Wall of lettuce showcases the trend toward vertical gardening. Inside Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, gardeners are growing lettuce on columns.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 15, 2012 1:06PM

Courtesy of Philadelphia Horticultural Society Gardening can be great, but it also can be a real pain in the knees, backs, legs, etc., with all the bending it requires.


Now baby boomers are making gardening bend — or, in this case, not bend — to their desires. The popularity of vertical gardening is rising.


Vertical gardening makes it easier to raise vegetables, herbs and other plants without bending. The recent Philadelphia International Flower Show featured a wall of lettuce that was 9 feet high and 40 feet long, designed by gardening author Amy Goldman.


The list remains volatile, with 31 cities added and 30 falling off. Texas had the most cities deemed improving.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 15, 2012 11:13AM

Columbus, Ohio // © Corbis/SuperStockThe National Association of Home Builders reported a slight increase in the number of housing markets deemed improving in March: 99 markets fit the criteria, up from 98 in February.


Among the latest 31 cities to join the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index were Orlando, Fla.; Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; and Austin and San Antonio, Texas. Major cities returning to the list after falling off last month included Anchorage; Iowa City; Washington, D.C.; and Jackson, Miss.


Falling off the list were 30 cities, including Miami, Boston and Memphis, Tenn., which had been new entrants last month.


The economic woes of the 'echo boomers' may keep them out of the housing market. That's not good news, because that generation is key to housing's future.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 14, 2012 1:51PM

Who holds the key to the future of the housing market? Look at the hands playing video games in your basement.


According to a new report, the "echo boomers," born between 1981 and 1995, will account for 78% to 80% of sales of owner-occupied homes to people ages 65 and under between now and 2020.


"In the next 10 years, the echo boomers are almost the entire story," said Rolf Pendall, director of the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing & Communities Policy Center, at a recent housing conference in San Antonio. Pendall was one of the authors of the report, "Demographic Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Housing Markets."


A side deal to the $25 billion mortgage settlement releases the bank from penalties if it provides more help to underwater homeowners.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 13, 2012 1:27PM

© Radius Images/JupiterimagesIf you have an underwater mortgage held by Bank of America, you may be able to get a better modification deal.


As a side agreement to the $25 billion settlement among the five big banks, the federal government and the state attorneys general, Bank of America has agreed to bigger principal reductions on about 200,000 loans. The reductions could total more than $100,000 each, a bank spokesman told The New York Times.


By granting those larger reductions, Bank of America hopes to avoid about $850 million in penalties.


Florida lawyer followed the trail of 'Linda Green' and shared her findings with '60 Minutes.' The payment is part of the $25 billion settlement.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 13, 2012 12:47PM

Back in 2008, Lynn Szymoniak, a lawyer who specializes in investigating white-collar crime, tried to refinance the mortgage on her condo in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. When she ended up in foreclosure instead, she started investigating.


What she discovered was a key piece of evidence that helped unveil the "robo-signing" scandal — the fact that major lenders were filing documents in court attesting to their ownership of mortgages signed by people who didn't even work for them, let alone know anything about the documents they were signing.


Szymoniak shared her findings with others, including "60 Minutes," and became active in the fight against foreclosure fraud. In response to a claim she filed in South Carolina under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, she will receive $18 million from the $25 billion foreclosure settlement.


Homeowners are seeking more open-concept kitchens and fewer cherry cabinets. Computer areas and polished chrome are also rising in popularity.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 12, 2012 1:07PM
© Fancy/Veer/CorbisMore Americans are renovating their kitchens, the American Institute of Architects reports.


According to a survey of AIA members, the trend in kitchen design that has grown most in popularity is opening the kitchen to the living area. The only other kitchen project that grew significantly in popularity was universal design, perhaps a nod to aging baby boomers who need more accommodation.


The project showing the greatest decline in popularity was the creation of a larger pantry space.


The Florida teenager earned the money by selling items salvaged from foreclosed homes. With her share of the $700-per-month rent, she may buy a second home.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 12, 2012 11:38AM

In 14-year-old Willow Tufano's neighborhood, the real-estate crisis has meant living surrounded by vacant homes, in the foreclosure epicenter of Florida.


It has also meant a chance to earn some real money, selling items no one wants out of foreclosed homes handled by her real-estate agent mother.


Now, Willow has become a landlord, after buying her first house for $13,000.


Her two-bedroom, one-bath home is in Port Charlotte, Fla., where property is worth about one-third of what it was at the peak. CNN Money picked Port Charlotte, a town on Florida's Gulf Coast with a population of about 48,000, as one of the best places to retire in 2009. At that time, the average three-bedroom house cost about $170,000.


New Coldwell Banker commercials emphasize the intangible value of homes. The ads are voiced by actor Tom Selleck, whose father and siblings were in real estate.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 8, 2012 2:21PM

A young Tom Selleck with his father, Bob. © Coldwell Banker Real EstateThe housing crisis has taught all of us a hard lesson: A home is not an investment. A home is a place to live.


Coldwell Banker Real Estate just launched a new advertising campaign with that hook, using the voice of actor Tom Selleck, whose father worked 38 years for the real-estate company.


"People’s homes are so important because they are the setting for life’s most meaningful moments," Michael Fischer, chief marketing officer for Coldwell Banker, said in a news release. "While the economics of homebuying are critical, we must remember there is much more to it: lifestyle, memories, family and pride of ownership."



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