The rapper turned remodeler is offering a free guide to real-estate investing, and says 'you can make it happen; you're the captain.'
When will the market turn around? By the end of this year, predicts rapper-turned-remodelerVanilla Ice.
"America needs goods and homes," he says. "Tomorrow's a mystery, yesterday's history."
Should you take real-estate advice that rhymes from a musician who has a DIY TV remodeling show?
Vanilla Ice, 44, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, thinks you should. He has just put up a website, Vanilla Ice Real Estate, to share what he knows.
"During these times, knowing how to make money is more important than ever," he writes on his new site. "Real estate is one of the few opportunities in life that allows anyone to succeed. If you have the right attitude, the drive to win and the knowledge to succeed, you can make it happen; you’re the captain."
Van Winkle, star of "The Vanilla Ice Project," which will start its second season on the DIY Network later this year, has done well in real estate. For him, it has been much more profitable than the stock market.
"I made tons of money I didn't know what to do with when I was 16, so I bought houses," he told reporter Lisa Iannucci. "I never used them, so I sold them and made millions. So I bought some more."
The latest S&P/Case-Shiller numbers seem to indicate price declines are slowing, but the foreclosure pipeline is still flowing.
All of those things are true. Here's the bottom line: We don't yet see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Prices in the 20 major metro areas tracked for the indexes rose 1.1% in June, the third straight month of increases. That looks like good news, but prices usually rise in the summer. Looking at seasonally adjusted figures, prices fell 0.1% in June.
Prices are down 4.5% compared with last year at this time. Prices rose 3.6% in the second quarter of 2011, after falling 4.1% in the first quarter. The second quarter 2011 prices were 5.9% below second quarter 2010 prices.
Prices are down to their 2003 levels nationally and lower than that in some cities. In Detroit and Las Vegas, prices are below 2000 levels, and they're barely above 2000 levels in Cleveland and Phoenix.
With short sales and foreclosures making up 30% of the market, and another 1.7 million foreclosures likely still to come, there is a good chance prices will fall further in many areas. But all real estate remains locals, and the cities won't move in sync.
The pending sales numbers add to the evidence that recovery in housing is a long way away. Problems with loans, appraisals and short sales mean more pending sales don't close.
After three months of increases, contracts to buy existing homes fell 1.3% last month, another sign that a housing market recovery is not yet in sight.
Looking at the bright side, the National Association of Realtors, which produces the data, pointed out that July sales were 14.4% above sales in July 2010. The data measures contracts to buy homes, not closed sales.
"The underlying factors for improving sales are developing, such as rising rents, record high affordability conditions and investors buying real estate as a future inflation hedge," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in a news release. "It is now a question of lending standards and consumers having the necessary confidence to enter the market."
As he does every month, he also noted that tight mortgage underwriting standards, problems with appraisals and difficulties with short sales are all dragging down the market.
“Housing is still on the ropes,” Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note to clients quoted by Bloomberg.
Lakefront house is true to the architect's philosophy of merging inside and out, with walls of windows. The restored home still has the furniture Wright designed, including a 40-foot sofa.
Way back in 1951, when Frank Lloyd Wright was in his 80s and busy designing New York's Guggenheim Museum, Maude Cooke of Virginia Beach, Va., wrote the famous architect a letter.
"Dear Mr. Wright," she wrote. "Will you please help us get the beautiful house we have dreamed of for so long?”"
Cooke was a patient person. After years of correspondence, she finally got her house plans from Wright in 1957. Construction began in 1959, two weeks before Wright's death, and Cooke moved into the house with her husband, Andrew, and their three children in 1960.
Since then, the house has had only one other owner. Now Daniel and Jane Duhl, who bought the house in 1983 and were married on the terrace, are ready to downsize. They're asking $3.75 million for the three-bedroom, two-bath house, which is about 3,000 square feet, with an attached cottage, and overlooks a lake.
His creations explore cultural displacement and our relationships with the places we live. Sometimes that requires a billowy red fabric staircase.
I always like interesting architecture, even creations you can't live in.
Browsing around the Internet, I came upon the work of Do-Ho Suh, an artist from South Korea who lives in New York.
Suh uses fabric, resin and Styrofoam to create his own artistic interpretation of architecture, ranging from miniature furnished houses to life-size red, billowy flights of stairs. His works explore cultural displacement and our relationships with space and the places we live.
His upcoming exhibit, Sept. 8 through Oct. 22 at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York City, is called "Home Within Home." Architizer has some more photos of his work, including the photo of the red fabric staircase.
One of the pieces that will be part of the New York exhibit is "Fallen Star 1/5," a model of a traditional Korean house that collided with a 19th-century American mansion. The models were built at one-fifth scale and are symbolic of the artist's relationship with his journey from South Korea to the United States.
The recession has accelerated a trend that was already under way. Both economics and demographics are responsible.
The latest census figures prove what we already have heard anecdotally: More people are living with relatives.
For the first time in 50 years, households are getting smaller, not larger. Not only are young adults living in their parents' basements because they can't get jobs that pay enough to get their own homes, but older people are also moving in with children.
That all adds up to more family togetherness — and cuts the demands for homes.
In Washington, D.C., 33% more people are living with relatives than did a decade ago, Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik report at The Washington Post.
"We haven't seen anything like this since the Depression," Brown University sociologist Frances Goldscheider said in The Post. "Overwhelmingly, it’s the recession's effect on people's ability to maintain a house. You have the foreclosures on one hand, and no jobs on the other. That’s a pretty double whammy."
Nationwide, about 16% of people live in a multigenerational household, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data. That's a reversal of a trend that began around World War II, when more families began moving to single-generation households.
The scarcity of buyers in today's market forces investors to focus on rentals rather than buying and selling.
Here's another group that is finding the current real-estate market difficult: flippers.
With a shortage of buyers and a tight lending environment, investors who used to buy houses to fix up and resell are finding the resale part of the business a lot harder than it used to be. For some, that means becoming landlords instead.
A new Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey found that the percentage of investors purchasing homes had declined for the past three months, to its lowest level in 12 months.
In the company's survey of 2,500 real-estate agents nationwide, investors accounted for 19.6% of home purchases in July, down from 23% as recently as April.
"The inability of most investors to resell homes in the current housing environment has put a damper on their participation in the housing market this summer," Campbell Surveys wrote in a news release.
The company estimated that investors would end up renting out 48% of the properties
they purchased in July, compared with 28% of properties acquired a year ago.
Agency seeks to stop schemes in which agents collude with flippers who offer artificially low prices and then do quick resales.
As the number of short sales rises, so does short-sale fraud.
Freddie Mac is reaching out to real-estate agents in an effort to enlist their aid in stopping fraud in short sales. Those are sales in which homes are sold for less than the seller owes because the property value has declined.
For a short sale to proceed, the lender and the investor in the loan — often Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae — have to approve the deal. The fraud comes in when real-estate agents, buyers and others collude to submit artificially low offers. The property is often resold within hours or days at a higher price.
"By concealing the higher offer, short-sale fraud worsens losses to home sellers, Freddie Mac and taxpayers," Freddie Mac Vice President Shelley Poland wrote at Freddie Mac's Executive Perspective blog. "It also throws another wrench into the housing recovery by undermining the trust and transparency at the core of any real estate transaction."
This kind of fraud also frustrates legitimate buyers of homes, who often get cut out of deals even though they're willing to pay a higher price.
Frank Fogel was frustrated in his search for a nice home in Modesto, Calif., where short sales make up a significant percentage of transactions. He made a number of offers on homes over two years, only to see them sold for less than what he offered.
He offered $356,000 on one home and got no response, but the home sold for $345,000. He offered $333,000 for another home, which sold for $290,000.
"You don't know how much it irritates someone like me who is willing to buy a house for what it's worth, but can't," he told The Modesto Bee. "Guys like me can't get ahead doing it the honest way. It's not a level playing field."