In densely populated cities such as Singapore and Beijing, tight guidelines govern everything from cooking to pet ownership — a bewildering tangle of laws for expats and other new arrivals.

By MSN Real Estate partner 8 minutes ago

Eric Gregory Powell/Getty ImagesBy Alyssa Abkowitz, The Wall Street Journal

 

In Singapore, look out for the "mozzie police."

 

Crystal Nanavati, a blogger from Boston who moved to Singapore in 2010, once got a visit from a "mosquito inspector" who wanted to check for stagnant water in her home. The inspector examined her balconies, bathrooms and planters, looking for areas ripe for mosquitoes — carriers of the deadly dengue fever. Though he didn't find anything that warranted the standard $200 fine, he noted a vase of dying flowers from her recent wedding anniversary. "He told me to deal with the flowers that day," says Nanavati, who lives in a 1,400-square-foot apartment in the central district near Orchard Road with her husband and children. "That the state can come in and evaluate your house, even for a public health risk, is awkward at best."

 

In some of Asia's fastest-growing and most densely populated cities, developers, building managers and municipal authorities have implemented a variety of rules and regulations to keep residential life running smoothly. That can mean strict guidelines governing everything from cooking to pet ownership to elevator use — a bewildering tangle of laws for expats and other new arrivals.

 
Tags: rentals

Home prices in some cities exceed their 'fundamental value,' Trulia says. Others may be undervalued.

By MSN Real Estate partner 3 hours ago

© Richard Cummins/Getty ImagesBy Robert McGarvey, MainStreet

 

Pick the odd city out: Chicago; Winter Haven, Florida; or Newport Beach, California. And know such a place is where you do not want to even think about buying a home today.

 

Listen to the bubble watchers at real estate tracking company Trulia, and that is an easy challenge. Newport Beach — all of Orange County, in fact — is the one to avoid because, per Trulia, current home prices exceed what fundamental values say they should be by 17 percent.

 

That leads the nation in terms of real estate froth.

 

Sin City's market remains affordable, even as distressed properties comprise less of the housing stock.

By MSN Real Estate partner 4 hours ago

© Ocean/CorbisBy Stephanie Dhue, CNBC

 

The Las Vegas housing market is in transition, from a situation where investors were swooping up distressed properties to a market of more traditional, owner-occupant sales.

 

While home prices are up nearly 19 percent from a year ago, they are still more than 40 percent off their peak, according to S&P/Case-Shiller's latest home-price report. Prices in "Sin City" bottomed in January 2012 at a median of $118,000 before rising at a record rate for 19 straight months until September 2013, when prices began to level off again, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Cash buyers made up 34.7 percent of sales in June, down from a peak of nearly 60 percent in February 2013.

 

Built in 1770 and updated in 2004, the farmhouse is listed for $1.6 million.

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 10:41 AM

ZillowBy Emily Heffter, Zillow

 

You had me at seven fireplaces (and a bread oven).

 

Actress Renee Zellweger's Connecticut country home, on the market for $1.6 million, is hardly roughing it.

 

The luxury farmhouse, built in 1770 and updated in 2004, is a stylish and luxurious country getaway. Set on 38 acres overlooking the Quinebaug River in rural Pomfret Center, the retreat at 96 Cotton Road is 3,463 square feet with a top-of-the-line kitchen, a bread oven in the family room and a swimming pool.

 
Tags: celebrity

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is the same as last week, Freddie Mac says.

By MSN Real Estate partner Thu 9:49 AM

© Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/CorbisBy Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg

 

U.S. mortgage rates were little changed, keeping borrowing costs close to the lowest this year as housing rebounds after a slow start to 2014.

 

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage held at 4.13 percent, Freddie Mac said in a statement on Thursday. The average 15-year rate rose to 3.26 percent from 3.23 percent, according to the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company.

 
Tags: loans

Housing recovery failing to build momentum as sales of new single-family homes fell 8.1% from May.

By MSN Partner Thu 7:01 AM

Post begins below video.

 

If you're buying a home, you may face stiff competition. Here's how to beat out the other buyers.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 3:17 PM

© Getty ImagesBy Susan Johnston, U.S. News & World Report

 

With low real estate inventory in many parts of the country, properties in some markets are receiving multiple offers and sparking bidding wars among eager buyers. National real estate brokerage Redfin reports that in March, 63.4 percent of offers submitted by Redfin agents across 19 markets faced competition from other buyers, up from 58.7 percent in February. That's below last year's bidding peak of 73.4 percent last March. Still, Redfin real estate agent Mia Simon, who serves Silicon Valley buyers, says in this climate, "it's very rare to have [an offer] where we're the only one." 

 

Here's a look at strategies for homebuyers competing in a bidding war. 

 

Mortgage applications increased 2.4 percent this week, buoyed by more refi activity.

By MSN Real Estate partner Wed 8:22 AM

© Alex Stojanov/AlamyBy Diana Olick, CNBC

 

Mortgage rates didn't move at all last week, but more borrowers made applications to refinance their home loans.

 

A weekly measure of loan volume by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed a 2.4 percent gain in total applications week-to-week, with a 4 percent jump in refinances leading the charge.

 

Refinancing has been languishing for more than a year, after rates jumped a full percentage point in the spring of 2013. Refinance application volume is still down over 40 percent from a year ago, despite slightly lower rates currently.

 
Tags: loans
 

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