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."
Post-World War II single-story homes are gaining favor among those who find them convenient. As they hit 50, some even make the National Register of Historic Places.
My parents still live in the 1950s ranch house where I grew up. Surprisingly, except for small bathrooms, it still seems a practical floor plan more than 50 years after it was built.
The fact that it was on one level, something my mother wanted when she was carrying babies around, made it an easy house in which to grow old.
These days, the humble ranch gets little respect. Homebuyers want two-story entryways, living rooms with cathedral ceilings and massive master bathrooms.
But in some quarters, the ranch house is gaining ground. As more of the homes reach 50, the age at which they're eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, more people are seeing something worth preserving.
"It's just kind of a plain house — well, that was the point," Richard Cloues, who is leading a campaign to protect ranch houses in his position with the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, told The Wall Street Journal.
There are those who have long appreciated the modest ranch homes, built from around World War II until the early 1970s, when builders embraced the two-story home as a way to fit more house on less land.
Sales fell in July for the third straight month, making it likely that the number of new homes sold this year will be the lowest since record-keeping started in 1963.
It looks as if 2011 is going to be one for the record books when it comes to new home sales.
And it isn't a good record. Home sales fell again in July, making it likely that 2011 will see the smallest number of new homes sold since the Commerce Department began keeping records in 1963.
At the July rate, the number of new homes sold this year would be 298,000, down from 323,000 last year, which was the previous low number.
It's no surprise that few new homes are being sold. The large number of foreclosures has created an ample supply of used homes at the same time the economy has shrunk the pile of buyers. New home sales are likely to stay low for several years.
"There is no upside momentum at all in housing," Eric Green, chief market economist at TD Securities, told Bloomberg. "Without any meaningful job growth, we’re going to continue to look at a housing sectors that is moribund."
Lawyers and companies who collected fees from homeowners as part of 'mass joinder' suits against big lenders are shut down and accused of making false promises.
California's attorney general has sued four lawyers, three law firms and others, saying they collected millions of dollars from homeowners in at least 17 states by falsely claiming to help them avoid foreclosure.
The action was the first by California's Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. The assets of those named in the suits were seized by either the California Department of Justice or the California Bar.
"The defendants in this case fraudulently promised to win prompt mortgage relief for millions of vulnerable homeowners across the country," Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a news release. "Innocent people, already battered by the housing crisis, were targeted for fraud in their moment of distress."
According to the California attorney general's office, the lawyers and others representing them – in some cases, paid salespeople -- sent more than 2 million advertisements to borrowers in at least 17 states, asking homeowners to join their lawsuits against the big banks. In exchange, the solicitations claimed, the homeowners would avoid foreclosure and perhaps even have their mortgages thrown out and be able to keep their homes.
That was not the case, however. Some homeowners lost their homes shortly after joining the suits, the California attorney general said.