MONEY Apple

Steve Wozniak’s Apple-Styled Former Home Sells for $3.9 Million

The Apple cofounder's former residence was built by the same contractors that designed Apple's offices.

Ever wonder how Apple’s signature aesthetic might look when applied to a house?

Look no further than Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak’s former home in Los Gatos, Calif., which just sold for $3.9 million. The design is simple and futuristic, with plenty of shiny silver, white, and glass surfaces. Essentially, it looks like a giant Apple device (slash spaceship).

That’s no coincidence, says listing agent Arthur Sharif. The home was originally built in 1986 for Wozniak with the help of the same contractors who built Apple’s offices.

“That’s why it looks slightly more like a commercial rather than residential space,” Sharif says. “I actually had to ‘de-Apple’ it by adding a walnut finish to the floors.”

The 7,500-square-foot, six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home has been listed and delisted several times since 2013 and was finally snatched up by pharmaceutical entrepreneur Mehdi Paborji, according to Sharif. (The Wozniak family sold it for $3.1 million to patent lawyer Randy Tung in 2009.)

Wozniak, who still lives just a few hills over in Los Gatos, built the home with his kids in mind.

In addition to a playroom, pool, and koi pond, the house includes a $40,000 scientifically accurate replica of a prehistoric limestone cave, complete with fossils, dinosaur footprints, stalactites, stalagmites, and semi-precious stones embedded in the walls.

Click through the gallery above to see more images of the home.

MONEY home improvement

Why You Should Think Seriously About Going Solar

You don't need to live in Florida to benefit.

If you’ve been noticing more solar panels lately, you’re onto something. While only one in 100 houses has them, says David Feldman, senior financial analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that’s 46 times as many as a decade ago. Some of that fast growth is due to a federal tax credit that is worth 30% of installation costs (and which is set to expire at the end of 2016). Some is owed to the fact that Chinese factories are churning out photovoltaic panels nearly as fast as flat-screen TVs. And a third catalyst is a new breed of financing options that virtually eliminate the tens of thousands of dollars in upfront costs of going solar.

Here’s what you need to know to harness the power of the sun:

How Solar Power Works

Going solar doesn’t mean going off the grid. You stay connected to the electric company via a two-way meter the solar company installs. That lets you buy juice as needed. When panels produce excess wattage, it goes back into the grid, and you’re credited for the amount. Though you could eliminate your electric bill, the typical residential installation yields 75% to 90% of the household’s power needs, says Chris Doyle of Dividend Solar, a solar financing company.

There’s enough sun in every continental state to turn a roof into a power plant. But what makes the solar math work is a combination of high electric rates and financial incentives from your state and utility. Get a sense of your savings based on your address, local electric rates, and even your home’s orientation—south-facing is ideal—at EnergySage.com, a solar comparison-shopping site.

How to Pay For It

A solar power system costs $10,000 to $30,000 after the federal tax credit—depending in part on the size of the system required. That investment yields monthly electric savings of $100 to $200, which is most of the average household’s electric bill. So you should recoup your investment in five to 10 years. If you have the cash and plan to stay put, this gives the best ROI.

Money

A solar lease is an alternative that requires little or no money upfront. You pay the solar company a monthly fee or preset discount price for the power the panels generate. Though you can’t claim the tax break or any rebates, you’ll still save 10% to 20% on electric costs, typically $10 to $40 a month, says Jonathan Bass of installation firm SolarCity. Also, most leases include a maintenance contract in the price.

The newer option of a solar loan offers the perks of leasing—no cash upfront, sometimes a maintenance contract—with greater savings for most people, Feldman says. Interest rates range from 3% to 6.5% for 10- to 20-year loans. After factoring in loan payments, you’ll cut your electric bill by 40% to 60%, about $40 to $120 a month, assuming you put the tax credit toward your loan, says Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage.com. You’ll reap even more once the loan is paid off, and panels typically last 25 years.

However you pay, install panels only on a fairly new roof, so they won’t have to come down for roof repairs—and make sure to do it before the write-off expires.

MONEY buying a home

The Surprising Thing Home Buyers Care About More than Schools

cell reception important when buying a home
David Papazian—Getty Images

Americans in every age group ranked this as more important.

A new study from RootMetrics has revealed that U.S. adults seem to care more about cell phone reception than the quality of neighborhood schools when buying a home.

The survey of 2,000 Americans found that 60% rank good school districts as important, compared to 76% who called out mobile service—the same proportion that ranked hospitals as essential.

Even more important? Ninety-six percent listed crime rate, 90% local taxes, and 84% amenities like shops, parks and restaurants.

Though respondents in all age groups (even those most likely to include parents of young kids) said cell service was more important than school district, older adults unsurprisingly tended to rank hospitals as increasingly more important.



If you are frustrated with the cell reception in your house or apartment, you aren’t alone: 45% of Americans surveyed complained they have recurring problems with mobile signal or call quality at home.

To check out the mobile service in a prospective neighborhood—or to compare carrier performance in the one where you currently live—try this RootMetrics coverage map.

MONEY home improvement

Why 2 Iconic Household Status Symbols Are Disappearing

aerial view of homes with green lawns and pools
Colin Matthieu—Getty Images

The pool and lawn industrial complexes aren't happy.

As you may have heard, California is suffering from an epic drought. Strict new regulations have been put in place just this week to severely limit the water use of households and businesses. Even before these rules were adopted, city crews had begun patrolling neighborhoods to issue warnings—and, when appropriate, fines—to property owners caught wasting water. Starbucks was recently pressured into pulling the plug on its California bottled water operation, while one city (Cupertino) canceled its fireworks show for the Fourth of July because the field where it normally takes place would need 100,000 gallons of water to cope with the crowds.

Two incredibly common household features have been targeted as wasteful as well. One is the front lawn, which has been demonized for decades as especially unnatural, unnecessary, and costly in dry climates such as California’s. As the San Jose Mercury News reported in a story about the anti-lawn trend, “About half of California’s residential water use goes to landscaping, and much of that to watering lawns.” In wealthy communities where large lawns are common, landscaping can account for 70% or more of the household water use.

Throughout the state, rebates are available to help homeowners cover the cost of replacing lawns with more eco-friendly, low-maintenance landscaping. According to the Associated Press, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has experienced a 20-fold increase in rebate applications from homeowners interested in replacing their thirsty turf. In parts of northern California, rebates issued in the first four months of 2015 surpassed the total from all of 2014.

One Los Angeles homeowner explained how he didn’t need all of the $5,000 rebate he received to convert his lawn to drought-friendly lavender, sage, and pampas-style grasses, so he used the leftover funds to go on a cruise. He’ll be saving money each and every month now that he doesn’t have to water the lawn too.

The other common water waster that has been drawing heat is the private household pool, considered much more of an extravagance than a boring, basic lawn. It would seem to be more of an overt water waster too, what with tens of thousands of gallons needed in one shot just to fill the thing up.

It comes as no surprise, then, that many homeowners are giving up on their pools. In San Jose, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, pool removal permits have outnumbered installations by a factor of four. Restrictions in many municipalities that ban homeowners from filling new pools certainly play a role in owners deciding not to install pools in the first place.

Yet the pool industry lobby is arguing that pools aren’t nearly as wasteful as many people think. A new campaign called Let’s Pool Together notes that lawns require far more water than pools. Therefore, as screwy as it might sound, by installing a pool instead of an expanse of grass, a homeowner is actually supposedly saving water.

Environmental experts question the pool lobbyists’ math, noting that neither pools nor lawns help the water conservation effort. As for which wastes more water, Peter Gleick, president of the environment and sustainability research nonprofit Pacific Institute in Oakland, says that it’s basically a wash.

More importantly, the pool-vs-lawn debate misses the point. “These are luxuries, and we’re in a really bad drought,” Gleick explained to the AP. “Everybody needs to step up instead of pointing the finger at the other guy.”

MONEY Ask the Expert

The One Thing Not to Do When Paying for Home Repairs

For Sale sign illustration
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: My handyman gives me a discount if I pay in cash, and my tree guy asks me to make a check out to him personally. I assume neither one is claiming the income on his taxes. What gives? Am I breaking any laws—or ethical principles—when I oblige?

A: “Cash is still an acceptable form of payment, last I heard,” says Grand Rapids, Mich., certified financial planner Justin Hales, “even though I hardly ever carry it anymore.” And there’s nothing either legally or morally questionable about paying cash for a home improvement.

“Think of all those coffee shops and restaurants that take only cash,” Hales notes. “Maybe they’re cheating on their taxes, maybe they’re not. It’s not the consumer’s obligation to figure that out.”

After all, your tree guy or handyman can short the IRS whether you pay with a check, credit card, Apple Pay, or Bitcoin. There are valid reasons besides tax evasion that he may prefer cash, such as to save the transaction fees on credit card payments or cut down on trips to the bank to deposit checks.

As long as you’re hiring companies you’ve fully vetted, and that you know are licensed and carry both workman’s comp and liability insurance, there’s no downside to paying cash or with a check made out to the individual rather than his business, Hales says.

If you don’t have cash on hand and a he suggests a check made out to “cash,” the ethics are a bit messier. “There’s no really good legitimate reason” to ask for such a check, says Hales. “He still has to go to the bank, unless he wants to pay a check-cashing store to cash it.” So he almost surely is looking to avoid showing the income on his taxes, which means you’re abetting his tax evasion—and if you’re receiving a discount for it, you’re also benefiting from the illegal maneuver.

Because cash provides no proof of payment, make sure you get a signed receipt for each payment you make. The receipt should specify the work done, the date, and the price. If the handyman gave you a detailed proposal spelling out the particulars of the job, he can simply write “paid in full” on that paperwork with his signature and date. That way you have proof of the work he did—and proof that you don’t owe him for it.

MONEY buying a home

More Parents Are Helping Their Millennial Kids Buy Homes

three generations outside home
Chad Springer—Getty Images

17% are helping with everything from down payments to letting their kids move back home to save money.

Many millennials have been hit with hard economic times. The Great Recession, housing crisis, and diminished job options hit many millennials before they could even get established in a career and start to build up the funds necessary to purchase a home.

While the economy is slowly recovering, too many millennials are still unable to afford a home without assistance — and their parents are increasingly stepping up to fill the void. A recent survey by loanDepot shows that 17% of the parents of millennial children (defined here as between ages 18-35) expect to help their children buy a home within the next five years. That’s an increase of over 30% compared to the previous five years, when 13% of parents expected to provide home-buying assistance.

Parental assistance ranges from down payment contributions to allowing children to move back into their homes — and there’s an unusually large increase in those willing to welcome their children back home.

One-third of respondents said they would allow their children to stay home to save money for a home purchase, up from 11% in the previous five-year period. Meanwhile, another 22% of respondents would allow their children to move back home straightaway, compared to 8% in the previous five-year period. In total, over half of the parents expect their millennial children to either live with them indefinitely or until they can save up enough money for a down payment.

The majority of financial help will be from down-payment contributions. Half of respondents plan to help with down payments, with 8% of respondents paying at least 90% of the down payment. That support is down from the previous five-year period, where 65% of respondents covered some down payment costs and 20% covered at least 90% of the costs.

More parents are willing to pay other expenses so their children can save money for a home (30% as opposed to 25% over the past five years), with 18% focusing on excessive student loan debt burdens (compared to 11% in the past). Around 20% of parents are willing to help with closing costs, and the same percentage of respondents is willing to co-sign a mortgage loan with their children. That is about the same percentage of willing co-signers as in the past.

Where do parents get the money? The overwhelming source is from savings accounts. A little over two-thirds expect to draw from their savings to help their children, slightly down from 72% over the last five years. Meanwhile, twice as many parents as in the past five years expect to use funds from refinancing their own home (up to 8% from 4%), acquiring an unsecured personal loan (up to 8% from 3%), or borrowing from their 401(k) program (up to 4% from 2%).

Millennial children are looking at this help as a responsibility to be repaid. While 68% of the parents consider future assistance as a gift, only 29% of millennials agree. (Of course, if the support is down payment, it has to be acknowledged as a gift in order to qualify for a loan.)

If you are one of these parents helping your millennial children, we applaud your efforts — but please make sure you don’t harm your retirement account or other retirement assets in the process. You don’t have as much time to recover from a large financial setback and your children may not be in a position to help you at the right time. Help as you can, but not more than you should.

 

MONEY home improvement

The 9 Biggest Home Repair Scams

paint footprints on floor
Doug Armand—Getty Images

From watered-down house paint to unnecessary termite treatments.

From time to time we bring you posts from our partners that may not be new but contain advice that bears repeating. Look for these classics on the weekends.

I’ve had numerous people come to my house offering “great deals” on home repair services over the years.

You know the type. Most of these guys wouldn’t know what a contractor’s license looked like if it hit them in the head.

One hustler knocked on my door recently. This was our exchange:

“Good afternoon, sir! I’m with Speedy’s Chimney Sweep. When was the last time your chimney was inspected?”

“Hmmm … good question,” I said, scratching my chin and looking towards the heavens. “I think it was about 85 years ago.”

“Sir, I’m pretty sure these homes were built in the late 90s.”

“Then maybe it was 15 years ago.”

“Right. Anyway, we’re having a chimney inspection special today, complete with top hat and tails, for $39.”

“Nineteen dollars, huh? Well, I don’t get paid until next Friday and all I’ve got in my wallet is $35 and a Wienerschnitzel coupon.”

“That’ll work, sir! When can we start?”

“Now — but only if I get to keep the coupon.”

“I’ll get my top hat.”

Okay, okay. I may have embellished this story just a bit — but you get the point: these guys can be real shysters. Their “inspection” always “finds” a major problem that would easily wipe out almost anyone’s emergency fund — and I’m certain that’s what my huckster had in mind.

Reputable chimney sweeps typically charge between $75 and $150 for an inspection. Then, if necessary, additional sweeping costs will usually run an additional $75 – $200.

Here’s a list of eight other common home repair scams and some tips on how you can avoid them:

Termites

Termite treatment is typically required only when there is evidence of termites inside the house or close to the foundation, which is why any warnings about termites in wood piles or fences unconnected to your house can be taken with a grain of salt. Also watch for unscrupulous bug guys who try to pass off flying-ants as termites — so do a little research and understand the difference beforehand.

Driveways

Another common ruse is perpetrated by roaming contractors who offer to seal your driveway — usually for a ridiculously low price — using leftover sealant from a local job they just finished around the corner. Instead, they’ll apply a cheap imitation that doesn’t seal at all and usually washes away after the first big storm. Speaking of big storms:

Roofs

Traveling shysters will often follow natural disasters and look for vulnerable homeowners, offering to fix roofs at a discount. Other hustlers will try to assess your roof from the ground without a thorough examination, and then claim you need a whole new roof — even if all that needs to be replaced is the flashing, which is often the case. Shady roofers will also say you need to replace the the wood base beneath the shingles, known as the deck; in reality, it’s an expensive repair that is rarely needed.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Be wary of dubious repairmen who try to replace perfectly good parts with new ones, or replace bad parts with used ones that still work. You can protect yourself by making sure you ask to see all “broken” parts before they’re replaced — and then verify the packaging and documentation for any new parts before they’re installed.

Basements

Whether it needs it or not, deceitful contractors who are asked to rectify a damp basement will always recommend digging out your entire foundation and waterproofing it — a humongous task that can run $20,000 or more. In many instances, the problem can be easily fixed for far less by simply reducing moisture along your foundation. So rule out clogged gutters, errant lawn sprinklers, and improper land sloping first before calling anyone.

Plumbing

Watch out for problematic plumbers who try to up-sell services or cut corners in order to beef up their bottom line. Common ploys include recommending an expensive repiping job when a less-expensive rooter service is all that’s required, and using pipes that are insufficiently-sized or made of inferior metal or other material. Getting multiple estimates, and a list of all repair materials included in your contract helps avoid these scams.

Mold

There are vendors out there who offer expensive mold identification services, and then send you to a remediation company that’s in on the hustle. Here’s the thing: The CDC does not recommend testing for mold — in most cases it is totally irrelevant — and homeowners can easily clean small areas as well as any remediation company. All you need is bleach and water.

Painting

Fly-by-night painters will cut corners by doing very little prep work. Even worse, others will tell you they’re using a high-quality enamel when, in reality, they’re either watering it down — or using substandard paint in premium-brand cans. Although there are exceptions, at the start of the job you should check to ensure that any paint cans brought to your house are properly sealed.

The Bottom Line

Whether it’s a painter, plumber, roofer, or chimney sweep, contractors and handymen who are willing to do house repairs for significantly less than the competition are most likely going to cut corners that will end up costing you more in the long run. Trust me; I speak from experience.

So always be sure to get multiple estimates. And remember, like most things in life: If a deal sounds too good to be true, you can bet it probably is.

More From Len Penzo:

MONEY buying a home

Our Dream House Was a Money Pit

150529_REA_DreamHome
Perry Mastrovito—Getty Images

Here's how we dug ourselves out of a financial mess.

Once upon a time purchasing a home landed at the very top of my bucket list.

At 25 years old it felt like the next logical step in growing up—a move that would inch my wife, Jessica, and me closer to the American dream.

From the outside it appeared we were ready for it. We’d built up our emergency fund, paid off our car loans, and started setting aside cash for a down payment. We did everything by the book.

Well, not everything.

When it came time to pull the trigger on our new home, we completely maxed out our budget—effectively signing ourselves up for months of financial strain, emotional stress and major regret.

Landing Our Dream Home—$50K Over Budget

In 2009 Jessica and I were living in the Dallas–Forth Worth area. At 23 and 24 years old, respectively, we were doing great.

I was a firefighter/paramedic, and Jessica was studying photography at the University of North Texas while working as a preschool teacher. Together, we pulled in $75,000—and had zero debt, no kids, and about $25,000 saved up between our emergency fund and retirement accounts.

We were renting a one-bedroom apartment for $750 a month, but loved the idea of putting down roots and moving into a home where we could eventually raise a family.

So, with giddy excitement, we began house hunting for properties in the $150,000 to $170,000 range—a number we settled on after plugging our finances into an online mortgage calculator.

We also decided to look into an FHA loan for first-time homebuyers, which would only require us to make a 3% down payment. I knew 20% was the rule of thumb, but it just wasn’t really something I saw other first-time buyers my age doing. Plus, putting down 3% would preserve some of our savings, and I liked having a reliable cushion to cover us in emergencies.

Two months into our search, we noticed a “for sale” sign on a stunning house just a few doors down from a home we’d just viewed. When our realtor offered to give us a peek on the spot, it was love at first sight.

The house was enchanting: It was just a few years old, with four full bedrooms, 2,400 square feet, and a lush backyard. We couldn’t find anything wrong with it, until we heard the price—$206,000.

We knew it was well over our budget, but couldn’t bear the thought of letting it go. Plus, we’d been pre-approved for a $200,000 loan, which felt like permission to purchase a home of that size.

In hindsight, I know this was a terribly risky move, but at the time I didn’t know any better. And none of our friends or family advised us against buying the home.

After the closing costs were said and done, the total came to around $207,000. We plunked down $7,000—and moved in August 2010.

Plenty of House, Not Enough Cash

Although we loved the home, we were instantly struck by our high expenses.

While our original $150,000–$170,000 price range would have put our housing costs at a manageable 30% of our total income, springing for a $200,000 loan shot that number up to just shy of 50%.

But we felt confident we could handle the expenses, since I was banking on a steady flow of raises from my employer. (Spoiler alert: They didn’t.)

We’d just have to tighten our belts to sustain our $2,000 housing bills, which included the mortgage, insurance, taxes and utility bills.

That meant some serious lifestyle changes, like declining after-work drinks with friends and passing on the dinner date nights we loved. We couldn’t even afford to fully furnish and decorate the place—inviting friends over to an empty house was really tough on my pride.

Even worse, our new bills put an end to the $250 savings contribution we used to make every month. And forget about retirement—our nest eggs were put on hold entirely after moving into the house.

In a matter of months, we had gone from feeling financially flush to pinching every penny—a change that put unnecessary stress on our marriage. More and more we found ourselves nitpicking and bickering with each other.

Over the next nine months, as Jessica and I had many conversations about our decision, it became more apparent that we were being seriously weighed down by the house. We felt stuck, and began to wonder: Had we made a huge mistake?

About a year and a half after moving in, we made the drastic decision to put the house on the market in August 2012. There was no straw that broke the camel’s back—you can only go so long living paycheck to paycheck before you realize that something’s got to give.

While waiting for it to sell, we did everything we could to start saving again. We had a feeling we might take a loss on the house, and wanted to lessen the sting. So we began selling our belongings—our boat, TV, cars—and socked away the profits.

Jessica and I also explored ways of bringing in additional money on the side. She picked up freelance photography work, while I began building websites. All in all, we were able to shore up an additional $15,000.

We finally sold the house at the beginning of 2013, taking a $10,000 loss. While the hit didn’t feel good, the sale took a massive weight off our shoulders.

Our New Life: House Poor, Cash Rich

Armed with about $30,000 in savings and two travel backpacks, Jessica and I did something even crazier after giving up our homeowner status: We left our jobs—and decided to travel the world.

For two years we went all over Europe and South Asia, mastering the art of budget travel. We picked up odd jobs teaching English, painting houses—and even herding sheep! I also continued to do some web development work, and invested in a few blue-chip stocks.

By the time we returned to Texas in the fall of 2014, we had about $100,000 to our names—and were ready for a fresh start.

Jessica is still doing freelance photography work, as well as running a few photography workshops. And I continue to take on web development projects.

But, in a strange twist of fate, I also decided to break into the real estate industry. A few months ago, I earned my realtor’s license and was recently hired at a national agency. I’m looking forward to helping guide other first-time buyers to find a great house—in their budget.

Although we’re certainly not in any hurry to buy another home, if we ever do I’ll definitely be taking my own advice: Buy only what you can afford.

As you might imagine, living out of a backpack for two years really changes your priorities when it comes to material possessions. Having financial security and a better quality of life now means much more to us than a fancy house.

In the end, our version of the American dream has turned out to be different from most. But I’m happy that it’s ours.

(as told to Marianne Hayes)

More From LearnVest:

MONEY home financing

The $265 Billion Bill That’s Coming Due for Homeowners

miniature house with dollar sign
Getty Images

Brace yourself.

Millions of consumers will have to absorb a major hit to their household budget in the coming months. About $265 billion in home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) will enter the repayment period in the next few years, according to a study from Experian, and consumers may see their monthly payments spike — in some cases, triple or quadruple what they previously paid.

HELOC originations soared from 2005 up until the start of the housing crisis, and because many HELOCs enter the repayment phase after 10 years, these billions of dollars in outstanding credit balances are just now coming due. This wave of HELOC resets is expected to significantly stress borrowers’ finances and the lending industry.

“This analysis is critical as we want to not only help lenders prepare and understand the payment stress of their borrowers, but also give consumers an opportunity to understand what the impact may be to their financial status and how to be better prepared for it,” said Michele Raneri, Experian’s vice president of analytics and business development, in a statement about the study.

HELOCs are generally divided into two periods: draw and repayment. During the draw period, consumers can use the line of credit while making minimum, interest-only payments. Once the HELOC resets, consumers can no longer borrow from that line of credit, and they must restore the equity they haven’t yet repaid.

“Instead of using it like a line of credit, borrowing and then repaying the loan to restore the home equity that had been tapped into, most people simply took the maximum amount in cash and never tried to pay down the outstanding amount for the entire 10-year period,” said Charles Phelan, a debt-relief consultant who specializes in HELOC negotiation, in an email. He contributes content on the topic to Credit.com. “In effect, most existing HELOCs are therefore like a huge credit card debt that has been at the maximum limit for years, with only interest expense being paid each month to keep the balance the same and not reduce it.”

How much your payment increases depends on many things, like the interest rate and the length of the repayment period — a shorter repayment period generally translates into a larger increase in payment. Some HELOCs have no repayment period and require a lump-sum repayment when the draw period ends.

The HELOCs that are coming due were opened in very different economic times, under the impression that home values would continue to rise. Because that didn’t happen, borrowers may not be prepared to handle this significant change to their finances.

“A lucky few will be able to absorb the new high monthly payment without defaulting and thereby risking foreclosure, and some will have sufficient equity to obtain a traditional refinance to a new single mortgage,” Phelan wrote. “For a majority of homeowners with HELOCs, however, options are limited due to real estate prices having dropped to the point where the most HELOCs are not covered by equity. This blocks people from refinancing to a single new mortgage at a more reasonable payment level.”

Even if refinancing is an option, it requires the borrower to have great credit. Phelan said borrowers without the ability to refinance can look into government loan-modification programs, Chapter 13 bankruptcy or settling the second lien, but he expects HELOC defaults to skyrocket. No matter how you plan to address your HELOC reset, it’s crucial to have a grasp on your credit standing so you can better research your options for managing repayment and how those options will impact your credit. One way to get your credit scores for free is through Credit.com, where you’ll also get suggestions to help you improve your credit.

“With more than 10 million of these contracts having been issued during 2005-2008, a tsunami of defaults is likely and will be a downward drag on America’s housing recovery for years to come,” Phelan wrote.

If you took out a HELOC between 2005 and 2008 and you’re not sure what you’ll be facing when the HELOC resets, it’s time to look at your agreement and understand what you’re dealing with. Simply by calling your lender, you can get a handle on the situation and prepare to absorb this shock to your finances.

More from Credit.com:

MONEY home prices

This Is America’s Biggest, Priciest New Home

Construction continues at a home being built by Nile Niami, a film producer and speculative residential developer, in this aerial photograph taken in Bel Air, California, U.S., on Monday, May 18, 2015. Niami, who hopes to sell the house for a record $500 million, is pouring concrete in L.A.s Bel Air neighborhood for a compound with a 74,000-square-foot (6,900-square-meter) main residence and three smaller homes, according to city records.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images Construction continues at a home being built by Nile Niami, a film producer and speculative residential developer, in this aerial photograph taken in Bel Air, California.

An insane mansion is rising in Bel Air.

When the Los Angeles Business Journal reported last summer that work had gotten under way on a megamansion construction project in Bel Air, Calif., the property was expected to measure around 85,000 square feet, including a 70,000-square-foot main house. The New York Times wrote about the NIMBY issues being raised by property last December, when the expected listing price was estimated at $150 million.

These numbers are enormous, astronomical, absurd—hard for the average person to fathom, let alone afford. Yet apparently, these figures were on the low side.

The latest on the property, as reported by Bloomberg News, has it that the compound will exceed 100,000 square footage of living space, including a 74,000-square-foot main residence and three smaller houses on the four-acre property. If this turns out to be true, the Bel Air property would trump the notorious 90,000-square-foot estate in Orlando featured in the documentary The Queen of Versailles for the title of America’s largest recently built home. (The White House, by the way, is a mere 55,000 square feet.)

What’s more, the developer, film producer and speculative real estate investor Nile Niami, says that $150 million is chump change. He plans on putting the property on the market for the more fitting sum of $500 million. Bear in mind that the most expensive price ever paid for a home was $221 million for a London penthouse in 2011, and that no home in the U.S. is currently listed for more than $200 million.

In any event, what does one get in a Bel Air megamansion that measures potentially 100,000 square feet and costs potentially $500 million? Here are some of the key figures:

• 30-car garage
• 5,000-square-foot master bedroom
• 4 swimming pools, including a 180-foot infinity pool
• 1 “jellyfish room” with glass fish tanks on three sides
• 45-seat IMAX-style home theater
• 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, Beverly Hills, downtown L.A.
• 74,000-square-foot main mansion
• 100,000+ total square feet on property’s four homes
• 8,500-square-foot private nightclub inside the mansion
• 40,000 cubic yards of earth to be removed for construction
• $500 million expected listing price

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