Nearly one-third of home sales are to cash buyers, who often command a significant discount off list price. In turn, the seller gets a quicker closing.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 26, 2012 3:39PM

House made of a hundred dollar bill (© Metta image/Alamy)As home sales increase and inventory shrinks, we're continuing to experience a decline in median home prices in many cities.

 

One reason for that, according to the new Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey, is the influence of investors who are paying cash for homes. Those cash sales are driving down prices.

 

"Investors are very aggressive and expect to see 15% to 20% off list. They will close in 30 days or less and most are cash buyers," one California real-estate agent said to the surveyers.

 

Last year was the worst on record for sales of new homes. Builders believe the worst is behind them and expect sales to increase this year by 18%. Some cities will do better than others.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 26, 2012 11:06AM

Here's news that is likely no surprise: 2011 was the worst year on record for sales of new single-family homes. The total of 302,000 homes sold was less than half the homes sold in a good year.

 

It was 7.3% lower than the number sold in 2010, which had been the worst year since record-keeping began in 1963.

 

New-home sales fell 2.2% in December after rising in the previous three months. Builders are hanging on to the belief that the worst is behind them.

 

"The bottom line is that while 2011 was the worst year for new-home sales on record, signs of gradual improvement began to emerge near the end of the year across a growing number of markets," Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a homebuilder in Reno, Nev., said in a news release. "This nascent recovery should continue to gain strength in the year ahead as more buyers take advantage of the very good deals that are out there for newly built homes."

 

If Congress agrees to the plan — and that's a big if — the impact on the housing market is likely to be limited, analysts say. It won't curtail foreclosures.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 25, 2012 2:08PM

(© AFP Photo/Pablo Martinez/Monsivais/Getty Images)We wrote Tuesday about how the Republican candidates hadn't had much to say about solutions for the housing downturn. Some hoped that President Barack Obama would announce a major housing initiative during his State of the Union speech, but he didn't have much to say, either.

 

Obama's most significant comment on housing was the announcement of a refinancing initiative, but it's unclear how much impact it would have — if it is enacted at all.

 

The number of contracts to buy homes rose in the Midwest but declined in other regions. Still, the numbers are better than at the same time last year.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 25, 2012 11:00AM

Woman in front of sale sign with fingers crossed (© SuperStock)The number of contracts to buy homes signed fell in December, a reminder that any housing recovery is likely to come in fits and starts. Remember the economist who predicted a "catfish recovery"?

 

The National Association of Realtors reported that its index of pending home sales fell to 96.6% last month. That was 3.5% lower than November's 100.1, which was the highest number in 19 months. An index of 100 is considered healthy.

 

"Even with a modest decline, the preceding two months of contract activity are the highest in the past four years outside of the homebuyer tax-credit period," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a news release.

 

Florida voters, facing massive foreclosures and loss of equity, may force presidential hopefuls to look harder at the crisis. Other key battleground states also are suffering.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 24, 2012 1:13PM

Up to this point, the Republican candidates for president have largely ignored the housing crisis. When they talk about the economy, they talk about jobs and regulations, not the millions of Americans who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

 

We'll put aside for now the issue of just what Newt Gingrich did for Freddie Mac. If you're interested in Freddie Mac's role in the housing crisis, CNN has a good explainer.

 

As the GOP candidates fight for votes in the Jan. 31 Florida primary, they’re having a harder time ignoring the housing issue. Florida has been the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, and residents have seen their homes drop in value by more than 50% in some areas.

 

Manhattan judge agrees with the rocker that she had paid her rent. Whether she 'ruined' the $27,000-a-month townhouse with her renovations is being debated.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 23, 2012 1:20PM

© Robert Sietsema, Courtesy of Village Voice, LLC.Rocker Courtney Love has won her case and won't be evicted from her $27,000-a-month New York City townhouse.

 

The law was on her side: A judge agreed with her contention that she was current on her rent on the four-story, three-bedroom home in Manhattan's West Village and dismissed the suit brought by her landlord.

 

Love plans to move anyway next month, when her lease expires, according to The New York Post.

 
Tags: celebrity

Proposed settlement between the big banks and the states includes aid to underwater homeowners, $1,800 payments to robo-signing victims and servicing reform.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 23, 2012 11:23AM

A proposed settlement between major U.S. banks and states over mortgage practices has gone to the state attorneys general for review after nearly a year of negotiations.

 

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan hinted last week that the settlement, which President Barack Obama may announce Tuesday during his State of the Union speech, includes "far and away the largest principal reduction of the [housing] crisis" as well as reforms in the way that mortgage servicers deal with borrowers.

 

"We're very close to a settlement that would both fix the servicing problems, but also help over a million families around the country stay in their homes and get help," Donovan told the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He estimated that 1 million underwater homeowners could receive mortgage modifications that included principal reductions.

 

This 992-square-foot home is part of a landmark midcentury-modern project built for 10 working families that pooled their resources in the 1940s. Some were movie cartoonists.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jan 20, 2012 1:34PM

Courtesy of Realtor.comWhen you think about historic homes, you often think about large.

 

But in Los Angeles, a piece of history measuring 992 square feet has gone on sale for the first time in more than 40 years. The three-bedroom, one-bath condo is listed for $595,000.

 

The apartment is part of the Avenel Cooperative Housing project, built in 1947 by prominent Los Angeles architect Gregory Ain for 10 families, each of which contributed $11,000 toward construction.  The complex is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Some reports say most of the founding residents were motion-picture cartoonists and their families. Four of the 10 were at some point called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating supposed Communist influences in Hollywood.

 
 

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