The News: Jan. 24

Reverse mortgages see a resurgence

Let's get started with this story from the Wall Street Journal, which looks into the increase in reverse mortgages. For instance, Metlife Bank reported a 171 percent increase in reverse mortgages compared to the previous year.

Could reverse mortgages be a viable option for your older clients?

There are situations where reverse mortgages make sense. Financial planner Mike McGervey of North Canton, Ohio, says he thinks they can be a good solution for people in their 80s, who are usually able to convert more home equity into cash than younger borrowers.

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Existing home sales continue to climb

The Wall Street Journal also reports that sales increased for the third straight month. The numbers suggest there's hope for a sustained recovery.

December’s sales results were “a good finish to a very tough year,” said Lawrence Yun, the National Association Realtors’ chief economist who is known for his optimism. For all of last year, 4.26 million homes were sold, up 1.7% from 4.19 million in 2010.

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SOPA and PIPA down for the count

Anyone who logged onto the web in the last week should have seen protests to the Stop Online Piracy Act, such as Google's "censored" Doodle or Wikipedia's one-day blackout. The anti-SOPA activism seems to have worked.

Several thousand Websites took part in the protest, after which several members of Congress publicly withdrew their support for the bill.

Even with the most dangerous provision, the Domain Name System filtering, removed, SOPA and PIPA still went too far and gave content owners too much power, critics said. Rep. Lamar Smith finally backed down at the end of the week and agreed to not resume markup on SOPA next month. Now lawmakers are trying to figure out what an alternative approach to fighting online piracy should look like.

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On that note, here's a look at the potential effect SOPA would have on real estate agents.

There's money beyond buyers and sellers

Finally, here's a some advice from RealtorMag on how to take advantage of the ever-growing rental market:

The rental market will likely benefit over the next couple of years from upheaval and insecurity in the broader economy, but the current boom will not last forever. Home ownership will enjoy a renaissance as soon as the economy stabilizes. Instead of just waiting for that to play out, you can be proactive and adapt to current conditions.

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