You can't always save your home from a raging blaze, but choosing fire-resistant roofing materials and creating a defensible zone around the house can help.
Nearly every year, we read stories of wildfires blazing out of control, threatening homes and lives. This year is worse than usual, with fires engulfing homes in a number of states.
The reality of this summer's wildfires was brought home to me last week while visiting Denver, where you normally can see the surrounding mountains. This time, the view was obscured by the haze from the fires miles away.
About 61% of the country, mostly in the South and West, is abnormally dry, compared with about 32% a year ago, June Fletcher reports in The Wall Street Journal.
Case-Shiller numbers show prices rose in 19 of 20 cities from March to April. Year over year, prices were up in 10 of the cities.
After seven months of decline, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index finally showed a slight increase in home prices, another indication that the housing market might slowly be emerging from the mire.
Both the 10-city and 20-city indexes rose 1.3% from March to April. Adjusting for seasonal factors, prices were up 0.7%. Nineteen of the 20 cities showed an increase in prices from March to April. The exception was Detroit, where prices fell 3.6%.
The more reliable year-to-year data showed that prices were down 2.2% for the 10-city index and 1.9% for the 20-city index, a slower rate of decline than in previous months. Ten of the 20 cities showed an increase in prices from April 2011 to April 2012, with Phoenix showing the greatest increase, at 8.6%. Atlanta continued to show the largest price decline, losing 17% year over year though that metro area showed an increase of 2.3% from March to April.
Real-estate editors' group grants awards to writers for stories on topics ranging from a Vegas condo scam to property purchases by the Church of Scientology.
We spent last week hearing about trends in real estate at the annual National Association of Real Estate Editors' conference in Denver. That conference also gave us a chance to recognize some of the best real-estate reporting of last year.
Among the winning entries were some compelling stories we had not heard before, so we thought we'd share a few.
Notable books also were honored. The winner of the Robert Bruss Real Estate Book Award, named for the late real-estate columnist, was Kalvin Platt, author of "Master-Planned Communities: Lessons from the Developments of Chuck Cobb," published by the Urban Land Institute.
The shrinking inventory of used homes may be increasing demand for new construction. But the sales rate still remains barely half of normal.
Sales of new single-family homes rose 7.6% in May, to the highest rate in two years, but remained far below the number of new-home sales that constitute a normal market.
At the May rate, builders could expect to sell 369,000 single-family homes this year, compared with the 700,000 that would indicate a normal market, according to data from the Commerce Department.
"The relatively strong increase in new-home sales this May is an indication that more potential homebuyers are being drawn to the market by today's excellent mortgage rates as well as firming conditions in some local economies," Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB and a homebuilder from Gainesville, Fla., said in a news release.
Recession byproduct: Households with at least 1 'additional adult' increased by 11.7% from 2007 to 2010.
According to the Census Bureau, however, that conceit is the new normal for more folks, since the Great Recession. Between 2007 — just after the housing boom — and 2010, households with at least one "additional" adult increased by 11.7%. These living arrangements now comprise 18.7% of all households, according to the new Census report "Sharing a Household: Household Composition and Economic Well-Being: 2007–2010" (PDF).
The census defines shared households as those including one nonstudent over 18 who is not the householder or the spouse or same-sex partner of anyone in the home.
May's decrease from April may be the result of tight supply, though higher-priced homes see sales gain.
May's sales volume of 4.55 million was a 9.6% increase from May 2011's 4.15 million, however. And May's median existing-home price of $182,600 marked a 7.9% gain from a year prior — the third-straight month of year-on-year price climbs — and a jump from April's $177,400.
Coupled with a drop in inventory — from May 2011's 9.1-month supply of unsold homes to a 6.6-month backlog — some are interpreting today's report as evidence the market may shifting more than settling.
Single-family housing starts increased in May — and more permits were issued to build new homes than any month in the past 3.5 years.
There's a good reason for U.S. homebuilders to be more confident heading into the summer, as we reported yesterday: Housing starts for single-family homes rose 3.2% in May compared with April, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today.
Meanwhile, building permits — a barometer for home construction in coming months — also came out strong in May, with requests up 7.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000. That's the highest level since September 2008.
Overall, housing starts decreased 4.8% from April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000. Apartment construction, which fell 21.3%, was the primary culprit.
Agency abandons plan to reject loans from borrowers who had more than $1,000 in disputed debt-collection accounts.
The Federal Housing Administration has reversed course and decided not to deny mortgages to borrowers who have more than $1,000 in disputed collections accounts.
The rule, which originally had been scheduled to go into effect April 1, was rescinded Friday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Implementation of the new policy had been delayed for three months after opposition from homebuilders and lenders, who said such a rule would further curtail purchases by first-time homebuyers and shut out the low-income borrowers the FHA was designed to serve.