New programmable thermostats can learn your habits, and you can program them online or with your phone. But will they really save you money?

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 11, 2012 12:54PM

© 2012 Nest LabsOne of the problems I have always had with smart thermostats is that they seemed to be smarter than I am. Either that, or they were just contrary, arbitrarily raising and lowering the temperature at their whim rather than my command.


So I don't have a programmable thermostat.


But as the technology improves, perhaps you'll find one that you can bend to your beck and call, or at least your climate choice.


Georgia development is the latest to argue that homeowners can't install roof panels to harness the sun's energy. In some states, associations don't have that right.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 11, 2012 11:36AM

© Russell Illig/Photodisc/Getty ImagesWe've all likely heard stories about homeowners associations that leave us incredulous. They don't like flags. They don't like flowers. They don't like any number of decorative items that individual homeowners might choose to adorn their homes.


In Cumming, Ga., outside Atlanta, at least one homeowners association doesn't like solar panels. That's apparently a problem across the country, where associations say that solar panels mar the look of their communities.


Kitchen and baths remain top remodeling projects as homeowners adapt yesterday's homes to today's family life.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 10, 2012 3:28PM

Woman putting in a bathroom sink (© Alex Wilson/Getty Images)This news likely is no surprise: More homeowners are remodeling rather than moving, and top projects remain kitchens and baths.


A new survey from the National Association of Home Builders found that remodeling projects have increased since the group did a similar survey in 2010, with nearly 50% of remodelers reporting they are hearing from more homeowners who want to renovate to avoid moving.


Kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects are up 17% from two years ago, the survey found, with bathroom remodeling holding on to the top spot it took from kitchens back in 2009.


Hard-hit Florida towns dominate the list of areas deemed recovering, according to data. Boise, Idaho, joins the Sunbelt cities in the top 10.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 9, 2012 1:05PM

© Walter Bibikow/SuperStockSome of the dogs of the foreclosure crisis are now showing up as the darlings of the recovery – as least as it can be measured by statistics so far.'s latest list of the "Top Turnaround Towns" is led by Phoenix, which suffered a 60% drop in real-estate values during the bust and has been in the forefront of the foreclosure crisis.


Investor activity and declining inventory, leading to higher list prices, helped Phoenix top the latest "turnaround towns" list. It ranked second last quarter, after Miami, which fell to No. 2. According to the data, the median list price in Phoenix is up 26.94% over last year, and inventory was down 48.04%.


A new study finds that the rate of serious loan delinquency, which had been falling, rose at the end of 2011 in the 100 largest U.S. metros. Florida leads the list.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 9, 2012 1:02PM

It's dueling statistics today here at "Listed," because if you look at our list of "turnaround towns" and our list of cities with the highest foreclosure rates, you'll see a lot of the same cities.


While the inventory of homes for sale may be down and listing prices may be up, the foreclosure crisis is far from over in some of the cities hit hardest by the recession.


The Center for Housing Policy, the Urban Institute and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. reported Wednesday that the rate of serious delinquency rose from 9.2% in June 2011 to 9.7% in December in the nation's largest 100 metro areas. That's down from a high of 10.5% in December 2009.


A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston suggests that the mortgage crisis was caused not by bad policy or a failure of regulation but a shared delusion about home prices.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 8, 2012 1:48PM

© Robert Llewellyn/CorbisWhat caused the housing bubble?


It wasn't caused by bad mortgage products, homeowners who were misled by mortgage pros or the easy availability of credit, argues a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.


Instead, the bubble was caused by a collective euphoria on the part of homebuyers and mortgage investors over rising prices and the mistaken contention that home values would continue to rise.


After losing their home and their business, this family decided to do some serious downsizing, and built their own home for $12,000.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 8, 2012 12:50PM

Video still of family with tiny house (© Via YouTube, the recession hit in 2008, Karl and Hari Berzins lost everything, including the restaurant they owned in Central Florida and the three-bedroom home they had refinanced to bankroll the business.


Like many families, they sought to downsize to recover from their financial woes. But their method was unconventional: They built a 168-square-foot house, where they live with their two young children in rural Virginia.


The house cost $12,000 to build, using scavenged materials and building supplies they acquired off Craigslist and other sources. That included the flatbed trailer upon which they built the 8-by-21-foot house.


The recession has added to the risks agents face when they go alone to a home and meet strangers. Training and applications are designed to keep real-estate pros safe on the job.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate May 7, 2012 1:39PM

© SuperStockYou don't think of real estate as a dangerous job, but the increase in crimes against people in the real-estate field has prompted the National Association of Realtors and other trade groups to boost safety training.


In 2010, the last year for which statistics are available, 63 people employed in real-estate-related fields, including property management and maintenance, died on the job. That was the highest number since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping data in 2003.


Of the 60 deaths in 2010, 23 were slayings. An additional 14 people died from falls, nine from transportation accidents and eight from environmental toxins.


Ten deaths were reported among those who worked in sales, up from four in 2009.

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