Amid mixed housing data and 15-year homeownership low, questions persist. Did the housing market simply turn into another cul-de-sac?

By Tony at MSN Real Estate May 1, 2012 12:36PM

Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said today that the U.S. housing market has "turned a corner."


His comments at a Bloomberg-sponsored conference echoed those of the National Association of Realtors, which said last week that lower inventories may create "more balanced conditions" and a rise in home prices.


The most recent housing data show that pending home sales in March — or homes under contract but not yet closed upon — were at their highest level since April 2010, spurring optimism for more closings in coming months. Sales of existing homes were up 5.2% from March 2011, and new-home sales were up 7.5% in that time. Zillow and the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index also reported new post-boom price bottoms in their latest reports.


Reports from kitchen-and-bath show indicate that manufacturers may be migrating to a different palette.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate May 1, 2012 9:55AM

There comes a time for every viewer of HGTV's "House Hunters" when homebuyers' constant call for granite countertops elicits an eye roll. And when drinking games are shaped around buyers' shoutouts to crown molding and love. And when this is said back to the TV: "'Stainless is a must'? Wait till she starts trying to clean that fridge, with those three kids and two golden retrievers running around."


Alas, times change. And at some point soon, these changes may even be reflected in television buyers' kitchen preferences.


According to a Consumer Reports dispatch from the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Chicago last week, stainless steel's dominance over other large-appliance colors could be waning. Get ready: White may be the new shiny gray.


Website's new calculator digs at presidential candidate's plans for an 11,062-square-foot summer home, on the site of his current $12 million California house.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Apr 27, 2012 12:58PM

Reportedly, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a few dollars in the bank.


According to what seems to be the majority of media, he also is prone to spending that money — be it on companies, the world's most famous car-top pet tote or his latest potential purchase to draw attention: construction of an 11,062-square-foot "summer home," on the site of his current 3,009-square-foot beachfront house in La Jolla, Calif. He paid $12 million for the 18,000-square-foot property in 2008, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.


Today, real-estate brokerage Movoto answers America's most pressing question —"How many of my houses could fit in one Romney beach house?" — with this online calculator.

Tags: celebrity

Index of homes under contract in March reaches highest level since April 2010.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate Apr 26, 2012 10:46AM

© Image Source/CorbisStop us if you've heard this before: Positive news about pending home sales in March has brightened the outlook for coming months.


The National of Association of Realtors' Pending Home Sales Index came in at 104.1 in March, up from 97.4 in February and 89.9 in March 2011. The index tracks homes under contract, not actual closings.


With the index at its highest level since April 2010, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun predicted increases for sales of existing and new homes in coming months. In March, existing-home sales were down 2.6% from February, and new-home sales were down 7.1%.


Zillow reports that home values in 19 of the 30 largest metros have already hit bottom or will soon. The story will continue to vary not just by city, but by neighborhood.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Apr 25, 2012 1:06PM
© Stockbyte/Getty ImagesZillow's first-quarter home value report found that home values posted their biggest monthly gain since 2006 last month, rising 0.5% nationwide.


The data show that 19 of the 30 largest markets have already hit bottom or will soon, and Zillow predicts the national index will hit bottom in late 2012 or early 2013.


This somewhat optimistic report comes on the heels of the latest S&P/Case-Shiller report, which found that home values in the 20 cities it covered fell 3.5% nationwide between January and February, though that was a smaller rate of decline than the previous period.


A few of the many Los Angeles buildings photographed by Julius Shulman are open to the public. Shulman's architectural photos tell the story of the city's growth.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Apr 25, 2012 11:43AM

We talk a lot about architects but not much about the architectural photographers who help make their work famous.


One of the most influential architectural photographers was Julius Shulman, who photographed buildings (and nature) in Southern California from 1936 to 2009, documenting the growth of the area. He is the subject of a book published last year, "Julius Shulman Los Angeles: The Birth of a Modern Metropolis."


The book's co-author, Sam Lubell, recently wrote a story for The New York Times about several of the homes and monuments that Shulman photographed that are open for tours.

Tags: celebrity

But those numbers follow a strong February. New-home sales in the first quarter were 3.7% higher than in the previous quarter.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Apr 24, 2012 10:31AM

© Tetra Images/Getty ImagesAnd we have another set of one-step-forward, two-steps-back housing statistics:


The number of new single-family homes sold in March was 7.1% lower than the number sold in February. But the number of new homes sold in the first quarter of 2012 was 3.7% higher than the number sold in the final quarter of 2011, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.


"The bottom line is that builders in many markets are reporting more interest among prospective buyers, with the main sticking points for sales right now being access to credit for builders and buyers, and problems with obtaining accurate appraisals," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a builder in Gainesville, Fla., in a news release.


The lastest Case-Shiller statistics show new post-recession lows for 9 cities. But the rate of decline seems to be slowing, and 5 cities showed higher prices over last year.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Apr 24, 2012 9:53AM

Real Estate Sign Advertising Reduced Price (©moodboard/Alamy, Pharaoh/Alamy)The latest Case-Shiller statistics are a reminder that while we may see a light at the end of the tunnel, it could be a long tunnel.


Prices fell in 16 of the 20 markets tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices from January to February, the sixth straight month of decline for most cities. Nine cities hit new post-recessions lows.


The steepest falls month over month were in Atlanta, Chicago and Cleveland. Prices in Dallas were unchanged. Prices rose in Phoenix, Miami and San Diego.



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