Long Island residents' push for preservation saved a historic house and led McDonald's to design an unusual store.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 5, 2012 12:29PM

ScoutNY.comMany of us have enjoyed a meal in a restaurant that was converted from an old home. But most of those meals didn't include Big Macs or any other fast food.


In New Hyde Park, N.Y., on Long Island, you can eat your McNuggets and fries in splendor, in a mansion that dates to 1795 and has been converted to one of the nation's most attractive McDonald's restaurants.


The architectural gem was spotted by Nick Carr, a film location scout who posted a number of interior and exterior photos on his blog, Scouting NY.

Tags: celebrity

Researchers find that urban homes near a national wildlife refuge are worth 3% to 9% more than homes that are farther away.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 4, 2012 1:09PM

© Getty ImagesHomes in urban areas near wildlife refuges are worth 3% to 9% more than homes that aren't near refuges, according to a new study.


A study commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University found that being within half a mile of a wildlife refuge raised property values 4% to 5% in the Northeast, 7% to 9% in the Southeast and 3% to 6% in the California/Nevada region. Other regions were not included in the study.


"National wildlife refuges are public treasures that protect imperiled wildlife and delight visitors," Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a news release. "These findings remind us that refuges also boost community health, sometimes in unexpected ways. National wildlife refuges enrich local communities ─ even in a lean economy – and generate revenue."


Pilot programs in Nevada and California will use federal funds to pay for the mortgage relief, and the two loan entities will not be required to contribute.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Jun 4, 2012 1:07PM

Up to this point, if your underwater mortgage was backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you had no chance of seeing any principal forgiven. That relief was available only to mortgages held by other lenders.


Now the two government-supported entities have signed on to pilot programs in Nevada and California and will write down up to $50,000 of principal in Nevada and $100,000 in California.


What made the difference? In those states, Fannie and Freddie will receive whatever they write down from federal funds administered through a state program.


"Principal reduction combined with mortgage refinancing will mean hundreds of dollars returning to the pockets of homeowners," Terry Johnson, director of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, said in a news release. "This effort represents our continued focus on combating the worst housing crisis seen in a generation and in the state hit hardest by it."


Rate on 30-year fixed mortgage hits 3.75% as April's pending-home-sales index shows annual gain — but worst monthly drop in a year.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate May 31, 2012 10:41AM

© Alex Stojanov/AlamyAnother month, another set of inconclusive housing data.


Let's start with the latest: Freddie Mac announced today that the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed loan fell to 3.75% for the week from 3.78% the week prior. This marks the sixth-straight week in which that rate has touched a record low. It last ticked up for the week ending April 24.


Meanwhile, the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate loan hit 2.97% — the first time it has been below 3% since Freddie Mac started keeping track in 1991, according to MarketWatch.


The owner of the world's first 10-figure home says he can't sleep in it, according to reports.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate May 30, 2012 12:04PM

AFP/Getty ImagesMaybe this will help home prices increase: In some parts of the world, a cool billion dollars won't even buy you a house in which you can sleep at night.


That's apparently the case in Mumbai, where Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India and among the 20 wealthiest people in the world, reportedly will not spend a night on any of the 27 floors of his tower, named Antilia. He, his mother, his wife and their three children instead pass their days in the building, then move to a 14-story home called Sea Wind to sleep, reports the "Architizer" blog.


By the way, when it was completed for $1 billion, Antilia was the most expensive home ever built.


The Case-Shiller Home Price Index hit a post-crisis low in the first quarter, but other signs point to growth.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate May 29, 2012 10:57AM

© Robert Llewellyn/CorbisThe trickling of home sales from the so-called "shadow inventory" of distressed properties onto the housing market continues to play games with national home-price data.


The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, released today (PDF), registered a 2% drop in the first quarter of this year from the fourth quarter of 2011. Prices were down 1.9% from the same quarter a year earlier. They have hit their lowest point since the 2006 housing crisis, leading Forbes to dub the "double dip" as dipping further.


Meanwhile, Case-Shiller's 20-city index was "basically unchanged" from February to March; the 10-city index was down just 0.1%.


What can we glean from that? As Time's Alison Rogers notes, looking behind the numbers may yield some positives from today's report.


April's 3.3% creep up from March may be a sign of small increases still to come.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate May 23, 2012 10:13AM

© Kelly Redinger/Design Pics/CorbisAh, the sounds and smells of spring: birds chirping, flowers blooming, subcontractors hammering and fresh ink hitting paper.


After a decrease in March, sales of new homes increased 3.3% in April, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today. The seasonally adjusted rate of 343,000 homes sold also represents a 9.9% increase from April 2011.


Get used to the slight increases: They are “in line with our expectations for a continued, modest increase in home sales as buyers gain confidence in the economy and their jobs,” David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, told MSNBC.


Sales of existing homes increased 10% from April 2011 to this past April, spurring more talk of recovery.

By Tony at MSN Real Estate May 22, 2012 8:53AM

© Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X/CorbisIn April, homebuying season begins in earnest for most regions, and last month was no exception: Existing-home sales increased 3.4% in April from March, hitting a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, the National Association of Realtors said. That was 10% higher than in April 2011.


Meanwhile, the median sale price for existing homes increased 3.1% in April from March to $177,400; that was a 10.1% jump from April 2011. Coupled with March's price increase, this marks the first two-month period of back-to-back year-to-year price increases since mid-2010, the NAR says. Earlier this month, the NAR reported that 74 of the 146 largest U.S. metropolitan areas showed a price increase from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of this year.


The most encouraging news, however, could come in the breakdown of who's paying for these homes.



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