In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Is it time to invest in foreclosures?

By Laurent Belsie

Firms are buying up foreclosed homes and renting them out, hoping to profit from the appreciation. Individuals can do better, if they can buy a foreclosure that justifies itself in rent alone

Don't look now, but some of the real estate markets that skyrocketed during the housing bubble and then crashed are heating up again.

Median housing prices in Las Vegas were up 20 percent in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Cape Coral, Fla., once the nation's foreclosure capital, saw 26 percent price appreciation last year.

The housing crash has spawned a rebound that has taken hold with a vengeance in some cities. A flood of investors are snapping up foreclosure properties, rehabbing them, then renting them out. And they aren't just individuals. Private equity firms and other institutional buyers — who once would have bought apartment buildings — are scooping up thousands of single-family homes that they plan to fix up and put on the rental market. Some of them plan to create real estate investment trusts (REITs) and sell shares to the public.

Should you invest in America's housing rebound?


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"It's a very strong time to buy," says Sean Fergus, manager of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, Calif. "The market has really turned." Through 2016, his firm is forecasting house prices in major markets such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, and Tampa, Fla., to climb 22 to 48 percent.

But rental real estate is tricky, even in times of low prices. "It pains us to say this, but there are going to be some failures, so it's probably important to know exactly what you're investing in," warns Oliver Chang, a former Wall Street analyst and now cofounder of Sylvan Road Capital LLC based in Atlanta.

Many institutional investors — what he describes as "macro house traders" — are counting on price appreciation to make the bulk of their money. They typically contract out the work of finding, rehabbing, renting, and managing the properties, aiming to clear a profit margin on rent of only 6 to 7 percent.

Mr. Chang's company, which he calls a "housing value investor," aims to make its money from rentals. It plans on keeping margins high by doing the rehabbing and management work in-house.

Whether you plan to buy a home or invest in one of the REITs expected to appear, you should figure out which strategy you're using.

The riskier course is to bank on price appreciation, says Ken Fears, an economist with NAR in Washington. For one, the big run-ups in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas look stronger than they are, because the mix of sales has shifted. Low-end sales are declining and high-end homes are selling in greater numbers, he says, which boosts the median price. Another reason a price-appreciation strategy is risky is that the best housing deals have already been snapped up in the hottest markets.

"If you're looking for that bottom in the market, you've missed it in those places," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosures based in Irvine, Calif. "Those kinds of markets ... we consider picked clean by investors."

The oversupply of properties is gone from those areas.

The rental-first strategy is less risky, because the stream of monthly rental income should provide steady returns no matter what happens in the market, says Mr. Blomquist. "You have more of a cushion, even if home prices go down"

Where should you look for the best property deals? Seek areas that are seeing solid job growth but still have plenty of foreclosure sales. Typically, these lie in "judicial" states, where courts oversee (and thus slow down) foreclosures. Mr. Fears of NAR likes states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. RealtyTrac's list of best metros to buy a foreclosure includes Palm Bay, Fla.; New York; and Chicago (see chart). About half of all distressed properties lie outside major cities in major regions of the United States, Chang points out.

As prices rise, the window of opportunity for these purchases is limited to a few years, writes Paul Diggle, a property economist for Capital Economics based in Toronto.

"The very recovery that investors are driving," he says, "will eventually price them out of the market."

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All contents copyright 2013The Christian Science Monitor