Spring is the time to fix what Mother Nature wrought on your fencing during the winter, whether you're planning to put your home on the market or just sprucing it up.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Mar 31, 2011 10:39AM

Need to fix your broken wood fence? Spring may be the time to do it. (© Bilderbuch/age footstock)Ever watch an airplane's wing flap sway forward upon descent? That's what our wood fence looked like during a windstorm a few weeks ago. Our neighbors fared worse: One of their two old-growth Douglas fir trees toppled onto the other. Now they're both truckloads of wood chips. Alas, our east view is now impeccable.


But from the street, the appearance of our place is scarred by what's now a jagged, undulating mess of slats — as though Frank Gehry and Christo built it during a "quick-fire challenge" on the unrealized HGTV show "Make Stuff With Old Wood: Celebrity Face-off." If your fence looks the same and you're considering selling your home or simply avoiding embarrassment, this may be the opportune time to fix it.

According to Consumer Reports, spring is not only prime time for undoing damage caused by wind, rain or heavy snow, but it's also the first chance many of us have this year to paint or stain wood outdoors. In some cases, cosmetic changes could prevent fence decay.


Walking to work may not be a good option for homebuyers in these areas.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 10:46 AM

PBNJ Productions/GettyImagesBy Jerry Kronenberg, MainStreet


If strip malls and septic tanks are your idea of paradise, here's a look at five major U.S. cities that feature car-centric suburban layouts rather than Manhattan-style "urban walkability."


"These are places where they built everything around the car," says Christopher Leinberger of George Washington University, who co-wrote a report with GWU's Patrick Lynch that ranks America's largest metro areas for what the pair calls "walkable urbanism."


Leinberger and Lynch define "Walkable Urban Places" (or "WalkUPs" for short) as city or suburban neighborhoods that score well for walkability and host a high amount of office and/or retail space in a compact area.


Homes on the outskirts of cities are seeing recovery, especially in the South and West.

By MSN Real Estate partner Fri 9:58 AM

© Cameron Davidson/Getty ImagesBy Kris Hudson, The Wall Street Journal


The exurbs are starting to make a comeback, signaling that the housing market's recovery is slowly spreading beyond major cities.


Areas on the outskirts of cities went bust earlier and harder than most other places during the housing downturn. That is partly because job losses, mortgage defaults and high gasoline prices hit families living there particularly hard, hampering home sales and construction in the far-flung neighborhoods. Builders, blaming weak demand in these areas, shifted to building on more expensive land closer to city centers.


These areas have the highest probability of experiencing an earthquake, hurricane, tornado or all of the above.

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 1:43 PM

LUCAS JACKSON/Newscom/ReutersBy Robert McGarvey, MainStreet


San Francisco has earthquakes, Oklahoma City has tornadoes and New Orleans has hurricanes — but here's a look at five major U.S. communities that have the highest combined risk for all three.


"Most places tend to have maybe one risk factor, but these places tend to have multiple ones," says Daren Blomquist of market watcher RealtyTrac, which recently calculated the odds of natural disasters hitting any one of more than 3,100 U.S. counties.


Blomquist says RealtyTrac found that America's riskiest locales are also some of its heavily populated ones.


'The window has narrowed a little bit for homebuyers,' mortgage expert says after Federal Reserve's interest rate news.

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 9:51 AM

Arrow pointing upward © Fry Design Ltd/ Getty ImagesBy Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg http://www.bloomberg.com/

U.S. mortgage rates jumped to a four-month high, increasing home-loan costs as the economy shows signs of strengthening. 

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.23 percent, up from 4.12 percent last week and the highest since early May, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. The average 15-year rate rose to 3.37 percent from 3.26 percent, according to the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company. 

Federal Reserve policy makers Wednesday tapered monthly bond buying to $15 billion in their seventh consecutive $10 billion cut, staying on course for an October end to the program intended to keep rates low. The Fed maintained a commitment to keep the benchmark interest rate near zero for a "considerable time" after the asset purchases are completed, saying the economy is expanding at a moderate pace. 


Housing starts fell 14.4 percent in August.

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 9:18 AM

© CorbisBy Diana Olick, CNBC


Construction of single-family homes and multifamily apartments fell by over 14 percent in August from July, a far more striking plunge than analysts expected. Single-family housing starts are running at about half the normal, prebubble pace, and single-family building permits, an indicator of future construction, are flat. So how is it that some claim we are building too many houses?


"We're still building single-family homes faster than we can fill them," argues Trulia's chief economist Jed Kolko.


Using new numbers released this week from the U.S. Census, Kolko makes the following points.


Richmond, California, would buy mortgages — but not homes — to reduce residents' debt burdens.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 10:33 AM

By Nick Timiraos, The Wall Street Journal


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Forget appliances and china — couples headed to the altar are signing up for cash-gift registries to fund home projects.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 10:05 AM

© Jamie Grill, PhotolibraryBy Stefanos Chen, The Wall Street Journal


With their wedding approaching, the last thing Daryl Fox and Hootan Khatami, wanted was clutter.


"We really didn't need a toaster or any of the wacky gifts people give," said Fox, a 49-year-old book publisher. Before their 2013 wedding, he and Khatami were already settled into their penthouse apartment in New York's Chelsea neighborhood.


So instead of offering guests the typical choices, they signed up for an online cash-gift registry and netted close to $7,000 toward a home-renovation fund to update their three-story space. Wedding-day gift envelopes added to the fund.


Last week's 7.9 percent surge was driven mostly by people refinancing loans.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 9:45 AM

Red Arrow Pointing Upward © Fotosearch, Fotosearch, Getty ImagesBy Diana Olick, CNBC CNBC

Despite adjustments for the Labor Day holiday the previous week, mortgage applications surged last week, even amid rising rates.

Total application volume rose 7.9 percent week-to-week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), driven mostly by refinances, which doesn't jibe with the rise in rates.

Applications to refinance rose 10 percent from the previous week, but are still down 22.5 percent on year. Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 5 percent from the previous week but are down 10 percent on year.

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