The number of pending home sales in January is the highest since the homebuyer tax credit raised numbers in April 2010. But will the trend continue?

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 27, 2012 9:35AM

The number of people who signed contracts to buy existing homes in January was at its highest level in nearly two years, another piece of evidence that the housing market is improving.


The National Association of Realtors reported that its pending-home-sales index rose to 97 in January, an increase of 2% over December and 8% over the January 2011 numbers. It was the highest since April 2010, when a tax credit for first-time homebuyers was in effect and the index hit 111.3. An index of 100 is considered healthy.


"Given more favorable housing-market conditions, the trend in contract activity implies we are on track for a more meaningful sales gain this year," Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said in a news release. "With a sustained down trend in unsold inventory, this would bring about a broad price stabilization or even modest national price growth, of course with local variations."


Revised December numbers are the highest since April 2010, giving builders more hope that the market is really turning a corner.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 24, 2012 11:28AM

© CorbisNew-home sales dipped slightly in January, but analysts and homebuilders are still seeing signs of hope in the market.


"Outside of the upwardly revised December number, this is actually the best sales pace we’ve seen since April of 2010, when the homebuyer tax credit was in effect," Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a homebuilder in Gainesville, Fla., said in a news release.


"Moreover, many recent indicators – from our builder confidence surveys to housing starts and permits data and the expanding list of improving local markets – have provided evidence that consumers are becoming more confident about making a home purchase."


High-end condos are selling briskly in this Arizona city, one of the epicenters of the housing crisis. Inventory as a whole is down 42% and prices are up 15%.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 23, 2012 1:02PM

The Plaza Lofts at Kierland (© Kristopher Harman)In one of the foreclosure capitals of the United States, there is a shortage of condos for sale for more than $1 million.


This is not what you may expect to hear about a city where real-estate values are down nearly 60% from their peak and luxury single-family homes are languishing on the market. The median home price in Phoenix is about $120,000.


"Inventory is at a record low," real-estate agent David Newcombe told The Phoenix Business Journal. "The situation is the opposite of the luxury, single-family home market, which has so many more properties for sale."


Architect Michael Graves and a Virginia realty company teamed up to supercharge accommodations for wounded veterans.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 23, 2012 11:40AM

© Clark Realty CapitalThe U.S. Army, a Virginia realty firm and architect Michael Graves have joined forces to create a new kind of accessible home for injured veterans.


The Wounded Warrior Home Project is building homes for wounded soldiers who stay in the service at Fort Belvoir, Va. But before embarking on the project, the partners decided to take a new look at what accessible means.


They started with universal design principles and then took them a step further to design a home that was convenient for people with varied disabilities as well as their able-bodied family members.


Cities will use part of the foreclosure settlement to bulldoze abandoned houses, which are dragging down property values. Some states want to use funds to fill budget gaps.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 22, 2012 2:26PM

© moodboard/CorbisIn Mansfield, Ohio, Herman Davis is mowing eight lawns. On his block in his town 80 miles southwest of Cleveland, 13 homes lie empty and abandoned. Citywide, about 15% of homes are vacant.


States have various plans for the $2.7 billion they expect to receive from the $25 billion foreclosure settlement between the federal and state governments and five big banks.


In Ohio, about $75 million of the state's $335 million share of the settlement will go toward demolishing homes.


The number of homes on the market continues to fall, and the number sold is rising. But other factors make the timing of recovery uncertain.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 22, 2012 10:05AM

Woman in front of sale sign with fingers crossed (© SuperStock)The number of existing-home sales rose in January to its highest level in more than a year and a half, another sign that housing may be peeking out of the doldrums.


The number of existing homes sold in January was 4.3% more than the number sold in December. If homes continue to sell at that pace, it would equal an annual rate of 4.57 million, the highest since May 2010, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.


"The uptrend in home sales is in line with all of the underlying fundamentals — pent-up household formation, record-low mortgage interest rates, bargain home prices, sustained job creation and rising rents," Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist, said in a news release.


You can use a mathematical formula to calculate the optimal distance away from screens of various sizes. Tip: Above the fireplace is not the right spot for your TV.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 21, 2012 2:12PM
© Mike Harrington/Getty ImagesToday we look at the dilemma caused by two colliding trends: bigger TVs and smaller homes.
It is rare to meet a man who thinks a TV can ever be too big, but it is important to consider your room size when deciding what size TV to buy.
The good news: You can sit closer to a big TV than you think and still have a great viewing experience.
The bad news: Those big TVs still need a big space to accommodate them. Most are too big for your old entertainment centers.

California investigation finds a range of issues with the paperwork in foreclosure cases. The audit adds to the evidence that such lapses are pervasive nationwide.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 21, 2012 10:17AM

© Tetra Images/SuperstockAn audit of foreclosure cases ordered by San Francisco's assessor found "clear violations of the law" in 84% of the cases studied.


The violations ranged from failing to notify homeowners that they were in default to problems with the transfers of loans from one entity to another. It also found problems with the accuracy of data in the Mortgage Electronic Registry System, which has been the subject of numerous legal challenges.


"If there were any lingering doubts about whether the problems with loan documents in foreclosures were isolated, this study puts the question to rest," Kathleen Engel, a professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, said to The New York Times.



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