Texas man is suspected of stealing $20,000 in jewelry at an open house.
If you don't have the time or the money to stage a home you've put on the market, here's a reminder to at least find the time to remove items of value that can be swiped easily.
According to a CBS affiliate in Dallas, a man believed to be posing as a homebuyer is wanted by police in Highland Park, Texas, in connection with at least one theft that took place during an open house.
Police are worried this could be the start of an upsurge in such crimes, but area real-estate agents, such as Tom Branch with Re/Max Realtors, say they're already on the rise:
A survey of economists and housing analysts predicts a recovery will begin as soon as 2011.
Home prices may have seen some ups and downs since the homebuyer tax credit kicked homebuying up a notch last year, but a permanent recovery has yet to take root as the economy continues to flounder.
However, according to The Wall Street Journal, a rebound in home prices could begin as soon as next year, at least in areas that still aren't suffering steep price declines from lower-priced foreclosures clogging the pipeline.
The survey by MacroMarkets LLC of 92 economists and housing analysts also predicts that home prices will rise about 12% from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2014, as measured by Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller national index.
But you can fight back in time to save the contract if you think the appraisal is flawed.
Although most major metropolitan cities are seeing year-over-year gains in home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors, the organization still sees trouble brewing in the homebuying process.
According to a survey it conducted for the first quarter, 11% of real-estate agents said a contract was canceled because an appraisal came in lower than the price negotiated between the buyer and seller, while 16% said a low appraisal led to a renegotiation of the contract. A year earlier, cancellations linked to low appraisals were closer to 5%, according to SmartMoney.
"As a result, the housing recovery isn't as strong as it could be," said Vicki Cox Golder, president of the Realtors group.
But with construction still at historic lows, will builders be able to keep up with future demand?
If a housing shortage really is expected to hit in 2011, builders don't seem to be doing much to stave it off.
On the one hand, the Census Bureau (pdf) reports that housing starts in April are up 41% from the same time a year ago. But on the other hand, April 2009 did set the all-time record low since the agency started keeping track in 1959.
Since then, housing starts gradually have been ticking up, including a 5.8% increase from March, but they're still near historic lows, as shown in this graph from Calculated Risk.
Should we be worried?
More than 1.2 million loan modifications are under way through the Obama administration's program.
Even as a record number of homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in March, the Obama administration's loan-modification program continued to help troubled borrowers, potentially saving an additional 68,000 families from foreclosure.
However, despite the 13% increase in permanent modifications from March, there also continued to be cancellations of both trial and permanent modifications. As of the end of April, 277,640 trial modifications had been canceled, along with 3,744 permanent modifications.
An estate in contract in Los Angeles could top the $46.5 million price for a home sold just a couple of weeks ago.
As Luxist says, "The Rich Are Back," again setting record-high prices for paintings, cars and, of course, luxurious estates.
Just over a week ago, "Listed" wrote about the sale of Colorado's Boot Jack Ranch, which was believed to be the year's most expensive residential sale, at $46.5 million.
But that didn't last long.
According to The Wall Street Journal, that record is about to be beaten by the sale of a 48,000-square-foot mansion in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles that an Indonesian buyer is in contract for at a price of about $50 million.
Washington utility wants to return the 150-acre man-made tract back to the public and is giving leaseholders of its condos and trailers until June 2012 to give up their slice of riverfront paradise.
It's one thing to allow residents to live in a pre-existing structure in a national park, such as the former hospital in San Francisco's Presidio being turned into luxury apartments.
But just two states away in Washington, a battle is brewing over a man-made public island that has been turned into what opponents say is more of a private resort including, a 110-unit condo building and 305 trailer homes, according to The Seattle Times.
The original intent of the 50-year lease seems to have been forgotten over the years, but all the while, nearby residents' anger at losing their little spot of paradise only seemed to fester.
So now they're getting back their priceless views of the surrounding cliffsides and riverfront access to the massive Columbia River, while the 415 families that both live and vacation on the island for leases as low as $33 a year could lose their private slice of the island.
The mayor's effort to 'right-size' the city could result in 10,000 fewer abandoned homes in the next few years -- and a lot more empty lots.
This week, Detroit kicked off a new initiative to destroy 450 of its most dangerous vacant properties in 45 days, with plans to demolish at least 3,000 abandoned homes this year.
But with an estimated 33,000 vacant homes, the initiative that could change the face of the 140-square-mile city is still in its infancy. Mayor Dave Bing has pledged to demolish 10,000 blighted buildings in his first term.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Bing describes the initiative as an effort to "right-size" the city, which has seen its population plummet from 2 million to an estimated 800,000:
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.