For some homeowners, now may be the first time they can come out ahead on a previously underwater mortgage.

By MSN Real Estate partner 4 hours ago

© SuperStockBy Jeff Brown, MainStreet

 

Yes, home prices have rebounded nicely from the depths of the recession, but in many major markets it could take three or more years to get back to the peak prices of 2007.

 

That presents the owner who wants to move with some tough choices. But selling now, at a loss, is not necessarily the bad move it looks like at first glance.

 

The new home-price assessment from Zillow says prices in half the nation's largest markets will not get back to pre-recession prices "for another three-plus years." One reason is that as markets slowly return to normal, prices gains have slowed from the double-digit levels of some recent years.

 

As signed contracts to buy homes slip, housing recovery remains choppy.

By MSN Real Estate partner 5 hours ago

© Design Pics/Don Hammond/Getty ImagesBy Josh Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal

 

The number of contracts signed to buy previously owned homes slipped in June, a sign the housing recovery remains choppy despite a retreat in interest rates.

 

An index of pending home sales, reflecting purchases under contract but not yet closed, fell 1.1 percent to a reading of 102.7 in June from May, ending three months of gains, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. The above-100 reading indicates market activity was still "average," if not robust, the trade group said.

 

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.5 percent rise in June sales.

 

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 Fri 1:52 PM

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 Fri 10:31 AM

© 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 Fri 10:06 AM

© 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

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