Elaborate and expensive doghouses provide luxury home for pets who mostly would rather take over your house.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 3, 2012 10:22AM

© Maisie Paterson/Getty ImagesWhere does your dog live?

 

If you said, "In my house with me," you're not alone. The days when dogs lived outside in a doghouse are long gone. But that doesn't keep people from buying ever fancier doghouses.

 

"Half our clients say, 'Hey, we’d like a replica of our home for the dog,' and half say, 'This is the dream house we've always envisioned but couldn’t afford in real life' — like a French palace for the French poodle," Michelle Pollak, a partner in the custom doghouse company

La Petite Maison, told The New York Times. Average price is $5,000 to $6,000.

 

More younger retirees pulling equity out of their homes in a lump sum, raising concerns about what will happen when they get older.

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

© Andersen Ross/JupiterimagesReverse mortgages are likely to become more popular as baby boomers age, but the products remain confusing, according to a report by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 

The mortgages, which allow homeowners 62 and older to tap the equity in their home while still living there, are used by fewer than 3% of eligible homeowners. But the number of reverse mortgages among younger eligible borrowers has jumped.

 

According to the report, 9% of homeowners who got a reverse mortgage were just 62, up from 2% during the 1990s. Among recent borrowers, nearly half are under 70.

 
Tags: loans

A new book by 3 anthropologists looks at all the things taking up space in Americans' homes. For some family members, all that stuff just creates stress.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jul 2, 2012 12:32PM

Ralf Nau/Getty ImagesOne of the reasons people cite most often for moving is a desire for more storage space – not more living space, but more storage space.

 

Because, boy, do we have a lot of stuff.

 

Three researchers at UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives spent four years studying 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and determined that "stuff" is a key ingredient in modern life – and sometimes adds to life's stress.

 

Eight of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in Texas, perhaps thanks to the real-estate bust elsewhere.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 29, 2012 12:58PM

© Thinkstock/Getty ImagesSeven years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, New Orleans is adding back some of its lost population.

 

According to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, New Orleans was the fastest-growing large U.S. city between April 2010 and July 2011.

 

The city's population grew 4.9% during that period, rising to 360,740. After Katrina, the population of New Orleans fell from 452,170 to 223,388. But the number has now risen to 360,740.

 

Borrowers who are found to be the victim of improper servicing practices could get $1,000 to $125,000, and perhaps even get their home back.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 29, 2012 12:04PM

Couple in front of foreclosed house (© moodboard/Alamy)Borrowers who lost their homes to improper foreclosure could get up to $125,000 plus any lost equity if an independent review finds errors in their foreclosure cases.

 

So far, only about 194,000 of about 4.4 million eligible borrowers have asked to have their foreclosure cases reviewed under the terms of a settlement reached between federal regulators and 14 loan servicers last year.

 

The reviews will look at whether borrowers were unfairly foreclosed on, were improperly denied loan modifications or were the victim of other loan-servicing errors that caused them financial harm. Until last week, no one knew what compensation homeowners might receive if they were found to have been the victim of servicing errors.

 

An analysis by the NAHB says that more students are taking out their own loans to pay for college. But the builders group doesn't expect student debt to drag down the market.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 28, 2012 12:14PM

A new analysis by the National Association of Home Builders suggests that the loss of home equity is changing the way American families pay for college. But according to the NAHB's analysis, the growth in student debt is not holding back the housing market significantly, as other sources have suggested.

 

A recent survey by the Federal Reserve noted that the net worth of the typical family fell 40% between 2007 and 2010, and much of that was from families' loss of home equity. With that loss of equity has gone parents' ability to borrow to send their children to college. That means that more young people are taking out their own college loans.

 

Wide-ranging scheme involved lawyers, construction companies and straw buyers, who used fraud to get elected to condo boards and steer work to their co-conspirators.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 27, 2012 11:49AM

© George Rose/Getty ImagesBack in 2002, Wanda Murray and her husband closed their dance studio in Minneapolis and moved to their dream condo in a new Las Vegas development called the Vistana. They paid $105,250 for their two-bedroom home.

 

When Murray, who is legally blind, agreed to serve temporarily on her condo board of directors, she had no idea what she was getting into. It took years and lots of persistence, but she and her neighbors eventually unraveled a multimillion-dollar corruption scandal.

 

"They didn’t think there would be four old ladies who wouldn’t put up with their stuff," Murray, 65, told Felix Gillette of Bloomberg Businessweek last year. "They really pissed me off."

 

Contracts signed to buy existing homes rose 5.9% in May, hitting the level of April 2010, when sales were spurred by a tax credit.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 27, 2012 8:34AM

Sold sign; © Simon Jarratt/CorbisThe number of home-sale contracts signed in May was up 13.3% over the previous year, a sign that home sales will continue to rise this summer.

 

The Pending Home Sales Index published by the National Association of Realtors rose 5.9% from April to May, with gains reported in every region. The index hit 101.1, which it also hit in March. That matches the level of April 2010, when buyers were seeking to take advantage of a federal tax credit.

 

The index measures contracts signed to buy homes, not actual sales, but is a good indicator of sales data a few months down the road, despite the high rate of contract cancellations in recent years.

 
Tags: selling
 

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