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Jeff Brown

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It's time for a bumper crop of open houses, an opportunity for buyers — and sellers too — to assess the market first-hand.

Data on prices and sales show a pretty nice recovery, but the standout stat is foreclosures: The "foreclosure inventory" dropped by 35% in the 12 months ended in February.

If there's any doubt to the ascendance of index-style investing, look at the trends in what folks are doing with their 401(k)s.

A prepayment is a payment above what's required for a given month. It reduces the principal, or loan balance. Owing less, the homeowner is then charged less for interest.

For many, merging lives via marriage or other long-term commitment means merging everything, bank accounts included. Then again, others prefer the "his, hers and ours" approach. Which is best?

Everyone knows rising home prices make it a sellers' market. Sellers can afford to hold out for top dollar because buyers are rushing to beat higher prices. Right?

It's a common rationalization: "I'll get the best mortgage I can now and refinance later if things change." A few years down the road, mortgage rates might be lower, or you might want to take some cash out of your home for something else. But think again.

When stocks plunged in 2008, many investors felt their faith in target-date funds sorely tested. Now some of that lost confidence is back.

Homeowners who think refinancing will be a breeze often find the doors slammed in their faces. The mortgage you get today may be the one you're stuck with.

For fixed-income investors who must try to somehow forecast bond returns now that the basic rules of the game have changed, yields are more likely to rise than to fall.

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