Inventory continues to fall and so do prices. Shortage of homes for sale in lower price ranges and problems with loans and appraisals thwart some would-be buyers.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 21, 2011 10:05AM

© CorbisHome sales rose 1.4% last month, bringing sales this year slightly ahead of the number last year, which was the worst year for sales in 13 years.

But nearly one-third of contracts are being canceled before closing, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.

 

Inventory has also fallen, which in some cities makes it hard for would-be buyers to find a suitable home, especially in the lower price ranges.

 

Despite a desire to curtail the federal goverment's role in lending, Congress raises the limit on FHA loans to $729,750 in expensive areas. Is that a wise move?

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 18, 2011 12:44PM

© SuperStockYou may have heard that the federal government is trying to pull back its role in the mortgage business.

Nevertheless, Congress voted this week and President Barack Obama agreed to raise the size of mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration to $729,750 in the most expensive areas.

 

The FHA cap, which varies depending on local housing prices but is $417,000 in most cities, was raised in 2008 from $625,500 in an effort to boost the market. That temporary boost, which also applied to loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, expired Oct. 1.

 
Tags: loans

An architect with a sense of whimsy festooned the outside of a 1960s home with 1,200 amber glass ashtrays. The seller is former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 18, 2011 11:52AM

Courtesy of Realtor.comWe picked our Listing of the Week because of its name: the "Ashtray House."

 

The house was built in the 1960s on New Orleans' Park Island for a family named Sunkel. It's called the Ashtray House because it is adorned with 1,200 amber glass ashtrays embedded in the plaster fascia on the outside. Ashtrays were also used in a fireplace facing and a dining room chandelier.

The current owner of the home is former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who has listed the 3,650-square-foot house for $729,000.

 

You may qualify for a loan, but the condo you want to buy or refinance may not. Fewer than 10% of communities have been recertified under the new rules.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 17, 2011 2:11PM

Couple talking to a Realtor about a condo. (© Eye Candy Images/photolibrary.com)You may think this is a great time to buy a condominium. Prices are low, you have a good job and good credit and, with an FHA mortgage, you can get into a nice building with a low down payment.

Good luck with that.

 

You may be able to qualify for a mortgage, but can your condo?

 

Fewer than 10% of condo developments nationwide that were up for certification by Federal Housing Administration this year have received it, meaning that buyers at 90% of those condos can't get FHA mortgages, which are popular with first-time buyers. The rules also affect condo owners who want to refinance.

 

While housing starts were down slightly in October, the number of permits issued rose 10.9%, suggesting a bit more new-home building ahead.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 17, 2011 11:50AM

The latest statistics on housing construction contain a glimmer of good news.

 

While the number of new homes started in October fell 0.3% from September, the number of building permits rose 10.9%, according to statistics from the Commerce Department, suggesting that future housing-start numbers could rise.

"We’re still at the bottom but gently beginning to move up in the right direction," Eric Green, chief market economist at TD Securities in New York, told Bloomberg. But he doesn't foresee enough housing construction to contribute to economic growth until late 2012.

 

While builders started construction on fewer homes in October than they did in September, the number was 16.5% higher than the number started in October 2010. Builders broke ground on 3.9% more single-family homes in October than they did in September, but on 8.3% fewer buildings of five or more units.

 

Miami leads the list, with five other Florida towns also included. But foreign investors and the robo-signing scandal may be more to thank than improving local economies.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 16, 2011 11:01AM

Miami Beach (©fotog/Getty Images)Remember when Miami was "Paradise Lost?" If you think you've read that headline more than once in recent decades, you're right.

According to a new data analysis by Realtor.com, Miami is paradise found again, leading the list of the "Top 10 Turnaround Towns" — cities where the real-estate market has done best lately.

 

Six of the 10 cities on the list are in Florida, which is probably looking pretty good to Northerners about now — especially with real-estate prices lower than they have been in years. Investors, both foreign and domestic, have been buying up bargain-priced Florida properties lately. The percentage of home sales to foreign buyers in Florida is 31% so far this year, compared with 10% in 2007, Realtor.com reports.

 

While the measure of homebuilder confidence is far below normal, it has risen to its highest level in 18 months.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 16, 2011 9:28AM

© Andy Sacks/Getty ImagesDespite the gray skies in much of the country, U.S. builders are feeling a little more optimistic this month.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose to 20 in November, up three points from October, which was up three points from September.

 

While that score is far from happy about market conditions, it is the most optimistic outlook the builders have reported since May 2010.

 

Lawsuit says sellers of lakefront estate failed to disclose problems with water intrusion, rats and remodeling done without permits. The sellers disagree.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 15, 2011 2:16PM

Dennis Quaid (© Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images)Paying a lot for a house apparently does not ensure it's in good shape, or even in livable condition.

Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, are suing the sellers of the Austin, Texas, mansion for which they paid an undisclosed number of millions in February. They allege the sellers misrepresented the condition of the house and are asking for their money back, as well as additional damages and attorney fees.

 
Tags: celebrity
 

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