Could Royal Caribbean sell more ships? It’s not off the table

Could Royal Caribbean sell more ships? It’s not off the table


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Source: thepointsguy.com

For These Retirees, Short-Term Rental Bans Aren’t Just a Perk—They’re a Must>

When Wes Swenson sold his data center company in 2017, he was able to buy the retirement homes of his dreams in Utah. He purchased a $1.5 million house in Woodland Hills and a $1.2 million house in St. George. Both homes are in resort-like communities that tourists love; the former for skiing and the latter for access to Zion National Park, hiking and golf. Both are also in cities where homeowners can make high fees from short-term renting their houses.

But Mr. Swenson won’t make a penny that way. He sought out communities with homeowner association rules, known as Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, or CC&Rs, that forbid short-term rentals and have histories of strong enforcement.

Real-estate agents around the country say that it is far more common for a buyer preparing for retirement to seek out a property where they can generate revenue by short-term renting until they are ready to occupy the house themselves.

But for a minority of buyers, making sure they will spend retirement in a community of neighbors, not a rotating cast of visitors, is essential. This is especially true for retirees who want the same deserts, mountains and coastlines as short-term renters. By a long shot, buyers over 65 in the NAR study identified a “desire to be closer to family/friends/relatives” as their top reason for buying a new home, indicating how important community and relationships are to this age group.

Ensuring a short-term-rental-free neighborhood has gotten harder in the last few years. From the beginning of 2015 to the beginning of 2020, U.S. units rented short term on both Airbnb and Vrbo grew from about 450,000 to 1 million; revenue grew by 150% in that same period, according to Jamie Lane, vice president of research at AirDNA, an analyst for the short-term rental industry. Though the pandemic caused travel, bookings, and revenue to nosedive, a recovery is already under way, Mr. Lane said.

Source: wsj.com

Current airline elite status match and challenge options you should know about

Airline elite status match and challenge options for 2021 – The Points Guy


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Source: thepointsguy.com

14 of our favorite points hotels on the beach in Mexico

14 of our favorite points hotels on the beach in Mexico


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Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

We Really Dig This Adorable and Affordable Hobbit House in Wisconsin

For anyone driving around an established neighborhood of traditional homes in Madison, WI, one residence on Stevens Street stands out. Or doesn’t stand out.

“It’s an earth-sheltered home. Not necessarily built into the ground, but it’s earth-covered on the roof and on a couple of sides,” explains the listing agent, Jennifer Rios. “It’s in a kind of older neighborhood, with typical midcentury homes and older.”

She says she doesn’t believe any comparable earth-covered home can be found within at least a 10-mile radius.

The style has proved popular with buyers. The home was listed for $329,900, and multiple offers above the listing price came in after just a few days on the market.

“We went into it not really knowing what to expect with the uniqueness of the home,” Rios explains. “I laid out two scenarios: In this market, we’ll either see a very quick turnaround, or we may sit awhile. We tested it and had the best outcome possible.”

Exterior of home in Madison, WI
Exterior of home in Madison, WI

VRX Media Group

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The home has two bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, plenty of living space, and is surprisingly bright.

“It has full exposure on the back side, so there’s lots of nice natural light,” Rios says. “Because of its earth-covered roof and partially on the sides, it’s very temperate inside. The earth provides a really nice installation and flow of air.”

Which adds up to lower electricity bills—a boon in this part of the country.

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Watch: Idaho Home Perched on a Lake Is a Storybook Fantasy Come to Life

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Built in 1980, the home has only had two owners in the past 41 years, and the current owner has lived there for 26 years.

Rios says she feels a perfect buyer would be somebody who is environmentally conscious and appreciates the uniqueness of an earth home, and who also likes being able to walk or bike around the city.

She grew up in the neighborhood and knows this distinctive dwelling quite well.

“I would ride my bike by, and wonder who in the world lives there,” she says.

Now that Rios has been inside and scoped out the place, she says that looks are deceiving.

“When you walk in, you kind of feel like you’re entering a hobbit house,” she says. “It’s really surprising when you open the front door, and it’s an abundance of natural light. It feels like a very traditional home for the most part, except for the curved roof line.”

The curve is an interesting flourish.

“It creates such a nice sort of vaulted ceiling effect, but it’s kind of open and airy, which is what a lot of people like nowadays,” Rios adds.

Living space
Living space

VRX Media Group

Inside, the house doesn’t need require any more maintenance than any other 40-year-old home, but Rios points out that the roof does need attention and upkeep—at least after the snow melts.

“You can let it go and become real grassy, or you can mow it,” she says. “The sellers have just gone up there with a weed whacker a couple of times a year.”

Living space
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VRX Media Group

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VRX Media Group

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VRX Media Group

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Wine nook

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  • For more photos and details, check out the full listing.
  • Homes for sale in Madison, WI
  • Learn more about Madison, WI

Source: realtor.com

10 Cities Where Black Americans Fare Best Economically

Where Black Americans Fare Best Economically – 2021 Study – SmartAsset

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Nationwide, when it comes to wealth and personal finance success, Black Americans generally have less. Census data from 2019 shows that the median Black household income is 33% lower than the overall median household income and the Black homeownership rate is 22 percentage points lower than the general homeownership rate. Data on wealth accumulation depicts even starker disparities: Black families’ net worth is 87% lower than that of white families and 33% lower than that of Hispanic families, according to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Though the national picture is less than encouraging, economic outcomes for Black Americans are better in some places than others. In this study, we determined the cities where Black Americans fared best economically leading up to 2020. We compared 129 cities across six metrics: median Black household income, Black homeownership rate, Black labor force participation rate, poverty rate for Black residents, percentage of Black adults with a bachelor’s degree and percentage of business owners who are Black. For details on our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

Key Findings

  • Six of the top 10 cities are located in Texas, Florida and North Carolina. These cities are Grand Prairie and Garland, Texas; Pembroke Pines and Miramar, Florida; and Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina. In both of the Texas and Florida cities, the median Black household income is higher than $61,000 and the Black homeownership rate is 46% or higher – compared to study-wide averages of about $43,000 and 35%, respectively. Meanwhile, Charlotte and Durham rank particularly well for our education and metro area business ownership metrics. In both North Carolina locales, more than 30% of Black adults have their bachelor’s degree and at least 3% of businesses are Black-owned – compared to study-wide averages of about 23% and 2%, respectively.
  • Preliminary 2020 estimates show that Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by not only the health impacts of COVID-19, but also its corresponding economic effects. The regional economic effects of COVID-19 on Black Americans are difficult to determine due to insufficient localized data, but the available national data paints a grim picture: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that as of December 2020, the Black unemployment rate was 3.9
    and 3.2 percentage points higher than the white and overall unemployment rates, respectively. Additionally, the Black labor force participation rate was about 2.0 percentage points lower than both white and overall participation rates.

1. Virginia Beach (tie)

Virginia Beach, Virginia ranks in the top 10 cities for four of the six metrics we considered. It has the seventh-highest median Black household income, at roughly $65,600, and the sixth-highest 2019 Black labor force participation rate, at 78.7%. Additionally, Census Bureau data shows that the 2019 poverty rate for Black residents in Virginia Beach is 10%, fourth-lowest in our study. In the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metro area, more than 5% of businesses are Black-owned, the seventh-highest percentage for this metric overall.

1. Grand Prairie, TX (tie)

Grand Prairie, Texas ties with Virginia Beach, Virginia as the city where Black Americans fare best economically. It has the fourth-highest Black labor force participation rate (at 79.9%) and the lowest Black poverty rate (at less than 5%) of all 129 cities in our study. Additionally, more than a third of Black residents in Grand Prairie have their bachelor’s degree and the median Black household income is more than $63,000. The city ranks sixth and 10th out of 129 for those two metrics, respectively.

3. Aurora, IL (tie)

Aurora, Illinois ranks in the top third of all 129 cities for five of the six metrics we considered, falling behind only for its metro area’s relatively low concentration of Black-owned businesses. It has the fourth-highest Black homeownership rate (about 52%), sixth-highest median Black household income (about $65,900) and 10th-lowest Black poverty rate (11.9%). Aurora’s Black labor force participation rate is 73.5%, ranking 15th overall for this metric. Moreover, more than 29% of Black residents in the city have their bachelor’s degree, ranking 26th overall.

3. Pembroke Pines, FL (tie)

Just north of Miami, Florida’s Pembroke Pines ties for the No. 3 spot. Across all 129 cities, it has the second-highest Black homeownership rate – 60.20% – and the sixth-lowest 2019 Black poverty rate – 10.6%. Additionally, incomes for Black households are relatively high. In 2019, the median Black household income was about $61,500, the 11th-highest in our study.

5. Miramar, FL

The Black homeownership rate in Miramar, Florida is the highest in our study, at 68.07%. This is about 26 percentage points higher than the 2019 national Black homeownership rate, which is approximately 42%. Miramar additionally ranks in the top 15 cities for three other metrics: its high median Black household income (about $66,300), its high Black labor force participation rate (74.1%) and its relatively low Black poverty rate (7.9%).

6. Charlotte, NC

Though the median Black household income in Charlotte, North Carolina – at a little more than $46,300 – is relatively low, Charlotte ranks in the top third of cities for the other five metrics we considered. It has the 28th-highest Black homeownership rate (41.45%), the 18th-highest Black labor force participation rate (73.0%) and the 14th-lowest poverty rate for Black residents (13.6%). Additionally, more than 30% of Black adults have their bachelor’s degree and almost 4% of businesses in the larger Charlotte metro area are Black-owned – both of which rank within the top 25 out of all 129 cities in the study.

7. Garland, TX

The Black homeownership rate in Garland, Texas is the fifth-highest in our study, at 50.98%. This city has the 11th-highest Black labor force participation rate, at 75.8%. It also ranks in the top 15 for its median Black household income ($60,030) and the percentage of Black adults with a bachelor’s degree (32.5%). Garland falls the most behind when it comes to the poverty rate for Black residents, which was 23.7% in 2019. That’s 1.2% higher than the national average for Black Americans and the worst of any city in our top 10.

8. Durham, NC

Only about two hours northeast of Charlotte, Durham, North Carolina takes the eighth spot on our list. The city ranks particularly well for its percentage of Black adults with a bachelor’s degree (35.2%) and percentage of Black-owned businesses in the larger Durham-Chapel Hill metro area (4.7%). Additionally, the Black labor force participation rate is the 30th-highest across all 129 cities in the study, at 69.4%. The poverty rate for Black residents is 35th-lowest overall, at 18.9%.

9. Enterprise, NV

Enterprise, Nevada had the fifth-highest 2019 Black labor force participation rate (79.0%), the 16th-highest 2019 median Black household income (about $58,500) and 23rd-best 2019 Black homeownership rate (roughly 43%) of all 129 cities in our study. Enterprise falls behind, however, when it comes to the number of Black-owned businesses in the larger Las Vegas metro area, at less than 2%. The city ranks 67th out of 129 for this metric.

10. Elk Grove, CA

The median household income for Black residents in Elk Grove, California is a little more than $76,300, the second-highest in our study (ranking behind only Rancho Cucamonga, California, where the median household income is almost $92,000). Elk Grove also ranks in the top 10 cities for its relatively high Black homeownership rate (52.51%) and the relatively high percentage of Black adults with a bachelor’s degree (35.1%). But like in Enterprise, Nevada, few businesses in the Elk Grove area are Black-owned. Annual Business Survey data from 2018 shows that less than 2% of employer firms in the greater Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade metro area are Black-owned.

Data and Methodology

To find the cities where Black Americans fare best economically, SmartAsset looked at the 200 largest cities in the U.S. Only 129 of those cities had complete data available, and we compared them across six metrics:

  • Median Black household income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Black homeownership rate. This is the number of Black owner-occupied housing units divided by the number of Black occupied housing units. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Black labor force participation rate. This is for the Black population 16 years and older. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Poverty rate for Black residents. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of Black adults with a bachelor’s degree. This is for the Black population 25 years and older. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 1-year American Community Survey.
  • Percentage of business owners who are Black. This is the number of Black-owned businesses with paid employees divided by the number of businesses with paid employees. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2018 Annual Business Survey and is at the metro area level.

To determine our final list, we ranked each city in every metric, giving a full weighting to all metrics. We then found each city’s average ranking and used the average to determine a final score. The city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100. The city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.

Editors’ Note: SmartAsset published this study in celebration and recognition of Black History Month. Protests for racial justice and the outsized impact of COVID-19 on people of color have highlighted the social and economic injustice that many Americans continue to face. We are aiming to raise awareness surrounding economic inequities and provide personal finance resources and information to all individuals.

Financial Tips for Black Americans

  • See if homeownership makes sense. The Black homeownership rate is 22 percentage points lower than the general homeownership rate. Deciding whether or not to buy is often difficult. SmartAsset’s rent or buy calculator can help you compare the costs to see which one makes sense for your financial situation. Additionally, if you want to figure out how much you can afford to buy a house, our home-buying calculator will help you break down the target price for your income.
  • Some kind of retirement account is better than none. The Federal Reserve says that Black Americans are less likely to have a retirement account than white Americans. According to their 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, 65% of white middle-aged families have at least one retirement account, while only 44% of Black families in the same age group have one. Even though 401(k)s are a popular retirement plan because employers could match a percentage of your contributions, an IRA could also be another great opportunity to boost your savings. In 2021, the IRA contribution limit is $6,000 for people under 50 and $7,000 for people age 50 and older.
  • Consider a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you make smarter financial decisions to be in better control of your money. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors, get started now.

Questions about our study? Contact us at [email protected]

Photo credits: ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages, ©iStock.com/LeoPatrizi

Stephanie Horan, CEPF® Stephanie Horan is a data journalist at SmartAsset. A Certified Educator of Personal Finance (CEPF®), she sources and analyzes data to write studies relating to a variety of topics including mortgage, retirement and budgeting. Before coming to SmartAsset, she worked as an analyst at an asset management firm. Stephanie graduated from Williams College with a degree in Mathematics. Originally from Philadelphia, she has always been a Yankees fan and currently lives in New York.
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Source: smartasset.com

The Pros and Cons of Working in Retirement

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Not long ago, the phrase “working in retirement” was an oxymoron, much like “bittersweet” or “act naturally.” After all, if you’re working, you’re by definition not retired.

But that was then. These days, working at least part-time while retired is increasingly common. According to one survey, 27% of pre-retirees said they planned to work part-time in retirement and among recent retirees, 19% work part-time.

Why so much working during retirement? More likely than not, because of money. As we explain in articles like “8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will,” pensions are rapidly disappearing, replaced by much less reliable accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s. And as retiree income is falling, costs are rising.

On the plus side, however, while more retirees may be forced back into the workplace to make ends meet, there are more ways than ever to bring in a bit of extra bacon.

In short, in my parent’s generation, retirement meant not working at all. But for us boomers, retirement is morphing into something different. It’s not about doing nothing. Hopefully, it’s about being productive and making money, but by doing what you want to do, rather than what you have to do.

What kind of work will today’s (or tomorrow’s) retiree look forward to doing? Will it be easy to find pleasant, lucrative work? Should we start long before we retire?

In this week’s “Money” podcast, we’re going to find answers to these questions, as well as many more. Our guest is author and super-popular podcaster Paula Pant from Afford Anything. She’s smart, funny and knowledgeable — you’ll have a good time listening to her.

As usual, my co-host will be financial journalist Miranda Marquit, and we’re joined by our producer and sound effects guy, Aaron Freeman.

Sit back, relax and listen to this week’s “Money” podcast!

Not familiar with podcasts?

A podcast is basically a radio show you can listen to anytime, either by downloading it to your smartphone or other device, or by listening online.

They’re totally free. They can be any length (ours are typically about a half-hour), feature any number of people and cover any topic you can possibly think of. You can listen at home, in the car, while jogging or, if you’re like me, when riding your bike.

You can listen to our latest podcasts here or download them to your phone from any number of places, including Apple, Spotify, RadioPublic, Stitcher and RSS.

If you haven’t listened to a podcast yet, give it a try, then subscribe to ours. You’ll be glad you did!

Show notes

Want more information? Check out these resources:

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Welcome to Africa: A country-by-country guide to reopening

Welcome to Africa? A country-by-country guide to reopening



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Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

Pending Home Sales Fall in January as Inventory Constrains Buyers>

The numbers: The index of pending home sales fell 2.8% in January after four consecutive months of declines, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. The index captures real-estate transactions where a contract was signed but the sale has not yet closed, making it an indicator of where existing-home sales will go in the months ahead.

The median forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch had called for a 0.5% decline in pending sales on a monthly basis.

“Pending home sales fell in January because there are simply not enough homes to match the demand on the market,” Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said in the report. “That said, there has been an increase in permits and requests to build new homes.”

Compared to 2019, pending sales were up 13%, indicating that the housing market remains strong despite the weakness that has crept in during the winter months.

What happened: Pending sales didn’t fall across all regions, as contract signings increased slightly in the South. The largest decline in pending sales occurred in the West, where the index dropped 7.8%, closely followed by the Northeast (-7.4%).

The big picture: A record-low inventory of homes is leaving buyers with few options to choose from, and builders have even begun selling a vast array of properties that haven’t been built yet to meet this demand.

But there’s evidence that demand could begin to suffer as affordability concerns grow. “The timely weekly mortgage purchase applications index is signaling a slowing in activity,” said Rubeela Farooqi, the chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, while citing mortgage application data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The latest reading signified the lowest level for mortgage applications since mid-May of last year, Farooqi noted.

Some of the decline in the volume of mortgage applications was a reflection of the disruption in Texas caused by recent winter storms. But generally speaking, rising mortgage rates are reducing interest from home buyers to an extent. With prices also quickly rising, buying a home is becoming less and less affordable, which could hinder home sales in the months to come.

What they’re saying: “Home buyers are staying surprisingly active during the colder months. However, buyer demand is getting squeezed by a scarcity of ‘For Sale’ signs and rising mortgage rates,” said Realtor.com senior economist George Ratiu.

Source: marketwatch.com