Housing Watch - Articles

The Trouble with Commercial Real Estate

What's ailing commercial real estate? Imagine if the fixed-rate loan on your house had just a seven or ten-year term and ended in a massive balloon payment. That's the story for most commercial properties. Look around: if there's an office tower or apartment complex, chances are it was financed with a loan that ends... Continue Reading »

Tiny Homes of the Future

A pair of New Yorkers living in a 175-square-foot studio might just be the wave of the future. Zaarath and Christopher Prokop don't cook in their own kitchen. They "store" most of their clothes at dry cleaners. A cappuccino machine is their only kitchen appliance, and a cat-gym and a queen-sized bed are almost the only... Continue Reading »

Zumthor in La-La Land

Reclusive Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has been lured out of his Alpine hideaway for the bright lights of the big city, and Los Angeles may never be the same again --- if the projects he has secured in the city ever get built. First came word from the Architect's Newspaper that Zumthor would redo part of the sprawling... Continue Reading »

As WalletPop reported recently, property investors buying foreclosures are flocking to get a boost from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Housing Choice Voucher program, better known as Section 8. Low-income tenants approved to receive the vouchers typically have to spend no more than 30 percent of... Continue Reading »

Last February, President Barack Obama promised to help 9 million homeowners stay in their homes. How many have been helped today? Only about 650,000 have been offered trial modifications and a small percentage of those received permanent modifications. No numbers have been released about how many got help with... Continue Reading »

Polanksi Under Chalet Arrest

On-the-lam film director Roman Polanski has traded a jail cell for roomier digs at his Swiss chalet. But you have to wonder, what is better? Polanski had to pony up $4.5 million bail to be sprung from a Swiss jail, which was clean and sparsely furnished with a sink, bed, toilet and television. Still, it was quiet and... Continue Reading »

Tishman's Zombie Woes

Another "biggest deal in history" is falling apart.Back in 2007, when Tishman Speyer paid $1.7 billion for six office towers in Chicago's Loop, the local press proclaimed it the "biggest real estate deal in Chicago history." Now, a part of the $1.4 million package of loans on the properties is in default - and Tishman... Continue Reading »

Worst to Come for Foreclosures, says Zandi

Just when you thought it was safe to open a newspaper, there's some bad news: There could be an additional 4.8 million foreclosure sales between 2009 and 2011, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania in an interview with Reuters.That's almost twice the 2.7 million foreclosure... Continue Reading »

Lowest Interest Rates Ever Recorded, Again

Average interest rates for home loans have never been lower -- at least not since the economists at Freddie Mac first started keeping track in 1971.The average interest rate for a 30-year home fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.71 percent, according to the Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey, released December 3.That's... Continue Reading »

How to Choose a Solar Panel System

Have you ever thought about putting solar panels on your roof? Now might be the time to do it. Prices for solar panels have plummeted, and industry experts anticipate a continued decline.The culprit is an oversupply of silicon, an essential component of most solar panel systems. "Raw silicon that used to be $450 bucks per... Continue Reading »

Toll Brothers Loss Will Be Yours, Too

The CEO of luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers has an explanation of his company's dismal fourth quarter earnings: even its well-heeled customers have a bad attitude about buying real estate. "We believe it may take some time for Americans to regain confidence in our economy, their job status and the benefits of home... Continue Reading »

Homebuyers Pay More to Walk

Americans may love their cars. But they also love to live within walking distance of a good cup of coffee or a quart of milk -- and they're willing to pay for it.Pedestrian-friendly cities have survived the bust better than cities where the average house is a long walk from services, according to an analysis of Standard... Continue Reading »

The Politics of Real Estate

It was recently reported in the Chicago Tribune that Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff and Chicago native, has rented out his four-bedroom, 2,719-square-foot house in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood for one year at $4,995 a month. Peanuts for New Yorkers and Californians; mountains of cash for the good folks of... Continue Reading »

Is Your City Still Over-priced?

You might think that with the real estate crash, an average person would be able to afford an average home. But not in New York City - and that might mean trouble for the Big Apple.In the New York metro area, an average family making $64,800 a year could afford just 19 percent of homes that sold in the third quarter,... Continue Reading »

The Federal Housing Administration is bleeding cash -- and that could make it harder for borrowers to get FHA-backed loans, which have been a refuge for borrowers and lenders alike in the downturn. The FHA is supposed to hold a cash reserve of 2 percent, but it fell to just 0.5 percent in the last quarter because of... Continue Reading »

Homebuyers Sign on the Line

Swarms of home-buyers signed contracts in October - the pending home sales index climbed for its ninth straight month and is now close to its highest level ever. So what gives? Aren't we in a housing recession? Continue Reading »

Are You a Single or a Double Dipper?

Walking down Fifth Avenue recently, I couldn't help but be struck by the number of empty storefronts, particularly at this time of year. So much for those green shoots. Talk of an economic double dip is rising, as typically happens at the tail end of every recession. What backs up the argument for a double dip? Let's have... Continue Reading »

Obama Gets Serious About Foreclosure Help

Amid rising foreclosures and public outrage over taxpayer-funded handouts to banks, the Obama administration is trying to put some teeth into its program to help ailing homeowners. The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), announced in February, dangled financial incentives to banks and mortgage servicers willing... Continue Reading »

Home Safety Tips for the Holidays

This holiday season may not be so merry for those affected by the recession. So authorities are warning homeowners to tighten up security around the house when heading out for shopping trips and extended holiday visits. Homes can be sitting ducks just waiting to be robbed around the holiday season. Here are some tips for... Continue Reading »

Can Ugly Homes Make It Right?

There's nothing ugly about Brad Pitt or his desire to rebuild homes for Katrina victims through his foundation, Make It Right. However, some grumble that the ultra-modern green buildings are, well, fugly. The New York Times just covered the newly-built community locally dubbed the "Brad Pitt houses." Despite all the... Continue Reading »

Can Ugly Homes Make It Right?

There's nothing ugly about Brad Pitt or his desire to rebuild homes for Katrina victims through his foundation, Make It Right. However, some grumble that the ultra-modern green buildings are, well, fugly. The New York Times just covered the newly-built community locally dubbed the "Brad Pitt houses." Despite all the... Continue Reading »

Is Flat the New Up?

It's not time to give thanks yet for a recovery. According to newly released data, home prices were essentially flat in September, taking the steam out of what looked like building economic momentum. Despite the resumption of growth in GDP (albeit lower than originally reported) and improved home sales and consumer... Continue Reading »

Foreclosure News: Fanne Mae's

If your neighborhood streets are lined with empty, foreclosed houses, Fannie Mae has some good news for you: The home loan giant is giving first dibs on its thousands of foreclosed homes to families who actually intend to live in the houses themselves or community organizers who intend to fix up the houses. Continue Reading »

Obama Homes for the Holidays

Building models of the Obama homes is harder than crashing a White House party. But the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) believes it's all worth it. Harriet Resnick, vice president of visitor experience and business development at the CBG, says it took approximately three months to get clearance from the Secret Service to... Continue Reading »

Not Just Chinese Drywall, U.S.-Made Material Toxic, Too

As thousands of homeowners around the country have complained of health problems, corroded electrical wiring and a noxious rotten-egg smell, Chinese drywall has been fingered as the culprit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report linking the problems with hydrogen sulfide gas emitted from Chinese... Continue Reading »

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