosure, the bank or lender will reposes the house, evict the former owner, and sell the house as quickly as possible, sometimes through an auction. Continue reading...

What is Home Equity?

Home equity is a notional amount that a person owns at any given time, which is computed as the market value of a home minus any remaining principal repayments on a loan. Home equity is an asset on a person’s balance sheet, and can be used as as leverage for additional loans or lines of credit. A person’s home equity is the amount in their home which is “paid off.” It can be computed by taking the fair market value of a home and subtracting the amount of principal, if any, that still needs to be repaid on a mortgage loan. Continue reading...

What is Mortgage REIT?

Mortgage REITs are a type of Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) which offers investors income distributions which result from the interest payment on mortgage loans. Investors enjoy REIT investments as a high-yield income investment which offers exposure to an asset class which is not necessarily correlated with other major asset classes. Mortgage REITs are a subset of this asset type which derives income from the interest due on mortgage loans, which are generally purchased in the form of mortgage-backed securities. Equity REITs are the other major type of REIT, and they invest directly in income-producing properties. Continue reading...

What is Securitization?

Securitization is to turn an asset which would otherwise not be a liquid, tradable security, into one. Simply put, securitization turns assets into securities. The most common example when discussing securitization is mortgage-backed securities, in which the cash flow of interest and principal payments on mortgage loans has been pooled, cut up, and distributed for sale in the form of marketable securities which can be held by an everyday investor. The bank or institution who sold the mortgage-backed securities receives cash which they can loan out to more home-buyers. Continue reading...

What is Mortgage Fraud?

Mortgage fraud is misrepresentation in mortgage contracts designed to benefit one or more parties to the contract. Sometimes it can be as simple as an applicant lying about financial information to make himself seem more credit-worthy. Sometimes it can involve a few people, such as a real estate agent, an appraiser, and a lender, all colluding to split the profits on a property that isn’t worth as much as they say it is. Continue reading...

What is a Hybrid REIT?

A Hybrid REIT blends the two major classes of REITs (Equity REITs and Mortgage REITs) to give the investor increased diversification with one investment. A Hybrid REIT is a marketable security much like a mutual fund, invested in both Equity and Mortgage real estate investments. The equity part includes income-producing properties, in which the REIT company owns equity in the property. The mortgage portion consists of mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, in which the REIT earns revenue from debt interest payments. REITs must distribute 90% of their revenue each year to their shareholders (in the form of dividends), and this makes them a high-yield income investment. Continue reading...

What is the Lehman Aggregate Bond Index?

The Lehman Aggregate Bond Index is a broad bond index, widely considered the best total bond market index to track performance across various types of bonds. The index includes government bonds, mortgage backed securities, corporate bonds, and asset backed securities with maturities greater than a year. It is used by many money managers as a measuring stick for tracking the relative performance of a managed bond portfolio. Continue reading...

What is a Bond?

A bond is a contract which “binds” the lender to the debtor, where an individual investor is generally the lender and the debtor is the company or government which has borrowed funds. When a company or government entity needs more capital, whether to fund operations or a specific project, it can borrow money from investors instead of from a banking institution. Where there is a risk of the investor not being repaid, the interest rate will be proportionally higher. The simplest way a bond works is with set payments at set intervals that gradually repay the debt and interest owed to the investor over a set amount of time. Continue reading...

What does Investment Grade Mean?

Investment grade refers to the highest quality of debt available, and usually means the bond has little risk of default. Determining a bond’s credit rating is typically handled by ratings agencies, which is far from a perfect process. Ratings agencies like Moody’s and S&P notoriously failed to rate mortgage backed securities as high risk in the months/years leading into the 2008 financial crisis, instead keeping them as investment grade even as the crisis took hold. Continue reading...